Games that Heal While I Play
June 10, 2008 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find games for the PC that soothe, make me ponder and go *wow*?

Where can I find games for the mind, body and soul for free download? They can be games of strategy, memory, RPG or any other kind. They just need to be mystical, thoughtful, gentle and wise. Geared for the inner child, is there such a game to play via the PC other than Life itself? Extra points for the innovative and most thought provoking.
posted by watercarrier to Computers & Internet (34 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
You mean like Myst, maybe?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:20 AM on June 10, 2008 [3 favorites]

The Civilization games are excellent games for the mind. If you have any interest in the history of our world, you can lose yourself in the mechanics by which different civilizations rise and conquer. Particularly if you play the game in one of the longer campaign modes (i.e. Epic) the game can be quite relaxing and insightful.
posted by tybeet at 10:20 AM on June 10, 2008

The Longest Journey and arguably its sequel, Dreamfall. Some say Dreamfall sucked but I liked it too although it turned a bit more movie-esque.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 10:21 AM on June 10, 2008

Response by poster: Are any of these freeware?

Thanks :)
posted by watercarrier at 10:24 AM on June 10, 2008

Knytt is like playing Mario while hypnotized. Very chill.
posted by i less than three nsima at 10:27 AM on June 10, 2008

Best answer: If you don't mind short web games, take a look at the library at Orisinal. I always go there when I want a gentle, contemplative game.
posted by jdroth at 10:27 AM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

This may be interesting: Tranquility. It's free to start, so you can figure out if it's right for you.
posted by lowlife at 10:28 AM on June 10, 2008

I have not played the old games, but Civilization 2 is freeware now.
posted by tybeet at 10:30 AM on June 10, 2008

Also, you may be interested particularly in well-constructed point-and-click adventure games. I just finished playing Daymare Town 2 myself, which is as much artistic as it is fun to play and challenging at parts. Just remember: these games are very detail-oriented.
posted by tybeet at 10:34 AM on June 10, 2008

Seconding Orsinal emphatically.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:37 AM on June 10, 2008

Kyntt (& Kyntt Stories) is really short and cute, but it's very soothing. I second that recommendation!
posted by booknerd at 10:43 AM on June 10, 2008

Best answer: I'm not quite sure all those previously mentioned might be too "gamey" for you, watercarrier. I imagine you'd love something like The Endless Forest. It has no real challenge, you're a deer exploring a forest, but it's soothing and free, so it fits.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:45 AM on June 10, 2008

Also, check out the free games by this company, Cloud and FlOw. I think you'll like Cloud.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Hapland games fit that description. They can be frustrating at times, but they're a lot of fun to explore.
posted by bondcliff at 11:04 AM on June 10, 2008

Best answer: Riven.... 100%. Mystical, wise, all that. I loaded it up for my 4-year old over the weekend. He loves it and I found myself playing it again after he went to bed. Be sure to follow the helpful advice on getting it working correctly under XP/2000.
posted by crapmatic at 11:07 AM on June 10, 2008

I LOVED Portal. But it's not free.

It make me think differently and it delighted me.

Downloadable = true
Free = false
Wow = true
Innovative = true
Thought Provoking = true
posted by SlyBevel at 11:21 AM on June 10, 2008 [3 favorites]

2nding Tranquility, above.
posted by tachikaze at 11:31 AM on June 10, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks so much everybuddy. This helps. I like Orisinal and will definitely be looking into the others you cited here. Have a really beautiful day and be gentle.....
posted by watercarrier at 11:46 AM on June 10, 2008

Response by poster: sly = :)
posted by watercarrier at 11:57 AM on June 10, 2008

Bontago is an incredible game. The goal of the game is to make towers with blocks. The higher the tower, the bigger its circle of influence. Compete to capture all the flags with giant towers while listening to classical music (its sound track)
100% free, of course.
posted by PowerCat at 12:02 PM on June 10, 2008

I'd also check out JayIsGames. It's a game review site, and probably 95% of the games are online and free, and they (at least used to be) well tagged, and categorized, with good descriptions.

Plus (I think) Jay's a mefite.
posted by inigo2 at 12:06 PM on June 10, 2008

I liked the Samorost games by these guys. Kinda laid-back point and click puzzle-y games.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 12:12 PM on June 10, 2008

The genre you are looking for is called graphical adventure games. This website has a lot of info.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:17 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

nthing the Myst games. They're mostly cheap now, too.
posted by Nattie at 12:26 PM on June 10, 2008

fl0w is a relaxing Flash game about single-celled lifeforms.
posted by arto at 1:02 PM on June 10, 2008

Freeciv is an attempt at a civilization game in freeware form. I have to admit to playing way too much of this with my roommate lately (allows network play).

I haven't played civ2 in years so I can't speak to how similar they are in detail, but I think they are relatively on par with each other.
posted by mbatch at 2:06 PM on June 10, 2008

OMG, if Orisinal is the site that had that game where you had to catch the little baby chicks as they fell from the sky, NOT RELAXING!
posted by ersatzkat at 3:17 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

have you played flow?
posted by Citizen Premier at 1:29 AM on June 11, 2008

"Also, check out the free games by this company, Cloud and FlOw. I think you'll like Cloud."

Yes! Except Cloud sucks. Go for FlOw! There are browser and downloable versions. Incredibly beautiful and relaxing.
posted by nthdegx at 3:06 AM on June 11, 2008

Just throwing in another vote for Riven. I loved it. I sucked at finding the solutions to a couple of the puzzles, so I just used a walkthrough, so it felt more like a "Choose your own adventure" book, as there are multiple endings depending on what you do. And it is really really beautiful. I'd check it out. :)
posted by gwenlister at 4:34 AM on June 11, 2008

Peter Bergman of Firesign Theater had a parody of MYST some years back called PYST. I wish that was still around... it's not really a game, just a walk-through, but I remember it being pretty funny.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:06 AM on June 11, 2008

I don't really ever play games, but I was addicted to N for a month a while ago.

Basically, you're this stick figure that jumps around each level. The designers pride themselves on realistic physics; check out what happens when you step on a mine!
posted by philomathoholic at 10:29 AM on June 11, 2008

Boomshine and Music Catch are both delightful, contemplative games that have simple visuals and sublime piano soundtracks.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:59 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Noctis sounds like it would be perfect for you. It's a small indie game developed by just one guy, a computer programmer named Alessandro Ghignola. It's a space exploration sim in the purest sense -- no weapons, no aliens, no multiplayer. Just a vast universe of literally billions of star systems full of planets and moons that you are free to land on and explore at your leisure. The graphics are pretty outdated, but beautifully evocative in a minimalist way.

See this review for an excellent description of this game's appeal:

"The real joy of Noctis lies in setting eyes on alien landscapes that nobody has ever seen before. From verdant rain forests to bleak, blasted deserts, the worlds of Noctis never fail to engage the senses. In my voyages I have found icy planetoids so distant from their parent stars that it is impossible to tell where the ground ends and the darkened sky begins. I have swum upon giant worlds with liquid-rock surfaces whose temperatures extend into the thousands of degrees Kelvin. I have watched triplicate stars rise above placid green meadows, their light refracted by a high canopy of crystalline trees. From mountainous peaks extending thousands of meters above rolling oceans, I have gazed down at my distant landing pod and marveled at my own precious insignificance."

You can download the game for free here.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:40 PM on June 12, 2008

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