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Space 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 36 games from the last 16 years, with 224 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to understand loneliness.

Game image
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DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3+ to PEGI 18+
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Platform, Puzzle, Role-Playing, Simulation and Strategy
Total Likes: 224
 

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 03/03/2017

Platforms: Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Developer: @Nintendo

Players: This is a single player game

This game 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 the passage of the sun and moon...

Subnautica (Series)

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

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

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @UnknownWorlds

Players: This is a single player game

Dive into an underwater ocean on an alien planet and collect the resources you need to establish a base and survive. There’s an open and immersive watery world to discover as you construct tools, bases and submersibles, and interact with wildlife....

The Long Dark

Rating: PEGI 16+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 22/09/2014

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing and Simulation

Developer: @HinterlandGames

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Celeste

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

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

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Platform

Developer: @Exok_Games

Players: This is a single player game

This 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, perhaps unsurprisingly, haunted by self-doubt at the task in hand. She presses on...

Firewatch

Rating: PEGI 16+, ESRB MATURE 17+

Release Date: 20/09/2016

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Developer: @Camposanto

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Game image Portal

Portal

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PEGI Rating 12+ for PortalESRB Rating TEEN for Portal

Portal (Series)

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 10/10/2007, updated in 2011

Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Web Browser, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Narrative, Platform, Puzzle and Simulation

Developer: @ValveSoftware

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room

You are in a science laboratory where you seem to be being tested. Watched by the artificial intelligence GLaDOS, you have a gun that can create a pair of magic portals on any surface: one is an entrance and the other is an exit. Through a series of...

Journey

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE

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

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and iOS

Genres: Adventure

Developer: @ThatGameCompany

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 2 players online

This is an adventure in a desert. Exploring the eerie sand-scape, 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 players, one...

The Witness

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

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

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Open World and Puzzle

Developer: @Thekla_inc

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Shadow Of The Colossus

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 18/10/2005

Platforms: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Developer: @SonyJapanStudio

Players: This is a single player game

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 Colossus stands apart in many ways.

Game image Gris

Gris

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PEGI Rating 7+ for GrisESRB Rating EVERYONE for Gris

Gris

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 06/10/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Platform

Developer: @NomadaStudiobcn

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Alien: Isolation

Rating: PEGI 18+, ESRB MATURE 17+

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

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure and Narrative

Developer: @FeralGames

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 1 player online

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 mothers disappearance. You explore Sevastopol, a decommissioned...

Game image Abzu

Abzu

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PEGI Rating 7+ for AbzuESRB Rating EVERYONE for Abzu

Abzu

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE

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

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure

Developer: @GiantSquidology

Players: This is a single player game

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 meaning and place in the world.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Rating: PEGI 18+, ESRB MATURE 17+

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

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting and Narrative

Developer: @NinjaTheory

Players: This is a single player game

This 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 hear multiple voices in...

Florence

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

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

Platforms: Android, Nintendo Switch and iOS

Genres: Narrative

Developer: @MountainsGames

Players: This is a single player game

This is a little puzzle game that tells the story of a relationship, following 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...

Sea of Solitude

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 05/07/2019

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Platform

Developer: @EA

Players: This is a single player game

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...

HoloVista

Expected Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 11/09/2020

Platforms: iOS

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Developer: @AconiteCo

Players: This is a single player game

In Holovista is an adventure game you play by taking and sharing photographs. You play as Carmen an up-and-coming architect tasked to live in and take photographs at mysterious mansion and share your thoughts via in-game social media. Your task is...

Never Alone

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

Release Date: 18/12/2014

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Wii U, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative and Platform

Developer: @NeverAloneGame

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Sunlight

Expected Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 14/01/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Narrative and Simulation

Developer: @Krillbite

Players: This is a single player game

Sunlight is a short adventure game where you explore an uncharted forest, guided by harmonised whispers. As you move from tree to tree you discover different voices, genders and dialects, speaking as one. Taking artistic inspiration from expressionist...

Limbo

Rating: PEGI 16+, ESRB TEEN

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

Platforms: Android, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Developer: @Playdead

Players: This is a single player game

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 not without reason. Rather than violent...

The Talos Principle

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 11/12/2014, updated in 2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @Croteam

Players: This is a single player game

The Talos Principle is a narrative driven puzzle game, praised for its cerebral and philosophical nature, where you play an android with a human conscience. You explore environments to complete complex brain-teasing puzzles to collect "sigils".

