Video games can be challenging and sometimes downright stressful. It’s time to take a step back, chill out and unwind. Peaceful strolls, casual platformers or just something pretty to look at? We’ve got you covered. So get your mind off of that Bloodborne boss and take a virtual vacation by playing the games in our Top 10 relaxing video game landscapes.

10. Submerged 


Starting off the list is Submerged, a quietly beautiful game where you explore an overgrown and forgotten city. You play as a young girl named Miku, who must search the city for supplies so save your wounded brother. With everyone else mysteriously gone, you are free to explore the sunken city at your own pace, scaling buildings and traversing the seas by boat. Submerged places a particular emphasis upon relaxation with its combat-free gameplay and truly stunning visuals. When exploring in your small fishing boat, it really feels as though you are part of something bigger, it’s a game where the desolate flooded cityscape completely overwhelms the player in an astounding way.

~Rachel Watts


9. Okami9

In a game where combat is heavily featured, its always nice to have some down time in-between battles where you can relax and recuperate. Okami is a master at both of these aspects. Set in feudal Japan, the landscape in Okami evokes an array of relaxing feelings; the still blue mountains, the falling pink petals and the running water all conjure a peaceful feeling. The ink wash style is a perfect way to present the classical myths and legends of Japanese history. Okami has a massive world to explore with a variety of colourful landscapes; forests, caves and temples all have their own charm so you can find your own personal serene spot.

~Rachel Watts


8. The Banner Saga8

As video games, consoles, and developers continue to mature in the industry, gamers reap the benefits. Particularly evident in our current generation of consoles/PC hardware is the capability of creating a world that is truly beautiful, nearly tangible. The Banner Saga is an example of an immensely beautiful art style utilized in creating a beautiful and barren Viking landscape. Not only does the style compliment the feel of the game – it captures the cold, hard world of Viking-esque conquest – but it lends itself well to creating a believable world. And in works of fiction, nothing is more important than a believable world; without it, fiction falls flat, becomes meaningless. The Banner Saga retains a simple beauty where the player can spend hours within.

~Evan Schwab

7. Everybody’s Gone to Rapture


When discussing video game landscapes, we cannot exclude developers The Chinese RoomDear Ester had a melancholic atmosphere while Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs’ terrified players with its story. However, the game that made this list is Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Chinese Room’s environmental storytelling is masterfully crafted in all their titles and the same goes for Rapture. Like Submerged, everyone has mysteriously disappeared, leaving only fragments of memories scattered throughout the quiet countryside. The player can explore the oh-so-quaint British valley at their own pace, and piece together the secrets behind the village’s apparent vanishing act. The peaceful outdoors complete with country bumpkin lifestyles of bonnie bicycles and cute cottages is a relaxing experience.

~Rachel Watts


6. Flower


Thatgamecompany is known by now to the gaming multiverse as a developer capable of creating some of the most gorgeous landscapes of all time. Flower takes players on a beautiful journey where you control the wind, carrying and igniting petals, combusting them into colorful flames of flowers, coaxing them to spread and carry their iridescent light throughout the dark and lonely world. Flower is a game almost too beautiful to describe, but I find it hard to find any comparable experience; at the least, Flower lives in my mind as one of the most simplistically pretty and undeniably relaxing games of my lifetime.

~Evan Schwab


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5. Yoshi’s Woolly World 


When considering this top 10 list of beautiful and relaxing landscapes, Yoshi’s Woolly World was one of the first games that came to mind. It’s so simple a child could excel at, but with a difficulty an adult can enjoy; Yoshi’s Woolly World brings an entertaining platforming experience in a dramatically unique world. As its title states, Yoshi’s Woolly World is a game about yarn Yoshis, and one (or two, if playing co-operatively) Yoshi’s adventure to free his friends from the evil Koopa. Each world is filled with a multitude of sewing inspired levels, inducing the warm fuzzies of enjoyment and creating a soothing experience. This one is also able to be enjoyed with your significant other – and I recommend doing so.

~ Evan Schwab


4. Fez4

With is colourful bubblegum aesthetic and pixel block look, FEZ has an abundance of charm and cute aesthetics. You play as Gomez, a cute sprite who finds a magical fez that grants him the power to see his 2D world as one part of a four-sided 3D world, which the player can rotate between. The world of FEZ is one of pure exploration, a landscape of hidden secrets and puzzles to solve. The more you discover, the greater the world expands. You are free to dawdle between lands, your little tassel bouncing back and forth as you plod along, jumping onto platforms and finding new pathways and doors. The music is calming, the characters have a dillydally attitude and the colors are bright and warm; Fez invites players into a calm and leisurely experience.

~ Rachel Watts


3. Muramasa: Rebirth


I’m sure not many expected to see a side-scrolling action/platformer near the top of this list. Muramasa: Rebirth, however, is quite deserving of the number three spot. A PlayStation Vita upgrade of the Muramasa for the Wii, Rebirth delivers some of the most gorgeous hand drawn landscapes I have ever seen. I found myself playing through the game multiple times, not only for its enjoyable and quick combat, but for the simply stunning visuals of the artistic world. It is difficult not to consider Muramasa: Rebirth a work of art based on visuals alone. Each level could easily be printed, framed, and sold at your local art dealer – it’s that incredible.

~ Evan Schwab


2. Proteus


Being at one with nature creates a unique feeling of relaxation, a feeling that Proteus captures in its landscapes. Proteus is about exploring pixelated island that is procedurally generated every time the game is played. The landscape is covered in trees, plants, mountains and animals that make their own sounds when walked past. Proteus is simplistic in its design, but evokes a meaning through its minimalism for each person who plays it. It will not take you on an emotional roller-coaster, but instead allows players to unravel a slow and purposeful happening. It focuses on the peaceful ambience of a space where players can immerse themselves in a different type of way.

~ Rachel Watts

1. Journey1

Journey is the final stop on our relaxing landscape voyage. It’s a remarkable and emotional experience like no other. The second game by thatgamecompany in our top 10, the developers definitely understand how to get emotional responses from their players. Starting alone in a desert landscape, the player controls a hooded figure in a red and golden robe. The aim is to journey to a distant mountain and discover who you are and your history. The game takes you through various ancient caverns, crumbling cities, and dangerous underground lairs but manages to create a constant dream-like state. There are not-so-relaxing sequences, but most of the game focuses on peaceful exploration coupled with the ability to majestically glide through the air makes for a carefree feeling. Once you have finished the game you can play it all again with an anonymous online player, an experience that creates a mysterious emotional connection. It tops this list because Journey incorporates all of the unique aspects of the other games shared in this top 10. It’s stunning art style, environmental storytelling, peaceful soundtrack, painting-esque levels, accessibility, solemn beauty and wonderment are discovered within the game. Journey is a one of a kind relaxing game and an unforgettable landscape experience.

~ Rachel Watts


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