Do you ever have those days where you want 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 a simple, fun, and stress-free visual experience.
Here are five of our favorite titles you should try out.
1. Tetris Effect: Connected
Tetris has been popular since its debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1984. Since then, people have gotten incredibly skilled at both the classic NES version as well as modern iterations.
Tetris Effect, however, brings together everything that makes the franchise so special. Tetris Effect: Connected lets you test your skills, solve puzzles, and plenty of other modes to simply relax and clear lines of blocks.
Some of the most relaxing modes include Chill Marathon with no game over, Quick Play, in which you can play any level you have unlocked and set a constant speed, as well as themed areas surrounding marine life, gentle winds, and other areas of the world. The music in Tetris Effect is also amazing, adding to the satisfaction that comes with clearing each line.
Tetris has even had scientific studies surrounding its mental health benefits. An NPR article from 2018 explains how the flow state one enters while playing Tetris is an excellent method for reducing anxiety.
The expert on the subject, psychologist Kate Sweeny, explains that Tetris puts you in a flow state “where you’re completely absorbed or engaged…You lose your self-awareness, and time is just flying by.” This allows you to reduce those obsessive, intrusive thoughts that come with anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder.
There are also studies showing how VR can help treat PTSD and anxiety.
2. Life Is Strange
The Life Is Strange series is one that some have gotten into and are obsessed with, while others have completely ignored its existence; at MUO, we’re here to tell you to try it out.
Life Is Strange is full of narrative gameplay, the main objective being to absorb you in its story. You play as a high school photographer named Max, who loves shooting photos on her instant camera. Throughout the game are optional photos to shoot by talking to people, and you may take photos at any time by 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 shoot photos of anything your artistic eye finds. The amazing story also grabs your attention where you don’t want to pull away. This is the perfect video game for a relaxing night in.
Spiritfarer is an exceptional indie game that explores the concept of death and the afterlife of spirits in a way that not a lot of other games have.
You play as Stella; throughout the game, you meet several spirits with interesting personalities and care for them on your ship. Spiritfarer is a 2D platformer where you have plenty of freedom of what to do next, so you’re not stressed out by timed activities nor forced to do one task over another.
Travel across the map on your ship while collecting materials by 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 a two-player co-op by playing as Stella’s cat, enjoying the relaxing music and beautiful art together.
4. Coffee Talk
In Coffee Talk, you play as a barista at a local café open late into the night, tending to various anthropomorphic mythical creatures and humans.
The game plays like a visual novel as you learn the backgrounds of each customer that walks into your shop. Once the customers order, you prepare drinks out of three ingredients; some drinks you have the recipe for, while others you have to unlock throughout the game.
Coffee Talk has a very simple but unique art style, and preparing drinks to the collection of lo-fi tracks creates a lovely atmosphere. Although it’s 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.
GRIS is a beautiful indie game with inspiration from watercolor and hand-sketched animation. Each level gives off a certain atmosphere, has simple but unique puzzles to solve, and gives your character’s dress new abilities to move through various areas.
Although the game has no dialogue, it’s not needed to feel the young girl’s emotions. The art and music speak for themselves, where the fear and sorrow she is feeling in her world are metaphorically resonant.
Although GRIS is an absolutely gorgeous game, it is fairly short and can be finished within a couple of 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 wish list and wait for it to go on sale, as GRIS is a beautiful game everyone needs to experience.
Enjoy Your Cozy Night In
The author personally recommends each game on this list. Tetris Effect is an exceptional game that has been scientifically shown to reduce its players’ intrusive thoughts and general anxiety. Others on this list simply give you a relaxing experience without giving you one stressful task after another. Most 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 may 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 finds out she can rewind time: “I wish I could stay in this moment forever. Well, I guess I can now. But then it wouldn’t be a moment.”
The 20 Best Video Game Soundtracks for Studying or Relaxing