“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” (Nintendo, 2020) was released for Nintendo Switch a year ago at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
As cities locked down across the U.S., thousands of players found comfort and community in the cheerful game, developing their island, crafting supplies, catching critters, planting flowers and getting to know their villagers.
Cozying up with this latest entry in the popular simulation series allowed players to travel to a virtual paradise island and pretend they weren’t stuck indoors. The game is detailed and customizable, the stakes low and the characters adorable. Nintendo’s seasonal updates to the game have brought new interactions and timely tasks to enhance gameplay.
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As we approach the first anniversary of “New Horizons,” here are nine other cozy Nintendo Switch games you might want to check out.
“Littlewood” (SmashGames, 2019) is a charming indie that kicks off right after the world has been saved (by you, apparently). Now, you must rebuild your village, fish, farm and make friends. There’s a richness to the world here and plenty to do, and the post-world-saving story line is an interesting take.
Many Animal Crossing fans are likely familiar with the role-playing game “Stardew Valley,” (ConcernedApe, 2017) and its pixelated style.
For this cozy sim, you inherit a farm from your grandfather, and you repair your new home, work the land and visit others in the valley. There’s also multiplayer, so you can invite others to join you.
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In “Spiritfarer,” (Thunder Lotus Games, 2020) you are “a ferrymaster for the deceased.” Curl up as you spend time with your boat passengers, who are spirits, assisting them with requests and also crafting, cooking and exploring. Don’t be surprised if you cry a little while playing this simulation game, though, since it is about death and saying goodbye.
“The Last Campfire” (Hello Games, 2020) is another emotional one. This cozy, yet haunting, adventure game follows Ember, who is trapped in a strange place through a series of puzzles as you search for answers and a way home, freeing souls as you go.
Link’s Awakening & Breath of the Wild
Look no further than either of the Legend of Zelda entries for cozy adventure.
The expansive “Breath of the Wild” (Nintendo, 2017) is a refreshing take on the series, with more open-world gameplay. There’s incredible attention to detail and so much interaction as you journey through Hyrule. You’ll probably still be exploring when the rumored sequel finally drops.
The adorable “Link’s Awakening” (Nintendo, 2019) is a remake of the 1993 game of the same name for Game Boy. This new version features improved but faithful visuals and gameplay.
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Layton’s Mystery Journey
You’ve got cases to solve in this mystery game. The puzzles in “Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy” (Level-5, 2019) range from simple to complicated, much like other games in the Professor Layton series, but the story is deep, the characters amusing and the animation fantastic.
Though, fair warning, if your Switch is still suffering from joy-con drift – where your controller’s joystick seems to move on its own – you might want to get it fixed (Nintendo offers a repair program!) before delving too deeply in to “Layton’s.” The puzzles in the game often require exacting movement, and joy-con drift will make these frustrating.
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“Moonlighter” (11 bit studios, 2018) is a bit closer to “Legend of Zelda” than to “Animal Crossing,” but the coziness is still there. By day, you run your village shop, craft and interact with your neighbors, and by night, you head out for adventure and fighting monsters. This role-playing game also has a pixelated art style, like “Stardew Valley.”
My Time at Portia
In “My Time at Portia” (Pathea Games, 2019), you’re starting a new life, of course. Set in a post-apocalyptic time, you’ll be gathering items near your Pa’s neglected workshop, mining, rebuilding and visiting the nearby town where you can meet locals and fulfill requests. While the gameplay is not as polished as “Animal Crossing” or similar games, “Portia” can still be a fun escape.
Follow Felecia Wellington Radel on Twitter at @fdwellingon.