I recently made a list of 15 games (on PC, consoles as well as mobile) that are relaxing because I know that I'm not the only one out there with my anxiety through the roof due to the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine (for some, so much love and respect for those currently still working). Many people enjoyed that list as I did try to feature smaller games from indie studios with a more or less simple list of "rules". These games tend to not feature any enemies, fights or battles, you cannot die and there are no time limit. These games are soothing, either happy, peaceful or particularly quiet, they may or may not have a story, but regardless, offer a much welcome time off for our exhausted brains. So, with that in mind, here are some games you might want to check out;
1. Kind Words "A game about writing nice letters to real people. Write and receive encouraging letters in a cozy room. Trade stickers and listen to chill music. We're all in this together. Sometimes all you need are a few kind words."
By small dev Popcannibal who, as they say themselves, make "unusual games", Kind Words is a game where you "write nice letters to people" and "receive comforting letters". "Everyone can respond to requests with letters of comfort, sympathy or gentle advice. Kind Words is a positive context; a warm, cozy mood. A place to feel centered and focused on the opportunity presented: Use your words to lift others and be lifted in return." Available on Microsoft Windows.
2. Neko Atsume
Neko Atsume is a Japanese mobile cat collecting game developed by Japanese dev Hit-Point Co., Ltd. in which you purchase food, cat toys and cozy cat furniture to attract cats to your house and/or garden and collect them. In return you receive objects, mementos and even gifts.
Available on iOS and Android.
3. Look Inside
"looK INside is an episodic narrative game in 2.5D based on the interactions that the player performs in a book summarizing in pictures and texts the life of a French family at different times and periods in the life of its members. You play as Manon, the youngest of a French family of whom she knows little. When she discovers a book in the attic of her parents' house, she will then be immersed in life stories. The goal for Manon is to get to know her family through all the periods in which she has not known them and to reconstruct a complete family tree located on the first page of the book."
In looK INside "We offer a fable on transmission and memory, mixing literary and graphic arts and giving an air of poetry to these people whom we know so well and so badly at the same time. We do not want to make looK INside a detective game; no mystery, no massive family secret. We want to give the family an air of truth and simplicity. Our ambition is to provide the player with a tailor-made experience with several means of solving small playful puzzles based on the reaction that the objects of the game have to the actions of the player." Available on Microsoft Windows.
"Atomas is a science themed puzzle. The goal is to get the highest score by combining elements. The game begins with six atoms, usually hydrogen, helium and lithium (which have low atomic numbers) in a circular game board, unless the player has a special power equipped which makes the game start at magnesium, aluminum, and silicon. At the center, there is an atom which when the player taps moves to where they tapped. Sometimes there are plus or minus orbs (signs) in the center of the board instead of an atom. The plus orb allows the player to combine two like atoms into an element with a greater atomic number."
Perhaps it is odd of me to consider a science, element game relaxing, but Atomas is one of the very few games I have had on my phone for multiple years and always gravitate towards when I need to focus my thoughts on, well, anything else. It's a clever, surprisingly simple when you get the gist of it, game that I really feel more people should try. Available on IOS and Android.
5. Minecraft Fine, here ya go. I wasn't sure whether to feature Minecraft on this list or not as I feel that its relaxing aspect is very conditional. Just like with Stardew Valley, the farming and gathering, as well as the building part of Minecraft is indeed soothing, with its lush green scenery and beautiful music. Yet, the game changes quickly when night comes or when you get deep into mining. With its lava and creeper. Nontheless, especially when selecting its pacifist mode, Minecraft can be a deeply peaceful game in which you can get lost for many hours, or many days.
"In Minecraft, players explore a blocky, procedurally-generated 3D world, and may discover and extract raw materials, craft tools, build structures or earthworks, and depending on game mode, can fight computer-controlled "mobs", as well as either cooperate with or compete against other players in the same world. These modes include a survival mode, in which players must acquire resources to build the world and maintain health, and a creative mode, where players have unlimited resources. Players can modify the game to create new gameplay mechanics, items, and assets." Available on Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 as well as Android & iOS.
6. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
"In Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, it's up to you to build a fun campsite for you and your friends to enjoy. Stay tuned for all kinds of special events featuring some of your favorite animals! Imagine arriving at a beautiful but empty campsite and meeting up with everyone's favorite helper, Isabelle. Then, out of the blue, she asks you to run the place!"
