With the world pretty much on lockdown this month, Bionic Book Worm has expanded the scope of her usual Top Five Tuesday roundup. This week, she’s asking us to share our Sanity Savers – what are we enjoying while we’re in isolation? I’ve already shared a list of feel-good books to help get your mind off the crazy world we live in, so today I thought I’d turn my gaze to my other major relaxation hobby: video games! Here are the games I’m playing to get through yet another exciting day indoors.
Slay the Spire
Platforms: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC
Slay the Spire, how do I love thee? Oh let me count the ways. This game is PERFECT for whiling away the hours. If you like deck-builders, or rogue-like games that challenge you to get as far as you can before dying, then start all over and do it again, have I got a game for you! You start with a base deck of ten cards that allow you to attack and block and otherwise engage in turn-based combat. Win the fight and you get some rewards – including the choice of a new card for your deck. And that’s the loop. Win, and slowly build up your deck of cards into a machine that will crush your enemies. Until things go horribly wrong, you die, and you start at the beginning with the standard deck of ten cards. There were originally three “classes” you could play as, giving you different sets of cards to work with (an assassin build lets you deal out poison effects to your enemy, for instance), and a fourth was just added to the game to add a whole new set of challenges to conquer.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
This game is beautiful, challenging, and scratches the itch I have to cross things off of lists. The sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest came out in early March, and the timing couldn’t have been better. I lost a little over 20 hours to dashing about a dark forest in a quest to find the fragmented heart of the forest and restore balance to nature. There’s a manageable level of upgrades and collectibles to find, a few boss fights, and a gorgeous soundtrack. If you enjoy Metroid-vania style games (like Hollow Knight) and somehow haven’t tried this series out, go to it!
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
Platforms: Switch, PC
Interested in Slay the Spire’s “turn-based combat with a deck of cards,” but want more of a story? Then try your hand at this RPG! I’m about 15 hours into the game, which sees you leading an unlikely band of heroes through a series of adventures, collecting cards and doing battle as you quest to stop the great evil threatening the land. It hasn’t been too demanding, but the story is fun and I enjoy playing through the levels, adjusting my deck as I encounter new foes and find new cards.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Platforms: PS4, XBox One, PC
Let me just start by saying if you haven’t played the original Mass Effect trilogy and are looking for an RPG, drop everything and go play that now. As for me, I’ve beaten those three games and have a hard time going back and messing with my personal “canon” playthrough, so I decided during quarantine to restart ME: Andromeda, a game I never actually got around to beating when it first came out. Andromeda is the least of the series, plagued in part by the publishers deciding to give you ALL THE THINGS to do in a manner that just spun out my completionist brain. However, the first time my character ran across a Turian to talk to during my replay, I felt like I was slipping into a warm blanket. I love this universe, and while it might not be the best of the games, it’s enough comfort to keep me going through the long hours.
Marvel Puzzle Quest
Platforms: iOS, Android, PC
I have only dabbled in a few mobile games in my life. Trying to find the right balance for the oxymoronic “engaging time waster” is hard; there has to be a bit of a challenge, it has to be something I can pick up and put down pretty quickly, and I don’t want to be buried in endless menus of upgrades. MPQ hits that balance for me. One of many in a long line of “match 3” puzzle quest games, it invites you to collect Marvel characters by way of comic book covers, and your colored matches power different abilities as you try to take down the enemy’s HP meter. MPQ gives you plenty of options without being overwhelming, and has just enough strategy to be distracting. It’s the perfect game to play while listening to an audiobook or podcast, something to keep your hands busy so your mind can do other things.
Bonus Entry: Overcooked 2
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Okay, let me be upfront with the fact that for some people, this game can be incredibly stress-inducing. But with the right set of friends, this couch co-op game about cooking in absurd conditions is the kind of distracting challenge you need right now. Overcooked is just about the only video game my roommate will play, and we have spent many, MANY hours calling out orders for tomato soup, requesting someone wash dishes, and politely yelling to grab the steak off the stove before the kitchen is set on fire (again). We love it so much that we’ve been slowly working through achieving four-star scores on every level, an added challenge the designers patched into the game after complaints that three-star scores were way too easy to accomplish (they were). If you and your loved ones have a cooperative spirit and like a little chaos, give this one a whirl!
And those are the games that are getting me through quarantine! What are you playing?