35 Lighthearted Indie Games To Play If You Need A Break

Games light on heavy subject matter, and heavy on heart and charm.
June 6, 2020 10:14 AM by Morgan Shaver

I came across a term on social media the other day that really stuck with me... doomscrolling. It’s a term that describes something I and many others have been doing not only the past few weeks, but 2020 as a whole.

It starts out simple enough. You start checking social media, engaging with posts, and lending support wherever you can whether it’s for COVID-19 earlier in the year, or the Black Lives Matter movement happening right now. You want to keep going, participating as much as you possibly can in any way that you can.

You try and seek out ways to help. Donating to good causes, signing petitions, and sharing videos to raise awareness. Somehow, these positive interactions turn into sessions where you’re doing nothing but reading stories from families who’ve lost loved ones to COVID. Or you’re watching back-to-back videos of police brutality.

It’s hard to realize you’ve fallen into that loop of “doomscrolling” where all you’re looking at is heartbreaking and painful content for hours on end. You may feel conflicted at the idea of taking a break from social media to drink some water, get something to eat, maybe take some aspirin if you have a headache.

It feels trivial compared to everything you’re looking at online, and you don’t want to be selfish when there’s still so much to do. I feel this completely. I’ve spent more time on social media in 2020 than any year prior, and I’ve spent the most time on social media these last few weeks.

I’ve come to the realization that taking a break, even if it’s for just 10 minutes, is necessary.

It helps pull you from that doomscrolling loop so that when you return to social media, you’re looking at everything as a whole. You’re seeing new ways in which you can help. Plus, you’re more efficient and focused when your internal batteries are fully charged, though it can feel nearly impossible to actually take the time to recharge right now.

It’s hard to quiet your mind when it repeats everything you looked at while you were doomscrolling for hours on end. For me, playing games helps me decompress because they offer a distraction that’s easy to start and stop. Taking 15, 20, 30 minutes to play something before hopping back on social media helps.

I’d also recommend stepping away from screens (computer, phone, TV) to let your eyes rest. Or making sure all your devices have a blue light filter enabled. That’s a topic for a different day, though. The main point here is that mental health is important. Like caring for sore muscles, we should also tend to mental health strains.

To help, I’ve put together a list of 35 indie games across multiple genres that are lighthearted, wholesome, fun, and easy to drop in and out of. I won’t be providing lengthy descriptions of each game like I normally do because of how many there are on this list. I don't want to drown out any of the games in text.

Instead, I will be providing links to each game’s Steam page and quoting the game’s Steam description.

To add to this, I want to provide a link that offers several ways you can support the Black Lives Matter movement. I also want to add separately that you can support black indie game developers by donating to their Kickstarters, following them on Twitter, wishlisting their games on Steam, and sharing their games with others.

Right now, there’s a bundle of indie games on itch.io you can buy and share where all of the funds get donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Community Bail Fund. Additionally, there’s another itch.io bundle with games like Coffee Talk and Moon Hunters where all proceeds are donated to Black Lives Matter and the National Bail Fund.

If you want to stay informed about what indie games are coming out that you can support, you can check out fantastic expos like the Game Devs of Color Expo that’s set to take place virtually on September 19. You can also browse through hashtags like #blackgamedevs to discover some amazing indie games, and follow accounts like @Blackgamedev.

Black Lives Matter

35 Lighthearted Indie Games To Play If You Need A Break

35 Lighthearted Indie Games To Play If You Need A Break
A Short Hike lets you hike and explore at your own pace.

A Short Hike

"Hike, climb, and soar through the peaceful mountainside landscapes of Hawk Peak Provincial Park as you make your way to the summit."

Tiny Bird Garden Deluxe

"Customize your garden with hundreds of items! Every visiting bird—over 100 of them—has unique dialog, favorites, and heart levels! Play mini games, raise baby birds, decorate photos, and chat with human characters inside and out of the visual novel style story mode! We’re eggcited to meet you!"

Viridi

"Nurture a small pot of succulents that grow in real time. Viridi is a safe haven, a place you can return to for a moment of peace and quiet whenever you need it."

Eastshade

"You are a traveling painter, exploring the island of Eastshade. Capture the world on canvas using your artist’s easel. Talk to the inhabitants to learn about their lives. Make friends and help those in need. Visit cities, scale summits, unearth mysteries, and discover forgotten places!"

Kind Words

"A game about writing nice letters to real people. Write and receive encouraging letters in a cozy room. Trade stickers and listen to chill music. We're all in this together. Sometimes all you need are a few kind words."

Coffee Talk

"Coffee Talk is a coffee brewing and heart-to-heart talking simulator about listening to fantasy-inspired modern peoples’ problems, and helping them by serving up a warm drink or two."

Bunny Park

"Manage your own bunny park! Give snacks and toys to your bunnies. Improve and decorate your park to increase its popularity and collect all the bunnies!"

Isle of Ewe

"Embark on an adventure and command your flock to bring your fluffy friends back home. The mysterious disappearance of Ramsey sparks your journey as you must collect, throw and bounce from sheep to sheep to bring him back home safely."

My Time At Portia

"Start a new life in the enchanting town of Portia! Restore your Pa's neglected workshop to its former glory by fulfilling commissions, growing crops, raising animals, and befriending the quirky inhabitants of this charming post-apocalyptic land!"

Everything

"Be the Universe in this epic, award-winning reality simulation game - featuring thousands of playable characters, endless exploration, an extraordinary soundtrack and narration from Alan Watts."

The Gardens Between

"The Gardens Between is a surreal puzzle adventure that follows best friends, Arina and Frendt, as they fall into a mysterious world of beautiful garden islands. Manipulate time to solve puzzles and discover the secrets of each island."

