RPGamer’s Favourite Cozy Games
Winter has finally arrived, it’s time for warm blankets, hot beverages, and some cozy video games such as 먹튀. For the purposes of this feature, we used a broad definition of “cozy.” Our staff was allowed to pick titles that focused on comforting gameplay elements, emotional narratives, and even cute or wholesome concepts. What we have for readers is a variety of games that offer cozy elements that will help you unwind throughout the winter months. We have also prepared for you a Spotify playlist, courtesy of Zach Welhouse, that will offer you some chill vibes to listen to while you read through this feature. We’d love to know what you define as a cozy or comfortable game in our comments below.
Cozy RPG Tunes to Relax To
A good cozy tune is gentle, but not so light as to completely disappear. It works as background music but invites more careful listening as well. Alternately, it reminds me of a gentle scene or a favorite character. Character, town, and overworld themes are good sources for cozy vibes.
This playlist initially only included tracks from original scores. However, I soon realized that coziness depends on emotional availability and openness to others. Even if I’m wrapped in a warm cardigan, past the hour when all good children should be in bed, the music is a resilient umbilicus connecting me with another shining heart.
A strong remix returns me to the experience of the original song — enjoying a beautiful morning with my over-enthusiastic martial artist sister, eating a burger from the trash, or going on a date with a funny skeleton — but it also reveals the artists’ passions. The remixers and I have a common reference point. I am not alone. Together we marvel at the creativity of the original composers and celebrate their works. — Zach Welhouse
Bear and Breakfast
Can cute bears make it in the hotel industry? In Gummy Cat’s Bear and Breakfast, players take on the role of an adorable bear named Hank, who meets a strange shark in the woods who tells him that he can become a hotel entrepreneur. How wholesome is the game? Let’s just say Hank is a daring bear with a big heart, and who wants nothing more than to offer a unique experience in order to help revitalize Silver Valley. The story is full of charming characters, hilariously wholesome interactions, and addictive gameplay.
Bear and Breakfast is a hotel management sim that is similar to games like Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley. There are specific tasks to complete and customer satisfaction is constantly on the line. Ensuring that Hank’s bed-and-breakfast properties all have different amenities and comforts is key to success in the game, as customers can write reviews after their stay which may help or hinder the business. The addictive element of running and upgrading each of the properties will keep players coming back for more, making Bear and Breakfast a difficult game to put down. — Sam Wachter
Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Playing through Chicory: A Colorful Tale is like giving yourself a hug. Chicory is a wholesome game about a young dog who wants to help her dear friend who is suffering from a deep depression. Knowing that her friend cannot perform her duties to the people of the surrounding area, our heroine picks up the paintbrush in an attempt to solve the problem of Picnic losing all of its vibrant color.
While Chicory offers players an incredibly emotional story that focuses on mental health, the majority of the gameplay is on the slower side. Players can use the paintbrush to solve puzzles and find random collectibles, but they can also use the brush to color the environments, characters, and even make gallery-worthy art pieces. There is a simplicity to Chicory’s gameplay and storytelling that is difficult to replicate, and it’s an amazing experience for those who want to invest in an emotional story with calm and accessible gameplay. — Sam Wachter
Dragon Quest Builders (Series)
Dragon Quest has received many games and spinoffs over the years, but for sheer fun, there is nothing quite like building a world shaped by your hand. In Dragon Quest Builders, you are the builder, not the hero. The aesthetic for the series is a combination of 8-bit blocks and out-of-place 3D characters and monsters. The game lets you build and craft just about anything you can think of, all while classic Dragon Quest music and effects play around you. The world is even inhabited by classic monsters, from the lowly Slime to the Giants and more.
