Chill Games

A list in progress

Last updated: Sat 05 Jun. 2021

Just added a note about Heaven’s Vault, and a few new games: Sky, Journey, Flower, and Flow! Thanks to everyone who has suggested games! Please keep them coming.

TODO: Alphabetize list of games? I wish there were an easy way to do this in WordPress, or at least a way I knew…

Prolegomena

Just as it sounds like, this is a list of “chill” or relaxing games, focusing on PC gaming in particular. Special thanks to my friend @pixouls for suggesting I write this post and curate this list, and for providing a ton of the recommendations!

There are some criteria for this list, established by @pixouls:

  • 1) it should have to a certain extent some ease to playing
  • 2) it should have some sort of exploratory content
  • 3) we should note if it’s paid or not
    • Please note that these prices were at time of writing and are subject to change; please see the URL for the most updated price, if applicable
  • 4) we should note the platform
    • Same caveat as above

With those criteria in mind, please also note that each game title is a link to download/buy the game. Here goes.

THE GAMES!

Baba Is You

  • OS: Linux/OSX/Windows
  • Cost: $15 USD
  • Description: This is a puzzle game where you can manipulate the game world by changing the rules, which are written out as physical objects. It looks really fascinating.

Yume Nikki

  • OS: available for Windows, but playable cross-platform in EasyRPG-Player.
    • The link gives information on how to download it; I recommend using EasyRPG-Player and using that to run the files you’ve downloaded.
    • There is apparently a remake/upscale of the game available on Steam, but I haven’t checked it out.
  • Cost: free!
  • Description: This is not entirely a chill game. Yume Nikki is often terrifying, jarring, and weird. But it can also be beautiful. You play as Madotsuki, a girl who spends much of her time in various dream worlds. Exploration is quite fun and the worlds are really bizarre, but sometimes bizarrely beautiful. It’s definitely on the more terrifying side, but I think in terms of exploration, it’s wonderful.

Caves of Qud

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux (early access)
  • Price: $14.99
  • Description: Looks like a roguelike a la Dwarf Fortress. Choose your class, tweak your character, and explore a massive world! Like most roguelikes, permadeath is a thing. I’ve never been able to get into these types of games myself, but it sounds fun! Maybe I’ll have to check it out.

ColoRise

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: name your own price
  • Description: You go around collecting and planting seeds and getting to know your neighbors. This sounds wonderful.

E.X.O.

  • OS: Win/Linux
  • Price: free!
  • Description: You get to explore a desolate moon and craft things for survival! The landscape is procedurally generated; these types of games always amaze me and make me happy. Sounds really cool!!

Factorio

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $30
  • Description: Build and maintain factories, and protect your factories from killer robots. If you like resource management and SimCity-like games, you’ll love this. I don’t know that it’s necessarily my jam, but plenty of people will love it!

flOw

  • OS: Win/OSX (PS3/PS4?)
  • Price: free?
  • Description: In this game, you play as an aquatic organism and evolve, explore, and encounter other organisms in the depths. It sounds really chill and lovely.
    • I’m a little confused. So the game was originally made as a thesis project by game designer Jenova Chen, for Win/OSX, but also was released later as a commercial game on PS3/PS4. I can’t find a way to download it for the latter platforms.
    • However, it is available free for Win/OSX at the link under the name of the game above. Chen apparently created ThatGameCompany, as well, and I couldn’t find a link to download/buy it at its page on their site. Perhaps operator error, though.

Flower

  • OS: Win/OSX
  • Price: $6.99
  • Description: Pick flowers and influence the world around you; the environment changes depending on your actions. Looks like some wonderful atmosphere and very relaxing. Apparently the game was added to the Smithsonian!

Games made with the game creation system Bitsy

  • There are lots of them! Not sure if all of them are chill, so YMMV.
  • I need to look through some of these but haven’t yet.

Journey

  • OS: Win/OSX
  • Price: $14.99
  • Description: Explore a world of ruins and shifting sands; this adventure can be played solo or with friends, apparently. Looks very atmospheric and lovely. (See also Sky, Flower, Flow elsewhere)

Season

  • OS: TBD
  • Price: TBD
  • Description: A game where you are on a bicycle road trip, documenting your trip. You play as a young woman. This looks lovely.

