Best Cozy Games On Nintendo Switch: Top 5 Relaxing Titles, According To Experts

The cozy game is a chill experience meant to whisk gamers away from their worry-filled lives. The cozy genre is more popular now than ever, featuring cute characters, relaxed gameplay, and soothing music. As early as 1985 with the floppy disk release of “Little Computer People” by Activision, cozy games or life sims have been available for a less stressful game experience. We turned to our sources to find the top five best cozy games on Nintendo Switch.

Though once considered an odd niche genre, one of the first major cozy game hits was 2000’s “The Sims.” This game featured a simple premise: gamers have a sandbox of resources to create a suburban environment and fill it with digital people. This series was released at the time as a spin-off of another popular city planning game “Sim City,” but quickly grew in popularity with its own fervent fandom. As of 2023 “The Sims” franchise includes four title game releases, scores of add-ons, and downloadable content. This storied series is slated to see its next major title installment with a projected 2025 release date.

Though “The Sims” were making waves as a major financial success with mainstream appeal, this series was preceded and followed by two of the cozy genre’s most enduring series. In 1996, “Harvest Moon” or “Farm Story” was first released in Japan followed by Europe in 1997 and the United States in 1998. This series continues as two distinct and robust game franchises called “Harvest Moon” and “Song of Seasons” that have current iterations on top video game review charts.

Another major Nintendo release in the cozy game genre that is perhaps most well-known is “Animal Crossing” that was first released in 2001 on the Nintendo Game Cube. This game series was a sleeper hit that would spawn seven titles since its initial publication. The series is all about building a community with delightful, anthropomorphized animal critters. This game series involves taking out a loan from a local vendor, building a house, exploring the land, and collecting everything in sight.

Thanks to the portability of the Nintendo Switch, cozy games can now be enjoyed anywhere at home or on the go. Our list of the top five best cozy games on Nintendo Switch could lead readers to a very relaxing yet oddly addictive gaming experience. Please let us know your favorite cozy titles in the comments below!

Animal Crossing on a Nintendo Switch
“Animal Crossing” on a Nintendo Switch (Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash)

The List: Best Cozy Games on Nintendo Switch, Per Experts


1. “Stardew Valley” (2016)

Stardew Valley is the passion project of game developer Eric Barone under his developer moniker ConcernedApe. Originally released in 2016, Barone actively engages the game player base and supports his title. “By far one of the best cozy games on the Nintendo Switch which countless players have fallen in love with is the role-playing as well as farming simulator title ‘Stardew Valley.’ Players are free to start their own farm with animals or just crops while getting to know the townsfolk and helping them with their tasks. Besides the goal of bringing the town hall back to life by collecting different items, players are mainly free to do whatever they wish to make the most of their time in Stardew,” raves GameRant.

“Stardew Valley” (2016)
“Stardew Valley” (2016)

“Stardew Valley’ takes all the community and home building you love about ‘Animal Crossing’ and ramps it up to 1,000. Farm, fish, collect crafting materials, make friends, get married, and SO MUCH MORE in this slam dunk of a cozy game you’ve probably already heard of, but absolutely need to try if you haven’t,”  gushes BuzzFeed.

‘“Stardew Valley’ is perhaps one of the most well-known on this list, having been a favorite of many gamers ever since its original release in 2016. Along with ‘Animal Crossing New Horizons,’ ‘Stardew Valley’ is a staple in many gamers’ catalogs when they are looking for something relaxing and cozy to play,” adds ScreenRant.

2. “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” (2020)

Though outshined by “Stardew Valley” it is very telling that “Animal Crossing” is cited by reviewers as the benchmark gold standard for cozy gaming. As a real-world bonus the “Animal Crossing” twitter feed is run in-character by one of the game’s titular Animals. “At a very specifically not-cozy time in our lives — the beginning of a global pandemic — ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ came out, and soothed a lot of our worries away with its candy-coloured, animal-befriending holiday island… it’s a game all about relaxation, making friends, decorating houses, and placing flowers in a cute little garden that you designed,” says Nintendo Life.

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” (2020)
“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” (2020)

“When it comes to finding a fantastic cozy game on your Switch, or really any other platform, none are as popular as the likes of ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons.’ This title took over the gaming world upon release and still continues to be that perfect escape many players are looking for. Create your own home, catch bugs, craft items, explore your island, and make friends with the adorable villagers in ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons.’ Ultimately, no matter what you want to do, this game has it all, allowing you to fully escape from the world around you,” posits Dexerto.

