For those of us who can never find the time to delve into a good video game, winter break can’t come soon enough. The holidays have a way of quieting everything down, and it’s the perfect time to chill out from daily life and catch up on some recent releases you may have missed. But which games are best for this lazy time of year?
There were plenty of great LGBTQ+ releases in 2022, but winter is ideal for games that foster a serene ambience. For the following list, we’ll focus on games that have easy-to-learn mechanics, satisfying gameplay loops like town building and crafting, and cozy worlds that can draw you in even as you’re curled up in front of a fire. Here are some of 2022’s best queer games to relax with this winter.
I Was a Teenage Exocolonist
I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is a sci-fi narrative RPG where you play as an interstellar traveler who just landed on an alien planet. Over the course of the game, you will build shelters, get into card-based battles, bond with your fellow crewmates, and explore a vibrant exoplanet rendered in beautiful watercolors. The best part: this is a game made specifically for queer players.
The character customization section is one of the most robust and inclusive. Not only do you pick your appearance and pronouns, you can choose how you want to be referred to across a whole spectrum of gendered language (whether you want to be called gorgeous, pretty or handsome, for example). You also grow up with your character over a 10 year period, and you can decide how their gender expression evolves over time. And of course, all romance options are available to you regardless of these choices. I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is not just a great winter game, but a great queer game overall.
Play it on Playstation 4 | 5, Nintendo Switch, PC or Mac.
In Potionomics, you play as Sylvia, a young witch who inherits a potion shop from her recently deceased uncle. Unfortunately, you’ve also inherited his mountain of debt. So together with your friendly owl familiar, you have to learn the trade of potion crafting, seek out quality ingredients, and build up your shop’s repertoire. Later, as your reputation grows, you can compete in potion-making competitions for big rewards and upgrade your shop.
Because Sylvia is new in town, a good portion of the game is spent exploring and getting to know the locals, many of whom you can romance. Included in these romance options are five other women and a non-binary character. Potionomics also boasts an endearing art style, full of charming character animations. This witchy shopkeeping sim just goes to show that even crippling debt can be cute.
Play it on PC.
Monster Prom 3: Monster Roadtrip
Monster Prom 3: Monster Roadtrip released this year, though it’s definitely worth checking out this queer favorite franchise’s previous entries if you’re new to the series. The first game follows a group of teenagers at Spooky High, a school populated by classic horror movie monsters, and with prom only three weeks away, the race for diabolical love is on. The latest outing has you and your monster friends heading on a summer road trip adventure—the perfect escape from the cold winter weather.
The games all feature multiple playable characters (and a multiplayer mode), and each monster comes with their own ghoulish storyline. Monster Prom is also beloved for its absurd dialogue that renders teen angst from the perspective of demons, werewolves and ghosts. What better way is there to relive the horrors of high school than through the actual undead?
Play it on PC or Mac.
Haven is an RPG romance in which two lovers have run away to an alien planet in order to be together. Technically, Haven was released in 2020, but the recent Couples Update allows players to choose the gender of the main characters, making same-sex romance possible.
The game involves exploration with some combat as you search the planet for materials to upgrade your new home. But in between all the sci-fi adventure are quiet, narrative moments in which you and your partner make a life for yourselves—talking, cooking, doing housework, and of course, getting intimate. It’s the perfect game for living out the fantasy of a remote getaway with that special someone.
Play it on Playstation 4 | 5, Xbox Series S | X, Nintendo Switch or PC.
Beacon Pines is a mystery adventure game set in a storybook town populated by anthropomorphic animals. You play as Luka, an orphaned goat who gets embroiled in a sinister conspiracy while getting into mischief with his friends.
Unlike most games on our list, Beacon Pines is a more or less straightforward narrative adventure, meaning there isn’t much queer role-playing going on (such as optional romances). However, there is a gay couple within the town’s inhabitants, and far from background players, they take an active role in the plot of the game. If you’re in the mood for a fun mystery game with a cute aesthetic, take a trip to Beacon Pines.
Play it on Xbox Series S | X, Nintendo Switch or PC.
Cat Cafe Manager
Why own just one cat when you can adopt all of them? In Cat Cafe Manager, you get to do just that. You play as a young woman taking over and rebuilding her grandmother’s cat cafe. In the process, you get to handle the design of the store, train your staff, make friends with the locals, and adopt lots and lots of adorable cats (and maybe one racoon).
If you have time between managing your cafe, you can poke around in the woods to unravel the secrets of what appears to be an ancient cat cult. While this game does not include optional romances, it does feature queer characters among the artists, punks, and witches that frequent your shop. For those of us longing for a real cat to curl up with this winter break, Cat Cafe Manager gives us the next best thing.
Play it on Nintendo Switch or PC.
Wylde Flowers is a farming simulator where you play as Tara, a young witch who moves to a small island for a change of scenery after losing her job and getting dumped. Once she arrives in Fairhaven, she embarks on a mission to fix up her grandmother’s farm and become a full-fledged witch.
The gameplay builds on this duality—you till the land by day, and you get up to your witchy shenanigans by night. And outside of all that, there’s no shortage of queer townspeople for you to romance as you explore your new home. Wylde Flowers takes the cottagecore vibes of Stardew Valley and sprinkles in a dash of the occult.
Play it on Nintendo Switch, Apple Arcade or PC.
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