With the recent releases of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and God of War Ragnarök, fans of hardcore and popular games from AAA developers have no shortage of great new titles from which to choose. Both have proven adept at keeping action-oriented gamers entertained.
Yet there are some gamers looking for more relaxing experiences. Rather than paying $60 or more to slaughter enemy soldiers or even gods, they prefer to explore quiet scenarios and settings in peace. Luckily, there are plenty of cozy indie games to satisfy such gamers.
A captivating video game with no dialogue, Abzû is about little more than visiting an underwater world. “Relaxing as you explore and watch varieties of fish and other creatures wandering around coral reefs is great,” says Reddit user Antipotheosis. “It’s also ridiculously pretty to watch. The music is quite chill too.”
Players can visit vast oceans, bringing a new bloom of life everywhere they go. Though the sea is vast, it somehow remains cozy and calming. Even when the diver is attacked, players can still keep their calm as the game goes on.
Sometimes, players want nothing more than the chance to be a farmer or miner and just go about their daily tasks. The indie game Sun Haven offers such players the chance to live their lives while trying to contribute to a haven of their own.
“It’s like a mix between Stardew Valley and Rune Factory,” wrote one Reddit user. “It’s addicting.” While the game offers some combat, it’s not horrifying or intimidating. The entire experience remains calm and cozy.
One of the best co-op video games, Raft offers players little more than a raft in the ocean, where they will need to build a life for themselves by scavenging tools from the sea or nearby islands. It may sound intimidating, but there is rarely any actual time crunch.
“You do have to eat and drink, but you sail your raft, collect scrap, fish, farm, expand the raft, and follow the story clues to different island locations,” says Redditor Kauldwin. “It’s a lot of fun, especially if you enjoy building and decorating.” With players able to build their own rafts, they can make their home base as cozy as they like, which is comforting.
While it isn’t exactly a pet-raising game sim, Calico still gives players the opportunity to raise animals in a pet cafe. “It’s very cozy and cute! Great if you love cats. It’s a little janky, but for the cute pets and just running around casually with no pressure it’s great,” says Reddit user velveteenpimpernel. “I find it relaxing.”
Of course, Calico isn’t just about raising cats in a cat café. It’s also about running errands around town and building a community. The calm setting, pastel art, and the near-emptiness of the villages helps to make the game oddly cozy, especially as players wreak havoc around town with giant cats.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
With a large map and different options for engaging with it, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles gives players a chance to engage in exploration and tasks around the town. “There is some farming (though it’s a lot more basic than in SDV), fishing and crafting – a lot of it is about exploring a fantasy island that you’ve been shipwrecked on,” says Redditor GulDoWhat.
The beautiful colors and the peaceful aesthetic of the game make it a cozy experience that leaves players comforted every time they look at the screen. While there are many tasks to undertake, the game doesn’t push the player to complete any of them. Instead, they can go at their own pace for their own reward, rather than being incentivized by in-game systems.
Deep Rock Galactic
A game constantly offering new features with every update, Deep Rock Galactic features a group of dwarves trying to survive in a science fiction environment. It’s a new take on old tropes, which makes it an oddly engaging franchise, despite it involving a good amount of bloodshed.
“A bit of a left fielder but could also be good,” says Redditor cynopt. “It’s more industrial in atmosphere but something about the mix of dark, enclosed spaces and cooperating with an incredibly friendly and professional community makes it feel very homey.” The dwarves feel at home in the tunnels, which helps to make players feel the same way as they fight and mine.
Much like Animal Crossing, ISLANDERS challenges players to make an island of their own. Redditor MandeeKayDelights. describes it as “a builder game where you’re building a village on an island.” They added, “There’s a points system, but it’s super chill. It has calming music and the different islands all vary a lot that you build on so it doesn’t feel repetitive.”
ISLANDERS is one of the most comforting video games, since it encourages players to make worlds of their own. With every session, players can build new structures and help to make their islands even better. It means building beautiful settings with every session, which can be as fulfilling as it is cozy.
A Short Hike
A Short Hike is a game designed to help players escape into nature. “You’re a cute little bird going on a hike on an open world map,” says Reddit user MandeeKayDelights. “There’s lots of other animals to talk to that sometimes give you quests, but there’s nothing mean in the game, no damage, and everything is very chill.”
The game carries a beautiful but simple aesthetic. Players gently jump and glide across the setting while taking trips across a well-built environment. The ease of control helps to make the game feel cozy, and players can travel with a leisurely pace.
One might think that a haunted island is far from a relaxing or comfortable environment, yet Cozy Grove challenges that assumption. “It has the same cozy vibe as Animal Crossing, but the style of Don’t Starve,” says Redditor katrinemh.
While most games of this nature would be great and obscure horror games, Cozy Grove encourages players to soothe ghosts rather than fight them. It somehow makes a haunting into a relaxing session, offering new and easy experiences every day.
Spiriting spirits away into the afterlife hardly sounds like a cozy experience, yet Spiritfarer brings the concept new life. Players get to learn more about each spirit as the journey goes on, and it makes the experience as fulfilling as the art makes it beautiful.
“I’m absolutely hooked,” said Redditor NebWolf. “It’s laidback with a beautiful (and emotional) story, it’s got lots to do like fishing, growing some crops and exploring. It’s just what I needed this week after playing too many intense games.” The chance to build the boat only makes the experience even cozier, as players can design their own environment.