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Cottagecore is an online term celebrating an idealised rural life. Although games are usually considered to be hard, harsh and technological, many of them play to this aesthetic that is sentimental about traditional skills and crafts such as foraging, baking, and pottery.

Games sometimes use these rural pursuits as play mechanics, like Stardew Valley, Potion Craft, Terraria and Fantasy Life. Others use Cottagecore as a guide to how they look and feel, like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, The Stillness of the Wind and Mutazione.

However it plays out in the game, Cottagecore aims to satisfy a desire for aspirational nostalgia and an escape from stress or trauma. The New York Times described it as a reaction to hustle culture and the advent of personal branding. The Guardian called it a "visual and lifestyle movement designed to fetishize the wholesome purity of the outdoors."

These games emphasize simplicity and the slow pace of pastoral life as an escape from the modern world in favour of the bucolic. Unsurprisingly this has become more popular on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. In some ways, the resurgence of retro games could be seen in a similar light, although here the sentimental nostalgia is for virtual entertainment rather than rural lifestyle.
 
This list includes 60 games from the last 20 years, with 1,737 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to escape into cottagecore .

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Release Date: 25/04/2020

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World, Persistant World and Weather

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a role-play collecting game where you live on a small island teeming with life. Insects, fish, trees, vegetation and fossils are represented with cute cartoon visuals. Rather than the scale or grandeur of other game...

Stardew Valley

Release Date: 26/02/2016, updated in 2018

Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid, Open World and Pixels

Stardew Valley looks like a farming simulator. That’s partly what it is, but you also develop relationships with the other townsfolk and delve deep into the mines. Its quirky labyrinthine attention to detail is inviting for young players to try their...

Terraria

Release Date: 25/11/2013, updated in 2019

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Stadia, Switch, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Blocks, Day and Night, Persistant World, Pixels and Weather

Terraria looks like a 2D, lesser version of Minecraft. However, this is a game every bit as complex and creative as the better-known block-building game. To the world-crafting and survival, it adds hundreds of items to collect, characters to defeat and...

Fable (Series)

Release Date: 14/09/2004

Out Now: Mac, PC, Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World

Fable is an adventure role-playing game set in a fantasy world where your interactions with the world and villagers, and decisions about your use of magical power, substantially alter the story and the environment.

Wood and Weather

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Hand-Made, Open World and Weather

Wood and Weather is a simulation game where you play god in a wooden toy city. You interact with the world using your floating blue hand to change switches and control the weather. It's an intriguing game that offers all manner of ways to play but...

Tchia

Release Date: 17/03/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Open World and Weather

Tchia is an adventure where you play a young girl (Tchia) who can climb, glide, swim, and sail around a beautiful archipelago. Along with the usual sandbox quests and play, the game offers an unusual ability to take control (and become) any animal or...

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Release Date: 12/08/2015, updated in 2016

Out Now: Mac, PC and PS4

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Open World

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture lands you in a fictional deserted English village in 1984. As you walk the streets of another era you discover bright human forms who re-enact events like a radio play. Through their eyes, you see a web of fear,...

The Garden Path

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon, Open World and Persistant World

The Garden Path is a slice-of-life simulation game about the small pleasures of gardening. You tend to a world and make it your own through fishing, growing, trading and making new friends. As you do an adventure emerges.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Release Date: 22/11/2013

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Hand-Made and Open World

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is an action-adventure game in the Zelda series. It's the seventeenth game and spiritual successor to the 1991 game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. A more open adventure with a novel world-jumping...

Pikmin 4

Release Date: 21/07/2023

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Day and Night

Pikmin 4 is an action strategy game where you direct tiny, plant-like creatures to clean up the world and collect treasure. Different coloured Pikmins have different abilities, with several new types in this fourth game. The challenge is using the right...

Station To Station

Release Date: 03/10/2023

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks and Pixels

Station to Station is a railway-building puzzle game about connecting commerce and community to create a beautiful rail network. Play is about making connections between buildings to move materials and people around the world efficiently. It stands out...

