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Low Impact Gaming

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Sometimes, I’ve had enough of explosions and fast-paced, fly by the seat of your pants gaming and want something a little more relaxing, or as I like to say, low impact. Here are some of the games I like to play when I just want to chill.

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The main attributes of a low impact game are as follows:

  • Little to no violence
  • When violence is present, it must be cartoony or avoidable
  • Non-competitive
  • Can be co-operative
  • Low stakes, simple storyline if any

So with this in mind, here are a few things you can play if you just wanna kick back and relax for a while.

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Stardew Valley

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I’ve recently come back to Stardew, and it’s a real gem of a game. Running your own farm will keep you busy, but there is just something so very relaxing, to me at least, about shaping the farm to your needs and seeing it flourish as you learn the mechanics. Neat rows of plants, seeing trees grow.. spending the day at the lake fishing. Pure gaming bliss.

You can go fight the monsters and ghosts in the mine, but you don’t have to. It’s dangerous, after all. So why not just spend your time in and around town and tending your farm?

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No Man’s Sky

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While you usually find yourself on a crapsack world in the tutorial phase of the game, once you can warp between stars, the galaxy is your oyster and you can spend your days exploring.

Once you get a conflict scanner, you can avoid star systems with high levels of conflict and generally avoid any hostile confrontations, and as long as you obey their rules the sentinels won’t bother you either.

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One of the most enjoyable and relaxing experiences I’ve had with this game is, once you’ve amassed a ton of money which is pretty easy, to build epic bases and exploring the game’s fairly extensive crafting mechanics.

Minecraft

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Minecraft has been around for a while and is still relevant, as evidenced by the recent ray tracing demo.

Like Stardew and ‘Sky, there are crafting mechanics and item management mechanics, but I’m here to talk about creative mode.

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One of the unwritten rules of gaming that I just made up is that if it exists, there is a Minecraft version of it. Joining a creative server you can see and experience some truly mind-blowing things people have created.

Undertale

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No crafting or inventory management here, Undertale was a smash hit in 2015 for a variety of reasons - it’s simplicity, it’s music and it’s heartwarming story.

Of course, the game does have some spoopy lore and weirdness, but I can’t think of any other game where you befriend all the bosses and Toby Fox’s goofy, off the wall humor will atleast get you to crack a grin if not a full-on belly laugh.

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For those who have played it already, and some who have not, some of the jokes may be weary due to the game’s ascension to meme status, but the story is rich and the characters are great. I couldn’t put it down when I played it a few years ago.

YMMV with Undertale, since perhaps it is intense in it’s own way. That aside, it should get a laugh out of you.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons (or presumably any other AC title)

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Probably you all saw this coming, Animal Crossing is digital escapism at it’s finest. There is no pressure to do anything in particular, you can just run around catching bugs and fish, crafting things (thats right folks, more crafting!)

Out of all the crafting systems I’ve mentioned, AC I would say is by far the most streamlined, manageable, and straightforward so if you don’t enjoy crafting then this is probably one for you since it’s fairly minimalist in this game.

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The characters are all bright and cheery, there is no violence to speak of (aside from your friend slapping you in the face with his or her net) and it’s all around very relaxing to play. I’ve caught myself letting out a sigh of relaxation a few times while playing this. Great job, Nintendo!

Katamari Damacy: REROLL

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Ah, Katamari Damacy. I’d advise getting this one on the Switch, since it’s not all that fun to play with a keyboard.

The game itself is simple, there is a timer applying some pressure here, but all you have to do is roll things up to make stars after your dad, the King of All Cosmos, got drunk on Barley Juice (or whatever it is they call beer in that game) and messed them all up.

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It’s wacky, it’s cheerful and fun. I had a blast playing this a while ago, I was feeling really down at the time and ended up finishing it in one sitting feeling much more relaxed afterwards.

It’s not a long game, but it’s hella fun, I’d grab it on special.

Worth mentioning, the controls are a little wonky sometimes, but that’s due to this being a remaster of a PS2 game. Not terrible, it didn’t break my immersion once I got used to it.

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So there you have it! No blood and guts, no grand tales of deceit and betrayal, some nice games that your brain will digest as easily as a greasy breakfast after a bender.

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What do you play when you’re under pressure? Do your gaming habits change at all depending on your stress levels? Let me know in the comments!

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