As console and game sales sky rocket in what has otherwise been a pretty shoddy 2020, we are learning that play has had a some positive impact on happiness and wellbeing. Gaming has remained a constant dare-we-say bright spot for many in a year marked by surprises and instability. With small indie brands that centre on socialization with friends seemingly exploding overnight, games like Among Us and Fall Guys are offering up ways to connect, even as we stay apart, as well as a positive way to escape even as we stay put. Here are the 10 best video games to help you forget your day, by console.
For the Nintendo Switch:
Nintendo’s main franchise brought its past successes (Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy) to its full 3D platform glory. While not new, this is an easy top 5 all-time favourite, containing 20 worlds (kingdoms) that have a wide range of different activities and increasingly challenging obstacles to overcome.
This early 2020 sneak-attack success was only amplified when the pandemic really set in. Animal Crossing had been a pretty great-selling IP for Nintendo, but even Nintendo did not anticipate it overtaking their main pillars such as Mario, Zelda and Kirby. So why the hype? First is its accessibility. Even if you’re not a gamer, per se, the point of entry is accessible even to those who’ve never picked up a video game before. Cutesy, consequence-free and full of light-hearted personalities, the game play revolves around doing tasks such as fishing, building your DIY projects (like your house), or planting your virtual flower bed, plus you get real-time update that change with the day and season. It’s an easy way to escape that helps you get back in touch with your more wonder-filled and optimistic side.
See also: Nostalgic ’90s fashion icons by zodiac sign.
For the slightly more advanced gamer, the newest entry in this critically acclaimed series is a must-play RPG (gamer-speak for role-playing game). Great for those geared towards tactic gameplay, Fire Emblem revolves around a mythical continent of Fodlan, divided into three superpowers where you play as Byleth, a professor at one of the schools. It’s an easy game to get lost in, with its music, visual, mechanic and narrative.
For the PlayStation 5 / 4:
The storyworlds in The Last of Us, alone, offer a great visual escape at a time we’re told not to travel. But this gem doesn’t stop there because it’s a beautifully written storyscape, full of great characterization and personality. Naughty Dog, the people behind the game, have some of the best writers in the business; the best immersive games behave like really well-executed movies, except you get to call the shots as the main character in the story. While shooter or zombie games aren’t for everyone, it is an immersive story, well-told.
A complex, emotional story building on the original this story again revolves around an action-adventure game, with horror elements and survival aspects. Played from a third-person perspective, character development deepens with this one. Not for everyone, but if you appreciate darker movies, this one may be another option to try.
If you’ve been lucky enough to get your mitts on PlayStation’s latest console, this game comes pre-installed. A sequel to Astro Bot Rescue Mission (pictured above), this 3D platformer helps you get a better handle on PS5’s DualSense controllers. Additionally, much like Nintendo’s Mario franchise, Astro navigates an open world, solving problems and overcoming obstacles. It’s impossibly adorable, and the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback provide an immersive experience not found on any other platform.
For Xbox one / Xbox Series:
For those who prefer gameplay more their speed, Forza Motorsport 7 offers a realistic approach to a racing game. The series’ latest edition boasts 700 cars and at least just as many ways to customize them. If you’re looking for a speedy escape, this simulation game lets you race through howling wind or crunchy snow.
Think Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon with pixelated graphics, this farming simulation game helps you get that green thumb you’ve never developed IRL. Tame an overgrown field and transform from struggling greenhorn to gifted farmer. This one is also available on other platforms too.
For the PC:
All the Half-Life 3 jokes aside, this VR title is a must for the ultimate lose-yourself experience, but you should play the game’s precursors first (Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2) if you’re half-serious about giving the latest a proper shot. Your job is to help save the planet as Alyx Vance against an alien invasion. Built with VR in mind from inception, this game has only grown alongside evolving tech.
Another multi platformer game, the recently-released open-world action-adventure RPG is by many the very definition of an immersive game you can lose yourself in. Cyberpunk 2077 is based on the tabletop role playing game by the same name, and it remains true to its root principles. Set in a city by night, a megalopolis obsessed with itself (the power, glamour and everything those carry), this is a storyscape to remember. The power of gameplay is that it takes the audience from passive consumer to active participant in a story world, by giving them choices and consequences to those choices, and Cyberpunk optimizes this core gaming principle, packing it with potent visuals and powerful messages. It took 8 years to develop, and it offers a choose-your-own adventure style gameplay (there are 3 different life-paths that shift and change how you experience the game world based on the options available to you as that character). But be weary, you need a powerful system to run it optimally.