Rootown

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Rootown is a traversal strategy game where you guide tree roots down through the soil. You play by planting a tree and then steering its roots to find good soil and avoid stones. The better you do the bigger the tree and the more resources you have to...

Summerhill

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Day and Night

Summerhill is a narrative traversal game where you are a young shepherd and their dog. Play involves exploring a mysterious land to find your lost flock to guide them back home. It draws on the unusual subject matter of sheep herding to create an...

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Release Date: 08/11/2012, updated in 2016

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World, Persistant World and Weather

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a life simulation game where you design your dream village in a world filled with anthropomorphic animals. Like other Animal Crossing games, you design and decorate your home, collect and sell items, chat and play with...

Cozy Grove

Release Date: 19/03/2021, updated in 2023

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Hand-Made and Open World

Cozy Grove is a life simulation where you camp on a hand-drawn island. You play a scout and explore the ever-changing island's forest to find secrets and help the local ghosts. Like Animal Crossing, it has a children's storybook look but is a...

One Hour One Life

Release Date: 27/02/2018

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Hand-Made, Open World and Persistant World

One Hour One Life is a civilisation survival game where each player lives a whole life in an hour of play and then passes away. Born as a baby into the care of anonymous other online players, you initially depend on them for food. Quickly growing, you...

Thousand Threads

Release Date: 30/07/2020

Out Now: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Hand-Made and Open World

Thousand Threads is an open-world game of consequences. You are free to interact with the world, animals and people however you like, give, take, save, kill, inform, hide, befriend, and betray. But how you do this will have ongoing and unavoidable...

Potion Craft

Release Date: 21/09/2021

Out Now: PC and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Potion Craft is a puzzle adventure game where you create potions in an ancient looking workshop to send you bottle around the map. You combine ingredients, fire and water to move your bottle along the map to the target location and brew a potion to help...

Haven Park

Release Date: 05/08/2021

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Hand-Made and Open World

Haven Park is a strategy game where you build camping spots in a national park. You play Flint, who is repairing his grandma's park to attract new campers. It's an intricate open island that packs in plenty to discover. As a game made by one person,...

Hokko Life

Release Date: 02/06/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Open World

Hokko Life is a community simulation game like Animal Crossing. You pick a town and set up your home, before spending time helping the place develop into a charming rural idyl everyone loves. Even though it's the creation of one person, it has most of...

Yoshi's Crafted World

Release Date: 29/05/2019

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Yoshi's Crafted World is a running and jumping game where you control a friendly dinosaur, Yoshi in a hand-made world of paper-craft. You work through each level, eating or jumping on enemies while searching for hidden items and collectables. It stands...

PowerWash Simulator

Release Date: 19/05/2021, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

PowerWash Simulator is a puzzle game where you clean different objects and locations using a pressure washer. It's designed to be soothing with sounds of high-pressure water and satisfyingly clean results as you blast away every speck of dirt and grime.

Star Stable

Release Date: 01/01/2011, updated in 2022

Out Now: Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Open World

Star Stable Online is a hugely popular adventure game where you care for horses, take on daily challenges, solve mysteries and explore a fantasy online world. Originally only available for PC and Mac, it's recently come to mobile devices. Star Stable...

Teacup

Release Date: 23/09/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Teacup is a narrative adventure about a shy young frog who loves drinking tea and reading. You explore the Wind In The Willows world and make choices that change the direction of the story. It's a gentle game about friendship, stepping out into the...

Animal Crossing: Wild World

Release Date: 23/11/2005, updated in 2016

Out Now: DS and Wii U

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World, Persistant World and Weather

Animal Crossing: Wild World is a quirky life simulation game where you live in a small village and build your dream home. You develop relationships with the animal townsfolk, collect fossils, fish and insects and build a home to help the village grow...

Mutazione

Release Date: 23/09/2019

Out Now: Mac, PS4 and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Day and Night

Mutazione is a narrative adventure game where you play as a 15-year-old girl visiting her grandfather on a faraway island inhabited by friendly but mutated villagers. By finding seeds, tending to gardens and talking to people, you uncover a tightly knit...

