What is your Stress Relief Game?

I’ve beaten Abzu 2 or 3 times now and still haven’t found another game that I connect with in the same way. Most of the time I don’t even play through a level, I just pop into one of the game’s prettiest environments and let it wash over me for a little while. There’s also an explicit “meditation” mode in the game that allows you to just take in what all the fish in the level are doing without needing any inputs from you. Really calms me.

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That bit with the whales is one of those gaming experiences that’s just permanently burned into my brain.

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For me it’s either Elite: Dangerous or No Man’s Sky. Both scratch a similar itch, but provide different sorts of relief.

Elite is for when I want to be more contemplative and inward seeking. When flying through space in this game there really isn’t much besides you and the blackness just outside. Last time I played I spent around 12 hours just traveling wherever I felt like going. Scanning and collecting information further outside the bubble than I’ve ever been. Millions of miles away from any other human.
I was going through some stuff and needed the space to figure things out for myself. In the end it helped me figure out a way forward that I could at least be satisfied with.
My ship is still floating out there. Somewhere. I’ll get back to it eventually. When I need it.

No Man’s Sky when I wanna smoke weed and escape to an absurd space adventure where I can name a strange furry creature Frombid Doudou, from the planet Neo Couve found in the star system WOOPWOOPWOOP. It’s for when the source of my stress isn’t anything I can do something about and it’s better left just pushed aside and forgotten about instead of being lost in it.

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Cruising around in Forza Horizon 4 is helping me stay grounded right now. Theres something really relaxing (and aspirational, tbh. Im likely never going to be able to actually drive any of my favourite cars that are in the game) about hopping into a 1974 Corolla or a 1999 Civic and just driving around the countryside.

Related: the Rivals mode in Forza Horizon/Motorsport is also super relaxing. It’s just a time trial mode where you race against other player’s ghosts around circuits and try to beat their lap times, and it will download new ghosts dynamically if you manage to do it. I’ve always really enjoyed time trials because of the repetition and memorization involved with shaving precious milliseconds off a time. Just really calms me down and I’ve found that I need that in this specific moment.

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Slay the Spire. Calm repeatable game where I know the layout know the pieces on the board and can take risks and slight deviations in routine in peace. Unlike a lot of other things in my life right now.

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No Mans Sky for me, never seen such a peaceful game.
it’s the most relaxing game in my steam library out of about 200 games, but NMS to chill

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Either a really hard game like a from soft one, so I can transfer stress onto it and overcome a challange, or something like journey (I’ved played it a couple times a year since it released and it still gets me) for some good ol’ fashioned mood management and chill vibes.

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Hidden Folks is currently my go to calming game right now. Its pretty cute and gives me nostalgia for the I Spy books from my childhood.

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RuneScape! (the modern one not the old one). Modern RuneScape has really embraced the parts of it that would now be considered an idle, but also has intensive stuff like good ole quests, and boss fighting. There’s a ton of low intensity skilling you can do in that game, that I love to do when I’m stressed, and can’t handle much.

I just started Okami.

That.

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Shuttle is my favourite game and also stress relief game. I like it very much when i feel sad i just go to my garden and play shuttle with my father.

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For me it has been XCOM 2 if only because while playing it I can only focus on how to get my squad out of a mission alive.

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Runescape or another playthrough of dead rising 1

The old republic at the moment. Probably gonna get p4 golden in a little while and switch to that

I find it interesting how often answers are either “game I could play while half asleep” or “game that makes me work hard to kick its butt”

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Now its Super Mega Baseball 3.

With sports coming back and being less than ethical i created a 24 team league and am documenting the season on twitter for my 3 friends who will put up with me.

Corona League Baseball (@corona_baseball): https://twitter.com/corona_baseball?s=09

tooling around in Destiny 2 doing low stakes missions while listening to podcasts has absolutely kept me together over the last few years. something about splitting my attention between a show and the game has helped me zone out and chill quite a bit

Yeah, I can second Destiny 2. It’s definitely a nice “stress relief game” it feels good to shoot stuff, and you can establish a somewhat methodical routine to playing it and have fun without feeling stressed or worried.

Mine used to be D2, also. But nowadays I’ve moved to PSO2. At least until Beyond Light I guess.

Have multiple stress relief games as different types of stress need to be dealt with different ways I guess.

FINANCIAL STRESS:

  • NBA 2K20 - Maybe an odd choice for a variety of reasons including the micro-transaction base of the game. I don’t deal with that, I focus on my franchise mode where I turn the Knicks into a dynasty. My brain simultaneously shuts off when playing the game but with bursts of “oh wow I can open up some cap space with this trade”. And that’s that extra layer of relief on the finance side, opening up cap space to sign a star. Maybe I won’t be taking a vacation soon but I can sign Paul George. I am in control of my franchise’s finance and I am turning this ship around.

FEEL LIKE I FAILED AT MY JOB STRESS:

  • Soulsborne - Games with deep levels of stress but immense tension relief. I don’t recommend this for everyone as there are times this backfires and I despite hammering my head against something I won’t be able to pass a boss that would have given me the Good Feels.
  • Dauntless - A game that I start my day with because watching the numbers go up makes me feel good. I usually play a Patrol per morning so if I’m feeling like work has beaten me or I did something that made me feel like I messed up, getting a few runs in here makes me feel a little bit better about a whole slew of things

OVERALL STRESS WHERE IT IS A VARIETY OF LITTLE THINGS THAT OVERWHELM:

  • Game Organizing - When a lot of things are piling up that’s when I start looking through the “Video Game Book Club Podcasts” I listen to and go through the lists of games and see if I have them through GOG Galaxy. If I do then they get that sweet tag of the podcast they are aligned with. Maybe that ends up being multiple. This helps create sort of guide to the backlog that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Probably won’t play any of those games immediately but I have a path forward if I need it and sometimes when I’m stressed I just want to create a path towards “accomplishments” even if the path itself is the accomplishment.
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Lately if I’m feeling stressed I’ll play Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! on zen mode. There’s just something about chill jazz and serving up delicious virtual meals that calms my nerves.

I also find cooking in real life relaxing so maybe that’s not a huge surprise.

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