Games for when you're feeling down

Everyone needs a pick me up once in a while, what works for you?

I think for me I like more hands on, light on story games, as opposed to story-heavy or puzzle games during those times. Stuff like the Katamari games, for example. Time sinks are also great for getting your mind out of your worries. All those open-world games with loads of objectives on the map, like Mad Max, short gameplay loops that you can string together, like Hyrule Warriors, or some grinding for loot games, like Destiny 2 (I assume, the release on PC has been pushed a couple of months). Then there's Civilization, which isn't that hands-on, but it sure does grab your attention and holds it like a vice.

I think a sense of accomplishment is important, so like you said, anything brief and episodic (level-based) or any time sink sandbox where you can pick up a missions willy-nilly or grind stuff are good enough. Depends what I'm playing at the time.

Elder Scrolls games. When I am depressed which is often, I find I lack a desire to engage with most games. Putting forth the effort is not fun, but in games like Skyrim, I can play the game while doing little. Usually I avoid long indepth dungeons and stick to misc quests that I can complete in a town.

ESO also for much the same.

Also games like Terraria, Starbound, and Minecraft, again all cause I can play them without having to accomplish anything.

I'm the opposite. I like story heavy games where i can get immersed in a fictional world without having to think about the real world. Usually JRPGS, because of their colorful aesthetics and ( usually) happy go lucky characters.

I spent a weekend once where I played the Halo campaigns, doing nothing but eating junk food and takeaway, whilst getting absolutely hammered on cider and vodka.

Honestly, one of the best weekends of my life. Great stress relief.

Lately Okami for its gorgeous upbeat-ness and Ace Combat 5 to make me feel heroic. Thank fuck for emulation, I almost completely missed the PS2 back in the day.

I tend to not game when feeling down because when I game it's something I put a lot of energy into instead of something I do to relax. I guess I could see some simpler games such as a card game good for those times, though. Maybe Shadowverse or something.

Something funny. Try thimbleweed park or one of the old Lucasarts adventure game classics.

All of those story based games. The more depressing or darkly comic, the better though. Happier, loud games tend to feel more obnoxious to that state of mind. It tends to seek moods to suit it and to distract the nasty thoughts. It sounds counter-intuitive perhaps, but the brain seems to reject anything it sees as a happiness it doesn't want or understand at the time. That Game Company does some pretty disarming experiences that help people I believe.

Saelune:

ESO also for much the same.

I concur with ESO. Because you have a vaerity of things you can do, you can find something to switch off to. Sunless Sea as long as you don't read too much of what you doing (like eating your own crew when you starve). Chugging along in the empty void feels peaceful

Any open world/sandbox where I can move at my own pace and do what I want, bonus if there's an interesting traversal mechanics (e.g.: Prototype, Crackdown.)

Saelune:
Elder Scrolls games.

I agree with at least Morrowind; whenever I was in a bad mood, I'd just go get lost in an adventure. Pick a spot on the map that hadn't been explored yet, and I'd invariably find a cave or a Daedric/Dwarven ruin or a fort or something. Oblivion and Skyrim, not so much; no real sense of adventure when you're never going to find any loot or enemies that aren't scaled to your level, so why bother?

Journey.

Simple yet immersive, little input required yet a lot to take out. Purely therapeutic.

The gaming equivilant of a relaxing bath or a hot cup of tea.

King Billi:
Journey.

Simple yet immersive, little input required yet a lot to take out. Purely therapeutic.

The gaming equivilant of a relaxing bath or a hot cup of tea.

I should totally pick up Journey

I had to postpone a hiking/camping trip because of a sprained ankle, so I booted up my dusty copy of Skyrim mainly so I can walk around the world and climb mountains and take in the views. I walked from Whiterun to Riften right off the bat and there was a lot of interesting views of mountains and waterfalls and old crumbling towers. It's a shame the game doesn't incorporate that in the quests enough, I would love to have a timed quest where you have to race from one town to another, or chase some bandits down on horseback or something

Grand Theft Auto+Flamethrower+Crowd=Job Done

Or if not the Flamer then Sniper Rifle from a Bridge/Overpass

Saelune:
Elder Scrolls games. When I am depressed which is often, I find I lack a desire to engage with most games. Putting forth the effort is not fun, but in games like Skyrim, I can play the game while doing little. Usually I avoid long indepth dungeons and stick to misc quests that I can complete in a town.

ESO also for much the same.

