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40 Great Games Like Dwarf Fortress

Our experts have spent time searching for great games similar to Dwarf Fortress.
 

Dwarf Fortress is a longstanding strategy game set in a fantasy world where you control a group of dwarves wanting to construct a wealthy fortress. It's unusual not only for it's text-based appearance but for it's expansive scope, and intricately modelled characters, psychology, politics, landscape, creatures, minerals and vegetation.

Unfortunately, Dwarf Fortress is not available on Android, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S or iOS. However, we recommend the following games that offer a similar experience or theme:

DetailsGame Details

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 08/08/2006

Price: Free

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Open World, Role-Playing and Strategy

Developer: @Bay12Games

Players: This is a single player game

Costs: Free

Hand Picked Games Like Dwarf Fortress

These are our hand-picked games similar to Dwarf Fortress. We don't use automatic matching, instead, we identify games that are good to play if you have enjoyed Dwarf Fortress. These selections also include games that offer a different experience but address a similar theme or topic.
 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 11-18 year-olds

Release Date: 03/03/2017

Platforms: Switch and Wii U

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 11 features

Developer: @Nintendo

Players: This is a single player game

This game departs from the previous Zelda formula with the scale and depth of its world. You walk, fly, ride and climb your way through a landscape that varies in climate, terrain, inhabitants and vegetation. Weather and the passage of the sun and moon...

Raft

Raft

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 23/05/2018

Platforms: PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 17 features

Developer: @RedbeetOfficial

Players: You can play this with 2 players online

Raft is a survival game where you work to build a raft while stranded at sea. You start the game on a small raft with only a hook made of old plastic, with which you use to pull in floating barrels and planks of wood.

Subnautica (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 10-16 year-olds

Release Date: 11/04/2016, updated in 2018

Price: 50% off

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 14 features

Developer: @UnknownWorlds

Players: This is a single player game

Subnautica is an open-world adventure where you explore the ocean on an alien planet after crashlanding. You collect resources and fight creatures to survive. This enables you to establish an underwater base, gain new craft and equipment and explore...

Islanders

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: 04/04/2019

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Creative, Open World, Simulation, Strategy and Turn-Based

Developer: @_GrizzlyGames

Players: This is a single player game

Islanders is city-building game where you carefully place structures to earn points from their geographic location and relation to other features and buildings on your islands. Earn enough points and you unlock new buildings and eventually the chance to...

Stranded Deep

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 21/04/2015, updated in 2020

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Creative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 21 features

Developer: @BeamTeamGames

Players: This is a single player game

Stranded Deep is a survival game set in the Pacific Ocean. Taking a cue from films like Cast Away, you survive a plane crash and face life-threatening scenarios in a large open world. As the weather and time of day changes with the hours, you explore...

Littlewood

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: 18/06/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Genres: Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 2 features

Developer: @SeanYoungSG

Players: This is a single player game

Littlewood (coming to Switch soon) is a town and farming simulator a little like Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing. Here though, the twist is that the game is set after a grand adventure. You...

The Forest

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 30/05/2014

Platforms: PC and PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Open World, Role-Playing and Simulation

Accessibility: 17 features

Developer: @EndNightGame

Players: You can play this with 4 players online

Forest is a survival horror game where you are the only passenger to live after a plane crash. You explore a mysterious forest to find food, shelter and safety but soon have to battle strange cannibalistic people.

Valheim

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 12-18 year-olds

Release Date: 02/02/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Open World, Role-Playing and Strategy

Accessibility: 17 features

Developer: @ValheimGame

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 10 players online

Valheim is a Viking inspired strategy game for up to 10 players. You build, survive, conquer, and explore the world. It's popular because it combines strategy of building your town stronghold with tough adventures and encounters with the enemies of the...

The Long Dark

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds

Release Date: 22/09/2014

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing and Simulation

Accessibility: 18 features

Developer: @HinterlandGames

Players: This is a single player game

The Long Dark is a thoughtful exploration-survival game where you have crash-landed in the icy Canadian wilderness after a global disaster and must find a way to survive. Through exploring, crafting and fighting you must look after your body...

