Five Relaxing Games to Consider
by Noah Thompson
Undeniably, multiplayer games can take a toll on a player’s mental health. No matter the platform or release date, games from numerous genres across years have become pastime recreations for billions. With so many different people playing a game at any given time, you never know who you are going to meet. Sometimes it may feel like you come across more toxic than considerate players who can completely suck the joy and fun out of this recreation or hobby of yours.
It’s always interesting to hear from people about what helps them relax. If that happens to be video games, then there is an infinite number of possibilities to discuss. Whenever I need a break from my favorite multiplayer games, I typically find myself taking some time to get into a slower-paced game. To someone who doesn’t play a lot of these types of games, there is a rabbit hole of similar titles, so my recommendations are only the tip of the iceberg. Here are a handful of games I would suggest to someone looking for a relaxing new game.
Firewatch: First released in 2016, this adventure indie game has made its way to every console with its stunning visuals, mysterious plot, and emotional story. Responsible for the game’s distinct colors and bold animation is the iconic graphic artist Olly Moss, who worked alongside the developers at Campo Santo to create Firewatch. From here, Moss went on to work with Valve.
Firewatch’s gameplay is basically a walking simulator in which you control the narrative of a man named Henry, who escapes to the Shoshone National Forest as a fire lookout. However, because of the narrative and stunning visuals, Firewatch acts as more than just a walking simulator. If you find yourself wanting more after this 5-hour long journey, some similar games include Gone Home, Oxenfree, and Among Trees.
Stardew Valley: As one of the most highly recommended relaxing games out there, it is easy to see why Stardew Valley has gained such a following. As your character grows tired of their boring office job, they take up their grandfather’s farm on the outskirts of Pelican Town, located in the silent and mysterious Stardew Valley. Upon arriving in the valley, you are free to build up your farming operation and form relationships with the diverse characters who share Pelican Town as their home. With such charming graphics, music, and dialogue, it is unbelievable to realize that just one person was behind the development of Stardew Valley. Eric Barone, also known as ConcernedApe, passionately created the game that he and millions have always needed in their life. The game gets updated occasionally by Barone, who has been focusing on the game since 2016. Although, ConcernedApe has been working on future games like Stardew Valley that’re yet to be announced.
Other farming simulators like Stardew Valley would include World’s Dawn, Graveyard Keeper, and the Harvest Moon series, which was a major influence on the creation of Stardew Valley itself.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons: My experience on the Switch so far has been somewhat limited. Only owning Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Pokémon Shield, all the games I’ve come across have been far less challenging than previous versions. However, having never played an Animal Crossing game before, I was quite surprised by New Horizons’approach to relaxation. The game comes across as very childish, but many teens and adults have appreciated the ability to customize their island in any way they want. This game is quite easy, but its simplicity aims at providing a relaxing experience for all, not just trying to be accessible to children. After all, a majority of Animal Crossing: New Horizons’players range from 20-30 years old.
People all over the internet have shared their creativity on Reddit, Discord, and other community-oriented sites even though the game’s multiplayer is highly optional. For the most part, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a wonderful single player game, but meeting with others can make the experience a whole lot more engaging. With Nintendo Online, you are open to collecting and trading items and villagers with other people, as you can connect with friends to visit their islands. Unfortunately, you are only permitted to one island per Switch.
Cloudpunk: A very interesting interpretation of the cyberpunk genre is the game Cloudpunk. Having been released just over a year ago, Cloudpunk should not be taken as a Cyberpunk 2077 rip-off whatsoever, as this game plays more like a walking/driving simulator. The music and voice acting are extremely immersive as well, although the Lego-like graphics can throw you off at first. As soon as you start sitting back with a controller or mouse and keyboard, you are set for the remainder of the story as you play as the futuristic delivery driver Rania, who can’t keep herself out of trouble.
Coffee Talk: Being the inspiration behind this list, Coffee Talk by Toge Productions is the visual novel-like game where you operate a coffee shop during the night shift. Coming across very unusual people and creatures in the fictitious world this game is set in, you can relax and experience heart-to-heart moments with the game’s NPCs as you serve them warm drinks. Because this game is broken up into 14 playable nights, it takes about 3-4 hours to complete. However, it has surprising replayability. It was also quite easy to stretch the length of this game out, as the individual nights seem to stop you after just enough time to fit one or two in-game nights per day. This was a really relaxing game to cool down with after a long day of work and multiplayer games.
Throughout the past few years, these have been the games that have helped me to relax by myself. Of course, I could have just suggested something like Minecraft or Terraria, but I am not too familiar with either. I would’ve recommended Death Stranding because of its atmosphere, but I am only a couple of hours into it. Similarly enjoyable single player games include Stars Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Cyberpunk 2077, but these may not appeal to everyone. That said, there is a wide variety of games to relax to. These are but a few that have helped me tremendously.