Rachelle Williams is a web content creator with a goal to educate and entertain.
The subject of video games often immediately brings to mind violent shooter type games, high stress real-time strategy games, or heart-pounding action-adventure and horror games.
Many would-be players are drawn to this aspect of gaming only to be disenchanted by the anxiety-inducing titles that seem to dominate the medium.
Whilst Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Resident Evil are undeniably appealing to scores of players, there are still many people who want to find relaxing games to unwind and escape the actual crazy world we live in.
Fortunately, there is a video game genre that speaks the language of those who would like to get into gaming to have chill and relaxing experiences. Enter the world of cozy games.
The video below is a trailer for an incredibly chill and relaxing game called Journey. The game is the last featured title in this article, but I thought I would give you a quick little glimpse into the kind of breath taking experiences that await you if you decide to venture into the realm of cozy gaming.
What Are Cozy Games?
"Cozy games," also known as "casual games," are video games that are mostly stress-free, approachable, peaceful, and calming. Many of them often give the player a warm and "cozy" feeling.
In the past, these types of stress-free games were known as casual games, and casual gamers were brushed off as though their chosen form of chill gaming made them somehow them less than. Think about it, people who play more relaxing games like maybe The Sims, for instance, aren't readily thought of as being true "gamers."
However, given the recent stress-inducing events of the past couple of years, there seems to be more of an interest in gaming as a way to destress. The title of cozy games has been shown to be more popular than the casual games title, so here we are.
To be fair, any game can be a cozy game depending on your interests. I mean, some people are actually comforted by slicing the heads off of zombies to get their tribe to safety. However, cozy games are usually on the more "warm and fuzzy" side of things.
If you are intrigued by the idea of chill games, stay with me and you will learn about five awesome standouts of the cozy game genre that just might have you turning into an avid cozy gamer in swift fashion.
Lake by Whitethorn Games
Lake is a game that allows you to become a character named Meredith, who takes a two-week break from the stressful big city life and her job as a computer programmer.
Playing as Meredith, you retreat to her hometown which is the beautiful, peaceful town of Providence Oaks. There you'll find a scenic, woodsy landscape surrounding a beautiful lake.
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While on your work hiatus, you fill-in for your vacationing father and you take on his low-stress job of postal delivery. delivering the mail allows you to both spend time out in the fresh air and gorgeous environment and to interact with the town's quirky residents.
In this gameplay you can expect your character to relive memories, greet familiar faces and reconnect with your old community. You have the ability to complete activities, relax with a good book after work or hangout with a friend and you control the tone of your interactions, amongst many other things in this game.
Lake is one of the chillest games around and it is easily my favorite on this list. Lake is developed by a Dutch company called Gamious and published by Whitehorn Games; it is available on PC and XBOX.
Dorfromantik by Toukana Interactive
Dorfromantik is a beautiful and relaxing puzzle game & tile based world builder. The game is also a matching game that that requires a small amount of strategy involving matching like landscapes and houses.
The game begins as a blank canvas, inviting you to create your own landscape. You work at your own pace, as there is no timer or overarching mission, but some tiles require the completion of relatively easily accomplished goals.
Over time, you become the architect of a vibrant world filled with activity and set to a velvety smooth soundtrack. Said soundtrack pulls you in to the gameplay while at the same time it gives way to the sights and sounds of the activities in the game.
The further you expand your world outward, the more opportunity for exploration you will encounter because additional landscape variety and milestones are unlocked through growth.
Dorfromantik is a beautiful and tranquilizing game that can easily become addictive. The game is developed and published by Toukana Interactive, and it is available on PC.
Unpacking by Witch Beam Studio
Unpacking is a block-fitting puzzle game that takes the ordinary and often mundane chore of unpacking boxes and turns it into a revealing adventure into the life of an unseen protagonist.
As it turns out, you can learn a lot about a person by examining the items they choose to hold on to. Little by little, as you unpack each of the items from the boxes, you gain more knowledge.
Throughout the gameplay clues are revealed that give you insight into the protagonist's life, so you eventually gain a deeper understanding of what may have brought this person to a new place.
Unpacking pulls you in right from the start almost as soon as you begin retrieving and assigning everyday items to their new homes within the protagonist's new home and it becomes quite easy to get lost in the task at hand.
Like Dorfromantik, Unpacking is yet another game that offers a rich and engrossing soundtrack while also allowing the natural sounds from the gameplay to shine through.