Dorfromantik

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 25/03/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Creative, Puzzle and Strategy

Accessibility: 2 features

Developer: @_Toukana

Players: This is a single player game

Dorfromantik is a peaceful village-building strategy puzzle game for one player. It's inspired by tile-based board-games like Carcassonne and Tantrix.

Astroneer

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 10-16 year-olds

Release Date: 16/12/2016, updated in 2019

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

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 23 features

Developer: @SES_dev

Players: This is a single player game

Astroneer is an open-world space adventure where you colonize planets by creating habitable structures, farming and mining resources. There is no specific story, although the challenges of each planet give rise to struggles of achievement to placate the...

Potion Craft

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Creative, Puzzle and Strategy

Developer: @TinyBuild

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Two Point Hospital

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 25/02/2020

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Creative, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 14 features

Developer: @TwoPointStudios

Players: This is a single player game

Two Point Hospital is a light-hearted healthcare simulator. You take charge of a hospital, similar to Theme Hospital, where you must construct and maintain wards, machines and staff.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 19/05/2015

Price: 60% off

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World and Role-Playing

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: @CDPROJEKTRED

Players: This is a single player game

In this game you play monster-hunter Geralt in a vast open world as he searches for his missing adopted daughter. The game responds to your actions and has dynamic environments, weather and day–night cycles that affect the creatures you hunt. It’s a...

Outward

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 26/03/2019

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing and Simulation

Accessibility: 8 features

Developer: @NineDotsStudio

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 2 players online

Outward is a fantasy adventure focused on an ordinary character surviving against the odds. There's a focus on realism rather than superpowers or magical abilities. You have to look after your warmth, hunger, fatigue, illness, and thirst as well as the...

Sid Meier's Civilization (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 21/10/2016, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Fighting, Open World, Strategy and Turn-Based

Developer: @Sid_Meier

Players: This is a single player game

Civilization is a long running strategy game where you develop a society from hunter gatherer to space travel. There are many ways to approach this challenge; socially, militarily, politically or perhaps building wonders to impress other nations.

Age of Empires (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 02/02/1998, updated in 2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS2 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Open World and Strategy

Developer: @Relicgames

Players: You can play this with 8 players online

Age of Empires is a strategy game where you command an ancient civilisation in real-time and must develop from hunter-gatherers to advanced forms of defence and war. This is similar territory to Civilization but focus on...

Evil Genius (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 30/03/2021

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Narrative, Open World, Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 31 features

Developer: @Rebellion

Players: This is a single player game

Evil Genius 2 is a tongue-in-cheek strategy game where you play the evil villain. You must build a detailed, functional lair from where you can take control of the world. Similar to Sim City and 2 Point Hospital, you use your resources wisely as you...

Mini Metro

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 06/01/2015

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and iOS

Genres: Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 27 features

Developer: @Dinopoloclub

Players: This is a single player game

Create an ordered, efficient underground train system. It sounds like hard work, but the simple Tube-map visuals, calm music, and streamlined interactions make this relaxing, like sudoku. Dip your toe in this strategy challenge and keep the system...

Terraria

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 8-14 year-olds

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

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

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Platform, Shooting, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: @Terraria_Logic

Players: You can play with 4 players in the same room and up to 8 players online

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...

Distrust

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 23/11/2017, updated in 2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Simulation and Strategy

Players: You can play this with 4 players online

Distrust is a survival game where you try to survive after a helicopter crash at an arctic base. Inspired by The Thing film, this is a horror game that initially seems to be about surviving the wild, but soon descends into something darker and...

