Video games are a lot of different things. Some people look at them as works of art, while others think of them more as a quick thrill akin to a good movie. In my case I’ve always appreciated them for what I feel they do best; escapism. Whenever I feel sad, stressed or otherwise incapable of dealing with whatever is happening in my life, I know that I can always fire up a console or my PC for a quick breather before putting my head back down and charging through the rest of the week. These days I find it more important than ever to be able to just duck out of reality for a minute and indulge the senses. Recently though I’ve found myself adding an extra stipulation to my tactical retreats as I call them. In order for me to truly relax not only do I need escape but it needs to be an easy one. I’m referring of course to what many people call “their game”; the type of game that requires no real effort or thought. You can just turn it on and go through the motions and let your mind wander all the while.
Seeing as how video games are my primary form of entertainment as they absolutely dwarf any of my time spent with TV, movies, books ect. I have quite a few of “my” games or as I like to call them, “junk food games”. As such I thought it might be fun to share a few of them with you in the hopes that you too, can find your junk food game and have an easier time turning off your mind for a few hours and finding peace through escapism.
There is literally so much I could say about Elite Dangerous that it could easily be its own article. However, for the sake of this article I’ll keep it brief. Elite Dangerous is the latest entry in a series of space trading and exploration games that first released in 1984. Elite Dangerous is very much a make your own fun kind of game. Players are given their first spaceship and cast out into the black to make their own way however they see fit. You can take a job from a local space station to move goods from A to B for a modest sum (I like to just call this space truckin myself) or if you’re the type who “aims to misbehave” you can strap a couple of lasers on your ship and become a budding space pirate. There’s also exploration, mining, planetside roving and so much more. Personally, I enjoy space trucking the most. There’s just something so relaxing about filling up my giant space boat with tons of cargo and going full speed ahead to my destination for a tidy sum of credits while watching a video stream or enjoying a podcast on the side. Right now Elite Dangerous is my zen and with a new update coming soon, titled Elite Dangerous: Odyssey, that will give me even more to do. I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. Elite Dangerous is available on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
If ever there were a game that felt like it was born to help you turn off your brain…. well, it’s not Monster Hunter World. Even still, once you’ve gone through the main quests, slaying all of the game’s beasties and turning them into various hats and breastplates, the endgame generally becomes thus: Pick a thing and hit it repeatedly until you have a new addition to your wardrobe. MHW is difficult enough to keep you distracted but just repetitive enough to do so in a very mindless way. Capcom delivers free updates every few months including new missions, monsters, crossover events and more so there’s always some new hat to craft. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is available for PS4 and PC.
Marvel’s Spider-Man came out September 7th, 2018 exclusively for the Playstation 4. A great many things happened in the time between my pressing start for the first time and seeing credits for the second time. My brother-in-law got married, I had a birthday, attended one or two Halloween parties, various moments of eating and sleeping and husbandry and so on. Here’s the thing; throughout that entire autumn I couldn’t tell you a single thing with more vivid detail than I could recall my time with this game. It completely eclipsed every second of my free time and I know for a fact I attended all of the previously mentioned events with thoughts of web swinging through the streets of New York, stopping petty crimes and smashing super villains in equal measure implanted firmly in the back of my mind. I have played pretty much every Spider-Man game that had come before developer Insomniac game’s 2018 entry, but not a single one captured the essence of being Spider-Man alongside the day to day life in the shoes of Peter Parker in his eternal struggle to walk the tightrope between being a hero and just being a regular person. It’s a well told story wrapped around gameplay that creates a video game that I could only describe as joy incarnate. I felt like Spider-Man every time I turned it on. For me that was a feeling that went beyond just turning my brain off and enjoying some escapism. At the end of one playthrough (and the DLC) I immediately started it again because I just wasn’t ready to leave the rich fantasy of the Spider-Man universe. (It was at this point Joe realized that he had been feverishly typing for twenty minutes in only his Spidey boxers and mask) “AHEM..”
Anyway… Spider-Man is currently a Playstation exclusive and a greatest hits title so feel free to pick it up on the cheap and spend a few hours jumping off of buildings.
And there you have it, three games from my library that never fail to help ease my stress and forget about the outside world for an afternoon. I would like to give a shout out to my honorable mentions: Pokemon: Catching them all can only be described as a meditative state in my eyes. Slay the Spire: Just one more run turns into “Oh god it’s 3am” and pretty much any open world collect-o-thon type games: Assassin’s Creed, Horizon Zero Dawn, and most recently Ghost of Tsushima (I will be receiving this one very soon and I am very excited about it). All of that said, I’d very much like to know what your favorite games are. Be sure to let me know in the comments down below!