Xbox Game Pass: eight of the best games to chill out with

By Heidi Nicholas,
2021 is behind us, but it was as chaotic in many ways as the year before, so we thought we’d update and redo our article on Xbox Game Pass games to chill out with, especially now that the Xbox Game Pass library has changed up so much. Whether you’re dealing with new rules or restrictions at this time, are looking for a quick break from holiday duties, or just want something laid-back to play — these are some of the games on Xbox Game Pass which you can relax in for a little mental break, or to enjoy some low-pressure playthroughs. They’re only a small selection of the many Xbox Game Pass gems there are out there, and your definition of relaxing games might be different from ours, so if we’ve missed any that you think should be on the list, why not head to the comments and tell us about it!

Omno

omno review

Omno seems like the perfect game to kickstart this list with — one of its greatest strengths is its peaceful atmosphere and the sense of natural, unhurried exploration unfolding ahead of you as you make your way through it. It’s a little hard to describe what it’s like, as Omno doesn’t go in for a story as such; there was a lost civilisation that came before, and remnants of it litter the lush environments you travel through, but your journey is more about the experience of the journey itself, rather than any particular quest or mission. It’s a beautiful game where the exploration is perfectly complemented by a soaring soundtrack as you glide through deserts, snowfields, and forests. Apart from the occasional time-sensitive puzzle, there’s absolutely no pressure on you at all as you solve puzzles and overcome obstacles — there’s no combat, either, just a variety of strange and mysterious creatures to observe as you travel. If a peaceful sigh was a game, it would be this one — and we’ve got an Omno walkthrough to help you out, too.

Lake

Lake open-world adventure gameplay

Lake is another great fit for this list — it’s one of the most laid-back games to have launched in 2021, and revolves entirely around two weeks in the 80s in the life of Meredith Weiss. Meredith has taken a break from her career at a software company to take over for her dad as the mail carrier in her hometown of Providence Oaks. There is the big decision to make at the end of those two weeks — whether she’ll stay or leave — but there’s absolutely no pressure in the gameplay itself. Meredith just needs to deliver post, build back relationships with the townspeople of Providence Oaks, and explore her hometown as she does. Your days will be filled with quiet tasks, helping the townspeople, driving around Providence Oaks, and deciding what to do with your evenings. It’s a lovely, laid-back game with a gentle sense of 80s nostalgia — but aside from that hint, Lake feels pretty timeless; if you’re looking for something undemanding and enjoyable, with a beautiful town to explore, Lake is your game.

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley

How could we have this list and not have Stardew Valley on it? Stardew Valley is something of a contradiction in that it is one of the most relaxing games you can play — as long as you come to it with a plan, or else are happy to take the day as it comes. If, like me, you panicked the first time you played about how to get the most productivity out of every day, and flailed through the first spring like a headless chicken, you probably won’t find it as relaxing at first. Once you’ve found your feet, however, you’re off; enjoying the valley while pursuing any of Stardew Valley’s activities that you feel like. It’s easy to get lost in Stardew Valley, and to lose a lot more hours to it than you might have initially planned. In other words, Stardew Valley is a true treasure of a game and is the perfect way to relax whether you’re playing for the first time or for the tenth.

Townscaper

Townscaper easy achievements

Townscaper seems custom-built for a list like this. It’s described as a cross between a toy and a game, and the developer, Oskar Stålberg, says that there’s “no real gameplay” as such — it’s just a lovely relaxing experience in which you build towns. The buildings shift and morph depending on where you place the blocks, so gardens, statues, benches, and the like pop up or disappear as you add more to your town. You might end up with a church, or a town that floats on propellers; it’s entirely what you want it to be. The colours and sound effects are muted and play into that charming sense of relaxation, while flocks of birds take flight as you move the buildings around. It would be easy to invest more time in it than you thought at first — either way, it’s a lovely, laid-back game, and is well worth a try; it’s also a quick completion.

Unpacking

Unpacking

Like Townscaper, Unpacking is another recent Xbox Game Pass addition which seems perfect for relaxing. It does just what it says on the tin, and has you unpacking possessions to tidy them neatly away into a new home. There is an accessibility option which lets you place belongings wherever you want (which also makes Unpacking’s achievement list easier) but there is a gentle narrative to the game that might be missed this way, as you gradually learn more about the life of the person you’re unpacking for. It's a great option whether you've just got ten minutes or an hour or so, and can be easily picked up and put down.

The Artful Escape

the artful escape release date

In a complete change of tone, we have The Artful Escape — a game that’s less a game than it is a psychedelic musical adventure across the cosmos. We play as Francis Vendetti, a musician who’s struggling with his idea of his own stage persona after languishing in the shadow of a famous musical relative. Naturally, this journey takes him across “the impossible depths of the Cosmic Extraordinary.” There’s no combat; it’s entirely about the music and the cast of appropriately zany characters he meets along the way. It’s a riotous blast of noise and colour, and it’s just stupidly fun to play, and you’ll most likely find you’ve disappeared into this cosmic adventure without entirely meaning to — if you fancy finding out a bit more about it, check out Luke’s The Artful Escape review.

Spiritfarer

Spiritfarer

Spiritfarer describes itself as a “cosy management game about dying.” Despite what sounds like slightly depressing subject matter, Spiritfarer is a cheery, uplifting sort of game, filled with the same kind of cosiness and productivity as you’d find in Stardew Valley, along with its own charming story and beautiful art style. It’s full of things to do, like farming, fishing, mining, cooking, crafting, and the like, but it’s also threaded through with moments that are just meant to be enjoyed — sitting quietly on your boat, hugging the spirits you care for, or watching the sun rise. Eventually, however, you’ll need to learn to say goodbye to your passengers, and although Spiritfarer aims for a bittersweet note, be prepared — it can be ever-so-slightly devastating.

Slime Rancher

Slime Rancher 1

On a less life-and-death note, we’ve got Slime Rancher — the brightly-coloured, ridiculously enjoyable sim that tasks you with wrangling slimes. It’s a little like herding cats, in that they do precisely what they want whether you like it or not — but you are armed with the vacpack, with which you can pull slimes towards you and send them sailing away into the distance, or else use it to pelt their pens with food when they get hungry; or as a means of defence against the Tarr slimes. Plus, it’s a great chance to get your skills up to scratch before Slime Rancher 2 comes bouncing round the corner in 2022.

That's just a few of the many gems on Xbox Game Pass — we'll update this article every now and again with some of the newer additions to Xbox Game Pass, but in the meantime; will you be trying any of these out? Let us know in the comments!
Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Heidi graduated with an MA in English Literature, and now enjoys writing news, reviews, and features across TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies. When she’s not writing, Heidi is usually either looking for her next RPG, or trying to convince the rest of the team to hear about yet another delightfully wholesome game she has found.