by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 29th April, 2018
Video games can get us excited, bursting with joy, and filled with positive emotions. They can also invoke great fear and anxiety, make us tremble and cry, even evoke the primal emotions capable of making us throw the keyboard or controller to the screen, or take our smartphone flying through the window. After all, most of them are based on various challenges, some of which may prove to be just too hard or too annoying for some of us.
There are those competitive multiplayer titles that are perfect sources of stress. Trying to be better than the rest of the people playing the same game isn't so good for your organism, and sometimes can be noticeable damaging to your wellbeing.
But, while video games are capable of evoking a broad range of emotions, positive as well as negative, as well as increased stress and anxiety levels, some of them won't make you upset. Quite the contrary, there are titles made for the player to forget about all problems and troubles they are facing and become calm while they embark on some peaceful virtual journey. When you want to chill out and just have some good time without trying to overcome obstacles and partake in stressful challenges just find one of the games features on this list and let your body and mind immerse in these serene worlds filled with calm sounds and comforting images.
The first Monument Valley was, and still is, one of the most atmospheric games on the market. Without the need to tell the story with words, the game relies on music and images, making the player enthralled with its colorful and otherworldly sceneries while solving puzzles that are here not to test the intellect but to create a sort of challenge that isn't really a challenge. Puzzles in Monument Valley are here to make you interact with the game's interesting contraptions and to calm yourself while turning the world on its head.
The sequel to the acclaimed game introduces a new character and with her a new gameplay mechanics that involves moving both characters at once. And no, this doesn't make the game harder, it makes it even more atmospheric and even better stress relief tool. The peaceful soundtrack is back, filled with serene melodies and soothing overtures. Environmental puzzles again are more of a tool that pushes the story forward than is there to create a challenge. And the game's trippy world will make you smile and relax while enjoying the music and pushing forward to uncover how the story will end. A perfect stress relief title, the worst thing that will happen to you while playing Monument Valley 2 is becoming kind of sad when you realize that the game has come to its end.
While most of us imagine that these two games are played by trucking fanatics who prefer the comfort of a room instead of a proper truck cabin, driving across virtual landscapes with huge, custom-made driving wheels, performing 12-hour driving sessions without eating or going to a toilet, the truth is that many people play truck simulators for the joy of cruising across nicely looking areas, enjoying the calamity of slow drive and enjoying the view of ever-changing terrain.
And the two best truck simulator games are Euro Truck 2 and American Truck Simulator. The premise is easy - get a big rig, pick up the cargo and deliver it to its destination. Repeat, make money and get new and better trucks capable of getting to their destinations faster and carrying more load. But these games can also be played in a way you would play a walking simulator. Forget about the simulation and just embrace the beauty of the journey. This is offered through the games' Free Ride modes where you just sit in the truck and embark on a journey. You can go whenever you want without worrying about deadlines, damages, speed, or road rules.
The two games feature excellent graphics so you will be enjoying nice views from your cabin while not worrying about getting to the destination on time, or earning enough money for a better truck. When you want to just chill out and calm yourself a bit, play one of these two and cruise through one of many European countries and American states. While not designed to be stress relief games, these two are perfect for that. Start your engine, listen to your favorite music and just enjoy the journey.
What, how!? Playing Assassin's Creed Origins, a game filled with tough fights, stressful combat, creatures that just wait for you to kill, and waves of enemies, as a stress relief game? You probably think we went crazy, but the game can be enjoyed as a peaceful and educational walk among some of the most famous monuments found in Ancient Egypt.
While the base game is one, pretty good, action adventure filled with challenges, it also features plenty of stunning environments such us the famous Sphinx, breath-taking Valley of the Kings, monumental Pharos of Alexandria and many more monuments some of which disappeared or got ruined by the passage of time. And once you install the game's Discovery Tour - which is a free update for the game or a $20 standalone purchase - you will be able to embark on one of 75 themed tours dotted all around ancient Egypt.
The mode is a perfect stress relieving tool and while it is primarily developed for educational purposes, it will be an excellent way to relax, enjoy in breath-taking views and learn a thing or two about ancient Egypt, all that accompanied by superb graphics presentation found in Assassin's Creed Origins. The mode is interactive and it includes tours about architecture, people, daily life in ancient Egypt, there are also history tours, and those that have you wander around the country's most famous monuments, all along with images, interesting facts and more that unravel as you advance each tour. If you like history, if you want to relax and take some of that daily stress, get the Assassin's Creed Origins Discovery Tour.
One of the games that launched the Walking Simulator trend in modern gaming, Gone Home is another great title for all of you who don't want to experience any stress or anxiety while playing games and just want to enjoy inside a virtual world and do fun stuff. The game is filled with puzzles but, much like in Monument Valley, they are there solely for the purpose of unraveling the game's curious story and they not present any kind of complex challenge. They are dosed just right to imbue your brain and let it think it makes effort while not really making any.
The game features solid graphics and its environments are deeply atmospheric and filled with story bits, clues, and items that will push you forward. Also, it is filled with 90's memorabilia such as tapes, video games, and songs that the game is perfect for all us 90's kids. Find out why your family disappeared while at the same time coping with everyday stress and getting relaxed. The story might get you sad, but if you like walking simulators and looking for a game that is capable of putting your stress and anxiety to zero, Gone Home is an excellent choice.
