8 Best Cozy Games to Play When the World is Falling Apart by@kimikadze
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8 Best Cozy Games to Play When the World is Falling Apart

April 19th 2022
7 min
by @kimikadze 21,302 reads
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The idea of cozy gaming is not particularly new, but it’s been on the rise recently, primarily due to the boom in indie gaming. The core idea behind it is the combination of appealing colors, atmospheric music, and playability. This article celebrates some of the best cozy games released over the last couple of years. It includes Stardew Valley, OlliOlli World, Chicory: a Colorful Tale, and Townscaper among the others.

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@kimikadze

Evgeny Kim

I write about games, technology, and science fiction.

About @kimikadze
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Life has never been easy. However, the last couple of years proved this point on more than one occasion–the COVID-19 pandemic, political polarization, insurgencies around the world, and, most recently, the Russian military invasion of Ukraine are just the tip of the iceberg. Add rising gas prices and the refugee crisis in Europe, and you’ll get the complete picture–this world is crazy, and we must somehow deal with it.

Handling stress is a big topic and, probably, one of the most searched for (the question “why do I feel bad?” already reached a record high on Google last year). And while many people find relief in meditation or yoga classes, others find the sought-for respite in video games. Especially in the so-called “cozy games.”

What are Cozy Games?

The idea of cozy gaming is not particularly new, but it’s been on the rise recently, primarily due to the boom in indie gaming. The core idea behind it is the combination of appealing colors, atmospheric music, and playability. In addition, a game should also be fun and relaxing, contributing to the experience that can be referred to as cozy.

Although many of these games don’t boast impressive graphics and may look childish, they aren’t “for kids only.” Almost any serious player will find these games fun and even a bit challenging (e.g., OlliOlli World).

This article celebrates some of the best cozy games released over the last couple of years.

Best Cozy Games as of April 2022

  1. Stardew Valley (2016)
  2. Unpacking (2021)
  3. OlliOlli World (2022)
  4. Eastward (2021)
  5. Chicory: a Colorful Tale (2021)
  6. The Wild at Heart (2021)
  7. Sable (2021)
  8. Townscaper (2021)

1. Stardew Valley (2016)

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Image credit: Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is probably one of the most critically acclaimed indie titles, and rightly so. Developed by just one person, Eric Barone, and released in 2016, the game quickly became everyone’s favorite.

The premise of Stardew Valley is simple–you inherit a piece of farmland and quit your shitty full-time job to take care of it (sounds like a dream!). Cut the weeds, grow crops, go fishing, sell what you grow to buy new seeds, and make new friends among other villagers.

The game has so much to offer that it can feel overwhelming at times. But, as the saying goes, “you get what you give,” and this applies to real farming and Stardew Valley–the more you play, the more rewarding the game feels, making it hard to put it down.

2. Unpacking (2021)

Among all the cozy games, Unpacking holds a special place. If Stardew Valley takes you out of the confined places to the vastness of the countryside, Unpacking does the opposite. However, the world this game takes you into is so perfect that the sole idea of leaving it may sound like madness.

“Discover a life” is one of the game slogans, and it captures its essence. The puzzle game takes you on a lifetime journey as seen through the eyes of a girl who moves to a new house with her parents and has to unpack the boxes with her toys, books, and other stuff and put them in the right places around the room. From a school backpack to a diary, you’ll discover your character and learn about who she is, what she’s like, and what she is into.

You learn more about your character as she grows and moves out of the parent’s house, so be prepared to uncover some ugly details. But that’s what makes Unpacking so great–instead of masking the truth about life and relationships, it gives you a perfect opportunity to accept life the way it is and appreciate your life a little more.

3. OlliOlli World (2022)

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Image credit: Private Division

It may feel strange to see a skateboarding game on this list, but OlliOlli World is not your typical skateboarding game. You still have to skate your way to the end, but learning the most challenging tricks is not the point here. OlliOlli World is a colorful adventure allowing you to explore the mystical world of Radlandia, filled with skate gods, giant frogs, and weird characters.

The game does not force you to be anything you don’t want to be. Want to skate your way to the end of the level without performing dangerous tricks? No problem! But if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, you can always go beyond the bare minimum to earn specific rewards (usually skateboarding gear and rare clothes) or even make it to the leaderboard. You will still have to challenge yourself towards the end of the game, but the challenge is acceptable.

The game’s beautiful and sometimes weird colors paired with low-key techno music will help you relax after a long day. So, if you’re looking for a game that is both relaxing and a little bit challenging, then OlliOlli World could be a perfect choice.

