Farmageddon: The Cozy Gaming Thread of Crops, Crafts, Commerce, and Community

(+ 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+)

(Original entry)

(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)

I am interested in this thread.

Cozy games are wonderful, and I’m a fan.

Although the general game atmosphere was decidedly uncozy, the gameplay of Dredge, one of my recent favourites, was cozy as a PSL. If you played it conservatively (ie never stayed out past sunset), the game could be super chill. Except for all the background Lovecraftian horror going on.

Yeah, stuff like that is why precise delineations are hard. There’s a sort of creepy-cozy thing going on there that undercuts my “inviting setting” guideline. And I think Graveyard Keeper, Cult of the Lamb, and Beacon Pines are in a similar liminal state.

Is Gas Station Simulator a cozy game? Because I spent several hours this weekend cleaning up trash, throwing the junk out, sweeping floors, painting the walls, unloading deliveries, clearing out sand piles, scaring away vandals, scanning groceries… oh and pumping gas.

It also has the ghost of Elvis and a creepy mob boss, so is kind of in that Graveyard Keeper space too.

When did everyone start using the word liminal? Liminal is the new bespoke. :)

I love that game. I should go back

I dunno about everyone else, but I used it because it fit both literally (as the games occupy a point of transition between different aesthetics) and associatively (since the “liminal spaces” aesthetic that has popped up over the last few years often has a similar sort of vibe as those games – eerie or unsettling without crossing into truly horrifying or disturbing.)

Yeah, it’s a beautiful and descriptive word, perfect for that use, but it seems like it cropped up everywhere all of a sudden.

Not to mention the term “liminal spaces” being completely misused by all of social media as blanket term for “creepy space”

Very nice to have a thread like this. My last cozy was Wylde Flowers, a fantastic game that is one of the most inclusive you will ever find. Great voice acting, too!

I think Palia qualifies for this thread. Tho’ it’s live service online multiplayer, so not cozy if you find hell is other people.

Basically an open beta, but seem a decent foundation.

I’ve found other players pleasant and cooperative so far.

Dinkum caught my eye. An Aussie riff on the concept, still in early access. Looks to have more base building than others.

You forgot to add:

Which is really good and has been out for a few years already. None of this EA shit.

My GF and I enjoyed this game quite a bit.

I think Power Washing Simulator is my go-to cozy game.

Is it weird that my cozy game is Warhammer 40,000 Inquisitor?

Nope, not weird.

I also feel that a lot of ARPGs are cozy games for me. It might seem crazy, but when I’m playing Path of Exile with a build I’m familiar with (say a minion Necromancer) I don’t have to do much in the way of thinking, since I’ve played that build so many times before.

And now that I’ve been playing Last Epoch so much, I can sort of cruise through the campaign without thinking too much. It helps that the leveling part of the process is pretty easy.

I’ll second Wylde Flowers. It’s a bit of Stardew Valley with a lot of Hallmark television movie–in a good way! It’s on Apple Arcade as well as Steam.

Speaking of Apple Arcade, I’m finding Japanese Rural Life Adventure to be a real treat. Again, a good amount of Stardew Valley/Harvest Moon energy, but this one gets super detailed in a lovely way. You’re placing stones for your koi pond one at a time, and revarnishing torii at the shrine, turning branches into bonsai, and repairing the local waterwheel piece-by-piece. I’m running into a problem now keeping some of the specific Japanese terms straight in my head, but although there’s a seasonal calendar, I don’t feel any pressure to get my 21 lanterns ready for the summer festival on time, since there’s always next year…

I had mentioned I had a lot of trouble starting out in Stardew Valley, which I figured is probably the friendliest for a newb in this genre, so this time I’m going to read a guide like this first before giving it another try.

Mh, funny enough my “cozy games” tend to be the “wide open sandbox” type of games.

I tried Stardew Valley and a few games in the same vein, but the main problems I run across with those that I either attempt to overoptimize it (why sniff the flowers when I could corner the flower market and make a gazillion megabucks!) or run across my crippling fear of commitment. (So, marriage…oh, and raising kids…uh…look, over there! An obvious distraction! teleports out). So, that kind of game tends to stress me out, doubly so if there’s any blink-or-you’ll-miss-it opportunity windows or a ticking clock (you have X years before bad thing Y happens).

Rule #1 of game development: Unless you do something against it, Gamers™ will optimize every bit of fun out of your game.
Rule #2: If you do something to prevent it, they will bitch and moan.

ARPGs can have a certain zen-like pattern of clearing out monsters and looting them, but I consider them more of a skinner box than a cozy experience. Without the presence of the carrot (higher numbers go BRRRRR) I find the gameplay loop rarely to be enjoyable. Particularly not when “properly” optimized with a 1-3 skill build that’s basically "press 1 to murder screen, 2 to hover up loot and hit 3 repeatedly in case of bosses. That’s kinda dull. No matter how pretty the lights and how high the numbers.

I also hate repetition. Randomized layouts and events help to a certain degree, so does a large enough pool of events, but what for example killed Grim Dawn for me in the long run is the absolute rote world progression.

However, puttering around in for example the Mudrunner games? Happy as a pig in said mud, really. No Man’s Sky scratched my itch for a long, long time. Yes, the elements repeat. Yes, some worlds look REALLY similar. No, that never bothered me as badly as running the wild west section of Grim Dawn for the 10th time on the third character.

Give me toys. Remove undue pressure. I’ll make my own fun, thank you.