It’s world meditation day today (and breathe out). So I’ve crossed my legs, started my deep breathing, been mindful of my surroundings while hovering slightly above the ground in a zen like state of cosmic bliss and compiled a list of 5 relaxing indies that are perfect to unwind with today or any other day for that matter. You do you.
A solo developed skater game that’s as minimalist as they come, The Ramp is an oasis of chill on the halfpipe of everyday life. Coded in C++ by Berliner Paul Schnepf, take a seat as Nujabes style hip hop beats and the pleasant of clattering skateboard wheels fill your ears as your character wobbles, balances and sticks landings the gnarliness of which are completely up to you. There are no levels to complete, no glowing video tapes to collect and no points to score, in The Ramp’s own words, its just ‘pure flow’.
Surf waves of sound through the ethereal abstract spaces of Onde. A French indie from the fingertips of developers Lance and Gryhll, what this puzzle platformer lacks in the puzzle, it more than makes up for in the way it blends its music and art in vast cosmic environments and smooth platforming as you open and close a ‘cycle’. After all, (checks notes) the only true puzzle lies within. Right?
A wise blue cat-alien once said; ‘all energy is only borrowed, and one day you have to give it back’. Cloud Gardens gives you a wasteland diorama to work with and lets you lovingly and gradually encourage the natural world to return to it. Plant your seeds, tend them as they grow and then share the final result with other Cloud Gardeners from around the world to behold and enjoy. Now all Dutch developer Noio needs to do is add a ranking system so you can become the mightiest cloud gardener of them all! Woah there, pump the brakes.
Continuing our theme of environmental stewardship, Aka is on its way from French developer Cosmo Gatto. Become a war weary red panda who travels to a good friends’ island in order to help them regenerate its natural beauty. The farming system takes inspiration from the real life practice of permaculture, a form of land management that emphasises the importance of wild animals and respect for natural ecosystems. Plus once you’re done mindfully toiling, you can take a nap using a giant capybara as a pillow.
Last and by no means least we have Canadian developer LazyEti’s Paradise Marsh. An endless walking game set in a quiet wetland sounds relaxing enough, but there’s an added layer of understated wholesomeness as you make your way through the marsh. You can find lost poems, meet quirky NPCS, restore fallen stars to the empty night sky, catch and examine small creatures to add to your adventure journal, skip stones across one of many ponds or just sit on a damp log until your heart’s content. As of January you can also make snowmen and before you ask, yes, you can give them a carrot for a nose and a hat. Perfect for unwinding by the digital water and having a think.