4. Eastward (2021)

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Image credit: Steam

Eastward is a beautiful RPG game filled with colorful and weird characters, exciting adventures, and a fantastic soundtrack that stays with you long after you finish the game.

The game from Pixpil, the Shanghai-based developer, takes you on a journey in a post-apocalyptic underground world, through its towns and rusty landscapes, where a wrong turn can take you to dangerous places. Following the two main characters, a miner named John and his adopted offspring, Sam, you go on an adventure through the towns of this world in the eastern direction (duh). The goal of the journey is to make it to the surface and prove that life in the land above is possible.

Story-wise, Eastward is far from perfect. The game will take approximately 30 hours to complete, and sometimes, it feels like the story could move forward faster. In this sense, Eastward is very similar to the sci-fi books of Becky Chambers–not much is happening, but the story somehow sticks with you. Regardless, Eastward is one of the best cozy games in 2022, so you should check it out if you have the time to play it at your own pace and want to feel nostalgic about the 16-bit era.

5. Chicory: a Colorful Tale (2021)

Chicory: a Colorful Tale is another game from 2021 that deserves a spot on this list. Set in a fictional world of Picnic filled with anthropomorphic characters, the game follows the main character, a dog named Pizza, who must take the role of the missing artist and make the world a beautiful place again. Traveling through the black-and-white world, you paint the world using a paintbrush, make friends, and solve little puzzles.

The game allows you to paint on anything, unlock new paint abilities to reach new places, and collect clothes, plants, and furniture. Despite its seemingly simple premise and simple graphics, the game manages to be fun and complex, touching you on the deepest level. So, make sure to check it out if you’re into coloring books. And dogs.

6. The Wild at Heart (2021)

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Image credit: Moonlight Kids

A seek-and-fight adventure with puzzle elements, The Wild at Heart is a perfect game to escape reality for a while and relax. Telling the story of two teenagers, Kirby and Wake, who leave their parent’s homes due to hardships, the game transports you into a magical forest bursting with autumn colors.

The deeper you venture into the woods, the more artifacts you find and the more creatures you meet on your way. Most of them are hostile, so be prepared to fight for your life with the help of Spritelings, cute animals that can fit a pocket but who also can kick ass.

One of the best things about The Wild at Heart is that it does not create a sense of urgency and lets you complete the game at your own pace. Unique artwork paired with a peaceful soundtrack creates an almost meditative experience you won’t find in other games. So, if you’re looking for a game to cozy up on a couch with a cup of warm tea by your side, you should try The Wild at Heart, as it’s rightly one of the best indie games available today.

7. Sable (2021)

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Image credit: Xbox

Another notable title on the list is Sable, an open-world sci-fi exploration game from Shedworks and Raw Fury. The game tells the story of Sable, a young girl that embarks on a journey to find a fitting mask that will allow her to return to her clan.

Sable is all about exploration and solving puzzles. The game has no combat, making it a perfect choice for people who don’t like violence in video games. Navigating the dunes and ruins on your hoverbike and meeting other nomads, you learn about the past of the ruined desert world and its ancient civilization, as well as about the main character.

The unique art style and original soundtrack immerse you in the game’s mysterious world and leaves you with a pleasant feeling of calmness and serenity. The one you can only experience in a desert.

8. Townscaper (2021)

If you like building cities in games (for example, in strategy games), you’ll love Townscaper, one of the best cozy games in 2022. However, Townscaper is not a strategy game or a puzzle game. “Instant town-building toy” is a game description from Google PlayStore, where the game is also available, and it perfectly describes it. It is a city-building game that allows you to do just that–build a town.

There are no objectives and no resources you have to manage. You start with an island amid an ocean that you can transform into a beautiful town island. The only limiting factor is your imagination. You can build your town in any direction, shape it as you see fit, and use colors pleasing to the eye.

The minimalistic interface and calm music make Townscaper extremely relaxing and rewarding, so you should check it out if you’re up for a city-building meditation.

Are There More Cozy Games Worth Checking Out?

Yes! The list is far from complete. The games we covered here are just some of the most notable titles. But it doesn’t mean that other games do not deserve a spot on the list. Besides, in this article, we mainly covered indie cozy games, but there are also big titles in this category, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Minecraft, and Animal Crossing.

As mentioned above, “cozy” is on the rise, and it’s worth keeping an eye on the trend, as we may see great titles this year. We will do our part to keep abreast with the industry and make sure to tell you about new exciting games in this category.

Because just like you, we also like to cozy up on a couch with a beautiful game. Even if the world outside is falling apart.

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