games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Mindless Games

May 9, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk about mindless games, but not necessarily in the context you might think. When I say “mindless”, I generally mean games that are relaxing, or zen-inducing, or one where thinking isn’t necessarily required. I don’t mean games like Serious Sam, or that stuff, as they are just brainless. With that said, let’s begin:

#8: The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth

At present, I have around 370 hours logged into Isaac, which is generally a lot, but doesn’t compare to some people’s Isaac obsessions. I know other people play the game with a fanatical obsession to it, being able to use any item combination in the world, but my style isn’t like that. I like using only a few items or abilities, and will routinely restart the game over and over until I get them. I also only really play the game before I go to bed, using it almost like a way to relax and have some downtime. There can be a lot of depth in Isaac, but it’s not really how I play the game.

#7: Katamari Damacy

This would be generally higher on the list, if not for the time limit the game has. Almost all levels have a really annoying timer that is counting down, that can severely limit the goals of exploring or just experimenting. However, in some levels the limit is gone, and the game just becomes a real joy to play with. There is just a simple time rolling around a ball as it picks up more and more objects and becomes unruly to control after a while. The last real release of a Katamari game was Katamari Forever on the PS3, and it is a series that really should come back to consoles.

#6: Regency Solitaire

Regency Solitaire has a delightful plot of a Jane Austen novel, set against the backdrop of a solitaire game. I played this game once, then actually went to replay (and finish) it on hard, because I wanted to get every achievement for it. It’s really no different from some of the other solitaire variants thave popped up over the years, cards are randomly put into designs and you have to clear them up, but the art style is crisp and clean and the writing does keep the player invested in the story. Plus, it has some oddly addicting music that adds to the peaceful charm of the game.

#5: Audiosurf 1 or 2

Both Audiosurf games are good, but for different reasons. The first has the best mode in the entire franchise with “Eraser”, letting you group up colored blocks together for points. Also, the leaderboards were well-thought out, and led to competitive play on songs you like. Audiosurf 2 on the other hand, had some good workshop support, looked really fantastic, and had a few clever new modes. Both games though let the player experience their music on their own terms, which is something that is fairly relaxing.

#4: Everything

I’ve just gotten into this game and after trying to explain it to a few different people, and it never really works. In Everything, you can be a single atom, or large galaxies (if not further, 4th dimensional type stuff), and everything in between. You can be a plant, or an animal, or a building, or a planet, or a sun, etc. I think the goal, so far, is to collect everything under a group, say “Elements”, or “Vehicles” and go from there. Also, you can group together with objects of the same thing, sing to each other, and dance, which creates another baby object. So…it’s a weird game, generally speaking. However, the pace isn’t hurried at all, and it is extremely relaxing to just jump between different objects and see the universe from a new perspective.

#3: Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is a weird game on this list because it can be mindless and relaxing, or else very tense and busy. The tense/busy side comes in, if you really want to maximize your time, either by farming, or mining, or fishing, or fighting monsters, or the half dozen other activities you can do. However, each activity, save for monster fighting, is a relaxing experience. It is just peaceful when you plan crops down, or milk cows, or just talking to the various townspeople. There is a very mellow pace to the game, not any one day in particular is important (except for special days), rather it is about forming relationships with the various people and slowly improving yourself and your job. If the gamepad controls were better, this game would be higher on this list.

#2: American Truck Simulator

Euro Truck Simulator 2 was my first experience with the franchise, but it got kind of annoying keeping track of which side of the road to drive, for specific countries. American Truck Simulator fixes this by having you drive on the correct lanes of a road, and keeps all the gameplay still relaxed. “Highway hypnosis” is a term of driving for long distances but not actually remembering much about it after the fact, and that definitely applies to this game. You can just drive for hours, doing hauls up and down California or Nevada, without really a care in the world, save for a tiredness meter that slowly increases, and worrying about fuel costs. This is a great game to veg. out to, if you want to destress.

#1: Bejeweled 2 (or 3)

Bejeweled is always a great game but Bejeweled 2 added the best mode called “Endless”, which literally lets you play forever if you want. You’ll never get a bad piece or stuck, so you don’t have to worry about failing the game. Bejeweled 3 doubles down on this concept with “Zen” mode, letting it be endless, but a slightly more calming influence on the player. I don’t subscribe much to the breath-control stuff it has, but it is still a chill time to just zone out and match three, or more, gems together. It’s not the most complicated game on this list, but it is something that can be rewarding the more you play.


For comments, list which games you can have a mindless time with.

Next Issue
Top 8 Hidden Object Games

article topics :

The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison