I love sitting back and relaxing with the easiest difficulty. It's not about whether you can or cannot do the higher difficulties; it's wanting a break from the stresses of life. I've put together a variety of games so that no matter what genre you like, there will most likely be a suggestion for it.
What I'm considering casual for the purpose of this guide are games such as Stardew Valley, Slime Rancher, and so on. This is not to say that these games lack challenge but that they can be played in your own style without much consequence. On to the list:
Portal Knights – I will start out by saying I have never really been into the Minecraft style of games, but I have enjoyed playing this one with my wife. I think what I like the most about it is that it has RPG elements such as leveling up and stat gains. We both feel like it's a perfect game to sit back and relax with when you just want a smooth experience.
Stardew Valley – Yet another game that my wife and I both adore! Even though this is a single player game, for now anyway. Multiplayer will be ready for the PC soon with consoles to get it later. We enjoy helping each other out with activities or just sitting back and watching the other play.
Slime Rancher – This game is so cute that it hurts my face. I haven't played it in a while, so more content has most likely been added, but I remember it being a pretty simple slime management simulator. While it gets harder the more you build up, the actual gameplay is not too intimidating and can lead to a relaxing time.
No Man’s Sky – I know, I know! Bear with me here while I explain myself. This game didn't have the greatest start and promises were broken about it. I think things could have been handled better, but I give the dev team all the credit in the world for sticking with it and adding new content. Walking around planets is so relaxing while you casually mine for resources or discover the local wildlife.
Thatgamecompany games, Abzu, Rime – I'm going to cheat with my last entry for casual games by putting in quite a few story-driven games. Thatgamecompany made Flow, Flower, Journey, and are now working on Sky. All of these games tell stories in a subtle way that is usually more about the experience in the end. Abzu is by the former Art Director at Thatgamecompany and now co-founder of Giant Squid Studios, Matt Nava. It follows the same rulebook in the sense of having a story gently told to you while the experience around you is the core gameplay. Rime is by Tequila Works and does much of the same storytelling and experience techniques but with more puzzle based progression.
What I classify as an action game for this guide will include genres such as Shooters, Stealth Adventure (I didn't know how else to describe Dishonored), and action-orientated RPGs. Here's the list:
Gears of War series, Halo series, and new Wolfenstein series – This pretty much goes for any shooter that has an interesting story, but these are the ones I enjoy the most. Now I'm not saying you have to play on the easiest difficulty to enjoy these games, but if you're looking for a game to kick back with, then it really helps to do so. I played through all of the Gears of War and Halo campaigns like this and had a blast.
Dishonored series – As someone who started out being awful at stealth games, this is the series that made me care enough to get better. What I love about this series and Arkane Studios games, in general, is that you can play them the way you see fit. If you choose to go casually, you can do everything you'd be able to do on the highest difficulty. If you're like me in that stealth games have never clicked for you, give this series a chance.
Newer Fallout games, Newer Elder Scrolls games – These long-lasting franchises have changed quite a bit over the years, most notably adding more ways to play at your own pace. This is not to say that the original games are bad, just that it will be easier for a beginner to jump into the newer ones. You can kill a few hours doing side quests or just messing around in the environment; there truly is no wrong way to go about it.
The Witcher series, Dragon Age series – If you want a story-driven RPG then these are two of the best series for you. Both let you make choices that end up deciding what happens in the games and offer plenty of content to spend a weekend on. I will warn you that the first Witcher game is a bit hard to get into with the awkward combat, but the story is still worth playing for.
Uncharted series – While these games are known for their difficulty based achievements there is still a lot of fun to be had here if you don't mind completing everything. I still think this is the closest video games have come to replicating what's exciting about movies. The combat can be hit or miss, but the characters and story more than makeup for it. Say hi to Sully for me!
South Park RPG series – I initially thought about leaving this series off the list, but if you're a fan of the show then this is one of the best gaming experiences you can have. All of the humor matches the same level of the show with decent enough gameplay thrown in as well. If you don't like the show though, steer far away lest you be disappointed.
What I classify as Puzzle games are puzzle platforming and hidden object games. I haven't played all of the classics in this genre so forgive me if I miss one of your favorites.
Portal series – Everyone mentions these games as being classics all the time because they're the very definition. The puzzles can get difficult the farther you get in the game, but they're not so frustrating that I would leave them off this list. If you have any interest whatsoever in puzzle games, then you owe yourself a playthrough of at least one of these games.
Braid, The Witness – Both titles from Jonathon Blow, if you looked at both of them you wouldn't think that was possible. The art styles are completely different but the elegantly designed puzzles are still there. While I personally struggled with Braid and really struggled with The Witness, I avoided frustration by looking up the parts I would get stuck on. I kind of wish I hadn't because of how much I enjoyed both games but I still had fun and you can too doing it this way.
Hue – I recently stumbled upon this game as it's currently part of the Xbox Game Pass. This is a solid puzzle platformer that every fan of either genre should play through at least once. I rarely choose to 100% games achievements/trophies, but I did with this game because of how satisfying it was to figure the puzzles out.
My criteria for this category includes point-and-click, narrative-driven experiences such as the telltale games and visual novels. And Jazzpunk.
The Walking Dead – This has proven to be the pinnacle of telltale games with one of the greatest stories I have ever had the pleasure of riding along for in video games. When I first heard about this game, I had no knowledge of The Walking Dead other than the TV show on AMC. If you love seeing character development and choices mattering, this is my number one recommendation for you.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments – I struggled to decide where to place this game as a lot of the game revolves around figuring out solutions like you would in a puzzle game. I felt that the story aspect was enough to push this title into the adventure genre. If you like Sherlock Holmes or just detective games/shows, this is worth a playthrough.
Broken Age – A solid point and click with a great set of voice acting to accompany you along the way. I would say this is easy for the most part, but it can get frustrating in certain spots.
The use of a guide, when stuck easily, helps this fit the article though.
Jazzpunk – It feels like ages since I played through this and I still don't completely understand what happened. This is a silly bizarre experience that is a joy to play. Every new event in the game will make you smile. The art style is fantastic, and the music is also solid. Give this a play for a couple of hours of hilarity.
Besides a couple of obvious inclusions I was a little bit lenient in what I defined as a sports title, hopefully, you still enjoy it anyway!
NBA 2K series, Madden series – These two series have become the gold standard for their sports because of how much fun they are to play (license agreements help too). All kidding aside, I have had many a weekend plopped in front of the TV playing a career mode of NBA 2K or Madden.
Forza series – As someone who was never hugely into racing games besides Need For Speed, Forza was the first to draw me in with the RPG elements of upgrading your cars. Besides that, the series also is known for a more realistic driving approach that works well for it.
Pyre – Last but not least is a game that could have technically fit into the adventure category as the story is told through a visual novel style setting. The gameplay though is like a 2D basketball game that is addicting to play and not too hard to get good at. If either of those things appeals to you, support Supergiant Games by picking this game up!
Well, you certainly are not lazy if you got to the end of this list so thank you for your patience and interest in the article. If you have a favorite game to play during the weekend that I missed, be sure to let me know in the comment section. My list is by no means infallible.