5 Indie Games to Zone out To

As posted on Bitmob.

With all the killing, survival, and hectic timed missions in a lot of games these days, sometimes it’s just nice to zone out to a game once in a while.

Games do have the power to relax you. Sure yoga or meditation could do it. But why strain yourself when you could be playing a game? A lot of people use television to zone out, but really your mind is still actively processing the story — is that the real Olivia, or the one from the parallel universe? As well as examining the actors and their body language — she looks confident enough, but is that just a front?

Abstract ideas are something our minds can process at relative ease. These games usually have no story to speak of, and no characters to worry over. Although you may take on the form of some being or object, and have some form of responsibility. It’s almost always the atmosphere, the music, the colours and shapes that take you to this place of tranquillity.

Without further ado, 5 Indie games from 2010*  that you can zone out to:


Osmos

Osmos has received quite a bit of exposure over the last year, and more so as part of the recent Humble Indie Bundle. Gently tapping on either side of your bubble (or mote) spits out a bit of itself, but also propels the mote in the opposite direction. Your only aim is to get bigger, which is done by absorbing motes smaller than you and avoiding those larger. Admittedly Osmos can get pretty difficult. But that can’t stop you from gliding around one of the simpler levels absorbing and shrinking to your heart’s content.

Zone out: Download for PC, Mac, Linux or iPhone, iPad.


Zen Bound 2

The first Zen Bound released on iPhone in 2009. Its sequel went multiplatform and all the original levels were included as a rather nice bonus. It’s essentially very simple, by swiping to move a carved wooden object and tilting the device (portable version) to wrap some string around it, painting the object a solid colour. As the name implies, the music is very Zen, featuring meditative gongs and chimes. Certainly the slowest game of the bunch.

Zone out: Download for PC, Mac or iPhone, iPad.


Shibuya

A favourite of mine on the iPhone. It’s a unique twist on the falling shapes genre. Match up the colours, planning in advance to try and earn combos. The harder difficulties are nigh impossible, but take part in one of the easier speed classes and you’ll find your grove. The electronica that goes with it, licensed from an EP by Millionyoung, simply transports you to another place, and your surroundings just melt away.

Zone out: Download for iPhone.


Edge

While this game can get quite hard in later levels, the controls are as simple as swiping to move your cube in one direction. Then moving along to collect little yellow cubes and making it to the finish. The abstract block shapes appear so peaceful suspended there in space. Again, music will take you that one step further. Edge has some beautiful atmospheric game-inspired tunes which are also available for free.

Zone out: Download for iPhone, iPad and PSP.


Chime
A Lumines inspired game for charity that lets you make music by filling the screen with Tetris-like blocks. Bright colours take over your monitor, and the simple task of fitting these blocks together feels so enjoyable. Friends and family may notice you sitting there in a trance-like state. Proving that even old father Tetris knew how to steal your attention.

Zone out: Download for PC, and XBLA.


There’s a reason why most of these games are handheld. If I was on my PC I’m sure I’d get that little voice telling me to just open my email, or check up on the latest tweets. However, still rocking out my first generation iPhone I can only single task, and thus my focus is not directed elsewhere. This helps me achieve the feeling of “zoning out’.

You can use these kind of games to take a break from your everyday existence, and to stop stressful thoughts plaguing your mind. Don’t lie, we all have them! This, without adding new stresses caused by open worlds littered with collectables, and trying for Achievements that cause you to curse and sweat.

Share your favourite games to zone out to in the comments below…

*Edge was originally released in 2008, but in December 2010 released as a Mini on the European and Australian PlayStation Store. Osmos was originally released in 2009, but released on the iTunes App Store in August 2010.


Michael Gray writes for Button Masher and Game Console magazine over in a far away land that isn’t part of Australia (hint: it’s New Zealand). You can follow his endeavours over at his personal blog or Twitter.

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