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The Best Non-Violent Video Games For Adults

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

After my review a few weeks back of BioShock: Infinite, a reader by the name of ZippyWafflebuns (best name ever? YUP) wrote:

"This was a fun review to read (and would love to see you write more), but are there any games this quality that aren't violent? Like, no killing involved at all? I have a pretty low threshold for this kind of thing in games that I play, and I just can't put myself through it just for the world-building/storyline. But I wish I could, because I feel like I'm stuck playing Lego games and this looks so much cooler."

There aren't many non-violent games out there not aimed at children, but there are some, and some of those are pretty darn amazing. I gave Zippy a few titles to try, and then started amassing a list of my own. I focused on relatively recent, story-driven console games not specifically aimed at kids - and I also left out anything sports-related, because blech. (In fact, you might recognize several of these from my last recommended games post; I'm not generally a fan of violent games, either.)

I realize there are many degrees of violence, but for my purposes here I'm defining any game that doesn't include/require killing other humanoid characters as "non-violent."

So, with those caveats, here's what I've got so far:

Games I've played:

Kingdom Hearts - (2002)(PS2) or Kingdom Hearts Remix (HD remastered collection for the PS3,  releases this September, yay!)


A must-play for Dizgeeks with a fun, button-mashing fighting style. Great storyline, gorgeous graphics, and only mild cartoon violence. I love this game. (I also can't believe it's this old - yikes! Can't wait to get the HD remix version and play it again this Fall.)


Mini Ninjas (2009, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, and Mac) -

Quite possibly the perfect game; beautiful, a rich story, and you defeat enemies by turning them back into the adorable woodland creatures they used to be. 

- Psychonauts (2005) (Xbox, PS2, PC, Mac)

 via

This game is almost too old to include, but it's still brilliant. Crazy characters, funny dialogue, great art, and a totally unique concept/story line. As I recall there's some cartoon violence, but no killing. (Please correct me on that if I'm wrong, guys.)

I do have a love/hate relationship with Psychonauts, though, because I've never seen the ending; the last boss fight is just too dang hard. I threw my controller across the room more times than I can remember with this game, but if you're a more skilled player than I (which is likely), do give it a try.

Portal 2 (2011)(PS3, Xbox360, PC, Mac) - 
By all means play both Portals, but if you have to choose just one, go with Portal 2. It's a hilarious puzzle-based action game with a fantastic storyline. The only violent aspect are automated turrets that shoot at you, so there's no real killing. Plus there's a 2-player co-op mode that's great fun to play with your SO.

Quantum Conundrum - (2012)(PS3, Xbox360, PC)

If you've already played both Portals and are yearning for a game with puzzles almost exactly like them, play this one. (It was directed by one of the Portal designers, which explains the puzzle similarities.) The story isn't as entertaining, but the colorful, cartoony style is fun - and may fool you into thinking this game is easy. IT'S NOT. (I made it about halfway before giving up in frustration.) No violence whatsoever, and as a bonus for my fellow Trekkers, John DeLancie (aka Q) is the main voice actor.

Journey (2013)(downloadable PS3 exclusive) - I'd never even heard of this one before I started researching games last week, but after watching this trailer I immediately downloaded it and played it that night:

That review says it all, although I'll add that this was the most relaxing game experience I've ever had, and I'll definitely be playing it again. I felt like there were plenty of things I missed the first time, so don't be too put off by the $14.99 price tag for a 2-hour game; odds are you'll get several play-throughs out of it.

Machinarium (2009)(downloadable only, PC or Mac)[Correction: someone just told me you can download this on the PS3, too! Yay!]

 
It's been years since I played this, but Machinarium is still popular and enjoyable enough that I'm including it despite the fact it's not a console game. Adorable robots and puzzle-solving gameplay. Need I say more? (Hit the link up there to play the demo for free.)

(And if you've already played that one, Unmechanical is another puzzle-based adventure game featuring adorable robots. You can only play that one on a PC, iPhone, or iPad, though.)


Honorable Mentions: 
Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) & Batman: Arkham City - (2011, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) - 



While these games are definitely violent, Batman himself (who you play) never kills anyone. So if that distinction is enough for you, then give Asylum a try. Both titles won Game of the Year and have an "easy" level for not-so-great players like me. Again, these games are violent and gritty, though, so even though *you* won't be shooting people (you politely knock them unconscious instead), other people will be. Even so, the violence isn't nearly as graphic as BioShock:Infinite.

Games I haven't played:

Dishonored (2012)(PS3, Xbox 360, PC) - 

This is a tricky one, but it IS possible to play the game without killing anyone. It's just a lot harder. John played through the violent way, and from what little I've seen this is the game that most approaches BioShock: Infinite level scenery and detailing. That said, even if you choose not to kill in the game yourself, it's still a gritty, violence-filled world - like Batman - so there are no guarantees you'll find it any less disturbing.

Braid (2008)(Xbox 360, PC) -



This is a side-scrolling platform game that's won rave reviews and all kinds of awards for its unique puzzle-solving game-play. No violence that I know of.

Fez (2012)(Xbox, PC) -


(The PC version just came out this month!) Like Braid, this is an indie game that's garnered lots of praise, awards, and attention. It looks like a standard side-scroller, but you can rotate the world to turn corners and access all the different sides of each structure. Nifty!

[Btw, if you have Netflix Streaming check out Indie Game: The Movie. It's a documentary that features both Braid and Fez, among others.]

Katamari Forever (2009) (PS3) -

Since Katamari Damacy - the first game in this series - is now ten years old, I don't think its graphics will really hold up for new players. Katamari Forever is the most recent installment for a console, though, and from what I've read has the same style of gameplay as the original. It looks... weird. But hey, it's from Japan, and millions of fans can't be wrong, right? The object is to roll objects into one giant ball to form stars, so unless you consider that violent, it's completely violence-free.


Mirror's Edge (2007) (PS3, Xbox, PC) - 


This is a parkour-based game, so your object is to scale buildings, run, jump, tumble, etc. to deliver secret messages in a dystopian society. Your character *can* use weapons, but doesn't have to, and like Dishonoured you unlock a special achievement if you navigate the entire game without killing anyone.



You'll note I've neglected to add any of the Mario series games, Lego, Rayman and the like, although those are all fantastic, fun games. I omitted them because they're primarily made for kids, and because I prefer games that are more story-driven. I also left out some titles like Myst, Ico, and Siberia because they're just too old; I tried to go back and play Siberia a few years back and the point-and-click playing style just didn't hold up well. (It's a gorgeous steampunky game, though!)

So, what did I miss, guys? Share your favorite non-violent games in the comments! Bonus points if they're not too old, not too kiddy, and somewhat story-driven (as opposed to arcade-style games.)

 ******

5/15 UPDATE: Wow, lots of great suggestions coming in! Keep 'em coming, guys! Here are some of the titles you've mentioned the most so far:

- The Professor Layton games (Nintendo DS only, which is why I didn't include it in my original list - but so many of you are raving about it that now I think I need a DS!)

- Ni No Kuni (Also for the DS, or the PS3, released in 2010)


- Okami (Re-released for the PS3 in 2011 [Supports the Move controller, but not required], also available on the Wii)

- World of Goo (PC, Mac, & Wii) - Physics-based puzzle game

- Stacking (Xbox 360 & PS3) I enjoyed the demo of this, but was afraid it'd be too kiddie to recommend. After talking to some of you in the comments, tho, I believe the puzzles get more challenging as the game progresses - so check it out! It's by DoubleFine, the company behind Psychonauts, and the art is fantastic.

- Ico and Shadow of the Colossus - I mentioned that Ico was too old, but someone pointed out it was re-released in 2011, so you can play it and its companion game on PS3! Sweet!

Be sure to check the comments for lots more; plenty of non-console games being mentioned, and also older titles. (You've all convinced me to finally try Zelda, too. Most of those are pretty old, though, so I just have to figure out where to start!)

Posted by Jen at 1:30 PM Labels:

173 comments:

  1. Ni No Kuni is a great game, the mechanics are a bit simplistic and some parts of it play like a child's first RPG but its got a fun story line, great graphics and I mean come on Studio Ghibli was involved so the cut scenes are awesome. Oh and no terrible violence, I mean one player 'fights' with a magic harp for goodness sake.

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    1. Completely agree! Ni No Kuni has been a joy to play and gorgeous to boot!! You would really enjoy this one Jen!

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  2. Professor Layton games are another fun non-violent, fun storyline, puzzle based option as well

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    1. I actually had that on this list, but when I went to write it up I learned it was a Nintendo DS game, and I wanted to only include console options. I'd love to play it, though - think it's too much to hope they'll make a PS3 or Xbox360 version?

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    2. Unlikely. I believe it's a successor to the Brain Age games, but either way I'm fairly certain it's first- or second-party. A Wii U release is possible, but it's pretty happy where it is on the DS/3DS.

