It can be pretty relaxing to mow down hordes of gangsters and aliens while imbued with superpowers in Saints Row 4 or to plow through crowds in GTA 5. But not all games are conducive to lowering your stress levels. Fast-paced shooters like Doom Eternal might not be the best way to keep your blood pressure in a happy place.
For those of us in need of something calmer, this list of 14 extremely relaxing games is just the ticket. Core gameplay in all of these titles is explicitly soothing and meant to put you at ease.
A truly odd and offbeat offering from DoubleFine, Everything is sort of like an anti-Katamari Damacy. Instead of collecting everything and going inward, you constantly expand outward, so far, in fact, that you might start over at the beginning again! There's no end goal and no way to win or lose. You just exist and explore while philosophical concepts are presented as voiceovers.
Everything's non-traditional gameplay is particularly helpful in stressful situations, as this bizarrely wonderful simulator makes you feel connected to the universe at large no matter where you are.
This imminently weird but wildly intriguing title made our list of the top bizarre games. They aren't all relaxing, but all of them offer something outside the norm.
Sitting somewhere between a visual novel and a barista simulator, there is something weirdly relaxing about brewing up a cup of joe in Coffee Talk while listening to people's problems.
The twist, of course, is that in Coffee Talk's universe, supernatural beings walk among us. Think of it as a low-key Shadowrun, with none of the violence and a lot more coffee. You'll get to offer advice to an elf and a succubus whose parents don't approve of their relationship while learning how to make lattes, teas, and smoothies.
I dunno' if actual real-world baristas will get the same soothing level of therapy out of it, but everyone else is in for a wonderfully relaxing time. Not sure if this format is right for you? Grab the free demo at Steam to try it out before you buy!
Farming and ranching simulators are some of the best go-to titles for relaxing games, and there's no shortage of options there. While the big names like Farming Simulator are worth trying out, there's also plenty to explore if you dig into the indie scene.
Industrial Petting is one of those lesser-known titles that's currently available in Early Access. While the content isn't overflowing yet, there are still tons of adorable animals to enjoy while building up an empire of ethically sourced, fair trade exotic pets.
You had to know the country living sim Stardew Valley would make the list, right? Take things at your own pace as you learn to live off the land by farming, fishing, raising animals, and forging relationships with other members of the local community.
Of course, Stardew Valley isn't totally without stress as you manage various resources, especially if you see everything as a challenge to overcome as quickly as possible, but for the most part, this is laid-back gaming at its finest. There are a good number of mods to make things more relaxing.
Stardew Valley also (finally) features multiplayer, so you and your friends and family can all farm together.
For those looking to take a darker route, Graveyard Keeper offers a different, but definitely less relaxing, take on the farm-life genre.
Animal Crossing New Horizons
New Horizons is just about the best way to take things at your own pace and forget the troubles of the world right now. Dig up fossils, catch bugs, build your house, make animal friends.
This next gen reboot of the classic Nintendo franchise lets you live out your interior (and exterior!) decorator fantasies across a whole island while slowly expanding access to new areas. Whether crafting, buying, hunting, inviting new creatures to live nearby, or just enjoying the scenery, there's also something relaxing (and fun) to do in Animal Crossing.
Back in the days of yore, heroes slaughtered slimes by the thousands in the various Dragon Quest games. Now we live in more enlightened times and realize slimes are an adorable, intelligent species that should be sustainably farmed in Slime Rancher.
The concept sounds bizarre, but it is wonderfully relaxing to suck up carrots, beets, and even chickens into your suction gun and then plop them out to feed slimes as you build up your ranch.
It is important to note that as you get towards the end, the puzzles can, in fact, become difficult and stressful. That being said, most of the game is wildly comforting and incredibly low stakes.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
If you've already played My Time At Portia or Stardew Valley, then Yonder is the next farming game that should have your attention. Forget about combat or anything stressful, because The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a wonderful lazy Sunday of a game.
Unwind while exploring a gorgeous island, building a farm, taking time out for a fishing break, and helping people out while learning skills like carpentry and sewing. It's simple, it's easy, and it's exactly what you need when the real world is too much to handle.
The polar opposite of Subnautica, the ocean-exploring Abzu focuses on the calm, peaceful aspects of life beneath the waves. Swim with whales, weave through coral reefs, and experience life to the fullest while following schools of fish in this incredibly vibrant and visually stunning experience.
There's not a ton of actual "game" here, but that's alright: sometimes you just want to live in an underwater paradise and not have to save the world or rack up a high score.
If you like the idea of Abzu but would prefer the grandeur of the open world of nature instead of what's found beneath the waves, then Eastshade is for you. As a free-spirited traveling painter, your only goal here is to wander around and paint pictures of beautiful scenery.
Along the way, you can help people out with their problems and make the world a little bit better of a place. This is a game that's more about the journey than the destination, as it's basically an open-world simulator but without a ton of objectives other than to enjoy the scenery and chat with some fine folks.
A World Of Keflings
Oddball title World Of Keflings probably would have forever faded into obscurity (and let's be honest, it still isn't that well known) if it hadn't been one of the early free Games With Gold to hit the Xbox 360.
If you missed out on it way back when, now is a great time to jump back in, because there's not much room for frustration in this adorable city builder. Your Xbox (or Wii) avatar serves as the only giant in a world of very small inhabitants, so you get to help the Keflings build their utopia.
Gather sand and clay to make glass, stockpile planks to take to the carpenter for making carved wood, and so on until you get into a zen-like groove of harvesting and building.
Point-and-click puzzle titles may not be the first choice for a relaxing experience, since there are so many opportunities for frustration to arise with obtuse mechanics or high difficulty. The Room avoids those problems through the strength of its gameplay and the overall immersion of its sounds and visuals.
You can get lost in this one, especially if you prefer games to be a little on the creepy side. Essentially, you've got an escape room in digital form, but all the levers, knobs, and pulleys are just really satisfying to play with in this particular iteration of the genre.
The original time waster. Bejeweled should always be in your backup list of quick and easy games to jump into. When you need the problems of the day to fall away and for your mind to focus on soothing colors and patterns, this is the way to go.
For that rare group of people who didn't spend hours playing this online back in the day, Bejeweled is a Match-3 where your goal is just to swap jewels around the board causing larger and larger matches (and corresponding cascading explosions if you manage to get 5 in a row). It simple, low stakes, and addicting.
Imminently relaxing even when it was just a simple web game a decade back, Bejeweled has only increased its relaxing gameplay options since then, as the more recent PC and console editions also include Zen Mode.
Watercolor is already pretty relaxing, so it just makes sense to use it as an art medium in a game meant to offer hope like Gris. You don't have to worry about combat or dying here, and this is one of those rare platformers where you won't be constantly frustrated while trying to figure out the mechanics.
What really makes Gris stand apart is its lack of dialog. Everything in this story is told through emotional connections and visual cues, which makes it extremely soothing to play.
Another extremely laid-back game without combat, the oddly intriguing Wattam is all about reconnecting with old friends while dancing, holding hands, and even skyrocketing off by using your odd hat.
Although there's perhaps more poop than you might care for in a relaxing game, Wattam is undeniably charming and a joy to play when you don't want something too heavy.
Tell us which of these 14 games you plan on playing by sounding off in the comments below. Be sure to let us know what game takes the edge off for you or which games should be on this list that aren't!
Of course, not everyone will want their gaming to be all teddy bears and rainbows. If you'd rather get your frustration out by fragging hordes of enemies or engaging in a thousand or so turns of a complex strategy battle title, there are still tons of options.
To get started, take a look at all the free games currently available, and stay tuned for our upcoming list of great games with the longest campaigns!