Saving the world one mountain of corpses at a time might be the norm these days for video games, but mass murder gets old fast. As it turns out, in order to find some semblance of peace in a digital space, you don’t need to be violent. So some video game developers understand this well enough and have made a safer space for both the NPCs and the players to thrive.
Some games aren’t about showing the world you’re peaceful by force; some of us just want to create and nurture as many lives as we’ve taken in video games, regardless of what merit it carries. If you’re tired of being assaulted by life and its many aspects and don’t want to assault some more in gaming, here are some relaxing video games to cleanse your palate.
The Sims 4
As long as you don’t shove all your Sims into a deep pool and then wall them off to trap them in a slow and frigid watery grave, The Sims 4 can be relaxing. You can even make it more akin to your wild real-life escapades with an enhanced sex mod or even a transgender mod.
It’s a game that needs no explanation, really. It’s been around for a long time and is so popular that it has had tie-ins with Katy Perry and Star Wars.
What truly makes The Sims 4 so relaxing is how you can always create your dream life and your dream characters and see them in a state more successful or more effortless than the current existence of human life.
It’s also great for recreating the whole cast of FRIENDS and making them frenemies instead, depending on your whims. If a sim gets into an accident and the Grim Reaper visits them, you can always just seduce him. The guy’s pretty chill.
Stardew Valley isn’t unlike The Sims 4. The difference is that it appeals better to the millennial sensibility and their somewhat common goal of living an idyllic farming life in the province, away from the suffocating cacophony and chaos of city streets.
The story starts with your in-game grandfather passing away and leaving you a sizable parcel of land in the titular province, complete with a decent house and fertile land. Why can’t all be grandfathers like him?
Anyway, your burnt-out millennial soul saw this as an opportunity to start anew and live life away from the enslaving gaze of corporations.
The game plays similarly to the old 16-bit top-down farming classics like Harvest Moon but with more contemporary themes and mechanics. There’s also dating involved, and your thoughtful grandpa thoughtfully uprooted you to a town full of hot singles who are ready to mingle. That’s not a joke; nearly everyone in Stardew Valley is a looker.
Sky: Children of the Light
A few years on the job market and a lot of adults likely wished that they were children again with nothing to do but be curious about the world. Well, Sky: Children of the Light will grant you that opportunity again a bit, if only digitally.
It’s a game about exploration and going where the wind takes you, literally, because your child character can fly. This open-world game has only a few enemies, little to no threats, and a tranquil and therapeutic environment, perfect for a slow day of relaxation.
Sky, at the same time, is also a social adventure game where you can team up with other players to aid with exploration so they can help you with every nook and cranny. The best part is that the game’s free and available on mobile.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
We’ve covered farms, so here’s a relaxing game about islands. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a lovely game you can call home, like many others here. You control an island that was once deserted, and it’s up to you what to do with this island.
But the main draw here is that the island is populated by anthropomorphic animals. It’s a life simulator where you can catch bugs, catch fish, and catch friends (consensually, of course).
You can also grow crops and channel your inner countryside chef with a meaty cooking mini-game (pun intended). There’s no real goal here, just have fun and do whatever while interacting with the animals and other inhabitants of the island, multiplayer included.
Farming Simulator 22
Farming again. It’s a peaceful life. Watching things grow is another level of connection with your home planet and gives you a more laid-back perspective on your place in the ecosystem. And if you want to receive the rewards of nature en masse, Farming Simulator 22 is your game.
It’s a simulation about farming. That’s it.
But in all seriousness, the graphics are, by far, the most realistic (and the prettiest) for a game about farming. And it’s not just a game about growing crops and planting seeds, but also optimization of harvests and efforts. While there is multiplayer, this game is also a really great single-player game. In fact, most people prefer the single-player mode over co-op.
You get to purchase granaries, silos, tractors, and combines, among other heavy equipment for modern farming. So all that’s left for you to do after a long harvest is to sit back in your foldable cot chair with a Bud Light in hand while watching the sunset’s golden embrace shower over your crops.
Euro Truck Simulator 2
If looking over crops is still too much responsibility, then simply looking at where you’re going might be more relaxing for you. Too relaxing, so let’s add a bit more challenge; Euro Truck Simulator 2 puts you in charge of a 35-ton death machine that transports cargo. Hey, it’s only a death machine if you’re drunk or if you’re prone to road rage.
Thankfully, Euro Truck Simulator 2 ensures minimal reasons to rage on the road since you’re mostly driving alone in the countryside with nothing but the view and the winding roads to remind you that life is about the journey, not the destination.
Turns out trucking in the countryside is therapeutic and relaxing too. Just as long as you’re trucking in a first-world European country. It’s a calm enough game, and the most stressful part is backing up with a trailer attached.
If, for some acceptable reason, you find other human beings stressful, you can head on over to Slime Rancher. You assume the role of Beatrix LeBeau, who is so much of a shut-in that she shuts herself in an alien planet thousands of light years away from Earth.
On this alien planet, there are no other sentient life forms, there are only slimes, so you’re going to live off the land with slimes as your primary means.
As Beatrix, you’ll have to harvest slimes and tame them to amass a fortune with slime ranching. Simultaneously, you’ll also want to explore the planet in a first-person view to see what other opportunities await you in this jolly and vibrant alien world.
Most story-driven games are rather dramatic and tense, but Firewatch offers a different take. It’s about a guy who decided to take up a part-time job of being a fire lookout in Shoshone National Forest. Apart from being a good job, it’s a meditative adventure and a practice in isolation from the overwhelming stimulus of urban life.
Firewatch captures this atmosphere well, as players run around the National Forest as Henry, the man in question. Along the way, he connects with another enigmatic fire lookout named Delilah while also uncovering some curious and odd mysteries in his vicinity.
The game is short (around four to five hours), and it’s not open-world, but it’s a memorable spiritual journey that nearly any adult can relate to.
No Man’s Sky
If you want more exploration than what’s allowed in a story-driven game, here’s the other end of the world design spectrum. No Man’s Sky touts billions of planets you can visit, mine, and build into, thanks to procedural generation.
There’s no shortage of stuff to do in the game, and at times, it can even be overwhelming for those who just want to explore, so the game was thoughtful enough to include an easy or relaxed mode where you can just explore as you wish without the threat of dying or running out of fuel in the unmerciful vastness of space.
At the very least, you can always just admire the scenery and interact with the weird rocks and plants all over your newly discovered or colonized planet.
Birth is a weirdly-satisfying fresh new video game where you deal with your character’s loneliness.
Instead of subjecting him to the harsh vanity of dating apps or social media, you’ll help him build a creature that will keep him company (platonically), but it’s a rather unorthodox creation since you’ll have to manually collect spare bones, organs, and body parts to er, “build” your pet.
And despite the puzzle elements, the game is mostly relaxing with an art style that evokes Tim Burton’s old necro-pet movies.
Birth proves that there can be cuteness in morbidness and weirdness as long as you cherish what you built, regardless of its aesthetic value.