The cozy genre has not only been expanded in 2022 but has also been legitimized. Though cozy video games are their own genre now, the definition is still loose. Most of the time, the games stray away from contemporary gaming mechanics. They don’t focus heavily on combat or intentional difficulty — instead, they aim to provide a calming atmosphere, usually one where players can easily accomplish tasks for simple, pleasurable gratification.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Stardew Valley are considered the genre’s pinnacles, but what other indie games — recent and not — set the perfect scene for a cozy night?
1. A Short Hike
A Short Hike by adamgryu is an adventure game focused on exploring an island. You play a bird hiking to the top of Hawk Peak Provincial Park. Though this objective could take around an hour to complete, the game focuses on talking to the other park inhabitants and helping them with their goals. The soundtrack is like a hug, and with its unique yet bright pixel graphics, you can easily fly around for hours enjoying the breeze and campfire vibes.
2. Cozy Grove
The island of Cozy Grove welcomes you, the resident Spirit Scout, for a critical mission — to befriend the local ghosts to send them to the next life. In this story-rich collectathon, you perform daily fetch quests and crafting assignments to learn more about the ghosts’ stories. Developer Spry Fox subverts gaming expectations — most want to dive into a game for many hours in a sitting. However, Cozy Grove is optimized for only one to two hours of gameplay per day, giving players a perfect bite-sized cozy experience, perhaps with hot cocoa.
3. Coffee Talk
Toge Productions brings us a warm-hearted talking simulator set in a coffee shop. It weaves in fantasy elements as the bar’s diverse patrons mix anime and pixel art for a mystical vibe. Serve drinks to comfort them as you learn about their lives. The game’s reception was so positive, it will have a second episode entitled Hibiscus & Butterfly for a 2023 release.
From Witch Beam and Humble Bundle is a puzzle game that transforms one of the most laborious tasks into a satisfying experience — unpacking. Unpack through the years of the main character’s life, understanding them and their experiences through the items they carry with them through the years. Your spaces become more decorated and personalized as you find where things go.
Fans of Cozy Grove will enjoy this offering from Thunder Lotus games, as you play a ferry master of the dead. Build your boat and befriend the souls you’re sending into the afterlife. Its magical graphics provide the perfect environment for all the resources you’ll manage and gratifying harvesting you’ll do — fishing, mining, crafting and cooking, to name a few. Play on your Steam Deck on the go or relax at your computer. The hand-drawn aesthetic makes the animal creatures come to life as the emotional story has garnered glowing ratings.
6. Lost Nova
From Jon Nielsen, in collaboration with HopFrog of Forager fame, is a sci-fi exploration game where you play Mia. Her spaceship has crashed, and she must traverse the open world to fix it. On the way, you’ll interact with the denizens of the plant while collecting resources to upgrade your abilities. With clever writing and an upbeat soundtrack, it’s easy to wander around for hours talking to the quirky inhabitants as you uncover secrets of the planet.
7. Ittle Dew
For fans of The Legend of Zelda is Ludosity’s Ittle Dew, an adventure puzzle game where you complete dungeons and face enemies in low-stakes combat. There is plenty to explore, including secret treasure chests and fun sidequests to keep you occupied. Its charming irreverence gave fans a nostalgic kick and warranted a sequel — Ittle Dew 2+ in 2016.
8. Luna’s Fishing Garden
Fishing minigames are one of the staples of cozy gaming, so why not have a game of just that? Coldwild Games bring us Luna’s Fishing Garden, a short and sweet side-scrolling fishing and resource collection game where you can help the archipelago’s residents clean the waters — while fishing, of course. Despite only a few hours of gameplay, its wholesome nature will brighten up any night.
Enjoying Indie Games for Cozy Nights
Even though everyone may find coziness in different genres, the cozy genre has a lovely atmosphere that could ease anyone’s worries. Whether it’s puzzling while unpacking or fishing to help spirit friends, there is an indie game for everyone, especially as the sun sets early and nights get colder — who wouldn’t want to play a game that acts like a warm hug?
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