The Best Games To Play When You Need To Chill In 2023
With not only work, school, and day-to-day activities, but a stressful pandemic what we all need is something that can help us de-stress and relax when we need it most. An escape to tropical islands, exploring beautiful deserts, having underwater adventures, or even playing something challenging to keep our minds sharp and occupied – video games are a fantastic way to do so.
We’ve compiled a list of our favourite relaxing games so that you can get some relaxation and zen into your 2022.
Our top picks
Why trust us
Our team spent over 15 hours reviewing and choosing the best relaxing games for your 2022 new year, considering budget, game types, age ranges, and accessibility whether you’re a new or old video game player. There’s something for everyone here.
Best relaxing game in 2022
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The overall best and unanimously chosen game for relaxation and escape in 2022 is of course Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
After its initial delay, Animal Crossing: New Horizons released at the perfect time in March of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic and everyone was staying home and inside. With its vibrant island vibes and an excitement over the fact there hadn’t been a new Animal Crossing game for eight years, it was a big deal for old players, while new ones could pick up their Switch and enjoy it for the first time.
If you like games where you can do everything at your own leisurely pace, you’ll enjoy this title. There is no real ‘goal’ per se – it’s up to you and what you want to make of it. Decorate your island? Make friends with all your villagers and get your favourites to move to your island? Collect all the fossils, fish, insects, and artworks? It’s all up to you. You can play with up to seven friends at once, making it a fun experience, and is a chance to hang out with some friends in-game while you can’t see them outside.
It starts with your character moving to an island, with Tom Nook the tanuki gifting you a tent and some crafting recipes to harvest resources from the island. Eventually, it expands what you can do, all the way to terraforming most of the land, being able to turn it into whatever you wish. Pop balloons with a slingshot that appear in the sky to get presents and DIY recipes, catch fish, dig up fossils, decorate your beach and island however you want – the sky’s the limit.
It’s a relaxing and peaceful game, though if you’re an arachnophobe you may want to avoid playing at night – or at least don’t run around with your net out in case a tarantula spawns, or a scorpion in the later summer months. They are worth a lot of the in-game currency, Bells, though so if you catch a bunch of them you’ll be rich!
The best silly games
Untitled Goose Game
This is one of those games that you can pick up, play, and automatically feel a smile on your face. You simply play as a Goose that’s causing chaos and trying to collect golden bells for its nest. You’re given a task list to do, such as stealing the farmers’ vegetables and creating a picnic or pickpocketing his keys. Or perhaps locking a shopkeeper into a garage while honking around town.
It’s a wholesome and fun puzzle type of game with a simplistic and charming art style. They recently updated it so that you can have double the fun with two players! There are additional end game quests and such that make it worth the play. Or replay, even.
Donut County is a short and hilarious indie game that involves you moving around a hole in the ground that inevitably ends up destroying an entire town and a foreboding evil corporation. The story and characters are funny and charming from the very beginning, and the art style is simplistic and endearing.
The gameplay is easy, and there are puzzles you need to sort out at certain levels. It is a very short game, but well worth picking up and playing for the dialogue, smooth controls, artwork, and music. The only complaint is that it isn’t long enough because it’s a blast. Donut County is available on Steam, Epic Games, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, iOS, and Android Google Store.
Katamari Damacy: Reroll
If you have never heard of Katamari Damacy, you’re in for a visual treat. It’s a game about rolling everything up into a ball to please the King of the Cosmos and recreate the stars and planets that he has thrown out of the sky. It’s a wild ride of amazing music, crazy characters, vivid colours, and some rather scathingly sarcastic dialogue from the King to encourage you along the way.
Reroll is a remaster of the original Katamari Damacy game, the first in the series. It’s a classic well-loved by all of those who have played them.
They still stand out and are incredibly fun. The controls take some time to get used to, but once you have the hang of it it’s a great time. There are different outfits to collect for whichever character you choose to roll your Katamari’s around with, and other sorts of easter eggs and hidden secrets to find.
It’s available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.
Games when you miss being outside or travelling
We all miss going outside freely and travelling wherever without much fear. These games will help ease the feeling until we can all enjoy the world fully again.
Persona 5: Royal
An absolutely great game in the Persona series, Persona 5: Royal is the same as the original Persona 5 with added characters, storylines, and other additions such as team-based finishing moves during battles.