The stories are involved but fun, and after completion, they unlock a free build mode, which allows for countless possibilities in what you can create. This aspect makes it great for children, as it gives a grand playground in which everyone is able to build anything they can dream of. The main stories of the games can have a few challenging sections, especially the first one, but the second is a true gem of a title with a good mix of seriousness and comedy throughout. — Robert Albright
Released in October 2021, Dungeon Encounters is a single-player strategic dungeon-exploration RPG. It tasks players with venturing through 2D grid-based levels, while overcoming obstacles, and battling their way to reach the bottom floor. The game is lean and mean from the very beginning — including the title. Upon loading, gamers may notice the distinct lack of an opening movie, background music, or much of anything other than a simple title screen. Yet, despite this lack of frills, there is something about this game that I find incredibly cozy.
There is no spectacle here. Each floor is a series of empty square-based grids that fill in as the player explores. Every interaction is represented by a number or letter, each colored black or white. Coming across white sequences will trigger an event or ability, produce treasure, or heal the party. Meanwhile, black numbers represent enemy encounters, with players whisked away to battle. The score features heavy guitar/synth versions of famous composers (think lots of Chopin). Dungeon Encounters feels like an homage to both vintage Final Fantasy as well as board games or tabletop RPGs. There is poetry to the flow of gameplay, with proceedings flowing deftly between simple and complex. This is a perfect game to play when you are stuck inside on a snowy winter day. — Paul Shkreli
How does one make an RPG with a class system as wholesome and easy-going as possible? Make it a life simulation game as well. Fantasy Life for the Nintendo 3DS is set in the world of Reveria. In Reveria, players can take on one of twelve vocations, called Lives, at a time. There are the expected combat Lives like Paladin and Hunter, but there are also crafting-focused Lives like Carpenter and Alchemist and resource-gathering Lives like Miner and Woodcutter. After the initial tutorial, players can even switch to another Life if they want, or go through the main story as an Angler or Tailor. Players can build neat furniture to decorate their homes, forge weapons, create clothing, and even cook amazing dishes. Although not all areas in the world of Reveria are open at once, it doesn’t take long before players can explore every corner of the world and complete the tasks found therein. The gameplay loop of mastering Lives is quite addictive too.
There is some world-saving involved in Fantasy Life — the sky is basically falling — but the main story is over quickly. It is something of an excuse plot, but the punchy, amusing dialogue and cast of quirky characters help at least make it an entertaining read. That same humor carries over into the challenges and sidequests. Yes, there are battles, and the world is apparently in danger (there’s no real rush to save it), but it’s only a tiny part of the experience. It’s just as satisfying, if not more so, as becoming a Hero-rank Cook by preparing meals with rare ingredients or reel in the biggest, baddest fish there is. If a player would rather not live out a trade to be a master of their craft, the simple action combat is enjoyable. The player character and any NPC they recruit for battles are simply adorable, and they can even have their pet cat, dog, bird, or baby dragon join in the fun. There is so much to do and even if completely mastering all twelve Lives is a little daunting, it is very easy to spend over one hundred hours enjoying Fantasy Life. — Cassandra Ramos
Sometimes when life throws you an absolute dumpster fire of a day, you find yourself craving that cozy feeling you can only get from grilling freshly deceased corpse meat into juicy burgers to serve at the local witch burning. Sure, it’s been a bad day all around, but with a few less witches and a few extra dollars in your pocket, other concerns just seem less pressing. Originally advertised as “the most inaccurate medieval cemetery management sim of all time,” Graveyard Keeper may have a tiny bit of pixelated gore, but the beating heart of the game oozes charm.
