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For Loneliness
 

In a culture that often assumes that the route to happiness is with another person, it can benefit us to acknowledge that being alone is not always a bad thing. We teamed up with Courtney Garcia’s Screen Therapy channel to curate a list of games that give us a chance to experience being alone in different ways.

Garcia’s Screen Therapy project employs Positive Media Psychology research to highlight and interpret meaningful experiences with games and movies. “With mindfulness, there are even more benefits to gain from intentional consumption of media,” she says, “games can be tools we use to recover or grow, psychologically, and our time with them isn't wasted if they provide us insights or rest we need.”

This list was inspired by the experience of playing the unusually solitary (and long) game The Longing and the Twitter thread that followed. In it, you spend 400 elapsed days waiting for the King to wake up and living at a slow pace. The other games offer their own lens on loneliness and solitary seasons of life. These games offer us insight into the benefits of appreciating time alone, such as opportunities for self-reflection, self-discovery, and the chance to curate enriching experiences or environments for ourselves.

Some of the games, like Never Alone, Journey and The Long Dark place you in a harsh environment that emphasises your diminutive size when faced with the expanse of nature. Other games in the list, like Thomas Was Alone and Bird Alone offer you the chance to reflect on friendship and the need to nurture relationships. Then there are games we included like Shadow of the Colossus that let you get lost in the vastness of its landscape. Finally, a few of the games like The First Tree and Sunlight invite you to make a connection to other players, once you have come to terms with a journey on your own.
 
This list includes 147 games from the last 38 years, with 2,977 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to understand loneliness.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild

Release Date: 03/03/2017

Out Now: Switch and Wii U

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World and Weather

The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild departs from the previous Zelda formula with the scale and depth of its world. You walk, fly, ride and climb your way through a landscape that varies in climate, terrain, inhabitants and vegetation. Weather and...

Subnautica

Release Date: 11/04/2016, updated in 2018

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Open World

Subnautica is an open-world adventure where you explore the ocean on an alien planet after crashlanding. You collect resources and fight creatures to survive. This enables you to establish an underwater base, gain new craft and equipment and explore...

Before Your Eyes

Release Date: 08/04/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Cartoon

Before Your Eyes is a narrative game about an 11-year-old boy revisiting his life before "crossing over" to the other side. You play by exploring scenes that represent snapshots of his life. Unusually, you make choices and interact with the game by...

Journey

Release Date: 14/03/2012, updated in 2019

Out Now: PC, PS3, PS4 and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Journey is an adventure game set in a desert. Exploring the eerie sandscape, you discover a world abandoned by the race that created it. The sense of space and scale evokes feelings of aloneness and being lost. But then the game pairs you with other...

Florence

Release Date: 14/02/2018, updated in 2020

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Florence is a puzzle game that tells the story of a relationship. It follows the usual stages of loneliness, meeting, dating, falling for and moving in with another person. At first, the puzzle interactions seem trivial and the game doesn’t change...

Firewatch

Release Date: 20/09/2016

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon and Open World

Firewatch is an explorative adventure where you play a fire lookout in America’s Shoshone National Forest. It has a relational and conspiracy undertone similar to the podcast/radio drama and Netflix show [link to...

Abzu

Release Date: 02/11/2016, updated in 2018

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Abzu is an adventure in a lush underwater world. You descend into the heart of the ocean to find ancient secrets and encounter majestic creatures. This combines the beautiful weightlessness of diving with an ancient story of finding meaning and your...

The Long Dark

Release Date: 22/09/2014

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Open World

The Long Dark is a thoughtful exploration-survival game where you have crash-landed in the icy Canadian wilderness after a global disaster and must find a way to survive. Through exploring, crafting and fighting you must look after your body...

Road 96

Release Date: 16/08/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Road 96 is a narrative adventure where you play a teenager trying to escape an oppressive, authoritarian country by reaching the border. Through a series of vignettes, you experience the most important and poignant parts on an epic road trip through a...

Outer Wilds

Release Date: 11/12/2018, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Open World

Outer Wilds is an exploration space mystery about a solar system trapped in an endless time loop. After twenty minutes of game time, you must start again – but each time brings a new opportunity to learn how you ended up on the planet and solve the...

