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Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or chat online

Lifeline: 131 114 or lifeline chat

Worldwide resources:

The Season for Cozy Games

The holiday season is upon us! For many people this is a time to reset and reflect, however, it can be a turbulent time for some who are going through difficult times. There are many tips for coping with the potential stress and sadness this season can bring. 

But one of the surprising ways to tackle the holiday season, regardless of your situation, is video games. Specifically, wholesome or cozy games are a genre dedicated to people who just want to relax and explore a stress-free experience.

What are cozy games?

The term has gained popularity over the last few years but has yet to have a clear definition. Most gamers took up the title “cozy games” to refer to a game that is not violent or is very easy to play. Games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing are good examples. 

Both hardcore and casual gamers enjoy cozy games as they are appealing and fun to play. They typically have a deeper meaning and inherent value in the gameplay and, usually, an appealing art style, calming music, and characters that are easy to get attached to.


Cozy games can be the answer for those days during the holiday season when you just want to chill out and escape from reality.

These games revolve around taking things at your own pace and having opportunities to participate in activities you may not normally do. For example, in games like Stardew Valley, where you take up farming, or in the recently released Bear and Breakfast, where, as it says, you run a Bed and Breakfast!


Cozy games come with simple and often repetitive mechanics, which are easy to learn and allow you to fall into a calming pattern. Most cozy games are simulations or role-playing games (RPGs), with some having a more sandbox-type genre and some being open-world exploration.

Why are cozy games popular?

Cozy or wholesome games have increased in popularity in recent years, boosted by a terrible pandemic that forced many people into difficult and isolated situations.

Along with this, the online popularity of the “cozy aesthetic” drove a swath of new players and users globally to a space within the video game industry that wasn’t all action or violent-oriented experiences.

The nurturing environment in these games has also quickly built a community of people looking for a safe space to relax, unwind, and sometimes escape into another world. It’s easy to see why these games are still much needed as many people continue to go through difficult situations. In times of turmoil and uncertainty, a video game can be a safe, inviting, and consistent place to seek refuge.

There aren’t any specific game mechanics for cozy games. While some people agree that not having any action or fight sequences is the main point, some argue that any game can become a cozy or a comfort game depending on the player.


Relaxing games range from platformers to point-and-click adventures and, as we mentioned before, RPGs or life simulations. These are the types of games you can crawl in with after a stressful day or quickly access on your mobile phone to decompress after a serious conversation. 

Since there aren’t specific game mechanics for cozy games, we have suggested the following categories:

  • Atmospheric Cozy Games - Games that have a relaxing atmosphere with calming music, like ABZU or Flower
  • Mechanical Cozy Games - Games that require minimal cognitive effort and could rely on muscle memory, like Candy Crush or Tetris (this is where some action games might function as cozy games for players that have a lot of familiarity with them)
  • Immersive Cozy Games - And games that suck us into their world, allowing for complete immersive escape, like Wylde Flowers or Wayward Strand

How can cozy games help our mental health?

Cozy games can act as a form of meditation that helps to reset the mind, a safe space to socialise with others when we are disconnected, or as a way to build mental resilience through in-game progression and achievement systems. 

During the pandemic, video game sales grew by 73% as people turned to online platforms to socialise and escape. A study in Australia by IGEA revealed that 36% of people had made new friends through video games. The same study noted that most adults and children turned to video games to de-stress and maintain or improve mental health, with 81% overall using video games to feel mentally healthy.

Another editorial released by the University of Geneva under the Public Mental Health Sector concluded that video games and other game-related technologies have and continue to offer solutions to many mental health issues. These gamified solutions across 34 research papers highlight the future of mental well-being and how video games are tools for prevention and treatment.

Here are our top 10 cozy games for the holiday season!

To be as inclusive with options as possible, we’ve listed games available on PC, Consoles and Mobile devices.

