Relaxing, meditative, or chill games thread. What helps you unwind?

I'm looking for games that people find relaxing or meditative. It can be anything that occupies your attention and is rewarding without being too stressful. It is games that takes you out of your head without draining too much mental energy.

I've found this in certain simulation games, city builders, tower defense, and puzzle games.

What are some games that have fit this category for you?

European Truck Simulator 2.


Yes there are moments where it can tense when you're parking one of the rigs, but just driving around the Italian countryside listening to Neapolitan radio stations which are streamed into the game is personally very relaxing.

The Sims 4. If you're not trying to micromanage your Sims, it's a great game to zone out to.

Stardew Valley. I've never played it personally but nearly every person who plays it enjoys its relaxing, pastoral pace.

Such a great idea for a thread and so many great games to choose from!

I'll first say that turn based games are generally my jam when it comes to chill out games. Into the Breach and Rebuild 3 are two of my favorites, each of which have eaten hundreds of hours on my laptop while I blissfully zone out. It also helps that these are both touchscreen friendly. Of course, no discussion of turn based chill out games can happen without the king of "One More Turn-itis" Civilization. I've got more hours in Civ 4 than I think any other game. Civ 6 still hasn't "clicked" with me yet.

Sim City and Surviving Mars are not turn based, but are so fun and relaxing for me that they absolutely make the list.

I think the 'genre-buster' for me, though, is No Man's Sky. I love simply running around a planet, grabbing resources, catalgoing flora and fauna, building my base...that game just has a little bit of everything in it, and it's an absolutely beautiful experience. When I just want to make an hour go by as if it was a minute, I'll launch No Man's Sky and just get sucked in. Just the other night I said to myself "don't stay up late, just do a few things and log out." Well I launched NMS and it was 4am before I realized it.

Puzzle games:

Currently Sudoku Classic, but previous highlights have been the HexCells games (and really, anything but that guy except for the one that was about cryptography) and anything in the Zach-like genre (Spacechem and Opus Magnum were my favorites).

Edit: Ooh, Civ is a good call. Civ V was my go-to for a few years.

Sudoku does it for me. Part of my pre bedtime routine most nights.

As Budo says, Euro Truck Simulator 2, for sure. Nice and calm.

Picross. Love that stuff.

Elder Scrolls games or wandering around in a Fallout game. More so the former, but I enjoy wandering, even if combat intersperses the going abouts.

Minecraft. Nothing to be said there.

No Man's Sky: just explore some stuff and manage my frigates.
Hardspace Shipbreaker: taking spaceships apart is really pleasant.
Sid Meier's Railroads: I just love seeing the trains traveling around and the little animations.

I call these my Friday Night games. At the end of the work week all I want is to purge decision making and critical thinking from my brain.

I fully agree with truck sims for this, my choice is American Truck Sim, effectively same game as Euro Truck in a different part of the world. I'll add a few more sims that fit the bill like Snowrunner, which adds more goals and missions and 'things on the map I can check off', and has a super slow pace. Build your trucking empires! ATS and ETS2 can be had during sales for $5 USD.

For a complete zone out sim it's tough to beat Farming Simulator. Planting and harvesting with tractors in perfect OCD-satisfying lines, totally moves into meditative territory for me. Build your farming empire! Farming Sims go on sale often and if you start with 17 I think you can get in for 5 bucks.

No Man's Sky which others mentioned is fantastic to chill once you get through the first bit of tutorial where you're fighting the environmental effects. That struggle goes away quick and only returns by choice really. Explore while you build your empire! Often found at 50% sale these days.

Don't forget space sims, Elite Dangerous in particular, which is stunning to look at and only dangerous by choice. Build your space trucking empire! I think this hits $15 or so with the addon occasionally.

Genshin Impact is a great free to play that can be super chill if you play like I do and not how the internet plays it. Which means go in blind and just play for fun, explore, do missions, beat stuff up, it's a great mindless game. I haven't spent a dime on it yet, nor felt like I needed to. Build an empire for Paimon!

I feel like I can go on with these types of games, basically my favorite these days.

