AirToob Lightning

“Life is an overwhelming whirlwind of stress, responsibility, existential crises, and utility bills. So it’s a good thing we have video games, which are the equivalent of burying your head in the sand and forgetting about what a gruelling, thankless chore simply existing can be.

“When I’m feeling the burden of sentience, these are the games I turn to. They’re all relaxing in their own special way, and the perfect way to unwind after a hard day of doing whatever it is you do to pay the rent.

“So light some scented candles, put on a Brian Eno CD, and slip into a warm bubble bath of pure tranquility. But not too far, ‘cause you might fall asleep and drown, and you’ve got work tomorrow.”

Andy Kelly (aka Ultrabrilliant) in PC Gamer

Andy is probably the finest journalist writing on video games. I have gratefully borrowed his words in my selections below from his article, and added some links. Click any image to see the full article with all 10 of Andy's suggestions.

Space Engine

“This one’s tricky. Flying around Space Engine’s beautiful 1:1 scale recreation of the universe can be remarkably humbling and soothing, but you run the risk of suddenly realising just how small and insignificant you are and having a mild existential breakdown. For the best experience, disable the in-game music and listen to the sci-fi-tinged ambience of ‘Tomorrow's Harvest’ by Boards of Canada.”

Take On Mars

“This slow-paced simulator sees you exploring the surface of the red planet with a variety of rovers and landers. The missions don’t get any more exciting than ‘probe some soil’, but the feeling of being alone on a distant, lonely world is palpable. The howl of the Martian wind as you trundle through the dust creates an evocative atmosphere, and the sedate pace of the rovers makes for a strangely hypnotic experience.”

The perfect companion to reading The Martian by Andy Weir (see my previous post below).

Dear Esther

“The bleak Hebridean island that this short, story-led game takes place on is one of my favourite virtual places to hike through. It evokes the same lonely feeling as Take On Mars, but with a more earthly setting. The world and sound design are hauntingly atmospheric, and the understated music and narration give it a serene, dreamlike feel. Can we have more games set on remote Scottish islands, please?”

... and a couple of the rest (click any image above to see the full set):


“This surrealist exploration game marries sound and visuals in a really captivating way. As you wander around a procedurally-generated island, constructed from simple, abstract shapes, the dreamy music reacts to your actions. Then the seasons begin to change, transforming the landscape around you, and your worries slip away. It only takes an hour to finish Proteus, but the world layout is different every time.”

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments

“This detective adventure is like watching an episode of Poirot or Morse or something. It has that sedate British crime drama vibe about it, and even though most of the cases are about grisly murders, the gorgeous, authentic environments are a pleasure to explore. It’s like being transported to Victorian England. The pace is slow and measured, and none of the puzzles are too taxing. The perfect game for a lazy Sunday.”

If you like this...

[Other Places - videos by Andy Kelly exploring the tranquil beauty of game landscapes without violence or stress]
[Slow TV from Norway]