The year is 2021 and just like the year before I’m back in a lockdown quarantine situation. This pandemic has been hitting us hard and has everyone one around us in all sorts of ways. Some have lost people, gotten sick, while others have breezed on through. I’m telling you this pandemic really put things into perspective. Such as I’m never wearing pants without a stretchy waistband again. But on the more serious side the last couple of years have really put a mental strain on most of us. And sometimes it’s great to just escape into a mindless world where you can relax. I know that some of these games have definitely helped calm me down and I hope they’ll help you too.
Viridi by Ice Water Games
Not so much a game but a gardening simulator. Viridi lets you nurture a small pot of succulents that grow in real-time. Think of this as looking at a calming view outside your window. A tranquil moment of peace and quiet that’s always there whenever you need it. All the beautiful growth of the plants without the actual stress of taking care of a plant. These virtual babies are definitely more resilient than their IRL brethren.
You will need to put in a tiny bit of effort though. Remember to weed and water your succulents. However watch out because they can die from over- or under-watering.
Viridi is free to try and comes with your choice of plant assortment. The game offers in-app purchases in the form of your favourite plants from the in-game nursery. Remember to visit the nursery occasionally for your weekly free seeding!
Hidden Folks by Adriaan de Jongh
A hand-drawn, hidden objects game in delightfully charming miniature interactive landscapes. Created by indie Dutch game developer Adriaan de Jongh, the game is heavily built upon artist Sylvain Tegroeg‘s detailed drawings that were discovered at his graduate art show.
If you’ve played Where’s Wally when you were young then you’ll be familiar with the concept of this game. The lovely, deceptively simple monochrome line drawings are bursting with life and teeming with animations. The game takes full advantage of the interactive nature of its delivery, without getting carried away with it. Long grasses can be clicked on to swipe them down, tent flaps unfurl to reveal what’s inside, suspicious eyes in a tree when tapped will often send a hidden person tumbling to the ground. Perhaps clicking on a car will have it roll out of the way to reveal an object, or an X on the ground might let you dig a hole. What’s so ideal about these is that they’re small, precise without being unwieldy and overly complicated.
Tsuki Adventure by HyperBeard
“Tsuki was lonely. A stressful job. A thankless boss. A busy, chaotic life in a noisy city. But one day with the arrival of a plain letter… everything changed for Tsuki.” So reads the description of Tsuki Adventure.
Tsuki’s Adventure begins with him inheriting a carrot farm in the rural village of Mushroom. There you can grow your carrots, send Tsuki to fish or fly a kite. It’s a mostly hands-off game that you return to every once in a while to see what Tsuki is doing. But there are some interactive objects and other things you can do. Talk to the villagers, catch fish, buy items and come in and different times of the day to be rewarded.
Gris by Nomada Studio
Did you ever hear the term misery loves company? While Gris is calming in its own way, but it can be completely emotionally overwhelming in others. I contemplated not putting this in the list but it could be just the thing that you might need at the moment. Not to mention the game is drop dead gorgeous and the soundtrack is phenomenal.
Gris tells the story of a a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality. As the story unfolds, Gris will grow emotionally and see her world in a different way, revealing new paths to explore using her new abilities.
A serene and evocative experience, free of danger, frustration or death. Players will explore a meticulously designed world brought to life with delicate art, detailed animation, and an elegant original score.