The open-world genre of gaming has had a sharp rise in prominence over the last decade. Games likeSkyrim,Grand Theft Auto V,andMinecraftall released in the early 2010s, paving the way for open-world games to be pushed into the forefront of the gaming industry.
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Along with fetch quests, NPC interactions, and looting, one common theme of the open-world genre is combat; as most games task players with overcoming some type of enemy force. Though conquering evil is all well and good, it can get tiresome every now and then. Sometimes players just want something that they can play at their own pace, without the threat of raiders, zombies, aliens, or whatever else popping up looking for a fight. The 10 games on this list offer such experiences, with either puzzle-solving, social interaction, or simple exploration being key to the gameplay.
Prideful Sloth's open-world adventureYonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicleswas initially releasedon PlayStation 4 and PC in 2017, before coming to Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in the years that followed.
After the player's ship crashes onto an island, Yondertasks players with helping the inhabitants by clearing a substance called Murk. The gameplay predominantly centers around fetch quests, which may sound tedious, but exploring theBreath of the Wild-like game-world can provide hours of simplistic enjoyment.
Shape of the Worldwas released in 2018 by the team of Hollow Tree Games andPlug In Digital. The first-person game puts players in a beautiful, artistic forest and simply lets them explore the surrounding environments.
The game's world is procedurally generated, ensuring that players will alwayshave a fresh experience each time they boot it up.Shape of the Worldis a game that simply wants its players to find peace and relaxation, exemplified by the game's Steam page which states "This is a place to get lost in, a relaxing world for you to spend 1 to 3 hours meandering at your own pace, observing and unwinding."
Truth be told, this list couldhave been filledby the numerous open-world racing games that have been released over the years; but for the sake of variety, it made sense to just include the one.
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Playground Games'Forza Horizon 4has become one ofMicrosoft Studios' most highly esteemed releases, with the beautiful Britishcountrysides being a joy to drive through during any of the game's four seasons.Forza Horizon 4was one of the most critically acclaimed racing releases of the eighth generation of console, exemplified by its Metascore of 92 and its Golden Joystick award of Xbox Game of the Year in 2018.
The first entry intoThe Simsfranchise was released in 2000 andplayed a fundamental part inthe rise of casual games.Electronic Arts' series has since become one of the best selling video game franchises of all time,likelydue to how it appeals to such a wide audience.
2009'sThe Sims 3saw a significant shift in playstyle for the series, as the game broke down its predecessor's linear walls in favor of an open-world to explore. Exploring the game's town is a joy, and is the main reason whyThe Sims 3is the most beloved entry in the franchise.
Tequila Works'puzzle gameRimewas released on all major systems in 2017. The third-person adventure is the second, but certainly not the last game on this list to strand players on a mysterious island.
Rimetasks players with solving environmental puzzles bymoving objects, shouting, or signing. The game received a mixed reception from critics,exemplified by the juxtaposing Metascores of 64 on Nintendo Switch and 82 on Xbox One.Praise from critics was centered around the art-style and visuals ofRime, with criticisms being directed at the lackluster puzzles.
With an impressive Nintendo Switch Metascore of 88 and an All Reviews score of Overwhelmingly Positive on Steam,Adam Robinson-Yu'sA Short Hikewas one of the most pleasant surprises of 2019.
The game's main quest requires the player tojump, swim and glide through the open-world to find a collection of Golden Feathers. The main quest isn't all that's available to players, however, as they can also partake in numerous side activities such as fishing, finding treasure with the help of maps, and competing in the uniqueBeachstickball.
Along withPortal, Cyan World'sMystis one of gaming's most famous puzzletitles that isn't named Tetris.Mystis another game on this list thatstands players on a mysterious island and tasks them with using their own initiative to explore the game-world and uncover its secrets without any in-game direction or help.
The game is particularly notable for the impressive variety in its puzzle-solving, along with the expectation that players will have a notebook full ofhand-drawn maps and possible puzzle-solutions by the end of the adventure.
Obductionwasreleased in 2016 by Cyan Worlds, the same team that created the aforementionedMyst.The game begins with the playable character being abducted by aliens and putting them on aMyst-like game-world where they must solve puzzles to find their way home.
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Obductionwas well-received by critics, with praise being directed towards the game's atmosphere, its constant unsettling sense of not-belonging, and well-designedcollection of puzzles.
Eastshadeis a relaxing, visually impressive open-world game developed by the suitably namedEastshade Studios. The game starts with a bit of a bang,as for the second time on this list the playeris on the wrong end of a boat crash, but the game soon finds a far more meditative pace.
With an easel and canvass by their side, players can travel the world ofEastshadeand paint the scenery and environments around them.The game isn't just a painting simulator, however, as players can also receive quests from NPCs and brew a multitude oftea flavors.
2016's The Witnesshad high expectations on its shoulders when the puzzle game was first announced,predominantly due to it being designed byBraid'sJonathan Blow. The game also turned heads when the first details started to release, and it was clear that playerswere going to be put on aMyst-like island with beautiful modern visuals.
The Witnessdifferentiates itself fromMyst with its puzzle variety, as the game solely features line puzzles. Sticking to one style of puzzle may make the game sound too one-dimensional, but there's an excellent rangeof themes and solutions to the puzzles that ensure the game continues to be engrossing.
NEXT:10 Open World RPGs That Take The Longest To Complete
Next 15 Classic Point & Click Games That Still Hold Up Well Today
A gamer since the age of 3, Jack is knowledgeable about virtually every genre of video game under the sun. He has a soft spot for platformers and collectathons though, and still hasn't given up hope of them making a serious resurgence! Feel free to follow his newly created Twitter account @JackPursey
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