When a lot is going on in the real world, it can be easy to feel guilty for playing video games. Big, real, serious stuff can swirl around you, and it can feel like running away when you pick up a game. But often they’re important, a great way to take a breather, a salve at a time when most things are actually out of our control.
So, we’ve got some relaxing games to help you out. But, what makes a game relaxing? Well, it can be a soothing soundtrack, charming character art, satisfying game loops, or a combination of everything. It’s all about a peaceful and wholesome environment for you to get lost in. That’s what we aim for below, at least.
So, head down below to find some relaxing games to hang out with for a bit. Once you’ve had your fill and want to get your heart rate back up, check out our guide to the best open-world games to get lost in a different way, or the best retro games for the warmth of some nostalgia.
Let’s chill out…
Relaxing games on Switch and mobile
A Short Hike – Switch
A Short Hike is a magical little experience. Just like the name suggests, it’s barely over an hour of exploring a gorgeous little island, meeting friends, and attempting to make it to the top of the mountain. The crunchy pixels of the art style, the off-the-cuff dialogue, and the overall vibe of the game create the perfectly chill experience. It’s one of my favourite games on the Switch.
Stardew Valley – Switch and mobile
Stardew Valley perfected the farming simulator, and then extended it in every direction. The core focus of the game is building up a little patch of farmland in a remote town. But as time goes on you meet the various people who live there, explore dangerous underground caverns, and also do a bit of fishing (check out our Stardew Vallew fish guide to get to grips with it).
It’s chill to the max, and gripping enough to get lost in for dozens of hours. If you’ve already had your fill of Stardew, check out our Witchbrook release date guide to get ready for the developer’s next game.
Untitled Goose Game – Switch
The goose is loose and ready to be obtuse. The Untitled Goose Game took the world by storm with its open, Debussy-esque piano and hilarious premise, featuring a nasty goose ready to play pranks on various people in a little British town. Interestingly, the developer built the town by using Google maps, as they had never actually visited the UK. The result is a quaint patchwork of brick and lakes, pubs and phone boxes, all ripe for pranks to be pulled.
Animal Crossing – Switch and mobile
Animal Crossing is the pinnacle of chill. It’s all about hanging out, doing some chores, and enjoying the breeze. The Switch version, Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers a robust island-building experience, full of furniture and clothes to create, characters to befriend, and many, many ways to customise your haven in the ocean. On mobile, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, you get a condensed version, all about building out a campsite. Both are all about hanging out, and that’s chill as heck.
Alto’s Adventure – mobile
If we’re talking chill, there’s nothing more chill than snowboarding down a frosty mountain. That’s all Alto’s Adventure is about, with a set of challenges to complete as you repeat procedurally generated runs. The mountain turns from desolate cold and busy woods, to small sets of buildings and great leaps across chasms. We think it’s great, as you can see in Alto’s Adventure: The Spirit of the Mountain review.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker – Switch
Toad may have one of the most irritating voices in all of gaming, but the magical puzzle boxes that he explores are charming enough to make you forget about it. All the self-contained puzzles are full of mechanisms, pulleys, and silly little challenges, all wrapped in a gorgeous, toyetic art style. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker may have originated on the Wii U, but its easy-going gameplay is just as engaging today.
Unpacking – Switch
Moving house isn’t really fun at all, is it? But just like Animal Crossing turns everyday chores into videogame fun, Unpacking makes moving house feel like a zen, decluttering vacation. It isn’t just about unpacking boxes, though, it’s also about unfurling a barely-there story, patching together pieces of someone’s life with literal, physical pieces of their life. It’s an experience that rises far beyond the sum of its parts.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Switch
One time, riding across a wide, windy plain in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the main Zelda theme broke through the silence of nature, and rose up subtly; it made the hairs on my arms stand on end. The magic of BotW is this silence. The ability to switch off, explore, create, and experiment, without the game intruding. Not even the music is telling you what should be happening. The whole game just wraps itself around any experience you want from it. It’s my favourite game of all time.
Golf Story – Switch
Golf is the worst. Or, at least, every person I know who likes golf isn’t my friend. Whereas, everyone I’ve met who likes Golf Story is the coolest person in the world. It’s a game about golf, believe it or not, with dialogue like an episode of Seinfeld, and loads of quirky characters to meet and hang out with. It’s hilarious, entertaining, and, most importantly, relaxing. For more chill time on the green, check out our golf games guide.
That’s all the relaxing games we’ve got for now. There are loads more out there, but this is a good starting point. Check out our mystery games recommendations for more of a headscratcher.