3D Artist and teacher by trade. Obsessive nerd, gamer, foodie, Whovian. I want to be Agent Carter when I grow up.
For a variety of reasons, it’s been a rough year for people everywhere and it’s times like these that we realize the important role video games play in our lives. Video games provide an all-important escape from the harshness of reality and comfort in our time of need. If you’ve been feeling down, we have a huge list of awesome games that are sure to help boost your spirits!
Chariot – Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Steam, Wii U
Chariot is a platform puzzle game that can be payed solo or co-op. In Chariot, you are a Princess tasked with taking your recently deceased father, the King, to his final resting place. It may sound like a bummer, but really the dead King was kind of a jerk and his casket is just a prop used to make your way through the maze-like underworld. You just have to be careful not to bump the casket too much or drop it, otherwise the ghost of the king will scold you. The physics-based gameplay is super fun and challenging enough to make you feel accomplished but not so much that it makes you frustrated to the point where your controller is suddenly embedded in your television screen. The graphics are simple but beautiful, with each level consisting of vibrant, eye catching colors against a dark background. Chariot is just a fun, stress-free game and you don’t have to worry about ushering any kids out of the room when you queue it up because it’s great for all ages.
Stardew Valley – PC, Mac, Linux, Steam
What can I say about Stardew Valley? There is something incredibly peaceful and relaxing about farming games and Stardew Valley is sort of the ultimate farming game. Developed entirely by ConcernedApe (Eric Barone), in Stardew Valley you are worn out with the endless shuffle in the big city and decide to move to the farm you inherited from your grandfather. You have to fix up your farm, grow crops, mine ore, raise animals, and socialize with the local citizens of nearby Stardew Valley. As you build up your farm, you build relationships and you might even find romance and marry! Stardew Valley is escape at its best. The game will easily remove you from your own world for a few hours and the graphics and soundtrack might even remind you of when you first fell in love with video games.
Lego Video Game Franchise – PC, Xbox360, XboxOne, PS3, PS4, PSVita, WiiU, Nintendo3DS
With the Lego series of video games, I don’t have to specify when talking about the feel-good nature of these games. It’s impossible not to smile when you’re playing a Lego video game – any Lego video game. As soon as the game starts and the little plastic characters wobble on the screen amid a Lego landscape, you are immediately transported back to a simpler time. It doesn’t matter if you’re fighting as Batman, Harry Potter, Gandalf, or Iron Man, you are having fun. The combination of fighting and puzzle-solving in your favorite pop culture worlds with one of your favorite toys as a kid is basically impossible to resist. And the variety of games available keep the Lego franchise fresh and fun every time. You can play alone or co-op but either way, the Lego games are a fantastic way to unwind.
The Sims – PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii, WiiU, PS3, PS4, mobile
The Sims has been around for a long time and the premise is simple; you create a character and live. But the fun part isn’t always in getting your character a job or a significant other or even in making friends – it’s usually in the building. It’s easy to spend hours just endlessly laying out the floor plan to your home, arranging furniture, setting up your yard and figuring out how to get the money for the really cool decorations. Sometimes you even lose track and have to remember to feed your Sim or go to the bathroom. Trust me, I’ve had many a Sim weeping and standing in a puddle of their own urine in the living room. The Sims is just an escape, pure and simple. The game doesn’t require a lot of skill or strategy – just some basic planning to avoid the aforementioned peeing or starvation. It’s a very mellow game to play and listening to Sim speak is oddly relaxing. With The Sims, you are in complete control (for the most part) and your Sim life can be as laid back as you want it to be.
Reaching way back in the vault, we have the original Tetris. First published in 1984, Tetris was the first truly addictive puzzle game to became a phenomenon. The goal of the game is to fit the falling colored blocks together into a solid line without any gaps. If you leave gaps, a wall builds, the pieces fall faster and you lose. At times the game can get a little intense as the music speeds up and your wall begins to stack into an insurmountable mess of colored blocks. Tetris is about hand-eye coordination and focus. In fact, scientists at Oxford University studied the affects playing Tetris had on individuals with PTSD and discovered test subjects experienced less flashbacks and that the game, “had a protective effect.” Researchers believed it was due to “the visual-spatial demands of the game disrupting the formation of the mental imagery involved in flashbacks.” You can get the original version across most mobile devices as well as updated versions like EA’s Tetris Blitz or Ultimate Tetris on mobile and Steam respectively.
Super Mario Bros. – Nintendo
You only need to hear the theme song to Super Mario Bros. and you’re already smiling. The game, the song, and the characters are so ingrained in pop culture that it’s difficult to imagine a time before it existed. With its many installments and variations, Mario and the gang have become as much a part of our lives as our favorite childhood books and movies. The simply joys of bounding around the map, collecting coins, jumping on turtles, and saving the princess is pure, unadulterated bliss. When you’re playing Super Mario Bros., everything else just falls away. You can still play the original Super Mario Bros. across multiple Nintendo devices.
Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook – Steam, PC, Mac
Flower Shop is a farming and dating simulation game where you play Natalie, a college girl having a tough time being an adult when her parents insist she get a job during winter break and start taking some responsibility. I’m not going to sugar coat it – Natalie is annoying, easily one of the most annoying characters ever to appear in a game. The goal is to help her keep a garden alive, growing flowers for the flower shop and then try to hook her up with one of the many young hipsters floating around town. The male characters in Flower Shop are just as irritating as Natalie, most of them are rude, condescending, and more likely to earn a smack from a woman than a date in real life. But this isn’t real life, this is Fairbrook and it’s Natalie. The relaxing part of this game comes in reading the story and listening to the digital smooth jazz soundtrack while looking at pictures of an idyllic, snow-dappled village. If you don’t want to take the time to play the game, you can check out Ryon Day’s hilarious stream from last year on his YouTube channel where he gleefully mocks the characters while sampling various weird alcoholic beverages.
Screamride – XboxOne
Screamride is recommended for one reason and one reason only – Demolition Expert mode. Sure, you could spend your time in the game building roller coasters but why do that when you can wreck stuff? The true fun in Screamride is in the mayhem. As a Demolition Expert, you use a giant mechanical trebuchet to fling cabins of people at an environment to induce maximum destruction. And there is nothing more satisfying than watching your cabin fly into the distance at that perfect arc to hit a building and set off an epic chain reaction, leaving piles of rubble where futuristic skyscrapers once stood. The more destruction you cause, the higher your score. There is an added challenge in flinging the cabin through hoops and hitting various targets like a blimp or a literal target worth more points. Either way, Screamride’s Demolition Expert mode is a fantastic way to work out some aggression and leave you feeling lighter and accomplished at the destruction you wrought.
Just Dance Series – Xbox360, XboxOne, Wii
Sometimes when you’re feeling down, what you really need to do is get up and move. But you may not always feel like going out to a club to get your dance on. Luckily, Just Dance is there for you. Invite your friends over, have a few drinks, and dance your heart out to some of the latest and greatest pop hits. Points are irrelevant with this game because it basically just comes down to you and your friends acting life goofs and having a much needed laugh.
These are just a few video games out there to help you decompress and perk you up when you’re feeling low. Do you have a favorite game you turn to when you need a pick-me-up? Let us know in the comments below!