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Best relaxing mobile games for when life gets far too hectic

(Image credit: ustwo games)

We take our mobile phones with us everywhere, yet for many of us gaming on mobile is either something we do here and there, or something we decry as being ridiculous. Not only is gaming on mobile fantastic these days, there are some great games around to help you relax. After all, if you’re stressed your probably already on your phone anyway so why not use it to chill out a bit. So, here are a few games you can play in order to find your zen, or centre, or just kill some time waiting for a bus. 

These are just a few games that will help you take a break from the constant hassle of real life and allow you to do something a bit more peaceful for a while. It’s important to look after yourself and games allow us to do so in weird and wonderful ways. Mobile games even more so than most, because you can play them while on the loo at work. Truly the future we all dreamed of.

Stardew Valley

(Image credit: Chucklefish)

Available on: Android and iOS

Come on, what did you expect? What list about relaxing games would be valid without a story all about leaving city life behind and starting up your own farm. While what you do in game is definitely work, there’s something so incredibly soothing about watering your crops every morning and looking after your animals. The feeling you get from having rows and rows of healthy berries is one of perfect order. In a world that is so often messy, having somewhere where everything is neat is a wonderful relief. 

Plus, you can even live vicariously through your character and date one of several different people in game too. In the event you need something a bit more aggressive, you can go dungeon diving and take out some monsters to feel better about things. It really is the perfect game to just get lost in because it will quite happily draw you in for days on end. 

Monument Valley 

(Image credit: ustwo games)

Available on: Android and iOS

If what you want is some mind-twisting reality-warping puzzles to solve then Monument Valley is for you. This is one of those games that is a transcendent experience; the combination of visuals, puzzles, and the soundtrack are sublime. Your aim is simply to get from point A to point B. To do this you shift the landscape itself until the paths line up and your little character can cross. 

The whole game is filled with a constant sense of wonder and amazement, like inhabiting an Escher painting. The visuals are beautifully minimalist, the sound design is absolutely gorgeous, and there is a surprisingly touching story at the heart of it. Monument Valley lets you inhabit this incredible world and just soak it in as you journey through it. 

Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector

(Image credit: Hit Point Co. Ltd.)

Available on: Android and iOS

Cats. What’s that, you want more than this? Honestly, cats are all anyone needs but fine. Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: you try to collect cats. Your aim is to fill up your catbook by attracting a plethora of different kitties to your garden. 

You do this by filling said garden with an array of different toys, food, and beds and then waiting to see what comes your way. Perhaps the best thing about this particular game is that you just have to check in occasionally. There’s no pressure to constantly play it. You just set up the good times for the cats then come back and see if you have any furry friends hanging around. It’s like a Tamagotchi that won’t die. 

Alto's Odyssey 

(Image credit: Snowman)

Available on: Android and iOS

Alto’s Odyssey is another game that proves just how good games with the word Odyssey in the title are. It’s also an endless runner which isn’t what you would normally consider a relaxing experience. This one however is incredibly laid back – a zendless runner if you will. 

Terrible puns aside, Alto’s Odyssey has you boarding around a desert, doing backflips, grinding on ropes, and occasionally bouncing off of hot air balloons. All of this is in the name of achieving objectives or just getting a higher score. The visuals and music are equally relaxing, and it is a great way to just switch your brain off for a bit. 

Shadowmatic

(Image credit: Triada Studio Games)

Available on: Android and iOS

One of the first things you can discern as a child is the difference between light and dark. The contrast is entertaining to a baby and it is something that entrances many of us as we got older. Whether watching a fire flicker or the lights pass through your room as a car drives by, it is always fascinating.

Shadowmatic is a puzzle game all about looking at the shadow cast instead of the object casting it. It taps into a primal and basic part of your brain and is a joy to play. There’s this child-like amazement when you realise what the shape is. It tricks you into seeing objects as shapeless blobs, when really the right angle reveals them as so much more. 

Prune

(Image credit: Joel McDonald)

Available on: Android and iOS

Gardening is the kind of hobby that some people find to be the most enjoyable and relaxing thing possible. For others, the mere act of trying to keep a plant a live is so demanding it incites panic, or at least a weird nihilistic acceptance of the death of all living things. 

Prune is a game all about cutting out what doesn’t work. It’s about keeping what works in order to create something beautiful. It is a game that is entirely built on the idea that you should keep what is necessary in your life and take away anything that isn’t. That kind of minimalist approach is a core pillar of Buddhism and is one of the best ways to think about things if you need to unwind. Life is hard and cluttered, but you can’t always just cut away the parts that stress you out. Prune allows you to do this, it’s therapeutic. 

Osmos

(Image credit: Hemisphere Games)

Available on: Android and iOS

Space is relaxing right? Nothing is more chill than the infinite darkness and huge vacuum that is space. That’s basically the reason Osmos is relaxing. Your aim is simple enough, just consume the things smaller than yourself, a bit like a really transcendent Katamari game. The gameplay itself is serene but the real power of Osmos is in the sound design. 

The ambient music present throughout the game is something you could easily meditate to. It instantly calms your subconscious and promotes a feeling of warmth in your chest and is like slipping on an aural duvet and just sleeping under it. The gameplay is almost secondary but maintains that feeling of comfort throughout. 

Kami 2

(Image credit: State of Play Games)

Origami is the art of folding paper into pretty shapes. It’s also a weird party trick that only some people can pull off in an entertaining manner, most just make it seem weird. Kami is a game all about folding paper, not into specific shapes, but into different patterns. Each puzzle requires you to make a solid block of colour in as few moves as possible. 

The puzzles can get pretty challenging, but the animations help keep a feeling of serenity as you watch each piece fold away to reveal the colour of your choice. It looks almost like knocking over a long string of interlocking dominos, each falling impossibly as they go. As you move through the puzzles, they get more complex, but never frustrating. Instead you just watch patterns disappear in front of you time and time again. It’s perfect for a quick five-minute play session when you want to look at something unique.