8 Cozy Video Games That Feel Like Reading A Book
I got my first console in my early 20s, and most video games I played were platform games. I eventually ended up expanding my gaming choice, exploring other games like Professor Layton and Legend Of Zelda, but it wasn’t until last year that I discovered how intricate and story-driven video games could be.
I’m a reader through and through, and reading is, by far, my main hobby. But getting lost in games like Firewatch — I talk about it more below — made me realise games truly can feel like reading a whole-ass book. Plot-wise, character-wise, storytelling-wise, I came across amazing stories in video game form lately, and I can’t wait to explore similar games I have on my TBP (To Be Played).
If you’d like to get into gaming without losing that reading feeling, or if you’re already a gamer and are simply looking for more games that feel like reading, here is a list I put together for you. Trust me: they offer very different playing experiences, and they’re very much worth your time. They may even help you fall back in love with reading, in case you are struggling with it right now.
Firewatch by Campo Santo
This was the first game I played that made me go, “Wow, games can feel like this?”
Firewatch takes place in a national park, and you play a man who has taken a job keeping watch for fires.
But strange things are happening in the park, and with the help of another park employee, you will walk across the landscape trying to figure out what is really going on. In the meantime, your own personal struggles and doubts start coming to light.
The story is intricate, the artwork is beautiful, the dialogues are voice-acted and really well-executed, and although I was raging at it from time to time (the paths you have to walk are not very well-defined, which I think is meant to really give you the feeling of being lost in the park), I ended the game with a feeling like I had read a superb story.
Another similar game to this play-wise that just came out is Lake by Gamious.
Coffee Talk by Toge Productions
If you have ever dreamed of being the not-really-bothered-about-money owner of a night café, you will be delighted to play this!
The atmosphere is super cosy, and throughout the several nights this game plays in, characters come and go, requesting drinks but, mostly, sharing their stories.
It’s queer, with a good plot that focuses heavily on diversity and fitting in. The whole atmosphere really helps recreate those cosy coffee shop books we all love.
The fact that your own character is a mysterious barista only adds to it.
A second installment is coming out this year.
What Comes After by Fahmitsu
In some ways, I feel like this game should be a short story, or even a short movie.
In it, you play a girl who takes a train home and falls asleep. When she wakes up, she realises she is now on a night train taking the souls of the dead to the other side.
Across each carriage — she needs to stay in the train until the end of the journey to be able to return to the land of the living — she talks with several characters, finding out their life stories.
It is a game in the sense that you do play it in a console, but all interactions really just require you to press one button, which at some point will make you feel like you’re not playing the game, but reading an emotional, sad, but also hopeful story.
From the creator of Coffee Talk.
Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games
This game will break your heart.
You play a nurse who is in charge of taking care of end-of-life patients until it is time to guide them to the other side.
This is a game where you are busy travelling in your boat, collecting resources in order to provide for your patients, but the storyline carries a deep love for storytelling: each patient has demons to fight, and businesses to finish before dying, so you get to see their characters develop — sometimes even change — as you complete tasks for them.
Alongside their stories, your past is revealed as well.
Be warned: you will love some characters, be annoyed by others, and you will most definitely cry.
Little Misfortune by Killmonday Games
Little Misfortune is a whole vibe. It’s a short game and, much like What Comes After, it relies a lot on storytelling.
You play the role of a little girl called Misfortune who is convinced by a voice with no face to leave her house and go on an adventure. As you follow the voice, you’re led to make decisions, which have consequences.
The voice acting is great, and the dialogues are hilarious, since Misfortune has no filter but is very naïve.
There are two possible endings, and you’re not ready for either.
Misfortune’s motto is something several of us will relate to: Yikes Forever. She is also in love with a fox and has the cutest accent. Dark humour at its best.
What Remains Of Edith Finch by Giant Sparrow
Storytelling is everything in this great adventure where you will play Edith, who returns to the family house — a family with a curse she is trying to figure out.
Every time you think there are no more rooms to explore, and the story is coming to an end, a new door opens, a new nook reveals itself.
The atmosphere in this one is immaculate: gothic, dark, and mysterious. There is at least one part that is weird as hell, and the monologue is really, really good.
It’s one of those stories that will catch you off guard at the end, and you will want to hear it all over again.
If you play and enjoy this game, you will find a similar gameplay in The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter.
Hades by Supergiant Games
Those who have played this game will argue that it does not feel remotely like you’re reading a book, and I understand why: this is a fighting game.
However, for those who enjoy Greek mythology, this game will feel, in fact, like reading about it, and it may even help you better than any book to memorise the diverse stories about Greek mythology and their gods. There is also a lot of dialogue.
Since you, too, play a God, and all of your interactions are with other gods, dealing with their shenanigans will really feel like you’re cramming Greek mythology left and right — in the best of ways.
Hades II is in the making.
Strange Horticulture by Bad Viking
This game is for those who enjoy puzzle books, because puzzles are as important here as the story surrounding them.
You play the owner of a local plant shop. Residents come by to ask for plants to cure their ailments, and with the help of a book about plants, you have to correctly identify and provide them with the plants they need.
But there is a deep mystery at the centre of all this, and your help will be required to solve it.
You will travel, collect new plants, and you will make decisions that will have a great impact on how the story develops and, ultimately, unfurls.
There are eight possible endings to this game, which makes it fun to replay and mess around with your choices. A little like choose your own adventure, if you will, with a gothic atmosphere and very interesting characters.
I had loads of fun discovering each of the stories in these games, and I hope you do too! Looking for more posts on books and video games? Book Riot has a whole archive with tips for you!