Graveyard Keeper opens with the player character being ripped from modern times due to an accident and mysteriously finding himself in charge of embalming the dead and burying them in a medieval church’s graveyard. The goal of the game is to return to his beloved from whom he was separated, and to do so, he must grow crops, burn witches, decorate the church, befriend the local townsfolk, and otherwise solve some of their pressing life issues along the way. The game never rises to the NPC relationship levels Stardew Valley or Rune Factory games do, but despite the silly setting, it’s just as casual a life-sim experience as they are. Since its release, DLC has added many neat features to the game such as reanimating corpses to use as farm labor or the ability to run a bar. Graveyard Keeper is not to be overlooked due to some silly qualms with its initial premise, there’s plenty of charm to find in this cozy life sim. — Matt Masem
From the first blips of Ikenfell’s opening music to a madcap dash from the observatory, past the haunted bathroom, and over to the alchemy lab, it’s easy to assume the game is as cozy as a childhood cup of cocoa. Apprentice wizards, young romance, retro graphics, and funny ghosts, right? However, “cozy” isn’t just about nostalgic pixels and light chuckles with a class of fluffy goofuses. Cozy is allowed harsh edges, both narratively and mechanically. Life doesn’t always go the right way for these hopeful wiz-kids; their school-day frolics leave them with hard-won mementos and scars. Nevertheless, they remain hopeful and emotionally open in a way that makes them (ugh) relatable.
I don’t expect that I’ll hang out with Rook, Ima, Gilda, and the gang again anytime soon, but I look back fondly on the time that I spent with them, party to their quiet moments of self-discovery, dungeon puzzles, and larger-than-life tests of magical prowess. Even a few bars of the aivi & surashu score are enough to return my thoughts to their dedication to setting things right and a willingness to make mistakes. — Zach Welhouse
Low Magic Age
Life can be hectic sometimes, so when I think of cozy I think of something fun that can be played without much thought. The game that always fits that bill for me is Low Magic Age on Steam. This little gem is still in Early Access but is constantly updating. What makes this title cozy for me is that the gameplay is completely addictive using an accessible spin on the D&D 3.5e ruleset. It lets various equipment and spells be combined in ways that allow fights to be approached in different ways. It also allows me to let loose, tossing spells and dishing out vicious attacks to conquer dungeons filled with enemies for treasure.
It is this aspect of the game that is helpful to unwind after a long day. Making a quick supper, pouring a nice mug of hot cocoa, and jumping around taking out enemies on behalf of various city dwellers is just mindless entertainment. What better way to forget one’s worries than to defeat enemies, gather loot, and ignore pesky things like story or plot? The game does offer quests, but they are either protecting a caravan from one location to another or wiping out enemies that inhabit a dungeon. Mixing and matching classes are easy, from randomized pre-made characters to fully player-created ones. Not to mention the absence of a level cap, so even after hundreds of hours, monsters continue to be a match for the player. The game is also not too difficult, making it the perfect cozy game to curl up with. — Ryan Costa
Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan
Rainbow Billy is quite interesting within the context of the wholesome games trend. While the game definitely fits in perfectly with what is expected of a wholesome game — wrapped in an appealingly old-fashioned cartoon aesthetic, with an overall sense of kindness, showcasing themes of friendship while facing inner demons are tackled — it doesn’t completely shy away from darker themes. As the titular main character, a shy, yet kind young boy, helps the various denizens of the World of Imagination face their inner demons, he must also come to terms with his own.
Despite not generally gravitating towards games that explicitly market themselves as wholesome, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed my time with Rainbow Billy. Not only was I charmed by the story and its colorful cast of characters, but I was also intrigued by the game’s non-violent approach to turn-based confrontations. Instead of defeating enemies, I helped the world’s denizens with their issues by talking them through it, being careful not to say anything that would end up hurting them and decreasing my morale. The issues dealt with range from a lack of self-confidence to bullying and even fatphobia, all of which are handled in an empathetic manner. Rainbow Billy simply asks that we show kindness and empathy to those who are hurting, especially since we all have our own inner demons to face. — Ryan McCarthy
Stardew Valley, at this point, is almost a synonym for cozy game. For those unfamiliar, the game starts with players inheriting a farm from their grandpa located in the idyllic Stardew Valley. From there, it’s up to the player to grow and harvest crops, take care of animals such as adorable cows or chickens, or set off through a series of dungeons in search of loot and precious ore. Outside of the primary gameplay loop, the world is chock-full of secrets and surprises to discover. The town that players visit to exchange goods is full of lively characters to learn more about, romance, or just become best friends with. The game also does a wonderful job of providing plenty of goals for players looking for concrete objectives, while remaining open enough to just go out and fish every day. Perhaps the coziest aspect of the game, though, are its co-op features.
