The 20 best non-violent games on PC

non-violent-games

My nerves have been sufficiently jangled and my trigger-finger sufficiently itched by the glut of action games which landed in the closing months of last year. I crave an altogether more sedate beginning to 2018, and so my mind turns to games in which violence, reflex or any other kind of unblinking attentiveness takes a back seat.

Primarily we’re talking violence-free games here, but I wanted to drill a little deeper than that – so nothing that generally requires a competitive streak. I’m chasing a certain feel rather than a certain category. Flying, walking, puzzling, driving, building, dreaming, climbing, stretching, swinging (not like that), swimming, wondering: these are just a few of the ways in which flashing pixels can make you feel a very different sort of accomplishment.

And, of course, these are not even slightly the be-all and end-all of non-violent games on PC – please do nominate more in comments below.

Superflight

(official site)

An extremely cheap (£2/$3) wingsuit-based gliding game, in which you can soar freely over a vast voxel landscape. It’s beautiful to behold, and it’s up to you if you want uninterrupted flight or to try to better your own score in a challenge mode that has you circling or flying through rock formations at speed.

Most of all though, it’s the sound and feel of the wind roaring around you that makes this sing: that sense of being in another place, free as a bird.

Cities: Skylines

(official site)

Some city-building games, as this is, can be fairly exacting affairs – the constant terror of running out of money or being unable to prevent an entire suburb from burning down does not exactly promote relaxation. But Skylines has a particularly tranquil and forgiving take on mayoral simulation – you really, really have to work at it to make a catastrophic error, and even if you do, new citizens will cheerfully stroll back in en masse once you’ve cleared the mess away.

The core Skylines experience is instead calmly ‘painting’ districts, pipes and roads, the land a canvas for what most pleases your eye. There is time (and slow-time) aplenty to place the powerlines and water pumps required to make it all function – to build a city in Skylines is to gently lose yourself in an unhurried world.

Abzu

(official site)

A game about swimming with the fishies, and the prettiest fishies you’ve ever seen at that. Abzu is tour of an undersea world that basically looks like a megamix of all the most impressive scenes from Blue Planet. You glide alongside the shoals, or take occasional rides on the back of larger creatures, and the central thrust is the pure joy of whatever burst of colour and flutter it shows you next.

Granted, there is some minor peril in its near-closing moments, but even that its about jaw-dropping magnificence rather than twitchy action. Abzu is a glorious, glorious sight.

Floating Point

(official site)

A free, grappling hook-based, pressure-free physics toy from the guy behind Heat Signature and Gunpoint who – full disclosure – is a friend of a couple of folk on staff here. But it’s well worth giving it a spin anyway.

Floating Point doesn’t start off as a particularly relaxing game, as getting used to the controls and the movement involves repeated failure for a while, but once you’ve got the feel, you’ll be in the zone, free-swinging forever and ever and ever across a minimalistic world of ethereal platforms.

Kentucky Route Zero

(official site)

One of very few games included here that could be described as story-based, but KRZ, loosely a point and click adventure but with none of the puzzles, has an entirely different and free-wheeling approach to story than the norm. There is an underpinning tale, but it’s more there to tug the camera through a string of powerfully inventive scenes, by turns beautiful and unsettling and usually both, but always tranquil, reflective and encouraging a gentle drift into a different state of mind. You could drift forever on the Zero if you so chose.

KRZ is a tour through a ghostly other-America, and is so dedicated to taking its sweet, gentle time about it that it even saddles one of its lead characters with a limp early on in order to ensure do the same. It will make your mind churn with both emotion and analysis, but never in an exhausting manner; instead, in one that will make you question yourself as well as its characters.

American Truck Simulator / Euro Truck Simulator 2

(official site)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again many times over – don’t flinch away from the titles, presuming these are dour, overly technical affairs for people who have a picture of a Scania S-Series printed on their phone case. The Truck Sims are, in my experience, the best roadtrip games around – their combination of vast landscapes and (relative to racing games) slow movement effortlessly bringing about a state of zen.

Soaking in the scenery and the sun, tuning the radio to local stations, the lonely strangeness of arriving at a rest stop late a night, the gentle satisfaction of a job completed after (compressed) hours on the road. They are a tonic, and one in which all lorry gonkery can be left at the door.

