In times of stress and uncertainty, it’s only natural to turn to forms of entertainment to help distract you from any problems you may be facing. For some, that may mean listening to music or a podcast, reading a book, watching TV, or playing a video game. And while competitive games can be fun, sometimes we would rather just zone out.
Here, we’ll be highlighting the best ‘chill’ relaxing games to help you forget about your troubles for a couple of hours. Make sure to check back as we continue to update this list with new games and while you’re here, consider reading through our other curated lists:
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Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Developer: Nintendo – Platform:
Video games don’t get much more chill than Animal Crossing, where the only anxiety comes from remembering to pay off your loan to Tom Nook. The series has always focused on letting players tailor things to their liking, whether that’s decorating their town or populating it with a cast of animal villagers with unique personalities.
New Horizons takes the classic formula to new heights by introducing a new crafting system as well as the ability to modify your deserted island with paths, rivers, and cliffs whenever you want. While there are also a ton of new items to catalog, animals to befriend, and loans to pay off, you’re encouraged to take things one day at a time.
A Short Hike
Developer: Adamgryu – Platform: PC
A Short Hike invites you on a nostalgic adventure spent hiking, climbing, and soaring across the mountainous landscapes of Hawk Peak Provincial Park as you make your way to its summit. Along the way, you’ll discover hidden treasures and meet other hikers with interesting stories to share.
Blending elements of Breath of the Wild and Animal Crossing, the game tells a compelling story about a small bird searching for her place in the world. This is accompanied by a satisfying progression system that sees you collecting golden feathers to extend your flight. As its name suggests, A Short Hike can be completed in a single sitting but rewards you for taking your time and exploring everything Hawk Peak has to offer.
Developer: Nomada Studio – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC | iOS | Android
Games that focus more on visuals and storytelling are often criticized for lacking gameplay depth, despite numerous examples proving otherwise. And while there’s nothing wrong with placing artistic vision above satisfying gameplay, we always appreciate it when a game manages to check every box.
Such is the case with GRIS, a gorgeous 2D-puzzle platformer that does little to explain itself beyond vibrant vignettes chronicling a young girl’s quest to reclaim her voice and restore color to her world. The game sees you exploring levels and completing platforming challenges while searching for small orbs. As you progress, your character unlocks new traversal abilities that prove useful during climactic set-pieces, which play out like boss battles.
Developer: Grizzly Games – Platform: PC
There’s something so relaxing about games with a minimalist look, whether it be simple objects, a limited color palette, or just a sleek-looking user-interface. What better a genre to showcase these features than a city builder like Islanders, where a bulk of the time is spent analyzing environments for potential resources.
Categorized as a strategy game, Islanders lets you craft beautiful cities without the stress of having to manage resources. The game sees you exploring vibrant procedurally-generated islands as you build and grow your villages into sprawling metropolises while soaking up its atmosphere.
Developer: SmallBü | Pillow Fight – Platform: PC
Point and click adventure games are among the most relaxing genres around, seeing as they don’t require any split-second decision making and are usually a lot more forgiving. This happens to be the case with Later Alligator, a mystery adventure title that sees you exploring an alternate version of New York City inhabited by bipedal alligators.
The game is played from the perspective of Pat, a socially awkward reptile who becomes wrapped up in a criminal conspiracy involving his family. Pat’s quest for answers leads them on a humorous adventure filled with 30+ minigames and over 100 different alligators to meet.
Developer: Fullbright – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | PC
Tacoma is a walking sim that plays similarly to Fullbright’s previous game Gone Home. The game is set in the year 2088 and sees players controlling Amy, an agent for the Venturis Corporation tasked with retrieving AI data from an abandoned space station whose crew has mysteriously disappeared.
As you explore the diverse living quarters, offices, and hidden passageways that make up the Tacoma space station, you’ll learn more about the crew’s personalities and relationships. This is done by reading emails, personal diaries, text exchanges, and replaying memories using a special device. If there’s a crucial detail, you might have missed while exploring, the game gives you the option to revisit every area and replay memories as many times as you want.
Developer: Tendershoot – Platform: PC
Hypnospace Outlaw is not your average video game. It serves as a time capsule for 90s’ internet culture, allowing players to explore a myriad of janky webpages cluttered with low-res gifs and flashing text as they take on the role of Hynospace Enforcer, volunteers empowered to flag internet violations such as copyright infringement and malware.
Players are rewarded for their hard work with virtual currency that can be used to purchase vaporwave-inspired music tracks, wallpapers, and screensavers. Additionally, the game features a series of built-in applications ranging from a full-on sound synthesizer to a virtual pet sim.
Developer: ConcernedApe – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC | iOS | Android
Inspired by the beloved Harvest Moon games, Stardew Valley is a farming sim that offers players a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Days are spent growing crops, gathering resources, crafting items, exploring mines, and completing tasks for a cast of well-written NPCs, each with their distinct personality.
The game offers a lot of flexibility in terms of how you choose to spend your days, allowing you to focus on doing the activities you enjoy most. Over the in-game years, you’ll get to know the community of Stardew Valley well, forming relationships that can leave a lasting impression.
Developer: Large Animal Games – Platform: PS4 | Switch | iOS
Color Zen is a relaxing minimalist puzzle game in which players attempt to match corresponding colors in order with the goal being to fill the screen completely with a specified color. Complimenting Color Zen’s vibrant visuals is the game’s immersive sound design, which blends smooth background instrumentals with player-input sound effects.
Failing to solve a puzzle doesn’t bring any real penalty other than having to start from the beginning of a level, with there being 460 included. The game’s simple and intuitive controls allow you to use the touch screen in handheld mode and Joy-Con when docked, making it suitable for playing at home or on the go.
Return of the Obra Dinn
Developer: Lucas Pope – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC
From the same developer that made Papers, Please, comes Return of the Obra Dinn, a stand-out title for both its bold, 1-bit monochromatic art style as well as its ability to take you on an engaging, atmospheric adventure. You play as an insurance adjuster, tasked with determining how the crew of a mysterious ship met their demise.
To complete this task, you’re given a ‘Memento Mortem,’ a pocket-watch that replays the moments before a character’s death. The game offers little in terms of tutorials and hand-holding, encouraging you to make discoveries on your own by paying close attention to clues you encounter along your journey.
Developer: Giant Squid Studios – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC
Abzu is an underwater adventure game that has you take on the role of a scuba diver that awakes to find yourself floating on the surface of a massive ocean. You begin exploring the ocean’s beautiful, atmospheric environments filled with plant and animal life, and discovering ancient technology and underwater ruins.
A majority of the game is spent solving simple puzzles and interacting with marine life through sonar. Unlike a lot of games that take place underwater and focus on the dangers of the unknown, Abzu is a calming experience that presents you with plenty of nautical wonders to marvel over.
Developer: Bitten Toast Games – Platform: Switch | PC
Garden Paws is a cross between a farming sim and an adventure game that puts you into the shoes, or rather paws, of small and cuddly woodland creatures. There is an exhaustive amount of options to play as including a rabbit, chipmunk, dog, cat, and even an adorable munchkin-sized dragon.
The gameplay is split between managing your farm, upgrading your island’s resources, and exploring caves, beaches, and forests for hidden treasure. You can also open up a shop to sell wares and take on a myriad of relaxing hobbies like fishing, cooking, and raising animals. The more you upgrade your island’s amenities, the more residents will be drawn to visit.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Developer: Giant Sparrow – Platform: PS4 / Xbox One / Switch / PC
What Remains of Edith Finch is a walking sim that has you play as the last surviving member of the Finch family who, following the death of her mother, returns to her old family home which has been abandoned for years. You soon learn about a perceived family curse, in which all but one member of every generation dies under unusual circumstances.
As the game progresses you learn more about your relatives and their untimely deaths by exploring their bedrooms and reliving memory sequences from their perspectives. There are plenty of family secrets to uncover and even some mysteries about Edith herself get revealed towards the end of the game’s brief two-hour story.
Developer: Empyrean – Platform: PC
Have you ever spent hours binge-watching home renovation TV shows and thought, “I could do that!”? Well, House Flipper gives you a chance to find out for yourself without having to get your hands dirty IRL. Instead, you’ll be purchasing virtual properties that can be redesigned and furnished before flipping them on the market for a profit.
To attract potential buyers, you’ll need to clean up messes left behind by the previous occupants, install new appliances, paint, build and tear down walls, and replace furniture. Each job you take on has different requirements and maximizing your profit will require meeting certain conditions as well as a great eye for design.
Developer: Clap Hanz – Platform: PS4
Everybody’s Golf, as its name implies, is a golf game designed for every kind of player. It’s the latest iteration in the sports franchise formerly known as Hot Shots Golf in North America, and for the first time in the series features character customization, online play, and the ability to free-roam around golf courses.
The game has a plethora of tranquil courses for you to check out as well as a handful of modes for both competitive and casual players. Everybody’s Golf also makes some refinements to the precise, satisfying golf mechanics the series is known for.