Outlanders

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: 17/09/2019

Platforms: iPhone, iPad

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World and Strategy

Developer: @PomeloGames

Players: This is a single player game

Outlanders is a town-builder simulation where you are the leader of a group of regular people building a town together. Some want to survive, while others want to build amazing things. It’s up to you to guide them towards their goal

Don't Starve

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 23/04/2013, updated in 2014

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @Klei

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 6 players online

This is an open-world survival game. Here it’s the environment and enemies, rather than other players, that you work with. You need to find and develop food, weapons and shelter to survive. It’s enjoyable because it’s hard, so repeat-plays to...

Dysmantle

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 06/01/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World and Strategy

Developer: @10tonsLtd

Players: This is a single player game

Dysmantle is a survival strategy game where you play a character emerging after the apocalypse. The world is now inhabited with dangerous creatures and you only have your bare hands to survive. It's novel because most items in the world can be destroyed...

Frostpunk

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 29/03/2018, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Strategy

Developer: @11bitstudios

Players: This is a single player game

Frostpunk is a city-building survival game set in an alternate 1886 with a devastating winter setting in. You are tasked with running a city by managing resources to ensure the city’s survival. Your choices can have negative and positive consequences.

Terra Nil

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Open World, Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 6 features

Developer: @Free_Lives

Players: This is a single player game

Terra Nil is a strategy game where you are using clean technology to bring back life to a barren world. It's a city building game where you aren't building a city at all, but a clean thriving ecology. It raises interesting themes of how humanity plays...

Eco
PEGI Rating 7 for Eco

Eco

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 10-14 year-olds

Release Date: 06/02/2018

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Creative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @StrangeLoopGame

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 100 players online

Eco extends the resource-collecting and building of Minecraft by introducing environmental implications to your actions. Using resources like trees will erode the soil; mining might pollute the river; and each animal depends on another.

Pine
PEGI Rating 12 for Pine

Pine

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 26/11/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Developer: @Twirlbound

Players: This is a single player game

Pine is an adventure game where you play a primitive young man searching for new land for his tribe. You discover five tribes of anthropomorphic creatures that need to be understood and overcome to enable your tribe to have somewhere to live.

A Dark Room

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 10/06/2013, updated in 2019

Platforms: Switch and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Open World, Strategy and Turn-Based

Developer: @Continuities

Players: This is a single player game

A Dark Room is an adventure where you try and survive in the wild. It has a similarly simple start – a single option to stoke a fire – but also evolves into an incrementally complex system of resource management as a larger story unfolds.

Graveyard Keeper

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 15/08/2018

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle and Strategy

Developer: @LazyBearGames

Players: This is a single player game

Graveyard Keeper is a funeral-themed role-playing game where you are the caretaker of a local cemetery. You make choices about how to lay out the plot, what services to offer and generally how to make money from your unusual enterprise. The pixilated...

Loop Hero

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 03/02/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Puzzle, Role-Playing and Strategy

Accessibility: 18 features

Developer: @_FQteam

Players: This is a single player game

Loop Hero is a dungeon exploring adventure game where you use cards to create a world for your character to survive. Rather than control the hero yourself, you take the role of designer (or Dungeon Master) who use cards to create a world that is hard...

Dicey Dungeons

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 11-16 year-olds

Release Date: 13/08/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Fighting, Puzzle, Strategy and Turn-Based

Accessibility: 2 features

Developer: @TerryCavanagh

Players: This is a single player game

Dicey Dungeons is video game adventure where you build a deck of cards to represent characters, attacks and weapons. Here the novelty is that these cards combine with dice rolls to determine who wins battles.

King Pins

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: 25/10/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Fighting, Open World and Strategy

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: @SokpopCo

Players: You can play with 4 players in the same room

King Pins is a small real time strategy game where you command a small group of people to gather resources, build bases, farms and towers to defend yourself or attack the three other encampments. It's like Age of Empires but in miniature fashion....

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 30/09/2014, updated in 2017

Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @MonolithDev

Players: You can play this with 2 players online

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War is an adventure series set in Tolkein's fictional work, between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. You play Talion, a Ranger who sets out to avenge the deaths of his loved one. The...

