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SickBoy

Your favorite chillout, little/no-stress, fairly peaceful games

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My games library would make me appear as I've lost my mind to ask this, but the past few years in particular I've gotten extremely tired of games where you killkillkill, have gut-clenching timers, make a single mistake and everything is all nuclear sandwiches and laser babies (you know the ones), etc. Plus, carpal tunnel just gets to the point where you can't be as twitchy as you'd like and your brain is a good half-minute behind those new super teens they're pumping out.

So what primarily single-player, due to the incideous nature of strangers in the same environment, games do you play (new, old, digital, tabletop, only in your head) when you just want to relax and take your time? They don't necessarily have to be mindless or simple.

Adventure games have mostly held that place in my heart, and there are decades worth that I could list, so I won't. There are some good tabletop games out there that one can play solitaire without much stress (Arkham Horror is fan-freakin-tastic solo)... and good ol' Free Cell and Minesweeper never caused me any pain. The DF library has some gems in it of course, Stacking fitting quite nicely.

Lately though, I've gotten into theHunter (a decade prior: Deer Hunter 2005). Now, yes, it's not *technically* peaceful, but half the time you're just sitting in a tree quacking at the deer you previously scared away anyways, so... yeah. Also, what I actually find the most enjoyable about it isn't the actual hunting (much of the time I don't even bother with it). I just like watching fields of grass sway, exploring the scenery, stealthily tracking the animals and watching them do their animaly thing. Archery practice is pretty entertaining as well. And taking artistic photos of animal poop. It started as something that made me giggle incessantly, but now it's become so, so much more...

The other fairly recent game I've gotten into for chill times is Banished. It certainly *can* be stressful, so it's more of an iffy choice, but you can easily mod out the disasters and just watch a populous go about their lives. Maybe one winter you forgot to cloth everyone and they all froze, but it's not my fault they don't just get big fluffy dogs for snuggling.

Some others I won't babble quite as much about:

- Octodad (too much fun to be had just messing with everything to care that it *does* have some time-sensitive bits)

- Audiosurf (depending on the modes and songs you choose, of course)

- Viscera Cleanup Detail (not *actively* violent, but you're cleaning up horrific gore, so I suppose only tranquil for the desensitized... what has the internet done to us?)

- Pool Nation (playing with trick shots in particular is incredibly fun)

- all manner of sandbox games (GMOD, Blockland, Minecraft, etc).. though for obvious reasons single-player/friends-only

I also have a massive amount of primarily Japanese visual novels I could mention, but so many folks like to complain at the supposed 'non-gameness' of them (let's slide right by what it means to have drastically different cultures, I guess), so I won't encourage the pitchforks.

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"Die komplette Serie"... but it's missing Revelations and End of Ages...

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1. A good puzzle-based game. Some examples: Space Chem or Gyromancer or Runespell: Overture.

2. I loOoOOove Myst, Riven, and Exile (aka Myst 1, 2, and 3), but they don't run super well on modern machines.

3. A good sim (e.g. Roller Coaster Tycoon). Favorite free browser-based sim = Rebuild / Rebuild 2

4. Harvest Moon (PS1 or GBA versions are teh best)

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Since you like minesweeper you might like the Hexcells series. They're basically a cross of minesweeper and nonograms but with more depth in game mechanics. The latest one comes with a random puzzle generator that is surprisingly good, though the puzzles are easier and less interesting than the designed ones.

For a chill sandbox experience I quite like Goat Simulator. There are various goals to strive after but it's also a ton of fun to just run around and do crazy stuff and cause destruction.

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I'm sure most people wouldn't agree with me on the relaxing aspect, but one game I like to play for relaxing is FTL.

Other games in the relaxation category would be OpenTTD, Colonization, FreeCiv, Tropico 3, Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, Floating Point, Gunpoint, Rock of Ages, various DRODs.

And on my tablet Sudoku, Carcasonne, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Threes, Flow Free.

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Arkham Horror is a b*tch to set up, though.

I've been casually playing The Binding of Isaac for the last few years, if you can consider a game where you shoot blood-soaked tears at horribly mutated babies peaceful. There were a few years where I didn't really have much time for games, but before that I used to fire up Morrowind for the same purpose. And before that, Discworld MUD, I guess.

