Top 25 Most Relaxing & Calming Video Games (Consoles & PC)

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The last few years have been a rollercoaster, and the world moves faster by the minute.

For many of us, getting off the train of life and entering the magical world of games is the best way to cope with the daily challenges of existing in the 21st Century.

That said, not all games are made the same. And while we all love our favorite titles – they’re not all exactly “relaxing”. Sometimes, the fast pace of a Need for Speed race or the do-or-die action of a League of Legends match just doesn’t help you wind down.

Let’s flip that and take a look at some of the best titles worth checking out if you just want to kick back a bit and take it all in. Make yourself some tea, build up your pillow fort, and join me as we take a look at these top-notch video games to chill out with.

 

25. Tetris Effect (2018)

Tetris Effect 2018 game screenshot

Available on PC / PS4 / Oculus Quest.

You might not initially think about Tetris as “relaxing”, but this latest take on the classic formula has a lot more going for it in the way of visuals than your regular puzzle game.

Colorful and mesmerizing, Tetris Effect is the closest you can get to psychedelic visuals without breaking the law.

Other than the captivating graphics, the game boasts a superb and varied soundtrack that complements the action on screen perfectly.

 

24. Proteus (2013)

Proteus 2013 gameplay PS Vita screenshot

Available on PC / PS3 / PS Vita.

Proteus is very much a walking simulator. But it’s unique in that you’ll be exploring a pixelated world full of flowers, trees, mountains, and other forms of natural beauty.

Both the graphics and the retro synth-based soundtrack give the place a bit of an alien atmosphere, contributing to an enduring sense of wonder throughout the game.

Deciphering the world’s secrets is a valid objective to pursue.

But nobody is pushing you to do so.

You’re free to explore this lush pixelated island at your own pace.

 

23. flOw (2006)

flOw 2006 gameplay screenshot

Available on PC / PS3 / PS4 / PSP / PS Vita.

Much like our previous entry, flOw lets players choose how they want to enjoy its virtual world.

You start out as a small and simple lifeform floating around on a sort of primordial sea. As you swim around, you’ll find smaller creatures fit for your consumption and slowly grow into a more complex being.

While you can make it your life’s work to track down progressively stronger opponents to test your might against, you may as well swim around and enjoy the scenery.

 

22. Yoshi’s Crafted World (2019)

Yoshi’s Crafted World gameplay

Available for Nintendo Switch.

Adorable characters and colorful graphics never fail to make me feel at ease – and you’d be hard-pressed to find something cuter or more colorful on the Nintendo Switch than Yoshi’s Crafted World.

This beautiful-looking game brings you the classic Yoshi platforming fare with a twist – everything is made out of craft paper and cardboard, not entirely unlike Paper Mario.

Just lay back, relax, and let Yoshi’s soothing charm take care of the rest.

 

21. Hatoful Boyfriend (2012)

Hatoful Boyfriend video game screenshot

Available on PC / Mobile / PS4 / PS Vita.

Sometimes, the best way to take our minds off of our stressful lives is through humor.

And Hatoful Boyfriend has that in spades.

The mere concept of the game is already hilarious. You’re the first human student at St. PigeoNation’s Institute, where charming pigeons from all across the country gather to cultivate their minds – and some of the most mysterious and popular of the bunch have taken an interest in you.

In other words, it’s a dating sim where you romance pigeons.

That said, there’s more to Hatoful Boyfriend than meets the eye. And you’ll need several playthroughs to unlock all the secrets hiding in PigeoNation’s Institute.

 

20. Alto’s Odyssey (2018)

Alto’s Odyssey gameplay screenshot

Available on all major platforms.

The follow-up to the acclaimed mobile title “Alto’s Adventure” brings much of the same relaxing gameplay with a renewed desert aesthetic and some other interesting twists on the formula.

This easy-to-learn game consists of snowboarding through several locales while jumping to avoid obstacles and performing tricks for points.

If you don’t want to worry about obstacles, you can also play through the Zen Mode to marvel at the visuals and feel the thrill of landing tricks without worrying about your survival.

 

19. Minecraft (2011)

Minecraft 2011 gameplay screenshot

Available on all major platforms.

If you’re a parent, you probably think of chaos and unwanted credit card spending when you think of Minecraft.

But give it a try, and you’ll find a world of possibilities beneath the surface.

Regardless of its current target demographic, Minecraft is all about exploration and creative freedom.

In Survival Mode you gather resources to survive in the wilderness by crafting tools, building a home, and exploring the world for more materials.

But if that’s not your thing, pop into Creative Mode and build mega-structures with an unlimited supply of building blocks. Not to mention all the great mods to keep you busy for months on end.

 

18. Rocket League (2015)

Rocket League gameplay PS4 screenshot

Available on all major platforms.

You may think competitive gaming has no place in the realm of relaxation.

But Rocket League’s bizarre concept sets it apart from the usual cutthroat online multiplayer fare.

To put it simply, Rocket League is soccer played by remote-controlled cars. It’s chaotic but charming, and deeply engaging

This makes it ideal for prying your attention away from your everyday mundane conflicts.

Moreover, the game’s matchmaking is pretty competent. And you’ll usually find plenty of people with your same skill level to play against – making it a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience.

 

17. Cities: Skylines (2015)

Cities: Skylines gameplay screenshot

Available on all major platforms.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to dive right into projects and complex problems, Cities: Skylines is the game for you.

This city builder puts you in charge of creating and maintaining a metropolis as it grows and develops. This includes managing essential services like water and energy, providing citizens with education and safety, and generally managing its economy.

Being the mayor of a growing city isn’t easy. But many players find respite from their worldly problems by letting their minds focus entirely on the complex task.

 

16. Civilization VI (2016)

Civilization VI PC gameplay

Available on all major platforms – even mobile!

In the same vein as our last entry comes Civilization VI, a deeply strategic title sure to take over your mind like few other games.

It’s simply not possible to sit down and play “just a couple hours” of Civilization VI.

You’ll start a game at 8:00 pm, and by the time you manage to unplug yourself from your hex-based empire, the birds will be singing you good morning.

While there may be some tense moments in any game, you can be sure you’ll have no time to worry about your real-life problems. Not to mention the massive number of free mods that’ll keep you glued to the screen.

It’s a life-saver for when you’re anxiously awaiting test results or something of the sort.

 

15. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (2014)

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker gameplay Wii U

Available on Wii U / 3DS / Nintendo Switch.

The glossy, colorful, and pristine Mario aesthetic comes back full-force in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

It’s a puzzle game where you’ll explore various locales collecting coins, diamonds, power stars, and other shiny objects.

What makes this game excellent for a more relaxing experience than traditional Mario games is the focus on problem-solving and exploration, rather than jumping around dodging Bullet Bills and Piranha Plants.

Not only that, but it features co-op play where one player controls Toad and the other Toadette, working together to clear each level.

 

14. Firewatch (2016)

Firewatch gameplay screenshot

Available on all major platforms.

I’ve always been a fan of story-driven games with a well-defined aesthetic like Firewatch.

This walking simulator puts you in the shoes of a fire lookout in the Shoshone National Park during 1989. You’ll chase off trespassing teenagers and investigate weird sightings around the park while taking in the nature around you.

While the game endeavors to drive home the feeling of isolation that comes with such a job, you’ll also be joined by your Supervisor, Delilah, who’ll be pretty active on the Walkie-Talkie throughout the game.

It can get emotionally intense during some story segments. But for the most part, this game is as soothing as they come.

 

13. Abzu (2016)

Abzu gameplay PS4 screenshot

Available on all major platforms.

Most adventure games that involve swimming tend to make it a stressful activity where you’re always racing against time and your remaining oxygen.

Abzu isn’t like these games.

Abzu’s focus is on exploration.

It expects you to marvel at the mysterious underwater ruins and the sea life that inhabits the surrounding area rather than fight for your life.

You’ll feel restored after a couple of hours swimming around the beautiful waters of Abzu.

 

12. Gris (2018)

Gris gameplay Nintendo Switch

Available on PC / Mobile / PS4 / Nintendo Switch.

Another excellent artsy game where the visuals play a vital part in the overall experience is Gris, a side-scroller platformer with inspiring visual design.

You’ll often feel like a grain of sand traversing a world that’s much bigger than its parts, bringing with you the color that was once lost from this realm.

Exploring Gris’s various locales feels like entering a living, breathing watercolor painting – and the fantastic atmospheric soundtrack is surprisingly immersive.

 

11. NEKOPARA (2014)

NEKOPARA gameplay screenshot

Available on PC / PS4 / Nintendo Switch.

The NEKOPARA visual novel series follows Kashou Minaduki, an aspiring world-class patissier who’s just moved away from home to open La Soleil, his own confectionery – but he’s not alone.

With him are his beloved “cats” (read, catgirls) Chocola and Vanilla, two adorable cat-eared maids who’ll do their best to take care of Kashou – although they’ll generally need to be taken care of themselves.

This game is a cuteness overload from beginning to end.

And if you grow a little too attached to your feline friends, you can get the 18+ version, which features… well, you know.

 

10. Untitled Goose Game (2019)

Untitled Goose Game gameplay screenshot

Available on all major platforms.

Laughing is the best cure for most negative feelings in life. And Untitled Goose Game will make your sides hurt mere minutes in.

You control a mischievous goose going around several locales completing “challenges” that generally consist of playing pranks on innocent bystanders, such as stealing a little kid’s glasses or making a lady drop her grocery bags with a well-timed honk.

It’s hilarious, and the children’s book aesthetic gives the mischief on screen an almost surreal feeling.

 

9. Katamari Damacy Reroll (2018)

Katamari Damacy Reroll gameplay Xbox

Available on PC / PS4 / Xbox / Nintendo Switch.

