Video games have always been a source of comfort for me. They provide a nice escape when things are very hectic, and personally help me manage anxiety. It’s nice to feel some control in a game when the world seems out of control! I very much enjoy a bold narrative-driven game or very intense platforming challenge-it’s helpful to focus energy on overcoming obstacles in a game. But sometimes you just need a cozy, low-stress game. I especially like unwinding with the Switch because you play it anywhere in your house easily! So in no particular order, these are my personal favorite relaxing Nintendo Switch games.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
I mean, this one is obvious. Just looking at sales of this game alone during 2020, it’s clear that New Horizons has been the relaxing game all of us need right now! My wife has been a fan of the series since New Leaf on the 3DS, but this was actually my first exposure to it. And my gosh, it’s so therapeutic. I find it so calming to do my daily “chore loop” and slowly build a little island paradise. I wish a few mechanics could be tweaked to make the game flow a little better, but I love the island life and this game is nearly as relaxing as a real trip to the beach. The seasonal changes and events are very clever and bring a lot of whimsy to the whole experience too! And the sound effects and music of this game are beyond charming. They always get stuck in my head! I was surprised at how easily New Horizons grabbed a top spot in my top 10 best games of 2020.
My wife and I both love working and hanging out in coffee shops and pubs. We find them very warm and cozy, and enjoy casual conversations with the staff and other patrons. And gosh have we missed them throughout this past year! Coffee Talk was the perfect antidote-exactly what we missed about real cafes, distilled into video game form! It’s essentially a relaxing visual novel with a bit of drink-making thrown in. Very calming, but still thought provoking as you get to know the customers, their lives, and the issues they struggle with. We both enjoyed the game so much that I wrote a Coffee Talk review-check it out, then go play the game! You won’t be disappointed.
I started to play Stardew Valley on a Friday last November. It was a cold night and we had a fire going. I was still teaching and it had been a long week, so I figured I’d try an in-game day or two, then head to bed. The next thing I knew, it was well past midnight and I thrown several more logs on the fire! I seriously couldn’t stop. It’s a simple premise based on the Harvest Moon series-you inherit a farm from your Grandfather, and quit your busy day job to move to it. From there it’s really up to you in terms of how you play the game. There’s an amazingly intricate town with delightful citizens you can get to know over time. There are fun festivals and events. And you can grow your farm however intensely you’d like. Each “day” lasts only 15 minutes or so, which is perfect for playing just one or two a night (but you’ll do more, because it’s so fun). Easily one of the most relaxing Nintendo Switch games.
Yoshi’s Crafted World
My girls (2 and 3 years old, at the time of this writing) are obsessed with the Yarn Yoshi amiibo. I bought one for each of them when we were out shopping awhile back, and it was only a matter of time before we had to try out Yoshi’s Crafted World too! And we had a great, relaxing, time playing through it as a family. It’s simple, fun, colorful, and cute without being “too cute”. The graphics alone are charming to the point where I’m instantly calmer just looking at them! There’s even a “mellow mode” where Yoshi always flies, barely gets hurt, and has more heart pick-ups, essentially eliminating stress. If that doesn’t say “one of the most relaxing Nintendo Switch games”, I don’t know what does!
The Gardens Between
I downloaded this on suggestion from one of my best friends a few months ago. It’s a short puzzle game about the friendship of two young people who live next door to each other. Between their homes is the titular “garden” they spend time in together. Uniquely, the game is experienced through their memories, and your controls during them are very limited. You can only move backward or forward in time, and each character has one way to interact with the environment. It’s pretty straightforward (though some of the later puzzles do get a bit challenging). One of the reasons I find it so calming is that there’s no dialogue at all. Regardless, the memories recreated as you play are so beautiful, and resonate universally. Get cozy and try it out! Oh, and you’ll probably cry at the ending, but in a good way.
What are your most relaxing Nintendo Switch games? Is there a game I missed and definitely need to try next time I need to de-stress? Do you have suggestions of games from other consoles? Let me know in the comments below!