Proteus (official site)

Probably the most default entry in a list like this, even though “most default” is pretty much the last term traditionally applied to this interprative, abstracted recreation of a dream-state wander through an idealised great outdoors. A wash of sedate rainbow colours, trees and creatures that generate their own musical sound effects as you near them, and what could be pagan relics or what might just be weathered stones that trigger celestial sights or the changing of the seasons.

Proteus is, to some extent, a game born to exist inside ‘chill-out rooms’ at events, but don’t let that backhanded compliment blind you to its true triumph: an escape to another place, a calm and welcoming and unspoiled place, from the comfort of your own monitor. It takes you there without purpose or mandate; it just wants you to open your heart and mind to its changing sights and sounds and, perhaps, the dawning realisation that games in general only show us the tiniest sliver of what they can accomplish.

World of Goo

(official site)

An old classic now, but a kick-down-the-doors explosion of invention and cheer at the time. This is not historically true, but for me this stretchy, jokey puzzle game marked the point that ‘indie games’ arrived. Less as a specific moment in time, more as a flag planted in the earth, heralding a new age of PC gaming. None of this is to overlook, however, just how delightful Goo is in its own right. The combination of convincing physics, cartoony animations and some head-spinning switch-ups in the late game makes it an enduring accomplishment of naturalistic, not austere or mechanical, puzzling.

Stretch the goo to build bridges and towers and reach new places: this is what World of Goo is, but it barely begins to describe it. Very much in the category of those games that absolutely become your entire reality for as long as you’re playing it; in the zone, never stressed, always intrigued, with the added bonus of using scant but charismatic in-game messages to build your own loose sense of the world behind it.

Getting Over It

(official site)

This is not a round-up of relaxing games. These are games that take you to another place, another mindset, another kind of absolute focus. Getting Over It, a combination of unforgiving dexterity and endurance challenge and elliptical narration, is a game about pain. It’s also a game about making a man with a cauldron for legs use a sledgehammer to climb a mountain, but mostly it’s about making you pursue some kind of epiphany through suffering. Keep climbing. Do not succumb to your fears, your exhausation, your fury. Just press on.

You can’t get more in the zone than you can with a Bennett Foddy game.

Desert Golfing

(official site)

The not-sports sports game. It is about sports, obviously, because the central and only mechanic in it is hitting a ball with a stick, but the endless sands of Desert Golfing pursue a very different vibe from the competitive, adrenal cycles of norm-sport. The holes go on forever; the desert goes on forever; the golf… well, forever.

This is a stable genius’ pastime of choice re-imagined not as a penis comparison contest for rich old men, but instead as a state of zen, an ambient challenge of you vs the elements, dreamlike, peaceful and non-judgmental. Desert Golfing state of mind.

Mountain

(official site)

The least game-like game here, it nonetheless achieves that special something-something I’m looking for: it grabs a hold of my mood and my mind, it makes me aspire for something other than power, and it makes me lose myself to the idea that I am something other than myself without weapons, enemies or even goals. Mountain to some extent plays itself, but it requires a certain amount of nurture if it is to change and grow.

Things happen while Mountain runs in the background. Your breath will catch in your throat while you wait for those moments. Relaxing? No, not really an accurate description of the surge of excitement you’ll feel when your Mountain sprouts a new feature or utters a new proclamation.

Planet Coaster

(official site)

Frontier’s game of rollercoaster construction is effectively one of endless tinkering, to lose yourself to a grand act of design with a potentially stupendous pay-off. It can involve a great deal of in-the-zone patience both during building and, depending on how restrained you’ve been, riding. Instead of further words, I shall show you this instead:

Bernband

(official site)

I could have filled this piece with walking simulators, but really I wanted to demonstrate that self-consciously low-key games are not the only way to achieve that off-in-another-headspace feel I’m so preoccupied with lately. Bernband is a game about exploring an alien city. Usually such a concept involves shooting monsters and criminal gangs and all that Mos Eisley jazz, but in Bernband’s case it’s all about just soaking up an otherworldly atmosphere, taking in the sights and sounds of a place that might just exist in the far reaches of the galaxy.

