“... games that encourage players to take a moment and breathe.”
October 2, 2017 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Treat Yourself with Self-Care Jam Games “There's… kind of a lot to be scared of. I'm grateful for the efforts of the Self-Care Jam creators, who all made small games in early December 2016, with the theme of self-care. Self-care is a pretty self-explanatory concept: these are things meant to give you a moment to breathe, reflect, literally take care of yourself. There are many games, zines, and interactive vignettes, all available on the Self-Care Jam page. I'd encourage you to check them all out when you need a breather.” [via: Waypoint]
posted by Fizz (38 comments total) 142 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite self-care game is Viridi! You maintain a digital succulent garden, watering them every few days while soothing music plays. It's free to play on Steam, iOS and Android and it is a delight.
posted by sleeping bear at 9:06 AM on October 2 [8 favorites]

Oh, this is great! I really need something like this right now (as do we all, I imagine). Thanks for posting this.
posted by holborne at 9:10 AM on October 2

The Witness is a beautiful game where you just walk around inside of what feels like a painting, solving puzzles. Even if you get to a puzzle or a logic game that you cannot solve, it's not a big deal. Just walking through the bright colours and sounds of nature. It's gorgeous and at least for me, it's calming. Today I'm mostly avoiding social media and I plan on venturing into this game a bit later to just clear my head and think about something else.
posted by Fizz at 9:11 AM on October 2 [4 favorites]

Monument Valley is also a calming game that is available on iOS and Android. A silent princess wandering through a labyrinth of puzzles. Definitely recommend that if you're looking for something to distract you.
posted by Fizz at 9:16 AM on October 2 [17 favorites]

Abzû is another good one. Be a cat person/robot(?) thing! Swim with fishes! Meditate! Probably cry at one point! (It does have some more intense sequences, but they're mostly in there to build up to a soothing catharsis.)
posted by tobascodagama at 10:49 AM on October 2 [5 favorites]

Hmmm. It's a Beautiful Day asks do you want to go outside? Yes. There are no doors. Do you want to go outside? Yes. There are no doors! Do you want to go outside? Yes! THERE ARE NO DOORS! okay I am as relaxed as I'm going to be now.
posted by InkaLomax at 11:09 AM on October 2 [2 favorites]

I think I use Neko Atsume for this purpose. Push button get cats!
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:46 AM on October 2 [19 favorites]

Note to InkaLomax and others: I played through and discovered that It's a Beautiful Day DOES eventually let you outside. After you've done enough nice things for yourself. Phew.
posted by BlueJae at 7:06 PM on October 2 [2 favorites]

Islands: Non-Places is also really chill. It's less of a game than a virtual art installation, but I found it to be a nice wind-down game.

I also got a lot out of Skyrim and the last few Fallout games, just because they're so big that you end up moving in. Lots of exploring with the occasional fight.
posted by suetanvil at 9:18 PM on October 2

Damn you, Tubbs!
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:31 AM on October 3 [5 favorites]

> The Witness is a beautiful game where you just walk around inside of what feels like a painting

For those unaware, the music accompanying that video was by Zoë Keating, a brilliant and delightful cellist who plays in layered loops.
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 8:24 AM on October 3 [2 favorites]

It's a Beautiful Day only lets you reorganize your books by size or color... I AM NOT RELAXED. I want to organize by subject or author or date!
posted by rmless at 9:32 AM on October 3 [4 favorites]

I've used games a lot to deal with anxiety and depression. Here's my list, FWIW. posted by sincarne at 10:41 AM on October 3 [8 favorites]

Monument Valley yt is also a calming game that is available on iOS and Android..

There's a brand new version out now! I'm halfway through, and it is worth the $4.99. I don't usually pay that much for iOS games but was happy to,support the delevopers.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:13 PM on October 3 [1 favorite]

I just want to pop in to mention that because of Fizz's comment above, I downloaded Monument Valley and I was blown away. Such a gorgeous game, and yep, very calming as well. My husband is also obsessed with it. And neither of us is much of an iphone game person, with the exception of Neko Atsume.
posted by holborne at 8:21 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]

The Quell puzzle game series is deeply soothing with gentle music.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:31 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]

posted by homunculus at 9:51 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]

If you like Monument Valley check out Mekorama. It's very similar, but you are an adorable, wobbly robot. It has tons of levels (and even more fan-made) and has kept me busy for at least a year.

