Sometimes, everyone needs to take a deep breath and calm their mind after a long day of stress. A regular nine-to-five can take its toll on anyone, especially those who seek creative outlets such as games. While most video games feature intense flashing lights, ambient music that makes gamers’ skin crawl, or mechanics that can be so in-depth it takes ample brain-power to power through, some are just– well— peaceful. Everyone needs a release, and the games we’ve chosen for this list are the best and most relaxing games to play this year when your mind needs a reset.
Firewatch is a mystery adventure game released in February of 2016. The story follows a man named Henry, who is the man in charge of looking out for fires that may break out within the Shoshone National Forest. Considered to be one of the best “walking simulators” to have ever been created, players will embark on a journey filled with intense relationships, jaw-dropping scenery, and overly emotional storytelling.
As Henry, players spot what looks like a controlled fire at a nearby camp, only to discover a chilling mystery that Henry feels the need to solve. Don’t fret, players won’t be on their own, as they have their only contact–and boss– Delilah on the other side of their handheld radio to help guide them along their way.
#14 Stardew Valley
A calming and peaceful farming simulator, Stardew Valley is the perfect game to play after a hectic work day. Players create their characters to their liking and enter the world as the new owner of their grandfathers’ plot of land. To start out, players are given only a few coins and the bare necessities to begin getting their farm in order.
Gamers will need to gather seeds, plant crops, and learn to live off of the land as they did in the olden days. Players can raise their own livestock, create a delightful orchard, and even craft up new machinery to really turn this land into the farm of their dreams!
#13 A Short Hike
A Short Hike is such a simple game that helps anyone escape the menial tasks and stresses that come with everyday life. Players can explore the vast and beautiful world in any way they choose!
They can pick whichever path catches their eye and see where it may lead. Players are never in any rush, they can stop and catch a few fish or even take a refreshing swim in the lake; the choice is completely up to the player. The game even includes secret little treasures for players to find, making it meaningful yet so effortless.
SnowRunner is an open environment trucking simulator that comes with rewarding challenges and treacherous hauls. While the players won’t have to battle a time limit, they will have to come face-to-face with rough terrain and the unpredictable changes in the weather.
This game is all about testing the player’s patience and willpower to prevail. Gamers will need to make sure they bring along the right tools to complete every job to the best of their ability. More so, they will have to check their fuel supply at all times and pick the appropriate route to ensure they have a safe and straightforward ride.
#11 House Flipper
Ever wanted to take on a fixer-upper in real life, but just never had the time to do it? Well, House Flipper brings that experience to gamers’ homes all across the world. Just as the name implies, players will purchase run-down homes, and fix them up with new lighting, paint jobs, and furniture.
Players will also need to clean the house up a bit before adding all the decor needed to make this one a top seller in their neighborhood. Once players make a name for themselves and earn a bit of money, flipping houses becomes easier and much more fun!
#10 What Remains of Edith Finch
Showcasing a first-person, story-driven gameplay style, What Remains of Edith Finch tells players the story of the incredible Finch family. Players will traverse an elaborate labyrinth they call their home, learning the history of each family member they come across.
It seems as though a curse has been cast onto the Finch family, and players will learn how every member has succumbed to its fate. Edith Finch will be narrating as the players progress, and tell the tale of each of her family members, and how their amazing lives met a tragic and untimely end.
#9 Donut County
It’s said that Donut County is therapeutic and satisfying in the best of ways. Located 999 feet below the surface of the Earth, players will find Donut County and its residents, living within the rubble of their previous life. How did they get here? Well, raccoons took over the town’s donut shop, and holes have been popping up all over the city.
The goal of the game is simple; devour everything in sight by deploying holes that will engulf the city. Players will notice little puzzles they will need to solve to be successful in destroying the city. If players deploy a hole and drop an ear of corn in, then hot coals after it, the hole will explode with hot popcorn that covers the city!
