Living in the whirlwind of our modern world, stress and tension can sneak up on us all too quickly. It’s so important to carve out moments to hit pause, allowing ourselves to recharge and revitalize our mental wellbeing. Sure, there are the well-known relaxation paths like meditation, immersing ourselves in yoga, or pouring our thoughts into a journal. However, stress relief can come in surprising forms too, and one of those is video gaming. Yes, that’s right – playing video games can serve as an unexpected, yet truly effective, balm for the busy mind.
The interactive nature of games provides an immersive escape, helping you take your mind off of real-life worries, at least temporarily. Additionally, the sense of accomplishment from completing tasks or puzzles in-game can boost mood. With so many genres and titles to choose from, there’s likely a relaxing, stress-busting game perfectly suited for everyone.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the top video game picks across various platforms ideal for relaxation. Ranging from casual mobile games to expansive console adventures, we’ve compiled a list of 15 titles to help you de-stress and unwind. Whether you want to gently organize objects, dive into rich virtual worlds, or just vent some pent-up frustration, these games can transport you to a calmer state of mind. Keep reading for the full list!
For those seeking a captivating, yet calming experience, “Journey” is a truly mesmerizing game. This concise, straightforward game allows the players to navigate their way around the remnants of an archaic civilization, tucked away in an alluring desert landscape. The sole aim is to venture towards an elusive mountain located far away, all while unravelling the enigmatic past of your civilization.
One striking feature of this game is its unique dialogue system, or rather, the lack thereof. The characters express themselves solely through delightful chirps, a distinct language that needs no words. Moreover, the game can be experienced with an anonymous online partner, a feature that adds a subtle human touch without the often complicated facets of interaction. This fellow traveller remains an enigma throughout, only able to communicate via the charming chirps and leaps.
“Journey” is nothing short of a visual spectacle, boasting a breathtaking backdrop, incredibly fluid movement, and deeply emotive background score. Its simplicity allows it to be enjoyed in a modest time frame of four hours, making it perfect for those seeking a blend of poignant beauty and melancholic undertones. Plus, it serves as a splendid stress reliever, providing a break from the constant hustle and bustle of daily life.
For more such tranquil gaming experiences, you might want to delve into ThatGameCompany’s older releases, “FlOw” and “Flower.” Although these might be slightly challenging to track down today, they are exceptional gems in the realm of relaxation.
In 2022, the gaming industry saw the unexpected rise of a tranquil game called “Unpacking,” which had originally been introduced in late 2021. This self-titled “zen” game offers an idyllic escape from the chaos of everyday life, requiring minimal cognitive effort as you immerse yourself in the satisfying task of sorting and organising.
Although organising may be considered a mundane or even stress-inducing chore in the real world, when it is presented through the lens of this delightful, minimalist, and pastel-themed video game, it transforms into an activity you eagerly anticipate. What could be more calming than methodically unpacking boxes in a cosy new home?
The engaging aspect of “Unpacking” lies in the surprise element. Unlike in reality, you aren’t the one who packed these boxes. So, the anticipation of discovering hidden treasures within them lends a touch of thrill and curiosity. This replaces the usual tediousness of unpacking your own belongings like clothing or kitchen utensils. Thus, “Unpacking” adds a sense of intrigue to the otherwise mundane activity, serving as one of the perfect games that relieve stress.
As the cold days of January roll in, many of us daydream about sun-drenched tropical vacations. While physical travel may not always be possible, “The Touryst” offers an attractive digital alternative for those craving an exotic getaway. This game, brimming with eye-catching voxel graphics, transports you to a series of vibrant islands, each loosely inspired by real-world locations.
In “The Touryst,” you’ll dive deep into the mysteries and secrets that these exotic islands hold. Although your avatar is technically on vacation, an insatiable curiosity compels him to delve into the heart of the island, sparking a lifelong memorable adventure. As players, you’ll appreciate the game’s leisurely pace, as nothing poses a threat or chases you. With its stress-free environment, you can navigate the game at your own rhythm and relish in the experience.
For puzzle enthusiasts and those in search of games that relieve stress, “The Touryst” is a must-try. As an adventure game, it provides a laid-back experience devoid of any high-pressure arcade sections, barring a few minor exceptions. It’s the perfect recipe for relaxation with a dash of intrigue.