‘“Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ came out in March 2020 — you know, when the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown began — and it turned out to be the perfect distraction. It gave people something to do, dropping them on a desolate island run by the mischievous Tom Nook for the purposes of turning it into a tourist destination, but it also provided a social platform where people could visit each other’s islands, drop off gifts and more. My friends threw me a surprise party for my 30th birthday in Animal Crossing as just one wholesome example. The popular Nintendo Switch game is still worth playing three years later. You can beautify your island, make friends with a colorful group of characters and pay back Nook’s massive loan,” states CNN Underscored.

3. “Unpacking” (2021)

This truly relaxing title is a best seller and well regarded by our sources. ‘“Unpacking’ was an immediate success upon its release toward the end of 2021. It’s easy to see why: there’s immense attention to detail, the underlying story prompts emotional involvement, and the block puzzle aspect of the game is a relaxing act of repetition sure to help with de-stressing. With no timers and nothing at stake, the gameplay lets you sink into the comfort of completing a task at their own leisure. After a long day, Unpacking may be the perfect way to unwind and leave busy day-to-day stressors behind. And what more could people want out of a cozy game?” asks The Gamer.

“Unpacking” (2021)
“Unpacking” (2021)

‘“Unpacking’ aims to recreate that nostalgic feeling of unpacking prized possessions after a move. You play as a character who unpacks across different moves throughout their life. Remove these items from the boxes and use your ‘Tetris’ skills to make them fit next to each other. The cozy parts of this game are that there’s no timer for putting these items away and a delightful soundtrack from award-winning composer Jeff van Dyck. You’ll never see the face of the protagonist you’re controlling, but you’ll find out there’s more to the game than just putting away personal belongings,” claims Boss Level Gamer.

“The slow-moving, low-stakes mechanics, comfortable visuals, and pleasant sound design make ‘Unpacking’ the ultimate cozy game. Likewise, the lingering question of ‘what if that could fit there instead?’ keeps players coming back for more, even after the ending,” offers CBR.

4. “A Short Hike” (2020)

The pandemic lockdown may have caused a surge in cozy gaming, and one hit title that was released in that era is “A Short Hike.” This game features a shorter gameplay experience that is still well-reviewed. “Developed by Adam Robinson-Yu, ‘A Short Hike’ was released in 2019 and then got adapted for the Switch in 2020. The game’s protagonist, Claire, is staying with her Aunt May, a park ranger, at Hawk Peak Provincial Park for the summer. Claire must hike up Hawk Peak to get enough reception for an important phone call. Even though ‘A Short Hike’s’ main objective can be completed in a single sitting, the game presents a beautiful open world. Players can spend hours enjoying this charming adventure full of characters, items, activities, and side quests,” details CBR.

‘“A Short Hike’ will remind you to stop and smell the roses without ever stepping foot outside (perfect for a rainy day). It’s a bite-sized experience that will fill you with all the warm and fuzzy feelings as you explore the island‘s lush surroundings, chat with other hikers, and collect hidden treasures as you make your way toward the mountain‘s peak,” adds BuzzFeed.

‘“A Short Hike’ has a lot of the hallmarks of a great cozy indie game: talking animals, a message about stopping to smell the roses, and the kind of soundtrack that you want to listen to in the bath. It’s just downright lovely… There’s plenty of joyful, wonderful moments to be discovered in ‘A Short Hike,’ but the best one of all is when you realise that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination,” praises Nintendo Life.

5. “Disney Dreamlight Valley” (2022)

Media juggernaut Disney has also released a best-selling cozy title. ‘“Disney Dreamlight Valley’ is a life simulator hot on the heels of the success of ‘Animal Crossing New Horizons!’ Befriend the dozens of memorable characters from Disney and Pixar as you help them gain back their memories after the forgetting. With a lot of crafting this life-sim game will become your home away from home,” explains Her Cozy Gaming.

“Disney Dreamlight Valley” (2022)
“Disney Dreamlight Valley” (2022)

“A life sim that has been taking many cozy gamers by storm is the newest Disney title that combines the likes of ‘Animal Crossing’ with ‘Stardew Valley’. In ‘Disney Dreamlight Valley’ players are able to live among their favorite heroes and villains from both Disney and Pixar while also helping them settle into the magical world. Players are also free to adventure throughout the world as each loved character will give the player quests to complete that will increase the player’s friendship with them as well as unlock other exciting things,” adds GameRant.

“Through this customizable and directional title, you’ll be able to design your village, home, and character, all while completing quests and helping the adorable characters around the village. Whether you love to cook, mine, fish, or collect fruits around the many regions, you’ll never be stuck with jobs to do in ‘Disney Dreamlight Valley.’ Combine that with the multiple updates, Star Path, and hundreds of Recipes to find and you’ll never be bored,” writes Dextero.

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