Editing to add Death Stranding, which you can either play through the story which is wonderfully weird with at times stressful gameplay BUT... if you feel like it you can just spend the entire day mindlessly building roads (or other helpful structures). I spent over 100 hour in this game and feel like half that time was gathering resources to build stuff. Build roads! Found this one for PS4 at Amazon for a cool $18.

Not sure this counts but I started getting back inTo cryptic crosswords about 6 months ago. I find having to totally reset my brain to a different way of thinking really helps me unwind.

I find open world games fun to potter in. I’d been burnt out on them until recently but I just got back into Spider-Man and I’ve realised, oh yeah, this is why I was almost exclusively into open world games for so long. It’s fun and relaxing just to swing around a world doing random tasks and fighting bad guys.

Based on this thread and other research I ended up purchasing American Truck Simulator (both that is Euro Truck simulator are currently on sale for $5 at Humble ) and I bought Railway Empire on Epic (on sale for $15 and down to $5 with a coupon).

I'm interested in House Flipper and Islanders both of which seem like they could fit this category. anyone play them?

Picross S3 has been my go-to calm/zen game on the Switch

I really dig Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 for this sort of thing. Once you know how the cars are put together, you can kind of zone out and just fix somebody's dodgy carburetor or something while you're mostly paying attention to another task or just zoning out.

IUMogg wrote:

I'm interested in House Flipper.... anyone play them?

My wife played the base game obsessively until completion and burns through any new content on the day of its release.
House Flipper seems to do its thing pretty well.

Astroneer is my go-to chill game of late.

As others mentioned Euro/American Truck Simulator are also my zen games. They have the built in internet radio stations which I love. So if in Euro Truck I'm popping on Radio Manchester and if in American Truck I'm putting on one of the 80s music stations. Just like real driving when a good song comes on everything clicks.

Typically during the work week I'll do a 30-45 minute delivery a night and at the end feel like I accomplished something and be more relaxed.

I find a lot of (J)RPGs good for this. When I feel ambitious, I'll push through "the story." When I want to relax and zone out, I'll grind for a while.

I really appreciate many of the ones already mentioned, but I'll add another - Intergalactic Fishing. A wonderful top view fishing game that would have been at home in the 90's, graphically, and has an MMO fishing method. Cast your hook and reel it in. But it's got a simple complexity in the construction and selection of lures, upgrading gear, and the simulation of water depth, underwater vegetation and I think temps, as well as shorelines and docks, and the huge variety of fish that each have their own preferences for where to live. A good set of lakes, plus access to procedurally generated ones that are essentially infinite in number. There's a mild but interesting storyline laid on top, too.

(What's "simple complexity"? What I mean is that there are many elements to catching up a fish, with plenty of variety so that each trip to a new lake can be different, but at the same time, the elements are not in any way overwhelming. Simple enough to be Zen, complex enough to keep you from being bored. Simple complexity.)

It's a very, very relaxing and distracting game.

I like to play arcade-y racing games. Stuff like Forza Horizon or (shamefully a lot of) Need for Speed Heat. Forza for the car selection, NFS Heat for the goofy customization. Racing games might not seem relaxing, especially with stuff like cops chasing you, but something about them just shuts off most of my brain, puts me into sort of a meditative state. All I see is the road and the car.

I picked up a game that is on sale this week on steam called Pixel Puzzles Mosaics that seems to fit this category well. Instead of a typical jigsaw puzzle format, the pictures are made up of square pieces that are all laid out just out of order. I played a couple puzzles so far. It's just swapping the pieces until you get the puzzle in order. I believe there are only like 30 or 40 puzzles included, so it might not last long, but that's a good deal for 99 cents.

I'm aghast no one has mentioned Animal Crossing. Water the flowers, pick a few weeds, exchange niceties with the villagers, catch a fish a or two. The very definition of chill out.

I'll add my vote to that of Toxic Waltz, and suggest Elite: Dangerous. Not only is it consistently stunning to look at, but it also has a clever and subtle dynamic score bubbling away under the surface. It's ever present, but never feels repetitive.

From a technical point of view, I think it might be the best thing about the game.

I'd also recommend many of the environmental side quests in Red Dead Redemption 2. There's nothing like spending a couple of hours hunting, fishing or tracking down dinosaur bones or petroglyphs.

