In today’s world, one of the best ways to take your mind off things is through videogames. Sure, movies are great by transporting you to a completely different place for a couple hours, but videogames are much more immersive. Not only are you sent to another world, but you’re in control. And with more time than usual to kill, games can eat away at a lot of those lost hours quickly.
The drawback of videogames is how challenging they can be. Sometimes they get so tough that you can’t help but rage quit (like me with Buffy the Vampire Slayer last week). However, there are plenty of relaxing games out there that serve as a nice break from all the craziness and can clear your head. Below are games you can check out for common consoles. Some might be a little dated, so you can pick them up for cheap on eBay.
Nintendogs (Nintendo DS & 3DS)
Yes, with all this spare time you really have no excuse to check in on the Nintendogs you abandoned for years. With this game, you simply raise a few dogs of your own. When we were little, everybody had this game. It was so much fun to adopt, play, walk, and train a puppy. Considering Monmouth’s Destress Fest with therapy puppies is off the calendar, you owe yourself to destress with this game. Oh, and you also owe your pups a bath, food, water, and some love.
Animal Crossing (Switch, Wii, 3DS, DS, Gamecube)
Similar to Nintendogs, Animal Crossing is another simulation game with no definitive end goal. Here you play as a young character who lives in a small town full of cute animals. As a villager, you can customize your own place, go fishing, play mini games, discover new places, and so much more. The look of the game alone will make you feel warm and fuzzy. The best part is that you can play this game for hours, days, weeks, months, or years and still have something new to do every day. There has been an Animal Crossing game for every Nintendo console, so it doesn’t matter which one you pick up.
The Sims 4 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
The last simulation game worth mentioning is obviously The Sims. As a Sim, you customize your own person and go through a new life as you build a new house and make friends. The concept is simple and something non gamers can get behind. The franchise has been going strong for 20 years, which is a testament to how much fun and relaxation can be had. A couple months ago PlayStation Plus members were given this game for free and for a PC download it’s only $6.
Endless Ocean (Wii)
I’m sure everyone is missing being by the ocean now, so this is the closest thing you can get to it. There’s a loose plot in this game, but basically you serve as a scuba diver giving tours to clients of a gorgeous ocean. With clients, you have an objective to look for a certain fish they want to discover. Other than that, you’re on your own. You can steer the boat wherever you want to dive whenever you want, no matter night or day. With gorgeous graphics (for a Wii) and a soothing score, Endless Ocean is the definition of chill. You can buy it for $8 on eBay and there’s even a sequel, Blue World (but I prefer the original).
Thrillville Series (Xbox, PS2, Wii, PSP)
With warm weather rolling in, I think we all miss going to theme parks too. In Thrillville and its sequel, Thrillville: Off the Rails, you build your own amusement park. It’s similar to Rollercoaster Tycoon, but it has a unique feel. You get to customize five parks with your own roller coasters, food stalls, and games. To make your parks successful, you have to make sure you’re meeting the needs of your customers. This includes talking with guests, cleaning the park, and playing mini games with them. It’s one of those games where you start, unlock a couple parks, then look up at the clock with your jaw on the floor from how long you’ve played it.
Pure Chess (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Wii U, PS Vita)
Chess is a timeless game that’s full of different strategies and Pure Chess makes it easy to learn. The game offers a variety of tutorials for beginners to pick up chess and test out strategies against the computer that has five levels of difficulty. While chess is a stimulating game, Pure Chess makes the experience feel relaxed. You can play the game in a fancy wood paneled study with a fire burning in the background or at the park where birds chirp and winds blow. It’s all calm until you get served by the computer on amateur mode.
Life is Strange Series (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Yep, it sure is these days. In the past five years there have been three Life is Strange (LIS) releases: LIS, Before the Storm, and LIS 2. These are decision based games with little skill required that revolve around a story. In the first (and best) game, you play as Max Caufield, a high schooler who discovers she has the ability to rewind time. For the second, you play as Sean Diaz, who is on the run when his brother Daniel accidentally kills a cop during an altercation with his newfound super powers. Both have strong stories and beautiful visuals. The first one is set in Arcadia Bay, a small fisherman town in Oregon, while the second goes from the forests of
Washington State to the deserts of Arizona. Each story ends differently with the decisions you make, so choose wisely!
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3, PS4, and PC)
Similar to LIS, but this game is a little heavier. It’s another drama decision-based game where you play as Jodi, who has a supernatural link to Aiden, another soul. By accessing Aiden’s powers, she can take on enemies or just mess with people. The gameplay is a little more involved than LIS in the moments where you control Aiden, but for the most part it’s mostly story telling, and an interesting one it is. The graphics are well done (and remastered for PS4), along with featuring performances from famous actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. The developers of this game made a similar drama game called Heavy Rain.
Houseflipper (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
We all love watching HGTV, so how awesome is it to have a videogame like the real thing? The gameplay is in the title: you buy a junk house, tear it apart, remodel it, then put it on the market for a flip. Just like the Scott Brothers, you kick walls down, hammer nails, paint walls, install appliances, and stage the homes. This just takes your relationship with HGTV to the next level.
Tearaway (PS Vita, PS4)
This is the most adorable platformer I’ve ever played. From the creators of Little Big Planet, you play as a messenger in a paper mache world trying to deliver a message to the sun, or you. When the sun appears on the screen, the game uses the front facing camera to put your face right smack in the middle (how fitting). On your journey, you make drawings, crafts, and use all of the Vita’s features to get around. The graphics are incredible for a 2013 Vita launch title and it’s so fun to run around in these colorful places with cute kazoo music playing in the background. There is a PS4 version, Tearaway: Unfolded, but reviews have been mixed on that one.
Gaming doesn’t always have to be getting first place or throwing the controller down in anger; a lot of games are easy to play and relaxing. Just like the games, I hope this makes dealing with the situation a little easier.