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    3. It sounds like they may be over soon anyway. They've said they are making two trilogies and stopping, and we have the fifth game and the sixth is in the midst of localization. I hope they go back on it, but either way it's probably going to be DS/3DS only. Level 5 has been pretty clear on that.

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  3. Ni No Kuni, but be prepared for the emotional gut wrenching at the beginning of the game. If you can get past that, it's a pretty good game with the added bonus of art from Studio Ghibli.

    Shadow of the Colossus is also interesting. Does it count as killing if the object of the game is to defeat the Colossi?

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  4. Antichamber. Portal-like (if portal did LSD and stared at MC Esher pictures) first person puzzle game that is too good to go unknown.

    Thomas Was Alone. Another Puzzle game with a great narrative and wonderful characters even if they are all just boxes.

    Stacking. Double fine puzzle game about russian Stacking dolls.

    Civilization V. Rule a country and you can win the game via peaceful means (scientific victory or diplomatic victory).

    Geometry Wars. Classic Asteroids style game but with pretty colors and lights.

    Deus Ex Human Revolution. Action Rpg where there is an achievement for completing the game withough killing anyone (Pacifist Achievement)

    Guns of Ikarus Online. Team based airship combat. Destroy airships with your friends. The only violence is a small airship exploding.

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  5. Stacking is my current obsession. It's so dang adorable, and there are multiple solutions for every puzzle so you can go back and play through different ways.

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    1. I played the demo for Stacking a few months ago, and enjoyed it, but I was afraid it'd be too simplistic & kiddie for this list. Do the puzzles get more complicated further in? If so, I might go back and buy it!

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    2. There is a humble bundle right now for Double Fine games and includes
      Psychonauts and Stacking along with a third game called Costume Quest. The games are only available for Mac, PC, and Linux though. It's pay what you want and DRM free to get all three. Pay above average (about $8 right now) and you start getting bonus stuff like additional games and game soundtracks. The bundle is up for another week.

      Another plus is you can choose to split your money between humble bundle, the game devs, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Child's Play.

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    3. Stacking definitely gets challenging -- especially if you try to figure out all the ways to solve the puzzles.

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    4. Stacking is awesome, as is Costume Quest and its sequel.

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    5. I love Stacking! Later challenges definitely get more challenging, again like Elagie says, there's several ways to do each one. So while the first one might be simple enough, it can be a challenge to find ALL of the ways to get through. I also don't consider it too childlike. There are overtones of more subtle humor in it that would probably go right over kids' heads.

      Costume Quest is also amazing, You would love it, Jen! You play as kids who dress up for halloween, but the costume you wear gives you super powers. So when you dress as a robot, when you fight the evil candy monsters you turn into a giant robot with rocket fists. Bad guys just explode into candy, and bosses don't actually die, they're just defeated. Yes, you play as kids, but I am an adult and I had a great time playing it. WHile it is appropriate for kids, I would say again that there is more subtle adult humor that would go over a kid's head.

      I know several people are recommending the Cave, and while I love it, I do warn that the themes are actually kind of disturbing in it. None of the characters you play are very nice people. However, if you don't mind a bit of quirky grimness (similar to say a series of unfortunate events, or Gorey's childrens books) the game is fantastic and funny. It also has the benefit of having the most well rounded playable cast. 3 males, 3 females, and a set of male and female twins. One female is black, one is an older woman. The monk is asian. The twins are children. So not your usual "have a bunch of burly men and we guess have one generic woman in case a girl plays this" or "here is the big breasted female for some eye candy).

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    6. Agreed about Stacking! The game is sort of short, but you can go back and try and get all of the achievements. Some of them are really whacky and hilarious.

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  6. If you're into puzzles you can try the Sherlock Holmes series.
    One warning though, Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper is predictably very gory and so is Sherlock Holmes the Awakened.
    I'd start with Sherlock Holmes Nemesis, that one is really fun and not gory at all.
    The Myst series is great too.
    I hope this helped.

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  7. CAVE STORY. Omg Cave Story.
    It's a pixely game originally for PC, and totally free to download. If you feel like spending some money, I was able to buy it on Nintendo's DSi shop. I know about a 3D version for the 3DS, and steam has Cave Story+ with optional high-def graphics and remastered sound.

    About the game itself: It's a platforming action-adventure game. Game-play consists entirely of shooting you way past various obstacles and enemies, Dodging attacks, and trying for the 500th time to make that difficult jump. While you are required to use a gun, it's a cartoony gun, there's NO gore, and the only humanoid enemies are a few of the bosses.

    Towards the end, the game gets ridiculously difficult, but it's worth it for the storyline. You begin by trying to save the adorable little Mimiga from the Doctor, but as you play you uncover the dark secrets behind the Mimiga, the island, and yourself. The game has (at least) three endings, and three difficulty modes for all players.

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  8. I definitely agree with the Civilization games. I also think they recently re-released a remastered Age of Empires? Both Civ and AoE can or do involve units attacking one another, but it's much more of a board-game style. There's no blood, and the animations (which can be turned off, in Civ at least) are very ambiguous. When units are injured or die they simply disappear. So they're definitely good options if you're okay with removing computer-controlled units, and just don't want to see any violence or bloodshed. :D

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  9. Rayman Origins, a very fun side scroller with beautiful graphics and no violence.

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    1. It really is a gorgeous game; I just wish I was skilled enough to get more than a quarter of the way through! Ha!

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  10. Agree with Shadow of the Colossus--I wouldn't classify that one as violent. The predecessor Ico is even less violent. Also, Flower is from the makers of Journey. Another very relaxing, interesting game.

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  11. These are a little old.

    There are some great remakes of King Quest I II and III online. If you can find King's Quest VII, I recommend it. Don't play King's Quest XIII, it's a battle type RPG.

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  12. Okami!

    It's a beautiful action-adventure game which looks like an animated Japanese ink drawing. The stylized graphics are just a dream, it's lots of fun, and as far as I recall no blood or guts. All the fighting involves bad guys sort of dissipating as they are defeated. I am not a skilled video-game fighter and I can never remember combos, but I had a blast playing this game.

    Okami was originally for PS2 but was "ported" to the Wii; I played on the Wii and thought this game, which has an important drawing element (with a big ink brush!), worked perfectly on that console. Either way I think it would be a lot of fun. And if you care about that sort of thing, it was IGN's Game of the Year in 2006.

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    1. I second Okami! It's hands-down one of my favorite games, I've played it through 3 or 4 times.

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  13. Second for Professor Layton! All are on the Nintendo DS (or 3DS, for the latest game) and are very satisfying if you like puzzle games.

    Professor Layton and the Unwound Future even made me tear up a little, the ONLY video game that's ever done that.

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    1. Seconded on Unwound Future making me tear up!

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    2. For me it was Diabolical Box. I think it might just be something about that end theme, though.

      Unwound Future comes pretty close, though. I don't think it made me cry the first time through, but subsequent rewatches of that cutscene without the awesome preceding it... *Sniffle*

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    3. I've played Unwound Future through twice (about to start run-through number three) and the second time I was sobbing by that last cutscene. I'm even attempting my first cosplay this weekend as Claire.

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  14. Botanicula - made by the same team that made Machinarium. The official description gives a good summary: "It's about a bunch of five friends - little tree creatures who set out for a journey to save the last seed from their home tree which is infested by evil parasites." It's even cuter than it sounds, and the music is beautiful.

    And another free demo: http://www.botanicula.net/

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  15. I had fun playing Stacking too! http://www.stackingvideogame.com/

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  16. I can't believe you don't have any of the Zelda games listed! I don't do video gamesexcept for the zelda's and the Lego games.(especially the harry potter one.) I would say Twilight princess and Ocarina of time are the two best. :)

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    1. Would you believe I've actually never played any Zelda games? o.0 Ocarina is so old now (1998) I'm not sure how well it'd hold up to modern graphics and gameplay, but it looks like Twilight Princess is only from 2005, so I'll definitely look it up! Thanks!

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    2. I agree!! I LOVE all the Zelda games! My favorite is still Link's Awakening on the original gameboy. The LEGO ones are also favorites.

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    3. If you have any interest in the 3DS, it has a modern remake from a couple years ago. Twilight Princess is from 2005 and Skyward Sword is from 2011, I believe. Last two years for sure. The gameplay for pretty much any Zelda game holds up well, though, so if you like one of the Wii pair Ocarina and Majora's Mask are on the Virtual Console. And at the end of this year, I believe, there'll be an HD remake on the Wii U of Wind Waker, my personal favorite of the series. It's not for everyone, mind you, even fairly hardcore fans of the series tend to dislike its sailing mechanic, but apart from that gameplay is very solid, the graphics are cel-shaded and stylized enough that even the original Gamecube looks good, and the score is one of the most gorgeous of the series. If you like the other games, it's certainly worth looking into.

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    4. Skyward Sword is great too, from 2011. But, Zelda games are a tad violent.