Also games like Terraria, Starbound, and Minecraft, again all cause I can play them without having to accomplish anything.

Yeah, same. When depressed I don't usually do deep dives into stories I should care about precisely because I don't care.
Personally, I usually gravitate to puzzle games for low-stress, low-stakes play and because it's surmountable and gets my mind focused on one thing.
I remember getting lost in the first Professor Layton during a deep, low point. I think I used Toki Tori and good ole Tetris or AntiChamber and Portal 2 in similar fashions.

I really don't get depressed that much. For those rare occasions I usually like something that praises me for completing simple tasks and is comforting. Like Stardew Valley, which I also find calming. Usually if I'm down I'm more angry and frustrated than depressed. At that point catharsis dictates gameplay. A game where I can cruelly plan and execute terrible vengeance on my foes. Dishonored isn't bad for that, Fallout games are pretty good for that too. Trapt is another favorite, making Rube Goldberg machines of torture and death in Trapt is particularly satisfying.

I've been going through a rough patch this year, and the brain pacifier of choice has been the Souls games. As in the whole series, including Demon's. And Bloodborne. Twice.
Just run forward, die, and shoot or slice away your troubles.

Sometimes I load up one of the Unreal Tournaments and set bots to easy to have a good slaughterfest and unwind.

All the other times? Pilotwings 64.

A simpler time. A carefree time. And super relaxing to boot. Especially cruising around over a tropical island in a hang glider

Elite Beat Agents. Aliens invaded Earth, you got your ass kicked and everything seems hopeless? Fuck that! Make an amazing comeback and return the favor with the power of friggin rock 'n roll!

gsilver:
I've been going through a rough patch this year, and the brain pacifier of choice has been the Souls games. As in the whole series, including Demon's. And Bloodborne. Twice.
Just run forward, die, and shoot or slice away your troubles.

I guess I've used Bloodborne in a similar manner in the past, though I should probably lay off it by now. I've already beaten it 4 times and platinum'd it.

On the other hand I've put over 100 hours into Dark Souls, during 3 playthroughs, yet I've never actually finished it. I think I get too caught up working towards a single goal, like a special sword or something, that I end up getting bored or something. Then when I want to play it again it feels like it has been far too long for me to pick up a save two thirds into the game, and I don't always feel like starting over from scratch.

Silent Hill 2. Hear me out. Silent Hill 2 takes me on an emotional journey in a town that is genuinely out to get you. I don't know why it helps so much, it just does. Maybe it's because I take a look at James and I think "You know what Chloe? Maybe shit isn't actually that bad. It could be worse"

Otherwise, Harvest Moon. I know it's a huge contrast from silent hill to harvest moon, but ah well. It works.

Dreiko:
I tend to not game when feeling down because when I game it's something I put a lot of energy into instead of something I do to relax. I guess I could see some simpler games such as a card game good for those times, though. Maybe Shadowverse or something.

Shadowverse? Relaxing? I mean you might just play normals with chill homebrew decks (I STILL want Flame & Glass to work in a half viable deck) and not be a nolifer like me who is grinding to Master every day but if you've played SV during the current expansion it's not really relaxing with a million Neutralcrafts rolling around ladder.

I got hard stuck in AA1 trying to make memes like Dark Alice/Test of Strength/Satan work, finally caved in and netdecked a top tier Neutral Rune deck and i'm halfway through AA2 and counting like 4 days after. I'd be in AA3 by now if i'd picked up the deck before the Falise nerf went through. Neutral vs Neutral is a tossup as to who can play Alice first and/or who curves most effectively, it's maddening. My ears are still ringing with "lands of wonders! Lands of marvels!" on repeat.

Still a fun game tho, I love and hate how unfair SV is late game. A million cards that just say "end the game now or I auto win", quite literally in Enstatued Seraph's case. "Countdown 1: Win the Game"

OT: I tend to just go into training mode in BlazBlue and figure out more BM Terumi combos that will 99% never come up in actual play but goddamn they are there in my back pocket if I get the chance to pull the 8000 damage Overdrive counter super combo off online. 2.0 Terumi can combo off the overhead too, yes thank god. Counter hit only but i'll fucking take it. Poor guy needs all the help he can get...

I'd really like to recommend Ittle Dew.

While some specific other games helped me during my heavy depression (Fallout New Vegas and Pokemon White). That game has a quirky character to it. So it isn't just escapism like the 2 former mentioned games, but a genuine lighthearted puzzle adventure.

 

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