There was a time when relaxing games were seen as something strange. However, that was quite some time ago, meaning that there are now plenty of relaxing games that can be found out there. The Animal Crossing series are some of the best-known, but they are by no means on their own.
1. Graveyard Keeper
Graveyard Keeper is a simulation RPG that took inspiration from both the older Harvest Moon games and the much more recent Stardew Valley. The resemblance between it and its sources of inspiration is obvious. However, Graveyard Keeper manages to stand out very well for a wide range of reasons. To name an example, it is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, which is to say, a game in which the player becomes responsible for running a graveyard. As such, one of the first set of missions sees the player harvesting building materials, processing building materials, and then using the results to fix up the deteriorated plots in the cemetary in their charge. After which, they will become responsible for burying the bodies that are sent to them on a regular basis, which serves as their main source of income for much of the game. Moving on, it is worth mentioning that Graveyard Keeper has a dark, often morbid sense of humor, which is very fitting for a game with its particular premise. This can be seen in how the player can make quite a bit of coin by selling meat of a very dubious origin to the local innkeeper. Similarly, this can be seen in how the supply of bodies will eventually become interrupted by a strike on the part of the cart-pulling donkey, who has become fed up with his not so good working conditions. Still, what makes this game truly interesting is that even though it has a dark setting in which dark things are happening to people who aren’t necessarily very good but nonetheless don’t deserve those dark things happening to them, it is possible for the player to make a difference in their lives for the better.
Unsurprisingly, Minecraft managed to make this list. Chances are good that it doesn’t need much of an introduction because it is the single best-selling game of all time that has been around since 2009. However, Minecraft is a sandbox game set in a procedurally-generated world of 3D blocks, meaning that it offers pretty much infinite replayability. This is particularly true because it comes with a number of ways that it can be played. If people want, they can choose either survival mode or one of the other exciting but stressful modes. In contrast, if people prefer something more relaxing, well, suffice to say that there is an entire mode in which interested individuals can indulge their sense of creativity.
Moonlighter is an action RPG with two main components. First, there is the day-time during which the player manages their shop. This is the part that will enable them to make lots of money that can be spent on purchasing gear upgrades, town upgrades, and other benefits. Second, there is the night-time during which the player go exploring in the local dungeons. This is the part that will provide them with the items for their shop, coming from both beaten enemies and looted chests. There are similar games that can be somewhat stressful, but Moonlighter provides the player with a lot of control over the process, meaning that particular issue has been mitigated.
4. My Time at Portia
In a lot of ways, My Time at Portia is rather reminiscent of the Story of Seasons series. Indeed, interested individuals can do a lot of the same things, with examples including raising crops, raising livestock, and making friends with the local inhabitants. However, if the Story of Seasons series emphasizes farming, My Time at Portia puts more emphasis on building things. Something that can suit people who are in that kind of mood. As for the setting, it is amusing to note that this game can be considered post-post-apocalyptic. Essentially, the old civilization was destroyed. However, humanity managed to survive the destruction, with the result that they have since emerged from their underground shelters to rebuild the world. The player should definitely expect to become involved in that rebuilding in a world that is both familiar and unfamiliar.
5. Rune Factory 4 Special
The Rune Factory series are spinoffs of the Story of Seasons series. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that they are very focused on being a farming simulation. Indeed, if interested individuals want to, they can spend hours and hours earning money by planting a wide range of crops under various circumstances. However, they can do that in the Story of Seasons series, which is even more focused. Meanwhile, Rune Factory 4 and its predecessors stands out in other ways. For starters, the Rune Factory series uses a much more fantasy-themed setting of the sort that is popular in anime as well as anime-adjacent media. As such, a lot of its systems are tailored towards that. For example, interested individuals don’t just buy livestock. Instead, they tame monsters, which serve those plus other roles. Similarly, interested individuals don’t just buy upgrades for their tools. Instead, they can make their own tools as well as their own weapons. After which, they can go adventuring with them. In other words, Rune Factory 4 is a JRPG combined with a farm simulation game, which can be a surprisingly fun combination without being too stressful about it.
6. Stardew Valley
The last couple of decades have been a very good time for indie game developers. After all, the Internet enables them to reach interested audiences in a way that wouldn’t have been possible just a short while ago, thus enabling them to operate even without support from their bigger, better-established counterparts. As such, there has been a huge surge in the number of people interested in indie games, not least because of a number of very successful and thus very well-known indie games that have served as banner-bearers for the rest. One of the best examples would be Stardew Valley, which was made by a single individual named Eric Barone on his own. For those who are curious, Stardew Valley is a simulation RPG that draws inspiration from the Harvest Moon series, which is now called the Story of Seasons series because of a change of translator. As such, much of the game’s focus is on getting a dilapidated farm back into good condition by clearing up the debris, fixing up the damage, and setting up some earners. However, there is no need for interested individuals to get stressed out about this. After all, Stardew Valley is very much an example of a go-at-your-own-pace game, meaning that the player can do as much as they want and as little as they want. Indeed, it should be mentioned that the game comes with a number of different farm layouts that are meant to help interested individuals get started on what they want to do as soon as possible. For example, if someone enjoys fishing, there is a farm layout with a river running through it. Similarly, if someone enjoys fighting, there is a farm layout with monsters running around. On top of this, Stardew Valley has surprisingly decent writing for a game of its kind. Something that stands out well because it touches upon depression, alienation, and other issues that resonate with an older audience without ever feeling forced in the matter. Combined, these characteristics make the game more than deserving of its stellar reputation.
7. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
Speaking of which, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is the first of two Story of Seasons games that will be mentioned here. Strictly speaking, it isn’t quite a new game. This is because Friends of Mineral Town isn’t just a remake, it is the remake of a remake. After all, it can trace its roots back to Back to Nature for the PS1, which was remade as both Friends of Mineral Town and More Friends of Mineral Town for the GBA. Those games were very popular in their own time, which would explain why they were remade one more time as the 3D game being discussed here. In any case, Friends of Mineral Town is much the same as other Story of Seasons games, which is to say, a very relaxing farming simulation game. It retains the core characteristics that made its predecessors great. However, it has been updated for a more modern and more convenient experience, thus making it that much better.
8. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
For a more modern experience, there is Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town. Like its counterparts, it is a farming simulation in which the player can progress in the manner of their choosing. If they want to focus on crops, they can do that; if they want to focus on mining, they can do that; if they want to focus on fishing, they can do that; and so on and so forth. In fact, it is clear that Pioneers of Olive Town has gone to great lengths to make everything more convenient for the player. For example, the locations for fishing and mining are situated close to the player’s farmhouse. Similarly, the player can choose where to put their buildings, thus enabling them to create layouts that are better-suited to their particular preferences. On top of this, Pioneers of Olive Town shows plenty of changes compared to earlier games in the same series, as shown by its much more elaborate crafting system. Better still, the crafting system doesn’t contain unnecessary complexity. Series staples aren’t gated behind multiple layers of crafting complexity. However, it is still worthwhile to progress through those layers because they open up more and more possibilities for interested individuals.
Terraria is another sandbox game. However, it is important to note that it is set in a 2D procedurally-generated world. Technically, there is a story that interested individuals can interact with, but that is very much a matter of personal choice. If the player wants to do something else instead, well, suffice to say that there is nothing preventing them from digging their way deep underground before building their own secret base that will keep them safe and secure from the enemies that can be found out there in the world. Alternatively, interested individuals can also do everything from combat and exploration to building and crafting. Sandbox games offer a great deal of freedom, meaning that they offer incredible replayability.
10. The Sims 4
One could say that The Sims 4 has a long, proud pedigree. After all, it is the latest follow-up to The Sims from 2000, which in turn, was one of the numerous games in the Sim franchise. Something that started up with the first SimCity in 1989. For the most part, the Sim franchise has faded to nothing. However, The Sims 4 is still going strong, as shown by how new content is still being released on a regular basis. As for why this game is still going strong, well, the gist of it is that it has managed to find a niche that it fills very well. In short, The Sims series are life simulation games in which interested individuals oversee the simulated lives of the titular characters in an interactive environment. There are no goals, so they enjoy a considerable degree of freedom. Moreover, the DLC that have been released means that they have been able to do a wider and wider range of things over time, as shown by how the latest expansion pack added country living-related content.