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    5. The Zelda games are, hands down, my favorite video games of all time. Wind Waker is probably the least violent, simply due to its more cartoony style, but the story is complex and has a few interesting twists (probably more enjoyable if you're at least a tad familiar with the Zelda universe, but it could still be played as a stand-alone). The very BEST game of the series, however, is A Link to the Past (originally released on the SNES, re-released on the GBA, probably available for virtual console, and now in the process of being remastered and "IMPROVED" for the 3DS, I think. Possibly the Wii U. Can't remember for certain.) Link to the Past is an above-world game of epic plot and tons of content. I love it so much. And Ocarina of Time, for me, is packed full of awesome mostly because of how much it makes me feel like Link to the Past was brought into 3D and...and...and..*incoherant fangirling*

      Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword are good, but nowhere near the best games in the series, though the fully-orchestrated music in Skyward Sword is simply gorgeous, along with the graphics. For a Wii game, the scenery was amazingly beautiful.

      Also, FIRE EMBLEM!!! So much love. So much. Most of the games, including the most recent, are all on handhelds, but there was one for Gamecube and one for Wii that played on the same storyline (Path of Radiance was the first, Radiant Dawn the second). I'm playing through these again now, and I just love them. Love. Turn-based RPG. Rich story. Fun characters. Turn off the unit-level animation (I think the setting is "map only"), and you don't even see the characters fight each other.

      ~Elizabeth

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  17. The game I've most enjoyed - ever! - is Waking Mars, another indie game for PC, Mac, iPad and Android (I played on my Android tablet).

    You're a scientist exploring Mars, and instead of killing monsters, you have to restore the Martian ecosystem.

    Very relaxed play, nice controls, an engaging story and no killing - quite the opposite.

    I recommend it to every gamer I know. I wish there were more games like this.

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  18. I will echo Professor Layton, and am surprised you didn't include Epic Mickey. I haven't played the second one yet, but loved the original.

    I also hesitate to include this because it may be seen as too kiddish, but I have to say I really enjoy the My Sims games. Yes, they are designed for kids, but some of the challenges are quite, well, challenging, and it's fun to visit the different locations, unlock different levels/islands, and build stuff. I personally prefer the original My Sims and My Sims Kingdom. Those are the two that are story based- the others are racing games. They do skew younger, but they are still entertaining and will keep you occupied for hours on end.

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    1. I'd love to play Professor Layton, if they'd just release it on a console and not just for the handheld DS! And I know I'm terrible, but I didn't include Epic Mickey because the gameplay was just horrible for me; I barely got a quarter of the way through, and was absolutely heartbroken about it - I desperately wanted to see the rest of the game! The second installment is easier to maneuver since you can play it on the PS3 or Xbox instead of the Wii, but it still left me frustrated and disappointed. (I thought I'd mentioned my thoughts on Epic Mickey here on Epbot, but it turns out I'd just made fun of it on CW. ha!)

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    2. My Sims and My Sims Kingdom are fun, and a few of the quest take an adults patience to complete. I played them with my daughter, she completed Kingdom twice without me.

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    3. I love the MySims games, too! MySims Agents is also really fun. It's silly, but entertaining. Some of the walking-on-beams/platforming (and falling off of said beams) elements are irritating, but easy enough to get through with some patience.

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  19. Katamari is one of my favorite games - it sounds so boring when you try to explain it to friends, but it's so freaking addicting!! I did not like the xbox version, but all the ones on PS have all been great!! Also, slightly funny story - I never played RPG games before but started playing Kindom Hearts (because DISNEY!) ... I played like 3/4 way through and kept dying and was getting so frustrated ... luckily my brother came to visit me for a weekend and he saw that I had not upgraded my keyblade at all... or my magic abilities ... I had no idea what that even meant! I was still using the original wooden keyblade lol. Since then I have learned a lot about RPG games. I so cannot wait for the HD version!!!

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  20. I too would definitely recommend Ni No Kuni. I would also recommend Okami (especially since it just had an HD re-release this past fall for PS3). It's not too violent (rated T by the ESRB) and the story is so amazing as are the beautiful graphics. The basis of Japanese folklore also makes it really interesting. And there's lots of exploring, side quests, and chest finding to do.

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  21. Don't forget LitteBigPlanet!! It's one of the few video games I've played and it's really fun. It could be for kids or adults and no violence. Just puzzles. And the ever adorable sackboy.

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  22. SWARM! Even though I usually enjoy games on the more violent side of the gaming spectrum (Fallout, Dragon Age, Lollipop Chainsaw, Dragon Dogma, Oblivion, LA Noire, Mass Effect, Darksiders etc) Swarm is such a great little game I love it even though it's on the tame side.

    The games starts when the momma tentacle spits out 50 little swarmites and you guide them across and through the level, grabbing DNA strands. The catch? Not all of your little swarmites are going to make it through the hazards but as long as one lone swarmite makes it, you clear the level.

    Even though your swarmites are going to get blown up, electrocuted and squished its Tom and Jerry cartoony violence and not screams, terror, angry Tarantino violence so a lot of gamers not into realistic violence enjoy it, so I thought I'd give it a mention.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Hg0bVLdRgA

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  23. I love playing de blob and little big planet with my kids. The violence level is on par with the original super mario (jumping or paintballing "bad guys" and are very laid back. Copy/pasted from wikipedia about De Blob "allows players to explore and liberate an alien city from the evil, monochromatic INKT Corporation that has taken over the city and outlawed all color and fun from daily life. Playing as de Blob, gamers embark on a quest to re-animate the fictional place of Chroma City (a parody of Manhattan), and bring character back to the oppressed, by splattering buildings, landmarks, and citizens with color." and about little big planet "The series follows the adventures of Sackboy and has a large emphasis on gameplay rather than being story-driven. All of the games in the series put a strong emphasis on user-generated content and are based on the series' tagline "Play, Create, Share". The tagline represents the three core elements of the series; Playing alone or with others online or on the same console, creating new content using the in-game creation tools and sharing creations and discoveries online with other players."

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  24. Games that are still in production: I'm intrigued by The Realm on Kickstarter and sad that it is so far from its funding goal. It looks like a gorgeously rendered modern point-and-click. Also, I'm loving the look and idea of Stonehearth (also on Kickstarter). It might be THE game I never knew I always wanted; I'm just hoping it lives up to its potential!

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  25. (FYI, all of these are arcade-style games.)

    Okami - Soooo many pluses to Okami! You play as the Japanese sun goddess Okamiden who's been trapped in the form of a white wolf. You run around the world, curing the land of darkness/disease with your sumi-e brush powers. (Planting trees, reconnecting rivers, that sort of thing.) You can use your brush powers to attack, but since the game is based off a sumi-e painting the defeated enemies sorta curl away like shredded paper.

    Anything by That Game Company - You already mentioned Journey, my all-time favorite game. Try Flow and Flower too. They're both excellent, and I believe you can pick up all three games for $35ish.

    Ni No Kuni - If a 80s style Final Fantasy, Pokemon, and Studio Ghibili got together, Ni No Kuni would be the result. You play as Oliver, a nice kid who really just wants everybody to be happy. You wander the world curing broken hearts and defeating monsters with your own familiars. Plus you get to hang out with Drippy! His Welsh accent never fails to cheer me up. It takes about 20-60 hours to beat the game, depending on how many side quests (broken hearts) you tackle.

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  26. Viva Pinata! A great game, addicting and so much fun.

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    1. If you don't find it creepy that once the Pinatas mature you get to smash them open and watch as the others cheer and feast upon their candy innards.

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    2. Actually if you watch the intro to the game they actually state that pinatas live to be smashed open (unless it's at a party) and it doesn't kill them, it's actually a sort of immediate reincarnation. That's why after you send your Pinata to a party they come back with a full happy meter, because they were smashed open and it makes them happy.

      Oh I forgot to mention Minecraft. You have to kill monsters but...They're monsters. (I'm stretching here because I'm a weirdo and love, love, love violence in video games. I thought the violence in Bioshock: Infinite was beautiful and not over-the-top at all)

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    3. Ooooooh, I completely forgot about Viva Pinata! That is absolutely my favorite game! It's so...relaxing. It's great for rainy days.

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  27. Some might see the Zelda games as made for kids, but I still enjoy them at 30! And some have absolutely terrific story telling. I highly recommend Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword for their stories. You could probably through Wind Waker in there as well, though I've only played it once quite a while ago. But really, they are all great.

    I just got Psychonauts and Stacking as part of the latest Humble Bundle, so I'll have to check them out!

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  28. Monkey Island! Super hilarious and lots of fun and challenging puzzles to solve. Also Myst. That one has more difficult puzzles and a more serious story line. Both are amazing. The Myst books are also a must-read.

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  29. I would recommend minecraft, though it has basically no storyline at all. And people have mixed opinions over the cube-based graphics.
    There's no gore or anything though, and you can even turn off monsters if you suck at fighting (like me).
    It's a very interesting and relaxing game to play, and exploring the world and building anything you want is fun.

