Games to keep you calm

Forget adrenalin-pumping car chases. Try games, using colours, patterns and music to soothe your mind


Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Mention the word “gaming”, and most people would think of high-adrenalin digital battles with deadly weapons, vehicles careening at breakneck speeds, and explosions. For many, even mobile games are synonymous with noise and excitement. The last thing one would expect them to be is relaxing.

But they can be.

We are not talking about random puzzles. There are games designed to have an almost hypnotic effect on the player—using colours, patterns, music and gameplay—to bring about a sense of relaxation, all without compromising on the excitement and sense of anticipation that’s an integral part of gaming.

Sounds difficult to believe? The next time you feel a trifle stressed or worked up, just try one of these games and, before you know it, you might find yourself a step closer to what Master Shifu pursued for so long in Kung Fu Panda—inner peace.

Contre Jour

iOS, Android

Rs.120 on Android; Rs.65 on iOS

This incredibly simple game has blurred the lines between gaming and interactive art. It is monochrome and involves the travels of what seems to be a living creature, named Petit, with a very large eye. You cannot move Petit, but you can transform the world around him, create valleys, hills and the like to make Petit move—and he does move when you draw all these.

Your goal is to help Petit collect enough light by touching the flares and bulbs placed at strategic locations in the game and help it reach its destination at the end of every level. There is plenty to test you, especially as you have no control over the movement of the main character, and can only change the landscape around it to make it move, but the soothing music, beautiful graphics and the uber cute Petit itself will keep you smiling right through it all.

Monument Valley

iOS, Android

Rs.215 on Android; Rs.65 on iOS

A princess has to solve puzzles to save her kingdom. And to do so, she has to travel through different buildings, looking for doors, working her way around corners, using lifts, etc. All of these are set in a fantasy environment—palaces seem to float in the sky, the tiles on pathways move, and levers control paths. Your task is to ensure that the princess avoids every danger on her way as she moves towards her goal. One wrong move, and you go back to the starting point. But the game is so simple that you wouldn’t mind starting from scratch.

Shadowmatic

iOS

Rs.190

The basic premise of this game is extremely simple—move objects around to create a shadow of another object. There are no weapons, no dialogue...just the player trying to blend a bunch of objects to make shadows. The graphics are brilliant—each object is outlined with amazing clarity. Combined with the relatively understated music, the game creates a soothing ambience.

Alto’s Adventure

iOS, Android

Free on Android; Rs.250 on iOS

A boy has lost his llamas and has to snowboard down the hills to find them. Sounds like an endless runner/boarder of sorts? Well, Alto’s Adventure is that. And yet, unlike Temple Run or Subway Surfers, the action is anything but hectic. You can do stunts on your snowboard, like somersaults, but there’s no need to rush. Relax your mind as you watch snowflakes fall on the trees and listen to the peaceful music.

Zen Bound

iOS

Rs.200

What is so special about tying a rope around a wooden object? You have to play Zen Bound to find out. The aim of the game is to move an object to ensure that a rope gets twined around it. The interface is clean and uncluttered. The wooden objects are beautifully crafted, and there are no buttons—you have to move your phone around to make sure that the rope falls in the right place. Do this while listening to some beautiful music playing in the background.

The Room

iOS, Android

Rs.60 on Android; Rs.65 on iOS

The Room does have some shades of suspense. But at its basic best, this game is about picking up clues, spotting ciphers, moving things around to open boxes, and then getting out of the room. Some might find the idea of being alone in a room slightly frightening, given that the music too adds a touch of melancholy or spookiness. But it’s exciting nonetheless to look for the next clue.

realMyst

iOS

Rs.468

The game Myst was a cult hit in the 1990s and, for many years, was the best-selling PC game of all time, and realMyst is a graphically enhanced version of it that was released first for PCs and then for mobile devices. The plot is simple: You are on an island where something seems amiss. You wander around, looking for clues and putting two and two together and travelling to different worlds through magical books. There is no one to talk to, and the only sounds are that of the wind, the lapping of the water, and the understated yet slightly haunting background music. You can even walk around and do nothing if you wish, or just sit and watch the stars at night.

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