7 Video Games to Play When Feeling Stressed

Life can be stressful; there is no denying that. Many people have ways of relieving stress, whether it be attending a yoga class, going for a walk, hanging out with friends or even playing video games. Here are seven video games you can play to relieve stress. 

1. Stardew Valley 

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Stardew Valley title screen. Screen capture by Caroline Bagby.

Stardew Valley is marketed as a farming simulator, but it is so much more than that. The gameplay does heavily revolve around farming, but quests from the citizens of Pelican Town, the neighboring village, pour in and the player forms friendships with the residents. Mine, fish, forge and plant your way into the hearts of those around you.The way you play is completely up to you. As you play, you can choose the skills you want to be proficient in. The music and overall atmosphere promote a sense of calm and tranquility within the player. The characters you meet along the way make the experience that much more delightful. Stardew Valley is available on all platforms.   

2. Slime Rancher

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Slime Rancher is described as a “life simulation game” that is exactly what the title implies. You play as Beatrix LeBeau, a young rancher who tries her hand at wrangling the squishy creatures. The gameplay is relaxed with music to match. With no set plot, you can play however you like without having to worry about ruining the story. The only worry is keeping your gelatinous buddies well-fed. As you progress, more slime types appear, such as gold or party slimes, which yield a higher selling price to improve your ranch. This game is a must-play for those who enjoy cute creatures and farming simulators. Slime Rancher is available on Mac OS, Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One or Linxus. 

3. Animal Crossing

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Animal Crossing is a social simulation game that revolves around doing fun activities like fishing, catching bugs, decorating, fossil hunting, etc. The game has no real direction, allowing the player to do as they wish. This game simulates the real passage of time, following the seasons and adding the element of patience to the game. The series of games is known for its high levels of customization and item collection, both of which determine certain outcomes, such as character catchphrases as well as village names and anthems, later in the loose plot line. This game is a must for anyone who adores cute characters and collectibles. Animal Crossing is available on Nintendo devices, including the Nintendo Switch and DS iterations, and mobile.

4. Candle Man

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Platformers are not for everyone, but Candle Man takes the rage-inducing game type to a new, lower level with its serene aura. You play as a candle with legs, hopping through different spaces, lighting fellow candles and seeking the light. Like any platformer, gameplay starts out easy and increases in difficulty as you progress, but the game never loses its charm or calming elements. Candle Man is available on Windows, Mac OS, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.  

5. Minecraft

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Everyone knows or has played Minecraft at one point or another, but this incredible game has made a comeback in the past year. With an astounding sound track and simplistic controls, this game is for everyone. This is another play-any-way-you-wish type game with the only end goal being to defeat the Ender Dragon, but that isn’t required. Whether you’re getting all 103 achievements or playing around with redstone engineering, you will always be able to find something to do that piques your interest. This game is available on all platforms, including mobile! 

6. Everything

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Everything is a strange simulator where you play as, well, everything. You troll through the universe switching between organisms as small as a cell or as large as the sun, finding bits and pieces of a seminar being told by an ominous, yet calming, voice about “what is.” This is truly something new. The slightly ridiculous movement mechanics partnered with the soothing anonymous seminar make for a unique relaxation experience to distract from the stressors of the outside world. To get the full experience, I recommend you play with headphones. Everything is available on Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Mac OS and Linxus platforms. 

7. Little Inferno

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In this game the player does exactly what the title implies: you burn stuff! While the main focus is setting things on fire, there is an intriguing plot line about the environment, your upstairs neighbor and lighting things on fire. The game tracks progress by the sale of product magazines, which sell the player items to burn in their fireplace, and letters from your strange neighbor, Sugar Plumps. There is no soundtrack to the game.The only sounds are from the fireplace, the strange items you burn and the upbeat music in the opening menu. Little Inferno is available on all platforms. 

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