A combination of the comfortingly familiar mainstays of Earth cities and the unsettling (yet unthreatening) possibilities of the alien. Lovely, lovely noodling.

Grow Home

(official site)

This outta-nowhere exploring’n’climbing gem from Ubisoft is arguably best played with a child at your side, but what’s the point in being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes? It’s the tale of a crash-landed robot bringing vast plants to life – think cosmic Jack and the Beanstalk – in order to make his way back home. Partly it’s about figuring out a route via some gentle puzzling and jumping, partly it’s just about haring about a tranquil world seeing what does what. A joy of exploration and experimentation.

I should note that, somewhat at odds with the piece’s concept, the cute ickle wobot can be ‘killed’ by falling-based misadventure, but will be immediately reconstituted back at the most recent waypoint.

Slime Rancher

(official site)

I know that looks an awful lot like a gun, but honest, it’s more of a vacuum cleaner. You use it to herd around and feed (mostly) friendly slime-creatures whose excretions can a) be used to create new types of creature and b) sold on in order to then purchase other, er, flavours of poo yourself. While this may sound gruesome, it’s all presented with cute aplomb, just part of a general tilt towards adorableness – though you’ll regularly feel deep frustration at the misbehaviour of your herd while you’re trying to get gelatinous types to do (or eat) particular things. There’s also a side order of chicken- and crop-farming to help keep things tranquil. In contrast, there is a small element of exploding monsters to deal with at certain points, but it’s all jolly cartoony.

Hexcells

(official site)

RPS’ favourite number-puzzle game, although by and large we feel that the later Hexcells Infinite is the better game. The first one’s a much easier entry point, however, and you should probably dip your toes into its ambient, logical waters before proceeding to Infinite. Hexcells is gentle without being easy, coaxing you into a laid-back state of mind while making the number-crunching bits of your brain gnaw pleasantly on its hex colour-switching conundrums.

One of those where, even if you’ve gone into it feeling altogether dubious about this whole maths business, you’ll suddenly come to finding that hours have passed in an entirely pleasant whirl.

Rime

(official site)

Effectively, Zelda without the fighting. Which is to say exploration and puzzle solving in a beautiful, open outdoor space, where running, jumping, climbing and swimming are your key verbs. Rime doesn’t even try to push you into particular directions or actions, in the main, instead allowing you to look around, experiment and enjoy slow and sometimes startling acts of discovery. It regularly cascades into new and surprising places and situations, and though it does occasionally place you in harm’s way, you never do harm yourself.

A beautiful thing that takes the best parts of Zelda, Tomb Raider, Uncharted and Prince of Persia, then liberates them from the stereotypical requirement for bloodshed.

Osmos

(official site)

This is presuming you don’t consider the absorption of or by other faceless, amoeba-like blobs to be an act of violence. If such a concept doesn’t have you reaching for the smelling salts, Osmos’ biological puzzling is a 2009-vintage treat, and which somehow feels simultaneously microscopic and cosmic in scale. As I say, the key mechanic is to absorb other cell-like beings in order to grow in mass, but pursuing them involves the expulsion of some of your own matter, thus creating a constant risk/reward tension. But it’s always calming and colourful with it.

Mini Metro

(official site)

Not just violence and action-free, but also beautifully successful at ripping away the fiddliness and presumed knowledge of management and simulation games. Mini Metro is all about building underground rail lines, but it eschews numbers and finances in favour of efficiency and experimentation. What route can you draw – with lovely, fluid coloured lines that very strongly evoke a metro map – that collects passengers from various commuter hotspots then takes them to their destinations as quickly as possible, while avoiding the delays of overcrowding and adjacent lines?

It’s a logic puzzle that never feels like a logic puzzle, and has plenty of the beautiful moments where everything just snaps into place and flows beautifully.

Gorogoa (official site)

A truly ingenious and devastatingly pretty game that somehow fuses jigsaw puzzle ethos with the kind of reality-shifting lateral thinking that something like Myst could only wish it had. Gorogoa, however, is extremely difficult to describe in terms of any other game, and is a real original, but at the same time feels as though it has always existed. Essentially, you overlay ‘panels’ from its succession of grids onto each other, which, done correctly, cause new scenes to flower, and which simultaneously tell the twisting tale of one person’s life and a folkloric backstory. Really though, this is yer actual ‘picture speaks a thousand words’ incarnate, and can only be understood by experiencing it.

