Howdy pals, it’s Zainabb here with this month’s cosy gaming news, ideal for the sudden cold weather we’re having in the UK. I hope your new year has started with plenty of cosiness, whatever that looks like for you. All I want to do is collapse into about 400 cushions and play games on my Steam Deck while watching horror films—so that’s what I’m going to do this weekend!

Before we start, your regular reminder from me to please support Palestinian people however you can, now and always. The Palestine Academy offers education and a list of resources here. The Palestinian Feminist Collective have an incredible action toolkit too. If you’re able, please donate to Medical Aid for Palestinians or Crips for eSims for Gaza.

Looking Ahead to Cosy Games in 2024

New year, new cosy games! Here’s a rundown of some titles I’m looking forward to this year.

Summerhouse is a tiny building game that lets you make a little neighbourhood in several gorgeously crafted settings. That’s basically it, and I want it. There aren’t any goals or win conditions, it’s just a space to take your time and relax.

Europa is a stunning platformer where players take control of an android as they figure out what happened to the last humans. Looking at the trailer, the mechanics seem fluid and gentle, and the environments look beautiful—it’s giving Journey and I’m here for it.

Words truly cannot express how excited I am for Reka, a witchy farming sim where you play an apprentice of Baba Yaga (yes! Do you understand my excitement now!) The aesthetics are entirely my thing, and I cannot wait to finally become a swamp witch living in a house with collapsible chicken legs.

Garden Life is a gardening sandbox game with a beautiful art style, and apparently uses procedural generation to make each of your plants unique, like in real life. I foresee this relaxing title becoming a new flare up fave for me, someone who isn’t always great at taking care of real-world plants but wants to be surrounded by them anyway!

Mika and the Witch’s Mountain has widely been described as a Kiki’s Delivery Service simulator which is obviously one of the cosiest descriptions possible. In 2024, I just want to be a little witch on a little broom, surrounded by little critters, helping out my little friends.

Tales of the Shire says it’ll give players a “cosy Hobbit life” this year, but to be honest, I’m not convinced it’ll manage a 2024 release. Based on the, uh, not-so-stellar release of Gollum, and the fact that we still know basically nothing about this title, a 2024 release just feels overly ambitious. But if Tales of the Shire ends up being an actually good The Lord of the Rings game, it’ll likely become my favourite of all time.

In other news…

I know literally nothing about League of Legends except that it exists and, now, that there’s an upcoming crafting RPG based on its lore. Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story lets the player create their own Yordle (a furry creature illustrated in a Gaia Online-esque style) to craft and explore with. The game is set to release on PC and Nintendo Switch in February.

Two new The Sims 4 kits have dropped in a combination that’ll let us all live our best virtual vampire lives. The Castle Estate and Goth Galore kits focus on castle architecture and early ’00s, Underworld-esque goth fashion respectively.

Bethesda has announced a new mobile game, The Elder Scrolls: Castles, which tasks players with managing a castle in (I assume) Tamriel. The game is currently being rolled out on Android and iOS, and is free-to-play with in-app purchases.

Visual novel Vampire Therapist will release in June 2024 and, folks, I’m generally not a visual novel gamer but the trailer for this one is speaking to me. Developer Little Bat Games says that the game uses real-life therapy techniques in its narrative of a cowboy vampire helping other supernatural creatures learn to treat themselves, and those around them, with compassion and care. You can watch the trailer below.

Original pet art is returning to Neopets on January 23, in an effort to break down one aspect of the game’s thriving black market. The art style for pets was updated in 2007, but some players were able to keep their pets’ original art style, making so-called “unconverted pets” extremely valuable in the in-game economy. Now, all pets will be updated to the new art style but players will also have the option to revert to the original art style, essentially with the use of skins. Most players will have to pay to access the original art style for their pets, but folks with existing “unconverted pets” will automatically be given the old-style skin when their pet is updated.

Okay, this is a bit of a rogue item to include in this beat but hear me out. Hilltop Works, the group behind fan translations of cult PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games, has announced its next project, JRPG Abarenbō Princess (or Rowdy Princess in English). Hilltop Works’s last project was an English translation of Boku no Natsuyasumi 2, a PS2-era Japanese life sim—while Abarenbō Princess isn’t the sort of “cosy game” as Boku no Natsuyasumi 2, JRPGs are cosy to a lot of us (and even better if you’re nostalgic about PS2 games!). Okay thanks for coming to my TED talk.