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  30. The Longest Journey - it's a Norwegian point and click adventure game with NO COMBAT. The story is intricate and amazing, with a lot of puzzle solving. The main character, April Ryan, is one of the best written female leads I've ever encountered. She's one of the few people who can move between two sister realities, an industrial/technological world called Stark and a magical/fantasy world called Arcadia.

    It was released in 1999/2000, so the graphics are a little dated, but still extremely playable. I only just played it for the first time last year and I fell in love at once! I might need to pull it out and play it again... I haven't played the spinoff "Dreamfall" yet, also the franchise has been reinvigorated and a new game will be coming out this year.

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  31. I second the Mini Ninjas vote, so cute and fun and huge and incredible. You can go just about anywhere and everywhere any time you want. And I adored being able to become almost any animal.

    And someone else already mentioned Okami and there is quite a bit of fighting in it but you are trying to restore the health and beauty of the land and the creatures turn into flowers when you defeat them. And there's definitely some innuendo in this game.

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  32. Another for the Professor Layton games! I'd LOVE to see a console version. I actually bought my 3DS solely because the newest Professor Layton made the switch from regular DS. I finished the storyline for Professor Layton and Miracle Mask in December but I still log in nightly when the daily puzzle is released.

    My other favorite is the Suikoden series (aside from Kingdom Hearts, which you already mentioned)- as far as I remember even the later titles have pretty minimal gore, but they are all older. I wish Konami would get with the program and make Suikoden 6.

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  33. I forgot Harvest Moon- so much more than Farmville :)

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  34. It's a few years old at this point, but still available on the Wii (and available on mobile platforms as well) but LostWinds is ridiculously engaging and beautiful. I don't often get into "I have to finish this now so I know what happens" mode, especially with video games, but I did with that one. The sequel is equally addictive.

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  35. I would recommend the Harvest Moon and Rune Factory series. Some Harvest Moon games are definitely more story-driven than others, so that's something to keep in mind if that's what you're looking for. In general though, the Harvest Moon games are about owning a farm, and then you can choose to grow crops, raise animals, fish, mine, make friends/get married, etc. The Rune Factory games are like the Harvest Moon games, but with RPG elements (so they're a lot more story driven). You go through dungeons and defeat monsters, but I would say it's highly non-violent. The monsters don't die when you defeat them, they just return to the place monsters come from and there's no gore of any kind. Both series have titles on various consoles, but they're a bit harder to find so it tends to be easier if you can shop online.

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  36. Omigosh, no one has mentioned Little Big Planet yet?? The aesthetics and music are awesome! And you can build your own worlds, too.

    Also check out The Unfinished Swan... pure exploration/problem-solving. Even just the trailer is gorgeous. http://giantsparrow.com/games/swan/

    My 6 year old is addicted to Journey. I can't complain! :)

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  37. I definitely agree that Little Big Planet 1 & 2 should be on the list. Plus LBP2 has a Muppet's add-on pack, and who can say no to that? Sackboy Gonzo? Yes please! My only complaint on the LBP games is that some of the levels are just impossible. Maybe that's just me... but I never actually made it all the way through the first one. Still fun though.

    I would also add the Ratchet and Clank games. They do involve guns and killing, but it's all cartoon fun, no blood and guts, etc. They're good games with funny stories and lots of puzzles. The original 3 games were released for PS3 last year and there are at least 4 others. I would skip All-4-One, but it's the only one I've played that I hated.

    I also noticed that some have mentioned Epic Mickey... I actually bought a Wii in order to play that game and just that game. Like you, Jen, I was beyond disappointed. The concept was totally awesome and the story was great, but the game play was just horrible. I probably made it about as far as you and gave up. I didn't even bother getting the 2nd one.

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  38. I love Psychonauts. It's one of my all time favourite games but I've never finished it either. Not going to stop me from making myself a Raz cosplay for PAX this year. ^_^

    I would also recommend The Unfinished Swan. I downloaded it randomly and it was sweet and really fun to play. No fighting at all, you just fling water/paint around.

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  39. Thanks to ZippyWafflebuns for asking the question and to Jen for this list. I have played Portal and Portal 2 (sadly not two-person mode yet because I haven't found anyone to play against/with), and was wondering if there were other games out there like that. I don't like "shooter" games.

    I play on the PC only so that might further limit my options. I'll take a look at some of the ones that you've recommended.

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  40. Myst.
    It's a series of puzzle games. I've only played the original Myst and Uru (4th in series), but really enjoyed them.
    Some of the puzzles are quite difficult, but the scenery is nice and it has beautiful music.
    I think they re-released the original one of a load of different consoles a few years back.
    I know in the ds version it was a lot harder to properly control and a bit fiddly compared to the pc version.

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    1. oh yes! I was scrolling through here hoping someone would mention these! Myst, Riven, Myst: Exile, Uru, (and perhaps one other?) all happen in the same sort of universe, with really interesting plots and characters. The writers even wrote two books to fill in the back story! (And they're good too!) They all have *gorgeous* scenery and really tricky puzzles. They do take a ton of hours to solve each one, though, and I know people who have gotten frustrated and quit. However, I've gotten to the end of Myst and Riven, and started Uru but never finished since this whole thing called 'college' happened and I didn't really get back to it. heh. Oh, and the music is superb. Definitely great games for the non-violent type! Absolutely no killing of any kind involved. =)

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  41. I loved Kingdom Hearts, i also like Ratchet and Clank. The Atelier Series is kinda fun, I am fairly new into it, but i have enjoyed it so far, and the "killing" is all monster types and plants and such.

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  42. The Myst series was my intro to patience-required gaming as a kid, but I personally count only the "core" games as Myst; Myst, Myst II: Riven and Myst III: Exile. Uru was technically the fourth installment, but made by different people and was a very different game that deviated from the story I expected, so I didn't particularly enjoy it. Myst IV: Revelation came later and is the "real" fourth installment. The graphics show their age on the first two or three, but Exile is my favorite to go back and play over and over again.

    One game that might be in a gray area is Amnesia. I dont know how much actual violence it has, since it seemed to be all about freaking you out psychologically instead... I stopped playing it because I started sleeping poorly from it! Its not for the faint-hearted. A much older game called Shadowgate was a fun RPG, and I dont recall much violence from it.... It was more puzzle and thought based.

    Unfortunately my favorite other games for PC are not for this list. The Elder Scrolls, (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim) and The Witcher series are great games, but inherently possess violence as monster and villain slayers.

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  43. Second: Little Big Planet, Okami, anything Zelda, and Viva Pinata. All are very fun games :) If they have an Xbox Kinect, I also love the Star Wars Kinect game... there is a mini-game where you get to be a Rancor and stomp around Tattooine :) And for the WiiU, Tank! Tank! Tank!... SUCH a fun game for being so simple. There's a level in that where one player gets to be a big pink gorilla and squash the other players' tanks. It's Atari's Combat for a new age :)

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  44. I hate to be the one to rain on your parade, Jen... but many of your selections fail to fall into the classification of 'non-violent'. Non-bloody, non-lethal perhaps... but not non-violent. The Kingdom Hearts franchise is spent bonking shadow monsters and Disney villains with giant keys. That's combat, which is by definition, violence. And Batman may not kill, but he breaks bones, kicks/punches/Batarangs people constantly, blows up explosives... Again, not bloody or lethal, perhaps, but certainly violent. It's not like he's discussing these henchmens' issues over a nice cup of tea.

    I'm not saying these aren't great games. Most if not all of your selections are sheer awesome win. But claiming they are 'non-violent' just because there's no gore is a little hypocritical in my eyes. Just something to think about from a fellow avid gamer.

    PS: Now, Katamari... THAT is an epic, non-violent game.

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    1. I think you missed this line, Peter: "I realize there are many degrees of violence, but for my purposes here I'm defining any game that doesn't include/require killing other humanoid characters as "non-violent."

      Everyone has their own definitions and thresholds of violence, of course, which is why I was very clear in the beginning, and also why I included warnings on Batman and Dishonored. As such I don't think my list is hypocritical at all, nor should anyone who reads it be led astray or duped into playing something they're not comfortable with.

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  45. I also recommend Stacking! I thought it was challenging enough to be worth the money although it was a little short.

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  46. I am also recommending the Zelda games. I would say they are about as violent as Kingdom hearts - there is some fighting, but most of the time nothing dies, it is just defeated (often you talk to them afterwards or they run away or just disappear).

    Loved Kingdom Hearts.

    Sorry, that's all I can think of right now. I usually play stuff like Skyrim and Final Fantasy.

    If you are going to include Dishonored, then you might as well add Hitman. It is also possible to play without killing anyone (so I'm told-haven't actually played it), but it's not really non-violent.

    Jen, thank you for this post. My son loves the puzzle type games and his birthday is coming up! I think he would like Braid and Fez. Bonus? When he's done, I get to play!

    Andrea

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  47. ANY of the Lego games - they come on most platforms. They look kiddy, but they're cute and quirky, and the humour in them just has me giggling throughout.