The delicacy of its puzzles is astounding – whenever it seems about to collapse into frustrating complexity, it eases itself – and you – gently back to rewarding intuition.

Got suggestions for non-violent games that transport you to another place or state of mind? Drop them in the comments.

70 Comments

  1. pookie101 says:

    Cities skyline non violent? Someone clearly hasn’t downed thousands in a tsunami of sewage

  2. Zanchito says:

    Thank you very much for this list. I don’t have a problem with videogames that do things I’d never do in real life, but oftentimes I want some action without the killing.

  3. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    Stoked: Big Air Edition and Steep are my usually go-to non-violent relaxation games. The controls take a bit of getting used to, but after a short while they feel intuitive and you just starting flowing.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    This is a great list, but it seems weird to claim that Getting Over It doesn’t involve/center around reflexes – yes, there’s definitely a puzzling element, but those with slow reaction times will flat-out not be able to proceed, surely?

    • anon459 says:

      Nah. The level never changes, so anybody can muscle-memorize the actions necessary to win if they stick with it.

      Platformers in general are about muscle memory much more than reflexes in my experience.

    • Ghostwise says:

      it seems weird to claim that Getting Over It doesn’t involve/center around reflexes

      The words “unforgiving dexterity” want a word with thee.

    • MajorLag says:

      I have the reflexes of a tree sloth and the dexterity of… something with poor dexterity. You may be right, since I haven’t yet beaten the game, but I have been as far as Orange Hell (several times now…).

      One thing that helped a whole lot: disable mouse acceleration by switching to trackpad mode. Despite what Foddy says about it, I think he made acceleration the default as just another subtle way to troll the player.

  5. Premium User Badge

    maenckman says:

    It‘s a good list, but you should definitely add Opus Magnum, the greatest puzzle/programming game of all time. And I am only half-joking…

    • Matt_W says:

      I may be misremembering, but isn’t there a level where you manufacture a poison to kill someone’s rival or something. Implied violence in the backstory.

  6. Kefren says:

    Some nice ones there. I used to enjoy Osmos (and games like is, such as Auralux, which I based a story on).

    I had trouble running Abzu (I think maybe it was a Denuvo issue, urgh). When I did eventually play it I was disappointed. I got a refund on that, one of the few games I have.

    Other possibles that I have in some way enjoyed:
    7 Grand Steps
    Capsule
    Cook, Serve, Delicious
    Fort Meow
    Game Dev Tycoon
    Ghost Master
    Gone Home
    Her Story
    HuniePop
    InFlux
    Little Inferno
    Oxenfree
    Peggle
    Rocksmith
    Scanner Sombre
    Regency Solitaire
    Starseed Pilgrim
    Stories Untold
    Submerged
    The Path
    The Stanley Parable
    Uplink
    Windlands

    • ronjouch says:

      Hey thanks to you and RPS for the lists! Close to the “Non-violent” focus, I made a selection of “Enjoyable by non-gamers” games, for the enjoyment of a significant other who wants to discover games. By that I mean: not too brutally hard or at least initially simple in the controls, bringing some freshness, eye-opening.

      Here’s what I came up with. What would everyone add?

      Abzû

      The Bunker

      Choice of robots

      The dream machine

      Everything

      Expand

      Fez

      Firewatch

      Gone home

      Gorogoa

      Grow up

      Her story

      Hidden folks

      Inside

      Kentucky route zero

      Late shift

      Life is strange

      Limbo

      Little nightmares

      Machinarium

      Observer

      Ori

      Papers, please

      Proteus

      Rayman legends

      Rime

      Rusty lake paradise

      Soma

      The stanley parable

      Stories untold

      Subsurface circular

      Thomas was alone

      Thumper

      What remains of Edith Finch

      The witness

      World of goo

      • Matt_W says:

        I would never include a platformer (Ori, Grow Up, Rayman) in a list for non-gamers. Inside (or Limbo) are great choices because there’s no HUD and the games are designed to teach you the controls. I’d make an exception for Thomas Was Alone, which was how I taught my kids to use a controller, though its difficulty ramps up quicker than it takes for a non-gamer or child to learn the controls. Little Nightmares is too frustrating and fiddly. Otherwise, your list is really good. If you’re going to include Choice of Robots, maybe another (better IMO) choice-based game like 80 Days or Reigns or more avant garde options like My Father’s Long Long Legs or With Those We Love Alive.

