Cozy games are a must as the end of summer approaches. Here are five to keep an eye on!

As the leaves start to fall and the weather gets chillier…

Just kidding. I’m from Georgia and it’s 90 degrees outside on September 3.

Anyway, as we hope the leaves will start to fall and the weather will get chillier, many of us will be looking for new games to play. You could always go for big names like Call of Duty, Fortnite, or Overwatch, but why not try something a little different instead? Something that’ll give you that warm, fuzzy feeling…but not too warm, because it’s definitely still hot outside. If you’re looking for something comfy and happy to play late this year or next year, you’ll want to keep an eye out for these five upcoming cozy games.

To The Rescue!: A Dog Shelter Simulator

cozy games

To The Rescue! is exactly what it sounds like: a simulation game about managing an animal shelter and the dogs that reside within. I had a chance to preview the game a few weeks ago, and as a fan of both cute dogs and management sims, I had a great time. The game aims to combine the cuddly things that everyone loves about dogs with a realistic look at what it takes to run an animal shelter. I briefly worked in a dog kennel earlier this year, and from what I saw, the game achieves that balance pretty well.

Players can do everything from feeding dogs their preferred brand of food to giving them vaccines to showing off dogs to potential adopters. They’ll also have to take care of the business side of things, like purchasing new kennels and buying supplies. If you’re a fan of games like Rollercoaster Tycoon and The Sims and Twitter accounts like Can You Pet The Dog?, you’ll love this game. Even better, 20% of all profits will support the Petfinder Foundation, a real-life charity that helps save pets from euthanasia. It’s set to release on PC and Nintendo Switch this fall, but there’s a demo available on Steam now if you want to give it a try.

Lakeburg Legacies

Okay, okay, one more management sim. (I love them so much!) Lakeburg Legacies was shown off in this past summer’s Wholesome Direct, and though it doesn’t release until next year, I’m already looking forward to it. Instead of managing dogs, you’re managing people in a mashup of The Sims and visual novels. The game describes itself as a “social-based village management sim” where you, the leader of a medieval village, pair your villagers off into couples that will increase the strength of your kingdom. Each villager has preferences, and random events and drama can derail your plans entirely. Work around these things, though, and the family trees of your couples will grown and make your village stronger.

The game is procedural, meaning that each round is unique. Alongside playing matchmaker, you can build up your village into a sprawling city, choose dialogue options that influence the course of your villagers’ relationships, and manage resources to ensure that everyone is happy and productive in their jobs. While that might not sound like a lot of fun, something about management sims gets me every time. The game’s sepia color palette and pretty character portraits make it look like a very cozy experience. The game has a planned release in 2022, but you can wishlist it now on Steam.

One Lonely Outpost

If you love farming sims but are looking for a little something different, One Lonely Outpost might be the game for you. Although it includes elements of fighting, the game is, at its core, Stardew Valley in space. After you land on an alien planet, you’re tasked with building up a thriving colony through farming, ranching, fishing, and garnering relationships with other colonists. The big difference here is that you can play the game one of two ways: using “natural” crops and animals, or with “synthetic” ones, like robotic cows and gene-spliced crops. Both paths can lead to success, and the decision adds a little bit of flavor to the experience.

As with most sim games, it can be played however you want. If you want to become the planet’s fishing champion and catch every single fish, you can do it. If you want to splice crops all day and take care of them, go for it. The freedom and relative lack of specific day-to-day objectives are what make the genre special, and they’re on full display in One Lonely Outpost. The game is coming out early in 2022 on Steam and is being published by Freedom Games, the same company that’s publishing To The Rescue!

Paralives

If you’re looking for more of a pure Sims experience, Paralives might be more up your alley. The game is billed as an “open-world life simulation” where players can build and customize houses, create characters (“parafolk”) with unique appearances and personalities, and explore the world they live in. Paralives will also incorporate user-created mods for houses, characters, and more, incorporating the player community into its creation of life.

Speaking of the player community, developer Alex Massé is doing a great job of incorporating the game’s already-strong fanbase into its development. The game has a thriving Twitter account, Patreon, and Discord where fans can make suggestions about different parts of the game, provide feedback, and get involved in development. Some of the higher Patreon tiers allow fans to name an item in the game or put themselves in the game as a “townie”, if they want. The game doesn’t yet have a release window (though Massé says they do have a secret release date in mind), but development seems to be progressing at a steady rate. If you love The Sims but are looking for something a little more in-depth and community-based, you’ll want to keep an eye on Paralives.

Witchy Life Story

Witchy Life Story is perfect for people into the witchy or cottagecore aesthetics or people who just want a little humor in their cozy game. Like most life sim games, you can design your own character, make friends with the townfolk, and shape your experience through dialogue choices, but unlike most life sims, this one actually has a main story. Your character is such a failure at magic that she’s been sent to another village to help them host their harvest festival. If you can pull off the festival without a hitch, you’ll be welcomed back into your family, but if not, you’ll need quite a bit more training.

That sounds stressful, but the game’s aesthetic says otherwise: it’s cute, colorful, and funny, perfect for a cozy way to spend an afternoon. What could be more relaxing than tending to your small garden and mixing potions for inquiring townsfolk? You can also participate in other witchy activities, like telling fortunes, casting spells, and reading tarot cards. While the game isn’t slated for release until 2022, the developers have a newsletter, an Instagram account, and a Tiktok where they’re keeping fans up to date on the game’s development.

The diversity on this list just goes to show that there’s a cozy game out there for everyone. Even if you don’t think these kinds of games are your thing, simply checking one out or adding it to your wishlist on Steam helps out these indie devs a lot. Who knows? You might just find a fun, comfy way to pass the time when the weather finally gets colder.