Normally, this blog is about where are cool places to be bad at dating or where to eat pizza because you’re bad at dating (in New Haven).
However, you’ve (hopefully) been quarantined for at least a month. Tiger King is nowhere to help you now, and you can only re-watch The Office so many times. Video games to the rescue!
I get it. Video games aren’t for everyone. But you’ve got a lot of time to kill and I’ll let you in on a secret: Not every video game is a shooty-shooty one. Some of them are cute or artistic or weird.
I want to share some of my favorites with you, and with any luck, maybe you’ll try something different, and by the time you finish, you’ll be ready to get out there and be bad at dating again.
Jackbox Games has a veritable empire of party games, from trivia (Murder Mystery Trivia) to pictionary-like (Drawful).
But Quiplash remain the best — a sort of choose-your-own-adventure for prompts, like if Cards Against Humanity let you write your own jokes instead of just making it all about nipples.
Only one person needs the game and can stream it via Zoom or Twitch or Discord and everyone can play along on any devices.
Created by one guy (Chucklefish), Stardew Valley begins with you, the player, stuck working some crap job in a cubicle with all the other saps, until your Santa-lookin’ grandpa suddenly leaves you the deed to a long-forgotten farm.
A video game about farming? Yeah yeah I know. But this ain’t Farmville. This is about livin’ the good life and makin’ friends with other folks and building a community. With parsnips.
The game itself seems simple — plant some crops, water them, pick them, and sell them. But beneath all that is a game full of quirky characters, fun mini-games, and a town you begin to find yourself getting heavily invested in.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Does all that farming of Stardew Valley sound too exhausting? Would you prefer if some of these complex, layered characters were transformed into adorable animals who are weirdly excited to see you even though you just saw them?
Boy do I have a game for you.
Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You’ve heard about it. People are talking about it.
Less farming video game and more Cuteness Simulator, Animal Crossing will help you forget your troubles and replace them with massive, interest-free loans from Tom Nook.
Personally, I think it needs a bit more… game… to it, but if you love decorating your house and child-like urban planning you will love this. And collecting bugs. So many bugs.
It’s been out for like a decade and let’s face it. You’ve always wanted to try it. You almost did that one time you got a little drunk in college but you chickened out.
Well, now is the time to get experimental.
Minecraft, with is famous blocky graphics and spooky exploding enemies, is part crafting simulator, part survival game, part… anything you want it to be.
You can go into Creative Mode and just make anything your heart desires. Or you can try Survival Mode: When night falls, enemies come out. You have precious little daylight to build your shelter. But with time you get stronger, and your shelter is suddenly a castle with a cute little reading nook.
Minecraft remains popular because you can do anything with it. Kill monsters, build your dream palace, explore the deep recesses of the Earth.
Plus, your kids probably already play it, so they can watch you be terrible at it and it’ll count as family time!
Anybody can play ’em. Kids, dads, moms, cool aunts. The Lego video games are basically a whole franchise of adventure games with various properties using Lego. You run around, you beat up bad guys.
Lego video games have franchised more properties than McDonald’s Happy Meals. Jurassic Park? Yep. Harry Potter? Yep. Marvel? Hahha of course.
They’re made for all ages of people and multiplayer. I don’t personally play them because I’m too cool, but they really are an accessible, fun game to play, especially for people who don’t play a lot of video games.
Wikipedia calls Night School Studio’s Oxenfree a “supernatural mystery graphic adventure game.” Which sounds about right.
You play as Alex, a teenage girl on a weekend trip to an island with friends. Suddenly, things get a little weird. A little… mysterious.
The island’s strange nature slowly reveals itself, but you might not get it on the first playthrough. Which makes it even more replayable. You’re meant to learn from it.
You don’t need twitch reflexes — the only thing you really control is the way Alex responds to situations, but the story is excellent and a mystery well worth unraveling.
Has your relationship been harder since the quarantine started? Would screaming at your partner about un-sliced onions really give your relationship that extra oomph?
Overcooked 2 is here to turn all of your cooperative gaming dreams into kitchen nightmares. Two to four players join in attempting to prepare restaurant meals together. One person chops, another assembles. Easy, right?
Not so fast.
This frantic-paced game is easy to learn, but difficult to master. The ever-increasing list of customer orders along with your inability to just communicate and LISTEN IF YOU WANT POTATOES YOU HAVE TO TELL ME YOU NEED POTATOES.
Anyway, it’s a good time.
Are video games art?
If you aren’t sure, you’ve never played thatgamecompany’s Journey.
There’s no points. No dialog. No lives.
Just a mountain shining in the distance. And you, a nameless, faceless character with a magic scarf. And perhaps some strangers along the way.. ?
The game is breathtaking and covers a wide array of beautiful scenes, but more than that, the game provides emotion. Anxiety, fear, loss, joyousness, wonder, relief.
It all sounds like hyperbole, but Journey is a game of a thousand steps and each one is a pleasure.
In one of my hardest moments of my life, I re-played Journey. Just going through it gave me… something. I don’t know what. But I’m glad I had it.
Undertale is a morality simulator pretending to be a video game. And it knows about you.
You, a human child, have fallen into the underworld of Monsters. Monsters hate humans. But they’ve never seen one. So maybe it’s fine?
With its charming 8-bit graphics and music, as well as truly bizarre and memorable cast of characters, Undertale is a brilliant game which anybody who can use a basic controller or keyboard can enjoy.
You will travel through the underworld, making friends and enemies. Deciding if you should kill or spare your enemies. Your morality is yours to choose.
The battles are fun and interesting, the writing is absolutely hilarious, and the story is so much more affecting than it has any right to be.
You arrive home from your first semester at college. The house is empty. Rain pours from the skies. Lightning flashes. Something feels… wrong.
Gone Home doesn’t have guns or explosions. It has storytelling and nostalgia. It’s a game about discovery and it’s about telling a story. If it’s a game at all.
There’s no scary monsters, except the monster inside all of us. Uhhhhh.
Anyway, some people called Gone Home a walking simulator, which is to say there is no real “game” to it — it’s about exploring and interacting with the environment and learning about what has happened. That’s it.
But it’s about a very specific feeling in a very specific time. If you were around in 1995, this whole thing will feel like the most unbelievable wave of nostalgia as you wander through this house, picking out old X-files VHS tapes and ‘Zines.
It’s not for everyone, but this is a game that stretches the idea of what games are and what kinds of stories they tell.
Welp, that’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed and with any luck we’ll be back to our regularly-schedule pizza topics soon. Stay safe, friends.