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Release Date: 12/08/2015, updated in 2016

Out Now: Mac, PC and PS4

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Open World

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture lands you in a fictional deserted English village in 1984. As you walk the streets of another era you discover bright human forms who re-enact events like a radio play. Through their eyes, you see a web of fear,...

Celeste

Release Date: 23/01/2018, updated in 2023

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Celeste is a platform game that requires players to use jumping and climbing moves to ascend an increasingly challenging two-dimensional mountain. You play Madeline, who is haunted by self-doubt at the scale of the task at hand. She presses on but is...

Alien: Isolation

Release Date: 06/10/2014, updated in 2019

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Alien: Isolation is an adventure horror game set in space, remastered in 2019 from the 2014 game due to its popularity. You play Amanda who is trying to find out the truth behind her mother's disappearance. You explore Sevastopol, a decommissioned...

Thomas Was Alone

Release Date: 18/04/2013, updated in 2014

Out Now: PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Thomas Was Alone is a jumping and puzzle-solving platform game where you control different-coloured rectangles. It sounds boring and derivative but each of the distinctly coloured shapes comes to life in the game as a character embroiled in this escape...

Skye Tales

Release Date: 26/05/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4 and Switch

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Hand-Made and Open World

Skye Tales is a gentle adventure about exploring a rich playground of floating islands as a dragon called Skye. Play involves traversing each chapter, meeting and interacting with different creatures and solving puzzles along the way. It's a game that...

Vane

Release Date: 15/01/2019, updated in 2019

Out Now: PC and PS4

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Vane is an ethereal adventure in a ruined desert where strange golden dust transforms a free-spirited bird into a determined young child. The premise is not all that uncommon, but Vane stands out for how you soar over the desert and climb your way...

Paper Trail

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Paper Trail is a traversal puzzle game about Paige, a budding academic who is leaving home. Play is set in a foldable paper world that you manipulate to join paths, move rocks and overlap the two sides of reality. It's a unique two-sided puzzle that...

Orchids to Dusk

Release Date: 03/12/2015

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Orchids to Dusk is a short wandering adventure. You are an astronaut stranded on an alien planet, with only a few minutes of oxygen. You explore the world and discover fantastic gardens on the planet.

Citizen Sleeper

Release Date: 05/05/2022

Out Now: PC, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cartoon, Dice, Grid and Text

Citizen Sleeper is a role-play game set in the ruins of interplanetary capitalism. You are an escaped worker exploring a lawless space station, making friends, and (ultimately) trying to escape your past. Each cycle you roll dice and decide how to spend...

Big Walk

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Open World

Big Walk is a traversal game where you head into a wide-open world with online friends. You decide where to go together by following your nose while taking on challenges, puzzles and making discoveries. It stands out for its focus on the journey and the...

Hi-Fi Rush

Release Date: 23/01/2023, updated in 2024

Out Now: PC, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Hi-Fi Rush is a rhythm fighting game where wannabe rockstar Chai uses the beat to fight an evil corporation. You play by exploring the world and fighting enemies. The twist is that everything moves to the beat, and you must attack in time to do the most...

Thirsty Suitors

Release Date: 02/11/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch and Xbox One

Components: 3D Third-Person

Thirsty Suitors is a narrative action game where you play Jala, back in her home town of Timber Hills to confront mistakes, make up with exes and reconcile cultural differences with her parents. Play involves talking to your parents and old friends,...

Young Souls

Release Date: 16/08/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead

Young Souls is a side-on fighting game about two drop-out teenagers whose mentor disappears. Gameplay is divided into two distinct worlds: the modern human world and a dark, twisted world of goblins and monsters. You brawl and crunch your way through...

Portal

Release Date: 10/10/2007, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and Xbox 360

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Portal is a puzzle game where you manipulate the world around you to move through increasingly complex chambers. By creating two connected portals- if you walk into one, you walk out the other- you must move yourself around the rooms to escape. It...

