16 Super Easy Video Games Even Non-Gamers Can Get Into

Florence | Annapurna/Mountains
Florence | Annapurna/Mountains

It's understandably tough to break into something like video games. The community usually reads as cliquey, at best, and downright toxic, at worst, to outsiders; on top of that, there's the assumption that you have to have ungodly dexterity to make it past level one. But there's good news for the curious: with the gaming industry as varied and vast as it is today (it's not just Fortnite!), there are tons of titles that focus entirely on storytelling or crazy impressive visuals that require very little skill from the player. So, for those looking for new experiences but don’t want to stress out about passing levels, here are 16 great, easy games anyone can enjoy.

We've given each game a difficulty rating of one to three stars, one being the absolute easiest and three being very nearly challenging.


Firewatch (2016)

Difficulty: ★★
Firewatch is essentially a first person walking simulator that subtly guides you each step of the way. You are Henry, a man who took on firewatch duties in a forested national park in order to get away from dealing with his wife’s early onset Alzheimer’s. His only connection to society is the dissociated voice of Delilah, the woman monitoring the area, crackling through Henry’s walkie-talkie. As Delilah helps Henry come to terms with his tragic situation through their daily banter, the fallout of a mysterious murder presents itself, forcing Henry into the middle of it. As Henry dives deeper into the truth, the heartbreaking reveal perfectly counters his inability to come to terms with his wife's illness. The plot doesn’t really vary due to your dialogue choices, but you can certainly influence Henry’s outlook on life. It's the small details -- like choosing to wear your wedding ring or not -- that really make this title special.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows, Mac, Linux), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

What Remains of Edith Finch

What Remains of Edith Finch (2017)

Difficulty: ★★
Is tragedy a culmination of an individual’s life choices, or is a person trapped by fate? This question is amplified in the beautiful and heartbreaking What Remains of Edith Finch, which tells the story of a family seemingly cursed to dying tragic deaths. You are Edith, the last surviving member of a big family. After a long and painful departure from her family home, Edith goes back to find out more about her deceased family members to find closure. The Finch house is a sprawling mishmash of clashing architectures and periods -- the matriarch of the family sealed off the rooms of the deceased, instead building more rooms as new generations were born -- creating one of the most original settings in recent video game history. As Edith navigates this labyrinthine estate, she discovers each family member's room and reads their diaries, which pulls us into mini game flashbacks unique to each character, explaining how they died. But the dark nature of the game finds a way to turn its bitterness around and become a profoundly life-affirming experience.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows), PS4, Xbox One

Dear Esther
The Chinese Room

Dear Esther (2008)

Difficulty: ★
One of the most gorgeously designed games in recent history, the greatness of Dear Esther lies in the perfect melding of its solemn visual style and abstract yet emotionally drenching narrative. You begin as a man who visits an abandoned island. As you walk through the path that’s designed for you, your narration begins to uncover the story of this desolate place, your connection to it, and why you’ve returned. Interspersed with a cryptic backstory about you and your wife, we also learn about the island’s past and its history full of dreams that are built up and broken. Moving from vast vistas to stunning underground caves, Dear Esther organically and patiently makes its way to a tear-jerking finale. The game itself is barely a game, but more of a storied walkthrough that unfolds at your preferred pace. You basically just follow the path until you get to the end. That being said, it’s an experience you won’t likely forget anytime soon.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows, Mac, Linux), PS4, Xbox One

Gone Home
The Fullbright Company

Gone Home (2013)