    Harvest Moon and, to a lesser extent, Rune Factory - It's a series of farming game, and very cute. You also have to find a wife/husband (it actually gave you the option to play as a girl or a boy fairly early on in the series). Rune Factory is the same, except fantasy, and you kill monsters, but the violence is very unanimated. Both games come on a range of platforms, but it's mostly a DS game these days.

    The Sims. Versions also available for things other than the PC, but I haven't played them much.

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    1. I agree with the Lego, may be slightly kiddy but the humour makes up for it. Yes you have to kill creatures but you can be rest assured that they can be put back together again!

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  48. So I am not much of video game player, but I do love my Epic Mickey (both 1 & 2) games. You get to play as Mickey (yea!) and meet some of the lesser known classic Disney characters along the journey.

    I got 2 for Christmas, and what little I got to play was great, since I am in school in the Caribbean I don't have my Wii here. My brother did inform me after I left that he and his friends got good use out of it.

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  49. I'm obsessed with the iPad I got for Christmas. What are some awesome games I can play so that iPad and I can spend some quality time together?

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  50. I have to add Toy Story 3. That game ROCKED! Ok, so it seems like it's mostly just geared towards kids, but it was so fun. We literally played it for months because there was so much that you could do in the game. Not only was there a story mode, but there was also a sandbox mode called "Toy Box" which was just an open world that you could explore and do TONS of fun little missions. It was a game that I was totally not excited to buy, but once I started playing it I couldn't put it down. If you look it up, you'll see a lot of adults who love that game as much as I do. Oh and if that sounds fun to you, look up Disney Infinity. The system is supposed to be like Skylanders, where you have the different characters you can use, but it's also got what looks to be an amazing sandbox mode. I think I'll be getting it more for me than my son! It comes out in August of this year.

    I would definitely agree with the people that said Little Big Planet 1 & 2 and Minecraft. LBP provides HOURS of entertainment, you can even make your own levels or play levels that other people have made. The story is cute too. Minecraft is awesome, my 5 year old is obsessed with it. It really lets him use his imagination. I guess it could be seen as violent, since there is Survival Mode where you have to kill zombies, creepers, etc. but you can also just stick with Creative Mode and build anything you can think of (I enjoy building roller coasters!).

    Of course Kingdom Hearts and Portal (1 and 2 for both) are on my list of favorite games, so I'm glad you already included them!

    I mostly play games with violence; my favorites being the Uncharted series (AMAZING story and voice acting), Red Dead Redemption, and maybe the best games ever, Borderlands 1 and 2.

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  51. My personal favs are any LEGO games, playing Harry Potter Years 1-4 currently. Legend of Zelda series, Little Big Planet 1 & 2, Mario Kart is super competitive when you play online against others from around the world. Portal, and Minecraft. Definitely going to check out the games you listed tho.

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  52. The Paper Mario games are fantastic, story-driven, and not just for kids! Especially Super Paper Mario - the ending made me cry!

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  53. These are old, but good! Zoo Tycoon 2, Age of Mythology, Rise of Nations. I also love all the Lego video games.

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  54. Another vote for Longest Journey if you like puzzle/adventure games. (I did find the graphics and navigation in Longest Journey so outdated as to be distracting at some points, but still loved the story and the puzzle-solving.) Also in the same adventure/puzzle game vein, Syberia and Syberia 2.

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    1. I second Syberia (not a huge fan of the sequel though).

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  55. There are a lot of non-violent video games that can be enjoyed by adults. The Tony Hawk games, Rock Band/Guitar Hero, SimCity, nearly all racing games, Rhythm games, some of the most popular games such as Bejeweled, The Sims, Plants Versus Zombies, Peggle, etc. Hell, one of the biggest recent games is Minecraft.

    Personally I'd recommend recent releases such as Poker Night 2, bit.trip.runner2, or any of the PinballFX tables.

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  56. The Cave. My husband downloaded it and I lost a week of my life. The great thing is you get to play it through twice if you want to complete each and every level (you use a second set of characters the second time). It is a puzzle style game, and you really have to use your brain because sometimes you have to go back to the beginning of the level to trip a switch or grab an item to move forward. Totally fun great characters and the narrator makes me think of Q from Star Trek (I checked it is not his voice but SO close sounding). http://thecavegame.com/ worth the check out for sure. And we got it free from the Play Station Network that we signed up for.

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  57. Professor Layton. No, they will probably never make a non-DS release. Brilliant storytelling and style, lovely characters, puzzling of various quality (the first game is too hard, the second too easy, but after that it's just right). There's rare character death in plot background, but no player combat and limited-to-no character death in main plot; occasional mild cartoon violence but pretty much violence-free.

    Pokemon series. Again, non-DS release is limited. The gameplay is based around RPG-style combat, but it's all non-lethal and non-visually violent; there's some moral/philosophical stuff in the worldbuilding and plots, but again not much in the way of explicit violence or death. The world is surprising immersive, and the battle system is creative and fun.

    ilomilo is a indie Xbox/Windows puzzler and absolutely the cutest game in the world. Effectively no violence, although the plot can be bittersweet. Fantastic aesthetic, brilliant puzzles; the plot is more robust than it seems at first glance.

    Animal Crossing series. Again, DS/Wii only. Not a lot in the way of plot--it's all about engaging in a fantasy world with talking animals as neighbors, with emphasis on collect-em-all and social simulation. Effectively no violence to speak of, and no death. Extremely immersive, absolutely uplifting, beautiful games.

    The Harvest Moon series is exceedingly similar to Animal Crossing, and just as lovely. No plot to speak of except that you run a farm for a few years--and how you do that is up to you. Delightful, surprisingly addicting, absolutely no violence or death anywhere in the game. You can start almost anywhere with this series.

    Most Japanese RPGs fall into the same umbrella as Kingdom Hearts: combat-based gameplay which only shows light comic violence, but the storyline may contain more violence and character deaths. Similarly, if KH works then other JRPGs may too. Consider Persona and Final Fantasy--expect character deaths in background and plot, but limited visual violence in gameplay battles.

    The Unfinished Swan. A beautiful, creative, artistic indie game for the PS3. There's some scary parts and some death in the background of the plot, but no combat and no violence.

    Journey is breathtaking, but also consider thatgamecompany's previous game, Flower. It has some scary parts, but you play as flower petals on a breeze--relaxing, gorgeous, with no violence or death. There is a plot, but it's more of an atmosphere than a literal series of events.

    The Viva Pinata series has mild cartoon violence (you destroy evil pinatas by breaking them open with a stick!), but is largely a sandbox for creating a fantastical, colorful garden. Not much plot to speak of, but surprisingly addicting. Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise is probably the go-to game for the series.

    LittleBigPlanet is a platformer. As with any platformer, you can die--but it's cute and cartoony with minimal rendered violence. The game controls can be wildly unpolished, but the aesthetic and world is fantastic. No plot to speak of, though. (Many platformers meet a low/no violence requirement. I'm sure others have been mentioned in the comments.)

    Dear Esther, Proteus, and The Endless Forest are more interactive films (Dear Esther) and world explorers (Proteus, The Endless Forest) than games in a traditional sense. Dear Esther has death in the story but not onscreen, and horror elements. TEF and Proteus are dreamlike and deeply evocative. Not traditional recommendations, but interesting games.

    Many of these have been mentioned, I'm sure!

    Unfortunately, most blockbusters (if that's how you read "games [of] this quality") are shooters and/or fairly heavy on violence. I'd look at other genres, like rpgs, puzzle games, and platformers (which don't specialize that sort of combat). and platforms and intended audiences (like the family-friendlier Nintendo franchises) to find less violence. I do wish, though, that we could learn to make blockbusters that didn't use violence as a crutch.

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    1. I was hoping someone would mention ilomilo!!!! I'm not a video game player at all, but those little guys are too cute too resist! Gorgeous scenery, cute background music, and yes, more plot than a quick glance would tell you!

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  58. I absolutely recommend World of Goo. It doesn't have much of a storyline, but what it does have is more than enough. It's completely puzzle-based, and it's not too hard. For those players who want a bit more challenge, though, each level has an optional "OCD" goal. The cartoony art is brilliant, too.

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  59. I forgot Scribblenauts! Mostly DS/Wii, some PC release. Puzzler. There's cartoon violence, but nothing more than that. The world and aesthetic is absolutely delightful. Super Scribblenauts or Scribblenauts Unlimited is probably the place to start.

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  60. OMG, Katamari... I have the original theme music in my head right now... "Baaaah ba daba daba dabum ba da ba baba dah.... chickachickachickachicka..."

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  61. I love "Little Big Planet." It's narrated by Stephan Fry (whose voice is one of the best on the planet) and it's about as violent as the original Mario. Lots of puzzles and you can build your own planet too!

