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A screenshot from the game Spiritfarer showing the main character Stella fishing off her boat.
Photograph: Thunder Lotus Games

Wholesome video games to distract you during lockdown

These beautifully designed video games will suck you in for hours and give you a much needed distraction during lockdown

Adena Maier
Written by
Adena Maier
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We've all got a lot of free time on our hands at the moment, and it's likely you've made it through every remotely watchable thing on Netflix. Why not switch gears and try out a wholesome or relaxing video game?

The outside world can be stressful enough as it is, so you won't find any aggressive, bloody first-person shooters or unnerving apocalyptic games on this list. Instead, we've compiled a list of games that have cute graphics, soothing soundtracks and relaxing gameplay that will give you a much-needed distraction during lockdown while putting a smile on your face. Every game on this list is available on Steam

RECOMMENDED: The best online and at-home escape rooms to amuse you in lockdown.

Have you ever daydreamed about leaving everything behind and starting a new life on a farm far away from the hustle and bustle of city life? Well, here's your chance! In Stardew Valley, you've quit your mindless job at Joja Corporation after learning that you've inherited your grandfather's old farm. Equipped with a bit of money and some tools, it's up to you to bring the overgrown fields back to life and help repair the local town's infrastructure. Relax and do some fishing or cooking or, if you're feeling brave, venture into the monster-riddled mines to hunt for treasure. You can befriend the townsfolk and maybe even find an eligible bachelor or bachelorette to wed and start a family with.

Stardew Valley can be played solo or with up to three other players on a co-op farm. 

Price: $16.99 on Steam

In this emotional and breathtakingly gorgeous single-player game, you play the character Stella who works as a ferry master to the deceased. While the premise may seem morbid, in reality this game has you befriending various flawed yet loveable spirits and helping them prepare for their final moments before passing through the Everdoor.

With an adorable cat named Daffodil by your side, you'll embark on quests, explore a beautiful world filled with humorous characters, care for and get to know the spirits on your vessel and play fun minigames related to farming and crafting. 

Price: $42.95 on Steam.

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Welcome to 'Far, Far Range' where you'll be playing Beatrix LeBeau, a young rancher who makes her living wrangling slimes using what is essentially a futuristic vacuum cleaner. At your ranch, you'll grow and feed the slimes so that you can collect and sell their waste. Use that money to improve your farm and build gardens or buy livestock, and then head back out into the world to do it all over again. The graphics are adorable, vibrant and cartoony and the gameplay is highly addictive. Can you catch all the different types of slimes?

Price: $28.95 on Steam

If you grew up playing platformer games like Donkey Kong and Sonic the Hedgehog, you'll absolutely love this game that follows Madeline as they journey to the top of Celeste Mountain to uncover its mysteries. A lot of platformer games can be kind of boring, but Celeste is narrative-driven and filled with charming characters.

Don't be fooled by the cutesy pixel graphics — this game is meant to reflect the journey of overcoming depression and anxiety and can be pretty challenging. You'll spend hours developing techniques to try and get past the obstacles to reach the next chapter of the game, and you'll hopefully come away from the game with new perspectives on mental health.

Price: $28.95 on Steam

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At first, Mini Motorways will feel like a relaxing and zen infrastructure-building game where you build and manage the roads in a growing city. But as time goes on, the game gets progressively more chaotic and it's up to you to keep traffic flowing and bring order back to the city's roads. The idea of playing a game about traffic doesn't sound too exciting, but you'll be hooked in no time.

Price: $14.50 on Steam.

In Terraria, your character spawns into a world that is riddled with monsters and a creeping infestation of evil biomes that threaten to take over the 'good' biomes. It's up to you to explore and defend this world and protect the various NPCs that will come to call your town their home.

Play alone or share a world with a friend as you dig through the caverns in search of treasure and materials that let you build better weapons and armour and construct a home to your liking. Since it's an open-world sandbox game, virtually anything is possible so use your imagination and creativity to build unique structures. 

Price: $14.25 on Steam.

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In most games, it's up to you to save the world. In Littlewood, you've already saved the world so now your your only real goal is making the people who live there happy again. To do this, you must fulfill each character's quirky and specific desires for their homes like living near certain amenities, having specific furniture items or living at a certain elevation. You'll fall in love with the characters and the gameplay is lighthearted and not stressful at all.  Unwind from your day by mining, fishing, farming and chopping down some wood in this gorgeous world. 

Price: $21.50 on Steam.

Unlike the other games on this list, Kind Words doesn't have an action and adventure element. In this game, all you do is listen to chill music, trade stickers and write and receive encouraging letters from other real people playing the game. If you're feeling down, sometimes all you need are a few kind words from someone who is willing to listen. And if you're feeling good, maybe you can be that person for someone else. Boot it up and it's sure to put a smile on your face. 

Price: $7.50 on Steam.

If you want something more hands on, try these board games

  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies

If you're looking for a fun way to keep your mind sharp and stay connected to the people you live with during lockdown, board games are the answer. From quick two-player games like Coup that test your poker face and bluffing abilities to the immersive fantasy game Lords of Waterdeep that can take a couple of hours to play, this list has something for everyone.

More fun things to do in Melbourne this week

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