Over the last six months, a lot has happened in the world from a global pandemic, subsequent quarantine, mass waves of unemployment, and most recently, the heinous murder of George Floyd.
It’s wild to think that January was only six months ago, as it feels like it could have been six years at this point.
With everything that’s going on, it can be hard to find the time to take a step back and recharge your internal batteries, considering the constant barrage of new stressors popping up each day.
To alleviate some of this stress, many people turn to video games. Depending on what you’re playing, games can even be a great way to temporarily redirect your focus. While your focus is redirected, your body begins to relax.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, know that you’re not alone. If you’re struggling to find a game to play to help ease your stress, we’ve got you covered with a list of some of our favorites!
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7 Relaxing Games to Help You De-Stress
One of our first thoughts when it comes to relaxing games is Journey, but a lot of people have played Journey already. We certainly recommend replaying it, of course, but we also have another suggestion for you in the form of Abzu.
Directed by Matt Nava, the Art Director for Journey, Abzu features a similar idea where you’re a silent protagonist in an unfamiliar world on a mission of self-discovery. Abzu’s main character is a diver who swims through beautiful aquatic areas full of fish without ever having to come up for air.
The game even features a “Meditate” mode where you can unlock these areas to meditate in even after you beat the main story. Abzu has some tense moments with a shark and some weird robot triangle things, but they don’t detract from how soothing the game is overall.
Even better, if you’re short on time, Abzu can be beaten from start to finish in 2 to 4 hours.
With the COVID-19 pandemic came the closure of restaurants and local coffee shops. If you’ve been thirsty for the experience of sitting down in a coffee shop and engaging in a little conversation, you have to check out Coffee Talk! In the game, you run a coffee shop in an alternate universe fantasy version of Seattle that operates at night.
You get unique patrons – some human, some not – who each have their own story to tell. Stories are told in text dialogue, letting you read at your own pace, kind of like a light visual novel. You’re also able to brew beverages for your patrons from coffee to tea, and decorate your creations with coffee art.
In the background, Coffee Talk boasts a wonderful soundtrack composed by Andrew Jeremy that really enhances the chill vibe. Coffee Talk is a wonderful place to spend a little bit of time whenever you need to relax that can be really useful, especially right now.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
For millions of people, Animal Crossing: New Horizons became their go-to at the height of the pandemic. Running errands and building up a cute island offers much-needed distraction, which is perfect in and of itself. As a bonus, Animal Crossing has given people the ability to see their friends in the virtual world and spend time together.
Graduations, work meetings, and even weddings have been held in Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the pandemic. If you haven’t yet, we highly recommend you play Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
You don’t need to be a lifelong Animal Crossing fan to enjoy it, and you also don’t need to be a master island builder either. It can be easy to feel discouraged seeing other people’s islands, but honestly, all islands are beautiful in their own way. There’s even one in the shape of Danny Devito!
Looking for something similar to Animal Crossing that’s not Animal Crossing? We also highly recommend checking out Stardew Valley!
Tetris has been around since the 80s. Originally, the goal was to stack Tetriminos, clear lines, and get a high score. While it has a competitive scene now, Tetris at its core has always been a relaxing game.
If you play in Marathon Mode, it’s just you and the Tetris matrix in front of you. No other distractions. You don’t have to be a master Tetris player to enjoy the game, and there are versions for everyone. Take, for example, Tetris Effect.
Designed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Lumines, Rez) and complemented by an incredible soundtrack composed by Hydelic, Tetris Effect takes the beloved classic to a whole new level. It’s easy to become hypnotized by the main campaign, while also having the ability to drop in and out by replaying individual levels and beating your score in various Effect Modes.
If you love VR, Tetris Effect is playable in PS VR, Oculus Quest, and things like the Vive through the game’s PC port on the Epic Games Store. If you’d rather enjoy it straight up, we highly recommend buying a copy on PS4 or PC. It’s one of the best Tetris games ever released and is something everyone can enjoy, Tetris fan or not.
The subject matter of Firewatch may not be super upbeat, but the experience of exploring the Wyoming wilderness is undeniably calming. In the game, you play as Henry, a man whose former life became too much to handle so he takes on a job as a forest lookout.
He wants to get as far away from the world as possible, and he certainly accomplishes this. In Firewatch, Henry is alone and the only other human companion is Delilah, Henry’s supervisor who’s only available to talk to by handheld radio.
The game is supported by strong writing and powerful voice acting that make the game feel entertaining, even when you’re just walking around. There’s a bit of stigma against “walking sims” and Firewatch certainly falls in this category, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
It’s almost like you’re playing a role in a movie, one that captivates you from start to finish.
Similar to Firewatch, the story of Lost Ember isn’t entirely upbeat but it’s one that makes you feel happy when you play it. In the game, you get to take on the form of different animals as you journey through an ancient world where mankind no longer exists.
You primarily play as a wolf as seen in the game’s promotional trailers, though you also get to play as a bird, fish, and so on. Lost Ember is a powerful experience expertly crafted by developer Mooneye Studios.
It’s unlike anything we’ve played, and is one we find ourselves returning to lately as the game offers a form of escape. Playing as a wolf, or animal, and seeing the world from their perspective is truly refreshing. If you love animals, or simply want to get away from it all for a while, Lost Ember is a game that should be in everyone’s library, plain and simple.
Half Past Fate
Finally, do you love stories about love? What about lighthearted rom-coms? If you answered yes to either, you’ll love Half Past Fate. In our opinion, the game hasn’t received nearly the amount of attention that it deserves. It has brilliant writing with funny jokes and cute moments, enjoyable characters, an upbeat soundtrack, and an art style that’s bright and cheerful.
It’s hard to feel stressed or upset when you’re playing a game like Half Past Fate. Even if you don’t normally gravitate towards games of this nature, you may enjoy Half Past Fate for its atmosphere alone. The story jumps between different times, showing you how all of the characters met, and how they’re all connected with one another.
The game has some light puzzle solving that’s extremely approachable, so even if you aren’t the best at puzzles, you should have no trouble working your way through Half Past Fate. The game is heartwarming, and can really help boost your mood a little if you’re feeling down or lonely. Check it out and give it a try, we think you’ll fall in love with Half Past Fate just like we did!
Everyone has their own go-to games to help them relax, and we can’t wait to discover even more!
Read More: PS5 Games Confirmed So Far
It is always an exciting time in the video game community when a new generation of consoles usher in a whole new age of gaming with never-before-seen graphics and performance. You have to have great games to be a good console, and fortunately for prospective PS5 players there already been a handful of games confirmed to be coming to the console in the future.
Morgan is a writer, metalhead, horror lover, and indie game enthusiast. When it comes to games, they love nothing more than to wax poetic about all the latest and greatest indies to anyone who’ll listen. On a typical day, you’ll find Morgan perched in front of the computer like a gargoyle browsing through Steam’s new releases with a large cup of coffee. You can find them on Twitter@Author_MShaver