If you like playing with colors, try Blendoku and Blendoku 2, which is basically like arranging paint color chips. (Link to article because the home page is just a video.) This is probably unplayable if you are colorblind, and definitely not relaxing if this is not your thing!
posted by Room 641-A at 10:10 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]

For those unaware, the music accompanying that video was by Zoë Keating, a brilliant and delightful cellist who plays in layered loops.

Awesome. That makes me want it even more. Zoe Keating is brilliant (previously).
posted by homunculus at 3:24 PM on October 5

I actually forgot about Quell, that's a great share and a good one to add to this list nicebookrack.
posted by Fizz at 7:53 AM on October 10

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is arguably at the other end of the spectrum from self-care games with its depiction of psychosis, but actually many people who've played it, and who themselves struggle with mental illness, have found it very cathartic. The accolades trailer for the game is full of screenshots and player comments about how moving the game was for them (note: the image at 3:30 is a spoiler for the ending, and there are a couple more after it, so you may want to stop at 3:29 if you haven't played it yet).

Today being Mental Health Day, Ninja Theory is donating all proceeds from the game to charity, specifically Rethink Mental Illness. So if anyone was thinking of buying it, today would be a good day to do so.
posted by homunculus at 12:56 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

This thread just became a Lifehacker article.

Seconding Samorost and Osmos, mentioned there.


- Botanicula (from the Samorost crew)

- Prune

- Alto's Adventure in Zen mode

- Vignettes

- Windosill (or anything from Vectorpark, really)

and the rather old tranquility...
posted by progosk at 2:07 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]

Oh, and Luxuria Superbia, an interesting take on self-care, too.
posted by progosk at 3:21 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Tengami is a lovely thing.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:13 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]

It's a Beautiful Day asks do you want to go outside? Yes. There are no doors. Do you want to go outside? Yes. There are no doors! Do you want to go outside? Yes! THERE ARE NO DOORS!

If you do all of the self-care tips (including vacuuming your apartment, making your bed, etc.) then a door will appear.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:56 PM on October 12

I think Hob should get an honorary mention here. The combat and cartoon gore might disqualify it, but the magical world the developers have created is so delightful it can't help but lift your spirits (well, mine anyway).
posted by homunculus at 5:47 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]

Oh, one thing though: when you're playing the game and you want to pet one of the adorable animals, only pet them when they're sitting down and you get an 'interact' prompt. Because the button for interact is also the button for attack with sword, and well, you can see how that could ruin the atmosphere.
posted by homunculus at 8:12 PM on October 14

Lumino City is unlike any other game I’ve seen. Just beautiful.

Faraway: Puzzle Escape. 18 levels, the first nine levels are free.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:47 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Seconding Prune, Luxuria Superbia, Viridi, Blendoku, Monument Valley.

Adding Kami (and Kami2)
Slightly more active: INKS and Polyforge
Slightly more cathartic: Smash Hit and PinOut
posted by desuetude at 7:55 AM on October 17

FYI, Lumino City, Kami, and Inks are all from State Of Play games and are currently available as a bundle for 6.99 in the iOS app store. Kami was a great suggestion!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:37 AM on October 17 [2 favorites]

Firewatch and The Witness are both on sale on Steam for 50% off ($10 and $20 respectively). Samorost 3 is 60% off for $8.00. And they're all in an Explorer's Bundle with three other games. The sale goes to the 27th.
posted by homunculus at 11:01 PM on October 24

It looks like Firewatch is still getting slammed by negative reviews on Steam following the PewDiePie incident. Well, I'm definitely buying it now.
posted by homunculus at 5:53 PM on October 25

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:34 PM on October 25

Another one I'd like to recommend: A Story About My Uncle is a first person platformer in which you use an energy grappling hook and a powered jumping suit to navigate a world of floating islands, leaping and soaring from rock to rock. It's by the same company that made Goat Simulator. The fantasy world is lovely, the gameplay is a lot of fun (though it can be challenging and occasionally frustrating), the story and characters are pleasantly quirky and it's all nonviolent. It's also 80% off on Steam ($2.59) during their Halloween sale, though it's not a horror game by any means.
posted by homunculus at 8:43 PM on October 29

ZenBound, and ZenBound2. Best played on a touchscreen tablet.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:31 AM on October 31 [1 favorite]

Oh, God, yes, Alto's Adventure (Zen Mode)!!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:45 PM on October 31

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