S.E.A.

  • OS: Win/Linux
  • Price: free!
  • Description: Explore a vast ocean in your watercraft! This sounds wonderful and relaxing.

Meadow

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $4.99
  • Description: Open-world sandbox game where you explore an expansive meadow. Sounds chill but also potentially a little scary.

Mandagon

  • OS: Win/OSX
  • Price: free
  • Description: A game influenced by Tibetan theology and philosophy, an exploration of the Tibetan “Bardo.” Looks a little like Celeste style-wise. Wish this were on Linux!

Return

  • OS: Win
  • Price: free
  • Description: Return the lost soul to its home. Looks cutesy, like a nice platformer.

soundStrider

  • OS: Win/Linux, or in-browser (HTML5)
  • Price: $9.99
  • Description: Explore, walk, relax. Also procedurally-generated and sounds like there are near-infinite possibilities and variations. This is an audio game, as well, aimed to be accessible to limited-vision or blind players.

Sky

  • OS: OSX (perhaps iPhone-only?)/Android
  • Price: Freemium (in-app purchases)
  • Description: Explore the kingdoms of the sky! Socialize with others (sounds like it has some MMORPG aspects), save spirits, and more! Sounds like a gentle, chill game.
    • I’ve added a couple of other games by the same studio, ThatGameCompany, which also made Journey, Flower, and Flow (see elsewhere).

Spiritfarer

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $29.99
  • Description: Take care of spirits on their way to the afterlife; you play as the master of a ferry for these spirits. Crafting, farming, and other tasks abound, and it looks really wonderful. Be a psychopomp!

Tacoma

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $19.99
  • Description: Set on a space station in 2088, your mission is to explore the space station and discover the story of its crew. Sounds a bit scary but also really fascinating. Apparently it’s made by the creators of Gone Home, a similar sort of game.

Virtual Cottage

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: Free!
  • Description: Hang out in your little cottage and commit to working on whatever you feel like. This isn’t really a game per se but a nice thing to put on in the background while you’re working on something, and is intended to help you relax and focus. Definitely worth checking out!

Cats are Liquid: A Light in the Shadows

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $0.99
  • Description: Can confirm that this game is amazing, I’ve played the original and this is the sequel. Very chill and fun, what’s not to love? You play in this platformer as a cat who can turn into liquid!

Polyball

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $14.99
  • Description: Looks like Marble Madness, or Neverball, which is a nice free game on Linux. This looks pretty though!

Starbound

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $14.99
  • Description: This looks really cool. Survival/exploration/&c. on another planet. Nice pixelated 8-bit-style graphics. Could be really chill or could be intense!

Abzu

  • OS: Win
  • Price: $19.99
  • Description: Ocean exploration. Beautiful visuals. Wish this were on Linux too.

Potion Permit

  • OS: Win/OSX
  • Price: TBD
  • Description: Take care of villagers, diagnose illnesses, and gather herbs for healing. Help people! Sounds nice and quaint and chill and fun.

Moon Hunters

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $2.24
  • Description: Mesopotamian mythology-inspired game. You have five days to save the world! Restore balance to the world. Nice 8-bit-style graphics. Sounds vaguely like Treasure of the Rudras (Rudra no Hihou) on SNES.

Orchids to Dusk

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: name your own price
  • Description: Astronaut wandering on another planet, with only a few minutes to live. Maybe not so chill?

Umurangi Generation

  • OS: Win
  • Price: $11.99
  • Description: Take photographs in a dystopian city of the future!

Naut

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: name your own price
  • Description: Explore Mars! Wander through the desert. It looks pretty colorful and fun.

Sacramento

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: name your own price
  • Description: Wander through an unreal landscape. Style looks like sketchbooks, very lovingly hand-drawn style.

Robot Finds Kitten

  • OS: web-based
    • Caveat: this is HTTP-only, not HTTPS!
  • Price: free
  • Description: This looks like a cool little web text adventure!