Factorio

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 14/08/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Creative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @FactorioGame

Players: You can play this with 700 players online

Factorio is a construction strategy game where you crash-land on an alien planet and must harvest resources to create industry to build a rocket to escape (or fall in love with running your factory and stay on longer).

Mana Spark

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 22/12/2018

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Genres: Action, Adventure and Strategy

Accessibility: 16 features

Developer: @KishimotoStudio

Players: This is a single player game

Mana Spark is a fantasy adventure where you explore a Tolkein-esque dungeon to fight smart enemies that will plan and collaborate between themselves to defeat you. It's a game you play over and over, improving not only your skill but equipment and...

Rim World

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 17/10/2018

Platforms: PC

Genres: Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: @LudeonStudios

Players: This is a single player game

RimWorld is a sci-fi strategy game about survival, trading, exploring and developing your colony. You start the game with three survivors of a shipwreck on a distant planet and begin to craft structures, weapons and clothes. The objective of the game is...

Forager

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 18/04/2019

Platforms: Android, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @_HopFrog

Players: This is a single player game

Forager is an open-world adventure where you manage resources in a simple pixel world. The collecting, crafting and consuming requires you to tap buttons. It soon becomes apparent that you need to automate your work if you are to progress effectively....

The Banner Saga (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 14/01/2014, updated in 2016

Platforms: Android, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Fighting, Narrative and Strategy

Developer: @StoicStudio

Players: This is a single player game

The Banner Saga is a beautiful fantasy adventure where your strategic choices directly affect your personal story and the world around you. You play as two characters, each with their own related story.

Wizard With A Gun

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Action, Adventure, Role-Playing and Shooting

Developer: @DevolverDigital

Players: You can play this with 4 players online

Wizard with a Gun is a survival game where you play a wizard in a magical wilderness wrought with dangerous creatures and arcane mysteries. Either alone or with other players online you embark on a journey to collect, craft, and outfit your wizard to...

Dwarf Fortress is in These Lists

In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to Dwarf Fortress in the following lists:

Play At Working

Video games and work don’t usually go together. Not, that is, unless you work in the video game industry. The Safe In Our World charity addresses this world of work and video games to foster positive mental health wellbeing and deliver support for players, developers, publishers and retailers.

Image 244“The worlds we create are a refuge for many,” they say about video games, to highlight the importance of also looking after those people who make these amazing spaces. They have some excellent resources available for free and global helplines for a range of emotions and stresses people might be feeling, not to mention some great training resources for companies. Most recent is their Level Up campaign that challenges businesses within the video games industry to unite and commit to change.

The games in this list offer space to reflect and escape work for a while. But not only to get some distance, but to play something that shines a light on why we do what we do. Some address the world of work directly, while others enable us to consider our choices about how we spend our working hours.

Whether it’s escaping for a lunchtime walk with A Short Hike. Trying to manage crunch time with Going Under, or not succumbing to Tom Nook’s invitation for ever bigger mortgages in Animal Crossing, there are lots of games that can help us find some balance.

Other games, like Coffee Talk and Neo Cab help us consider the people we serve at work. This might be conversations with customers, but also the other people we work with in the office or workplace we find ourselves in. Like the game Good Job encourages us to do.

Then there are games that make us aware of our co-workers. Whether it’s collaborating to identify and store stock in Wilmot’s Warehouse or getting the furniture into the van neatly in Moving Out, how we work together and treat the people around us is important.
 

Attempt The Impossible

How hard a game is considered to be depends on who is playing it. A three-year-old tackling Zelda will struggle. But equally a new-to-games-parents will find Mutant Mudds quickly gets beyond them. The games in this list are known for being difficult. They wear the difficulty as a badge of honour. "None shall pass," except this with the will, time and belligerence to get good enough at this particular activity to beat the high bar the game sets.

This might be grappling with the flying mechanics in Rocket League, getting endlessly lost trying to find the next guardian in Shadow of the Collosus or coming up with the right tactic to get enough money for the ship you need in Elite. Of course, some of these games can be made easier, but to play them at their best is to ramp up the difficulty to max (crushing on The Last Of Us for example) and let them give you all they've got.
 
