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 anger relief games which can help you either calm down, or vent your anger into remorseless destruction.

Games to play when angry


Warframe

PC
PS4
XOne
Nintendo Switch
Genre:TPS
Release year:2013
Developer:Digital Extremes

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.

Warframe: Starter Pack - fighting

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.

Key features
  • Seamless merge of third person shooter, parkour, and melee combat
  • Regardless of the mission type, you can count on a large number of enemies to be there
  • Biocybernetic designs of the playable characters
  • Good to just start a mission and lose oneself

Just Cause (pick any)

PC
PS2 (only JC1)
PS3 (only JC2)
PS4
Xbox (only JC1)
X360 (only JC2)
XOne
Genre:Action-adventure, TPS
Release year:2006 (JC1), 2010 (JC2), 2015 (JC3), 2018 (JC4)
Developer:Avalanche Studios

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.

Just Cause 3 - fly to airplane

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.

Key features
  • It’s like cheesy action movies in video game form
  • Creating massive mayhem is strongly encouraged
  • You have several gadgets which can be used very creatively, especially the grappling hook
  • Everything is made of explodium

Journey

PC
PS3
PS4
Genre:Adventure, art game
Release year:2012
Developer:Thatgamecompany

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.

Journey - the protagonist

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.

Key features
  • Serene journey across a desert
  • Even its limited multiplayer is peaceful and calming game
  • A good argument in the „are games art?” debate
  • Subtle narrative

Magicka

PC
PS4 (only Magicka 2)
Genre:Action-adventure
Release year:2011 (Magicka 1), 2015 (Magicka 2)
Developer:Arrowhead Game Studios (Magicka 1), Pieces Interactive (Magicka 2)

Thaumaturgid
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.

Magicka: Collection - fighting

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.

Key features
  • Casting spells is engaging and entertaining
  • Powerful effects look quite spectacular
  • Numerous elemental combinations and interactions
  • Good sense of humour regarding common fantasy tropes

Stardew Valley

PC
PS4
PlayStation Vita
XOne
Nintendo Switch
Genre:Simulation, RPG
Release year:2016
Developer:ConcernedApe

Produce results
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.

Stardew Valley - work at night

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.

Key features
  • You rebuild a farm and befriend the people in the nearby town
  • Tending to your crops is quite pleasant and satisfying
  • There are dungeons you are encouraged to explore
  • Simple, but pretty pixel-art graphics

Dynasty Warriors

PC
PS3
PS4
X360
XOne
…and many more
Genre:Hack and slash
Release year:1997 (original game), 2018 (latest main line release)
Developer:Omega Force

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.

Dynasty Warriors 9 - against all

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.

Key features
  • The killcount of any mission easily goes into hundreds
  • Dozens of playable character with a wide array of different weapons
  • Inspired by the Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  • Plenty of additional, optional objectives to present additional challenge

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

PC
PS3
PS4
X360
XOne
Nintendo Switch
Genre:Action RPG
Release year:2011
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

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.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - fighting
Key features
  • A large, interactive world easy to immerse oneself in
  • An incredible number of mods created by the community
  • Many possible builds, geared for combat, utility, crafting etc.
  • Plenty of Dragons to kill

Dwarf Fortress

PC
Genre:Construction and management simulation, roguelike
Release year:2006
Developer:Tarn Adams

Dwarven Keeper
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.

Dwarf Fortress - game screen

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.

Key features
  • One of the most complex games ever made
  • Gives you control of a nascent dwarves kingdom
  • Procedurally generates the world, from geology to history and environment
  • It tends to create memorable scenarios

Doom

PC
PS4
XOne
Nintendo Switch
Genre:FPS, Action
Release year:2016
Developer:id Software

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.

Doom - shooting

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.

Key features
  • Exceptionally intense combat
  • Excellent graphics
  • Surprising amount of worldbuilding and story
  • Great soundtrack

Minecraft

PC
PS3
PS4
X360
XOne
…and many more
Genre:Sandbox, survival
Release year:2011
Developer:Mojang

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.

Minecraft: Windows 10 - gamescreen

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.

Key features
  • One of the most popular titles in modern gaming
  • Allows the player to create surprisingly complex voxel-based constructions
  • Plenty of mods adding new recipes and blocks
  • Suitable for young players

Borderlands 3

PC
PS4
XOne
Genre:Action RPG, FPS
Release year:2019
Developer:Gearbox Software

Point a gun, press left mouse button (or corresponding button on your gamepad), keep shooting until things die and you can pick up loot. That’s as simple a moment-to-moment gameplay as it gets, and coupled with bombastic presentation and tonnes of diverse loot makes BL3 on of the best video games to relieve stress lingering after a long day at school or work.

Borderlands 3 - game

Borderlands also offers something just as effective at improving the mood as any amount of spectacular shooting: a sense of humour. It’s often crude, and usually quite silly, but there’s a good chance you’re going to at least chuckle every once in a while. Each of the game’s four playable characters is slightly ridiculous in some way, and has plenty of B-movie voice lines.

Key features
  • Four playable classes, each represented by a predefined Vault Hunter
  • A finite, but humongous number of possible gun variants
  • More than just a few guest appearances from previous games’ characters
  • Several planets to visit and loot

Devil May Cry 5

PC
PS4
XOne
Genre:Action-adventure, hack and slash
Release year:2019
Developer:Capcom

Devil May Cry 5 has a very satisfying balance of a “git gud” difficulty, very high skill ceiling, and sheer joy of using a sword to juggle demons in the air like a bleeding, screaming hacky sack. Gruesome though it sounds, DMC5 revels in making the player look as cool as possible, and the Bloody Palace mode is a hundred floors of spectacular slaughter.

Devil May Cry 5 - lighting

There are three playable characters: weapon- and style-switching Dante, Nero with his brutal sword and hi-tech arm prosthetics, and V, who fights using mostly his summoned demons. Each has quite a number of unique quirks to their playstyle, making them a real force on the battlefield. Getting to stylishly kill demons makes DMC of the best games to play when you’re angry.

Key features
  • Three characters with very different playstyles
  • Plenty of demons to hack and slash
  • Skill ceiling is very high, but the difficulty isn’t too prohibitive
  • Excellent graphics powered by the RE Engine

Dishonored 2

PC
PS4
XOne
Genre:Action-adventure, stealth
Release year:2016
Developer:Arkane Studios

Dishonored was a fantastic game. It gave the player a few tools and an engine flexible and coherent enough to let you play around with them. Dishonored 2 is that, but doubled by the sheer virtue of having two characters with two different toolboxes. Being a supernaturally talented, highly skilled assassin turns out to be quite pick if you need some game to calm you down.

Dishonored 2 - game

There are many videos on the internet showcasing the complex kills you can perform, which make using Stop Time to snatch crossbow bolts from the air look basic. Emily in Dishonored 2 can link the fates of her enemies, which opens the way to many brutal solutions. Dishonored’s being a freeform assassin playground puts it among the counter-intuitively relaxing video games.

Key features
  • Very flexible engine allows player creativity to flourish
  • Interesting tools and powers available to either character
  • A revenge story
  • Well-designed locations with many solutions for every assignment

Far Cry 5

PC
PS4
XOne
Genre:FPS
Release year:2018
Developer:Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Toronto

The Far Cry series tends to throw explosive mess towards the player and have them deal with it through overwhelming firepower. It also likes giving the player a chance to sneak around, eliminating enemies quietly with professional detachment. Far Cry 5 somehow manages to give the player all of the above, and supplement them with serene environments of Hope County, Montana.

Far Cry 5 - cars - shooting

What’s even better, is that in FC5 you can recruit companions to assist you in eliminating your enemies, whether stealthily or in open combat, and one of them is a tamed bear called Cheeseburger. Far Cry 5 is a pretty good way to unwind. It’s quite likely that the absurdity of some encounters will even make you laugh.

Key features
  • Emergent chaos provides plenty of interesting action sequence opportunities
  • Multiple companions with differing skillsets to aid you in your mission
  • Customisable player character
  • Playable in a 2-player co-op

One Finger Death Punch 2

PC
PS4
XOne
Nintendo Switch
Genre:Beat’em up
Release year:2019
Developer:Silver Dollar Games

A small, light, game, One Finger Death Punch 2 has simple, if clear, graphics, and a ridiculously simple control scheme consisting of two buttons. Which makes it amazing how good a fun this game can be, whatever your mood is. Your task is simple: enemies come at you from both sides of the screen, and you need to tap a [left] or [right] button when they get in range.

One Finger Death Punch 2 - fighting

It’s a very simple game, but once the speed ramps up and there are dozens of multi-hit enemies coming at you, all you have time to do is attack and hope you don’t miss a click. A good round can give an amazing sense of flow and you start to feel like Neo fighting a swarm of Agent Smiths, and it turns OFDP2 into quite a stress buster, one of the simplest anger-relieving games.

Key features
  • Extremely simple gameplay premise
  • Dozens of levels to play through, in addition to extra modes, like Survival
  • Very low system requirements on PC
  • Provides a great sense of calming flow

Relax, it’s the end

This, as usual, doesn’t, by any measure exhaust the list of stress relief 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.