Reading week is coming up, and you may have some free time on your hands to relax. What better way to chill than escaping to a different world? Here’s a list of cozy indie games you can try on a student budget.
A Short Hike ($11)
A Short Hike is an exploration game developed by Adam Robinson-Yu, a Canadian indie game designer. The game follows a bird named Claire, who’s waiting for an important call while visiting an island. She can’t get cell reception unless she makes the difficult hike up to Hawk Peak. To make the hike, you have to collect golden feathers that help Claire climb and fly around the island.
A Short Hike focuses on exploring the island’s map. There are various fun characters to meet that make the island feel real. Many of the characters will give you golden feathers, so be sure to talk to everyone. The game also uses simple visuals to create a welcoming and cozy environment. Composed by Mark Sparling, A Short Hike has calming music that adds to the cozy feel.
A Short Hike is also, well, short. You’ll only need a few hours of playtime if you’re just trying to get to the end. But you could easily stretch that out to several hours if you spend time exploring the island.
You can get A Short Hike on every major console and on PC and Mac through Steam and Itch.io.
Coffee Talk ($15)
Developed and published by Toge Productions, Coffee Talk follows a barista who owns a coffee shop that’s only open late at night. Throughout the story, you’ll meet interesting characters, each with their own problems. There are adult themes and real-life problems discussed in this game, like anxiety, and Coffee Talk revolves around learning how to deal with them. This leads to wholesome conversations and makes the characters more engaging.
The primary gameplay has you making coffee for people based on their requests. For instance, somebody might ask for coffee that’s a bit sweet. To meet their request, you’ll need to use two parts coffee and one part honey. You may also need to make latte art, which has its own relaxing minigame.
While the premise is enough to set Coffee Talk apart, the game also takes place in an urban fantasy setting. Elves, dwarves and orcs share the world with humans. The barista is often sarcastic but a good listener, which lends itself to the visual novel part of the game.
You can find Coffee Talk on every major console and on PC and Mac through Steam and Itch.io.
Harvest Town (Free)
Harvest Town is a free farming game inspired by the likes of Harvest Moon—players farm crops, build a manor and make friends in the titular town.
You don’t need to worry about wasting actual money, either. Unlike some mobile games, Harvest Town has a good reputation for not being predatory with its microtransactions. You’re only charged for extra energy and cosmetic items.
Harvest Town is on Android and IOS, making it super accessible.
Cozy worlds of VRChat (Free)
VRChat is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) that features user-generated content. This means that most content seen in the game is made by the players. The creations vary from the avatars you use to the various worlds you play in. While not every world has cozy vibes, there is a wide selection of worlds that are.
VRChat is available on PC and Mac, so you can play it even if you don’t have a virtual reality headsetl. You can also invite your friends to join regardless of if they have a headset. Like any MMO, players should practice caution in public worlds. To make this easier, you can create a new instance for each world that only your friends can join.
Some good examples of cozy worlds created by VRChat players are Japan Shrine by ITOAR and The Great Pug by owlboy. Japan Shrine is as it sounds; a Japanese shrine during the spring. The Great Pug is an English-style pub that has a welcoming atmosphere, complete with a cozy fire.
You can find VRChat on PC and Mac through Steam and on the Oculus headsets through the Oculus store.