By Hannah Walls
Web Content Assistant
Although Texas weather clearly hasn’t gotten the memo yet, Sept. 22 officially marked the first day of fall. I’m choosing to ignore the clear skies and scalding heat outside my window and instead release the fluffy cardigans, pumpkin vanilla scented candles and homemade tomato soup.
That means it’s also time to indulge in some video games to pair with my newfound spirit of autumn!
The genre of games similar to bigger names like Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing have been dubbed “cozy games” by fellow enjoyers on social media, and I for one am completely on board with this genre becoming more popular. There’s even a “cozy” tag on Steam available for prospective players to find more games like this.
This type of game has also gotten a bit of backlash from others in the gaming community who don’t feel that they are “real games,” presumably because they don’t have a million different weapon loadouts or put the player in high-stress situations. I’ve found that, in general, the gaming community often looks down on games that seem to be easy or don’t require a ton of grinding to play multiple times on higher difficulty levels.
However, video games are meant to be fun. That’s why I play them, and I think the mindset that you have to be challenged or combat-focused in order to enjoy a game is incredibly toxic and bars many people from the community. While I love my first-person shooters, I’m also quite content tending to my little farm or exploring a fantasy world with unique creatures, kooky NPCs and a side quest around every corner.
The escapism aspect of cozy games is another detail that really draws me in, and there’s no better way to fight the impending seasonal depression than by transporting yourself to another world where your only worry is perfecting potions or petting 8-bit cats.
With that in mind, here are five cozy games to look out for to help you get into the spirit of fall.
Potion Permit is an RPG that takes place in a town called Moonbury. You play as the town’s chemist who must diagnose ailments of fellow villagers, collect ingredients and brew potions to cure them.
I had my eye on this game for a while before its release on Sept. 22, and I am already blown away by snippets of gameplay I’ve seen so far.
The town is adorable, the villagers are equally adorable and I’m pleasantly surprised by some of the combat encounters. Similar to other games like Potion Permit, there are enemies in areas where you may need to collect resources and ingredients.
While I don’t mind a bit of combat in cozy games, I find the combat to be pretty intolerable sometimes since I have absolutely zero depth perception and the sword mechanics can be a bit strange, especially if the game is completely 2-D. However, the combat in Potion Permit seems to be a bit more comprehensive and easier by default since there’s more visual depth to it.
Like any good RPG, Potion Permit also gives you the option to get to know villagers and build friendships and romances with them.
I am super excited to explore Moonbury and all it has to offer in the near future! Potion Permit is available now for Windows, Apple, and Nintendo Switch.
If you’re a fellow enjoyer of horror games as well as cozy games, Beacon Pines seems to be the perfect new release to kick off spooky season.
The game is set within a mysterious storybook where you play as Luka, the main character, as he explores strange occurrences within the town of Beacon Pines. As you investigate, you collect different word charms used to fill in blanks in the story throughout the game, which can drastically change the next chapter.
I love the “choose your own adventure” aspect of this game, especially since you are also able to jump between different versions of the story through “The Chronicle,” a tree within the book that grows new branches and unlocks new events and storylines based on the choices you make.
This is such a neat concept for a game in my opinion, and while the characters are all adorable woodland animals, I really like the idea that there is something much more sinister lurking under the surface.
Beacon Pines is available now on Windows, Apple and Nintendo Switch.
Wayward Strand is an atmospheric adventure story that takes place in a hospital onboard an airship. You play as student journalist Casey Beaumaris who climbs aboard to explore the airship and its’ residents.
Although this game seems a bit more story-based than what I usually play, I love how the gameplay depends on your interactions with the characters, as well as their interactions with each other. It gives you the opportunity to watch genuine human connections unfold and grow, even if they are within a video game. You also can take notes in your journal about the different characters.
Another interesting aspect of Wayward Strand is that time passes for everyone onboard the airship- even if you are not interacting with them. The game is made to offer something different on each playthrough. Spending time with certain characters also unlocks new interactions, areas, conflicts and resolutions.
The heartfelt story is accompanied by beautiful graphics and a unique art style that, admittedly, I wasn’t super into at first but now find super charming and cute.
Wayward Strand is available now for Windows, console and Nintendo Switch.
Although it doesn’t release until Oct. 11, Coral Island is probably the game on this list that I’m most excited for. It essentially looks like Stardew Valley, but 3-D and on an island. Stardew Valley is my absolute favorite game of all time (I even have a junimo tattoo!) so needless to say I freaked out when I saw Coral Island.
Although Coral Island shares many of the same gameplay options such as farming, tending to animals and interacting with other residents, I don’t want to reduce it to a comparison. It is a complete reimagination of farming simulators and offers a lot of other unique opportunities for gameplay that I’m excited for.
One small part of this is the character creation. Anyone who knows me will agree that I am an absolute menace when it comes to creating my characters. Yes, it will take several hours, and yes, it does have to be perfect. For a farming sim, Coral Island seems to offer a ton of character customization options, as well as a store that allows you to buy new outfits.
Another aspect of the game that really shines to me is the exploration. You’re able to dive just off the coast to collect resources and clear trash to restore the reef, explore the dark mines and obtain precious gems and participate in community projects.
I’m really hoping that this game has a ton of fun easter eggs to explore since there are so many different options that are completely unique from other games of its type so far. I am also shamelessly excited that, like its counterparts, Coral Island does offer you the option to romance 16 dreamy eligible singles.
Coral Island will be available to play on Oct. 11.
Mail Time is described on Steam as, “a relaxing cottagecore adventure set in a peaceful forest far, far away.” Maybe I’m just easy to please, but that combination of words makes my heart absolutely flutter with excitement.
In this game, whose release is still TBD, you play as a mail scout delivering letters to the adorable creatures of Grumblewood Grove. Complete with a mushroom hat and a fuzzy bee companion, your quirky character also has the chance to interact with the different forest animals you’ll meet along the way.
The art style of this game is absolutely precious, and reminds me a little bit of Bugsnax, which I love. It also has many aspects that look hand-drawn or painted, which just adds to the cozy aspect.
Like I mentioned before, character creation is also huge for me. From what I’ve seen so far, Mail Time seems to have a wide range of customization options for your character, including pronouns! It’s rare to see such such an important aspect of character creation in other games, so kudos to Mail Time for including it.
Although there is not yet a release date for Mail Time, the demo is available to play now for Windows and Apple.
Featured Image by Hannah Walls.