10 games to make you feel good

Looking to bring some joy into your life through video games? The best feel-good games offer some much-needed comfort during tough times. Whether it be because they give you a welcoming space to get lost in for a while, or help you take your mind off of your troubles with relaxing puzzles and activities, there are plenty of games out there to help you unwind. Whether you’re searching for some positivity or you’re after some cozy vibes, there’s sure to be something in our pick for you.

From games that offer a hopeful message to delightful, laidback gems that can help after a stressful day, there’s everything from the likes of Animal Crossing: New Horizons to Stardew Valley, and more. Read on as we take you through the best feel-good games for times when you need to get lost in something for a little while.

10. Peggle Deluxe

Yeah, that’s right, Peggle. In the final moments of any round of Peggle, whether you’ve cleared all the pegs or just the requisite number, the result is the same. The ball slows down on the approach to the final peg, as it hits, firework visuals burst from the screen and ‘Ode to Joy’ crescendos. It doesn’t matter how many times this happens; each one is accompanied by either a grin of achievement or an air punch. This is pure unadulterated ‘joy’ condensed into bright visuals and terrific sound design.

There’s very little skill needed in order to reach this moment and it barks loudly of Pavlov’s dog, but it cannot be helped, ‘Ode to Joy’ is a wonderfully catchy tune and the perfect end to a game. The bonus is that Peggle can be played on everything and by everyone. You can give it to kids or your grandad and each one will be filled with happiness for those few minutes until it happens all over again.

Developer: Popcap Games
Platform(s): PC

9. Minecraft

When the credits finally roll on Minecraft, after beating the Ender Dragon, we’re treated to a poem of sorts. One which, upon first creation was meant to be “over the top” on sentiment. If you cut through all the cheese and whimsy, there are a few lines that actually carry some emotional weight. Granted, you have to complete the game after perhaps hundreds of hours to see this poem, but one line manages to sum up the entire experience of this sandbox adventure – “What did this player dream?”

Minecraft is much more than an adventure story full of monsters and survival. It’s an opportunity for play, to create anything your heart and mind can conceive. Perhaps the game itself doesn’t spell out this concept, but it gives players a place to feel at home, at peace, and create anything from outlandish castles for solo players to rattle around in, to sprawling villages made by a mum and her kids. It’s electronic LEGO, where imagination runs free and anyone can be what they want, with no boundaries or limits.

Developer: Mojang Studios
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

8. The Sims

It doesn’t matter which iteration you choose; The Sims can bring joy in so many ways. Whether you want to create and build an adorable family who will strive to chase their dreams, or maybe you enjoy messing with the tiny beings by stealing ladders, you’re free to do as you wish and orchestrate your own stories in this virtual dollhouse. And who can forget just cheating, gaining infinite money, and building the biggest, most lavish house you can imagine? The Sims is the perfect way to live a life you may not be able to achieve in the real world – be a rockstar, an astronaut or an artist. Whatever you choose, will bring huge amounts of endorphins.

Developer: Maxis
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PS4

7. ICO

ICO tells a classic ‘boy meets girl’ story set in a vast and sumptuous world. With no dialogue, each movement conveys emotion and the trust in which Yorda places in the titular character of Ico is just lovely. As the player, it’s up to you to piece together the story of this outcast boy and the Queen’s daughter, whose life is in danger.

The world is gorgeous, the castle and its puzzles are equally sublime. But the joy mostly comes from these two delightful characters interacting, with Yorda showing Ico how to love and accept one another for who they are. This is a traditional fairy tale and one which will be remembered forever. As an older title, Ico was originally a PS3 game but can be played on PS4 via PS Now. If you can’t get a hold of it, we also recommend trying out the remaster of Shadow of the Colossus.

Developer: Team Ico
Platform(s): PS3, PS4 (via PS Now)

6. Yakuza

The Yakuza games, for all their gunfights and fisticuffs, constantly convey a line of positivity. In one moment we could be in the middle of a street fight, only to find ourselves sat in a bar in the next – a whiskey in one hand, cigarette in the other, talking to a film director about the work of another. Kiryu straightens his posture and delivers a piece of advice about staying true to a vision.

Having a positive impact in a world that is in desperate need of it is a constant theme in Yakuza games. Below the criminal underworld, our hero has seen the worst in humans, and he seemingly wants to do right by them and keep everyone focused on the beauty of life. Likewise, Ichiban Kasuga in Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a real ray of sunshine you just can’t help but root for. Any one of the Yakuza games, while often dealing with some darker themes at times, will no doubt make you smile time and again with its signature humor, with protagonists you really come to care for.

Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

5. Flower

Flower offer is game in which you play as a petal drifting along the currents of a breeze. This is a game of utter beauty in color, music and movement that offers up a very relaxing experience you can get swept in. Flower, much like Journey, is a game where your own interpretation is a guide to what occurs on screen. For some, it’s a tale of loss saved by new life springing forth. For others, it’s about birth and the constant renewal of life. On the bare face of things, it’s just a beautiful game which causes wide smiles and fond memories of summer days. If you enjoy Flower and you’ve yet to try it out, we also recommend checking out Journey for it’s similarly soothing feel and unique take on encountering other players in the world.

Developer: thatgamecompany
Platform(s): PC, PS4, iOS

4. Dreams

Developer: Media Molecule
Platform(s): PS4

Another place where imagination is the only thing holding back the player from creating, but this time the game comes with all the delightful visuals and companions you need. Dreams, for the most part, guides you through processes with kindly voices and bright sentiments of encouragement. Playing to create, you’re always told what a great job you’ve done or how impressive your creation is. Playing other people’s creations opens up whole worlds of possibilities.

You might find a game that recreates racing toy cars across the carpet of a grandparent’s living room, or maybe a tale of loss and discovery. Dreams gives players a whole world of other people’s imaginations to roam through and when you’re done, you can leave comments of encouragement or stickers which simply spell out ‘good job, well done.’ Who doesn’t like being rewarded with praise and stickers?

3. Stardew Valley