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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at George Mason University chapter.

Between midterms and COVID, it can be hard to just take a moment to relax during the day. Video games have always been my main source of stress relief during the semester. You can get as much if not more story than you would from a TV show or book, plus the mental stimulation of being apart of the story itself. 

The games I’ve put together here are a super fun mix of some short, visually and mentally relaxing indie games with not too much story to make you feel overwhelmed. I’ve also tried to avoid games with any super graphic visuals and storytelling. 

1. Abzû – PC, PS4, XBox One, Switch

If there’s one thing I regret in my life as a gamer, it’s how long I let this game sit in my PS4 library without playing it after I got it for free through PS+. 

Abzû is one of the most visually stunning games I have ever played in my life. If you’ve ever played Journey, the two are often compared in terms of gorgeous graphics and scriptless storytelling, just one takes place in the desert and the other underwater. The entire story of Abzû is told through visuals and sound (please listen to the soundtrack, I’m begging you), and when I say the entire story, note that this game is only two to three hours long. You’ll be amazed at how much this game packs into such a short amount of time. There are very few controls you have to learn, and the game encourages you to take breaks in different locations to just stop and observe the wildlife and oceanic views around you. 

2. Donut County – PC, PS4, iOS

Donut County is such a pleasant surprise of a game. From developer Annapurna Interactive, this puzzle game allows you to click and drag a hole that has opened up in the earth around different stages of the game to eat all of Donut County. While there are a few games that have this type of puzzle gimmick, none do it quite like this one. 

The real appeal of Donut County is the bits of backstory and plot you get between stages; following Mira, her new donut shop and the pesky raccoon she hired to help her run it, BK. I won’t give away too much of why these holes have suddenly started popping up around town, or especially why it coincides with Mira hiring BK. However, I will tell you that the characters in this game are absolutely delightful! This is accompanied by adorable graphics and a narrative that will have you laughing through the whole game. 

3. Slime Rancher – PC, PS4, Xbox One

I think this is definitely one of the more recognizable games on this list since a lot of YouTubers played it when the beta first came out. However, I’ve noticed that Slime Rancher lost a lot of traction once big-name YouTubers finished most of the content within the game. 

Slime Rancher is a simulator from Monomi Park where you play as Beatrix LeBeau, who inherits a farm made for wrangling slimes. When you first get into this game, you’re greeted with absolutely adorably stunning visuals and even cuter (if not some bratty) slimes. This is by far one of the cutest games to come out in recent years. The main goal is to herd slimes on your farm and use plorts (basically slime poop) to earn money and expand your farm to hold more slimes. You can also use plorts and different hidden boxes around the map to find new stunning locations to progress the story forward. If you’re looking for a game to just get lost in and take in stunning graphics, this is for you. 

4. Monster Prom – PC, Switch

If you’re looking for a multiplayer dating sim with an all-star cast of YouTube voice actors, you’ve come to the right place! In this game, you’ll find the voices of YouTubers like the Game Grumps, Jacksepticeye, and NateWantsToBattle. 

Monster Prom is definitely the kind of relaxation you’ll get from laughing until your stomach hurts while playing with a group of friends. This dating sim takes you around a monstrous high school of hilarious scenarios with a stellar cast of characters who you must win the hearts of and ask to the prom! Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can try and meet a few of the huge number of supporting characters hidden throughout this game and get their special endings! This game has hours of content and loads of replayability to unlock different scenarios, endings and screencaps from throughout the game’s production.

5. Totally Reliable Delivery Service – PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS

In my opinion, the best games out there are those with less than perfect controls that will send you flying across the map and laughing like crazy the whole way there. 

From TinyBuild Games, this delivery simulator takes you around the map to deliver various packages across many different types of terrain in very… questionable ways. Totally Reliable Delivery Service is a game best played with friends or streamed on Twitch, as you and your friends can work together to deliver packages. With these types of games, there’s also the aspect where the more people you have in the game, the more everything is going to go horribly wrong in all the best ways. This is definitely one of the more simplistic games on the list, but don’t let that discourage you from playing it! It’s the perfect game for friends to destress and have a good time with low-pressure co-op. 

6. Graveyard Keeper – PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Android

You might be wondering why I’ve broken my own rule to include this game on the list. When looking for games for my list, I noticed that every other list I found included Stardew Valley somewhere in the top five. I decided that I wanted to find a game similar to Stardew Valley that could still hold its own and give players days’ worth of content.

From Lazy Bear Games, Graveyard Keeper is a medieval Stardew Valley look-alike where, instead of taking care of a farm, you’re taking care of a cemetery in your town and assisting its residents in a multitude of tasks. It’s very much like Stardew Valley visually and in the sense that you’re supposed to form relationships with residents and visitors of the town, but for this game, you also get to help them with a multitude of quests to help build the town up. If you’re okay with darker themes and loved Stardew Valley, I highly suggest giving Graveyard Keeper a try.

Hopefully, as midterms slow down and the cold weather kicks in, you’ll find some more opportunities to snuggle up with a blanket at home and try out some new games!

Jane Grosskopf

George Mason University '21

Jane Grosskopf is a senior at George Mason University majoring in creative writing with a double minor in Middle East studies and journalism. Outside of writing, Jane plays clarinet in the Green Machine Pep Band, and serves as Vice President of Membership for the Mu Omicron chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, an honorary music service fraternity.
George Mason Contributor (GMU)

George Mason University '50

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