Anna Lucas ’24 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
With November well under way, the world edges close to the frosty winter season. The chill of the impending December is already present in the air. With it comes snow, and with that snow comes the usual horrors: clearing out the driveway, shaking the slush out of boots, and staving off numbness while waiting for the bus. Winter is undeniably cold. The temptation to spend the nights swaddled in blankets is stronger than ever.
How does one keep warm on a cold winter day? Video games are not as physically comforting as hot chocolate, but their emotional comfort is something else entirely. A player can melt into the right video game for hours on end. Of course, not all games are designed to make their audience feel cozy. This article will explore five video games that are perfect for snuggling up to this winter season.
There’s nothing like a good cup of tea on a cold night. But that’s not an ordinary cup of tea the player just drank; it’s Spirittea, a brew that lets them see spirits! Now that they can see them, a cat spirit named Wonyan encourages the player to help with the town’s spiritual trouble. Plenty of troublemaking spirits are causing a ruckus, and they need something to chill them out. What could be a better deterrent than a nice bathhouse?
Spirittea is an upcoming life simulator developed by Cheesemaster Games. Inspired by famous farm sim Stardew Valley, the game tasks the protagonist with fixing up an old bathhouse in order to bring peace to rowdy spirits. That’s not all; there are a plethora of townspeople to meet, all with their own schedules and interests. When players are done chopping wood to heat the baths or serving noodles to a local spirit, they can catch a round of karaoke with a friend and find some furniture to accent their new home.
Spirittea launched on November 13, 2023 for Steam, the Xbox Game Pass, and the Nintendo Switch. A free demo is available on Steam.
2) Mineko’s Night Market
Mineko has just arrived at her new home, a Japanese-inspired island that’s a little worse for wear. Its primary source of revenue is the weekly Night Market, where all sorts of trinkets and knickknacks are put on display. She’s encouraged to collect, craft, and sell her own creations in order to make friends, support the town, and uncover the island’s deepest mysteries.
Mineko’s Night Market is a social simulation game developed by Meowza Games. In the shoes of newcomer Mineko, the player can gather flowers, free cats from the watch of shady agents, befriend the townspeople, and craft cat-themed goods for the weekly Night Market. As they solve puzzles and sneak past guards, they’ll uncover the myth of Nikko, the Sun Cat, and perhaps even see him for themselves.
Mineko’s Night Market launched on September 26, 2023 for $19.99 and is available on Steam, the Xbox Game Pass, the PlayStation, and the Nintendo Switch.
Pekoe is set in the namesake town filled with charming teahouses and feline townspeople. The player is the owner of the newest tea shop in town, and cats will come in regularly asking for a cup. From the tea, to the teaware, to the décor of the shop, everything is customizable.
Pekoe is a tea-making simulation game developed by Kitten Cup Studio. It includes a cast of ten cats with their own teahouses, wares, and relationships to build as the player bonds through exchanges of tea. While brewing tea is the primary focus, the game is ultimately about self-care and enjoying the things that make people happy.
Pekoe launched on June 28, 2023. It is currently a Steam-exclusive Early Access title priced at $17.99. Though its full release is yet to come, it updates monthly with improvements and new content.
Gourdlets introduces—well—the Gourdlets: adorable little vegetable creatures. They have land, but no home; that’s where the player comes in. They can build their dream town for all sorts of Gourdlets, and watch as they sing, fish, tend to crops, and build snowmen. As the town grows, more Gourdlets will populate it, forming a civilization of itsy-bitsy friends to discover.
Gourdlets is a city-building sandbox game developed by AuntyGames. The city the player constructs for the Gourdlets is completely up to them—the Gourdlets are easy to please, or so the game says—with buildings, accessories, and shrubbery to choose from. With relaxing music and retro graphics, this is a no-goal, no-stress game where a player can freely decorate to their heart’s content.
5) Cattails: Wildwood Story
Plenty of life simulator games are out there, but not many place the player in the role of a cat! Cattails: Wildwood Story puts the player in charge of a colony of felines that they must lead and protect in the mysterious Wildwood. There are many places to set up shop in the Wildwood, whether it’s the forest, the beach, or even inside a volcano. All of it is—of course—freely customizable.
Cattails: Wildwood Story is a feline life simulator developed by Falcon Development. Like many other life sims, there is a cast of fellow cats to befriend and romance, and a town that can be customized as the player chooses. However, the role of a cat brings its fair share of colorful elements. All cats must learn to hunt, so one of the primary gameplay elements is pouncing on prey to score a good meal. There is also an overarching story with shadowy spirits that encroach on the colony’s land. The player must fend off the spirits, capture their territory, and help their colony prosper.
Cattails: Wildwood Story launched on October 20, 2023 for $19.99. It is Steam-exclusive, but a Nintendo Switch release is planned for 2024.
These are five of many heart-warming games to consider picking up this season. For other upcoming titles, players may consider Wholesome Games, a community that supports and shares cozy games. Yearly, the community produces a “Wholesome Direct”, which showcases upcoming releases and announcements for the genre. Their website is included here, alongside a link to their most recent Wholesome Direct.
Video games can be the perfect remedy to a day of relentless cold. Hopefully, these five video games can help make the winter just a little warmer.