A Short Hike

Sometimes you want a video game to be like a never-ending buffet, with a gigantic open world or ludicrously deep gameplay systems to dig into. However, sometimes you just want to chill and play something calming to de-stress for the evening — something that’s easy to get lost in but doesn’t require a huge time commitment.

If you’re itching for something in that latter category, here are seven options that will give you a little scratchy scratch, plus one honorable mention (which is a little too long for this list, but I thought it worth mentioning because it’s fantastic). Note that the ideal completion time here is about three to four hours, though not everything on this list quite fits into that category. I would hope everything here is reasonably completable within a single sitting.

The Magnificent Trufflepigs

The Magnificent Trufflepigs

The Magnificent Trufflepigs is the perfect game to start this list with. It was made by an indie studio called Thunkd, whose mission statement is to create “evening-sized games.”

The game is a chill first-person narrative game, which gets compared to Firewatch and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture a lot. In fact, Andrew Crawshaw, designer on The Magnificent Trufflepigs, also worked on Everybody’s…, so the comparisons are not undeserved.

The core gameplay mechanic here is that you pick up a metal detector and search for treasures. Specifically, you’re looking for an earring, whose twin was dug up years ago in these same fields. All the while, you’re delving deep into the personalities and histories of Beth (the non-playable protagonist) and Adam (the playable character). It’s a short yet emotional journey with some very satisfying twists that I really don’t want to spoil.

My first playthrough was about three hours. The Magnificent Trufflepigs is available on PC and Nintendo Switch.

FAR: Lone Sails

FAR: Lone Sails

FAR: Lone Sails is a combination of a visual narrative adventure and a management-style game. In it, you play as a character who looks a little bit like a jawa from Star Wars (which is honestly kind of appropriate here). Your goal is to travel across a post-apocalyptic wasteland in a house-sized wheeled machine.

The basic structure of the game has you moving from left to right in this machine. The gameplay mechanics revolve around managing fuel, using the wind to your advantage (you’ll have a giant sail that you can extend to save fuel), making repairs when things break down, and upgrading the machine at various waypoints across the world.

While it sounds like it could be kind of stressful, it’s actually not. The music is really chill, and gameplay-wise this feels a lot more like a puzzle game than a proper management game. It’s also breathtakingly gorgeous.

I completed this in just under four hours. FAR: Lone Sails is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and mobile devices (via Apple Arcade and Google Play). A follow-up called FAR: Changing Tides is due out at some point in the future.

Lego Builder’s Journey

Lego Builder's Journey

If you spent your childhood digging through a Rubbermaid tub of Lego bricks, putting together whatever your imagination could come up with, then you’ll probably enjoy Lego Builder’s Journey. This quirky puzzle game has you filling in missing pieces on Lego dioramas to complete various scenes, or to escort characters across small rooms.

It starts off simple enough, but soon it draws you into the emotional journey of its blocky characters. With simple-yet-brilliant puzzles, a gorgeously plastic aesthetic, and soothing synthesizer music, Lego Builder’s Journey is the perfect thing to cozy up with after a hard day. So kick back your feet and let this game reawaken your inner child.

I completed this in about three hours. Lego Builder’s Journey is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, and Apple Arcade.

A Hero and a Garden

A Hero and a Garden

A Hero and a Garden is a clicker game, which means the player clicks on things repeatedly to progress the game. The basic premise here is that you’re a “hero” who destroyed a monster village but has become imprisoned by the monsters for this act. Over the course of the game, you come to learn that these “monsters” are just people who look different from you, and they never deserved your ire.

To free yourself from this prison, you must grow berries and sell them to pay for the damage you’ve caused. It’s a heartwarming story about personal growth and empathy. The gameplay is extremely simple, but the writing is fantastic and emotionally charged.

I completed A Hero and a Garden in about two hours, and the Platinum Trophy is really, really easy in case you’re a PlayStation Trophy Hunter.



In concept, Refunct doesn’t seem relaxing at all. It’s a first-person platformer where you perform jumps and parkour moves to try to fill in the color of an expanding world. It’s certainly the fastest-moving game on this list.

However, you can’t fail at Refunct. Nothing can kill you, and you won’t ever trigger a fail state, so there’s really no stress here. Plus, the soothing synth music will practically lull you into a slumber. It’s also super cheap (I got it for about $3), so not even paying for it will stress you out.

There’s one thing to keep in mind, though. Some people report feeling dizzy after playing the console version, and that’s certainly not relaxing. I think it has to do with the default Field of View setting, which is 105. I felt a little bit dizzy when I started playing on PS4, but I changed FoV to 90 and things felt a lot better.

I beat Refunct in about 20 minutes, but there’s a Trophy for beating it in four. The game is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.

A Short Hike

A Short Hike

A Short Hike is an adorable little game where you… wait for it… take a short hike.

Well, it ends up being not that short, and you end up meeting all sorts of interesting creatures along the way. In order to make it to the top of the mountain (your destination because it’s the only place you can get cellphone reception), you’ll need to collect golden feathers. Some of these feathers can be purchased, some are given to you for helping other characters out, and some are just sitting there in hard-to-reach places.

It’s more of a journey of exploration than anything else, allowing you to race your way up the trail if you’d like to, though you can also take the scenic route and just walk around looking for treasure around every bend. It’s a lighthearted delight (though there are some darker thematic elements hinted at throughout).

I completed A Short Hike in about 90 minutes, though there were still quite a few things I’d left unfinished. The game is available on Nintendo Switch and Steam.


Carto - Ground of Applause

Carto is a quaint little game with a really compelling twist: You basically rearrange the game’s world by moving pieces of a map around. This helps you reach areas that would otherwise be inaccessible, and the game delivers enough satisfying twists on the formula that it doesn’t become stale throughout its short runtime.

The game’s story is fun, it’s characters are memorable, and its art style is fantastic. This is highly recommended for anyone looking to relax for an evening.

I beat the main story in about five hours, and it took me about eight hours in total to get the Platinum Trophy.

Carto is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.

Honorable mention: The Last Campfire

The Last Campfire

The Last Campfire is a bit too long for this list, so I didn’t give it a proper entry here. However, it’s the exact sort of game that would be on this list if were just a little shorter. While some people claim it’s completable in about five hours, I think eight to ten is a more reasonable expectation. This one would be tricky to complete in a single sitting unless you spent the day binging it.

This is an incredibly poignant puzzle/exploration game about hope and despair. It has a storybook look and feel to it, with an incredible art style and narration style that really smacks you in the ol’ feels. Plus, it comes from Hello Games, who brought us the ever-improving No Man’s Sky. If you like emotionally charged games, this one is an absolute must-play.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x