On the surface, it’s just a game about leisurely exploring Tokyo as you settle into being a good student and making friends. Underneath it’s an amazing game jam-packed full of emotional situations, friendships, and doing everything from exploring different areas to crafting and learning new skills to better help you along as the story continues.
With hundreds of hours full of things to do with a beautiful soundtrack and great art style, Persona 5: Royal is worth every penny. You get more than what you pay for and the characters and chill gameplay will keep you glued to the screen for hours on end. Available exclusively on the PS4, it’s one of the best to pick up and get into.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
A flight simulator may seem too on the nose for missing travelling and seeing the world, but Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2020 is a surprisingly relaxing and enjoyable experience.
You can choose wherever you want to go and how to fly there. Small planes, large jumbo jet carriers – it’s up to you. Manipulate the weather, change your plans, and airport landings and take-offs.
A simulator may not be too exciting for some but being able to travel and see the world anywhere you’d like to go, it’s a good game to look into. You will also learn more about planes and how pilots actually fly – there’s an experience for everyone. Currently, it’s available on Steam and Xbox One.
Stardew Valley is a relaxing and fun game that isn’t just about farming and mining but making friendships and learnings the backstories of mysterious characters. The music, art style, dialogue, and overall feel make this game worth the praise it received. More impressive is that it was created by just one person – Eric Barone/Concerned Ape.
He created and made the entire game himself, and is very involved with the community, adding updates and changes to better improve the experience. Stardew Valley, for those who haven’t heard of it, is about getting out of your office work life in the city and moving to your grandfather’s farm in the small town of Stardew Valley. You will farm, mine, upgrade tools, upgrade your house, fish, find a partner if you wish to, make friendships, find out about mysterious happenings, improve the community centre if you decide to…The world is up to you and what you make of it.
There are season cycles, each with their own fruits, vegetables, fish, and visual changes. It’s a fun, relaxing game to just pick up and get into – but hard to put down. Available on the Nintendo Switch, Steam, PS4, Android and iOS, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita.
God of War
God of War for the PS4 is still one of the best games to date. With the rich environments, storytelling, and sometimes difficult battles it’s a game that everyone should play.
Kratos and his son Atreus embark on a quest to bring the ashes of Kratos’ wife to the tallest mountain in the realm. Having left his grudge against the Greek gods behind him, it’s an amazing story with twists and turns that will have you wanting to play the game in one sitting to see the conclusion and learn what’s going on.
The music, voice acting, script, and controls are all streamlined and smooth, with the gorgeous Nordic landscapes all around. You can spend hours just simply taking your time and looking at everything, uncovering secrets, and enjoying the landscapes and scenery as the story unfolds.
Firewatch is a game about a man who is out far into the woods and mountains, keeping the peace and making sure that no forest fires are starting or spreading while trying to escape his own past and life. It’s a wonderfully rendered game with touching dialogue and simple gameplay.
You patrol around the areas you’re told to follow and discover, being kept company by a fellow co-worker over the walkie-talkies as you make sure the forest stays safe from disaster. The story is heartbreaking at times, well-written, and will give you pause about your life and what the world means as a whole.
The art style is beautiful and while it can be a shorter game, it’s well worth checking out and relaxing to.
The equivalent of taking the time to slow down, breathe deep, and just enjoy your surroundings is Journey.
It isn’t a particularly long or in-depth game, but there is plenty to look at and enjoy while you explore a vast, empty desert.
Mellow and enchanting it has won awards for its slowed down and calm atmosphere as you explore around the desert, looking at objects and watching time pass. The music and art style is gorgeous and is absolutely worth checking out.
Journey is available on Steam, PS4, and PS3.
Abzu is very similar to Journey, just within the realm of water as opposed to a vast, empty desert.
If you prefer to explore underwater depths and beautiful colours of fish and sapphire waters, Abzu might be up your alley.
From the same art director as Journey and Flower, this game takes you through an almost dreamlike state of diving and exploring underwater, interacting with creatures and plants as you journey through.
The music and art style are beautiful, and a good reminder to just breathe and take a few moments to enjoy everything around us.
Abzu has an average of 4.8 stars on Google Reviews. Most users highlight its drop-dead gorgeous scenery — some even mentioned they forgot to complete the goals as they were distracted exploring the game’s stunning underwater world.
Available on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.
Games With Emotional Storylines
Relaxing and emotional can sometimes go hand-in-hand when it comes to video games. If you’re wanting to immerse yourself in deep stories that are well-written and capture your attention, you’ve come to the right place. Don’t forget to bring some tissues while you’re playing:
Life is Strange
Life is Strange and Life is Strange 2 are known for their emotional storylines and relaxed gameplay. In Life is Strange, you play as Max who has moved back to her hometown on the west coast as a student in a private school focused on arts.
She’s an aspiring photographer and through circumstances reunites with her childhood best friend, and the game evolves from a young adult making their way through life into a deep and emotional rollercoaster involving missing students, murder, and somehow handling Rewind time travel powers.
The blend of supernatural and real life is executed wonderfully, and the soundtrack will have you feeling nostalgia, happiness, and sadness all at once depending on which chapter of the game you’re in. The storyline is beautiful and while it’s an older game it still holds up well and is worth getting.
Life is Strange 2
The successor to Life is Strange, Life is Strange 2 focuses on two brothers as a tragic accident forces them from their home as they embark on travelling across the United States and into Mexico to find their family.
Like the original, there are plot twists and emotional moments that hit you directly into the heart, with some supernatural turns that keep you on your toes between the line of reality and fiction.
Emotional and fun to explore the landscapes as the brothers continue on, it’s a game that will resonant with some more than others. The controls are simple and the scenery plus music is top-notch.
The Last of Us
Well known in the gaming community as a game with a deep story and beautiful post-apocalyptic landscapes, The Last of Us follows Joel as he navigates the new world after a pandemic sweeps the country.
The opening scene alone is worth playing this game for and will keep you engaged throughout the entire experience.
The characters are portrayed wonderfully, and the gameplay can be challenging, but not overwhelming. It can be a bit of a horror game at times, but the enemies aren’t generally the concern while you play as it’s more story-based.
Available on the PS3 and PS4.
The Last of Us 2
The Last of Us 2 was met with some criticism from internet trolls on its release and some fans were disappointed with how the story unfolded from the original title.
It’s well worth playing as the story and environment are even more breathtaking than the first, and they did a wonderful job of truly fleshing out a world.
Exclusively for the PS4, the graphics are rich and detailed while the gameplay is still as smooth and easy to handle as ever. If you want a rich story with emotional moments you thought you were prepared for but aren’t – this is the game for you.
The enemies can be tough at times and some sections require some fairly difficult stealth, but all in all, exploring around and listening to dialogue makes this a wonderful game to relax with and immerse yourself with.
Arguably Death Stranding is more of a walking simulator than it is an action game. Created by Hideo Kojima as his first game developed by his own company, Kojima Productions, it’s one worth checking out.
You play as Sam (Norman Reedus), delivering packages and connecting the United States together again after a large-scale apocalyptic event destroyed the world. A star-studded cast is involved in this game including Troy Baker, Mads Mikkelsen, Norman Reedus, and more – with the soundtrack being a mix of Icelandic bands and others.
It can be challenging at times, but overall is a wonderful game to relax and immerse yourself in as the graphics are nearly photo realistic – spending hours looking and taking screenshots of the environment is not out of the question. The vivid green and black mountains based off Iceland are gorgeous.
Released exclusively for the PS4, get it while you can.
Relaxing games with a challenge
Sometimes relaxing means wanting to mix in some challenges and brain teasers to overcome. Here’s a list of a few games that are chill and relaxing with just the right number of challenges:
Ghost of Tsushima
An amazing game through and through with its story and atmosphere, Ghost of Tsushima is well worth playing for anyone that likes a challenge and exploring large open worlds.
It’s an action-adventure game where you play as Jin Sakai, a samurai on a quest to protect Tsushima Island from the first Mongol invasion of Japan.
The characters, landscapes, and music are beautifully rendered and while some battles can be difficulty, exploring around and taking it everything can be just as relaxing and calming.
Exclusively released for the PS4, it’s one worth getting.
Celeste might be considered a bit too difficult for some looking for a relaxing side-scrolling adventure experience, however, the rage over losing is mitigated as you respawn instantly and there isn’t a terrible consequence to losing.
The soundtrack and art style are wonderfully designed, making this a fun game to pick up and try your hand at when you want something challenging and thought-provoking, with the grace of a more relaxing title.
It’s available on the PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Steam.
Hollow Knight is another side-scrolling adventure game that might be considered difficult by some.
You play as a small and cute knight that explores the world around him. The artwork and music are hauntingly beautiful, and the gameplay is smooth. It was a Kickstarter game that surpassed its goal and has been a fan favourite ever since, and for good reason.
