The world is going through a pandemic that can be draining and exhausting on your psyche while you’re in quarantine. Hopefully, among other activities and hobbies, video games are providing an escape and for those playing multiplayer games, a sense of community. Though, going on almost a full month of quarantine, I find myself yearning for cozier experiences at points of my day to help ease my stress with their palliative nature.
I’ve decided to put together a short list of a few different indie games that could help you clear your thoughts, or in some scenarios, have you focusing on something completely unrelated to the real world struggles we are all dealing with today. Hopefully, comfortable recommendations are ahead for you.
Sayonara Wild Hearts
A game that I reference and drive people towards as often as I can, Sayonara Wild Hearts. An experience that will probably end up on some sort of list for me as a game that impacted me immensely, but for right now, it serves a greater purpose– helping you. A playable pop album, dripping with more style than New York Fashion Week could hope to parade down the runway. With catchy tunes, easy to pick up gameplay, and an art style that blends anime and pop art together with deep hues and neon accents, Sayonara Wild Hearts is a trip that can take you away from reality in a time where that’s desperately needed. For my full review of Sayonara Wild Hearts you can check that out here.
A farming sim with relationship building, caverns to explore, and mysteries to uncover– Stardew Valley will not only take your mind off of what’s going on in the world around you for the time being, but give you an escape that could last for quite a long time. Managing your virtual time and energy to cultivate crops, raise livestock, and flutter your social butterfly wings is something that allows my brain to compartmentalize and mimic some form of reality that being cloistered up in my house my not feel so lonely. The recent addition of online multiplayer helps too, if you’re someone looking for ways to socialize virtually.
Murder By Numbers
Puzzle games in general have a way of occupying your brain and having you focus on solutions– but what most puzzle games don’t have is a narrative element, with charming characters, and soothing melodies to accompany it all. Murder By Numbers is mostly a Nonogram game, or more commonly referred to as Picross, infused with detective work that follows the life of Honor Mizhari. A television actress turned real life investigator, you’ll solve Picross puzzles to uncover clues and evidence to close out the string of cases bubbling up in Honor’s life. Murder By Numbers offers an escape in the puzzle elements allowing you to focus on solving Picross puzzles in short bursts interrupted by witty dialogue and an interesting story pushing and pulling you through an adventure worth discovering.
This one might be a little more underground– and is currently on sale on the Nintendo Switch eShop– but Membrane is a trippy, physics based puzzle platformer that paired with its chilled out soundtrack, will transport your brain to a place of zen. Navigate the landscapes popping with neon to create bridges and other structures to maneuver yourself to the goal of each room. Wonderfully designed levels with top-notch physics based platforming creates the foundation for creativity to thrive allowing players more than one way to solve each area. I recently played through Membrane again late last year looking for some of the hidden areas I missed and it brought me just as much joy and comfort then as it did when I first got my hands on it. Want to know more about the developers behind Membrane? Seth joined us on the Pass The Controller Podcast a while back– Episode 79.
What The Golf?
I first stumbled upon this indie gem at PAX East 2018 and just from what I witnessed during the demo I thought What The Golf? would be a great romp– upon playing its full release last fall it absolutely blew me away. Touted as the golf game for people who don’t like golf, each section of What The Golf? is constantly introducing new mechanics and twists on gameplay that feel almost immediately recognizable and understood. I don’t know if it’s some master level wizardry in game design or if I play video games too intuitively, either way I highly recommend What The Golf? as something with a charming aesthetic, easy to pick up and put down, and something that will crack smirks across your face in a woeful time in life all while subverting your expectations of what a golf game could be.
Untitled Goose Game
In a world filled with chaos right now, why not be the chaos yourself? Untitled Goose Game is all about causing mayhem in a calming aesthetic, filled with quirky characters trying to go about their day. You play as a goose on the loose, on a mission to terrorize the world around you. Steal food, smash plates, and ruin the local’s day by completing your to-do list in every area of the town. With charm bursting out of the beak, Untitled Goose Game is an award-winning indie game that everyone knows about, but if you’re one of the few who is unaware of the game or have neglected to take a look, there’s no better time than now.
This is just an extremely small sample of what type of game world you can venture out into while quarantined. Please continue to stay safe, healthy, and inside so together we can all see the other side of this. Hopefully some of these games can become a bright spot during your week, like they’ve helped me through.
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