The Longing

Expected Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

Release Date: 05/03/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Simulation

Developer: @StudioSeufz

Players: This is a single player game

The Longing is a point-and-click adventure about waiting and loneliness. It's an intentionally slow game that takes 400 elapsed days to finish. It draws on the Idle Game genre, where you use minor interactions to incrementally advance. Here though, the...

The White Door

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 09/01/2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure and Puzzle

Developer: @RustyLakeCom

Players: This is a single player game

The White Door is an adventure that you play by exploring each room, finding and interacting with items and people. Along with its unusual black and white visuals, The White Door is also notable for the topic of mental health and memory loss it takes on.

Outer Wilds

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

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

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Open World and Simulation

Developer: @Mobius_Games

Players: This is a single player game

Outer Wilds is an exploration space mystery about a solar system trapped in an endless time-loop. After 20 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

Rating: PEGI 16+, ESRB TEEN

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

Platforms: Mac, PC and PlayStation 4

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Developer: @ChineseRoom

Players: This is a single player game

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,...

Thomas Was Alone

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

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

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Narrative and Platform

Developer: @MikeBithell

Players: This is a single player game

Control different-coloured rectangles in this simple running, jumping and puzzle solving platform game. 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 story...

Bird Alone

Rating: Not rated by PEGI or ESRB

Release Date: 15/06/2020

Platforms: iOS

Genres: Narrative and Simulation

Developer: @GeorgeBatch

Players: This is a single player game

Bird Alone is a narrative game where you befriend a bird. Your feathered companion encourages the conversation in the direction of real life worries while you make music, draw pictures and write poetry. It’s a slow game that unfolds in real time with...

The Swapper

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

Release Date: 30/05/2013, updated in 2019

Platforms: Nintendo Wii U, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Platform

Developer: @FacePalmGames

Players: This is a single player game

The Swapper is a platform-adventure where you explore a damaged space station to collect orbs that open doors into other areas. Unusually, you can clone your character multiple times and then control it to help you solve puzzles and progress in various...

Sunless Sea

Rating: PEGI 16+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 06/02/2015

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @FailbetterGames

Players: This is a single player game

Sunless Sea is a sea-faring adventure where you pilot a small steamship to explore a Victorian-era London that has been moved beneath the earth's surface. You take on the role of captain but select different ambitions that determine how you will play.

The Stillness of the Wind

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 07/02/2019

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @StillnessGame

Players: This is a single player game

In The Stillness of the Wind you are an old woman who looks after a dilapidated farm. Over the course of a few hours, no matter what your efforts, the farm falls apart as you learn about the woman’s family and have the chance to ruminate on her...

Game image Kids

Kids

1

Kids

Rating: Not rated by PEGI or ESRB

Release Date: 31/05/2019

Platforms: iOS

Genres: Puzzle and Simulation

Developer: @Michaelfrei10

Players: This is a single player game

Kids is an unusual game where you tap to interact with groups of monochrome cartoon children. Seeing the little kids run around and respond to each other creates a playful and intriguing game than only lasts half an hour but will be played many times.

She Dreams Elsewhere

Expected Rating: PEGI 16+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Role-Playing

Developer: @StudioZevere

Players: This is a single player game

She Dreams Elsewhere is a surreal adventure. You explore the dreams and real life of Thalia, an anxiety-ridden, comatose woman on a journey to confront the nightmares preventing her from awakening.

The First Tree

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 11/10/2018

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and iOS

Genres: Creative, Narrative, Open World, Platform and Puzzle

Developer: @DavidWehle

Players: This is a single player game

The First Tree is an exploration narrative game. In a dream, you explore a forest wilderness as a mother fox looking for her cubs. Simultaneously, you revisit childhood memories in spoken reflection from two lovers remembering the dream and their...

Heavy Rain

Rating: PEGI 18+, ESRB MATURE 17+

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

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4

Genres: Action, Adventure and Narrative

Developer: @Quantic_Dream

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Arise: A Simple Story

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

Release Date: 03/12/2019

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Developer: @Piccolo_Studio

Players: This is a single player game

Arise: A Simple Story is a narrative game about an old man living in a pre-agricultural tribe. He has just been cremated and as get travels to the next life, begins a pilgrimage of revisiting memories of his life.

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons

Rating: PEGI 16+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 07/08/2013

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Platform and Puzzle

Developer: @StarbreezeAB

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is an action-adventure game where you control two brothers at the same time with a single controller. After their mother passes away, they must find some water from the Tree of Life to save their father. The controls weave...

Disco Elysium

Rating: PEGI 18+, ESRB MATURE 17+

Release Date: 15/10/2019, updated in 2020

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Stadia and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Role-Playing

Developer: @StudioZAUM

Players: This is a single player game

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...


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