In times like these it can be nice to be able to get away from it all, if only for a brief moment. If you have a VR headset you’re one of the lucky people who can enter other realities from the confines of your living room, so why not use it for your wellbeing? Here we’ve gathered VR games and experiences focused on relaxation and meditation. We’ll be covering apps on Quest, Rift, SteamVR, and PSVR, so there’s something for everyone (including a couple that are free!).
Below you’ll find that we split up 17 VR meditation and relaxation experiences into several categories: Nature Relaxation, Musical Relaxation, Creation, Musical Creation, Meditation, Reflection, Mindfulness, and Exploration. Did we miss any of your favorites? Drop your suggestions in the comments after the article.
TheBlu takes you underwater to get up close and personal with some beautiful aquatic scenes and creates. Many will know the iconic whale encounter in this app as a favorite first-time demo for new VR users, but the full version has two additional scenes that go beyond the original, including extra features like the ability to take pictures. The app also has a dedicated ‘Ambient Mode’ that will simply let you sit, uninterrupted, in the deep blue.
You can probably guess what this one is about… but you might not expect that the app has some rather beautiful environments, even on the Quest version. So yes, you’ll be fishing and you can take it as fast or as slow as you’d like. Consider putting on some music or even a podcast while you relax and wait for the big one.
Google Earth VR is exactly what it sounds like… its Google Earth, but in VR. Beyond being able to explore essentially the entire globe as if you were a giant towering over it, the app can also be a wonderful way to relax. Find yourself a pretty place (there’s some great ones in the ‘Featured’ area), bring yourself down to ground level, and simply sit as a giant and take in the scene around you. You can even set the mood by adjusting the time of day. It can also be magical to just ‘wander’ starting from a familiar place and see where you wind up. Considering both the quality of the experience and the fact that its free, this one is an absolute must-try.
etris Effect is classic Tetris gameplay wrapped in an audio-visual experience which uniquely accompanies each of the game’s levels. As you maneuver the blocks you’ll hear sounds that fit into the beat. Don’t lose yourself too much in the sights and sounds though as some of the levels will take skill and practice to complete, even on ‘Normal’ difficulty.
*via Epic Games Store
Sheaf – Together EP (SteamVR) – Free
Ever wish you could cruise down an endless highway, watching as the trees, buildings, and city streets pass you by while a synthwave soundtrack perfectly fits the vibe? Artist and musician Sheaf has created just that—a short VR experience which is hand-crafted to fit a three track synthwave album. For the great price of free, this one is a no-brainer.
Surge (SteamVR) – Free
A VR classic. This short musically-reactive VR experience from 2016 is still worth checking out for its creative visualizations and minimalistic musical composition. As it’s free there’s little to lose, but it’s so short (just one track) that you might want to consider using it as an appetizer or dessert to complement a longer VR session. If you like this, consider the followup experience, Apex, released in 2017.
Particulate uses a custom engine to render millions of particles and let you play with them. You’ll have a handful of tools at your disposal to spawn and interact with a galaxy of particles, including the ability to turn on ‘Audio Reactivity’ which will make them dance to any music you play. You can make and save your own scenes or check out ‘Featured Scenes’ to just sit back, relax, and watch the colorful mingling.
Have you ever wished you had a whole room and a box full of tracks, balls, and dominos to build the ultimate Rube Goldberg machine? You’re in luck. Gadgeteer will let you finally imagine your childhood dream of filling an entire room with a crazy chain-reaction-machine without the cat knocking everything over. Beyond being able to build whatever you want in ‘Sandbox Mode’, Gadgeteer is a full fledged puzzle game with 60 puzzles to complete and a pleasant soundtrack to boot.
Vrkshop (SteamVR) – $20
Vrkshop describes itself as a “VR woodworking game” and aims to recreate a hands-on woodshop where you can measure, mark, cut, nail, and much more. With a realistic wood-cutting system, the app challenges you to use the tools at your disposal to create furniture and other objects with no explicit instructions.
Electronauts is like a VR DJ station with training wheels. Though you can take the training wheels off if you’re especially talented, the training wheels are actually part of the appeal; Electronauts does an incredible job of letting you express your inner musical creativity even if you don’t have instrumental talent. The game serves up some 80 tracks, each which function as a custom sound-kit with unique instruments, backing tracks, and more. And as a huge bonus, the Rift and Steam versions of the game are multiplayer, meaning you can jam out with a friend (unfortunately the Oculus PC and SteamVR versions aren’t cross-platform multiplayer so make sure your friend buys on the same platform). The track list is heavy on the EDM side (though there are some chill songs to be found) so if that’s not your cup of tea you might want to look elsewhere.
Drops is a musically focused experience where shapes that you place make different sounds when struck with falling balls. With an endless flow of balls, you can construct a cacophony of sounds on the fly, adding new shapes and creating new paths as you go. Think of it like a Rube Goldberg machine, but for making minimal, meditative music.
Meditation, Reflection, Mindfulness, and Exploration
Guided Tai Chi (Quest) – $10
Guided Tai Chi guides you through more than 100 “Tai Chi inspired” workouts ranging from 3 minutes up to 60 minutes. With 20 nature environments designed to help you relax. The app uses Quest’s motion controllers to instruct you in slow and thoughtful motions that can help you unwind.
Could there be a more clearly named VR meditation game? Guided Meditation VR has 27 nature filled environments with some 500 individual meditation spots across them. You can pick from a list of environments, music, and narrations which will guide you through different meditation techniques to help you relax, unwind, and forget about the world (if only for a moment). You can also choose no narration at all to simply relax and enjoy the sights and sounds (or even mix in your own music).
Where Thoughts Go is a totally unique social experience that you won’t find elsewhere in or out of VR. In this reflective experience you’ll find yourself in peaceful environments populated with floating orbs. Grab an orb and you’ll hear someone speak. The recordings you hear are from other real, anonymous users who are sharing their dreams, fears, and secrets, as prompted by questions in each stage of the experience. You can listen to get perspective from others and leave your own audio recordings to drift through the virtual world waiting to be listened to by someone, somewhere out there.
Marvellous Machine is a free 15 minute thoughtfulness exercise wrapped up in a graphically impressive VR experience. You’ll be seated as you’re toured along a track listening to a narration which aims to introduce you to the basics of mindfulness. The app will encourage you to look at your surroundings, and your thoughts, in a different way.
Fujii is a peaceful, explorative journey through a whimsical world of vibrant plants and cute critters. Though this definitely fits in the ‘game’ genre, it’s a purely peaceful game—there’s no enemies or health bars or pressure—just an inviting world with light puzzles and secrets to find at your own pace. You’ll frequently return to a garden where you can plant and tend to the flora and fauna that you collect throughout your journey. Though the game isn’t specifically designed around meditation, between your garden and other parts of the world, there’s plenty of lovely places to spend a few minutes to sit and smell the roses.
Spheres (Rift) – $10
Spheres is an interactive narrative experience that will take you on a compelling tour of the cosmos. You’ll be encouraged to reach out and touch the worlds before you and listen to the songs they sing into the void. This experience is equal parts cosmology and imagination.
Foto: Image courtesy Cubicle Ninjas