This was a great thread at a time where I quite needed to relax, to chill, to unwind. Thanks to everyone who offered up suggestions. I have dabbled in a few select choices. Amongst other things, of course, this has had a positive impact. Had I not been spiralling and withdrawn I'd have said so earlier.

I read and watched up on Elite Dangerous only to dip back onto No Man's Sky and try out Rebel Galaxy instead. This was due to a more accessible ease of access/use. As I perceived it. Anyway. Mining asteroids. Trading for profit. Cruising the stars. I zoned out and bathed in the zen.

I'm trying to arrow in on a simulator. Truck Driving. Farming. PC Building. I haven't decided. Predominantly PS4 or Switch which minimises the awesome PC only Euro Truck Simulator.

I thought again to Wilmot's Warehouse only to dismiss it, as I often have, due to thinking it may become too busy, with a demand to keep up or fail.

I second Astroneer as a relaxing game. I think it works so well because there are no wandering enemies. The only things that will hurt you are mean plants, gravity, and lack of oxygen. It is really nice to be able to AFK in a game without worrying about dying, especially one that is in the survival genre.

Spiritfarer has a very soothing soundtrack, and standing on a boat in calm waters while watching the sun slowly rise and fall is really nice.

And Factorio? Maybe? The biters can be stressful in the early game, and they can be disabled for a more peaceful run. Always be wary of the trains. The rest of the game is like an open-ended puzzle where you slowly improve and expand your base. There are no deadlines, no townsfolk complaining about what an awful mayor you are, and no random elements. Your iron ore mining dries up? That's fine. Take your time to build a new mine. The trains don't mind. The factory will stop producing, but it won't complain. And I find I'm too preoccupied with mining layouts and train tracks and more efficiency to let my critical inner voice say anything.

Is it odd that I find The Binding of Isaac relaxing? It took a lot of hours before I got to that point but I find it very relaxing at this point.

These aren't chill games, like, at all, but they're what I use of late to unwind:

  • Bloody Rally Show - Perfect in short or long bursts, running over pedestrians never gets old.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Purging the forces of chaos in as violent a way possible is oddly soothing.
  • Rebel Galaxy Outlaw - When I feel the need to jump in a Beluga and take out a bunch of assholes, this game fits the bill. I especially love murdering ejected pilots. Their screams are a balm on my soul.
Veloxi wrote:

[*] Rebel Galaxy Outlaw - When I feel the need to jump in a Beluga and take out a bunch of assholes, this game fits the bill. I especially love murdering ejected pilots. Their screams are a balm on my soul.

What?! I've been logging those jerks back to jail for measely 250 credits but I could shoot them?

Euro Truck Simulator 2, Animal Crossing, Wurm Online, monster tamers (pokemon, dragon quest monsters, monster hunter stories, siralim, etc) in general (I play for the collecting/breeding/exploring more than anything else), exploring in Elite Dangerous, and dammit Robear just made me go buy this intergalactic fishing game.

Stele wrote:
Veloxi wrote:

[*] Rebel Galaxy Outlaw - When I feel the need to jump in a Beluga and take out a bunch of assholes, this game fits the bill. I especially love murdering ejected pilots. Their screams are a balm on my soul.

What?! I've been logging those jerks back to jail for measely 250 credits but I could shoot them?

Oh yes, and their screams are delicious.

Satisfactory and Factorio have been my chill-out games recently. There's just something delightful about establishing a system within a set of given rules and watching it all tick over like clockwork. Satisfactory is especially delightful for this, as it's a beautiful game and it's possible to create some truly soaring structures with massive vertical conveyor belts. At first I was a little bummed that gravity and clipping didn't seem to apply to foundations, but after I established my glass-floored factory floating over a lake, I was on-board with that decision. Haha!

I also enjoyed Subnautica immensely. There's certainly some tension here and there, but tooling around the sunlit shallows and admiring some of the larger, deeper areas is wonderfully relaxing.

I also enjoy Factorio with no monsters on for chilling. Just expanding and upgrading and knocking off TODO list items.

I also love to chill with No Man's Sky occassionally.