It’s Summer! Unfortunately, it’s almost over! Old-timers, such as myself, sit and remember the dawn of video games during the cretaceous period, more commonly known as the mid to late 1980s. A time where games were very competitive in their nature be it single or multiplayer. Back then, they relied on high scores and time attacks to demonstrate each player’s skill level. As the medium has evolved into the modern era; competition, while still majority and relevant, has created a genre of genuine relaxation games. Here are five games you can play to ensure you have a relaxing end to your summer! #5 – Stardew Valley Stardew Valley is essentially Harvest Moon, but better and more relaxing. In Stardew Valley, players leave their city job and move out to the country to rehabilitate their uncle’s farm. Players must buy and maintain crops and livestock. As they progress, they will be able to expand their farm to produce byproducts such as mayonnaise, wine, and beer that guarantee profits for further player expansion. Players still need to occasionally gather resources from caves and woodlands, but it never feels forced or annoying. Stardew Valley takes the gameplay of Harvest Moon without the hectic pace that makes Harvest Moon a very difficult game. Stardew Valley takes the Harvest Moon formula and turns it into one of the most fun and relaxing experience for players who don’t want a stressful experience. #4 – Minecraft Minecraft is an interesting game and depending on how players interact with options and gameplay modes, can take the difficulty from stress-inducing to a zen garden. Players have two modes to play, Creative and Survival. Creative mode is by far the easiest way for players to have a fun and relaxing time as players do not have to worry about enemies attacking and destroying their projects. Players who delve into the creative mode also have an unlimited supply of all resources and tools, which is great for players who are still figuring out the mechanics of the game, however, the real fun starts in the survival mode. The Survival mode of Minecraft is where players will need to scour the landscape for resources to build their ultimate imaginative realm. As players roam and gather to survive, they will have to deal with enemies and the elements, which may not seem relaxing, however, depending on the difficulty chosen can help or hinder how well players can deal with the added stress of survival. By having to survive and gather resources I felt more accomplished in my creations in Minecraft and my overall creativity flourished as I had to think ahead about what I wanted or needed to build and craft. #3 – Roller Coaster Tycoon On the surface, Roller Coaster Tycoon does not appear as though it would be a relaxing game. In Roller Coaster Tycoon, players must manage their theme park while hitting various financial and theme park guest milestones. While Roller Coaster Tycoon’s main campaign can be a very hectic experience. Having to manage a theme park and guest expectations can be tiresome. The developers, however, have built-in a sandbox mode which is extremely fun and soothing to play. The sandbox mode doesn’t require players to adhere to a fiscal budget or guest happiness and enjoyment. Players are free to build the theme park of their dreams and the Roller Coasters of their customer’s nightmares. Players are free to follow the rules of the game or can create theme parks of death and destruction to endlessly torment any person who enters the gates of the amusement park. That is how Roller Coaster Tycoon achieves so well in being a relaxing experience is the slow nature of the sandbox mode mixed with the gradual levels of insanity of each individual player. #2 – Poker Night 2 Poker Night 2 is a fun and relaxing game that can be played on hardware from when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Poker, while fun, can be extremely stressful and anxiety-inducing due to the stakes at play. Poker Night 2 relieves the tension by replacing actual cash with virtual currency, so players who aren’t the best at poker, such as myself, can fall two million dollars in virtual debt and never have to worry about paying it back. Players will need to compete against Brock Samson (Venture Bros), Ash Williams (Evil Dead), Sam (Sam and Max) as well as Claptrap (Borderlands) while Glados (Portal) acts as the dealer and bouncer. Poker Night 2 is hilarious in the way the characters interact with each other and the player, plus being a virtual card game, the pace is relatively slow but entertaining. Poker Night 2 is also a great source for players looking to up their actual poker game or not if they do not want to deal with actual mafia bosses. #1 – Satisfactory Satisfactory is currently in early access. However, with the continuous updates from the developers, the game feels more complete than some modern AAA games recently released. In the game, Satisfactory players are a lone scientist sent to an uninhabited planet to build a self-sufficient factory. The premise of the game sounds quite simplistic, though the mechanics are very rich and well implemented, and the intermittent score and background ambiance help the player fall into relaxation as they plan their factory build. What makes Satisfactory such a relaxing entry, while the game attempts to give players a sense of urgency, there are no consequences for players to take their time laying the factory to their desired specifications. Part of the reason why the urgency is negated is as players expand their factory to automate different functions of the production process, the size, and scale of the factory grow exponentially thus making a poorly planned build very inefficient. Once players develop their base to a certain extent, there are multiple possibilities to create a factory and automated processes that rival the creativity of Minecraft players. Players can also play Satisfactory via online co-op thus making Satisfactory a fun and creative experience. Conclusion Overall games have grown far beyond what many people expected when they first appeared in the late 1970s. As games became more complex, their competitive nature became more apparent and, in some cases, overshadowed the fun and enjoyment intended for games. In today’s market, there is no shortage of fun games. Some have even discarded their competitive and hectic roots to create a chill and relaxing familiarity. Games such as Roller Coaster Tycoon, Satisfactory, and Poker Night 2 give players the ability to play their games on the player’s time and comfort. I see a bright future for this type of genre as gaming expands. What are your favorite relaxing games? What are you playing this summer? Tell us in the comment section below!