It’s available now on the Nintendo Switch, Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild needs no introduction, as it was one of the all-time top-selling games in the United States and across the world on its release. Still one of the best Legend of Zelda titles to date, it’s well worth getting.
Available for the Nintendo Switch and Wii U, it should be a staple game to own for anyone who has the consoles. You play as Link as he wakes up to find a war-torn Hyrule and fights to stop Calamity Ganon.
It’s an open-world game with ambient sounds and music, beautiful landscapes, comfortable controls, and can be played by nearly anyone whether you have previous Zelda and gaming history or not.
It can be rather challenging though off the bat if you’re new to it – as you have to watch out for weapon durability, temperature changes and how you wear your armour to adjust for that, challenging puzzle shrines, and enemy battles can be tough. It’s an amazing game and one that you can sink hundreds of hours into just exploring the map and trying to find all of the cute little Koroks.
Baba Is You
Baba Is You is an interesting twist on puzzle games. Not only do you have to solve the puzzles, but you move objects to break and bend the rules of the game so that solving the dilemma in front of you is even possible. It’s a definite brain teaser that escalates difficulty as the levels go on.
Available for the Nintendo Switch and on Steam, it’s one worth looking into if you enjoy different takes on puzzle games that require some thought process.
The art style is simple, but enjoyable, and while the puzzles can be difficult it’s fun to play with the parameters of the game itself and find different ways to solve whatever is in your way.
Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy
Known for its difficulty back when it released in the late ’90s, the first three Crash Bandicoot games have been redone and re-released for this generation of consoles with the same level of difficulty.
They’re fun, colourful, and a great time for anyone that plays games and loved the originals, or if you’re just picking it up for the first time.
This is a difficult but not overwhelming platformer, and the charm, music, and characters have been brought to life more than ever before.
With an average of 4.3 stars out of 5 on Google Reviews (and more than 226 ratings), Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy is still a fan-favourite across the globe.
The trilogy is available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.
For a fun, colourful time
With a lot of games being doom and gloom in palettes of grey and somber, sometimes you just want a game that lifts your spirits and envelopes you with bright, vivid colours and cute gameplay. We’ve got just the thing:
Yoshi’s Crafted World
Nintendo isn’t shy about using different mediums and artistic styles, such as the case with Yoshi’s Crafted World. A beautifully made game all about everyone’s favourite cute dinosaur sidekick as he goes off on his own adventure in a handcrafted woollen art style.
Available for the Nintendo Switch, it’s a gentler and more forgiving experience than other Mario games, especially ones like Paper Mario.
Yoshi’s Crafted World has bright vivid colours and textures, while the story will keep you captivated for hours.
Super Mario Odyssey
Another smash hit when it released with the Switch is Super Mario Odyssey. Another title that brought back all of the nostalgia and fun of Super Mario 64, with some twists like turning Mario into his old 8-bit Nintendo self, or putting a hat on a giant T-Rex and walking around!
It’s a fun game with some challenges if you’re looking to collect all of the Moons. The main game story can be a bit short if you’re just rushing through, but the levels and worlds are rich and different from one another, with great mechanics and smooth controls.
If you’re a fan of Super Mario games, this is a must-have.
As the top-selling game of all time – Minecraft needs no introduction. Released in 2011, the popularity of this block-like open world creative game exploded over the last nine years.
It isn’t just a game for kids, everyone can enjoy it regardless of age and the ‘Lego for adults’ aspect is a great time. The calm music and ability to create whatever you want is a fun experience and highly recommended. Available now on nearly every platform, you can even grab it on mobile.
Explore the open world, find villages, create portals to different dimensions, create video games within crafting a computer – the limits truly are endless, especially if you’re playing on Steam and have modifications.
Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Another remake of a classic Legend of Zelda title, Link’s Awakening has a beautifully crafted art style and pacing that lovers of classic and newer Zelda titles will enjoy. The environment is rich, and the colours are bright and fantastic.
There are puzzles, dungeons, and quests to figure out on your own as you explore around to save the kingdom and gain new powers and abilities.
With a unique art style, soft vignette edged screen, and updated music that is a delight for the senses, enough can’t be said about this one.
Available for the Nintendo Switch, it’s well worth grabbing whether you’ve played a Zelda title or not. Pick it up and give it a try yourself!
Another childhood favourite for a lot of 30-year old’s, Spyro the Dragon has been remastered in this trilogy set of the first three games.
