If there’s one thing that makes a holiday break, or any break from the grind, truly special, it’s having time to simply relax. Add to that spending time with friends and loved ones, and well, you’ve got yourself a nice vacation! Making for the trifecta is relaxing, being with family, and playing video games, and this week’s #Listmas topic combines them together. What are some of the games that don’t require tons of energy, might be great to play with others, and are perfect for passing the time over the holidays? My top picks are:
Portal — Portal is a short, low-key, and darkly humorous puzzle game that’s great to pop in while everyone’s waiting for that one final relative to arrive before opening the Christmas gifts. It’s a fantastic solo experience, but it’s also fun to play with others, especially those who’ve never played it or aren’t familiar with video games. Having one player who knows the game control Chell while others try to figure out what she needs to do is fascinating, if a little frustrating (at times, especially if folks feel like arguing over the best approach to take). Granted, Portal’s sense of humor, which makes the games, flies over the heads of younger kids (and plenty of adults, too), but it’s still engaging and very enjoyable.
Anything Elder Scrolls, but especially Skyrim — If you’re going it alone over the holidays, I can’t think of any better world in which to relax than that of the Elder Scrolls. Sure, danger lurks here and there, but the Elder Scrolls series has escapism in its pocket. I’ve picked up Skyrim again, and the act of traversing from town to town while its excellent soundtrack plays wistfully in the background is among the most relaxing video game experiences ever. Of course, there’s plenty in the game to do and see, but the quests don’t badger you into doing them. No matter how many times I’ve popped in and out of Skyrim over the years, I always find something in it that I never knew existed – new people, new quests, new locations. It’s definitely a game that just keeps on giving.
Dreams — If you have a PlayStation console and you don’t have Dreams, well…you’re missing out. This Media Molecule venture provides an interactive, intelligent, and immersive experience unlike any other. It’s not a “game” in and of itself, but rather, it’s a creative platform in which one can make games and play games made by other users. (The latter half rings of Little Big Planet, made by the same folks.) Dreams is nearly two years old, and in that short span of time, it’s community has grown wildly. There’s just so much to do and see in Dreams, it’s almost overwhelming. But it’s a great title to keep folks, especially kids, entertained. There’s hardly any barrier-to-entry — no massive tutorials or other hurdles to overcome – it’s as “plug and play” as a “game” can get. Great to try out in short bursts or over long stretches.
Super Metroid — Someday, I swear I’ll finish Metroid Dread. But in the meantime, I’ll always have Super Metroid. Super Metroid is my personal chill-out game. I won’t say that I have a tradition of playing it around the holidays, though that’s often the time when I do. I don’t quite know the game by heart anymore, but my memories remain strong enough that I can jam through it in a day, enjoying all it offers, from the excellent platforming to its awesome soundtrack, along the way. It’s one of those “feels like home” games, even if it takes place anywhere but. Give me a cozy blanket, a warm cup of coffee, and Super Metroid, and I’m good. Really good.
Lede image taken from Portal 2 © Valve Corporation.