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Wake Up Your Emotions

Video games are known for high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled entertainment, but there are many that address the player’s emotions as much as their dexterity. Often overlooked by younger or more competitive players, these experiences can provide a helpful variety in the diet of games your family enjoys.
The games selected below create emotionally rich spaces in which to explore scenarios with feelings rather than facts. In some games this is achieved with beautiful or soothing interactive visuals; others create charged relationships and settings that invite players to take a role in processing these emotions.

This list includes 70 games from the last 23 years, with 1,694 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to engage your emotions.

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, Puzzle, Rhythm, Role-Play, Sequencing, Shooting, Simulation, Sports, Stealth, Strategy and Traversal
Total Likes: 1,694
 

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...

Rainbow Billy

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Hand-Made

Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is a role-play adventure where you save the world from a colourless darkness. Unusually, battles are won through listening and conversation rather than traditional attacks. It combines the excitement and...

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 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...

The Last Of Us Part II

Release Date: 19/06/2020

Out Now: PS4

Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Day and Night

The Last of Us Part II is an action-adventure game set five years after The Last of Us. You control two characters in a post-apocalyptic United States. Ellie is out for revenge after suffering a tragedy, and Abby is a...

Night in the Woods

Release Date: 10/01/2017, updated in 2017

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

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Night in the Woods is a narrative adventure which follows college dropout Mae Borowski returning home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs. But the place is different now her friends have grown and changed. There’s something...

Abzu

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

Out Now: PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Coming Soon: PC

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 meaning and place in the world.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

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

Out Now: Mac, PC and PS4

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,...

Planet of Lana

Release Date: 23/05/2023

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

Skill Rating: 12+ 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 cold machines and unfamiliar creatures. Rather than the war, though, this is a game about the vibrant...

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

Omno

Release Date: 29/07/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

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

Omno is a running, jumping and surfing game where you explore an ancient fantastical world. As you explore you meet all manner of strange and wonderful lifeforms, from cute critters to enigmatic giants. It stands out for the approachable collectibility...

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...

The Unfinished Swan

Release Date: 16/10/2012

Out Now: PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4 and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

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...

Vane

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

Out Now: PC and PS4

Skill Rating: 12+ 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 dessert and climb your way...

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...

Ete

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Components: 3D First-Person and Hand-Made

Ete (été, which means summer) is a gentle adventure where you discover memories by exploring with your camera, music and paint. The screen starts almost entirely blank, and as you move around and interact you create vivid colourful memories.

Miska

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Day and Night

Miska is a relaxing narrative adventure game about the flora and fauna of Australia. Rekindle your connection to family and nature through acts of restoration.

Gris

Release Date: 06/10/2019

Out Now: Android, Apple TV, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch 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...

Life Is Strange (Series)

Release Date: 19/01/2016

Out Now: Android, PC, PS3, PS4, Stadia, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

This is a click/tap-to-move adventure where you play a student at high school in a sleepy American town. Despite the idyllic setting, you have a foreboding premonition of a disastrous storm. Along with this prophetic vision, you discover the ability to...

A Juggler's Tale

Release Date: 27/08/2020, updated in 2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Components: 2D Side-On

A Juggler's Tale is a running and jumping game where you guide Abby, a string puppet through a dangerous world where you need to solve puzzles and avoid traps. You move crates, pull levers, jump over hazards and try to outrun chasers.

Assemble With Care

Release Date: 19/11/2019

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

From the makers of Monument Valley, this puzzle game 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 heirlooms to broken statues to...

Sky Children of the Light

Release Date: 18/07/2019

Out Now: Android, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

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

Sky Children of the Light (Sky Children of Light) is a huge open-world online game designed to create altruism between players. From the developer of Flower and Journey, it takes you on a social adventure in an ever-expanding world with up to 8 other...

Outer Wilds

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

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

Coming Soon: Switch

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 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...

