The holidays can just be a whole mess of stress. Dealing with family, buying gifts, attending work Christmas parties, and having to sit next to that coworker… Sometimes you just need something to take your mind off the holiday “cheer.” Of course, it’s even better if it’s free. Buying gifts doesn’t come cheap!
To help you de-stress, we’ve gathered five relaxing video games that you can download now, absolutely free. So curl up with a blanket and some hot chocolate and enjoy!
RuneScape is a bit different from most MMOs. Many massively multiplayer online titles offer a main quest line you have to go through, grinding your way to max level, before finally getting to enjoy some of the more relaxing (or in some cases, more stressful) aspects of the game. RuneScape, however, doesn’t force the player in one particular direction. Instead, it drops them into the world and lets them do whatever they want.
There are still quests and skills to progress through in RuneScape, but players can pick and choose what quests they do and what skills they want to progress in, allowing for more open-ended experiences. Seventeen skills are available for the free player to try out, with 10 more available if you want to drop a bit of money for a subscription.
The latest version of RuneScape is available on PC, but if you want something different you can try Old School RuneScape, which is free to download on mobile devices. Old School RuneScape, as the name implies, is the first version of the game — tweaked a bit and re-released. It’s a very good port of the older game, so it’s also worth a look if you want to play RuneScape on the go.
Neko Atsume requires very little effort to play and you get to look at super cute cats. What isn’t there to love about this game? Even people allergic to cats can play it!
With Neko Atsume, you set up some cat food and various toys to attract felines. Then you simply let them come and go as they please (as cats do). The whole point of the game is just check in a couple times a day, meet new cats, and go on about your day. Special cats visit your home at different times, too.
It’s a game with very low engagement and is very easy to check up on during a break at work. Nothing better during a stressful day than to look at some cute cats playing with their toys… without the stress of taking care of a real cat.
Coloring books and paint by numbers projects are great for relaxing. The mix of focusing on something creative without actually having to create anything makes it so people can sit down, turn their brains off, and just color. It’s cathartic.
The problem is, these things cost money. Getting a coloring book and enough colored pencils that you’re satisfied with your choices is pricey — and paint by numbers projects can cost a lot, as well. Not to mention, if you’re like me and have some overly curious pets, painting might be completely out of the question.
Thankfully, there’s a free and digital solution for everyone to enjoy. Coloring Pixels is a paint by number video game, allowing you to flex your creative muscle without the hassle, mess, or price. The free base game starts with over 60 levels, which is a great amount of content. If you want something extra, there are five DLC packs you can grab for even more. They do cost a dollar a piece, but a total of $5 for 100 more pictures to color is a steal.
You can grab Coloring Pixels on Steam.
Puzzle games are the best genre for reducing stress. With the need to focus in on the puzzle on-hand, it can be easy to forget the stressors of the outside world to just sit down and challenge your brain. But, it’s also a double-edged sword; if a puzzle title feels too unfair, or is too much of a challenge for someone, it can make things even more stressful.
So it’s hard to strike that delicate balance. Infinity Loop is a game that finds that balance and, combined with an incredibly clean look, it’s very relaxing to play. The point of each puzzle in Infinity Loop is to create a closed shape — composed of one or more shapes that don’t come to an abrupt end. It’s a lot easier to understand when playing as opposed to reading about, and the very simple rules and controls make it easy to pick up. It’s just hard to put down as the puzzles get more complex.
If you get tired of making shapes, there’s also Dark Mode, where your job is to take completed shapes and make it so no piece is touching. There’s a lot to enjoy in Infinity Loop. And all it requires is a download!
Picross is an interesting puzzle subgenre. Using hints on the edge of the “board” to discern what blocks need to be filled in, Picross puzzles encourage you to use logic in order to complete a puzzle and create a picture. The puzzles are not designed to trick you. With careful thought, you should be able to complete any puzzle without ever guessing. There are no tricks or obtuse rules to remember here, which tends to make Picross titles very relaxing compared to other genres.
When you hear Picross as a gamer, your first thought may be Nintendo’s long-running Picross titles, developed by Jupiter. However, while these titles may be the most well-known, they’re far from the only Picross titles in the gaming sphere. Smartphones in particular host a large number of Picross titles. Picross Touch is just one of the best of the free titles.
Picross Touch has a whopping 966 puzzles available from the start — completely free! On top of that, the game doesn’t have ads, which is a rarity for free titles on the mobile market. If you get through all of the free puzzles, you can buy the remaining six level packs on mobile for just $2… adding another 3,600 to the game. These DLC puzzles are also available on PC, but it’s a bit more expensive. Picross Touch is a downright astounding amount of content. Whether or not you’ve tried Picross before, Picross Touch is worth the download.