        I’d add Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, as it’s my favorite walking simulator, but Edith Finch, Firewatch, and Gone Home are also great.

        • ronjouch says:

          Yeah I’m not sure either about platformers, I guess I’ll see when we try them 🙂 (I was thinking Rayman co-op might be fun, but you’re right, Ori might be waaaay too hard too fast, and Grow Up’s full 3D might be tough too but as a gamer I don’t realize it).

          Thanks for the selection of choice-based games! I don’t know them much. And curious you enjoyed so much Everybody’s gone to the rapture, I play a lot (like, ALL OF THEM) of walking sims, but Rapture didn’t click for me when I tried it. I’ll give it a second try 👍.

      • Premium User Badge

        maenckman says:

        I think you pretty much nailed it. Almost every game I have played with my girlfriend is on your list. The only games I might add are Point and Click adventures like the Lucas Arts classics or Thimbleweed Park. Broken Age, if you prefer a „modern“ look.

        • ronjouch says:

          Thanks! Missed those Lucas point&clicks, true 🙂. Adding them.

      • mundanesoul says:

        Yeah, there are a lot of good selections here but a few that seem like bad ideas. Ori has some really challenging platforming sections and The Witness is a long and sometimes difficult puzzle game. I see you’ve got Life Is Strange, which I think is a good idea, and some of the better Telltale games might be good too. Unlike Matt, I’d say there are some forgiving platformers that are just fine for first-timers (not sure what platforms you have access to, but Mario Odyssey is a great example) and I actually think Rayman is a great choice.

      • jtron says:

        Seconding the game Everything. It’s like a nonaccumulative Katamari, with soothing sound and Alan Watts.

      • TheSplund says:

        I’d add pretty well every driving sim and quite a few flight sims too

  7. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    I’d add more puzzle games. Some match 3 ones have absolutely no violent themes, as 7 wonders.

    BTW, for a genre that is based on not doing the things the “action games” way, adventure games are surprisingly violent in retrospect. I cannot think of any of them where there is no animal abuse, for example.

  8. Morinaka says:

    I’d add INFRA to that list. You only have a camera and torch and are navigating and documenting crumbling infrastructure of a city coming out of a decades long corruption scandal; found it really compelling.

  9. Matt_W says:

    I was going to say Zachtronics games, but then remembered that there’s implied or direct violence in the backstories for all of them. Hmmm.

    Gone Home
    Hadean Lands
    Kerbal Space Program
    Tabletop Simulator
    Stardew Valley
    Universe Simulator
    Take on Mars
    Thomas Was Alone

    • Kurokawa says:

      I don’t know, KSP seems like a pretty violent game to me, particularly if you don’t know what your’e doing… ;)

    • Nixitur says:

      Stardew Valley literally has you smacking monsters with a sword.

  10. djvecchitto says:

    I’mma let you finish, but THE WITNESS is one of the greatest games of ALL TIME

    • Matt_W says:

      Yeah, second this. Of all the alternative options in the comments so far, The Witness is the one I feel is really missing from the post.

    • Benkyo says:

      Don’t know if I’d go that far, but it certainly shouldn’t be missing from this particular list.

    • MajorLag says:

      That’s like, not even hyperbole. Never before has a game made me experience awe.

  11. Carra says:

    I also enjoy building games. The anno, tropico or old school Impression game city builders are great. Some have some battles but it’s only a side idea.

    And adventure games, there are plenty adventure games with little to no violence. Grim Fandango comes to mind.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      At least the Anno games I’ve played (1404 and 2070 or something like that, have combat.

      The Tropico games have both actual violence and very much implied violence (dictatorship and all that jazz). Pretty sure you can execute the DJ as well.

