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Pastoral Playtime

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 34 games from the last 21 years, with 1,066 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to escape into cottagecore .

DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 16
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Australian Ratings: G to R 18+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Platform, Point-and-Click, Puzzle, Race, Rhythm, Role-Play, Shooting, Simulation, Sports, Strategy and World Building
Total Likes: 1,066
 

 

Fable (Series)

Release Date: 14/09/2004

Platforms: Mac, PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

This 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.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Release Date: 22/11/2013

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

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...

Terraria

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

Platforms: 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

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...

Stardew Valley

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

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

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

Animal Crossing (Series)

Release Date: 14/12/2001, updated in 2020

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GameCube, Switch and Wii

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

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 worlds, it’s the interconnected drama of the world and characters...

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

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

Platforms: Mac, PC and PS4

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,...

Thousand Threads

Release Date: 30/07/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

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, betray. But how you do this will have ongoing and unavoidable...

One Hour One Life

Release Date: 27/02/2018

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

This 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 can soon fend...

Cozy Grove

Release Date: 19/03/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iPhone, iPad

Cosy 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 story-book look, but is a...

Haven Park

Release Date: 05/08/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

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,...

Potion Craft

Release Date: 21/09/2021

Platforms: Mac and PC

Potion Craft is a puzzle adventure game where you create potions in an ancient looking workshop. More than learning recipes, your potions need to strategically combine the qualities of each ingredient to explore the potion-map and create brews to help...

Hokko Life

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

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

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...

Tchia

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

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 missions and play the game offers an unusual ability to take control (and become) any animal or...

PowerWash Simulator

Release Date: 19/05/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

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.

Teacup

Release Date: 23/09/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

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...

Yoshi's Crafted World

Release Date: 29/05/2019

Platforms: Switch

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Yoshi's Crafted World is a running and jumping game where you control a friendly dinosaur, Yoshi. You work through each level, eating or jumping on enemies while searching for hidden items and collectables.

The Garden Path

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

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.

Mutazione

Release Date: 23/09/2019

Platforms: Mac, PS4 and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

In Mutazione 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 web of characters with...

Star Stable

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

Platforms: Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

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...

The Good Life

Release Date: 15/10/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

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

Everdale

Release Date: 18/08/2021

Platforms: Android and iOS

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...

Ollie & Bollie: Outdoor Estate (Sokpop)

Release Date: 10/10/2018

Platforms: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

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...

Lawn Mowing Simulator

Release Date: 10/08/2021

Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

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...

Pupperazzi

Release Date: 20/01/2022

Platforms: PC and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

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...

Deiland Pocket Planet

Release Date: 09/08/2018

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Switch

Deiland 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 materials and...

Wylde Flowers

Release Date: 18/02/2022

Platforms: PC, Switch and iPhone, iPad

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...

Llama Villa (Sokpop)

Release Date: 01/08/2018

Platforms: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

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

Platforms: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

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

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iPhone, iPad

Baldo: The Guardian Owls is an adventure into a magical world. As you explore the overworld and solve the intricately puzzling dungeons you discover new towns, fight ferocious foes, locate hidden temples, and collect magical objects and weapons.

Leaving Lyndow

Release Date: 08/02/2017

Platforms: Mac, PC and PS4

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

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...

Future Unfolding

Release Date: 15/03/2017

Platforms: Mac, PC and PS4

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Future Unfolding is an exploration adventure where you travel into beautiful landscapes to unfold the mysteries hidden around you. Viewed from above, you have a bird's eye view as you encounter different types of wild animals, some helpful and some...

Wildmender

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

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...

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams

Release Date: 23/10/2012, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a running and jumping game where you can switch between two forms, and with that, two versions of the world. Each form has different platforming abilities so you need to juggle the two to complete levels and find every...

Little King's Story

Release Date: 22/04/2009, updated in 2016

Platforms: PC, PS Vita and Wii

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Little King's Story is a real-time strategy game that simulates life in a fictional kingdom. You play a timid boy who finds a crown that gives him power to make people follow orders. You slowly expand your village by gathering resources and gaining...

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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