AI Dungeon

  • OS: Web-based
  • Price: free
  • Description: Sounds like a randomly-generated roguelike.

Dear Esther

  • OS: Win/OSX
  • Price: $9.99
  • Description: First-person exploration game. Sounds almost like survival horror. Semi-randomized story. Randomly-generated audio and visuals. Sounds really cool.

Firewatch

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $19.99
  • Description: You’re a lookout at a fire tower in the Wyoming wilderness. Sounds like you get to explore the wilderness a bit.

Outer Wilds

  • OS: Win
  • Price: $24.99
  • Description: Space, exploration of another planet. Looks trippy and fun.

Heaven’s Vault

  • OS: Win
    • Per my friend @emacsomancer, this works fairly OK using Proton, a Wine compatibility layer created by Valve Software, so it may be usable on Linux (or OSX perhaps)
  • Price: $12.49
  • Description: Exploration of another planet as an archaeologist with a robot sidekick!

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

  • OS: Win
  • Price: $19.99
  • Description: Mystery story with occult undertones, plays out like weird fiction (think Cthulhu mythos, &c.). Sounds cool.

Aegis Defenders

  • OS: Win/OSX
  • Price: $19.99
  • Description: 2D platformer, where you “explore, build, defend.” You are searching for a fabled weapon called Aegis! Sounds like fun.

Owlboy

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $24.99
  • Description: Explore a world in the clouds! Platformer set in the skies. Sounds lovely.

Transistor

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $19.99
  • Description: Explore a city of the future in this sci-fi action RPG. This sounds really cool as well.

This next section is a selection of my favorite itch.io games, selected from my own collection, so I know them fairly well.

A Day in the Woods

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $4.99
  • Description: This is a cool little puzzle game where you’re trying to make it to Granny’s cottage in the woods. It’s fun and chill.

A Short Hike

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $7.99
  • Description: Take a hike in the woods. Apparently flying is involved too! This is a lovely little game.

Come Back

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $4.99
  • Description: Explore a desolate island in search of your missing love. This is an often-inscrutable, confusing game, but it’s pretty and interesting.

if not us

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $7
  • Description: An anthology of five interactive fiction vignettes. Very well-done.

Lenna’s Inception

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $9.99
  • Description: This is a wonderful action RPG in the style of Link’s Awakening or A Link to the Past. It’s super fun and super immersive. Apparently has lots of replay value too as a lot of is procedurally generated.

Mewnbase

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $5.99
  • Description: You are a space-cat and building a base for survival on another planet!!

Milkmaid of the Milky Way

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $4.99
  • Description: A point-and-click adventure game. I’ve only played a tiny bit of this but it’s really quite lovely. Nice graphics and seems very chill and fun.

Neofeud

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $4.49
  • Description: A dystopian cyberpunk visual novel/point-and-click adventure by an indigenous Hawai’ian game designer who has a presence on the Fediverse here. I’ve only played a bit of the game so far but it’s really great, and a biting critique of American imperialism and the American capitalist hellscape.

Night in the Woods

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $19.99
  • Description: You play as a cat returning to their hometown, and I guess hang out in the woods! I haven’t gotten very far into this game but it’s really nice. Apparently there is another game with the same name, which is billed as “a quiet game about the end of the world.” I think I’m gonna have to play that too.

Oxenfree

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $9.99
  • Description: Hang out with your friends on a ghostly deserted island. I also haven’t gotten far into this, but it looks quite promising.

Panmorphia

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $3.99
  • Description: Explore beautiful landscapes in this puzzle game. Really nice visuals and it’s relaxing.

Underhero

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $14.99
  • Description: This is a really cute RPG where you play as one of the big bad’s minions! Stylistically like Shovel Knight, a little bit, but more RPGish.

Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $19.99
  • Description: Has some major Zelda: Ocarina of Time vibes. 3rd-person RPG set in the forest. It’s really fun.

Wide Ocean, Big Jacket

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $7.99
  • Description: An adventure game where you go on a camping trip with your family. I’ve only played the intro but it’s nice.

