Game On! De-Stressing Games 

Game on!
Game reviews by Brandon, Elizabeth, Kristin, and Stacy 

Hello everyone! We hope you’ll enjoy these recommendations. These are games we all found soothing for stressful and difficult times. These games cost money and/or require consoles, so they’re for more serious gamers than our last free game review. We hope you enjoy them! 

Today's theme
Relaxing games to help you de-stress.

Game One

Journey 

A $19.99 game on the Playstation Store 

Journey

Get ready for this one, because this is my favorite piece of media of all time. That includes books, movies, shows, and other games. Some games are made to put us against each other. You must beat your opponent! Long have we been tasked in video games to look out for only ourselves, and to beat our games as fast as possible. What if a company decided to oppose these ideals? How about a game that is created for the sake of helping one another, and to journey together as a team, and not to fight against each other as enemies? Let the game be the journey itself, let the game be the reward, not just the finality of it, and enrich the whole experience. ThatGameCompany reached for the stars with this goal and have succeeded reached true ascension, as players who play the fantastic PSN title “Journey” will discover.

In Journey you awake a stranger, cloaked in red. The Controls are simple, yet somehow refined and feel natural, almost as if they were an extension of your body. You guide the camera with the gyroscope in your controller and you move forward with the left analog stick. The circle button acts a little chirp or call that changes tone depending on how hard and fast you press the button. The use for this is not made immediately known, but it is revealed very soon. You walk up a slight cliff, to see a massive mountain. This mountain is both tremendous in size, and intimidating. “What awaits me up there, and will I like what I discover?” It is shortly after you discover your scarf. Glyphs are scattered around the game and if you find them you will increase the length of your scarf, allowing you to fly for short durations of time with the X button.

These gameplay mechanics, while great on their own, take a backseat to the gorgeous environment of the game. This game’s setting is a character in itself. Waterfalls of golden sand cascade behind you as the game suddenly transitions into 2D seamlessly showing you the warm backdrop of the sun from afar. Did I just name an old dream of yours? That will happen to you, as Journey is a game that you do not stop thinking about when you put the controller down. This is thanks to the multiplayer and the effect it will have on you,

The Multiplayer of Journey is Unique in two amazing and innovative ways. The first being that, the guy on the screen with you, he’s your friend, and by the end of the game, you will do anything possible to make sure they finish their journey with you. I honestly do believe that if more individuals play this game, they will find peace with themselves and perhaps find a deeper appreciation for the loved ones in their lives. Feelings are warm and close, and never rude or obtuse thanks to the second innovative factor of Journey.

You cannot converse with your fellow player in any language you may have learned throughout your life. Yes, the game strips usernames away (until after the credits) and gives you only the option of chirping to communicate with the other player. After playing this game at least over 25 times, it seems that the Journey members are starting to form their own language as I find myself having a easier time understanding my new friends every time I play.

ThatGameCompany have created their masterpiece. They have not created a game, but an experience. Ever since finishing Journey I have found a new appreciation for the ones I hold dear to me in my life, and I think every day about how I want to live my Journey and who I want to accompany me on my Journey. Give this game a shot, as I guarantee you will watch the ending of this game unfold and find yourself feeling something very different from your usual video game; at peace.    -Brandon
Game 2
Fez
A $10 game (give or take) available for purchase on the Playstation Store, Xbox via the Microsoft store, Windows and Mac via Steam.
Fez

Fez follows the story of player-character Gomez after he is mysteriously gifted a red fez and watches as  his cozy 2D way of life is ripped apart by a tear in the fabric of space and time, revealing to him a previously unknown 3rd dimension. Now you with your mystical red fez must explore this new 3D world with the goal of restoring the universe by collecting shards of cube fragments. Released in 2012 by indie game companies Trapdoor and Polytron Corporation, this is a game that has remained very dear to me for it’s bright and memorable aesthetics, it’s unique gameplay mechanics, and it’s overall unforgettable experience!

