As we enter the holiday season 2023, just about everything is on sale at least once, which makes it a great time to stock up on video games. Whether you’re enjoying some downtime over the holidays or sneaking it in when you can, it’s a great time of year for gaming.
If I could, I’d spend all of the colder months under a blanket with my Nintendo Switch. When the weather isn’t great, I take my exploration to the virtual worlds instead of the real ones. Whether or not it’s cold where you live, these 10 best cozy games will bring you all the comfort and joy you need this holiday season.
Travelers Rest is a cozy pixelated game where you play as an innkeeper trying to revamp a rundown inn and turn it into the go-to social center of town. This game has fantasy vibes, so you can pretend you’re the tavern owner where D&D adventuring parties always seem to meet one another.
Travelers Rest is still in Early Access and being actively worked on, so there may be bugs and changes to the game. Still, I can’t think of any better way to spend the holidays than pretending to run my fantasy tavern.
Yoshi’s Crafted World
Yoshi’s Crafted World came out a few years ago but still tops many cozy gamers’ wishlists for the holidays. It’s a side-scrolling platformer where you play as Yoshi, navigating a series of levels to try and recover the scattered fragments of the Sundream Stone.
The artwork alone makes Yoshi’s Crafted World cute and cozy, as the entire game looks like someone’s art project in the best way. We’re talking Yoshis that look like they’re made of felt, walking through a world of cardboard and scotch tape.
Some might say spirits have a Halloween vibe, but something about Spirittea where you run a bathhouse for lost souls gives me the fall/winter feels. Technically, you get all four seasons in the game, but the old run-down inn and chasing spirits around town feel perfect for those cozy holiday season gaming sessions.
You can also cook various dishes for the spirits while they soak in the hot baths, and all of that screams winter coziness to me. Bonus points if you unlock the bridge to the hot springs so you and your human NPC friends can soak as well.
Pokemon Scarlet & Violet
With The Indigo Disk DLC on the way soon, it’s the perfect time to get back into Pokemon Scarlet & Violet. Whether or not you grew up on Pokemon, these games have a soothing and familiar rhythm that makes it easy to settle in for a long session with the ultimate cozy vibes. Plus, who doesn’t love collecting cute creatures?
If you’re trying to get into the holiday vibes, you can catch a few Delibird and relive your memories of the present-catching minigame from Pokemon Stadium (just me?)
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly
Coffee Talk Episode 2, the sequel to the famous visual novel Coffee Talk, is here, and it’s time to get back to serving up coffee, tea, and all manner of cozy, warm beverages to your coffee house guests. This is perfect if you want a game that’s light on complicated gameplay and heavy on the narrative arc.
Aside from brewing the occasional beverage, your primary goal in these games is to listen to your guests as they tell their stories. It’s a great way to destress from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and unwind with a game that will keep you immersed without getting you too worked up.
Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
Whether or not Skyrim counts as a cozy game is an open debate in the gaming community, but I find myself returning to this game every year around this time. And since we don’t have much news for Elder Scrolls VI, I’ll likely find myself there again before the year is out.
Even though Skyrim has more combat than your average cozy game, the open-world exploration and relative ease of combat compared with some higher-demand systems make it pretty comforting. Plus, it’s a classic at this point, so it has those familiar nostalgia vibes going for it.
A Short Hike
Whether or not you’re an avid hiker IRL, there’s something about how A Short Hike embraces the challenge of a single climb to the highest point that fills cozy gamers with joy. Your mission in A Short Hike is to make it to the top of the mountain, but of course, you’ve got to accomplish a few goals along the way to make that possible.
A Short Hike offers a lot of fun and a heartfelt storyline. It is also relatively short, so you can get the satisfaction of playing your way through the entire story before the holiday season is out.
Disney Dreamlight Valley
What’s cozier than hanging out with your favorite Disney characters? Disney Dreamlight Valley lets you do just that, and as a bonus, this game has a history of holiday-themed events. So, if you’re looking for a game where you can lean into your favorite winter holiday, this may fit the bill.
DDV also has many favorite cozy gaming elements, such as farming, solving puzzles, etc. Disney Dreamlight Valley has been in early access but is about to be released in full this December, along with a new expansion. That makes now the perfect time to jump into the magic.
If hunkering down with your plants is your holiday vibe, Strange Horticulture might be the cozy game for you this holiday season. You play as the magical owner of a plant shop. Discover new plants, solve mysteries, and hang out with your cat in the ultimate introvert’s dream of what the holidays could be. Cozy gamers consistently rave about this game and its comfy, plant-based vibes, so it’s time to add it to your library.
Bear & Breakfast
I can’t resist another innkeeping game because all the Hallmark movies have me convinced it isn’t the holiday season without a cozy inn being involved somehow. Bear & Breakfast is an adorable game where you play as a bear running a bed and breakfast, adding an extra layer of cute to the cozy genre.
This game combines a light sense of adventure with management and decoration elements, so you can settle in for the season with this one. Some users note it plays better on PC due to the text size on Switch, but it’s still a popular choice amongst cozy gaming fans.