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#1 Posted by nate6858 (171 posts) -

When I was in college there were certain games I would turn to if I was struggling with a project, I'd had a bad day at my part time job, or whatever. To relieve stress I would come home and play Warning Forever or Parsec 47 (mostly the latter). A solid session with those games and I would emerge a relaxed and decisive individual.

Nowadays I find that my go-to game for that is Spelunky ... whether there's something in my life that needs consideration, or if I just don't want to feel weird sitting on my couch doing nothing but listening to the Bombcast with the lights off ... it's one of those games I can zone out of, and yet by being zoned out I play better than I ever could if I was trying my best. Like tonight - I started listening to the Bombcast and thought, "Hey why not try and get the last shortcut from Tunnel Man?" and I managed to do it while barely paying attention to the game.

#2 Posted by davo (141 posts) -

I usually play Max Payne every year, during winter. It has to be snowing. I don't think I'm alone with this particular, uh, religion.

#3 Edited by Demoskinos (15283 posts) -

Um, I don't know that I have a particular "zen" game but I can go back to Ninja Gaiden Black and replay it time after time and never get bored of it. Civilization V can also be a really nice "just chill" sort of game.

#4 Posted by Video_Game_King (36271 posts) -

Not that I know of.

#5 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5826 posts) -

Lumines II and Picross 3D served me pretty well recently.

I was going through some really weird shit last summer, and those two probably helped me not lose my mind a bit.

#6 Edited by h83r (470 posts) -

@davo: Oh man, I could totally see Max Payne being awesome in the winter time. I might have to try it out next year.

For me, it used to be Fez. I love that world, and just walking around in it. But then I beat the game once, figured out the Tertomino puzzles, the language of the game, and the craziness hidden in its depth, while fascinating, just doesn't lend itself to be a zen game anymore for me. Perfect example of ignorance is bliss. I used to love listening to the soundtrack as well while studying. But after listening to it while trying to solve a puzzle, it makes me feel uneasy if I try to listen to it outside of the game.

Other than that, I love Assassin's Creeds 1 and 2. I'll just pop them in once every few months or so and just walk around, climb stuff, do leaps of faith. In the first one, climbing and then jumping off the cathedral in Acre is just too good. As for 2, I had a great appreciation for the Assassin's Dens and Templar Lairs. The platforming was and still is super fun.

Other than that, I love racing games as well. PGR 4, Dirt 2, and Grid come straight to mind. Just start some music on the PC, and do a few laps in my favorite car = good times.

#7 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (3909 posts) -

Lumines, Tetris Attack, and any form of video game pinball, most recently The Pinball Arcade. All are games where I've done my best while holding a phone conversation or otherwise NOT keeping my complete focus on the game itself. Lumines can be especially awesome in that respect.

#8 Posted by Dolphin_Butter (1917 posts) -

Geometry Wars 2 and Child of Eden.

#9 Posted by believer258 (12307 posts) -

Skyrim or Chrono Trigger.

#10 Edited by dungbootle (2428 posts) -

I sometimes boot up Minecraft and do nothing in particular while listening to a podcast.

#11 Edited by MariachiMacabre (7098 posts) -

I sometimes boot up Minecraft and do nothing in particular while listening to a podcast.

#12 Posted by BestUsernameEver (4825 posts) -


#13 Posted by Chop (1999 posts) -

Animal Crossing

#14 Posted by casper_ (908 posts) -

a lot of the time i just mindlessly practice combos/occasionally try to find new stuff in training mode in a couple different fighters

#15 Posted by TheHT (11984 posts) -

Mount & Blade Warband (slow-mo horse archery in single-player), Jedi Outcast (slow-mo saber dismemberment), Arkham City, Left 4 Dead 2 (co-op, normal), and Wizorb.

#16 Edited by IrrelevantJohn (1105 posts) -

Super Mario RPG and U.N. Squadron.

#17 Posted by Fustigate (22 posts) -

Dark Souls.

#18 Posted by Robot_Sneakers (417 posts) -

It used to be animal crossing but I'm waiting for the new one. If I'm in the mood for some Xbox my go to is dynasty warriors. Although more recently minecraft has been where I go to lose myself and build things for a bit while listening to podcasts or just the ambient music.

#19 Edited by Ben_H (3468 posts) -

Minecraft. Build stuff, explore, build more stuff. The ultimate way to zone out. If I have a bad day I build a giant tower.

#20 Edited by envane (1164 posts) -

ssf4ae , always fun to punch fools in the face while listeining to the bombcast , usually something is said by ryan or brad or patrick that makes it instantly gratifying.. only down side is if something makes me crack up , i usually lose focus. its hard to say , sorry man i just spaced on that fight but you shoulda heard what vinny said.

#21 Edited by probablytuna (3891 posts) -

Usually I go back to a game that I've previously beaten to replay the story or finish off the collectibles but I don't think there's ever been a "zen" game since I always have an unfinished game that needs completing.

#22 Posted by bluefish (570 posts) -

At the moment I'd throw Bastion out there for myself. The music combined with a good story and the great visuals create a game that always calms me down and takes me away.

Journey is also there. You gotta be careful not to overplay it but it's basically the most zen things out there.

Lumines is also key.

#23 Edited by ESREVER (2707 posts) -

I find myself jumping into Trackmania2 for long periods of time. I find it pretty relaxing.