With bright vivid colour scapes, redone graphics, voice acting, and an attention to keeping the original series with its sassy charm, Spyro: Reignited is fun for all ages and casual gamers.
Game reviewers love it for its funny sense of humour and hidden jokes. On Google Reviews, Spyro: Reignited averages 4.2 stars out of 5 based on mora than 120 ratings.
With some challenging flying levels and hidden areas that more experienced players can enjoy as well, it has something for everyone.
A fun feature is that they kept all of the cheat codes intact – For example, if you’re playing on the Playstation you can enable the classic Big Head Mode by inputting Up, Up, Up, Up, R1, R1, R1, R1, O while you have the game Paused.
For the horror fans
Relaxing and chill to one gamer may not be the same to others. Believe it or not, not all games that touch on horror are jump scares and difficult (looking at your Soulsborne games). Here is a list of some horror titles that fall into the relaxing category:
Luigi’s Mansion 3
With a fun dialogue, cute dog companion, and beautifully rendered graphics Luigi’s Mansion 3 takes it back to original Luigi’s Mansion with puzzles and the ability to openly explore to your hearts content while you find your way through the hotel, rescuing Mario and all of Luigi’s friends.
In Luigi’s Mansion 3, you’ve won a vacation to a resort hotel, but things go off the rails fairly quickly after check-in and you have to make your way up the hotel to the top floor to rescue Mario, Peach, and all of the Toads.
Equipped with a trusty vacuum cleaner to suck up any ghosts like Ghostbusters, the characters are all endearing, the puzzles are challenging but not too difficult, and even just wandering around the hotel looking for treasures and hidden secrets while Luigi hums the main game theme to himself is a delightful time.
Available on the Nintendo Switch, it’s worth picking up.
Available for all platforms on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One – Sunless Skies is a deceptively user-friendly game that can be played by anyone.
It’s classified as a gothic horror that focuses on exploration and was partially funded as a Kickstarter.
You can create your character, and explore the seas collecting supplies, characters, and meeting others as you create your own story and find out bits of lore about the world around you. It’s a fun role-playing game and does the trick when you want to turn your brain off for a while and just explore a dark and interesting world.
Following the character named ‘Six’, you embark on an adventure to escape the Maw. It’s a platformer that will bring you through a richly detailed and grim world, filled with supernatural and surreal characters.
If you enjoy horror games, this is a fun title to look into. Available on the PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Steam, and streaming on Google Stadia – wherever you can play it, feel free to. The controls can be finicky at times leading to some frustrations, but the story and charm make up for the shortcomings. Little Nightmares 2 was announced to be released in 2021, and it should be a great time as much as the first.
LIMBO + INSIDE
LIMBO and its successor, INSIDE, are two dark and grim side-scrolling puzzle platformers that have a level of difficulty that some players might find off-putting.
The story, art style, and ambient sounds have made these games popular for good reason.
You play as what seems to be children, making your way across dangerous hazards and landscapes, while the art style has you on edge with its deep shadows, black inky abysses, and terrifying monsters to escape from.
The puzzles range from easy to sometimes frustrating as you try to work out the timing and correct placements of items while running for your life. They’re charming and interesting, and still hold up very well.
First released in 2010 and available across Steam, Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One, they’re both still well worth it in 2022.
How we picked the best games to relax with
For this buying guide, we chose the best relaxing games to de-stress with based on trusted review sources, our own personal experiences, budget, and accessibility for players of all types whether you’re new or a veteran at playing video games. All ages and range.
Frequently asked questions
What is a relaxing game?
A relaxing video game can be anything that relaxes or calms you while you play – Some prefer puzzle games, platformers, story-based RPGs, simulators, whatever you find relaxing, there is a game for you.
Can games reduce stress?
Yes, video games can reduce stress. Immersing yourself into a relaxing story or environment can reduce stress, just as watching movies or reading a book can do.
Can games make you stressed?
On the flip side – They can also make you stressed if you’re playing a difficult game or puzzle. Take breaks and stop playing if you’re getting genuinely upset – Come back to it later and you’ll find it might be easier than before.
How to relax while playing video games?
Relaxing while playing video games is just like watching films or reading a book – Get comfortable, grab yourself from tea or hot cocoa, and immerse yourself into the world you’re playing.
If you have a VR headset you might find these games relaxing and chill as well:
- Nature Treks VR
- Minecraft VR
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