Yes, Minecraft is great for all kinds of gamers. Those who look for a challenge can embark on the game's survival mode and see for how long they can stay alive. Those who like competitive multiplayer can play any of the competitive modes and prove others they are better. Those who want to cooperate with others can join servers that ask from them to get together and build a new masterpiece that will be featured on some list of the best Minecraft recreations of real-world buildings or to just meet with a couple of friends and try recreating their small hometown.
And those who look for a stress relief can enter the game and play its creative mode alone, relaxing and enjoying. Do what you want, at the pace you want. There are no other people to tell you what to do, and how to do it. They can't ask you to go there and build that, or to collect just that kind of resource, or to do anything you don't like. While co-op multiplayer servers in creative mode might also seem like an excellent way to meet people, build stuff and have some fun while lowering your stress levels, they more often than not end up as being proper chores.
Instead of that, just play creative alone and build your dream house, or try recreating that cool castle you visited during your last holiday trip. Play some chillout tunes and do whatever you want to without others being there, all having their own suggestions what to build next. A great stress relief tool, but only when playing it alone.
Journey is just that, a beautiful and serene journey through out-of-this-world virtual landscapes that will calm you down and soothe you more than any other game on this list. The game is one of the famous titles that started the trend of walking simulators and is one of the best titles ever to come on of the PS3 and PS4. The game takes you on a path towards a mythical mountain in the distance, through a beautiful desert landscape.
You don't have to do anything, just to walk or fly, and in order to fly for longer, you just have to do a variety of stuff while playing the game. The strongest qualities found in Journey are the game's immensely tranquil soundtrack capable of calming down even those of us who suffer from serious anger disorders, and the games wordless story will make even those who believe are emotionless to finally feel joy, even for just a bit.
Journey is one of the best ways you can cope with accumulated stress. The game is pacing at a slow rate, slow enough to let you enjoy its beautiful sceneries, its soundtrack is one of the best ever to accompany a video game, and the gameplay is so light but interesting at the same time, capable of piquing the attention of those who didn't play a single video game in their life.
Another stress relief title to play while on the go, Bus Simulator 17 also seems like a title played only by simulation fans who can't help but be hooked to their favorite genre even when they are moving around. The game is available for smartphones and it includes driving a plethora of buses, doing daily chores, delivering passengers and trying not to cause any road accident.
The graphics are amazing for a mobile title and the game features lots of different environments that will please even the toughest graphical purists. Busses are modeled in detail and environments are shiny, attractive and a joy to look at while to driving your bus to the next station. You can drive around city, desert, mountain, and highway landscapes while being bathed in sunlight or looking at the rain falling down all around you.
When you want to have a quick relax during your lunch break, or to calm a bit after a tough day at the job while commuting on a bus, just take out your phone and start driving people all around town, like that driver in front of you is driving you to your home station. The game's free ride mode is where the fun is at. Play your favorite Spotify playlist, pick the free ride mode, and drive the bus all around the city, and beyond.
An indie scene gem and yet another walking simulator on this list (what can we do, the genre is brimming with titles that can play a role of perfect virtual tools for coping with stress), Proteus sets the player on a sunshine island filled with beautiful vistas. You explore the island from the first person perspective and discover its beauties.
There are no goals, no quests, no challenges, not even a story to follow like in some other games mentioned in this list. No, in Proteus the world is yours to explore and that's pretty much it. While the player walks around the island and, depending on their pace and location they are at, different melodies are played, all leading to amazing scenes that will make anyone's stress levels to fall rapidly.
You explore the island through all four seasons, looking at the changes happening to flora and fauna (yes, there are plenty of cute animals to meet, but most of them will just run away when you come too close), and once winter ends the game also ends. And each time you start the game, the island will look completely different. Perfect for those who want a title that they can play regularly in order to chill out a bit and relief from accumulated stress.
Plating Tengami is like reading one of those pop-up books we all had when we were kids. The game tries to recreate those magical moments of our childhood and really achieves it because its visuals are like someone took a pop-up book, scanned it and then transferred it to a virtual world without losing one percent of its beauty and charm.
The game takes players through "a serene journey through Japan of ancient fairy tales brought to life through striking visuals, unique gameplay, and haunting music." Your task is to save the dying cherry tree and you do that by solving the game's many puzzles. The game is a solid way to relax and take your stress levels down. Its visuals are placid and beautiful, its environments enchanting, and its story captivating and emotional.
Just a word of warning though - towards the end puzzles can get a bit tricky, so know that not the whole game is a care-free, peaceful journey. You will stumble upon a couple of complex challenges towards the end but that won't ruing the peaceful journey Tengami is.
The world needs move scuba diving games. The good old Endless Ocean for the Nintendo Wii was one of the best virtual experiences when it comes to calmly traveling through the beautiful underwater world. Abzu is one of these games and it comes from the main designer of Journey. Traveling through the underwater world of Abzu is beautiful. Visuals are amazing and you will often find yourself stopping to look at mesmerizing shoals of fish, or the ocean's gentle giants, humble whales that will make you stare in awe.
Your diver is so graceful when moving, so fast when needed, and the camera always founds its way to give you the best possible look at the current scene. Abzu is the most beautiful diving game and it should be played by everyone who loves the sea and is looking for a game with calming and soothing qualities.
The game's story is told without words and the journey towards new scenes is filled with eye-calming and meditative backdrops that serve their stress relief purpose perfectly. The music is also peaceful and serene, and in combination with the deep blue color of the game's ocean, colorful underwater animals and plants set to ripple by moving water, you will find your peaceful place before you know it. An amazing work of art and one of the best stress relieving video games, the biggest Abzu's letdown is that it lasts for just four or five hours.