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Build Personal Resilience

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves "bouncing back" from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.

Games, by design, present players with adversity and much of the joy of gaming comes from taking on and overcoming unnecessary obstacles. Whether you’re saving the universe from an alien invasion or tending crops in your animal community, playing games mimics the process of resilience.

This list of games that can help foster various forms of psychological resilience is compiled with the expert help of Take This. They aim to decrease the stigma, and increase the support for, mental health in the game enthusiast community and inside the game industry. They encourage a game community that welcomes and supports people experiencing mental health challenges, and that recognizes the humanity and mental health of game creators.

The Portal series tell a narrative that you are going to fail. You’re told to give up, but if you ignore this barrage of discouragement you can use it as a way to strengthen your resolve and complete the puzzles even if you have failed twenty times in the process. The Stanley Parable is all about trying again. You can try and re-try your decision making, reaching a variety of different endings.

Dark Souls is a hallmark for a punishing challenge that require resilience. You journey through elaborate lands to adventure, explore, and take heed lest they encounter a battle with a boss or enemy. Celeste is the story of Madeline and the enemies she overcomes while climbing Celeste Mountain. The game specifically calls out that Madeline has anxiety, and the challenges she faces in the environment reflect her own internal struggles and triumphs. Cuphead challenges players to battle relentless bosses in combat-heavy play. Cartoonish and playful, it balances challenging players to grow in skill and offers plenty of entertaining environments and aesthetics to keep you playing.

In Kingdom Hearts you meet many characters that need help - and many boss battles feel almost insurmountable. With help from friends like Donald and Goofy, the player character Sora overcomes the darkness to save his friends and bring hope back to the world. Death Squared is a co-op puzzle game where one player’s mistake makes everyone else lose. You learn cooperative resilience in trying again admits humorous judgments from the unseen “hosts” of the game.

In Animal Crossing you get help from the animal neighbours. You learn to lean on this social and environmental resilience to persevere at building social connections with computer villagers and friends online. Stardew Valley’s farming is about growing and maintaining a homestead. Interweaving the busy work are relationships with the other villagers, many of whom are social models for resilience in their storylines.

This list includes 263 games from the last 28 years, with 2,961 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to build resilience.

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DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 18
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Australian Ratings: G to R 18+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Battle, Brain Game, Collecting, Communication, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Physically Active, Platform, Point-and-Click, Push-Your-Luck, Puzzle, Race, Rhythm, Role-Play, Sequencing, Shooting, Simulation, Sports, Stealth, Strategy, Traversal and World Building
Total Likes: 2,961
 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Release Date: 25/04/2020

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

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

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a role-play collecting game where you live on a small island teeming with life. Insects, fish, trees, vegetation and fossils are represented with cute cartoon visuals. Rather than the scale or grandeur of other game...

Stardew Valley

Release Date: 26/02/2016, updated in 2018

Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid, Open World and Pixels

Stardew Valley looks like a farming simulator. That’s partly what it is, but you also develop relationships with the other townsfolk and delve deep into the mines. Its quirky labyrinthine attention to detail is inviting for young players to try their...

It Takes Two

Release Date: 26/03/2021, updated in 2022

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

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

It Takes Two is a running, jumping and exploring game that tells the story of a young girl, Rose, whose parents are divorcing. The girl creates two dolls to represent her parents, which unexpectedly traps the clashing couple in them. You and a friend...

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Release Date: 21/08/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an adventure about a young girl who travels to an abandoned village in the hope of finding a sacred mountain shrine. To get there she must find and grow a team of charming spirit companions called the Rot, enhancing their...

Pokémon (Series)

Release Date: 27/02/1996, updated in 2019

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GBA, Game Boy and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Pokémon Sword and Shield are role-playing games where you explore a fictional world and collect different creatures called Pokémon. You progress through the game by exploring the world, talking to characters and winning turn-based battles with the...

Cuphead

Release Date: 29/09/2017, updated in 2019

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cartoon and Hand-Made

Cuphead is a running, jumping and shooting game that looks like an old Mickey Mouse cartoon. You play on your own or with someone else and work across the screen, jumping gaps, shooting enemies and avoiding projectiles.

Season: A Letter to the Future

Release Date: 31/01/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Season: A Letter to the Future is a narrative adventure about a young woman sent out from her secluded community to explore the world for the first time. She is tasked with documenting life in a local valley before a mysterious cataclysm washes...

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...

The Crew 2

Release Date: 02/12/2014, updated in 2018

Out Now: PC, PS4, Stadia and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

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

The Crew 2 is the latest in a series of open-world racing and exploration games set in a scaled-down version of the United States. The emphasis is on enjoyable and exciting driving more than realism. It's a lot like Forza Horizon, although can be played...

The Last Guardian

Release Date: 28/10/2016

Out Now: PS4

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

The Last Guardian is a running, jumping and exploring adventure about a boy who befriends a giant half-bird, half-mammal creature, Trico. You work together to navigate the world, solve puzzles and reach new heights. Unusually, you have to build trust...

Sable

Release Date: 23/09/2021

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

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

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

Sable is an adventure game where you play a young girl, Sable, alone in the world, but bravely exploring ancient monuments, ruined architecture, and fallen ships to uncover her place in it. It's an adventure without combat that calls you to find your...

Boomerang X

Release Date: 08/07/2021

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Hand-Made

Boomerang X is a shooting platform game where you explore worlds and fight enemies with a boomerang-like shuriken weapon. Unusually, you can warp to your boomerang once thrown meaning you can slice, fly, and blast through arenas swarming with evil...

Ico

Release Date: 24/09/2001, updated in 2011

Out Now: PS2 and PS3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Ico is a running, jumping and exploring game where you rescue a princess from her evil mother. You take her hand to help her escape, guiding her along the pathways and protecting her from the hordes of enemies. Together, you jump chasms and scale walls...

Wildermyth

Release Date: 15/06/2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Hand-Made

Wildermyth is a medieval role-playing game about diverse heroes and themes. You take on evil in a number of stories, each with different heroes and settings. The focus is on the characters as much as their adventures, who are believable, diverse and...

Goodbye Volcano High

Release Date: 29/08/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Goodbye Volcano High is a high school coming-of-age adventure set in a world of anthropomorphic dinosaur characters. You play as band members, non-binary Fang and best friend Trish as they navigate the last days of high school. It's a mix of making...

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

Release Date: 01/01/1999, updated in 2019

Out Now: Game Boy and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Hand-Made and Open World

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is an adventure-puzzle game in the Zelda series and universe. A remake of the 1993 Game Boy game of the same name, this one is set on Koholint Island and follows Link after he is stranded and must find a way back to...

Deep Sea Adventure

Release Date: 01/01/2014

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: Dice and Placeables

Deep Sea Adventure is a pocket-sized strategy game where you dive into the sea to bring back treasure. It’s unusual because although you compete with other players for treasure you share the same limited air supply.

Phantom Abyss

Release Date: 21/06/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: Mac, PC and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Phantom Abyss is a running and jumping game where you charge through temples to get to the exit. Your only tool is a whip that interacts with objects and can propel you forward. Along the way are numerous traps and difficult jumps to avoid. There are...

To A T

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

To A T is a lighthearted narrative adventure game about a teenager with a unique posture that makes parts of their life in a small coastal town challenging. With your arms permanently stretched out, you explore the beautiful town with your dog and...

Iris and the Giant

Release Date: 27/02/2020, updated in 2023

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cards and Cartoon

Iris and the Giant is a narrative strategy card game about a young girl named Iris who braves an imaginary world to tackle her inner demons and face her fears. It's a game about depression and anxiety where Iris uses escapism to cope with her life. More...

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Release Date: 21/03/2018, updated in 2020

Out Now: Android, PC, PS Vita, PS4, PSP, Stadia, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person, Grid, Hand-Made and Weather

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a turn-based strategy game where you take command of a squad of soldiers and use your wits and tactics to plan and lead them to battle. You play as Commander Claude Wallace and the soldiers of Squad E and experience a gripping...

ElecHead

Release Date: 14/10/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

ElecHead is a running and jumping puzzle game where you control a character who is a source of electricity. With this power, you activate the platforms you need to progress in unusual and puzzling ways. It introduces unique scenarios where you need to...

Metroid Dread

Release Date: 08/10/2021

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Metroid Dread, the latest Metroid game, is a running, jumping, exploring and fighting game where you progress through levels, fight challenging bosses and uncover secrets. It returns the franchise to the 2D side-scrolling style of...

Mars First Logistics

Release Date: 22/06/2023

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

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

Mars First Logistics is a traversal game where you build robots to move awkwardly-shaped objects across the surface of Mars. It's a simple concept, but to contend with the cumbersome objects and rough terrain you need to use every tool at your disposal...

Pocket Card Jockey

Release Date: 05/05/2016, updated in 2023

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, Apple TV, Mac and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cards and Grid

Pocket Card Jockey is a horse racing game you participate in by playing a series of Solitaire card games. You race, breed and nurture a stable of horses for a range of owners, trainers and other interesting individuals. It stands out as both a brilliant...

Thirsty Suitors

Release Date: 02/11/2023

Coming Soon: PC

Components: 3D Third-Person

Thirsty Suitors is a role play game where you play Jala, back in your home town of Timber Hills to confront mistakes, make up with exes and reconcile cultural differences with your parents. You talk to your family and old friends, take on turn-based...

Earthblade

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Earthblade is a running, jumping and fighting game from the creators of Celeste and Towerfall where you explore a ruined earth and discover its hidden past. You gymnastically traverse through the levels, fighting...

Barotrauma

Release Date: 13/03/2023

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Barotrauma is a cooperative space-submarine adventure set after humanity has fled to Jupiter's moon. You work with other players to steer your submarine, work the ageing machinery, fight monsters and fix the endless leaks. It's a game that revels in not...

En Garde

Release Date: 16/08/2023

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

En Garde is a swashbuckling fighting game where the focus is on the poise and grace of fencing. You use your foil to parry, riposte and lunge through a world of enemies. It stands out not only for the unusual sporting sword fights but for how you must...

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Release Date: 11/03/2020, updated in 2020

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

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an action platform game that places you in control of a diminutive elfish spirit called Ori. As in the previous game, you run, jump and solve platforming challenges to progress through the world. As you do, new powers...

Call of the Sea

Release Date: 12/08/2020, updated in 2020

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

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Call of the Sea is a narrative adventure set in the 1930s. As Nora, you explore an island in the Southern Pacific to find your missing husband. As you do you discover that he went hunting for a cure for your mystery illness, but what happened after that...

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. The latest in the series, Rift Apart focuses on jumping between parallel worlds. Play is similar to other Ratchet & Clank games, retaining the dodging, gunplay, bold collection and...

Shady Part of Me

Release Date: 10/12/2020

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Shady Part of Me is a narrative platform game where you play as a young girl and her shadow. You help her overcome emotional struggles by solving 2D and 3D puzzles. The game world is based within the young girl's dreams. The young girl is afraid of the...

Forgotton Anne

Release Date: 15/05/2018

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

Components: 2D Side-On

Forgotton Anne (Forgotten Anne) is a hand-animated adventure that combines cartoon (Ghibli-inspired) storytelling with running and jumping puzzles. You play as Anne, the enforcer who keeps order in the Forgotten Lands, as she sets out to squash a...

Death Stranding

Release Date: 08/11/2019, updated in 2021

Out Now: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds

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

Death Stranding is an exploration game where you deliver supplies across a vast shattered, post-apocalyptic America while protecting and caring for a baby. It's intentionally slow, sometimes excruciatingly so, which means you carefully consider your...

Say No More

Release Date: 09/04/2021

Out Now: PC, Switch and iOS

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Say No More is an adventure game where you learn to say "no". You play as an intern at a new job putting up with colleagues being unpleasant. The twist is that in this world it's illegal to say "no". Eventually pushed to your limit, you discover the...

Pitfall Planet

Release Date: 02/05/2016, updated in 2019

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Blocks

Pitfall Planet is a cooperative puzzle game that forces you to think outside the box as you collect gold, fight enemies and escape levels. It features challenging levels that mean that teamwork is central as you grapple, throw and create pathways...

Thumper

Release Date: 10/10/2016, updated in 2019

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Thumper is a rhythm game where you guide a beetle-like creature through music track by pressing buttons in time. Unlike other music games, the focus is on impact and combat rather than soaring tunes. It's described by the developer as a rhythm-violence...

Bayonetta 3

Release Date: 28/10/2022

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Bayonetta 3 is the latest fighting game in the Bayonetta franchise, where you use fantastical guns and outlandish attacks to defeat monsters and hordes of enemies in fast-paced combat. As you move through the stages, you attack enemies with your wide...

Bayonetta

Release Date: 29/10/2009, updated in 2018

Out Now: PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Bayonetta is a fighting game where you use fantastical guns and outlandish attacks to defeat hordes of enemies in bombastic combat. As you play, you attack enemies with oversized weapons and supernatural powers. It stands out for how outrageous outfits,...

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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