Unlike most of the other games on this list, Stardew Valley has a robust set of co-op features that allow players to join up with friends or their significant others, to kick back and do some farming. The developer ConcernedApe put a lot of effort into ensuring this mode provides an almost identical experience to playing solo, with features such as being able to marry your co-op farmhand, being able to improve relationships with NPCs individually, sharing money, or splitting into individual farmhouses so each player can express themselves on their own piece of land. These and other smart design choices make Stardew Valley the perfect cozy game for players looking to just kick back and unwind, whether that’s solo or with people they care about. — Andron Smith
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (Series)
I can hardly think of the Final Fantasy series without calling to mind its excellent music. In 2012, Square Enix graced our 3DSes with a genius rhythm game and RPG hybrid featuring those iconic songs from its storied battles, field stages, and cutscene events. Here, fan-favorite characters are depicted with adorably cartoony sprites, and the whole package gives off peppy, comfy vibes that simply can’t be beat. Although the gameplay can get a little intense on certain songs’ higher difficulty modes (“One-Winged Angel” Ultimate, anyone?), players can get just as much enjoyment from vibing along to peaceful hits such as one of my favorites, “Eternal Wind.”
After this game came out, I spent many a morning cocooned in my blankets, telling myself I’d try to score a perfect chain on “just one more song” to help shake off the drowsiness. Unlocking and leveling up characters just synergizes so well with that natural itch to master a particular tune. Plus, customizing a cute little ProfiCard and exchanging yours with other players adds an extra layer of fun on top of it all. The next game in the series, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, is due out in February 2023. I think it’s nearly time for those cozy feelings to make an encore! — Casey Pritt
Putting a game in which a complete genocide run is not only possible but wholeheartedly encouraged by the developer on a list of cozy games might seem like anathema, and yet here we are talking about Toby Fox’s Undertale. And really, how could we not include this game here? From the first moments within its world, even on a first playthrough, Undertale immediately feels snug and comfortable, like being rolled in a warm blanket of nostalgia. Maybe it’s the boldly colored retro art style? Or the genuinely memorable, expertly penned cast of characters? Or the unique combat system that mixes old-school menu-based command prompts with a bullet hell mini-game? More than likely, it’s the magical concoction of all these elements mixed together.
I’ll be honest: When I first reviewed Undertale, I didn’t really “get it”. My best guess is that it simply wasn’t what I needed at that precise moment in my life. While I could see what it was trying to do, I wasn’t really in the right headspace to give it credit for its many clever subversions, an error I hope to one day rectify. Though the developer has since been hard at work on the game’s companion story Deltarune, Sans, Papyrus, Flowey, Toriel, and the other denizens of the monster realm wait patiently to welcome each and every one of us back into their midst with open arms; it’s what true friends do. And let’s be honest: what’s a little bit of genocide amongst friends? — Pascal Tekaia
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars
On a whim, during this year’s Extra Life, I tried Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars. The next thing I knew, nearly three-and-a-half hours had whizzed by playing the game. The premise for the game, and its two follow-ups, is that everything is made from cards — characters, items, weapons, monsters, and even the world — while the narrator/game master tells everything that happens as players go through the game. The series comes from the minds Yoko Taro and other members of the Drakengard and NieR development teams, mixing dark stories with straightforward fun and charming presentation.
Despite its darker, often melancholy moments, the series’ gameplay and presentation lend themselves to players cozily relaxing in front of the screen. From the beautiful card designs to the way the world builds out as players move and flip over cards to the calming music and narration, everything encourages players not to rush despite fairly short runtimes. There is enough depth to keep things engaging, and it’s easy to just lose track of time while exploring the world, triggering events, and enjoying the fun character interactions.. — Robert Albright
We hope we have offered some wonderful recommendations for the colder months ahead. Please share with us in the comments some cozy game recommendations that you love!