Have you ever had those days when you wanted to sit down and play a game, but RPGs, shooters, and action games full of fighting and demons seem too stressful?
Well, try one of these relaxing games instead. Each game on this list is designed to reduce anxiety, depression, or intrusive thoughts, as well as be an easy, fun, and stress-free viewing experience.
Here are five of our favorite titles you should try.
1. Tetris effect: connected
Tetris has been popular since its debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1984. Since then, people have gotten incredibly good at both the classic NES version and the modern iterations.
Tetris Effect, however, brings together everything that makes the franchise so special. Tetris Effect: Connected allows you to test your skills, solve puzzles and many other modes to just relax and clear lines of blocks.
Some of the most relaxing modes include Chill Marathon with no game over, Quick Play, where you can play any level you have unlocked and set a constant speed, and themed areas around sea life, winds mild and other areas of the world. The Tetris Effect music is also amazing, adding to the satisfaction that comes with clearing every line.
Tetris has even been scientifically studied for its mental health benefits. A 2018 NPR article discusses how the state of flux one enters while playing Tetris is a great method for reducing anxiety.
Subject matter expert psychologist Kate Sweeny explains that Tetris puts you in a state of flux “where you’re completely absorbed or engaged…You lose awareness of yourself and time flies by.” This allows you to reduce the obsessive and intrusive thoughts that accompany anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder.
There are also studies showing how virtual reality can help treat PTSD and anxiety.
To download: Tetris Effect: Connected for Steam (PC) | Nintendo Switch | PlayStation | Xbox
2. Life is strange
The Life Is Strange series is a series some have gotten into and obsessed over, while others have been completely unaware of its existence; at MUO, we’re here to tell you to try it.
Life Is Strange is packed with narrative gameplay, with the main goal being to absorb you into its story. You play as a high school photographer named Max, who loves taking pictures with her instant camera. Throughout the game, optional photos can be taken by talking to people, and you can take photos at any time using the game’s built-in photo mode.
Although it’s not an open-world game, it still gives you the freedom to wander around specific scenes and snap shots of whatever your artistic eye finds. The incredible story also draws your attention to where you don’t want to stray. It’s the perfect video game for a night of relaxation.
To download: Life is Strange for Steam (PC) | PlayStation | Xbox
3. Spirit Farer
Spiritfarer is an exceptional indie game that explores the concept of death and the afterlife of spirits in a way that few other games have.
You play as Stella; Throughout the game, you meet several spirits with interesting personalities and take care of them on your ship. Spiritfarer is a 2D platformer where you have a lot of freedom over what to do next, so you’re not stressed out by timed activities or forced to do one task over another.
Roam the map on your ship while collecting materials through mining, fishing, and crafting. You can then use these materials to add to your ship as well as cook for your spirits. Eventually, you say goodbye to your spirits once they decide it’s time to move on, which is an emotionally gripping experience.
You can even play Spiritfarer with a friend in two-player co-op as Stella’s cat, enjoying the relaxing music and beautiful art together.
To download: Spiritfarer for Steam (PC) | Nintendo Switch | PlayStation | Xbox
4. Chat over coffee
In Coffee Talk, you play as a barista at a local cafe open late into the night, tending to various anthropomorphic mythical creatures and humans.
The game plays out like a visual novel as you learn the backgrounds of every customer who walks into your shop. Once customers order, you make drinks from three ingredients; some drinks you have the recipe for, while others need to be unlocked throughout the game.
Coffee Talk has a very simple but unique art style, and making drinks at the collection of lo-fi tunes creates a pleasant atmosphere. Although a fairly short game, Coffee Talk is simply another fantastic and affordable relaxing game to play while sipping your own coffee creation and is one of the best indie games on the Nintendo Switch. .
To download: CoffeeTalk for Steam (PC) | Nintendo Switch | PlayStation | Xbox
GRIS is a beautiful indie game inspired by watercolor and hand-drawn animation. Each level exudes a certain atmosphere, has simple but unique puzzles to solve, and gives your character dress up new abilities to move through different areas.
Although the game has no dialogue, there is no need to feel the girl’s emotions. The art and music speak for themselves, where the fear and grief she feels in her world resonates metaphorically.
Although GRIS is an absolutely beautiful game, it is quite short and can be finished in a few hours. It retails for $16.99 on Steam at the time of writing and cannot be fully recommended at that price. Add it to your wishlist and wait for it to go on sale, because GRIS is a beautiful game for everyone to experience.
To download: GRAY for Steam (PC) | Nintendo Switch | PlayStation | Xbox
Enjoy your comfortable night
The author personally recommends every game on this list. Tetris Effect is an exceptional game that has been scientifically proven to reduce intrusive thoughts and general anxiety among its players. Others on this list simply give you a relaxing experience without giving you one stressful task after another. More importantly, each game gives you a sense of freedom that we all need to feel from time to time.
Life Is Strange will also inspire you to get into instant photography and can help you think differently about living in the moment instead of wanting to replay those moments over and over again. Max Caulfield explains this feeling beautifully when she discovers she can go back in time: “I wish I could stay in this moment forever. Well, I guess I can now. But then it wouldn’t be a moment.”
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