Difficulty: ★★
The subtle yet emotionally impactful Gone Home is the best first-person home exploration alternative to What Remains of Edith Finch. As Katie, you return home in 1995 from a backpacking trip abroad to find out that your entire family is gone. That’s all you know about yourself and the family as you begin your journey through the house, trying to uncover the mystery of what happened to your loved ones. As open as the premise is for a horror or suspense game, what we get is more of a layered drama than a series of jump scares. Gone Home contains an impressively restrained and grounded story, one that digs deep into the characters' motivations, letting us really grasp their perspective. The gameplay encourages a more open-world narrative, allowing Katie to explore what she wants, where she wants, and how much she wants. If all you want to get out of the story is the superficial basics, you can do it in a few hours. However, a true exploration of the game’s themes, which deal with heavy-hitting issues like the lack of LGBTQ acceptance in the '90s, requires some heavier digging.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows, Mac, Linux), PS4, Xbox One

Monument Valley
Ustwo Games

Monument Valley (2014)

Difficulty: ★★★
If M.C. Escher ever got a chance to create a smart phone game, Monument Valley would be it. An intricately constructed puzzle, dazzling in its minimalist visuals and design, Monument Valley plays with your understanding of perspective. There isn’t much of an overt story here, but the soothing aesthetics and mind-bending puzzles on each level more than makes up for it. You’re a pretty generic princess trying to find a path from point A to point B on the X, Y, and Z axis, and your only way of overcoming obstacles is to spin the level around until you find an angle that suddenly matches sections that previously looked broken. It’s a perfect game for touch screens, since moving the levels around with your finger provides a more tactile connection than using the analog stick of a controller. There certainly isn’t a shortage of tough-as-nails puzzle games on smartphone OS games, but with its loose and experiment-encouraging controls, Monument Valley isn’t one of them. One of the first breakout ambient puzzles games for the smartphone market, Monument Valley’s success resulted in developer ustwo forming a partnership with Apple. The equally engaging sequel, Monument Valley 2, is also available.
Where to buy: iOS, Android, Windows Phone

The Stanley Parable
Galactic Cafe

The Stanley Parable (2013)

Difficulty: ★
The hilarious and existentially subversive first-person walking simulator The Stanley Parable throws any expectation you might have from a video game out the window and offers the most fun you will have while contemplating the fallacy of your individual free will. In the game, you are an office drone named Stanley who never made an original choice in his life. Suddenly, everyone in his office has disappeared and Stanley needs to get to the bottom of it. Or does he? Does he follow the advice of the sardonic, monotone Stephen Fry-type narrator, who simply wants him to follow his instructions, which he swears will lead to the only possible happy ending in the game, or does he find his own path? A typical playthrough of The Stanley Parable is over within 10 minutes or so, but the fun is in coming back over and over again and discovering the myriad of philosophically sound, patently absurd, and sometimes proudly nihilistic ways the game can end. For fans of Philip K. Dick and Scott Adams, The Stanley Parable is an essential purchase. There aren’t any puzzles to solve, only choices to make. If I had an unpredictability gauge, however, this game would have broken it.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows, Mac, Linux)

The Beginner's Guide
Everything Unlimited Ltd.

The Beginner's Guide (2015)

Difficulty: ★
After the unexpected, genre-bending originality of The Stanley Parable, fans expected designer Davey Wreden to offer another offbeat game as a follow-up. What they got instead was an honest and profoundly moving exploration of how the solitude and uncertainty of the game designing process -- or any artistic process in general -- can bring on the weight of existential depression. Through a series of incomplete first-person game levels belonging to disparate genres -- one level's a modern shooter, another's a dungeon crawler -- Wreden narrates his complex relationship with a talented but introverted game designer who gradually closed himself off to the outside world. As the levels become more and more abstract and deliberately cryptic, it becomes hard to figure out if this designer, who might very well be Wreden himself, is using his work as a cry for help, or if he genuinely needs to be left alone. What makes The Beginner's Guide so special is that it might be the only documentary you can consume through the video game medium.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows, Mac, Linux)

The Walking Dead
Telltale Games

The Walking Dead (2012)