  12. GepardenK says:

    The Talos Principle

    Myst/Riven/Exile (I’d even say Myst V)

    Monkey Island

  13. TehKory says:

    Disclaimer: I eat meat, and don’t particularly find it to be inherently problematic. I also love Slime Rancher.

    The slimes themselves are cute. That’s their primary trait. That doesn’t mean a subsection of them aren’t violent(rad, explosive, etc., and above all tarr). That also doesn’t mean that they don’t eat chickens, and -whole-. They’re violent. They’re just cute while they do it.

  14. SuddenSight says:

    You don’t have any relaxing turn-based games on this list, so I want to recommend the Brain Good Games library. Especially Axes and Acres, Skyships, and Solar Settlers. All of them are quite relaxing and provide some delightful turn-based, eurogame-style strategising to think about. Militia and Minos Strategos (the other two) are also good, but they are explicitly violent and a little higher-stress, so I don’t know if they fit on the list.

    Also, Knytt Underground is the best game of all time.

  15. rochrist says:

    You forgot Opus Magnum!!

    Best Brainfuck interpreter builder EVAH!

  16. Nixitur says:

    Grow Home is extremely up on that list for me. It’s just so lovely. Climbing, gliding, looking for gems, it’s all so relaxing.
    World of Goo is a fantastic game, no doubt. But contrary to what Alec said, it felt incredibly stressful to me. You lose your goo blobs one by one and then a huge part of the structure collapses and you just can’t get it right as it becomes less and less possible. I didn’t find it at all relaxing.

    80 Days doesn’t quite fit on this list. The whole story is about a competition and the 80 days serve as a time/turn limit of sorts. But I found this tale of traveling the world and meeting people coupled with excellent writing to be immensely relaxing and engrossing. Graham Smith called it “the most human game [he has] ever played.” A great one for gamers and non-gamers alike.

    Thomas Was Alone is a game about jumping and friendship. At its core, it’s a puzzle platformer with you controlling different quadrilaterals cooperating to get through the level. But really, it’s a game about friends because every shape has more character and character development than many protagonists in other games. Together with great writing and narration, it is really quite a lovely game.

    Uplink from 2001 is still, in my opinion, the greatest hacking game ever made. You are given a whole world to play with and everything is connected. While conflict is at the core of the game’s story and the hacking itself can be very tense, it doesn’t require a competitive streak, so I’d say it still fits this list.

  17. grrrz says:

    having seen people playing “getting over it” I’m not sure non-violent is an apt description. wouldn’t be surprised to learn a few keyboards were brutally smashed playing this game.

  18. NuclearSword says:

    Pipe Push Paradise is a delight that just recently came out on Steam, and I feel like no one is talking about (besides ClemmyGames, an indie game focused Youtube Channel I check out) despite it clearly being the “Stephen’s Sausage Roll of 2018″… if people discover it. Ever since Kickle Cubicle and Adventures of Lolo, I’ve dug these kind of room-by-room, top-down puzzlers, and PPP is as addictive and charming as anything else out there, I tells ya.

    Also would recommend the animal crossing of PC, Castaway Island. It’s a little grindy (it’s a port of a mobile game), but… I mean it IS Animal Crossing, with a boxier (more Papercraft than Minecraft) but equally charming style going on than the real McCoy.

    And it’s shocking Stardew Valley isn’t here, tbh. Unless there’s some underground fighting component that disqualifies it I’m forgetting :D

    Oh and Shout-out to Deadalic’s “flew right under the radar for most gamers” AER: Memories of Old. A low-poly, untextured, faceted adventure in the vein of Journey where you play as a Shapeshifter who transforms into a Bird and travels to various floating islands. Put on some chillwave and just dive into that one; it’s a gem.

    • MajorLag says:

      The SSR of 2018 you say? I don’t take such a comparison lightly. I’m buying this.

    • parsley says:

      I had the same thought about Stardew Valley! — but then I remembered when I introduced my friend to it:

      me: It’s such a nice relaxing game! How far are you? Have you harvested your parsnips yet? Do you have a favorite villager?
      them: ??? I’m not FARMING, that’s boring. I’m killing things in the mines.