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  62. Well it seems by your comments on Siberia that you're ruling out point-and-click adventure games, which is my favorite type of game. They are usually entirely story driven and vary rarely have violence so they would seem to be perfect. A lot of the best recent games I've played have been indie games with retro styling, so they look like they were made in the 90s. But if you can get past the pixels, I highly, highly recommend the game Gemini Rue, which is a futuristic noir thriller that is one of the best written games I've ever played. It really shows what kind of story telling you can do in the game medium that wouldn't work in any other medium.

    I also highly recommend 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors for the Nintendo DS. It's another amazing look at video game storytelling and what the medium can do. There is a little violence, in that sometimes people die, but there isn't any killing. The story is part interactive novel and part puzzles. I also recommend the sequel, but you should start with 999.

    Anyone interested in finding more story-centric, non-combat games should check out <a href="http://www.adventuregamers.com/</a>

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  63. If you have a Wii Kirby's Epic Yarn is ADORABLE but so much fun and definitely challenging. The most "violent" it gets is you unwind enemies or wind them up and use throw them (everything is made of yarn). I LOVE this game. Haven't beaten it yet because I needed to take a break (frustrating level) but it's a great, great non-violet, fun colored, cute music great game. Jen, you would probably love it so check it out too! :)

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  64. In tandem with Journey by the company Thatgamecompany, those with a PS3 should look into their earlier games - FlOw, and Flower. Journey is their latest and best game, but I found pure enjoyment in the other games.

    Journey is worth several play-throughs. Up to 3 play-throughs will add gold embroidery on the cloak, and if you find all the runes/glyphs in the levels you can change to the white cloak. Plus there are beautiful murals scattered about. (I've played Journey nearly 50 times, I'm a bit . . . obsessed.)

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  65. They're for the NintendoDS instead of a console system, but I really really really love the Professor Layton games. The story lines are great, the voice actors make me squee and I love that it's a game you have to both search around for stuff in AND use your brain to solve the puzzles. The minigames are also too adorable for words.

    Just my two cents. :)

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  66. What about Sims? You make people and create their stories. You can actually kill people off but it actually takes a lot of effort and isn't vital to playing the game. Sims 3 is the most current with Sims 4 coming out next year.

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    1. It was so much easier to kill Sims in the original version. My brother once had a graveyard in one of his houses. I loved the original, not really loving the Sims 3 on my PS3. It's too hard.

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  67. I loved Myst when it came out and always intended to buy the sequel but never did. I can't for the life of me think what it's called now. Siberia was a good story, but difficult to play on my PC. I then got it for my XBox and that was a little better, but even so I had to use some online spoilers for a few spots. I have Machinarium on my Nook and it was fun although rather short. On the old XBox there is Blinx which is cute and not too violent since you are vacuuming up garbage cans to shoot at pigs. I never finished it...too hard. Also Munch's Oddysee is a lot of fun. I've played it through twice. You do shoot or zap with sonar your enemies which are either robots or mutant-type creatures. Sometime I'd like to try Bioshock because the pictures you posted are beautiful.

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    1. The sequel to Myst was called Riven, and I might have been a little bit obsessed with it and the Myst world in general, back in the day...

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    2. Let's see. I know I played games other than Might and Magic: Duel of Champions as recently as last week...*shakes fist weakly in Penny Arcade's Direction*

      What about Super Mario Galaxy? I haven't played the new one, but I loved the first one, it was definitely challenging enough (for me at least) to not be a "kid's game".

      I'll definitely throw my vote in for Okami! It's "older", I guess, but SOOOOO pretty!

      Let's see. I guess all my X-box 360 games are technically violent? I'm not much help there.

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    3. Hi Marnie, the second Myst is Riven, followed by Exile and then Revelation. Riven is a much larger world than the original Myst and requires a LOT of patience and experimenting but it's well worth the play as are the other games in the series :)

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    4. I forgot about Munch's Oddysee! Did you play the original two Oddworld games? They were on PS1 I think. I downloaded them from the PSN and it's so hard to go back to 2D games, but they're still fun.

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  68. Ok,so admittedly most of mine are a little on the old side. I love most of the final fantasy games, kingdom hearts, atelier iris I and II (just pretend III never happened), and monkey island. I've started on wrath of the white witch and so far so good, but since I haven't finished yet I can't really say if it's violent or not.

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  69. I love the Sly Cooper series. Those and the Ratchet & Clank games are some of my favorite games. The gadgets, weapons (e.g., the Morph-O-Ray -- turns your enemies into chickens), and humor are a lot of fun.

    Okami is a great game. I love the visual style and the gameplay is pretty different from most games. As I recall, you mainly kill (defeat?) demons -- people you fight are defeated, not killed, I believe. Now that I have a Move, I may have to get Okami HD...

    Of course, I have several games that I should finish before I buy more. :-) Ni No Kuni is a good game so far. I really like Level 5 games and love Studio Ghibli movies, so I started waiting impatiently for it when I first heard they were developing it.

    The racing games, like MarioKart Wii and LittleBigPlanet Karting are fun, too. There's violence, but it's like watching the old Warner Brothers cartoons.

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  70. Oh yes, Little big planet, little big planet 2, and the racing one. There are some boss fights, but no one ever dies for real. I a pretty certain in Lego Lord of the Rings that you are killing orcs, and we just killed a sea monster. My absolute favorite game is Infamous, but its very violent and its really hard to okay without killing people. My husband is trying, but I prefer the evil setting.

    You might try Disney Universe, I don't think anyone really dies in it. It's a good four player game too.

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  71. This was really old but fabulous puzzle, great story, and stylistically wonderful, Grim Fandango. Wonderful! Released in 1998 by Lucas Arts. Give it a try, I have played through it several times, in fact I may go find it and play it again lol.
    ~Yet Another Jenn ( In Forest Grove)

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    1. Seconding Grim Fandango. Gorgeous, interesting storyline, great music, funny, good puzzles, no violence except a couple of cutscenes (and all the characters are already dead). PC only, though, I think.

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  72. They are for PC only (I believe), but the Sherlock Holmes games are great fun if you like point-and-click style puzzle/adventure gaming. The first one is almost ten years old now, and the graphics do NOT hold up to modern standards, but the most recent three or four are great. There is no killing that I can remember, although The Awakened and Jack the Ripper have a fair bit of cut-scene gore.

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  73. I'd just like to point out that ICO and Shadow of the Colossus had an HD PS3 remake, and they both hold up extremely well. Shame to leave them off the list due to "age" when they were so recently updated.

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  74. I second Okami, The professor Layton series, Zelda.

    Personally, I love violent video games and tend to gravitate towards them more (Fallout, Dragon Age, Bioshock, Kingdom of Amalur, Elder Scrolls,...)

    But I love the Final fantasy ( I've played the VIII, XII, XIII) Yes you do have to kill people (mostly soldiers and others) but it's very stylized and not bloody at all.

    Oh! And I can't wait to play KH again ^-^

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  75. Hi Jen, great list, given me some new things to play!

    Three games I played on DS but I believe are also available on Wii; Broken Sword (originally a PC game), Another Code and Secret Files. All have great stories and some beautiful artwork.

    A gorgeous story driven DS game is Hotel Dusk, very film noire. Though I don't believe it is available for other platforms.

    For a fun puzzle solving game with cartoon pirates try Zack and Wiki on the Wii. The later puzzles are quite difficult but it's a really funny story which makes it worth it.

    If you liked Myst, an old PC game that's worth finding is Schizm. It has some pretty art and you're solving puzzles on an abandoned planet. Very cool.

    Hope there's something in there you can enjoy! :)

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  76. I just played Faster Than Light (FTL) from Steam. It was fantastic. I suppose there is some killing, but no real visual violence. You are a captain of a Star Ship. I lost 3 hours the first time I played it.

    I also have to echo on Stacking and The Cave. Basically any Double Fine Game, except Brutal Legend, which does live up to the name (although there is a turn off violence mode in the Xbox 360 version we have).

    Paper Mario games, and any of the Mario platform games.

    Pikmin is a lot of fun, I think there is a new version on the horizon for WiiU.

    My dad actually got obsessed with Skylanders Giants, and I know the kids like it too. It can get crazy expensive really quick because of the gotta get them all aspect.

    The Professor Layton games are definitely my favorite on the DS/3DS.

    The guitar hero type games, or the singing games can also be a lot of fun.

    I can also kill hours just trying different games on Kongregate. They have a lot of Tower defense games, many are cartoony and not really violent looking.

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  77. Oh man, this is awesome! I'm always looking for a new game to play that's not too gory, so I sent this list to my boyfriend (the real game fanatic in this household). He already owned two of these from an old Humble Indie Bundle and hadn't played either! He loaded Braid onto my PC and I've been playing all night. When I finish this one, I'll try Machinarium. :)

    Keep the recommendations coming, Jen! <3

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  78. I'll second Thomas Was Alone and Ni No Kuni.
    Also Myst and the sequels. Even though they're old, it is still possible to get them to work on a computer if you're patient.

