The recent explosion of released and announced cozy lifesim games has been fun to watch. I am enjoying Palia (to some degree) and games like Loftia look like they have potential. The classics, like Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon, while single-player, are still charming. Obviously a big shout-out to Animal Crossing: New Horizon is in order. Not entirely single-player and with an unusual sort of multi-player, it seems to be the inspiration for the recent boom. But why, though?
Life is hard sometimes
Whether it's work or school or raising a family or all three, life is hard. It's quite reasonable to want a simpler life with no drama and no stress where you can feel good about yourself because you're doing things. Cozy lifesims give that feeling of accomplishment through crafting and exploration and NPC relationship building. They're also safe. No one is really going to get mad at you or cause a bunch of personal drama. In the online games, that may be less true, but the games are still a fantastic escape to simpler times that mostly only exist in Disney Movies.
Ok, but which one is the best?
That largely depends on the style and gameplay you like, but given that this blog is called Mobile MMO Addict, I'm going to suggest an MMO and one that might surprise you.
Villagers and Heroes
Hear me out. In V&H, you have a house that you can decorate, crops you can grow, and livestock you can raise and gain materials from. There is plenty of crafting, including making furniture for your house. There are mounts and pets and, most importantly, villages. One thing Palia doesn't seem to have is an ability to contribute to the growth of the town (maybe it's unlocked later; I haven't gotten very far). Games like AC:NH have you unlocking items for your island, but that does hit a ceiling. In Villagers and Heroes, the villages are player-created. They do all have the same map, but you can join any village that has space and all the villagers can contribute to the growth of the village and the unlocking of features (mostly through the donation of crafting materials). This simple mechanic enhances the cozy lifesim feel in a way that Palia doesn't. In Palia, I'm a resident, but I live in an instanced plot and my only interaction with the town is relationships and buying stuff. In V&H, I'm invested in the village because my donated materials help grow it. It's a much different level of personal involvement.
As a note to future cozy lifesim MMO devs, consider how V&H provides a great mechanism for players to build their own communities. It's a killer feature that we need more of.