Have you ever instinctively rolled something up into a ball while you were bored, or just fidgety while waiting for some significant news?

Well Katamari Damacy Reroll takes that to the next level.

In this remake of the PS2 classic, you play as the Prince of All Cosmos. And you’re tasked with replacing the stars in the night sky after your dad destroyed most of them in a drunken stupor.

To achieve this, you’ll make massive balls of… well, anything you find in your path – then launch them into space to shine.

Bizarre? Perhaps.

Relaxing? Definitely!

 

8. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (2015)

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture gameplay PS4 screenshot

Available on PC / PS4.

Sometimes, we just need to take a walk to calm down.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture provides the perfect setting for a virtual walk – the rural village of Shropshire, devoid of its inhabitants after a mysterious event spirited them away.

In your travels, you’ll come across clues as to what transpired.

You’ll feel more and more drawn to solving the mystery, which is an excellent excuse to walk around and take in the solemn and quiet beauty of this abandoned pastoral town.

 

7. Journey (2012)

Journey gameplay screenshot

Available on PC / iOS / PS3 / PS4.

Games like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Abzu wouldn’t be possible without the pioneering genius of Journey.

This captivating title follows a mysterious hooded lifeform as they explore the ruins of a civilization swallowed by the sands and make their way to the top of a mountain where their ancestors await.

The game parades you around some of the most majestic locales you’ll ever see on your screen, and the soundtrack kicks in at just the right times to enhance the cinematic experience.

 

6. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town (2020)

Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town gameplay screenshot

Available on PC / Nintendo Switch.

While Stardew Valley takes the cake for the most well-known farming game in the last few years, there are other fantastic options.

Like Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town.

For those of you who don’t know, Story of Seasons is the current name of the franchise formerly known as “Harvest Moon”.

This 2020 title is a faithful remake of the incredible Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town on the GBA. But with a whole lot of new stuff.

It features updated graphics, massive improvements in character customization and quality of life, and plenty of entirely new content to explore (at your own relaxed pace, of course).

 

5. DOOM Eternal (2020)

DOOM Eternal gameplay PC

Available on PC / PS4 / Xbox One.

There’s nothing inherently “relaxing” about DOOM Eternal. It’s loud, violent, and extremely graphic.

So, why is it here?

The reason is simple: DOOM Eternal takes the concept of “venting” and turns it into an art form.

No matter how much fury and frustration you’re harboring, you’ll find that making demon blood rain with ultra-violent finishers and your trusty shotgun is awfully therapeutic.

Sometimes, a power fantasy is the best way to forget our powerlessness when faced with some of the harshest realities of life.

 

4. The Sims 4 (2014)

The Sims 4 gameplay screenshot

Available on PC / Mac / PS4 / Xbox One.

The Sims series has been one of the most popular gaming franchises for over a decade, reaching audiences that most other games could never appeal to.

There’s something profoundly satisfying and therapeutic about watching your in-game persona living a life that’s only slightly more whimsical than yours.

In it, you’re in control.

And you can do anything you aspire to do as long as you – or your Sim – set your minds to it.

Decorate a mansion or create a torture house, or maybe something in-between?

The choice is yours and the day is young.

 

3. Stardew Valley (2016)

Stardew Valley game screenshot

Available on all major platforms.

Stardew Valley has been a bit of a cultural phenomenon since its release in 2016, and with good reason.

Its characters, events, and locales are simply too charming to ignore.

Play it for enough time and you’ll find yourself thinking of quitting your job and buying some cheap farmland in the countryside.

Bringing your grandpa’s old farm back to life may seem like a tall order at first, but take it slow and focus on whatever you find fun. Whether it’s fishing, farming, mining, or simply hitting on everyone – it’s all worth doing.

 

2. My Oasis (2017)

My Oasis gameplay screenshot

Available on mobile devices.

I’m not generally much of a mobile gamer. But few games have managed to get my attention and keep it like My Oasis.

In this soothing idle game, you’re given a barren floating island to develop as you see fit.

Trees, flowers, animals, and simple structures are all within your grasp – and with time, your island will start looking like an idyllic getaway.

The soundtrack and general flow of the game make it perfect for winding down after a stressful day.

 

1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020)

Animal Crossing: New Horizons gameplay Nintendo Switch

Only on Nintendo Switch.

The Animal Crossing craze that took the world by storm may have died down fast. But AC: New Horizons remains just as relaxing now as it was at the beginning of 2020.

After acquiring a dubious island getaway package from notorious swindler Tom Nook, you’ll have to slowly turn this deserted island into the ideal seaside village/resort.

There’s a lot to do in Animal Crossing, since it’s pretty much a free-to-roam game. Think something like The Sims, but cuter and with animals.

You can go fishing, digging around for treasure, getting to know the villagers, and even try designing your own clothes!

Not to mention all the dank memes.

If you own a Nintendo Switch, this is a title worth adding to your library.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.