Ollie & Bollie: Outdoor Estate (Sokpop)

Release Date: 10/10/2018

Out Now: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Ollie & Bollie: Outdoor Estate is an adventure game in a simulated world. You help Ollie and Bollie, who are two bird-like people, look after their farm in the countryside by completing simple tasks. It may sound familiar but stands out because it gives...

The Gunk

Release Date: 16/12/2021

Out Now: PC, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

The Gunk is a narrative adventure where you play one sister of a pair of space explorers struggling for resources, who find a new planet with new alien wildlife. You play by traversing the environment sucking up toxic waste, harvesting materials,...

Wildmender

Release Date: 28/09/2023

Out Now: PC, PS5 and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World and Weather

Wildmender is a world-building game where you unearth the past in the desert. Play involves exploring to discover what has gone before, so you can restore the environment for your future. You work to revive withering plant life, cultivate a garden and...

Wylde Flowers

Release Date: 18/02/2022

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid and Weather

Wylde Flowers is a cozy life and farming strategy game with a witchy twist. It's a charming world of diverse characters, magical spells and player choices. You play Tara, who has moved in to help her grandma and the family farm. By day you work the farm...

Everdale

Release Date: 18/08/2021

Out Now: Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Everdale is an online strategy game where you build a village. With the help of friends you develop a society that survives on the basis of savvy cooperation. Unlike other civilisation games though, there is no fighting or combat. The focus is on...

The Good Life

Release Date: 15/10/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Components: 3D Third-Person

The Good Life is a narrative adventure, where you experience a slower pace of life in an English town. However, before long you are drawn into an intriguing web of murder, bodily transformations into cats and dogs and photographic tasks. It's an...

Pupperazzi

Release Date: 20/01/2022, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon and Open World

Pupperazzi is an adventure game where you explore an island to find and photograph all manner of canine friends. You interact with the world, climb, skate and explore to get the perfect angle on the perfect pup. It starts as a silly challenge but turns...

Lawn Mowing Simulator

Release Date: 10/08/2021

Out Now: PC, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Lawn Mowing Simulator is an adventure game where you ride an authentic and expansive roster of lawnmowers. The novelty is a combination of absolute control over lawn care and weed eradication. This is extended beyond a brief distraction by the inclusion...

Deiland Pocket Planet

Release Date: 09/08/2018

Out Now: PC, PS4 and Switch

Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World

Deiland Pocket Planet is an adventure set on a small spherical planet. You farm, craft, and build your own world. Improve your skills, craft tools, cook food, brew potions, and create tools. As you make your home, you will attract merchants to trade...

Llama Villa (Sokpop)

Release Date: 01/08/2018

Out Now: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Open World

Llama Villa is a simulation game about managing a llama farm. You buy a llama, sell the wool and build him a mansion to live in with lots of llama friends. It's a super simple point-and-place building game where you can make the villa of your Dreams but...

Staxel

Release Date: 23/09/2021

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Blocks and Open World

Staxel is a strategy farming game. It looks like Minecraft and has block building tools that are similar. However, this is a farming game more like Stardew Valley rather than open-world adventure. There are no monsters or dangers you find in other...

Baldo: The Guardian Owls

Release Date: 27/08/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Baldo: The Guardian Owls is an adventure into a magical world. You explore intricately puzzling dungeons, discover new towns, fight ferocious foes and locate hidden temples. It's a game that wants you to discover things for yourself rather than hold...

Ultros

Release Date: 13/02/2024, updated in 2024

Out Now: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cartoon and Hand-Made

Ultros is a trippy running, jumping and exploring game set inside a giant ancient Sarcophagus that holds demonic beings and fertile land. You adventure into the Sarcophagus by battling enemies and triggering plant life to bloom.

Leaving Lyndow

Release Date: 08/02/2017

Out Now: Mac, PC and PS4

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Open World

Leaving Lyndow is a narrative adventure set a couple of generations before Eastshade. Sharing the same anthropomorphized animal society, although here at an earlier stage, it's a game about the memories we make in the places we...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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