Whether you’re a student who is finishing the semester, one of the many people who are a part of the moving fiasco that comes with summer sun, or just trying to unwind from your every day stresses, we all look for simple ways to relax. A few weeks ago I discovered the “relaxation” tag on Steam and started to explore the often small, cheap games that I found.
I was really pleasantly surprised and found quite a few games that were designed to be just relaxing and fun. They are mostly five dollars or less, because when I’m stressed out the last thing I want to worry about is how much I’m spending on my games. Here are my top five favorites so far.
1. Lyne (Thomas Bowker)
Lyne is essentially a connect the dots game. Given different types of dots, you have to connect the similar ones to make patterns, and are presented with new types of shapes and interactions as the game progresses. There is a really quick scrolling screen in between levels that I found a little bit jarring, but overall it is fun and satisfying to play. You can purchase it here for $2.99.
2. Refunct (Dominique Greishofer)
Refunct is a platformer in the simplest sense of the word. At the start of the game there is water expanding in all directions, and platforms that you can jump on. When you do grass springs up around you. You have to hop, swim and jump your way to a beacon. When you reach it, more platforms come up out of the water for you to visit and bestow greenery upon. That is the entirety of the game. The music that goes with it is relaxing, and even though you can swim through the water you have no stats to worry about, so you will never drown and never be racing against the clock. This is one that I keep a shortcut to on my desktop for particularly difficult weeks. You can purchase it here for $2.99.
3. Zenge (Hamster On Coke Games)
Zenge is the cheapest of the games I’ve found so far and one of the most charming. If you enjoy slider puzzles, I highly recommend Zenge. You’re told a very simple story through the images that you complete by sliding pieces in to place. I am not usually a huge fan of slider puzzles – I always end up sliding the same 3 pieces back and forth, confused as to why I can’t get that one corner piece in the right place – but I really enjoyed Zenge because it is so simple and intuitive. It’s complex enough to be challenging, without blocking you from continuing the game. You can purchase it here for $0.99.
4. Botanicula (Amanita Design)
Botanicula is the most expensive on this list because it is a little bit of a bigger game than the rest. From the creators of Machinarium, Botanicula is a fun adventure game at the almost microscopic level, taking place at the level of tree leaves and buds, and tiny insects. A point and click adventure with really adorable animation and art style, Botanicula is one that I would recommend to anyone who likes simple animation and just a really cute, fun time. You can purchase it here for $9.99.
5. Collisions (2DEngine)
If physics puzzles are your thing, oh man do I have a game for you. Collisions is a series of physics puzzles where you are moving a ball through the environment using gravity, flippers, drops, plungers and springs. This is another game that I really enjoyed the background music to, and that let me relax in to playing and figuring out the game itself. A really simple silhouette industrial style silhouette gives it excellent atmosphere without being overwhelming. You can purchase it here for $3.99.
All of these games are pretty light, so they won’t slow down your computer, and are intentionally easy on the wallet. I am definitely someone that sometimes gets intimidated by video games, so finding ones that are accessible and enjoyable feels great to me. What do you play to relax after a long day?