At long last, the leaves are starting to turn brown, the temperature is starting to cool, the boots are starting to come out of storage, and the pumpkin spice lattes are in everyone’s hands. Fall is here and it’s not a moment too soon. In addition to hot chocolate and pumpkins and toasty blankets, we have a true icing on the cake when it comes to video games to hunker down with. There’s plenty to play as it starts to get darker earlier each day, but in particular, what could be better than playing some games that can help get you in the Fall spirit?
For this list, we’re focusing on games that are either set during the Autumn months, or themed around the season. We’re not including spooky or scary games since that deserves to be in a category all its own. So grab your pumpkin spice latte and your favorite scented candle, and join us for a few games you may have heard of before, or have the luxury of experiencing for the first time!
Life is Strange
Being a teenager has its own set of struggles. Compound that by adding time traveling powers, and you’re set up for a whole slew of new problems. That’s exactly what happens when Max Caulfield suddenly finds herself with the ability to turn back time in unpredictable ways. With her new abilities, she can undo the smallest action or mistake from seconds prior and essentially get a “do-over.” Or, she can make far greater leaps through time, leading to some unexpected consequences.
The player takes control of Max as she navigates her private boarding school in Arcadia Bay, a fictional town in the Pacific Northwest in early autumn. After rekindling her friendship with her childhood best friend Chloe Price, the two set off to uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of Chloe’s best friend Rachel Amber. The crux of the story and the relationships you build are based on your choices, who you help and hinder, and how well you pay attention to the world around you. A split second decision to save someone’s life can hinge on information you gleaned from a post-it note in a locker. Getting someone’s help on your mission can depend on how you treated them in an earlier scenario.
The game’s graphics, music, and story are a gorgeous blend that reflects the teenage angst of its protagonists, and the dark underbelly of the world they inhabit. It’s a truly compelling story that’s perfect to binge on a Fall afternoon.
No doubt on everyone’s list this season, this cozy farm simulator is the perfect way to usher in the joys of Autumn. If this is your first time delving into the quaint village, then you’re in for hours and hours of farming, cooking, tending, shopping, and so much more. Following your grandfather’s death, you inherit his farm in the titular Stardew Valley, and it’s up to you to turn the run down farm into a thriving hub upon which you can live comfortably.
The game operates on a seasonal cycle, and shifts between Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter each 28 days. When it returns to Spring, it also begins a new year on the farm. The Fall season is a fun one, with a couple of fun festivals and a prime opportunity to grow valuable crops. And of course, Fall is the perfect time to woo your potential love interest with the fruits of your labor, right?
Whether it’s your first foray into the valley or your hundredth, Stardew Valley provides the perfect cozy management vibes for the season.
Night In The Woods
The name might be deceiving, but this wonderful little game is not a spooky one, at least not in the traditional sense. You take on the role of Mae Borowski, a snarky twenty-something who has just returned to her childhood home in Possum Springs after dropping out of college in her second year. It’s Fall in Possum Springs, and Mae sets out to find her hometown friends and rekindle her relationships. Of course, easier said than done.
You’ll explore the nooks and crannies of Possum Springs and as Mae, decide how and with whom you want to spend your time. These choices, while they don’t impact the core events of the game, do impact the way in which you build relationships. And the more you hang out with one of your friends, the more you will learn about their lives and struggles and grow firmer in your attachments.
The game is really a fine tuned lens into Mae’s mental state as she struggles to adapt to her changing environment and the internal turmoil she experiences in light of dropping out of college. And it’s exhibited in fascinating ways, through dialogue, behavior, even Mae’s restless yet vivid dreams. All in all, Night in the Woods is a fun and revealing story about the uncertainty of adulthood, set against the backdrop of a cozy Autumn season.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
If you’re aiming for more of a mystery or thriller vibe for the season, then this one is definitely for you. The Astronauts’ The Vanishing of Ethan Carter projects itself as one thing, and ends up somewhere entirely unexpected.
You step into the shoes of Paul Prospero, a paranormal investigator trying to determine what happened to 12 year old Ethan Carter, who has suddenly vanished from his home in Red Creek Valley, Wisconsin. It’s a chilly Autumn afternoon and early evening when you first step foot on the scene, and the story that unfurls is one of horror, desperation, and tragedy.
The story that you unravel as Prospero is dark and haunting, but to reveal the true crux of the mystery requires a great deal of exploration and discovery of the clues that Ethan has left behind. It’s one of those cold and shocking twists that you couldn’t see coming, and the realization of it is something that lingers with you long after you put the game down.
Yes, I know, the game doesn’t actually take place in the Fall, at least not at first. But hear me out on this one.
Taking on the role of Henry, you take a job as a fire lookout in the Shoshone forest in the summer, and your only companion is the head lookout Delilah, whom you know only by her voice over your walkie talkie. The relationship builds over the course of the summer, until you’re forced to evacuate your post in early Fall due to a series of wildfires growing in your area.
Without revealing much, Firewatch is a tragic love story that needs to be experienced to be understood. The heart of the story is in the dialogue between these characters, or lack thereof. As Henry, you control the cadence to which you speak to Delilah, and ultimately how the relationship builds and unfolds. The symbolism of the bright summer of possibilities, followed up by the coming of Fall and the burning away of the place that was their escape from their day to day lives, weighs heavily and represents something that feels a lot like our own day to day. Firewatch is the kind of game that can absolutely provide meaningful reflection this season and beyond.