Shadow Of The Colossus

Release Date: 18/10/2005

Out Now: PS2, PS3 and PS4

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Shadow Of The Colossus is an action-adventure game where you play a young man who enters a forbidden land to defeat sixteen massive beings to restore the life of a girl he cares about. It sounds like any other video game, although in fact, Shadow of the...

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Release Date: 11/06/2021, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC and PS5

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a running, jumping and shooting game that lets the heroic duo jump between parallel worlds. Play is similar to other Ratchet & Clank games, retaining the dodging, gunplay, bold collection and upgrading weapons. Here...

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Release Date: 08/08/2017, updated in 2018

Out Now: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 15+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a dark fantasy adventure, drawing on Norse and Celtic mythology, where you play a young female Pict warrior, Senua. You explore and fight your way to Helheim to rescue the soul of her dead lover. As you play, though, you...

Disco Elysium

Release Date: 15/10/2019, updated in 2021

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Disco Elysium The Final Cut is a role-playing game set in the fictional city of Revachol where you play Harrier "Harry" Du Bois who must solve a complex murder. Unusually, your choices and actions not only determine how the story unfolds but affect...

Never Alone

Release Date: 18/12/2014

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Never Alone is a running, jumping and exploring game based on the traditional Iñupiaq tale, "Kunuuksaayuka". You swap between controlling an Iñupiaq girl named Nuna and her Arctic fox companion as you complete puzzles and move the story forwards.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: 05/07/2019

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Sea of Solitude is an adventure where you play a young woman, Kay, with such strong loneliness that her feelings turn her into a monster. As you explore a flooded city you discover dark creatures that you must deal with -- by uncovering their underlying...

The Wild At Heart

Release Date: 20/05/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon and Hand-Made

The Wild At Heart is an adventure puzzle game where you play two children fleeing hardship. Unlike other adventures, play here extends beyond conversations, exploring and fetch quests. You interact with the world by collecting a swarm of small magical...

Far: Lone Sails

Release Date: 02/04/2019

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Far: Lone Sails is an exploration adventure video game. You pilot a ramshackle amphibious vehicle propelled by large sails to explore a post-apocalypse world.

Cocoon

Release Date: 29/09/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead

Cocoon is a puzzle adventure where you play a winged creature transporting orbs through a mysterious world. The twist is that placing orbs in a portal grants access to the worlds within worlds and creates a complex nested puzzle. It stands out for how...

Gris

Release Date: 06/10/2019

Out Now: Android, Apple TV, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Gris is a platform game where you guide a young girl through a crumbling world. Through beautiful metaphoric landscapes and soaring music, the game touches on emotions of loss and longing but doesn’t resolve to a firm narrative. Although not hugely...

Subnautica Below Zero

Release Date: 30/01/2019, updated in 2021

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Open World

Subnautica Below Zero is an open-world adventure game that follows the original game, Subnautica. You play a scientist on an alien planet searching for clues about the research team that vanished there. What develops is a light...

Forever Ago

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Forever Ago is a narrative adventure where you embark on a road trip through beautiful places, capturing memories with your camera and making new friends. You explore forest lakes, dusty barrens and sweltering deserts, interacting with objects you find...

Heavy Rain

Release Date: 06/10/2010, updated in 2019

Out Now: PC, PS3 and PS4

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Weather

Heavy Rain is from the same Quantic Dream studio who made Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human. It preceded these games but shared the same branching narrative and photo-realistic aspirations.

Limbo

Release Date: 05/06/2013, updated in 2015

Out Now: Android, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Limbo is a narrative traversal game where you control a small boy as he runs, jumps and climbs through a dark, silhouetted forest that clanks and hums with foreboding. As the age rating suggests, he is killed in all manner of gruesome ways. But this is...

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons

Release Date: 07/08/2013, updated in 2023

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is an action-adventure game where you simultaneously control two brothers on a quest to save their ill father. In single-player you control each brother with one of the controller sticks, or in co-op with a friend you each...

The Witness

Release Date: 14/12/2015, updated in 2018

Out Now: PC, PS4, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Open World

The Witness combines maze puzzles in an abandoned world with its own mythology, secrets, themes and story. It’s a game with puzzles at the core, but the real mystery is solving what has happened in the world you find yourself in.

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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