Oh, and I wouldn't mind hearing about some of those visual novels, personally.

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Oooh! Crayon Physics Deluxe is a good one. That game is so relaxing it puts me to sleep. That sounds like I'm insulting it and saying that it's boring, but I'm not! I love Crayon Physics! That game is just like a lullaby, though. Goodnight, crayons.... zzzz.....

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Since you like minesweeper you might like the Hexcells series.

[...]

For a chill sandbox experience I quite like Goat Simulator. There are various goals to strive after but it's also a ton of fun to just run around and do crazy stuff and cause destruction.

I'll check out Hexcells, it sounds like it would be right up my alley. These days I mostly use a sort of 'all-in-one' suite for my minesweeper-esque puzzle needs: http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/puzzles/ They're pretty standard, often used in puzzle books or stuff like Puzzle Agent (another one of my favorite chill-out games... though I always end up forgetting the jump scares they use) and the Professor Layton series.

I still need to give Goat Simulator a try. My brothers and I grew up with very few games, so the ones we had we played to death and eventually had the most fun just trying to exploit the AI or level geometry in hilariously strange ways (akin to speedrunning glitches.. just without the whole speed part). The early 3D era was a goldmine for that. Also, Halo 1.

Arkham Horror is a b*tch to set up, though.

Once you've done it a ton of times (and assuming you put it all away in an organized fashion), the problem ends up more being space. But I have several digital versions on top of the boxed game (self-made VASSAL, Tabletop Simulator, etc. modules), so new game setup and space are a thing of the past! Nothing compares to the tactile feel of the real deal though.

Prison Architect is also pretty relaxing for an RTS.

I actually just picked up Prison Architect, I just haven't had a chance to play it yet. Been having too much fun with SpacebaseDF9, Clockwork Empires, and StarTopia to get into another in that vein of strategy, though I wouldn't really consider any of those stress-free or peaceful.

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One I forgot in my OP would be: JIGSAW PUZZLES!!! Oh man, I am a total addict for them. In particular ones in a "Where's Waldo", chaotic-cartoon style. They're one of my ultimate chill-out activities, though my extended family is a tad on the insanely competitive side with them, so it's another solo-only for me.

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Check out LYNE. I love it. It's a deceptively simple puzzle game. All you do is connect the dots with lines, but there's quite a bit more thought to it than what that sounds like. There's no time limit and no opponent to play against in the game, so it's perfect for "relaxing" and "chill-out". It has free daily puzzle packs too, so I still play it every now and then when I'm looking to kill some time.

(And as a bonus, its steam achievement icons appear as letters from A-Z, so you can use those to spell out stuff in your profile. :P)

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I find leveling in MMOs to be quite relaxing. Even though this sort of design is generally frowned upon these days, the more "kill 10 kobolds, collect 15 bear asses"-y it is, the more soothing I find it to be since I don't really have to think about it.

I'm very susceptible to stress so it may be of little surprise that I play two different MMOs, both of which have fairly traditional MMO gameplay.

Aside from MMOs, I can echo what Bookdust said about Minecraft. Basically the only thing I do in that game anymore is explore a bunch and maybe build a house.

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Any of the Nancy Drew games. They're delightfully casual and the plots are surprisingly good. Much better than the name would suggest.

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I find Starbound to be incredibly peaceful. The music is just absolutely lovely :)

And maybe try Kentucky Route Zero. It's not "peaceful" per say, but the deliberately slow pace plus the open-ended writing make for spans of time when it's just you, thinking, speculating about the story, being absorbed into the game world (ah, typing this out now made me realize how freakin amazing the design of the first episode is :D). I find that quite relaxing, if not a bit lonely at times.

And maybe the beginning of Little Pink Best Buds :P.

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Beat Hazard to the music of Jean Baudin.

I have yet to try the patched Beat Hazard with chill music.. wasn't sure how the gameplay would work. Back in its initial release, chill music was a death sentence because it would be practically impossible to succeed at various boss fights and the like, but most of my beef with BH has been fixed since then, so I'll have to give it another shot. Though, bullethell-like shooters aren't exactly the ideal chillout for me.

