Truck Simulator | Or any simulator
When you first hear about it, Truck Simulator sounds like a pretty boring game. You’re a truck driver and your job is to make deliveries from one city to another. You’re not even supposed to drive crazily; you’re supposed to obey the traffic laws and you actually get penalties for each one you violate. In spite of all this, it’s actually really fun and satisfying, and because the gameplay is so chill, it makes you feel pretty chill too. Any simulator game can be played to get this feeling of enjoyment, even Goat Simulator! (Much lauded for its accurate representations of goats)
Animal Crossing | Any one of them
The main gist of any Animal Crossing game is that players move into a new town and spend their days building up relationships with villagers, harvesting fruit, fishing, catching bugs, decorating their house, and tackling any of the almost innumerable other activities that comprise one’s Animal Crossing life. It doesn’t sound like a to-do list that would necessarily make for the most enthralling game, but that’s exactly what it amounts to. There’s something about the relaxing rhythm of each activity that keeps you coming back for more, bolstered by the subtle yet effective way the game incentivizes you to keep playing, keep collecting, and generally keep on ticking.
Undertale | Pacifist Path
This indie game made its appearance in 2015 and was an instant hit. I definitely recommend it if you want to wind down but only on the condition you do a pacifist run. When you play the game this way, it’s fun and endearing. You’re a little girl in a world of monsters and you befriend them, interact with them and get to learn about all their quirks and backstories. It’s quite unlike any other RPG where you compliment and talk your way out of fights instead of taking part in them. That is of course, unless you choose the genocide route where the game is much shorter, and you literally feel like Satan once you’re done.
Little Inferno | For Pyromaniacs
The point of this game is to just burn things in different ways and combinations; that’s literally it. It’s been described as a game with few objectives to complete and no way to lose. When you start burning things you become hypnotised as the realistic fire effects consume everything in sight. Every once in a while burnt objects will drop coins, which you can use to purchase bigger and better items to burn. It’s basically a game to soothe your inner nine-year-old.
Just Cause 2 | The multiplayer one
Just Cause 2 isn’t exactly the most relaxing game. It has large maps and a huge variety of quests to complete. The free multiplayer mod however is just insane and open-ended fun. There are no goals, no tasks, and no missions. You spawn on the map in a complete free fall, with as many as a thousand other players enjoying a giant sandbox of crazy. Join a race or a destruction derby, steal a plane and land it on a highway—with your buddy riding up top. Or just run around like a madman and shoot everyone in sight. If you ask yourself, “What am I supposed to do now?” you’re playing it wrong.
Pokémon | All games after 2003
Pokémon is a largely popular franchise and when you first look at it, it’s hard not to see why. The games are filled with all sorts of colourful, cute and cool looking creatures which you can capture, befriend and battle with. The eternal quest to catch them all is a sure and fast way to get addicted and with no drastic elements like death or destruction, the kid-friendly games are a nice way to relax in your down time. As a recommendation, only play the games released after 2003 because that’s when they really refined their gameplay; also because the original games do not age well.