For those enamored by the serene allure of water-themed video games, “ABZU” is a true visual treat. This game, vibrant with diverse hues, casts you as a scuba diver set on a mission to rejuvenate barren areas of the ocean by introducing new marine life.
“ABZU” is more than just a game; it’s a therapeutic experience. The tranquil gameplay, harmonious soundtrack, and heartwarming storyline come together to foster a sense of peace and contentment. Whether you’re engrossed in the story or simply swimming through the kaleidoscope of oceanic colors, “ABZU” offers a relaxing haven for all players.
“Pokemon Go” is a testament to the universal appeal of video games, charming players across all age groups. It propels you into a world teeming with various Pokemon, waiting to be discovered and caught. The game cleverly marries the thrill of exploration and travel with the excitement of capturing unique Pokemon, providing an excellent stress relief avenue.
Unlike conventional games, “Pokemon Go” encourages you to step out, explore your surroundings, and delve into new places in search of rare and unusual Pokemon. As your exploration expands, you’ll stumble upon an array of uncommon Pokemon characters, each adding a new flavor to your collection.
This game masterfully infuses the thrill of Pokemon action into an immersive adventure game, making “Pokemon Go” an excellent choice among games that relieve stress. The thrill of the chase coupled with the joy of discovery make it a perfect stress-busting activity.
“Tinykin” is a charming hidden gem in the gaming world that unfortunately slipped under the radar, despite being available on Game Pass from day one. Originating from France, this ingenious blend of the beloved Pikmin game and platformer elements didn’t quite catch the attention it deserved, which is a shame, considering how it teems with enjoyable gameplay.
“Tinykin” is a soothing game, overflowing with charm and set in a seemingly ordinary household. But as the tiny protagonist, the familiar surroundings take on a colossal dimension, making everyday items seem gigantic. Tasked with tidying up room by room, you gather small orbs that assist in overcoming the challenges scattered around this giant world. The game offers a stress-free experience of pure enjoyment and relaxation, making it one of the go-to games that relieve stress.
Candy Crush Saga
“Candy Crush Saga” is designed with a singular objective in mind: to help you unwind. The game lures you into a stress-free zone, where you maneuver jewel-like candies to create matches. As promised on the main screen, “Candy Crush Saga” aims to help you “Escape the stress of today,” and indeed, it does just that.
Immersing yourself in the game, you’ll forget your day-to-day worries, losing yourself in a vibrant world of candies and colors. Progressing through various levels, you’ll uncover new surprises, making each stage more thrilling than the last. This level-based game is perfect for those seeking solace in the colorful world of candies.
“Candy Crush Saga” is free to play but also offers optional in-app purchases for those wanting to enhance their gaming experience. If you’re not particularly fond of bright colors, there are plenty of other stress-relieving games on this list for you to explore.
“Minecraft” is a long-standing favorite among games that relieve stress, often being the first choice for those seeking a relaxing gaming experience. In survival mode, you’re dropped into an infinite, randomly generated world waiting for your exploration.
Thanks to numerous updates over the years, “Minecraft” offers a wealth of adventures. From diving into diverse caves and discovering temples in unique biomes to taming wild animals or challenging the formidable Ender Dragon, there’s no end to what you can do. If you prefer a more relaxed experience, the creative mode allows you to construct anything you desire.
“Minecraft” also features a calming soundtrack, adding to the relaxing ambiance of the game. Whether you’re on a thrilling adventure or peacefully building in your own corner of the world, “Minecraft” offers a stress-free gaming experience for everyone.
“Echo Generation” is an impressive game that I stumbled upon on Game Pass and instantly fell in love with. Created in the heartland of Canada, this game combines the thrill of adventure with strategic turn-based combat. Players step into the shoes of a group of kids aiming to solve the enigma of strange occurrences in their quaint town, bringing to mind the engrossing ambiance of the hit show “Stranger Things”.
Don’t let this reference fool you, though; “Echo Generation” is not a stressful or scary game. Instead, it revolves around the sheer joy of engaging in battles and solving puzzles in a beautifully crafted visual environment. Although the game has since left Game Pass, it’s definitely worth investing in for the ultimate stress-relieving experience.