#24 Edited by Blu3V3nom07 (3805 posts) -

ME3 multi.

#25 Posted by Vextroid (1442 posts) -

I sometimes boot up Minecraft and do nothing in particular while listening to a podcast.

This and also a bit of SimCity 4.

#26 Edited by jdh5153 (1034 posts) -

Sim City right now for me.

#27 Posted by CollegeGuyMike (396 posts) -

I'd say... Rock Band or TrackMania, probably?

#28 Posted by MeganeAgain (123 posts) -

Osu! is one. Rhythm games seem to do a good job of relieving stress.

#29 Posted by TruthTellah (9531 posts) -

Tetris. Just turn off your brain and replace it with Tetris.

#30 Posted by insouciant (710 posts) -

@casper_ said:

a lot of the time i just mindlessly practice combos/occasionally try to find new stuff in training mode in a couple different fighters

In what game?

#31 Edited by insouciant (710 posts) -

New Super Mario Bros. 2. I can play it while still paying attention to the TV.

#32 Edited by gaminghooligan (1535 posts) -

Crusader Kings 2. I use the character creator to make a god character, then I add the Lunatic trait. Time flies when you're appointing your horse as chancellor and outlawing pants.

#33 Posted by Zero_ (1977 posts) -

Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo fuck yeah.

#34 Edited by f00 (49 posts) -

Starcraft, or League of Legends.

With Starcraft 2, I just forget everything and it completely absorbs me, I just focus on the game and try to improve at it.

With League, I play a premade 5 with my friends or some ARAMs and I always come out happy

#35 Posted by audioBusting (1663 posts) -

Trackmania 2 and Dark Souls does it for me. Antichamber was that game for a while but it's a pretty short game.

#36 Edited by Time_Lord (726 posts) -

The Old Repbulic after a year of of and on trying to get into the game I joined a guild who have been helping me out when I get stuck. It's also a great game to play when listening to a podcasts if I want to grind some quests or whatever.

#37 Posted by BaneFireLord (2966 posts) -

Playing Just Cause 2 is a great way to sit back and let time wash over you.

#38 Edited by JonathanAshleyMoore (283 posts) -

Ocarina. Mario 3. Little Nemo. Rinse, repeat.

#39 Edited by JJWeatherman (14575 posts) -

Rock Band is a game I can play and not really think about. So many things go through my mind when I play Rock Band, yet the actual game is always pushed toward the very back. It's an odd thing.

#40 Edited by coakroach (2493 posts) -


#41 Posted by Daveyo520 (7136 posts) -

Actually zen mode on Bejeweled 3 lives up to its name.

#42 Posted by Clonedzero (4196 posts) -

lately in the past few months ive been playing skyrim alot, making new characters just chilling out in the massive world doing random crap enjoying the world as an escape from real life. its great. i play other games all the time but i find myself returning to skyrim alot.

#43 Edited by Rokkaku (223 posts) -

Back when I was playing, it was World of Warcraft. Listening to music and running the same dungeon over and over, the hours went by quickly without having to think about too much other than HP and aggro. Travelling across the world and questing was good too, nothing quite as chilled out as a long griffin/Horde griffin ride with the scenery flashing below, a blue sky and the draw-distance set to maximum.

#44 Posted by Gruebacca (576 posts) -

Any open world game. I think it was John Vignocchi who mentioned on a Bombcast one day about playing Skyrim just to set arbitrary goals such as "go north and kill everyone I see." Doing something like that helps relieve me of stress, and open world games give me the power to do such things.

#45 Edited by President_Barackbar (3480 posts) -

@esrever said:

I find myself jumping into Trackmania2 for long periods of time. I find it pretty relaxing.

The smooth sounds of Cher don't hurt the mood either.

#46 Edited by HH (680 posts) -

a zen state is something is something i appreciate and exploit in games whenever i can find it, some of the parameters - good controls, no misspent mechanics, going at my own pace, no npcs shouting at me to hurry up, good atmosphere, an element of creativity where i'm building a class or character or some overall structure.

also it matters what kind of mood i'm in, and what time of day it is - like for the first hour or two after my morning coffee it is easy to achieve, late at night, when i'm beat, it's a lot harder.

when i'm in it, it's all about appreciating the details, i walk instead of run, time reloads just right, listen to dialogue, take in the surroundings, and generally perform better at the game.

elder scrolls is a rock for this kind of thing, also the smooth third person programming in pandemic's games, the look and feel of dragon age origins - and in particular the way the sound effects wash across the pause screens on the 360 version, which may or may not be an oversight, but it gives an idea of how random this kind of thing can be...

#47 Posted by Pikawai (135 posts) -

My zen games are the one where my actions in game have little to no consequence, say TF2, Torchlight 2, SR3...etc. I just play them to have fun, without worrying about screwing up anything.

#48 Posted by Danteveli (1216 posts) -

No. I used to play a lot Syphon Filter 2 to relieve stress. That game was great.

#49 Posted by Village_Guy (2694 posts) -

Command & Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour (Rise of the Reds).

Just pick a faction and then watching the destruction unfold before you is always relaxing. I don't care if I win or lose, just having tons of explosions is enough for me...

#50 Posted by Levius (1255 posts) -

The closest for me is 100% every board on Peggle. Magic Dotp 2013 multiplayer was also a good way to relax as a low impact multiplayer game.