Difficulty: ★★
For the better part of this decade, Telltale Games has been at the forefront of episode-based, interactive movie-style games that follow a narrative based on the decisions that the player makes. Like a TV show, each game is split into a series of episodes that can be purchased separately as they are released, or in a bundle after the whole thing is finished. Depending on your intellectual property of preference, Telltale allows you to play in the universes of Guardians of the Galaxy, Batman, Minecraft, Game of Thrones, and Back to the Future, but The Walking Dead game is the best-written and most original so far. You play as Lee, who is tasked with protecting a little girl named Clementine through the unforgiving walker apocalypse. In the name of survival, you are asked to make some horrific choices along the way, the final one surely to have traumatized many gamers. It’s also one of the rare games that’s better than the intellectual property it’s based on, since the writing, acting, design, and everything else certainly has a leg on the annoyingly maudlin and languidly paced TV show. Apart from simply making choices that shape the narrative, there's some classic adventure game-style puzzle solving. However, they are very easy, and even if you get stuck, the other characters practically give you step-by-step instructions on what to do.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows, Mac, Linux), PS3, PS4/PS Vita, Xbox 360/Xbox One, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire

Late Shift
CtrlMovie Ltd

Late Shift (2016)

Difficulty: ★
Late Shift is an honest-to-goodness movie, with all live-action actors and backdrops, about a parking attendant who’s ensnared in a deadly heist and has to use his wits to get out of it alive. The only bit of interactivity expected from the player is to choose between two, sometimes three options that will push the story into different avenues until you reach one of the seven endings, some tragic, some triumphant, some in between. The writing can get a bit too cheesy and the acting is a bit too wooden at times, but the story offers some genuine twists and thrills depending on the choices you make.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS/Apple TV

Heavy Rain
Quantic Dream

Heavy Rain (2010)

Difficulty: ★★
Heavy Rain, a third-person adventure game, is perhaps the closest you’ll get to playing a video game version of Se7en. Sure, the writing is not as sophisticated, especially considering the some unintentionally funny sections where the French developers are trying to get a handle on American slang, but it makes up for that by being relentlessly grim. You play as four different characters who are trying to solve a series of child murders. Any one of the four protagonists can die at any point, but instead of being met with a Game Over screen and being told to try again, the story just continues until you reach one of the 20 distinct endings. You might get all characters killed and the killer goes free, or you might end up giving each one of them a happy ending. You can also choose to ignore or fail all of those clues and puzzles to the end, but don’t be mad when your characters are pulled into a series of preventable tragedies.
Where to buy: PS3, PS4


Journey (2012)

Difficulty: ★
Journey is the video game equivalent of those calming meditation videos or audio streams you put on in the background to let your body and mind relax. The game begins without any exposition; you’re a faceless robed figure skating its way through a mesmerizing, otherworldly desert of sand dunes and ruins, and a magical scarf that’s tied to your robe allows you to fly across distances and float up towering gates. Along the trek, you come across some imagery that suggests an ancient war ended whatever civilization your world used to be a part of. Even though it involves some obstacles, the engine behind Journey changes its challenges depending on each player’s aptitude, gradually figuring out if you’re more into exploring rather than problem-solving, letting you glide through its levels quicker and without much hassle. That’s why for some players, Journey is a three-hour experience, and for others, it barely lasts an hour, even though everyone has to traverse through the same plains.
Where to buy: PS3, PS4

Frog Fractions
Twinbeard Studios

Frog Fractions (2012)

Difficulty: ★★
Fans of uncut, mischievous surrealism will dig Frog Fractions. It's best going into this game with as little knowledge about it as possible, but stick with it, even though for the first five to 10 minutes, it just appears to be a math-teaching Flash game for children, where a cartoon frog catches flies that represent fractions. Slowly, you’ll realize the fractions are completely nonsensical. That’s just the beginning of how much free-flowing insanity Frog Fractions has in store for you. Soon, the colorful and benign setting is a thing of the past, and an equally funny and maddening journey begins, one that parodies multiple genres to the point of stripping them completely off their self-seriousness. Eventually, you'll get into some adventure-style puzzle solving, but otherwise, everything else is completely unchallenging. Of course, that doesn’t mean any of it is any less delightfully bizarre. If you’re mind’s not fried after playing it, you can check out the sequel, which is hiding on Steam as a game called Glittermitten Grove.
Where to buy: It’s a free Flash game -- play it here.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Starbreeze Studios