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is free-to-play so there's really no reason for you to check it out! Available on iOS and Android.
"ANDAGON is a game that takes place in a world inspired by Tibetan theology and philosophMy. With a focus on life and death, discover what it means to make a true sacrifice. Traverse a vivid interpretation of Bardo, the Tibetan word for limbo. Learn what experiences brought you there and what forces pull you through.
Mandagon is a particularly and uniquely beautiful game with a soundtrack that I remember even now.
Available on Microsoft Windows, macOS and Android.
"Gris is a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality. As the story unfolds, Gris will grow emotionally and see her world in a different way, revealing new paths to explore using her new abilities."
"GRIS is a serene and evocative experience, free of danger, frustration or death. Players will explore a meticulously designed world brought to life with delicate art, detailed animation, and an elegant original score. Through the game light puzzles, platforming sequences, and optional skill-based challenges will reveal themselves as more of Gris’s world becomes accessible." Available on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, iOS, PlayStation 4 and MacOS
9. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Obviously? "Escape to a deserted island and create your own paradise as you explore, create, and customize in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game. Your island getaway has a wealth of natural resources that can be used to craft everything from tools to creature comforts. You can hunt down insects at the crack of dawn, decorate your paradise throughout the day, or enjoy sunset on the beach while fishing in the ocean. The time of day and season match real life, so each day on your island is a chance to check in and find new surprises all year round."
"Show off your island utopia to family and friends—or pack your bags and visit theirs. Whether playing online* or with others beside you**, island living is even better when you can share it. Even without hopping on a flight, you’ll meet a cast of charming animal residents bursting with personality. Friendly faces like Tom Nook and Isabelle will lend their services and happily help you grow your budding community. Escape to your island getaway—however, whenever, and wherever you want." Available exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
10. Assemble with Care
By the people who brought us Monument Valley, Assemble with Care is about; "When Maria, a globe-trotting antique restorer, arrives in the sun-soaked town of Bellariva, she has no idea just how broken it will turn out to be. She wants nothing more than to help the town’s inhabitants save their most beloved possessions, but when it’s their personal lives that are starting to fracture, she’ll need to find a way to hold them together, one spare screw at a time."
Available on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS.
"Unravel™ Two is a platforming adventure game seen from a unique perspective, or two. Play as a pair of Yarnys – small beings made of yarn and connected by a single thread – in local co-op or as a single player. Run, jump and swing through platforming puzzles, foster friendship, and shed light on a world covered in shadow."
When Unravel as first announced a few years ago by a stuttering, nervous but excited Martin Sahlin, developer on Unravel (and Unravel 2) I knew that it would be a game I would need to play and I was not disappointed.
Available on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
"Proteus is a game about exploration and immersion in a dream-like island world where the soundtrack to your play is created by your surroundings. Played in first-person, the primary means of interaction is simply your presence in the world and how you observe it."
Available on Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
"Nurture a small pot of succulents that grow in real time. Viridi is a safe haven, a place you can return to for a moment of peace and quiet whenever you need it."
"Leave Viridi open in a second window to keep you company while you work, or check in on your plants as a meditative moment every night. While not fully realistic (they're very forgiving), your succulents will require some maintenance and can die from over- or under-watering. Name your favorite plants, give them special care and attention, and they might even flower for you." Available on Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android.
14. Abyssrium (or Tap Tap Fish) "Tap Tap Fish - AbyssRium is a game that helps relax your nerve. Level up your Stone, create your own fish and make the Aquarium belongs to you! A beautiful ocean world waiting for you to explore!"
Man, the hours I have spent on this game. How beautiful and relaxing. (Although it is free, beware that it does try and make you spend real money a lot, keep this in mind)
Available on iOS and Android.
15. Everybody's Gone to the Rapture
"The game is set in 1984, in a fictional deserted village named Yaughton in Shropshire, England. The player's only objective is to explore and try to discover how and why everyone has disappeared. Mysterious floating orbs of light swim around the air and lead the player to scenes made up of other human-shaped lights, which re-enact various previously occurring events throughout the game. Following the orbs' evidence from scene-to-scene across the valley, as well as finding telephones and radios that replay conversations, recordings, and broadcasts from throughout the story, eventually provide all of the puzzle pieces to the game's main event (the 'rapture'.)"