Stressed out ? These Games Will Help

Compiled by Ash Bates

Compiled by Ash Bates

Video games often get a bad rap for a number of reasons, whether they’re justified or not. If it’s not the mainstream media unfairly blaming them for a mass shooting or tragedy, it’s the fans themselves doing the industry a disservice by being less than friendly to others. That’s putting it mildly.

But video games have plenty of benefits. They can improve more physical aspects such as your hand-eye coordination, or they can be educational. Games like Assassin’s Creed, though soaked in sci-fi shenanigans, are filled with interesting historical details.

Perhaps what’s less spoken about is how games can improve your mental health. Beyond the hyper competitive Call of Duty or Fortnite lobbies are a wealth of games designed to offer more unique and often uplifting experiences designed to help relieve feelings of stress. Here, we’ll list five of the best ones.

Minecraft

One of the most popular and well recognised games in history, Minecraft is primarily intended to be a survival game. You gather resources, build shelters, defeat monsters to craft better gear and so on. It’s enjoyable, though the stress of returning to base with an inventory full of diamond without dying can be a bit too much.

That all changes once you flick the switch to Creative mode though. Suddenly, you become a god in this cube based world, able to fly around and summon items at a whim. It’s here that you can really let your imagination run wild, as you’re free to build whatever comes to mind. For anyone with a shred of artistic quality, Minecraft is a perfect tool for channeling those creative pursuits.

Journey

Often featured on many a top 10 list of the greatest indie games ever made, Journey is just that: a journey. You play as a mysterious and unknown entity, exploring the ruins of a once prosperous civilisation with the goal of reaching a mountain that dominates the horizon.

Though there are some enemies you have to avoid in the later stages of the game, the bulk of your time in Journey is spent exploring, soaking in the scenery and enjoying the frankly stunning soundtrack. You can also encounter other players during your playthrough, and you can form brief but memorable bonds with total strangers.

Despite containing no dialogue or real story direction, Journey still manages to tug on the heartstrings during its admittedly short playtime, and the ending is nothing short of wonderful. The relatively low stakes and slower pace make Journey a perfect game to reduce stress.

The Katamari Series

For our next game, we turn to Japan for the Katamari series. Stick with me here, because they’re a little bit absurd. You play as the Prince of all The Cosmos, sent to Earth by your father, The King, to roll around a ball that collects stuff off the floor. The more you roll, the bigger the ball gets, allowing you to roll bigger items and so on.

Though the majority of the game is spent completing challenges that operate under time constraints, most Katamari games tend to offer an endless challenge that you can end whenever you feel like. There’s something therapeutic and satisfying about watching your Katamari go from the size of a coin to rolling up entire planets. The bonkers nature of the Katamari series might not be for everyone, but it’s always worth giving it a go.

Stardew Valley/Harvest Moon

Another low stakes game designed to relax you, Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon both put you in control of a farmer who has just become the owner of a decent plot of land. It’s up to you to farm crops, manage your animals and forge relationships within the village.

Despite their similarities, both games differ in a number of key ways. Harvest Moon games like A Wonderful Life include things like aging for all characters, allowing you to grow more attached to characters by witnessing them literally grow. Meanwhile, Stardew Valley offers more in terms of engaging game mechanics. Either way, both games can offer hours upon hours of chill gaming.

DOOM (2016)

The previous games on this list are all designed to help promote feelings of calm, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Sometimes you just need to let off a bit of steam, by bashing a demon’s skull in with your bare hands. DOOM is the perfect vehicle for that.

A reboot of one of the most celebrated and iconic first person shooters in history, DOOM is a non-stop, intense thrill ride into the belly of the beast, as you cut a bloody swathe through the legions of hell. There’s something inherently cathartic about laying waste to an endless horde of monsters, leaving behind a trail of blood, dust and guts in your wake.

No, I’m well-adjusted. Stop asking.