If you’re anything like me, games influence your mood a lot. As an empath, it can be difficult to not get too influenced by overwhelming emotions. Sometimes, I just want to play some happy games. So many games offer narrative-rich stories that are often saturated in sadness, anger, and emotional moments. 

Don’t get me wrong, though. Those are my favorite types of games. From The Last of Us 2 to Final Fantasy 7: Remake, I’ve shed my fair share of sad, happy, and angry tears at a game’s expense in the last few years. But it can be exhausting. When I’ve had enough of being in my feels but I want to game, there are a number of games I can turn to that will provide me with all the happy feels. 

Here’s a breakdown of 6 happy games that will put a big smile on your face.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Nintendo Switch

Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing: New Horizons came at a time when the world needed it most. Its release coincided with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that left many locked up at home baking bread and binging America’s Next Top Model. There is a lot of joy in crafting your own lil world full of adorable and mostly friendly animal creatures. Laying out your village and home in New Horizons instills a sense of calm often missing in large story-based games. You’re also able to visit your friends’ islands and spend time with them that way.

Stardew Valley – PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Mobile

stardew valley relaxing video games

If you enjoy Animal Crossing but want a little more narrative, Stardew Valley offers that in spades in one of the most relaxing and happy games. Like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley offers up a lot of cozy vibes. It’s a great way to check out if you’re filled with emotions after a particularly jarring gaming session. In it, you take control of your farm and life. Not only can you plant a garden and raise livestock but you can also socialize with neighbors, get married, and have children. If you want slightly higher stakes, you can explore caves and mine for things and battle creatures, but it is optional.

Donut County – Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Mobile, PC, Mac

Donut County happy games

Need to chuckle and laugh? Donut County might be the game for you. It is a story-based physics puzzle game that embraces the bizarre. In it, you take control of a hole in the ground. Yes, a hole. Your objective is to move around the level and swallow things to become increasingly bigger. You might start gobbling up things like chickens, but eventually, boulders and even buildings will fall down your earthy gullet. There is a silly story following mischievous raccoons and a cast of angry villagers, but it’s secondary to the happy abandon the game offers with its gameplay.

Spider-Man – PS4, PS5

Spider-Man

Spider-Man is probably the most mechanically and narrative-heavy game on the list. It’s not without emotional moments, but it’s what occurs in between that will have you wide-eyed with glee. At one point in our lives, we’ve all wanted to be a superhero, Power Ranger, or a member of the X-Men. Spider-Man gives us one of the closest ways to experience that. Swinging as Peter Parker from building-to-building across an eerily accurate representation of New York City will have you grinning so hard your face hurts.

Bugsnax – PS4, PS5, PC, Mac, Xbox Game Pass

Bugsnax title art

Originally released with the launch of the PS5, Bugsnax takes players on a wild journey to Snaktooth Island. It is a world full of half-bug, half-snack creatures called, you guessed it, Bugsnax. It’s one of those happy games that has a silly premise and is executed perfectly. There is a mystery afoot that needs to be solved all while using a variety of tools to capture many delicious-looking Bugsnax. Once you capture them, you can feed them to the local inhabitants called Grumpuses. Doing so changes their appearance in some delightful ways depending on what kind they eat.

Super Mario Odyssey – Nintendo Switch

Mario and Cappy in Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey shakes up the Mario world in many ways. The games have always been propelled by great, nostalgic mechanics and characters. Odyssey, however, brings on a new ally for Mario with the introduction of Cappy. Mario and Cappy set across the globe to rescue Princess Peach once again. Cappy gives Mario a whole host of new abilities to use. It’s hard not to smile and feel a sense of joy in really any Mario game. Odyssey reintroduces Mario to a sandbox world full of magical things to do and see.