Any of the Nancy Drew games. They’re delightfully casual and the plots are surprisingly good. Much better than the name would suggest.

Pish posh, Nancy Drew books were awesome. Hardy Boys too. And Boxcar Kids. Any series that gives kids the joy of mysteries, critical thinking, problem solving, pattern recognition, etc. is gold in my book. Without them, I wouldn't be who I am today... well, the good parts, at least. I haven't tried the games, but I will now. They managed to slip through the cracks of nostalgia somehow.

I find Starbound to be incredibly peaceful. The music is just absolutely lovely smile

And maybe try Kentucky Route Zero. It’s not “peaceful” per say, but the deliberately slow pace plus the open-ended writing make for spans of time when it’s just you, thinking, speculating about the story, being absorbed into the game world (ah, typing this out now made me realize how freakin amazing the design of the first episode is :D). I find that quite relaxing, if not a bit lonely at times.

And maybe the beginning of Little Pink Best Buds raspberry.

Couldn't agree more with Starbound. I'm just waiting for the next stable release. I've messed with the nightlies quite a bit, as well as extensive mods on the stable branch, but I have an internal max for in-development games to play at once and unfortunately I've reached that limit. But hey, the next stable update is going to be mind-blowingly awesome. Here's to hoping the major mod authors will be willing to update!

Going to be giving Kentucky Route Zero a shot in the next day or two. I remember seeing the game, but forgot to bookmark and completely forgot what the name was. Thanks for reminding me!

LPBB was cool even in the 'end' for me (that kind of philosophical implication and whatnot isn't stressful for me personally [i've embraced the abyss]). I just kinda wished it hadn't had the forced progression. For the casual passerby, sure, but I would have loved to have been stumped for weeks if not months on trying to figure out how to progress (bugs, incomplete chat botting, etc. and all), all the while enjoying my silly little conversations with my buds (even if they ultimately ended up being impossible to progress with). Also, I <3 hole... the bestest of toothy nightmarish buds.

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Another potentially odd suggestion popped into my head: Shenmue (in particular the fan undub). Yes, it can get incredibly stressful and violent during the course of the game, but just wandering around, checking stuff out, popping in for a quick bite of ramen... gah, why aren't more games based in Japan and freeroam?!

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Another potentially odd suggestion popped into my head: Shenmue (in particular the fan undub). Yes, it can get incredibly stressful and violent during the course of the game, but just wandering around, checking stuff out, popping in for a quick bite of ramen... gah, why aren't more games based in Japan and freeroam?!
Try Yakuza. Aside from the random street fights, they're pretty open world.

Or Sleeping Dogs! That's like GTA in Hong Kong, so there's that. Goes on sale all the time, too.

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Beat Hazard to the music of Jean Baudin.

I have yet to try the patched Beat Hazard with chill music.. wasn't sure how the gameplay would work. Back in its initial release, chill music was a death sentence because it would be practically impossible to succeed at various boss fights and the like, but most of my beef with BH has been fixed since then, so I'll have to give it another shot. Though, bullethell-like shooters aren't exactly the ideal chillout for me.

Beat Hazard has a "chill out mode" where there's no penalty for failure. You just get to keep shooting things to the music.

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Tie between, 2048, tetris, flower, cloud (same dev as flower and journey), journey, garry's mod, half life 2 deathmatch, portal and tf2.

For me though i tend to go to alternative, biographical comics when i want to chill out since it lets me escape thinking about my life since i feel its a great medium for seeing the world from another's eyes.

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Hohokum on PS4 was pretty good for this, in the spirit of the original question.

But actually peversely, AAA action games are becoming my go-to stress reliever games.

A couple of weekends ago I had just come off a super busy and stressful work week, and I was coming down with a cold, and I was alone in the flat for the weekend. And I realised: you know what would really hit the spot right now? A mindless but competent shooter with fancy graphics. So I got Destiny even though I knew reviews had been lukewarm, because it was exactly the game I needed for the moment. And it did the trick!

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