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.
|DOOM||2016-05-12||Action & Shooter||-74%|
|Far Cry 3||2012-11-28||Adventure||-72%|
|Just Cause 2||2010-03-23||Adventure||-84%|
|Just Cause 3||2015-11-30||Adventure||-81%|
|Just Cause 4||2018-12-04||Action & Shooter||-84%|
|Magicka||2011-01-25||Action & Shooter||-82%|
|DYNASTY WARRIORS 7: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition||2018-12-06||Action||-42%|
|DYNASTY WARRIORS 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition||2014-05-13||Fighting||-59%|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim||2016-10-27||Adventure||-82%|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition||2016-10-27||Adventure||-75%|
|Minecraft Java Edition||2013-11-19||Action||-34%|
|Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition||2015-07-29||Adventure||-13%|
|Borderlands 3 | Standard Edition||2020-04||Action RPG||-87%|
|Devil May Cry 5||2019-03-08||Action||-87%|
|Far Cry 5||2018-03-27||Action & Shooter||-83%|
|One Finger Death Punch 2||2019-04-15||Fighting||-86%|
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
|Developer:||Nintendo EPD (additional development by Monolith Soft)|
This title is one of the pinnacles of relaxing games. You get a deserted island from Tom Nook and you’re free to do what you want with it!
That’s right: once you land on the island, the game becomes non-linear and you can play it at your own pace and make just the decisions you want. You collect various resources that can then be used to craft items and furniture, plant trees and flowers, catch fish and bugs, as well as interact with other villagers.
It’s a simple, non-violent game full of cutesy characters. Tending to your own island is very relaxing, so if you feel like you need to unwind and complete some soothing tasks, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a perfect pick for that particular purpose.
|Release:||1984-06 (Elektronika 60)|
This legendary puzzle game is also one of the most enchanting ones. After all, the whole “let’s place the so-called tetrominoes in such a way that they form a line that will then disappear” thing is strangely relaxing, hypnotizing even.
And don’t even get us started on the Tetris effect! It’s basically when your brain starts seeing patterns after long sessions in the game. For example, you’ll take a look at the boxes on the shelf and fit them so that they form a complete line, just like in Tetris. No, they won’t disappear, but this shows the impact this game has on your minds! There is even research that suggests Tetris is helpful in alleviating stress and can potentially mitigate the effects of PTSD, at least to some extent!
Naturally, the bigger your progress, the more difficult the game becomes, so beating previous high scores might no longer be a relaxing affair, but the fact remains that Tetris is still strangely soothing. The game is obviously available pretty much on every single platform available right now, you can probably find it for free with a quick search. New versions of the game might be worth checking out, though, as they surely introduce fresh gameplay elements and make the whole thing perhaps a bit more unusual and interesting.
A couple of 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.
Just Cause (any game in the series)
Just Cause, especially the later entries, is 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 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 more or less good-natured fun with it. Which always works great against anger.
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 an 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 a popular sense, but the subtle music, beautiful environmental design and a certain serenity of the entire premise makes for a supremely relaxing experience.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
|Developer:||Arrowhead Game Studios|
We’ve written about Magicka before, and the statement we made back then still stands. 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 least chuckle. Especially when you are well aware of fantasy tropes, which Magicka endlessly mocks.
And goblins blow up in a very satisfying way.
Sure. It’s a game about farming. A glorified Farmville, right? Except it happens to be a very calming and satisfying management simulator, 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.
|Developer:||KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.|
The musou games are something of an acquired taste, and probably won’t be to everyone’s liking. But seeing one of the legendary heroes of Chinese myths and history smash and slash their way through nearly literal armies of enemies during each mission brings 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 favorite 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 of spin-offs based on some anime series, most prominently One Piece and Berserk.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
|Developer:||Bethesda Game Studios|
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 end up like Team Rocket.
TES V: Skyrim is a perfect stress relief game because it’s the OG fantasy open-world. You can do the main quest and feel like a Dragonborn, but you can also stick around in Riverwood chopping wood, fetching flowers for the locals and solving love disputes. Skyrim gives you the freedom of choice and with its relaxing music and beautiful scenery, it’s a great choice for those who want to escape the harsh reality of the real world.
|Release:||2006-08-08 / Steam version 2022 (TBA)|
|Genre:||management simulation and roguelike|
|Developer:||Bay 12 Games|
Ah yes, Dwarf Fortress. Officially known as Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress – what a title! – the game is probably the most complex and intricate fantasy life simulator known to man. This is the production that inspired so many other classics: Minecraft, Prison Architect, Terraria, Oxygen Not Included, RimWorld, FTL: Faster Than Light and many more, colony builders in particular. Even World of Warcraft boasts some loving homages to Dwarf Fortress!
How can a game so deep, expansive and challenging be so relaxing? Retro-style graphics and new music certainly help here, but now Dwarf Fortress, finally released on Steam, can be played using a mouse, which certainly makes things a lot more convenient.
The game itself is a fantastic one: you get to build and maintain your own dwarf fortress, as the title suggests. The gameplay is super complex, but there is a certain rhythm to it, which makes it so relaxing. Since each new playthrough is procedurally generated, you can play DF for an infinite amount of time. It’s definitely something you should try if you love complex simulators, survival games and similar stuff.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
Some games are about creating. Others are about using the systems to cause the most widespread chaos. Others are 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 emphasize the worst things people think about us gamers, but external opinions of the uninitiated don’t change how great this game is and let you channel your frustration.
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 makes it one of the best games out there, as far as this list subject matter is considered.
|Genre:||First-person shooter, action role-playing|
Point a gun, press the left mouse button (or a corresponding button on your gamepad), and 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 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.
Devil May Cry 5
Devil May Cry 5 has a very satisfying balance of a “git gud” difficulty, very high skill ceiling, and the 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.
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.
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 a pick if you need some game to calm you down
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.
Far Cry 5
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
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.
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.
One Finger Death Punch 2
|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 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.
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.
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 various Reddit threads are to be believed.