Ico
PEGI Rating 7 for Ico
Horace
PEGI Rating 12 for Horace
Hades
PEGI Rating 12 for Hades
Qomp
Ord
PEGI Rating 3 for Ord
Rust
PEGI Rating 16 for Rust
ITTA
PEGI Rating 12 for ITTA

Inhabit Another World

Whether it’s a simple puzzle grid, a battlefield or a universe of planets to visit, all games create virtual spaces in which to play. Some of these are simply the background to a campaign - the game’s unfolding drama, missions or challenge. But others invite you to invest in the worlds they create, move in, tend to and inhabit in fantastical ways.

The games in this section invite you to spend time in spaces that have a sense of place, life and character. Worlds that hold history and lore in their landscapes, flora, fauna and inhabitants; environments that respond to your presence and invite you to restore them to their former glory.
 
Shu
PEGI Rating 7 for Shu
Fuel
PEGI Rating 7 for Fuel
Hades
PEGI Rating 12 for Hades
Haven
PEGI Rating 12 for Haven
Ete
Pine
PEGI Rating 12 for Pine
Fe
PEGI Rating 7 for Fe

Reimagined Retro Classics

Growing up playing video games creates a strong sentimental connection to the sounds, sights and feeling those experiences gave you. Returning to these games in adulthood is a un diversion, but often the experience doesn't live up to the memory.

The games in this list have been recreated (sometimes officially and sometimes unofficially) by developers who love and respect the original while also wanting to update it for modern technology and players.
 
Horace
PEGI Rating 12 for Horace
198x
PEGI Rating 12 for 198x

Build Personal Resilience

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves "bouncing back" from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.

Games, by design, present players with adversity and much of the joy of gaming comes from taking on and overcoming unnecessary obstacles. Whether you’re saving the universe from an alien invasion or tending crops in your animal community, playing games mimics the process of resilience.

Image 163 This list of games that can help foster various forms of psychological resilience is compiled with the expert help of Take This. They aim to decrease the stigma, and increase the support for, mental health in the game enthusiast community and inside the game industry. They encourage a game community that welcomes and supports people experiencing mental health challenges, and that recognizes the humanity and mental health of game creators.

The Portal series tell a narrative that you are going to fail. You’re told to give up, but if you ignore this barrage of discouragement you can use it as a way to strengthen your resolve and complete the puzzles even if you have failed twenty times in the process. The Stanley Parable is all about trying again. You can try and re-try your decision making, reaching a variety of different endings.

Dark Souls is a hallmark for a punishing challenge that require resilience. You journey through elaborate lands to adventure, explore, and take heed lest they encounter a battle with a boss or enemy. Celeste is the story of Madeline and the enemies she overcomes while climbing Celeste Mountain. The game specifically calls out that Madeline has anxiety, and the challenges she faces in the environment reflect her own internal struggles and triumphs. Cuphead challenges players to battle relentless bosses in combat-heavy play. Cartoonish and playful, it balances challenging players to grow in skill and offers plenty of entertaining environments and aesthetics to keep you playing.

In Kingdom Hearts you meet many characters that need help - and many boss battles feel almost insurmountable. With help from friends like Donald and Goofy, the player character Sora overcomes the darkness to save his friends and bring hope back to the world. Death Squared is a co-op puzzle game where one player’s mistake makes everyone else lose. You learn cooperative resilience in trying again admits humorous judgments from the unseen “hosts” of the game.

In Animal Crossing you get help from the animal neighbours. You learn to lean on this social and environmental resilience to persevere at building social connections with computer villagers and friends online. Stardew Valley’s farming is about growing and maintaining a homestead. Interweaving the busy work are relationships with the other villagers, many of whom are social models for resilience in their storylines.
 

