When life is stressful, I often turn to gaming. There’s something comforting about it. In some cases, it’s escapism to another world, a chance to leave your problems behind and be a hero in a fantastical land. Other times, it’s a way to connect with others through online gaming or couch co-op. Sometimes it makes me feel good to actually be good at something, even if it takes a few tries to defeat that boss or jump through a tough platforming level. (But let’s be real — I am not a platforming fan!) And sometimes it’s simply another medium to experience a great story, besides books and TV and movies — a chance to actually be present in the story.
This is a period in my life when gaming is soothing me, entertaining me, and keeping me connected. Here are a few of the games I’ve been playing!
Laugh all you want, but I am playing Skyrim again. With the 10-year anniversary in November, it felt like everyone on my social media platforms was diving back into the game, and I couldn’t resist joining in the fun.
I’ve been playing for a few weeks now, as an Imperial woman who uses a mixture of conjuring, swords, destruction magic, healing magic, and archery in combat. (Let’s just say I’m having trouble making decisions right now…) I’ve already fought for the Imperial army in the civil war, built my Hearthfire home, bought my favorite house in Markarth, and started my magic studies at the College of Winterhold.
Sure, I’ve played these storylines half a dozen times before, but that’s exactly what makes replaying the game so comforting. It’s like coming home.
Life is Strange: True Colors
After playing other games in the Life is Strange series, I’ve been wanting to play the newest addition, True Colors by Deck Nine. Now, I finally have time. Because this is an episodic series, it’s actually been fun to play the episodes back to back instead of waiting weeks or months for the next episode to come out.
As usual with Life is Strange, the game features a strong narrative and relatable characters. But what makes True Colors unique to me so far is the setting. I love stories set in small towns, and in this adventure, you play as a young woman named Alex who has just moved to a little mining town in Colorado. In many parts of the story, you are free to explore the town’s Main Street, home to several key locations such as a dispensary, flower shop, and tavern. Each location includes a character (or two or three) with whom you can converse. I appreciate the freedom to explore and discover new parts of the story. However, I have been disappointed that the less-than-linear nature of this game has led me to miss a few key storylines, simply because I didn’t realize I could return to a previous location, have a new conversation, and progress a side story!
Another aspect of this game I’m really enjoying is the romance. You have two romance options in the game, and if you know anything about me from this blog, you know I am a sucker for romance. It has not been heavy-handed in any way; instead, it’s more of an optional side story with just a few scenes that add a little extra magic to an already emotional game.
I am about to complete the last episode. I can’t wait to see what happens!
It Takes Two
It Takes Two by Hazelight is my current “connection” game, as I’m playing couch co-op with my husband. I started the game assuming it would be a silly little romp. Instead, I find myself consistently amazed at how innovative the game is.
As a co-op only game, you and a partner each assume control of one half of a married couple who is about to get a divorce. When the two are turned into dolls, it’s up to you to work together to figure out how to become human again.
I expected a lot of straightforward platforming, but in fact this game has very little of that. Instead, you and your partner solve puzzles together. Often each character is given a different ability or tool, which requires you to brainstorm very specific solutions to the problems you face. For example, at one point my character May had magnetic boots, so I could walk on ceilings. At the same time, my husband’s character Cody had the ability to change his size. In order to progress through levels, there were times when Cody had to increase his size so he would be heavier, thereby flinging May into the air on something like a see-saw; once in the new location, she could climb on walls and ceilings to get to new areas. Other times, Cody would decrease his size so he could fit in tiny spaces that May couldn’t reach, but we would have to coordinate the press of a button.
Much of the game requires collaborating on timing and playing with physics like this. The creativity that went into the game design just blows me away. It also has a great sense of humor with lines that regularly make me laugh. If you’re looking for a feel-good co-op game, I can’t recommend It Takes Two more highly!
There are so many other games I’m looking forward to playing soon, too. Next up on my list is Far Cry 6. I may or may not get to it this month, but it’s the first Far Cry game that has really captured my attention for its fascinating setting and characters. I would also like to return to my Assassin’s Creed games. I was enjoying Valhalla at this time last year, and I still have a lot of story to go! And since I’m currently writing historical fiction and deep into research about colonial America, I would like to play the remaster of Assassin’s Creed III. We’ll see what I have time for around my Skyrim replay. =)
What are you playing right now? Do you have any favorite games of the year so far?