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Games include interactions, narratives and characters dealing with all aspects of life (and death). This means that some care is necessary if players are sensitive to losing significant people. But also, games can provide a helpful space in which to process, consider and understand death and loss. I've come up with some games that explore this topic, along with help and suggestions from Gaming The Mind (Twitter), an organisation of UK-based mental health professionals who aim to promote positive mental health within the gaming community. By focusing on the intersection between gaming and mental health, they want to raise awareness of mental health challenges and reduce the stigma surrounding these issues. "We express grief in different ways depending on our age," they said. "To help children cope with loss, it is important that they receive honest explanations about death, appropriate to their level of understanding. With these games, players may find valuable space in which to acknowledge grief as a completely normal reaction to bereavement.""The games we have selected don't necessarily offer an ideal way to cope with death but tackle the topic of death openly and with a positive attitude. They can help show the player that they are not alone in what they are going through. Playing these games with young people, and answering questions they might have along the way, can be a useful starting point for important conversations about grief." This list includes 107 games from the last 26 years, with 2,214 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to process loss.
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...
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...
Release Date: 26/08/2019, updated in 2020
Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Components: 3D Third-Person and Hand-Made
Knights And Bikes! is a hand-painted adventure in a fictional late-eighties British Isles. You work together as Nessa and Demelza who explore its coast on bikes to find treasure, mystery and trouble. There’s fighting with frisbees, water balloons,...
Release Date: 14/05/2019, updated in 2021
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person
A Plague Tale: Innocence follows Amicia and her little brother Hugo as they use stealth to escape soldiers and swarms of rats. Against the stark threat and darkness of the world, the sibling relationship develops as the two learn to trust one another...
Release Date: 23/05/2023
Out Now: PC, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On
Planet of Lana is an adventure where you play a young girl Lana and her loyal animal friend Mui, on a rescue mission. Set on a planet under siege by old machines and unfamiliar creatures. Rather than the war, though, this is a game about a vibrant...
Release Date: 13/06/2023
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds
Dordogne is a narrative adventure where you play as Mimi, a 32-year-old woman who returns to the house of her recently deceased grandmother. You explore the house and area to find letters and puzzles that bring back memories of the past.
Release Date: 15/08/2018
Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid, Open World and Pixels
Graveyard Keeper is a funeral-themed role-playing game where you are the caretaker of a local cemetery. You make choices about how to lay out the plot, what services to offer and generally how to make money from your unusual enterprise. The pixilated...
Release Date: 04/08/2022
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Hindsight is a narrative point-and-click game where you revisit the past by finding objects that trigger memories. Play involves exploring each scene, locating objects and listening to the story as you move the camera to look within what you've found...
Release Date: Coming soon
Coming Soon: Mac, PC and Switch
Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon, Open World and Persistant World
The Garden Path is a slice-of-life simulation game about the small pleasures of gardening. You tend to a world and make it your own through fishing, growing, trading and making new friends. As you do an adventure emerges.
Release Date: 16/10/2012
Out Now: PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4 and iOS
Components: 3D First-Person
The Unfinished Swan invites you to explore a world by splashing paint on it. The tactile experience leads you into a fairy tale about an unfinished painting that leads a child back to his parent. It stands out for the unusual revealing of a world you...
Release Date: 12/01/2016, updated in 2016
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS
That Dragon, Cancer is a game about a family with a young son who has terminal brain cancer. It sounds off-putting and morbid but this living biography invites you to join the family and find hope, faith and love in the face of an insurmountable...
Release Date: 21/12/2022
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Weather
Sail Forth is a sailing simulation where you take charge of a ship in a vast ocean whose ancient depths have swallowed the key to the mysterious past. You play by working with the wind and sails to explore, take on tasks, fight pirates and slowly...
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.
Coming Soon: PC
Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon
Farewell North is an adventure where you play a collie dog who restores colour to a desolate Scottish island. You explore with your owner who you help by uncovering hidden paths, evading monsters, and freeing wildlife. It stands out for the fluid canine...
Release Date: 18/08/2020
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On, Day and Night, Hand-Made and Open World
Spiritfarer is a boat-building exploration game. Unusually though, you play Stella, ferry master to the deceased and the boat you manage takes them to the next life.
Release Date: 14/06/2013
Out Now: PS3 and PS4
Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Weather
The Last Of Us is an action-adventure where You play a father, Joel, whose daughter was killed during the early stages of a deadly fungal outbreak. It’s now 20 years later, and he has clearly suffered from the loss. When Joel is given charge of a...
Release Date: 27/08/2020
Out Now: PC and Xbox One
Tell Me Why is a narrative game following the story of twins Tyler and Alyson Ronan, as they unravel the truth about their childhood and why they were separated. It's a story about the impact of families and the lengths we go to make them right.
Release Date: 01/07/2020
Out Now: Mac and PC
Components: 3D First-Person and Hand-Made
Before I Forget is an exploration adventure, where you play Sunita, a woman alone in a house with early-onset dementia. As you wander from room to room, you discover mysterious objects, each holding a fleeting, fragmented memory. Examine faded...
Release Date: 15/10/2019, updated in 2021
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One
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...
Release Date: 14/12/2017, updated in 2018
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On, Grid and Hand-Made
Gorogoa is a puzzle game where you rearrange and resize tiles to make a singular picture. It appears to be simple, but to solve the puzzles you need to play close attention to how they interrelate. This Matryoshka Russian-Doll puzzle combines with...
Release Date: 05/07/2019
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...
Release Date: 02/04/2019
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.
Release Date: 14/05/2020
Out Now: Mac, PC, Switch and Xbox One
Components: 2D Side-On, Cards and Hand-Made
Signs of the Sojourner is an introspective narrative where you interact with characters by solving puzzles with cards that represent emotions. It's a coming-of-age story set in the near future and explores how relationships form, break and mend in the...
Release Date: 15/03/2023
The Wreck is a narrative game where you play Junon, a mother at a crossroads. She's 36 but her career has stalled, she's emotionally numb, and her personal life is falling apart. It's not unfamiliar territory for a video game these days, but The Wreck...
Release Date: 01/12/2019, updated in 2021
Lost Words: Beyond the Page is an adventure game where you run, jump and explore inside a young girl’s diary. You control Izzy as she writes her diary by walking on words, moving them around and solving different puzzles. This develops two parallel...
Release Date: 18/10/2017
Out Now: PC and iOS
A Mortician's Tale is a management game where you play as a mortician, Charlie, working in a funeral home. As you play, you handle bodies of the deceased, including cleaning and beautifying them, as well as dealing with embalming and cremation. The dead...
Release Date: 08/12/2022
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5 and Switch
Components: 2D Overhead
The Forest Quartet is a puzzle adventure about the band's lead singer who passed away in an ancient forest. You play her spirit travelling through the forest to create three final acts unique to the members of her band for a final concert. It's an...
Release Date: 19/11/2019
Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC and iOS
Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds
Assemble With Care is a narrative puzzle game from the makers of Monument Valley and is a unique way to consider how physical objects become meaningful and hold our memories. You play a restorer who repairs people's favourite possessions: from family...
Release Date: 23/07/2020
Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon
Röki is a Scandinavian folklore point-and-click style adventure game where you play Tove on a journey to save her family. As you help her to come to terms with loss, you explore deep into a snowy fairytale landscape with strange locations and creatures.
Release Date: 28/03/2024
Coming Soon: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Open Roads is an adventure game about a girl who finds out that her grandma has a different past than she thought. The girl and her mother go on a journey to look deeper into her grandma's life by revisiting abandoned family properties and looking...
Release Date: 12/08/2020, updated in 2020
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...
Release Date: 07/10/2020, updated in 2021
I Am Dead is a puzzle game from the creators of Wilmot's Warehouse. You play a recently-deceased museum curator trying to avert a disaster in his home town of Shelmerston.
Release Date: 19/03/2021, updated in 2023
Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Overhead, Hand-Made and Open World
Cozy Grove is a life simulation where you camp on a hand-drawn island. You play a scout and explore the ever-changing island's forest to find secrets and help the local ghosts. Like Animal Crossing, it has a children's storybook look but is a...
Release Date: 18/10/2005
Out Now: PS2, PS3 and PS4
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...
Release Date: 20/04/2018
Out Now: PS4
God of War is an adventure fighting game where You play super-strong Norse fantasy hero Kratos, as he takes his son Atreus on a brutal quest in the wake of his mother’s death. The exploration, puzzle-solving, climbing and fighting gameplay intertwine...
Release Date: 27/12/2018, updated in 2020
Out Now: Mac, PC and Web
Components: 2D Overhead and Pixels
Last Minute Love is an adventure where you play an "old person" in a nursing home who is looking for love. This takes the dating simulator style of game in an unusual direction. You explore the home in your wheelchair, meet a quirky cast of people and...
Release Date: 18/04/2017, updated in 2022
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS
What Remains of Edith Finch is a narrative puzzle game about the surviving member of the Finch family, who seems to have died from a curse. From a first-person perspective, you return to the family’s coastal home to learn about each relative’s final...
Release Date: 17/05/2017
Out Now: Android, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Old Man's Journey is a game about memory and old age. You help a grandfather figure traverse the countryside by raising and lowering the landscape. Along the way, he visits places that evoke the story of his life: a wife, a child and a love of the sea.
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...
Release Date: 26/05/2017
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World
Rime is an adventure on an island where you play a boy led by a fox-like spirit as a guide. To progress through the beautiful environments you solve puzzles across five large levels. You can run, climb, carry objects, and push or pull larger objects...