Digital Toy Boxes

Video games and toys are two seperate things in a child's life. Online and in stores they are sold separately. At home, however, children will move from toys to video games without such strong distinctions. This list draws together all the games that cross over with toys in this way.

Very young players are often drawn to games with toy-like play. Whether Toca Boca or Sago Mini offer video game interactions but without missions, tasks or scores. They are games that create space, characters, locations and items for children to make up their own fun.

Then there are games that import physical toys into the play-process of the game. Sometimes this is to have a figure unlock items and save progress like in Skylanders or sometimes this is to create new ways to interact like Tori, Hotwheels id or game/Anki.
 
Eloh
PEGI Rating 3 for Eloh
Shu
PEGI Rating 7 for Shu
PixArk
PEGI Rating 12 for PixArk
Ink
PEGI Rating 3 for Ink
Fuel
PEGI Rating 7 for Fuel

Persevere After Losing

Video games where you adventure into a harsh setting, try your hardest to survive and slowly develop your abilities but then inevitably die are often called Rogue-likes. This is because one of the first games that offered this style of play was called Rogue.

These are interesting games for families, not only because their difficult nature leads to shorter sessions, but also because they foster perseverance and coping with losing. After dying you are sent back to some sort of central village where you can choose upgrades for your next attempt. The incentive to play again once you have been killed is usually that you start with some more equipment or skills.

In this way, by belligerence and a slowly learned understanding of how the game world works and how best to survive, you incrementally get a bit further each time you play. Here are some really good roguelike games for families:
 

Get Children Talking

It can seem that all children do these days is stare at their screens and play video games. We worry about screen time and what the violence, addiction and gambling is doing to their brains.

However, along with screen time comes many other things we can celebrate. All kids do these days is talking to other. All kids do these days is learn the skills of rhetoric and debating. All kids do these days is develop their social confidence.

It sounds a little far fetched, but watching my kids play the new “hit” game Among Us I’ve realised these are exactly the sorts of things they are really developing when they are sat staring at their screens.

Here are some great examples where you need to talk, and talk intelligently and intelligibly, to do well in the game.
 

Tend and Befriend

Video games are usually thought to be about fighting, shooting and adrenaline. As regular readers will know, there are video games about everything. Recently I've been noticing games that combine the stewardship of the land and the nurturing of resources.

These games, like Animal Crossing, present an "ambience of bucolic" and a "reassuring mix of the pastoral and the industrial," wrote Simon Parkin recently. They offer an escape to simpler times, that provides meaningful work along with the possibility of also working at friendships.

The games collected in this list each offer the chance to escape and absorb yourself tending to a plot of land and nurturing often surprisingly moving relationships. Whether you are diligently cleaning someone's empty flat as in Sunset, setting up a farm after retiring from your adventures in Littlewood, reconnecting with grown-up children in The Stillness of The Wind, nurturing a musical garden in Mutazione, establishing a coffee shop in Coffee Talk or even eeking out provisions while you care for children in This War Of Mine all these games have something to tend to and people to get to know while you do it.
 

Fidget Toys

Fidget spinners burst into the hands of children a number of years ago. While that initial trend subsided, the interest and enjoyment of tactile objects to fiddle with are very much with us.

Fidget toys are like the yo-yo or Rubik's cube but without the focus on skill. The enjoyment comes from doing something that isn't learning or achieving anything. It's no surprise that there are a number of video games that have picked up on this style of play.

Some games, like The Longing, Animal Crossing and Adopt Me, simple slow down the need to progress, so all you do is check-in, fiddle around with the game world and then leave. Then there are other games, like Townscaper and Pok Pok Playroom, that let you craft your own structures but with none of the usual video game emphasis on score and winning. Other games, like Everything and Proteus, offer a huge world to poke and prod without getting embroiled with progression.

Even games that do offer a strong sense of story and development often include post-game play or side-quest distractions that are simply there for you to spend time fiddling with rather than winning or losing. Games like A Short Hike, Alba A Wildlife Adventure or even No Man's Sky.
 


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