While adrenaline fuelled games of PUBG and tense rounds of Rainbow Six Siege deliver some truly addictive action, sometimes we don’t want our games to be challenging or stressful. Modern life certainly brings its own unique difficulties and whether it’s the never-ending bills, heavy workloads, or simply pondering the new challenges that lay ahead, it doesn’t take long for stress to take a hold. During these times it’s often best to take a step back and give ourselves a break. With that in mind, here are ten of the most relaxing video games you can play to ease your mind, even if it’s just for a few hours.
Stardew Valley sees you transported from the hustle and bustle of city life and throws you head first into an idyllic town bursting with color, personality and charm. You’re tasked with transforming your grandfather’s dilapidated farm into an area of land that you can use to tend crops and raise livestock. Stardew Valley’s gameplay is open-ended and it allows you to take on various activities as you see fit.
You can live the quiet farm life and socialize with the valley’s various inhabitants, delve into dark caves in search of rare materials and monsters, fish for rare treasures, or dabble in everything the game has to offer. The only constraint in Stardew Valley is the painfully short days, and you’ll be left wondering where both your in-game and real life time went. Stardew Valley is an absorbing title that’s bound to wash away any nerves.
Slime Rancher is a pretty self-explanatory game. It consists of constructing a ranch in order to collect, raise, feed and breed gelatinous living organisms of various sizes and characteristics. The goofy gameplay and cute, colorful nature of the slippery little blobs never fails to put a smile on our faces.
Slime Rancher’s core loop revolves around exploring various environments to collect slimes, food items and rare goods by sucking them up with your trusty Vacpack. It’s a rather cathartic experience and one that sounds absolutely daft, but that’s because it is. Sometimes we don’t need flashy kill streaks, ranked systems and various stats to make us feel good. Slime rancher has taught us that smiling gelatinous blobs are the key to destress success.
Journey isn’t just a relaxing game, it’s also a breathtakingly beautiful experience. Austin Wintory’s atmospheric soundtrack and Thatgamecompany’s elegant game design offers a short but sweet tale devoid of over-the-top action. Journey’s world pops right out of the screen and the visuals, while simple, really compliment the overall nature of its story. The game certainly strikes an emotional chord, but boy is it worth it. Effortlessly traversing across the shimmering desert sands and sliding down vast dunes never fails to loosen up our minds.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing is universally adored by fans around the world and New Horizons's gentle approach eases our stressful burdens when we’re at home or on the go. There are no real pressing objectives and you’re not punished for spending hours fishing, bug hunting, or socialising around the island. In fact, nothing in Animal Crossing requires taxing amounts of energy or effort. You can spend a day redecorating your house, or head out on a boat trip to explore other islands.
Paying your mortgage to Tom Nook is the only area that you need worry about, but the old raccoon will never rush you to cough up those Bells. In a world that demands so much from us, what could be better than playing a game that requires so little attention? Animal Crossing can be enjoyed by people off all ages and is the perfect commuting companion. Thanks to the new Happy Home Paradise DLC, you can even while away the hours designing stylish homes for others instead.
Abzu is one of the prettiest games we’ve ever had the joy of playing and it’s tranquil setting make it the perfect game for those looking to unwind for a couple of hours. This delightful game sees you swimming gracefully through a series of psychedelic underwater worlds that are brimming with natural beauty.
The fluid controls and laid-back pace make it a great game for relaxation, especially when paired with Austin Wintory’s mesmerising soundtrack. The sheer volume of onscreen sea life is truly a spectacle to behold and it wouldn’t look out of place in a wildlife documentary. The sea can be a scary place full of terrifying predators, but Abzu demonstrates that it can also be beautifully awe-inspiring.
Who would have thought that blowing flower petals through the air could be so therapeutic? Even Thatgamecompany was surprised when Flower had become a critical success. Guiding the wind and collecting various petals like some phantom florist is great fun, especially when you manage to bring vibrant colors to previously dead fields or breath life into once stationary windmills. Flower features no text or dialogue and it forms the bulk of its narrative through visual representation and musical cues. This simplistic approach may not be for everyone, but it’s the perfect antidote for those looking for some much-needed respite.
The blocky world of Minecraft is still alive and kicking and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Minecraft’s sandbox nature means that there’s plenty to do and create in its procedurally generated world, which makes it the perfect place to blow off some steam. There’s no specific goals to accomplish and very little constraints, especially when using the game’s various mods. As a result, there’s a huge amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game. Building replicas of your favourite movie and game inspired worlds has never been so easy.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild certainly has its stressful moments and saving Zelda is no easy task, but its rendition of Hyrule is something straight out of a Ghibli film. The gentle watercolor backdrops and seemingly endless exploration make it the perfect virtual retreat for those feeling burnt out. While the combat and shrine puzzles are an absolute blast, there’s nothing stopping you from booting up Breath of the Wild and simply admiring the views.
Crack out your trusty Camera Rune and get snapping the game’s stunning wildlife and scenic locations. You could spend time horse riding, fishing, hunting, shield surfing and sailing. The possibilities are almost endless. There’s plenty of great things to do and see in Breath of the Wild, and you may even discover something new along the way. With a sequel due in 2023, there's plenty of time left to lose yourself in the stunning landscape of Hyrule.
What better way to avoid our real-life responsibilities than to take on the virtual responsibilities of a whole family. Forging a new life and making an awesome avatar has always been a favorite among those looking to escape the realities of life. The career you’ve always wanted could be yours, your ideal partner is just a stone’s throw away, while your dreams of living in a gigantic mansion with loads of puppy pals is right there for the taking. The Sims still delivers the silly fun we fell in love with all those years ago and it’s still a fantastic series to take a break with.
Proteus is another game free of regimented goals and strict player guidelines. The unique exploration of the game’s procedurally-generated world is as captivating as it is relaxing. You’ll find various flora and fauna that emit different musical signatures and combinations depending on your actions. As you wander around the colorful abstract island, the dreamy music will constantly shift and change, while the seasons transform the landscape around you. Proteus only takes an hour to complete, but the procedurally-generated world ensures it’s fresh every time. It won’t take long before your worries simply slip away.
Coffee Talk is the closest thing video games can offer to clasping a warm mug and staring out the window on a rainy day. The weather outside may be miserable, but with that little bit of cozy heat in your hands, all of life's worries melt away. You're a barista in fantasynear future Seattle. Running a midnight coffee store, you'll be whipping up espressos, lattes, and all manner of warming beverages for the humans, orcs, mermaids, and other species stopping by in the dark. Your job isn't just to serve, mind, it's also to listen to your patron's wordly woes. The regulars of Coffee Talk have all manner of life issues, but most can eventually be solved through a gentle chat over a warming drink.
There's little impact to be had on the story here, as Coffee Talk's narrative plays out in a fairly linear fashion. You can spend time perfecting your latte art and puzzling over different drink recipes, but only on a few occaisions will your choices impact the ending to a character's tale. Will little on the line, the pixel art and lo-fi beats of Coffee Talk combine with the world and people to deliver a gaming experience perfectly suited to snuggling up on a sofa, mug in hand.
Got any soothing games of your own? Share their mellow magic in the comments below.