Gaming is a land of contrasts. Sometimes, you’re looking for a nail-bitingly difficult experience that demands all your attention. Other times, you just want to vibe. Here, then, are some of the most relaxing Nintendo Switch games out there, for when you’re just looking to chill out and have a good time without worrying about being sniped from across the map or hit by a blue shell.
A favorite of Fanbyte EIC Danielle Riendeau, Cozy Grove is sort of like Animal Crossing if the characters were all spirits you were trying to help out. The game has a certain amount of quest content per day, and after that you can decorate, fish, and craft as much as you like. It’s a great game to check in with in the morning, or to unwind with later in the evening.
Chicory — Most Relaxing Nintendo Switch Games
Much beloved among Fanbyte staff last year, Chicory casts you as a dog who has to restore color to the world through the use of a magical paintbrush. The game’s simple visuals and charming mechanics are apt to draw you in even if you don’t consider yourself much of a visual artist, and its wonderful soundtrack makes the whole experience even more enjoyable.
A game about restoring a run-down farm, Stardew Valley borrows from Harvest Moon but has grown into something much bigger and weirder than that series. Little things like fishing or weeding your farm are surprisingly enjoyable and calming, and exploring the game’s world and chatting with its inhabitants are also a lot of fun. There’s a main quest here as well as some combat if you choose to venture into the game’s caverns, but Stardew Valley — unlike actual farming — is mostly a very carefree experience.
Something about the toylike aesthetic of Clubhouse Games reminds me of rummaging through old board games and puzzles on a rainy day. The solitaire card games are an obvious choice for a solo chill sesh, but there are plenty of others to explore as well.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons — Most Relaxing Nintendo Switch Games
Does Animal Crossing really need an introduction? The laid-back social game par excellence on the Switch, New Horizons is definitely a go-to if you’re looking for a game that’s all about hanging out. Of course, it’s a full-price Nintendo title and rarely goes on sale, but if you’re into this kind of experience then there are few better games than Animal Crossing.
Like Stardew Valley, House Flipper takes something that’s hard work in real life and makes it into a satisfying, relatively low-stakes video game. Here, instead of farming you’re renovating homes from a first-person perspective, which involves first cleaning and repairing and then redecorating and furnishing interiors. Until PowerWash Simulator comes to the Switch, House Flipper is probably the most relaxing game of its type on the console.
If your idea of relaxing leans towards Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh mysteries, then Strange Horticulture might be just the ticket. Recently released on the Switch, the game sees you inheriting a botanical shop and tasked with identifying and selling plants to customers. The entire thing takes place from a behind-the-counter interface in which you can open drawers, pull out items, and unfold paper maps. There’s some intrigue here, and mistakes in identifying plants can cause problems, but overall it’s a cozy mystery that I’m probably going to pick up on the Switch to finish, since it seems perfect for handheld mode.
Dragon Quest III
Ok, hear me out. There’s just something about old-school JRPGs that’s really chill, especially in older games without a ton of dialogue. Moving your little guys around the map and getting into random battles can be a pain if you’re trying to speedrun the game, but if you’re just trying to zone out and let your mind wander, then a game like Dragon Quest III can be extremely chill. Plus, the enemy sprites are so cute, it’s hard not to relax playing this one.
Tetris Effect: Reconnected
Yes, Tetris can be kind of a tense experience. But Tetris Effect‘s “Chill Marathon” mode disables Game Over, meaning that you can stack lines to your heart’s content without worrying about messing up. The visuals and audio here contribute to the soothing experience, making Tetris Effect a great game for winding down.
Yoshi’s Crafted World — Most Relaxing Nintendo Switch Games
Platformers these days tend to be hyper-difficult experiences, demanding precise inputs and long chains of perfect movements. That’s fine sometimes, but it’s not always what you want out of a game. If you’re on the hunt for a 2D platformer game that’s a little more easygoing, check out Yoshi’s Crafted World. Just looking at this game makes me less stressed, and actually playing it is an exercise in low-key vibes.