Although the gameplay is ridiculously simple and it can be completed in its entirety in a couple of hours, Unpacking is an engrossing game that accomplishes the task of telling a story in a unique manner.
For me, this particular game managed to hit on a deeper level. The most interesting thing for me about Unpacking is the fact that I know that one day someone will have the chore of packing away my things for good. When that day arrives, I hope that someone will be a person I love; I wonder what the things I've managed to hold on to will say about me... But, I digress.
Unpacking is developed by Witch Beam Studios, and you can find the game on PC, Nintendo Switch and XBOX One.
Florence by Mountains Studio
Florence is an interactive story game that will leave you with a warm heart and a mind-blown feeling. One reviewer describes the game as less of a game and more of an experience...and I highly concur.
The game is highly story focused and it centers on a 25-year-old woman named Florence. When we meet her, Florence is muddling through life, just going through the motions of her daily tasks.
One day, Florence meets a guy and her life slowly but surely changes in a good way. The relationship between her and her new friend unfolds into a comfortable situation and the culmination of their story is at the heart of the game, so I won't give it away here.
Throughout the game you are tasked with chores in the form of interesting and unique puzzles that allow you to unlock the game and advance the story. The completion of these relatively simple puzzles is as far as any actual strategic gameplay goes.
Once again, the soundtrack here is a standout as well - in fact, the soundtrack to Florence is strikingly beautiful. Even more notable than the score, the game's animation is ridiculously sublime, and it is perfectly fitting to the emotionally charged story told in the game.
Florence is a seemingly unassuming little game that takes up no more than an hour of your time, but in that short amount of time it succeeds in making you care deeply for the protagonist and it leaves you filled with hope for her future.
In short, do not miss Florence, it will give you a deep appreciation for this particular type of genre. Florence was developed by the Australian team of Mountains Studio and published by Annapurna Interactive; find it on The Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Nintendo Switch, Steam (PC) and Mac.
Journey by thatgamecompany
The final cozy game I'll review in this article is an overwhelmingly beautiful game called Journey. Much like Florence, Journey is a game that is simple and relatively short (three hours), but it is so astonishing that it will literally take your breath away.
Journey is a third-person, sometimes multi-player, adventure game where you travel through a desert to get to a mountain that shines like a beacon that beckons you ever closer throughout the gameplay.
You begin the game without any sense of context and you play as a red robed figure who sets out hiking toward the illuminated mountain.
Along the way, there are objectives for you to complete that are so subtly suggested that you feel instinctively drawn toward them. As you glide throughout the desert you encounter long-forgotten ruins and mysteries that keep you engaged.
At one point during the game, you discover fragments of a luminous scarf that allows you to fly. As you soar through the dusty, but calming desert air you collect more pieces of the scarf - the more you collect the longer and higher your bursts of flight become.
Of all the games mentioned in this article, Journey is perhaps the most gamified title, as you find and exact new methods of sustaining flight and you are rewarded for sourcing collectables.
Although the environment of the game is a desolate desert, the game has an overall ethereal and dreamy tone that relaxes you to the core. There is visual candy in every aspect of the scenery, from the way you glide through the air to the way the sand interacts on impact.
As you might have already guess by now, the soundtrack to this game is also on point. It is an orchestral score that interplays with each moment of the gameplay.
The game goes on to introduce other players into the mix, but each of you remain anonymous and contact is minimal. The companionship is interesting and you discover ways to assist each other along your adventure.
Journey is a 3 hour artistic experiment that leaves you to ponder the deeper meaning(s) of the game. You come out on the other end with a highly personalized experience and the gorgeous visual and auditory exposure remains with you long after the game ends.
Journey was the last game made under a three-game contract between Thatgamecompany and Sony Computer Entertainment, as well as Tricky Pixels game studio and Annapurna Interactive. You can find Journey on PlayStation 3 & 4, Steam (PC) and the Apple App Store.
Have Your Say...
You are almost certain to be pleasantly surprised by the relaxing gameplay you will experience no matter which of the chill games you choose to try out from this short list.
Rest assured that if you are interested in the medium, there are many more relaxing games like the ones I mentioned in this article.
It is my hope that you will want to delve more deeply into the world of cozy games and it has been my pleasure to introduce you to the genre.
© 2022 Rachelle Williams