Casual games may sometimes get a bad wrap from lovers of quick-fire, competitive gaming, but if you’ve ever lost yourself in the world of a casual game you’ll know just how special they can be.
These games act as a sanctuary for those seeking relaxation, creative expression or just a break from the crazy pace of everyday life. The umbrella of casual games covers a wide variety of titles, but they are often management games, lifestyle sims or slow-paced stories which offer a peaceful escape.
If you’re looking for one such experience to lose yourself in you’re in for a treat; as that’s exactly what this list is about.
One of the darlings of the genre, Stardew Valley has long been a fan favourite within the genre. In the game, you inherit an old farm and try to bring it back to life by growing crops, raining livestock, mining, fishing, exploring and slowly building relationships with the townsfolk. It’s a truly charming game that you can put countless hours into. It’s especially good for those who love slowly building and perfecting their farm.
The Sims has always been a series loved by casual gamers. And for good reason. It takes its idea of simulating life pretty seriously, handing the player an incredible amount of freedom and options as to how they want to approach their virtual life. From building homes to building relationships, the game has plenty of opportunity for casual fun.
Another classic, Minecraft has become a cultural phenomenon—but don’t let that hide the fact that it’s a casual game at heart. Through its creative exploration gameplay, Minecraft thrives when you take your time to slowly explore and build. Not to mention, that you can do it with friends too!
One of Nintendo’s many takes on the genre, New Horizons is one of the most popular games on this list. Players find themselves on a deserted island which they slowly transform into a delightful, bustling community of characters and locations. It’s a game of simple, slow pleasures. But there’s always plenty to do from designing to decorating to fishing to socialising.
And since New Horizons has great online features, this is one you can enjoy with friends. It you want to show off to your friends, you may want to buy animal crossing bells to get your hands on the cutest in-game items.
Terraria is Minecraft in 2D, but it’s also much more than that. It combines entertaining exploration with careful construction and complex question to create a vast experience offering up chaos and casual gameplay in equal amounts.
Yes, this is as charming as it sounds. Slime Rancher is a cute first person sandbox experience where you, well, farm slimes. In the game you collect, feed and breed adorable slimes at a relaxing pace. It’s not the most complex game on this list, but it’s definitely one of the most stress relieving.
If you take great pleasure in building and management style games, Cities: Skylines may be the casual game for you. It is an incredibly intricate and detailed city builder which sees you slowly construct and develop your own metropolis—dealing with everything from roads to taxes.
A charming mixture of management sim and heartfelt storytelling, Spiritfarer is a pretty special title. Players take on the role of a ferry master to the deceased, tasked with building a boat to explore the world and care for spirit passengers on their way to the afterlife. Its hand-drawn style and emotional narrative make it a particularly touching and resonant experience.
Perhaps the pinnacle of the casual game, Unpacking is a zen puzzle game which draws on the simple and meditative pleasure of unpacking boxed of stuff into rooms. You slowly take belonging after belonging out and place them into rooms, designing, optimizing and rearranging the space in the process. Oh, and you slowly reveal the in-game story as you do so. It’s a touching and incredibly fresh experience about moving into new spaces.
This one sounds as good as it is. It’s a life-sim adventure game which drops you onto an ever-changing island tasking you with exploring, collecting resources and soothing local ghosts—but don’t worry, not the spooky kind. It’s a lovely relaxing experience filled with daily tasks and a lovely narrative. The perfect kind of experience to unwind to.
These games are all a testament to how diverse and rewarding the casual genre can be. They offer a variety of rich experiences—from management to stories—but all while keeping the player in a relaxed state of unwinding. So if you’re looking for a game to relax with after a long day, look no further.