      Seriously, my friend played the whole game like a combat adventure with a small farming minigame. It was wild.

  19. Wilson Deluxe says:

    Tetrobot!

    • Archangel says:

      Oh my goodness, yes. Tetrobot is so very, very wonderful — and fits this list perfectly.

  20. Ibed says:

    Cool list. Superflight is a great add.

    I’d add a vote for The Witness and Fez, and would like to add Botanicula to the list of named games. Utter lovely joy, and not as puzzly as Machinarium (which is also lovely, but with more puzzles and therefore potential frustration). Also, if it qualifies, The Stanley Parable.

    And I haven’t played it yet, but would Edith Finch qualify? That one appears to have gone down quite well around these parts.

  21. EwokThisWay says:

    I really, really want to enjoy Rime, it’s visually beautiful, i love the atmosphere… but i really need at least A LITLLE BIT of direction.
    At least a main “quest” to give a general sense or where i am going and at what point i am in the story/exploring, even without pointing at side quests and letting me discovering them by exploring.
    It makes me anxious to miss something or going in a direction that will make me skip some cool bits.

  22. TheBetterStory says:

    And more:

    * OneShot
    * The Sea Will Claim Everything (and many other point-and-clicks)
    * VA-11-Hall-A
    * The Edgelands
    * Her Story
    * The Room
    * The Tiny Bang Story
    * To the Moon

  23. quat says:

    Leaving Recursed off a list like this is a crime! A crime I say!

    It’s a really mind bending puzzle-platformer. It’s more “puzzle” than “platformer”; like Portal in that sense, where the platforming is less about “avoid the spikes and don’t fall down the pit”, and more of a tool to build puzzle mechanics out of.

    There’s no easy way to die; in fact, the only way to “die” is to do it on purpose, and this *is* used as a puzzle mechanic (wot???)

    • MajorLag says:

      I second Recursed. Until I played Stephen’s Sausage Roll and The Witness, I’d have listed Recursed as possibly the greatest puzzle game of all time.

  24. Monggerel says:

    You could easily add Papers, Please to this list. It is “nonviolent” insofar as you’re only perpetrating the violence of an oppressive regime, not your own, and only do so abstractly, through the duties of an immigration officer.
    In KRZ, for comparison’s sake, you only ever suffer the consequences of violence and you’re not responsible for it yourself, but boy is that game not “nonviolent”.
    Abzu got those sharks and they kill your robot buddies.
    I’ve also heard Kerbal Space Program jokingly described as “Kerbal Space Pogrom”, considering the amount of unlucky Kerbals you’re likely to have killed with unsuccessful launches after some playing – but that violence is by no means the purpose of the game.
    Little Inferno is the most perfect encapsulation of “Retail Therapy” I’ve ever seen, as a game about buying expensive new stuff and then destroying it in spectacular fashion, but I’d actually argue the game is *less* violent than any of my examples above – its combination of childlish glee and wonder at destruction ultimately serving as a deconstruction of another kind of violence (that of a hypercommercialist capitalist-ish corporation-regime).

    tl;dr: everything is violence, your body is murdering the fuck out of a million pathogens right this second, and what *is* a cloud anyway, hail sithis & etc

    (I’d also add that this is a really good list up there, and the comment additions are good too, and everyone should definitely go and play them all, they’re delightful)

    (except for Getting Over It, that game will turn you into Jack Nicholson from The Shining, except even more racist)

  25. Theroux says:

    Just finished Gorogoa the other day, its probably the greatest little puzzle game ever made. Loved Abzu start to finish, had my 6 year old hypnotized.

    Also I’m going to get this off my chest…
    what does anyone get out of Proteus? Maybe its me.

  26. ziffel says:

    A Night in the Woods is better than most games on this list. You also forgot Oxenfree, Tabletop Simulator, and Universe Sandbox

  27. indigozeal says:

    Gorogoa over Cook, Serve, Delicious!? Nope.

    (The visual and puzzle style of Gorogoa is neat, but the game kinda runs out of steam halfway through its extremely short length, and the story is at once extremely obvious and almost non-existent. I was kind of shocked, actually, at how utterly hollow the experience was.)