Celeste

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $19.99
  • Description: A gorgeously-crafted platformer, Metroidvania-style, where you climb ever upward on a snowy, desolate mountain. Lots of carefully-timed jumps needed, but otherwise, lovely music and wonderful visuals. I actually just finished the (main) game, and it was so worth playing, just wonderful. The game lets you enable assists and meets you at your level if it happens to get too difficult, you know? And that is a huge plus in my book.
  • Bonus: I was recently told that Celeste is a trans allegory! The creator, Maddy Thorson, is non-binary and has stated that Madeline, the main character, is canonically trans. Makes me love the game even more!
    • Another bonus: the soundtrack is available on Bandcamp and was composed by a trans woman, Lena Raine! I want to buy it!! I bought it!!

Gumgem

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $2.99
  • Description: Rescue the prince in this very cute platformer. Similar to Celeste.

On Rusty Trails

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $12.99
  • Description: You’re a robot trying to make their way through a dangerous cityscape. Despite there being dangers all around,it’s actually a pretty chill game, and has really lovely graphics.

Pikuniku

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $12.99
  • Description: A calm little platformer where you’re helping people in a village, solving puzzles, and generally having a chill time.
    • I was playing some Pikuniku today and realized that the game is actually very anti-capitalist and eco-focused. You are asked eventually to kill robots that are harvesting natural resources and stripping the land your friends live in. The robots are sent by “Sunshine Corp.” and they provide “Sunshine Coins” in return for destroying the ecosystems. Pretty rad.
    • Otherwise, as I mentioned, the game is about helping people and making friends, and it’s just lovely.

Secrets of Raetikon

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $9.99
  • Description: A beautiful game where you fly through the mountains, collect things, and explore the landscape.

Widget Satchel

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $14.99
  • Description: Collect widgets! This is a wild platformer but it’s also just super fun and addictive.

Adjacency

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $2.99
  • Description: An abstract puzzle game. Fun stuff!

A Game of Changes

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: €4.99
  • Description: It doesn’t get much more chill than this. Based on the hexagrams in the I Ching, you solve puzzles and find your way to the exit of each level.

Fugue

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $4.99
  • Description: Puzzle game with musical aspects. Fun!

Hidden Folks

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $11.99
  • Description: A spin on Where’s Waldo with nice, hand-drawn graphics.

Catlateral Damage

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $9.99
  • Description: First-person cat sim! What’s not to love?

Crescent Loom

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux/browser
  • Price: $19 (or free in-browser)
  • Description: I can’t figure this game out myself, but basically you create new lifeforms. Seems cool.

Equaboreal 12.21

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $2
  • Description: A really pretty game set at the winter solstice. It’s really fun just to wander around.

Glittermitten Grove

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $10
  • Description: Build up your home in faerieland and make it even prettier!

Kingdom Ka

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $4
  • Description: A storytelling game. Very abstract.

Lieve Oma

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $2.99
  • Description: Spend some time in the woods with your grandmother. Lush, gorgeous visuals.

Lingotopia

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $15
  • Description: Explore a city and learn a new language in the process. Choose the language you want to learn, and when you interact with an object, it’ll teach you the word in that language! They even have Esperanto!

Out the Window

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $2
  • Description: Car trip simulator. You look out the window and enjoy the sights!

Shutter Stroll

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $5
  • Description: Photography simulator! Walk around islands and take photos.

Verdant Skies

  • OS: Win/OSX/Linux
  • Price: $19.99
  • Description: Build up your settlement on another planet.

Epilegomena

There are, I’m sure, a lot more chill games out there that I’ve never heard of and would like to know about!

Please let me know if you have suggestions. If you have suggestions on consoles, too, please let me know. I have a list of recommended console games elsewhere on this site, but this list focuses specifically on PC games, really.

I’ll make updates here and there as needed, of course!

Thanks

Thanks very much to @pixouls for the suggestion to make this list, and for a ton of the suggestions on it! And, of course, to the game devs for making these chill games for us to play!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *