Gaming need not be all white-knuckle adrenaline-buzzing action. Games can also soothe and relax, providing the perfect come-down after a frantic day at the office. Think games like Endless Ocean on the Wii and Flower on the PS3. But you don't need a console to get your fix of gaming serenity. There are plenty of cool relaxing games you can play online for free. So take a few deep breaths, put aside all stressful thoughts and settle down to some tranquil fun with Casual Girl Gamer's Top 10 most relaxing online games.
When ever things start getting to me - whether it be looming deadlines at work, an aggressive boss or horrible events taking place in the world - there is one game I turn to. Magically, after a few minutes play, all my worries fade away and I feel relaxed and revived and full of new optimism.
No, the game is not called Heroin. The game is Music Catch, a fun puzzle game where you collect yellow and purple music notes while avoiding the nasty red notes, accompanied the whole time by some of the best music I have heard in a Flash game. Simply brilliant. If more people played Music Catch, I am certain there would be less bad in the world. Play the game here.
Created by Jenova Chen as part of his university thesis, flOw is a unique evolution simulator, in which you guide a creature from its first days of life, helping it to find food, fighting off predators and exploring the world. The game's simple graphics, great sound and intuitively simple controls make for some great, serene game play.
flOw is one of only a handful of games to have made it from the indie Flash scene to a full console product. The Playstation version of the game was launched in 2007 and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. The flash version of the game is very good and can be played here.
A similar game, clearly inspired by flOw, is Ef the Game. It can be played here.
Ferry Halim is one of the most inventive game developers around at the moment. He makes beautiful, quirky games that blur the distinction between gaming and art. I love all his games but if I had to choose one as my favourite it would have to be Drift. You are a rabbit frolicking in a sunny meadow. Coloured balloons drift lazily by in the warm breeze. Jump between the balloons to earn points. Relaxing, fun game-play and inspired pastel graphics will soon have you in a pleasurable trance. You can play Drift here.
I have only recently come across game developer Bell Brothers and, I have to say, I am mightily impressed by their work. Echo Genesis is one of their earlier games but it is typical of their innovative approach. Indeed, one could argue that this is more interactive art installation than game. You wander around an imaginary land, interacting with the varied fauna and flora and exploring new places. There are no objectives as such. Simply look, touch and move at your own pace. Play Echo Genesis here.
In real life, fishing is one of the most relaxing pursuits you can find. But most fishing games I've played have been more frustrating than enjoyable, thanks to complicated and unpredictable controls. Not Fishing Girl, however. The game could not be easier to play. A quick click of your mouse extends your line. And then you dwell on the meaning of life while the fish think about taking the bait. If you like to play games at your own pace, Fishing Girl may be perfect for you. You can play the game here.
If you like your games to entrance you with great music, beautiful graphics and wickedly intelligent puzzles, then you should check out Auditorium. One of the most beautiful games around, Auditorium challenges you to manipulate the flow of light to illuminate a series of sensors. You are helped in your task by tools that allow you to bend and split the light beams. You will have to pay to play the full game but the demo we link to offers a good few hours of relaxation. Auditorium can be played here.
We could quite easily have filled this list exclusively with games by Ferry Halim. In this original game, Ferry puts you in charge of the wind. Your task is to catch flowers in a basket attached to a balloon by blowing the balloon to the flowers. A simple idea brilliantly executed. Play High here.
Flower Reaction may not be the first game to feature this chain-reaction style of game play (Boomshine did it long before) but it is certainly one of the prettiest examples in the genre. Combine that with some serene classical music and you have a seriously relaxing and addictive game. Flower Reaction can be played here.
9Loops of zen
I have a confession. I've not shared this in public before. Until very recently, I was addicted to Loops of Zen. Not addicted as in "I quite liked playing the game" but in "I spent every spare moment playing it". One of the reasons my husband set up this blog for me was that it might distract me from playing this game. It didn't work. Loops of Zen is a serene puzzle game where you manipulate shapes to make sure there are no jagged ends. If you are prone to addiction, be warned, don't click on this link to the game.
Another Ferry Halim brilliancy featuring a cute rabbit. In Bells, your challenge is to get the bunny to ascend as high as possible by leaping on Christmas bells. The central idea of the game is nothing new but the cute graphics, simple and intuitive controls and soothing music make Bells a memorable and rewarding experience. Bells can be played here.
If you can think of any more great relaxing games, please share them with us in the comments section below.