What Remains of Edith Finch

Release Date: 18/04/2017, updated in 2022

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

Coming Soon: Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Edith Finch is the surviving member of the Finch family, who seem to have died from a curse. In first-person perspective, you return to the family’s coastal home to learn about each relative’s final hours by exploring their rooms in turn.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

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

Out Now: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

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...

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 through solving 2D and 3D puzzles. The game world is based within the young girl's dreams. The young girl is afraid of...

My Child Lebensborn

Release Date: 08/05/2018, updated in 2021

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

In My Child Lebensborn, you nurture a Lebensborn child in Norway after World War II who faces a hostile community because they’ve been born to parents of both occupied and occupying forces. With meagre resources yourself, you must feed, clothe and...

Feather

Release Date: 05/04/2019

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

Coming Soon: Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

This game brings you, as a bird, to a beautiful island. You can explore freely, collecting items and soaring on the breeze. Often, other players will join you to create a flock of birds to fly together, making music on the wind. Communication is kept to...

Horace

Release Date: 18/07/2019, updated in 2020

Out Now: PC and Switch

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Horace is a platform adventure full of nostalgic pop-culture references and British humour. You run and jump through a funny and heartfelt story told by Horace, the game's charming robot protagonist. Adopted by a wealthy family for reasons unknown,...

When The Past Was Around

Release Date: 22/09/2020, updated in 2020

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

When The Past Was Around is a short adventure puzzle game, where you point-and-click on items to gather clues, unlock doors and unravel an intriguing and emotive narrative. Without any words it tells the tale of a young woman, Eda, and her love, the...

The First Tree

Release Date: 11/10/2018

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

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

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...

The Cost of Recovery

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC and Switch

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

The Cost of Recovery is a narrative adventure where you play as four different people, one of whom has a stroke. How this impacts each of them is experienced first hand. Can they all get through this together or will everything start to fall apart?

To The Moon

Release Date: 10/11/2011, updated in 2020

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

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Pixels

To the Moon is a story-adventure following two doctors trying to fulfil a dying man's last wish to go to the moon. With only a few ways to interact with the game, you control the doctors, exploring and solving puzzles to reconstruct the dying man's...

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons

Release Date: 07/08/2013, updated in 2015

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

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...

Half Past Fate (Series)

Release Date: 12/03/2020

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Coming Soon: PS4 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead

Half Past Fate is a romantic comedy adventure. You explore the lives of six different modern day characters and their romantic relationships over eight hours, eight days, and finally eight years later. It's a point-and-click adventure where you explore...

My Brother Rabbit

Release Date: 21/11/2018

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

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

My Brother Rabbit is a hand-drawn hidden-object puzzle game about an ill sister. As her plight is told through watercolour animation, you play her brother's rabbit and unfold a parallel story in a fantasy world.

Concrete Genie

Release Date: 20/08/2019

Out Now: PS4

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Concrete Genie is a running and jumping game about a young boy, who is isolated and bullied, in this exploration platform game with a twist. Using motion controls and buttons you can draw beautiful graffiti on the buildings, which come to life. These...

As Dusk Falls

Release Date: 23/07/2020, updated in 2022

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

Components: 3D Third-Person and Hand-Made

As Dusk Falls is an interactive Drama following two families that intertwine with each other over thirty years, set in Arizona. You can play on your own, but it's best in a group of up to 8 players who use a smartphone app to make choices, like PlayLink...

Tree

Release Date: 13/08/2018

Out Now: PC

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Tree is a short 15 minute game that tells the story of a boy who plants a small tree. You control the planting, watering and how the tree grows each season. As you do this the years pass and the boy...

Last Day of June

Release Date: 31/08/2017

Out Now: PC, PS4 and Switch

Components: 2D Side-On

Last Day of June is a game about a couple called Carl and June, who suffer a tragedy when a car accident takes June's life and leaves Carl in a wheelchair. You control Carl, remembering life with June and discover that you can interact with her...

The Stillness of the Wind

Release Date: 07/02/2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made

In The Stillness of the Wind you play 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...

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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