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.

Video Games to play when angry
GameReleasedGenreTrailerSale
DOOM 2016-05-12 Action & Shooter -67% Read more
DOOM Eternal 2020-03-20 Action -88% Read more
Far Cry 3 2012-11-28 Adventure -72% Read more
Just Cause 2006-09-22 Adventure -74% Read more
Just Cause 2 2010-03-23 Adventure -86% Read more
Just Cause 3 2015-11-30 Adventure -82% Read more
Just Cause 4 2018-12-04 Action & Shooter -91% Read more
Journey 2020-06-11 Adventure - Read more
Magicka 2011-01-25 Action & Shooter -89% Read more
Magicka 2 2015-05-26 Adventure -89% Read more
Stardew Valley 2016-02-26 Adventure - Read more
DYNASTY WARRIORS 7: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition 2018-12-06 Action -32% Read more
DYNASTY WARRIORS 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition 2014-05-13 Fighting -51% Read more
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 2016-10-27 Adventure -80% Read more
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition 2016-10-27 Adventure -70% Read more
Minecraft Java Edition 2013-11-19 Action -17% Read more
Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition 2015-07-29 Adventure - Read more
Borderlands 3 | Standard Edition 2020-04 Action RPG -87% Read more
Devil May Cry 5 2019-03-08 Action -87% Read more
Dishonored 2 2016-11-11 Action -84% Read more
Far Cry 5 2018-03-27 Action & Shooter -82% Read more
One Finger Death Punch 2 2019-04-15 Fighting -84% Read more

        

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Release:2020-03-20
Genre:Real-time strategy
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.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

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.

Key features
  • You can create your own villager to play as
  • Super relaxing gameplay
  • Plenty of stuff to do on your island
  • The game has received some additional content updates
        

Tetris

Release:1984-06 (Elektronika 60)
Genre:Puzzle, tile-matching
Developer:Alexey Pajitnov

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!

Tetris

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.

Key features
  • A classic puzzle game
  • Play long enough and you might think that everything works like in Tetris!
  • The game is available on over sixty-five platforms
  • It’s both relaxing and perplexing
        

Warframe

Release:2019-02-14
Genre:Action
Developer:Digital Extremes

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.

Warframe

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 (any game in the series)

Release:2018-12-04
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Avalanche Studios

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.

Just Cause (any game in the series)

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.

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

Release:2020-06-11
Genre:indie-adventure
Developer:Thatgamecompany

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.

Journey

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.

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

Magicka

Release:2011-01-25
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.

Magicka

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.

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

Release:2016-02-26
Genre:Adventure
Developer:ConcernedApe

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.

Stardew Valley

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

Release:2014-05-13
Genre:Fighting
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.

Dynasty Warriors

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.

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

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Release:2016-10-27
Genre:Adventure
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.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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.

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

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.

Dwarf Fortress

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.

Key features
  • You can build and maintain your own dwarf colony
  • It’s not just a game, it’s a hobby!
  • It will probably never be finished, as the updates keep coming
  • Beautiful pixel art
        

Doom

Release:2016-05-12
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:id Software

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.

Doom

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.

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

Minecraft

Release:2013-11-19
Genre:Action
Developer:Mojang

We have written about Minecraft before. You are likely already tired of us writing about it, so we will cut this short.

Minecraft

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.

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

Release:2021-04-08
Genre:First-person shooter, action role-playing
Developer:Gearbox Software

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 3

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

Release:2019-03-08
Genre:Action
Developer:CAPCOM

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.

Devil May Cry 5

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

Release:2016-11-11
Genre:Action
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 a pick if you need some game to calm you down

Dishonored 2

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

Release:2018-03-27
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:

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

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 exciting action sequence opportunities
  • Multiple companions with differing skillsets to aid you in your mission
  • Customizable player character
  • Playable in a 2-player co-op
        

One Finger Death Punch 2

Release:2019-04-15
Genre:Fighting
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.

One Finger Death Punch 2

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 various Reddit threads are to be believed.