    After flicking through my steam library, some of the non-violent games I found were Dear Esther (though I'm not sure if I'd recommend that, I played it once and haven't touched it since) and To The Moon, which I would highly recommend, there's zero violence but it is unbelievably sad. Like bawling all over the keyboard sad. But I thought it was a good sad.

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  79. Just realized I overlooked your comment about Syberia at the end of your post when I submitted my original suggestions. I actually disagree - I thought the graphics held up quite well considering it's an older game. World of Goo, which a few others have mentioned, is fantastic if you like physics-based games (which I do). I also really liked The Book of Unwritten Tales and its sequel - a more cartoony puzzle/adventure, but with some bits of snarky humor that elevate it above a kids game.

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  80. I don't know if anyone mentioned it, but Psychonauts was patched a year or two ago, specifically to make the final boss easier. I think most PC copies got the patch (my Steam copy did), I'm less sure about other platforms. So you might try it again.

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  81. If you're OK with adventure games, I highly recommend the "Drawn" series. I'll second other commenters' recommendations of "Flower" and "Unfinished Swan". And if you can get a hold of a Nintendo 64, "Paper Mario" from 2000 is a super fun, light RPG with neat mechanics.

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  82. I had a lot of fun playing a cute little demo on my PS3 called Stacked. You are a Matryoshka doll and "jump" into bigger dolls to solve puzzles, the whole thing is set in the early 1900's and rather steamy in style. No violence at all except a bit of three stooges style slapstick. Even the threats from the "big bad guys" aren't scary, the puzzles are hard enough to make you scratch your head, but there are multiple ways to solve each one. There are trophies to earn, so even when you've finished you still have more. Your goal is to free your family and all the children from the industrialists who want cheap labour.

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  83. THANK YOU!! :D Some of these look really interesting, and I'm convinced to try Kingdom Hearts again. I didn't get very far the first time around, but I think I'll do better with more experience. And I had no idea Portal 2 wasn't violent! I thought it was. Definitely want to try that one now.
    Again, thank you so much for this. I'm bookmarking it, along with your other post because I know I'll want to refer back to it later.

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    1. Yay! Glad we could all help. :) (And thank YOU for prompting this post; now I have lots of games that I need to try, too!)

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  84. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Epic Mickey series yet (maybe I missed it). Granted I wouldn't call myself a gamer by any means. However I would consider the violence cartoony and nothing squirm inducing. I think it's a good combination of story, art, action and puzzles. It's also loaded with Disney history/trivia if you're a fan. :)

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    1. Some of us discussed it up there...somewhere. Heh. In short: I've tried both, couldn't get far in the first due to the controllers, and in the second due to disappointing game play. I was so disappointed that I can't in good conscience recommend them to anyone, although I know some players really liked them!

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  85. One of my favourites is A Boy and His Blob. It's a fairly recent Wii remake of an older game and it's just stunning. I have yet to finish, but it's a great, somewhat challenging puzzle game with a number of stages in various beautiful locations. The story is pretty weak, but it's an excellent game.

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  86. It doesn't look like anyone's mentioned it yet, but definitely try Bastion. Beautiful little game with an awesome soundtrack. It's available on Steam and the Xbox Live Marketplace, I believe.

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  87. Thanks for posting this, Jen! I love these recommendations. My partner and I have been looking for a good game to play together for some time, and some of these recommendations definitely seem up our alley! I really appreciate these posts - thanks so much!

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  88. Jen, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't play through some of the Zelda games (and Okami of course). Story driven games have been my favorite, and the original Legend of Zelda on my NES as a kid solidified my love of gaming. If you have a Wii, you can play most of the games on that. I'd say skip the original NES ones at this point. Start with A Link to the Past, then Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker (it will play on your Wii with a Gamecube controller), Twilight Princess and then Skyward Sword. The oldest games are available on the virtual console, and you can get the discs for the 3 newest ones.

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    1. I know, I know! For some reason I missed these when I was younger; we just played Mario brothers growing up - and then I never knew where to dive in. I'll look up the ones on your list, though. Promise. :D

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  89. This one is a little old as well. Jet Set Radio Future was released for the original xBox, but is playable on the 360. Minimal cartoon violence, you occasionally get shot at, but you never really hurt anyone, to defeat the bad guys you must tag (spray graffiti on) their backs. The game has a great soundtrack, great, cel-shaded look and fun mechanic. The game is set in near future Tokyo, where corporate controlled police are cracking down on the inline skate gangs. Your task is to cover up rival gang's graffiti and defete the Rokkaku police.

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  90. Spent all afternoon playing Okami on the PS3. The move controller isn't necessary.

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  91. Okami was originally on the PS2. The PS3 version doesn't require the Move but supports it.

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    1. Ah, thanks for the clarification on that! Just updated the post.

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  92. Just going to say, if you don't want killing, skip Arkham City and Arkham Asylum. Asylum is a great game, nowhere near as big, but City does have quite a bit of death in it. Batman knocks out the majority of the enemies, but, yeah, the ending? Not to mention it doesn't matter that Batman refuses to kill, a lot of the baddies will and people you save (will end the game if you don't, actually) get bumped off anyway. Which is incredibly frustrating, particularly in Asylum, when you have to save a certain doctor and it's all for nothing. >.<

    Some of the "dated" games have made a bit of a come back, and they are a lot of fun. Zelda games are being re-released for the 3DS, particularly the awesome Ocarina of Time. The thing is, it's very hard to find games that don't have killing in them at all (even Kingdom Hearts has a modicum of death; even if they're Nobodies, those Organization 13 members are not coming back). Even in Harvest Moon, there's a bit of killing; specifically in the DS games, where you have to kill shadow versions of the animals in the mines the further down you go. If you want no killing whatsoever, stick to puzzle games, racing games and games with an E rating.

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  93. Not sure if anyone has already mentioned this but Machinarium is also available as a download on PS3, it's also available for iPad and android :-)

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    1. Oooh, really? Suh-WEEET! Just updated the post - and I may be downloading it on PS3 tonight. :D Thanks!

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    2. Happy to help, I loved it. Also love The Cave on PS3 :-)

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  94. I love the Nancy Drew video game series by Her Interactive - they're not always easy (heck, I've needed help COUNTLESS times) but they're fun and they're great for adults and older kids. Beyond Good and Evil is a blast - there's *fighting* but it's mostly sneaking around and saving the day. The main character is a non-hypersexualized female, which is such a breath of fresh air.

    The Phoenix Wright/ Ace Attorney games are amazing, and I loved Ghost Trick : Phantom Detective as well. Amazing and fun - also, not easy, but really required a lot of thought before making moves.

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    1. I agree. I love the Nancy Drew games!

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  95. check out bloons also.. you control a variety of monkeys whose goal in life is popping balloons.. REAL fun!
    http://ninjakiwi.com/Games/Bloons-Games/Bloons.html

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  96. Jen, if you get a DS, you have to play the Phoenix Wright/Ace Attorney games. How often do you get to be a lawyer in a video game? And have it be completely awesome It could be argued that they are kids games, but difficulty and humor would indicate they're for adults,too. The games are made in anime style and are very Japanese, but are definitely some of the greatest games for the DS. The fifth one is being released for the 3DS in the fall.

    I also highly recommend Hotel Dusk: Room 215, which is a sort of interactive novel with a few puzzles. The story is fantastic, and though the graphics are limited, they feature a great hand-drawn sketchy style. Even my husband who hates adventure games played this one and loved it. Unfortunately the company went under and the sequel was only available in Europe, but if you can get it I recommend it as well.

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  97. I don't know if it has been mentioned yet or not, but I would highly recommend Minecraft. My wife said I should get on here and recommend a good one. This game does have a difficulty setting from peaceful to hardcore. Peaceful means no monsters spawn and you can build freely. Hardcore is one life to live and all monsters will spawn in the dark, and they hit as hard as possible. It is a game where you can dig, build, and explore all you want.

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  98. Um ... I believe you completely forgot to mention Sneak King.

    Dishonored was amazing as a stealth game. It's so beautifully gritty.

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  99. What about Viva Pinata for the Xbox 360? You raise pinatas! The only violence is when one pinata attacks another, and they burst open. It's a wonderful game.

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  100. I agree that Bastion is worth a few plays. The narration alone is worth the price of the game, but the story unfolds beautifully as you go, and what a story! I was pulled in within a few minutes and could barely put it down till I finished it! There is some fantasy type violence in that you beat up on cartoony monsters, however, so if that's something you rule out, then that's that.

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  101. More nominees:
    Windosill (short, but adorable, puzzle with teeny tiny train)
    The Tiny Bang Story (a bit like Machinarium)

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  102. I can't believe you've never played a Zelda game! Oh, it breaks my heart!
    Haha, they're absolutely wonderful, storyline, gameplay, characters, I love everything about it. <3
    As for the first Zelda game for you to play though, I completely, 100%, recommend Wind Waker. It has less violence then the rest of the games, and it's just so beautiful. It's cartoony style is amazing, and you'll just love the characters. It's the easiest game of the Zelda games in my opinion, but I know a few people who would disagree. I could easily recommend any of the Zelda games, but Wind Waker is definitely perfect for a first time Zelda player, in my opinion at least.
    A Link To The Past is by far the best Zelda game, but it's outdated, so digital download is pretty much the only way to get ahold of it. Nintendo is in the making of making a sequel for it for the 3DS, so with that, I'm thinking a remake, or at least a well done remastered version of A Link to the Past is going to be released.
    Whatever game you pick though, I really hope you enjoy it!

