Life can be frustrating, no matter how old you are. There is always something that’s going to get on your nerves and ruin a perfectly fine day. One refuge from all of this are our hobbies, helping us either relax or become too tired to be furious.
As gamers, we have it easy in some respects, and hard in others. On one hand we have dozens, hundreds of games at our disposal, on the other: many of them are very likely to cause more frustration without relieving any.
To make things a tad easier we’ve made a little list of games which can help you either calm down, or vent your anger into remorseless destruction.
Grineer on the other side of the fence
A couple years back developer Digital Extremes created a game largely based around grind: grind for ability-boosting mods, grind for resources for crafting, grind for crafting recipes… It may sound boring, but has some features making it great for the list.
For one: the missions are pretty short on their own, taking maybe fifteen minutes each, depending on how well you’re doing. There are also no consequences for losing, at worst you simply don’t get the resources you gathered, but that’s easily rectified when you play that mission node again. Yeah, replay. If you’ve played a node before, you can play it at any time, as often as you want.
It results in pretty easy way to descend into a favourite routine, and you always work towards something new, be it a new “character”, weapon, or maybe unlocking a schematic in your clan’s dojo.
Besides, shooting and using character abilities looks great, and your mobility is a blast.
9. Just Cause (pick any)
The original agent of mayhem
Just Cause, especially the later entries, are something of a treat, and can in a way be treated like a highly explosive sandbox. The protagonist is James Bond by way of John Woo and Michael Bay, causing indiscriminate mayhem anywhere he wants.
And being able to mess around with the tools you’re given can be pretty liberating. Especially the zipline in Just Cause 3 provides ample opportunities to make the game’s physics engine to have a momentary breakdown, which almost always makes for some really amusing turns of events.
Just Cause doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes it even easier to have a more or less good-natured fun with it. Which always works great against anger.
Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar
Unlike the previous two games, Journey is much more about calming down, rather than venting. This game won’t have you vanquish your enemies, barely has explicit narrative, and it’s focused predominantly on traveling through a stunning desert, jumping and gliding through the air.
In some sense it is something of an artistic experience rather than a game in popular sense, but the subtle music, beautiful environmental design and a certain serenity of the entire premise makes for a supremely relaxing experience.
We’ve written about Magicka before, and the statement we made back then still stand. Playing Magicka is a real blast, and mutually enjoyable destruction of the other player is endlessly funny, as you discover new ways of getting them hurt.
Another thing that makes Magicka a great fit for letting off some steam is that it is a riot. The world and characters are so silly that it’s hard not to at leat chuckle. Especially when you are well aware of fantasy tropes, which Magicka endlessly mocks.
And goblins blow up in a very satisfying way.
6. Stardew Valley
Sure. It’s a game about farming. A glorified Farmville, right? Except it happens to be a very calming and satisfying management game, in addition to being pretty charming and friendly in its presentation.
While destruction is fun, many people find greater satisfaction in creating things and helping them grow. It’s likely many will scoff at this, and for them we have a couple more entries here on this list, but playing as someone useful to the community isn’t something games allow us to do. Doing some honest work turns out to be calming even in a video game form, and without having to hack your way through the entire region’s population of goblins.
5. Dynasty Warriors (any)
Carringtons go to war
The musou games are something of an acquired taste, and probably won’t be to everyone’s liking. But seeing one of legendary heroes of Chinese myths and history smash and slash their way through nearly literal armies of enemies during each mission bring a certain degree of sadistic pleasure.
Most of the time in Dynasty Warriors you are fighting extras, dying by the dozens as soon as you start going about your favourite attack routine. Which is fine, because during a single battle you are likely to have a killcount going hard into quadruple digits. Characters of DW are like Doomguy of the ancient world, nearly invulnerable, except to other heroes.
It’s a great way to unwind. And if you are an enthusiast of anime, the same developer has made a couple spin-offs based on some anime series, most prominently One Piece and Berserk.
4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Nording walking simulator
Not to retread statements we have made in the past, let’s just say that roaming the harsh province looking for treasures, dragons, and trouble is pretty relaxing. At least until a giant gets the drop on you and you make like Team Rocket.
3. Dwarf Fortress
About Dwarf Fortress we’ve also written before. In a way this game lets you relax before you even really start playing. Depending on your machine, running the world creation at maximum possible settings (even in the ASCII version) can turn into long minutes of waiting for the world to stop trying to make up for thousands of years of cultural turmoils and millions of years geological processes. No biggy.
The game itself, while frequently becoming kind of ridiculous, manages to capture the same kind of joy in creation and fostering that Stardew Valley does, only in fantasy trappings. And things start being the most entertaining when it turns out something starts to go wrong, and before long you’ll find yourself briefly angry at half-witted people you have to babysit rather than anything else. DF simply requires too much of your attention to leave space for anything else.
A Doomguy put aside for them, for them…
Some games are about creating. Others are about using the systems to cause the most widespread chaos. Others still calm via exploration and giving the player plenty of time to reflect and chances to vent in manageable chunks.
And then there’s Doom.
Doom doesn’t care, and neither does Doomguy. This is the kind of game you launch if you want wanton devastation, gallons of blood, and a chance to get the elusive ‘flow’ which makes your gamer mind devoid of emotion and smooths your reflexes to help you achieve peak efficiency. And then you make like Neo and everything dies around you.
Sure, it may emphasise the worst things people think about us gamers, but external opinions of the uninitiated don’t change how great this game and letting you channel your frustration.
Build me to the end of RAM
We have written about Minecraft before. You are likely already tired of us writing about it, and so we will cut this short.
Focusing on something constructive and creative is likely the best thing you could get used to in search of a way to calm the frank down. Unbridled freedom of putting your visions into physical structures exemplified in Mojang’s game make it one of the best games out there, as far as this list subject matter is considered.
Relax, it’s the end
This, as usual, doesn’t, by any measure exhaust the list of games you could use to let off some steam, since in the end everyone has their own favourites, including, somehow, Dark Souls, if several reddit threads are to be believed.
What are your picks? Let us know in the comments.