As the world takes a collective time-out in an effort to stay healthy, everybody is looking for a way to unwind and pass the time. Video games are a popular way to do that, but while everyone is used to turning on Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, sometimes it’s better to zone out with some lighter, more relaxing choices. If you’re looking for some stress-free video games to keep you and your family busy, we’ve got you covered.
Social distancing is essential for everyone’s health, but just because you’re stuck in your home doesn’t mean playing video games can’t be a social experience. And while most games are social in some way, the games on this list are satisfying, feel-good choices to raise your spirits and bring you closer together with anybody you can play with. Here are some Feel-Good Games to Play During Social Distancing.
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This is probably the most obvious choice. It’s creative, multiplayer, available on every system, and something you can invest plenty of time in. Minecraft is only as stressful as you make it — you can play survival mode and face the harsh outdoors or enter creative mode and build for hours. Either way, Minecraft‘s ambiance and core gameplay loop will remain soothing while keeping you busy.
This is a natural choice for families stuck at home or for friends to play online. If you love video games and somehow haven’t spent endless hours with Minecraft, social distancing provides the perfect opportunity to dive in, assuming you’re not one of the millions of Minecraft players who have already done so.
It’s tough to find action games that double as stress relievers, but Spider-Man PS4 is a great example. While the world is stuck social distancing indoors, living it up as the friendly neighborhood web-slinger is a great way to unwind. The game is as easy to pick up and play as it is to master, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be zipping through the city in style.
Honestly, saving New York sounds like a lot of responsibility, but Spider-Man is an incredibly breezy experience. Sometimes you’ll want to stop a robbery or chase Doctor Octopus through the city. Sometimes you’ll want to zone out and swing until it lulls you to sleep. Either way, Spider-Man is a low-commitment, satisfying game that you’d probably enjoy right now. Seriously, it’s surprisingly relaxing.
If you still have your plastic instruments, it’s time to break them out. Rock Band unites your family and friends with music, regardless of musical taste or talent. Whether online or in your living room, Rock Band is easy to learn, tough to master, and full of so many gameplay opportunities that you could play it for days on end.
Any game in the series will do, but Rock Band 4 is the most recent and chock-full of content. Of course, with hundreds of songs to choose from and even more to download, everybody can find something to enjoy here. It’s the definition of feel-good gaming, and despite the series’ age, it continues to be a blast.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy (And Other Retro Platformers)
Sometimes you just want to jump around and collect stuff. With minimal challenge and colorful visuals, the platformer genre is always a safe bet for fun, feel-good gaming– specifically the platformers of the ’90s and 2000s. We’re recommending the Spyro Reignited Trilogy here, solely for aesthetics and bang for your buck, but any colorful platformer will scratch the same itch.
The Spyro series is an all-ages romp through gorgeous environments, full of whimsical music and simple, satisfying combat. Of course, if Spyro isn’t your thing, there’s Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, and plenty of other similar platformers to keep your gaming upbeat.
You’ve probably never heard of Abzû, but it’s the most soothing game on this list and perfect for relaxing during social distancing. Available on all consoles and PC, Abzû will have you exploring the depths of the ocean with smooth controls and incredible visual and sound design.
The aquatic world is fantastical and surreal– with plenty to collect and discover, the game is much more than just a diving simulator. If the minimalist narrative doesn’t entice you, you’ll still spend hours just swimming your cares away. It’s fluid, simple, and incredibly relaxing. Play it with headphones on if you really want to lose yourself.
Relaxing sports games are often hard to come by. You could break out an old Tony Hawk game, but if you want to kick back, dig up or download any of the games in the Skate trilogy. If you’ve never played one, Skate is a more grounded take on genre-focused entirely on feel-good skating.
Between the amazing controls, great soundtrack, and plenty of features to mess around with, the Skate games endless fun. With an unparalleled amount of freedom, you can customize your own skate lines and spend hours trying to nail that perfect combo. Or, you can turn up the music and just go for a ride.
Dynasty Warriors is a love-it-or-hate-it experience. They’re extremely repetitive, and the recent Dynasty Warriors 9 is a total train wreck. However, we’re not talking about games that are “good” so much as ones that are satisfying to play, and few action games feel as good as Dynasty Warriors.
Yes, action games aren’t very relaxing, and that’s why there are so few on this list. Thankfully, Dynasty Warriors‘ simple combat system makes battling massive armies a surprisingly gratifying experience. The games make everyone feel like a one-person army fighting soldiers in the thousands. With dozens of characters and weapons to unlock, look for a copy of Dynasty Warriors 8 to play an action game that is as mindless as it is empowering during your socially distant downtime.
Animal Crossing has always been considered the champion of relaxing video games. Although the only real objective is to pay your bills (yes, really), the Animal Crossing games are all about living life in a colorful, carefree town. As a new resident, players must meet their neighbors, indulge in some hobbies, and make themselves a part of their community.
Ironically, the idea is to be social, but Animal Crossing gives you the freedom to live however you choose. New Horizons is out for the Nintendo Switch, but beware: this game is very addictive. Feel free to socialize with your anthropomorphic neighbors instead of your real ones. Just don’t forget about real life while you’re living the good life virtually.
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