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  103. Ah, now this is probably too late to be noticed. BUT! Aquaria is a good independent game game, where you're a sort of mermaid that swims around a beautifully drawn world. Nice music, and you use music as well for things. You collect things, make things, and yes fight some "bad" things that swim around in the water. You're the only human(oid) and are looking for where you came from or for someone like you. There are bosses at the end of the level, and I could never beat them, so I was grateful I had someone in the house who could do it! (So it is kind of a good partner game!) It's a pretty large aquatic world to explore, which is nice!

    That said, Jen, why don't you ever recommend the Humble Indie Bundle (and it's different versions)? It's a great way to get access to several independent games and they're usually quite good! Just the kind of non-violent games some of us adults are looking for! (Some of the games you recommended are a part of it...)

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  104. And Syberia 3 is being worked on! Woohoo!(Actual release is planned for 2015 if I remember correctly... not sure I'm going to be able to wait for so long.)

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  105. I recently started playing Deponia (http://www.daedalic.de/en/game/Deponia/). It's a point-and-click adventure game and (so far) violence free.

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  106. Commander Keen!
    Old, yes, but a CLASSIC on so many levels. Anyone know where to find it online?

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  107. I would recommend The Bridge. It's a puzzle game reminiscent of M.C. Escher drawings, and you control gravity to walk on different surfaces. Not particularly good if you get dizzy easily, but it's lovely.

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  108. So many great suggestions! I am also a puzzle game fanatic and will add a couple more to the list...

    PuzzleQuest - it's an RPG wrapped around a match-3 game. You have weapons, but you aren't swinging a sword. It's on Xbox360 LiveArcade and iPad.

    Mutant Blobs Attack (available on Steam for the PC and PS Vita) - you are a blob and well, you grow :)

    IMO, one of the all time best puzzlers is Microsoft's Pandora's Box. However, it's an oldie that is hard to find and won't work on current versions of Windows :(

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  109. Kind of surprised you didn't mention Limbo here. I know it's available for download on Xbox and anyone who likes Portal should like this. Didn't personally play it, but watched my boyfriend and don't remember there being any violence. Look it up, Jen! I think you would enjoy it.

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    1. Limbo is awesome, but you die a LOT in fairly graphic/disturbing ways, so I left it off for that. Even in silhoutte, the death scenes can be pretty gruesome. (Great game, though!)

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  110. I especially love the original Monkey Island games (And the newer telltale ones too) I do believe they re-did the first two MI's for Xbox and PS3

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  111. Katrina in SeattleMay 17, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Jen~
    Thank you SO much for this post!
    I have a PS3 because...I needed a Blu-ray player. It just made more sense to get a gaming system instead of JUST a Blu-ray player. So now I have a PS next to my original Nintendo and Super Nintendo and NO idea what to do with it. I even have game store credit! Looks like I'll be picking up some Mini Ninjas and Portals ASAP!
    ~Katrina

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  112. Katamari is one of my most favorite games ever. I too cannot play violent video games, and there is absolutely nothing violent about Katamari. I haven't checked out this newest one yet, but it looks like I have something to tell hubby to buy next time he's at the video game store. I'm also going to have to check out that Mini Ninjas one.

    And, if you have a DS, the Professor Layton games are not violent, and they have great puzzles to solve.

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  113. Oh my gosh! You can't leave out LittleBigPlanet and LittleBigPlanet2! Those are awesome (and only have mild cartoon violence) and make you think and use teamwork. The only thing that might be frustrating is that you need multiple players to get in certain areas of the levels. Easily solved by playing online or with friends! So much fun to play and pretty much endless since there are free user-made levels and you can even make levels yourself! (I also looooove Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2!)

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  114. flow. http://interactive.usc.edu/projects/cloud/flowing/

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  115. Flower and Little Big Planet on PS3.

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  116. Thank you so much for this post. I have 11 and 13 year old boys who just got an Xbox360, and I've been so discouraged at how violent all the games are. I'm looking forward to trying a few of these out with them!

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  117. Jen,
    I know you said you tend to get sucked into games, but I really recommend Guild Wars 2. The graphics are amazing, you get a personal story as well as little fun stories throughout this awesome world. Some of my favorite stories and events aren't even the main ones, but other individuals sprinkled throughout the world. The creator of the game ArenaNet has updated the game with new fun content every single month since it launched last August. There's no fee to play every month, the community is incredibly kind and helpful, and there's no "end game" pressure like with most MMO's. This game was created for a casual gamer and the more hardcore gamer alike. Plus, there's an Engineer class that is kinda steampunkish!

    I've played World of Warcraft, and after seeing GW2 I will not go back to WoW. The WoW community is toxic, there's a ton of pressure to rush to the top level to do "end game content" like raiding and dungeons. There's a constant gear grind to have the top gear to be competitive with other players to see the newest content, fighting over loot drops, mining nodes and lower level players get left out of a lot of fun holiday content. Guild Wars 2 doesn't have any of that. There's no competition for gear, everyone gets their own loot. There's no competing for crafting materials, and best of all no one feels left out during holiday events because they aren't a high enough level. If you don't want to drop the $50 on the game right away, keep an eye out on the r/Guildwars2 or r/gaming threads for free weekends and invitations.

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  118. Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is a really cute, fun game. There are dungeons you can go to, but 1) You're fighting monsters and it's absolutely not graphic at all; and 2) You don't have to go through the dungeons if you don't want to (you can only get the "true end" if you get all the adventurer's cards by going through dungeons with them, but the first end you get is alright, too, I think). It's available on Steam.

    LOOM is an interesting little game. It's been a while since I've played it through, but if memory serves, it's not violent. It's a music and puzzle solving sort of thing. It's an old Lucas Arts game that's been fixed up a bit to sell on Steam.

    The Aveyond series, Ella's Hope, and The Witch and the Warrior are all very good if you like old school JRPGs. You do fight monsters - including humanoid ones - but it's not graphic, except at the end where there's some pixelated blood where the monster was, which you click to get gold and items after the battle.

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  119. idk if this was mentioned but it sounds like you should try Limbo. Def sounds like it's right up your wheel house!

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  120. To the Moon is also a great game, a great story line type game YAY

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  121. Beyond Good and Evil (I played on gamecube but is an all platform one)is very non-violent because your character is a journalist who has to take photos of the conquering alien army and rescue your friend. The most violent thing you do is beat up animals that attack you but most of the time you only need to take a photo of them. It is actually quite relaxing and what turned me into a regular gamer.

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  122. Thank you. I was happy to see this list.

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  123. ETA on my last comment: I recommended Brothers - the Tale of Two Sons before I knew that it has a couple of moments that are not for the squeamish.

    Basically, this game is nonviolent - but it makes a fairly deep statement ABOUT videogame violence, and it does it in an extremely graphic way. It is, after all, a Scandinavian tale - and it gets pretty dark in some places. While the characters don't engage in violence, and there's very little violence in-game, you do see some graphic depictions of the aftermath, sort of like you have to walk through a regular M-rated game after it had been played. It can be pretty gross, but I really think the game is worth your while anyway.

    I think this game is a - forgive me - game-changer. It's a totally new way of looking at storytelling. I highly recommend it; I've played it through from beginning to end (it's fairly short) twice even though it made me cry.

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  124. Spaaaaaaaaaace! Portal 2 is a great game despite the fact that ive only seen the end(my friend was finishing his gameat my first exposure) and the beginning ( because. I took ten minutes to beat just the third level) I also agree that littlebigplanet and its sequel are two of the best games ever! Play all three now.

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  125. there is this game called pata pon which is about keeping rhythm. And pikmin 2 & 3 but that might be a little too kiddish. and i believe you do kill enemies but its cartoon violence so...

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  126. There is a game on steam, which i found interesting, called Vessel. It's a puzzle-adventure game in which you manipulate different liquids to create bots to help you, activate switches, etc. Have a look if you 're curious

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  127. There is also a game called "don't starve" on steam, soon it will be multiplayer, in which you must survive on a cartoon based randomized, customizable level. You get to eat things all day long, gather ressources, build useful things,... There is a little fighting, but you die in some hits and you spend most of the time avoiding it. It's 90% of the rest. Have a look.

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  128. Another one, based on dishonoured you told about. The Thief series, like the latest one, can be played without touching anyone. It's called ghost gameplay. You play as a thief, steal stuff to get money, to buy uppgrades, you sometimes solve puzzles, you have nice movements, and there is quite a story all the long. I find it immersive.

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