Slime Rancher

"Slime Rancher is the tale of Beatrix LeBeau, a plucky, young rancher who sets out for a life a thousand light years away from Earth on the ‘Far, Far Range’ where she tries her hand at making a living wrangling slimes."

Wandersong

"A musical platforming adventure with an emotional story. Play as a silly bard and use music to interact with everything on a journey around the world. Along the way you'll explore, solve puzzles, and meet a huge cast of characters!"

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator

"Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a game where you play as a Dad and your goal is to meet and romance other hot Dads. Are you ready? Hi ready, I'm Dad."

Half Past Fate

"Love is in the air, but work, life, and spicy Ramen keep getting in the way! From 8 hours to 8 years, this time-jumping saga will change the way you feel about fate forever."

Playne

"A game designed to help improve mental well-being by helping players build a daily habit of meditation. Every day you meditate, the game world grows and transforms. Build resilience to stress, experience calm and relaxation."

Yi and the Thousand Moons

"Yi and the Thousand Moons is a short video game musical written and developed by David Su. Through the course of several original interactive songs, featuring a full cast and live band, the game weaves a story of the archer Yi's journey to save her village."

Poly Bridge and Poly Bridge 2

"Unleash your engineering creativity with an engaging and fresh bridge-building simulator with all the bells and whistles. Enjoy hours of physics-based puzzle solving in the Campaign and then jump in the Sandbox to create your own bridge designs and puzzles!"

Hidden Paws

"It's winter and cats are still outside. Cold and alone. Find them and bring them home. Now includes free Christmas Isles. Enjoy!" 

You can also buy a bundle with Hidden Paws, Hidden Paws Mystery, Summer Paws, and Sand Made.

Hatoful Boyfriend

"Congratulations! You’ve been accepted as the only human student at the prestigious St. PigeoNation’s Institute, a school for talented birds! Roam the halls and find love in between classes as a sophomore student at the world’s greatest pigeon high school."

Stardew Valley

"You've inherited your grandfather's old farm plot in Stardew Valley. Armed with hand-me-down tools and a few coins, you set out to begin your new life. Can you learn to live off the land and turn these overgrown fields into a thriving home?"

Islanders

"ISLANDERS is a minimalist strategy game about building cities on colorful islands."

Cat Goes Fishing

"Start out on an island with a basic rod. Progress into a radar-wielding master fisher-cat scouring the sea for the biggest and baddest fish. Each fish has unique behaviors that you will learn to exploit as you tailor your arsenal of fishing rods to suit your style of play. Mrrrow!"

Sayonara Wild Hearts

"Sayonara Wild Hearts is a dreamy arcade game about riding motorcycles, skateboarding, dance battling, shooting lasers, wielding swords, and breaking hearts at 200 mph."

Golf With Your Friends

"Why have friends if not to play Golf... With Your Friends! Nothing is out of bounds as you take on courses filled with fast paced, exciting, simultaneous mini golf for up to 12 players!"

Muse Dash

"Play as characteristic Heroines, Dash through fairy tale like stages, Dancing to the rhythm and beats, Kick those silly cute enemies into outer space!"

Abzu

"From the art director of Journey, ABZÛ is a beautiful underwater adventure that evokes the dream of diving. Immerse yourself in a vibrant hidden world bursting with color and life as you descend into the heart of the ocean. But beware as you swim deeper as dangers lurk in the depths."

Yooka-Laylee

"Yooka-Laylee is an all-new open-world platformer from genre veterans Playtonic! Explore huge, beautiful worlds, meet an unforgettable cast of characters and horde a vault-load of collectibles as buddy-duo Yooka and Laylee embark on an epic adventure to thwart corporate creep Capital B!"

Owlboy

"Owlboy is a story-driven platform adventure game, where you can fly and explore a brand new world in the clouds! Pick up your friends, and bring them with you as you explore the open skies, in one of the most detailed adventures of this era."

Moving Out

"Moving Out is a ridiculous physics-based moving simulator that brings new meaning to "couch co-op"! Are you ready for an exciting career in furniture? As a newly certified Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technician, you’ll take on moving jobs all across the busy town of Packmore."

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

"Unwind and enjoy the slow life in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, a relaxing open-world adventure game. Yonder is set in the world of Gemea. A natural island paradise with eight distinct environments ranging from tropical beaches to snow-capped summits."

Snake Pass

"Slither, coil and climb your way to the top of Haven Tor in this one of a kind physics based, puzzle platform adventure from award winning independent studio Sumo Digital!"

A Hat In Time

"A Hat in Time is a cute-as-heck 3D platformer featuring a little girl who stitches hats for wicked powers! Freely explore giant worlds and recover Time Pieces to travel to new heights!"

Farming Simulator 19

"The best-selling franchise takes a giant leap forward with a complete overhaul of the graphics engine, offering the most striking and immersive visuals and effects, along with the deepest and most complete farming experience ever."

American Truck Simulator

"Experience legendary American trucks and deliver various cargoes across sunny California, sandy Nevada, and the Grand Canyon State of Arizona. American Truck Simulator takes you on a journey through the breathtaking landscapes and widely recognized landmarks around the States."

To drive a big rig around Europe, you can also buy Euro Truck Simulator 2

I know there are more games than the 35 I listed, there are also quite a few games within the lighthearted, wholesome genre set to release this year like Calico and Garden Story. If you want to scope out some upcoming games, I recommend following Wholesome Games on Twitter.

You can also follow IndieObscura on Twitter as we regularly shares indie game content from #screenshotsaturday gems to Kickstarters you can support. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, week, and month of June. Thank you so much for continuing to read the features on IO, I appreciate each and everyone one of you.