Daily life can be a relentless parade of chores, to-do lists, and mundane tasks, leaving us craving escape and relaxation. “Proteus” is the perfect antidote to such stressors, providing a peaceful refuge where players can exist in a pixelated world devoid of quests or obligations.
Developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga, “Proteus” is an extraordinary game that lets you leisurely explore an intriguing island, with lush hills and vast blue oceans, without any constraints. You’re a bystander, observing and unveiling the secrets of this peculiar land. The game’s serene ambiance is enhanced by retro-synthesized sound effects that also signify the change of seasons. For those seeking a slightly darker twist after enjoying this calming game, there’s the Purgateus mod to add a hint of eeriness to your playthrough.
“Teardown” aligns perfectly with the sentiment that relaxation can also mean letting off some steam, instead of always resorting to meditation. Similar to “House Flipper,” this game features demolishing walls, but on a considerably larger scale. If you enjoy a therapeutic round of energetic pillow-screaming after a stressful day, the explosive gameplay of “Teardown” offers the virtual equivalent.
Indulge in a game that lets you drive trucks into buildings, plant explosives, and, in one of the featured mods, even unleash dinosaurs onto the world. While “Teardown” does have leaderboards, you can totally ignore them and enjoy it as an offline game, packed with features and a great option among games that relieve stress.
If you’ve ever watched shows like “How Clean is Your House” or “Grand Designs” and thought to yourself, “I could do better,” then “House Flipper” could be your chance to prove it. This game is a perfect blend of these two reality TV concepts, offering players the opportunity to transform a grungy, neglected house into a stylish and modern sanctuary, and then sell it off for a handsome profit. But first, you’ll need to get down and dirty.
As an aspiring business owner in this game, you start with a dilapidated shed as your headquarters and a laptop to drum up work. Initially, you’ll be doing menial tasks such as cleaning up after messy tenants or painting over garishly colored walls. However, once you’ve saved up enough, you can buy your own properties to flip. Although these houses will start as fixer-uppers, after the necessary renovations, they can fetch a pretty penny.
While “House Flipper,” like many simulation games, can sometimes feel like work, it offers a different kind of relaxation that involves elbow grease and hard work. If you’re someone who finds cleaning therapeutic, this game might just be your perfect stress-reliever. Plus, if you feel like venting some frustration, you can always take a sledgehammer to a wall — a preferred method of stress relief for many gamers!
“PowerWash Simulator” offers a fulfilling simulation experience that can help you unwind after a taxing day. Even though it might sound paradoxical to relieve stress with a game that simulates hard work, there’s a unique satisfaction to be found in the task of cleaning up and organizing virtual spaces when you’re too drained to deal with real-life mess.
Equip yourself with a power washer in the game and enjoy the process of spraying down a variety of objects and spaces — from vibrant vehicles to playgrounds and even subway stations — until they shine like new. Just like you might do when power washing your own backyard, put on your headphones and immerse yourself in the task of washing away not just virtual dirt, but the stress and tension of the day. “PowerWash Simulator” is a carefully selected addition to our list of games that relieve stress, aiming to provide a peaceful, therapeutic gaming experience for players.
When you think about the game of Tetris, the first words that come to mind might not necessarily be ‘relaxing’ or ‘stress-relieving.’ After all, as you near the end of the game, the blocks start to fall faster, the music swells, and the tension grows. However, the game “Tetris Effect” flips this scenario on its head. This version of the classic game actually incorporates relaxation into its mechanics, making it a surprisingly fitting choice for those seeking games that relieve stress.
In “Tetris Effect,” placing blocks and completing lines contribute to filling your ‘Zone’ meter. When this meter is full, you can activate ‘Zone’ mode, which pauses time. This allows you to reposition misplaced blocks and strategize your future moves without any time pressure. The game also features mesmerizing visuals and a calming soundtrack, enhancing the soothing gaming experience. Whether you’re playing alone or cooperating with friends, “Tetris Effect” offers an enjoyable and genuinely relaxing block-dropping adventure.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” gained widespread recognition on social media for its tranquil, stress-free gameplay. This Nintendo Switch exclusive lets players create a personalized character and manage an island inhabited by anthropomorphic animals.
The game truly shines when it comes to customizing your island. As a player seeking a relaxing experience, you can spend your time sprucing up the aesthetics of your island, catching insects for the local museum, or fishing for a variety of aquatic species. The game allows you to unwind and destress, letting your creative juices flow as you build an idyllic haven.
The Sims 4
Among the plethora of life simulation games out there, “The Sims 4” arguably stands out as one of the best. As a player, you start by creating your unique Sim character, and if you choose, an entire household of Sims, each with their distinct personalities, looks, clothing, and more.
Once your Sims start their jobs, you’re free to guide them through whatever paths you choose in the game. Now that “The Sims 4” is free-to-play, players can immerse themselves in this rich sandbox game without any financial commitment. Perhaps the most relaxing aspect of “The Sims 4” is simply observing the life of your Sims unfold — watching them go to work, attend school, throw parties, go on dates, or even dabble in the supernatural if you opt for the DLC. This easygoing experience makes “The Sims 4” another excellent choice when seeking games that relieve stress.
Although “Stardew Valley” and “Minecraft” share a few similarities, each game stands out in its own unique way. “Stardew Valley” lets you step into the shoes of a character who has just inherited a farm. From this point, you’ll need to restore the land you’ve been given, cultivating a variety of crops, establishing bonds with the local townsfolk, and exploring various other exciting activities.
What sets “Stardew Valley” apart is its simplicity and lack of significant complications. You can pace yourself, engaging in various activities at your leisure, allowing the game to be a peaceful, stress-relieving experience. Whether you’re planting seeds, harvesting crops, or chatting with your neighbors, “Stardew Valley” provides a calm and peaceful environment perfect for unwinding and relieving stress.
“Stray” is a dystopian adventure game that paints a vivid picture of a possible future when everything familiar has crumbled. Interestingly, you assume the role of a cat in this game. This courageous feline protagonist has been separated from its family and finds itself in a world shrouded in darkness. To rise from the depths and illuminate the gloomy surroundings, you need to connect with the robotic inhabitants who have grown increasingly human-like over time.
The game stands out for its intriguing light puzzles and a variety of quests. However, what truly makes “Stray” shine is its captivating world design. From the initial moments of cuddling with your cat family amid the ruins of the old world to the stirring finale that offers a beacon of hope amidst the devastation, it is a work of art that takes full advantage of the gaming medium.
While it might seem odd to call such a game relaxing, it manages to achieve just that. It’s not because there are no stakes or dangers but because it is so beautifully crafted. As you meander down the streets, letting out the occasional meow, you can’t help but become thoroughly immersed in this richly detailed universe, making “Stray” another excellent choice for games that relieve stress.
Although competitive multiplayer games might not usually be your go-to for unwinding, “Fortnite” begs to differ. In this popular game, players duke it out in an intense battle royale, with up to a hundred participants in either solo, duos, trios, or squad games.
“Fortnite” can be an unexpectedly stress-relieving game, especially when played with friends. The game’s exhilarating and fun-filled matches can spark bouts of laughter and help players temporarily forget about a stressful day. And if you’re not up for intense competition, the game’s Creative mode offers an alternative. Here, players can explore various maps and enjoy the enhanced graphics brought by the integration of Unreal Engine 5. Regardless of how you choose to play, “Fortnite” offers a unique blend of competitive and leisurely gameplay, making it a great choice for games that relieve stress.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
If you prefer gaming on the Nintendo Switch, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is a breath of fresh air in today’s gaming landscape. While this game is part of the long-standing Zelda franchise, new players can easily jump in without any prior knowledge of the series.
This role-playing game allows players to explore an aesthetically pleasing and expansive open world filled with a myriad of activities. Whether you wish to spend your time leisurely cooking meals, galloping across open fields on horseback, or peacefully sitting atop towering mountains, “Breath of the Wild” offers ample opportunities to relax.
The game’s serene atmosphere, coupled with the freedom to explore at your own pace, makes it an ideal pick for stress relief. The beautiful landscapes and calming activities work hand in hand to create a soothing experience that stands as one of the best stress-relieving games on the market.