Video games can be entertaining, but when you’re stressed out and antsy from practicing responsible social distancing, they aren’t always the most relaxing way to spend your time. Rushing through ultra-difficult platforming games and shooting your way across a chaotic online battlefield aren’t on any lists of stress relievers that I’ve read.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled a list of some of our favorite games to play when you’re trying to zone out and unwind. We focused on inexpensive games that are available on multiple platforms, so you don’t need to drop a bunch of money on new gaming hardware, and many of these titles should be approachable and fun to play even if you haven’t picked up a game in a while or don’t normally play video games at all.

If you miss going outside

Available on: PCMacPlayStation 4Xbox OneSwitchiOSAndroid, others

This is the Platonic ideal of a chill-out game. Stardew Valley is ostensibly a farming simulator, but it also has exploration, puzzle-solving, dating, fishing, cooking, and a healthy dose of the occult. It can be a little overwhelming at first, but its easy-to-learn-hard-to-master mechanics will suck you in without stressing you out too much. It helps that the game runs on practically anything with buttons and a screen (it even comes included with new Chromebook purchases right now).

Firewatch

Available on: PCMacPlayStation 4Xbox OneSwitch

Playing this first-person adventure game and walking simulator will almost remind you what it was like to leave the house. Explore the lush Shoshone National Forest as a solitary fire lookout who stumbles upon more mystery than he bargained for.

A Short Hike

Available on: PCMac

In this short, colorful game, you play as a bird that’s climbing a mountain. Enjoy the adorable character design and the autumnal color palette as you dig up treasure and chat with the locals.

Journey available on: PCPlayStation 4iOS
Abzu available on: PCPlayStation 4Xbox OneSwitch

These two games, developed by most of the same people, each feature silent protagonists navigating through visually arresting worlds (in Journey, a lonely desert; in Abzu, an ocean filled with life). Neither is very long or very deep, but both give you lots to look at and listen to. They’re the game equivalent of slowing down to take a few deep, measured breaths.

Mellow and enchanting

Tetris Effect

Available on: PCPlayStation 4

If you were to put all the versions of Tetris on an anxiety spectrum, the Nintendo Switch’s frantic and claustrophobic Tetris 99 would be all the way at one end, and Tetris Effect would be on the other. It’s still Tetris, just with stunning sound design and spacey visual effects. Turn off the lights, plug in your good headphones, and enjoy.

Monument Valley

Available on: iOSAndroid
Sequel available on: iOSAndroid

If an Escher painting were made into a game, Monument Valley (and its sequel) would be the result. Challenging but never impossible, this is a good choice if you just want to chip away at something a couple of puzzles at a time.

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