(+ Calming, Conversing, Caring, Collecting, Constructing, & Cultivating)
“Cozy gaming” is a bit of a nebulous “I-know-it-when-I-see-it” sort of term, but generally gets applied to games in a pleasant and inviting setting where your primary interactions with the world and characters in it are positive and constructive, and violence is de-emphasized if it exists at all. Typical activities might include farming, crafting, cooking, gift-giving, conversations, running a shop, fishing, etc.
It’s been a growing subculture within gaming for the past few years (overlapping substantially with “wholesome games”). I’m by no means an expert, but I enjoy them from time to time, and also keep an eye on the scene to help find possible games for my daughter, who is an aficionado.
We’ve had threads for a few specific big games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing. However, there’s a lot more out there that might be interesting but that a dedicated thread for would quickly vanish without a trace, so let’s have a general thread.
Preamble done – cross-posting the genesis of this thread from the Wallet Threat Level thread discussing the game releases at the end of September 2023:
The answer to this is “yes, but it’s complicated”, with the specifics depending on exactly what you are referring to as “Harvest Moon games”.
“Games in the series that started with Harvest Moon on the SNES”: Yes, and still getting regular releases, with a mix of original titles and remakes of the old games. However, there was a messy breakup between the developer and publisher a few years back. The publisher got the name “Harvest Moon”, while the developer got pretty much everything else, so the new games continuing the series are released under the title “Story of Seasons”. There’s also the Rune Factory series, a spinoff that combines farming with RPG mechanics and combat. It got a new release (Rune Factory 5) last year, and there are also remasters of 3 and 4 that came out recently on modern platforms.
"Games called “Harvest Moon”: Yes. As mentioned, the publisher got the series title in the divorce. If you browse pretty much any platform there are a number of minimal-effort shovelware games under the “Harvest Moon” name. The one coming out this week (Winds of Anthos) looks like they put at least some resources into it and are attempting to compete on more than name recognition, but I have no idea if it will actually be good or not.
“Farming games in general”: Yes, and enjoying a bit of a moment in the indie zeitgeist. Stardew Valley was a massive hit modeled closely on Harvest Moon, and we’re now seeing a wave of descendants arriving. This September in particular has been referred to as “Farmageddon” – the month started off with Fae Farm (lots of magic and an emphasis on co-op) and Rune Factory 3 Special (remaster of a DS farming/adventuring game), continued with Moonstone Island (farm, explore, and collect spirits to use in card-based battles) and it ends with the new Harvest Moon (already mentioned) and Paleo Pines (befriend dinosaurs to help work your farm).
And on the original schedule, My Time at Sandrock (crafting rather than farming, but still in the same genre) was supposed to come out this week, but it got bumped back to November to get out of such a crowded release window. But the price is going to go from $25 to $40 at release, so probably good to buy now if you want.
And not relevant to this month’s releases, but if you want to play an indie Harvest Moon descendant in active development with “very positive” ratings, you have your pick of stone age (Roots of Pacha), fantasy (Sun Haven), or tropical/mermaids (Coral Island) flavors.
Links to mentioned games:
(3D remake of a Game Boy Advance Harvest Moon. Also on Game Pass and PS+)
(Newest game and only one in full 3D).
(Generally considered the best of the series. Also available on both Game Pass and PS+)
(Newest entry from the publisher. No reviews yet)
(Kicked off the modern farming game renaissance and still a great place to start)
(Magic + co-op)
(New remaster. Probably hard to recommend over 4 or 5 for someone new to the series.)
(Alchemy, creature-collecting, and card-based battles)
(Friendly dinosaurs help on your farm)
(Western-themed sequel to the well-regarded My Time at Portia)
(Stone age tribe)
(Expansive fantasy setting with co-op)
(Tropics and Merfolk. Also on PC Game Pass)