#8 Gone Home
Gone Home will leave a long-lasting impression on anyone who decides to give this game a try. Featuring a 90s aesthetic, the game is an incredible walking simulator where players take on the life of Katie, exploring her home and picking up objects to see if they provide her with any clues.
Players will look through the families belonging to uncover the cause of their mysterious disappearance. While this may seem like the perfect profile of a horror game, it surely isn’t.
The game features zero jump scares, no creepy or eerie vibes, and nothing lurking around every corner. Just a simple mystery game of collecting clues and solving the family drama with no form of interference.
This game makes a huge statement when it comes to freedom. Players of Abzu can take all the time they need to soak up the exquisite environments held within the game. The game is full of deep-sea mysteries hidden inside a humongous underwater world.
While there aren’t any huge threats that players will run into, the game does include hefty underwater landmines. But don’t worry, there is a warning bell that goes off if players venture too close to the explosives, meaning there really isn’t a true sense of impending doom. The game also includes a few fun puzzles to solve along the way, giving each player’s brain a workout all while slipping into a state of relaxation!
Known for being one of the most accredited games in the entire world, Minecraft is teeming with caves to explore, underwater cities to uncover, and plenty of lands to call home. Players will find that the options in the game appear to be endless, whether they are playing for fun or to challenge themselves.
The game features several different biomes for players to explore, each coming with different materials and necessities to survive. Players can hunt, fish, go mining for ore, or even take up residence in nearby villages.
#5 Katamari Damacy Reroll
The third-person puzzle-action game Katamari Damacy Reroll is all about being ready to roll. When the King of Cosmos accidentally destroys all of the stars in the sky, he orders the player to put them all back at once!
Using a magical device created by the King, players will be in control of the multicolored bumpy ball that picks up anything in its path. The ball will grow larger and larger as players roll through objects at high speeds. Players will need to make their ball reach a specific size within the time frame given by the King, helping them reach milestones to aid in putting the sky back together at last.
#4 The Witness
The Witness is a 2016 puzzle game, where players explore an island filled with stunning structures, both natural and man-made. The game is beautifully made and satisfying, as players draw lines through a series of mazes.
The real puzzle is the island itself, painting a bigger picture of the world surrounding the player. Players begin not knowing who they are, what they are, or why they are where they are. The only way to find the answers they long for is to work for them. After unlocking the first gate, the world is the players’ oyster, allowing them to explore, solve puzzles and soak in all that the environment has to offer.
#3 Coffee Talk
A game almost like no other, Coffee Talk is all about listening to the customer’s problems in life, all while serving up a mean cup of joe. Players will help them overcome these problems by serving up a little cup of sunshine with the ingredients they have on hand.
The game showcases the relationship between a barista and her customers, who gives them the sweet familiar escape of a sweet cup of coffee. The game tells a story as a visual novel, only giving players control of making the customers drink orders properly. Most of the game is spent just watching the story unfold, leaving the players’ minds to simmer down after a long day on the grind.
The third-person puzzle game Rime features captivating graphic designs, almost seductive music, and a story that will capture the hearts of players. Beginning as a child who has washed up onto the shore after a horrific storm at sea, yers will help the child find their place in the world.
In this world, death is not the end, but rather the quick flash of a black screen, and the placing of the player back where they started before they perished. The game features very few mechanics, as players only need to run, collect things, and shout when necessary. Overall,
#1 Slime Rancher
Slime Rancher is not the typical adventure game players would expect. Players begin as a Slime rancher, carefully collecting the cute oozes in their canisters, only to bring them back to their cells and feed them until they grow big and strong.
Once the slimes are good and plump, they will produce plorts, which is quite literally their excrement. Players will then sell the plorts to the highest bidder, acquiring the in-game currency to develop their slime farm even further. Filling up the canisters is pretty easy. All gamers need to do is venture out and find the little guys hanging out around the island.
The main concept of the game is to build the player’s slime empire in the right direction, without allowing them to go crazy and turn into insatiable tar monsters.