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (2013)

Difficulty: ★★★
At first glance, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons looks like a strictly two-player co-op game. However, the reality is quite the opposite: It’s up to a single player to control two characters at the same time, a revolutionary gameplay approach that fits perfectly with the game’s themes about the bond between siblings and the painful and exhilarating journey into adulthood. You play as two brothers in an unspecified medieval fantasyland, who are tasked with an arduous journey facing the wrath of nature, the scourge of war, and a hefty amount of giants and monsters who want to tear the brothers to pieces in order to find an herb that can heal your dying father. The premise is Ancient Mythology 101, but developer 505 Games manages to pack a layered trip full of surprising character arcs and complex adult themes into a fairly cut-and-dry action/adventure game. Out of all the games on this list, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is certainly the most difficult. There are some action levels that require some agility and alertness, but they should be easy to pass after a couple of tries. Its supreme visual storytelling is just unignorable.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows), PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS, Android


Florence (2018)

Difficulty: ★
If you have two bucks to spare and want to contemplate the universality of love, heartbreak, despair, and the eventual human self-healing within 30 minutes, then Florence is right up your alley. Designed with a charming pencil sketch look and muted fall colors, Florence tells the story of the title character who falls in love with a cellist and experiences the highs and lows of the relationship. The interactivity is minimal, but effective. While she’s at work, all you’re tasked to do is to match random numbers until they clear. When Florence and her new beau go out on their first date, you have to put together speech bubbles like micro jigsaw puzzles that get easier or more difficult depending on the tone of the conversation. A brilliant visual expression of how we sync emotionally with people we’re into as we get to know them better.
Where to buy: iOS, Android

Night in the Woods

Night in the Woods (2017)

Difficulty: ★
Fans of Bojack Horseman, a show that looks like a colorful cartoon about talking animals but reveals itself to be a potent exploration of mental illness and the awkwardness of modern society, will find a lot to like in Night in the Woods. The game takes place in a universe inhabited by talking animals, yet everything else is as realistic and contemporary as you can get. You are Mae, a college dropout who has no choice but to move back in with her parents in her tiny hometown. As if dealing with the depression of her past failures and the anxiety about the bleakness of her future isn’t enough, she gets tangled up in a bizarre criminal conspiracy. The simple 2D graphics and text-based interactions allow for an epic story to unfold in a patiently paced manner that allows us to eventually feel like a resident of Mae’s town.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows, Mac, Linux), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Giant Squid Studios

Abzu (2016)

Difficulty: ★★
A gorgeous third-person ocean exploration game -- or "experience" might be more suitable -- Abzu will provide you with one of the most calming and soothing two hours in front of a TV or computer screen. You are an unidentified humanoid character, perhaps an android, discovering the depths of a vast ocean full of friendly fish and various sea creatures you can grab and ride on. As the journey continues, you start finding remnants of an ancient civilization with vastly advanced underwater living technology. Your motivation for your journey is never clearly explained, allowing each player to project their own narrative to the game. Most meditative of all, almost each frame of the underwater game -- the sea animals are highly detailed renderings and the bright plant life pops against the muted blue waters -- is worth hanging on your wall as highbrow digital art.
Where to buy: Steam (Windows), PS4, Xbox One

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic, screenwriter, and script coach. He works as a reader/coach for some of the leading screenplay coverage companies in Hollywood and is also a film critic for Paste Magazine, The Playlist, DVD Talk, and Beyazperde. He lives near Portland, Oregon, with his wife, daughter, and two King Charles Spaniels.