In the far and distant past of Rice Digital, I took on the pleasing challenge to list 10 wholesome games to refill your happy meter with. Now I’m back with even more recommendations that can fit in the same bracket — but for the sake of not having a list with the same name, let us categorise them as cosy games this time.
The “cosy” or “wholesome” games label has recently been seen surging in popularity to represent more casual and friendly titles such as Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley. As evident by the word “cosy”, these games tend to have relatively little need for the player to have to rush around for the sake of a story, nor provide that much of a challenge in their gameplay; instead, their focus is in providing soothing and calming aesthetics.
Our picks will cover a range of genres, and we hope you discover something appealing here. Otherwise let us know what games you consider as your cosy favourites!
As of 2021, I believe that no other 3DS game has taken over so much of my life as 2014’s Fantasy Life has. Developed by Level-5, best known for Ni no Kuni, Yokai Watch and Professor Layton, this is a game with a pedigree that lets you know you’re in for a good time.
And yet, it still surprised me how much the title blew me away way back on its initial release. With a blissfully adorable art style, addictive gameplay mechanics and an enthralling world filled with an overwhelming amount of activities made for a surprisingly joyful pastime to keep returning to.
Fantasy Life has a main story of a land being put into turmoil by a meteorite that turns the local animals into volatile little ruffians. It’s a simple and small heroic tale, and for a game aimed at a younger audience, the light-hearted, cosy story and humorous dialogue makes this even more of an easy experience to settle into. Additionally, there is such a lack of urgency in progressing the story that you can instead put all of your time and effort into its massive amount of side content. I’ll be the first to admit that I never even approached its story until a good few years after starting the game!
As an RPG with life sim elements, you have a wide variety of choices when it comes to tackling the game. There are 12 jobs known as “life classes” that can be selected, each with varying career paths and skills to learn from. For example, picking the Hunter job will have you in combat more so than Miner or Fisherman whose jobs it is to gather. My personal favourite, Tailor, has you hard at work crafting. Every single job will have different quests that will level up your job role, and provide “Bliss Points” that can unlock a plethora of customisable features such as expanding your home.
Your job selection can be as temporary as you would like, with the option to change your Life Role always available. With new areas to unlock and even recruitable units to be discovered down the line, Fantasy Life packs so much into a simple handheld title. And better yet, the end is only the end when you decide to call off the adventure!
Maybe leaving this entry at just “it has cosy in its title” is not enough of a selling point, but I do hope its art style is! Cozy Grove came at just the right time for me: its March release date placed it almost exactly a year since Animal Crossing: New Horizons released. It has been a deathly quiet and uneventful year since the latter’s release for me when it comes to life sim games — as despite having pre-ordered New Horizons in excitement, it left me cold.
I’m understandably in the minority by not being enthralled with Animal Crossing’s latest efforts — the last game I enjoyed in the series was Wild World, if I’m honest — so when discovering Cozy Grove, my heart was immediately smitten. Cozy Grove’s artistic splendour is immediately identifiable, with hand-drawn landscapes and a haunted island to add colour to through exploring and uncovering the land’s secrets. The many spirits waiting for comforting words and a sense of bonding with another person makes for an especially enthralling sight to see. In a year that has made me feel particularly vulnerable, Cozy Grove turned out to be the warm blanket I have craved for a while now, even despite the delicate matters it covers.
The depths of its characters are continuously expanded upon with each passing day in the real world, as the game’s clock is synced to your own time. This time gating aspect may be the only misstep of the game for certain players, but it does ensure the game will keep you busy for a long time — it’ll take around 60 hours to discover all the characters and their stories. It is a perfect little game to sink a cosy hour to two into after work as wind-down time. Who knew fishing, crafting, decorating and foraging could feel this cathartic?
New Super Lucky’s Tale
I sometimes surprise myself that I take so long to mention a game I’ve loved for a while now, and New Super Lucky’s Tale is a prime example of this. As one of my favourite video games of 2019 and a title I still return to, New Super Lucky’s Tale is endearingly simple, cosy and wholesome. Its dialogue is full of humorous puns with a child-friendly plot, and the game as a whole has almost no challenge to it — but for the right player, no matter their age, its vibrant world, colourful cast of characters and various gameplay design features in its levels makes for a joyful experience.
I regard New Super Lucky’s Tale as an underrated platform game. Move aside, Yooka-Laylee, because Lucky is my winner for the modern day platforming mascot recommendation! As Lucky, we are to protect the Book of Ages from the villainous cat Jinx. We traverse multiple worlds and arrive at hubs, each vastly different to the last and filled with many stages hiding a vast amount of collectable items. Our primary goal in each level is to obtain Clovers to piece the book back together.
Clovers are obtained by clearing the stage, collecting 300 coins, finding the floating letters to make the word “LUCKY” and locating the hidden one somewhere in its realm. This tick list will most definitely keep you busy looking at every nook and cranny of each level. But the very best design choice in the game is the change up of genres depending on the level. Some will place Lucky in a 2D side-scrolling level, with emphasis on timing to reach the ending of the stage. Other levels are much more puzzle focused, placing Lucky in a marble ball and getting him to safety by tilting the stage, or sliding statues to the correct placement.
New Super Lucky’s Tale is one of the best cosy, feel-good games to come out in recent years. And on a final note, burrowing underground has never been so much fun!
What are your favourite cosy games? Let us know in the comments or via the usual social channels — or better yet, pen us a letter for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page using the “Write to Rice!” widget on the right.
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