A “stop and smell the roses” type of game that is less focused on plot and instead promotes  relaxed exploration and puzzle solving. Fez encourages it’s players to explore each world to its fullest by offering a unique rotation mechanic that moves the player’s camera around the seemingly 2D plane, often revealing new pathways and exposing access to previously inaccessible platforms and items. To further promote relaxed exploration, Fez has no enemies, no bosses, or even hard consequences – when the player dies, typically by falling, they are respawned and able to continue the level freely. 

I was originally drawn to this game by it’s pixelated game design and chill electronica music, but stayed for it’s compelling world and calming atmosphere! The protagonist is a small marshmallow man with a bright red fez – his minimal design allows for maximum engagement with the worlds which are ultimately the real draw towards a game like Fez. Each world vibes similarly with one another – they are easy on the eyes with soft colors and reflect the same upwards gameplay movement. However, each world is unique both in looks and experience, while following the same foundational structure: ultimately each it’s own large puzzle comprised of four different 2D planes that connect and respond with one another as you travel up through the world! 

I highly recommended this game upon it’s release nearly a decade ago and I continue to highly recommend it to this day! It’s such a favorable experience and well executed game, definitely worth the time and commitment. - Stacy  

Game 3
Fe
A $20 game available on Switch, PS4, XBox and PC.
Fe

Fe is an exploration-based open world adventure starring a spiky little forest creature who can sing to other forest animals to learn their powers. The world has a dark and blocky aesthetic that works for it, casting things in stark shadow and light and highlighting spaces with splashes of vivid colors. It’s relaxing and not particularly linear, challenging you with some moderate puzzle-solving and lots of climbing and exploring. The sounds are immersive—the music comes and goes for emphasis, similar to Breath of the Wild, but the game is typically filled with deep chimes or strings, animal calls, rushing water, and rustling trees. It’s very soothing to play. 

As you progress, you quickly gain new powers that give you an incredible freedom to explore right off the bat. Unlike many platformers, you get a glide ability fairly early and much of the game design is based on using it. There’s no combat in Fe, but there are stealth sections which can be a bit tense. There aren’t heavy penalties for failure, though, and dying merely sets you back to an earlier physical location as a checkpoint. If you ever get stuck, you can call a bird to show you where to go next. 

Overall, Fe is a very relaxing and rewarding game to play. The frustrations are minimal, every secret can be discovered without a guide, and it’s hard to ever get completely stuck. It’s a shame that the coolest power is only unlocked after there are no more objectives, but it’s definitely a reward worth earning. Fe also has one section in particular that makes the game worth buying all by itself. I won’t spoil it, but between the visuals, the challenge, and the swelling music, it was full of the same awe-inspiring wonder I experienced playing Shadow of the Colossus for the first time. I definitely recommend it.    -Kristin
Game 4
Everything
Available on PS4, Switch, and Steam for PC and Mac [here]

everything

Sometimes, you just want to do absolutely nothing. A game with goals? Exhausting. TV and a plot? No thanks. Sometimes, you just want to float around in a polygon world while listening to calm music and the drone of a philosophy lecture. Don’t worry! When you really, really need to relax, the game Everything can help. 

In the game Everything, you can be, well, everything: a pig, a planet, a twig, a tree, and everything in between. You can talk to everything, too. Try listening to a narcissistic dragonfly or a con artist blade of grass (“come on! I’ll give you 1%! Okay, 2%!”). One pinecone in my game lamented that it couldn’t whistle, while a horse informed me it was mad at the sun and would stay mad until the weather changed.
Mostly, though, you just roll around: getting smaller or bigger, switching between species and things as the mood strikes. Sometimes you sing, and nearby creatures sing with you; sometimes, you join a crowd, or leave a crowd, or dance. I left some raspberries whirling in circles around my screen for a bit, adding a new one every so often until the whole screen was covered in fruit. You can even leave the game on autoplay and come back to wonder why you’re suddenly two rattlesnakes exploring the desert.

There’s an encyclopedia to fill out, but that’s not really the point. I’m not sure what the point is: that philosophy lecture, probably, but I’m tuning that out. I’m too busy dancing. - Elizabeth
Tell us what you think!

What are your comfort food games? Did you buddy up and explore the vast world of Journey or enjoy a few hours being everything and anything in Everything? Let us know in the comments!
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org On 31 July, 2020 at 1:55 PM  

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