Coffee Talk

Developer: Toge Productions

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Mac operating systems

Coffee Talk is heart-to-heart talking mixed in with a coffee brewing simulation game. Listen to the problems of an alternative Seattle's characters and help them while serving home-brewed coffee. The game is an excellent way to relax after a long day.


Developer: Plethora project

Platforms: Microsoft Windows

Occupy, build and manage your new community after an economic crash forces them to find a place to live. Customise your new home, grow your food and scavenge for materials, all while forming new bonds and friendships. This wholesome game about the value of community could be just the thing you need on a lonely day.


Developer: Oskar Stålberg

Platforms:  Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Mac operating systems

Townscaper is more of a toy sandbox simulator than an actual game. The underlying AI generates the building shapes and town decorations, so you just need to pick a colour scheme and start clicking. This cozy game is a great way to destress, requiring no underlying thought or strategy to play.

Coral Island

Developer: Stairway Games

Platforms: Microsoft Windows

Nothing is cozier than a farming simulator, and Coral Island is the perfect one to play this holiday season. Build up your farm, grow various crops and revitalise the coral around your island. Through this game, you can also form deep relationships with the community and live out your fantasy island life.


Developer: Chaos Theory Games

Platforms: iOS App Store, Android Google Play Store

Rescue, rehabilitate and release native Australian wildlife in this park ranger simulation. Maintain your sanctuary and customise animal enclosures to ensure they are nursed back to health. Explore the Australian wildlife sanctuaries and nature parks, learn about native plantlife and discover a love for the outdoors. This mobile game is perfect for an on-the-go escape with cute animal facts that will help stimulate the mind.

Newfound Courage

Developer: Cafe Empty

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, macOS, Mac operating systems

Newfound Courage is a narrative adventure game that follows a gay hero as he learns to accept his feelings for a kind-hearted local. The game is heartfelt and beautiful with hints of action-adventure and an exploration of the mysteries in this cliffside town. The messages of self-love and healing within this game make it unmissable.

Witchy Life Story

Developer: Sundew Studios

Platforms: Microsoft Windows

For people looking for something very low-effort but still having a compelling and relaxing storyline, this game is for you. Witchy Life Story follows the protagonist two weeks before a harvest festival, tend to your garden and collect flora for potions to help the villagers around you.

Tsuki Odyssey

Developer: HyperBeard

Platforms: iOS App Store, Android Google Play Store

Watch as Tsuki, the bunny, lives out his adventures in Mushroom village. Meet the exciting and quirky villagers as you experience the joys of the simple things, like a hot tea on a cold day or a night stargazing with a friend. The game progresses even if you are not playing, as it acts as a rest stop for yourself to unwind.

Night in the Woods

Developer: Infinite Fall & Secret Lab

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, iOS

Night in the Woods is an adventure game is purely driven by player exploration. This vibrant world has many loveable characters and an air of mystery that keeps you engaged. The entire game has an autumnal theme that is perfect for you to cozy up with a warm blanket and drink.

Haven Park

Developer: Fabien Weibel & Bubblebird Studio

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac operating systems

Maintain a camper park as the little duck, Flint. Speak to your campers and fulfil their wishes to expand the park and attract more whimsical visitors. Short and straightforward gameplay paired with colourful themes close out our list of games essential for surviving the holiday season.

This list isn’t definitive, and we have primarily listed games made by indie studios. However, as we mentioned, cozy games are on the rise, making their way into bigger studios. Popular titles such as Minecraft and Pokemon are now widely recognised in the cozy genre.

We’ve now walked through what cozy games are and how they gained popularity as a genre. We discussed how this genre of games can help with mental health and listed some must-download examples. 

The holidays can be challenging for many people, but these games can and should be picked up and played even if you’re having a wonderful time. Games are there for you whether you’re spending the season alone, with family or friends, coping with serious thoughts, or breezing through it all.

The Chaos Theory Games office will be shut from 24th December to 8th January for the holidays. We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season, and see you in the New Year! ❤️️