    • indigozeal says:

      Also: I don’t get the weird obsession with comparing Gorogoa to Myst. They’re nothing alike. (Also, Gorogoa isn’t fit to lick the dust from Myst‘s spats.)

  28. icemann says:

    Tetris
    The Incredible Machine

    I’d have put Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties but that has 1 single bit with violence in it.

  29. Someoldguy says:

    I’d add
    Banished (because I prefer ancient & medieval city builders to modern ones)
    Life is Strange
    LEGO games (perhaps not strictly violence free, but block smashing feels just fun and silly rather than violent to me)

    golden oldies:
    Children of the Nile
    Railroad Tycoon 3

  30. Feet says:

    Yonder: Cloud Catcher Cronicles is lovely and completely non violent.

    • listoriented says:

      logging in to second this. Yonder conspicuously had no violence in a genre/style that very often has at least a bit of violence, and it was wonderful for it.

  31. parsley says:

    I love that this list exists! And the comments are gold, too.

  32. HueyLewisFan says:

    Had to pop in and say A+ for including Bernband on this list – every aspiring developer who has an interest in developing a convincing world should not only play that game, but more importantly listen to it.

  33. Amphetamine says:

    Some stuff that hasn’t been mentioned I think….

    Pixel Junk Eden
    Spintires
    Simple Planes
    140
    AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity
    Action Henk
    Audiosurf
    Audioshield
    Phase Shift
    Banished
    BIT.TRIP
    The Bridge
    Chuzzle
    Cosmic DJ
    Crazy Machines
    Fotonica
    FRACT OSC
    Girls Like Robots
    Glitchspace
    PinballFx 3
    Pinball Arcade
    Cosmic Pinball
    Intake
    Jackbox Party Pack
    Mini Metro
    Mushroom 11
    OutDrive
    Soundodger+
    A Story About My Uncle
    Trackmania
    Ultraworld
    Vertiginous Golf
    The Wonderfull End of the World

    I’m probably forgetting some stuff…

  34. KingFunk says:

    Miasmata – arguably a walking simulator where walking can less than straightforward and also a mapping simulator where you spent lots of time trying to triangulate using landmarks instead of having a magic minimap. Some peril involved, but moreso botany.

  35. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    Some more:

    Escape Goat (fun puzzles)
    The Floor is Jelly (jelly platforming)
    From Dust (play with volcanoes)
    Snake Pass (highly original creature controls)

  36. unacom says:

    Transport Tycoon
    You don´t know Jack
    Der Reeder
    Emergency-series
    Buzz Aldrin’s Race into Space

  37. Richard_from_Winnipeg says:

    Some of mine, depending on how you define violence:

    Rocket League and other sports games. So 1080 snowboarding for N64 via an emulator etc. Lots of thing in my library regarding soccer or racing.

    Speaking of racing: Absolute Drift, a really neat top down drifting game with a lush soundtrack – if you like progressive trance/dubstep that’s mellow and melodic. Not really a racing game. But it’s similar to toybox turbos and other games of the sort.

    Braid. Although I haven’t beat it so I don’t know how non-violent it is.

    I have several of the recommendations and also others in my library but I really can’t speak to how well they fit since I haven’t played most of my library. Silly steam sales…

  38. grimdanfango says:

    Most of my favourites have been mentioned, but one I think gets overlooked far too often is Antichamber.

    You want different headspace? Antichamber puts you in seemingly impossible headspaces and then gets you to solve puzzles using them. Absolutely incredible game.

  39. Slander says:

    No love for World Of Diving? I got into that game specifically based on this site’s recommendation of it as a chill alternative to the modern multiplayer toxofuck.

  40. April March says:

    Spintires has alteady been mentioned in the comments, but I’d like to give it its own ‘entry’. It’s got many of the joys of both racing games and platformer games, but in a unique package all of its own. You also have no enemy other than nature and your own lack of skill.It’s a rare entry in that field of games that hit you in the eye with the majesty of nature while also spewing diesel smoke all over it (F.U.E.L. was another one).

  41. sureshotsnipe says:

    Big ups to Tacoma and Monkey Island, here’s a passive game where everyone wins!