Most of the time, life can be a very stressful and daunting place. Jobs throw everything they have at you and bills upon bills claim your pay, basically life is a disease that feeds off your sadness and video games are the vaccination. Any distraction is welcomed with your widest open arms just so you can escape away into a different world and be free for a while.
Now the most common choices that are usually plucked off the shelf with eager fingers are the ones you would think, Fallout 4, Skyrim and this years Red Dead Redemption 2, are just a few examples but you know the type I’m talking about. Big, bold open-worlders that you spend the first 30 minutes making your character look like yourself only to equip a helmet in the next five minutes.
But for those of you who have either exhausted all their usual choices or just downright have no interest in the them whatsoever, I have a few other options for you. These games are down the path less trodden, they are the equivalent of finding a real life Easter egg, they don’t last as long as other chocolate but the are packed full of equal amounts of delight, if not more. Here are five lesser chosen games for you to sink your pearly whites into.
Fantasy life is a truly relaxing game and you can easily lose track of a few hours once you get started. The premise is simple: pick a life and live it, that’s basically it and you can choose from Alchemist, Angler, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Cook, Hunter, Magician, Mercenary, Miner, Paladin, Tailor and Woodcutter.
Whatever “Life Class” you choose will have a list of challenges for you to whittle through, from collecting a certain number of the same material to crafting a perfect level item. Each life will have you out in the world gathering materials and slicing through monsters, then coming back home to hone your crafting skills.
There are tiers to each life, from Fledgling to God, each time you surpass a challenge you will get closer to the next tier, when you hit the next tier you will be rewarded with a bonus to your performance in your chosen life, once you reach God tier you are done and you can start all over again in another life, bliss.
Stardew Valley deserves all of the fame and praise it has received. Eric Barone, more commonly known as ConcernedApe, is the only developer of Stardew Valley and he is one hard working guy. He wrote all the programming, wrote all the dialogue and all of the story, drew all of the art and created all of the sound and music, all of that in just four years, that is some seriously impressive stuff.
Eric said that Stardew Valley started out as a Harvest Moon clone to teach him how to code but it eventually turned into the masterpiece we have today. You are tasked with the rebuilding of your newly acquired farm and eventually the rest of the village. At first your farm is anything but a farm, it is more akin to an abandoned and overgrown quarry. Rocks ranging from the size of a basketball to a small elephant, the once luscious greens that sprawled across the land have been ostracized by the litter-like formation of large logs, rugged rocks and troublesome thickets.
Day-by-day and weed-by-weed your farm starts to take it’s shape and you start to feel more and more responsible for it, only trouble is that in all the time you’ve spent breaking rocks and chopping trees, you’ve missed four birthdays, three fairs and you still haven’t introduced yourself to half of the village, but the crops are not going to water themselves now are they?
The Viridian land of Pelican Town has much more to offer alongside farming, you can spend your days doing an number of different activities if you choose to, You can fish in any deep blue body of water your piscine-hungry eyes lock-on to, you can take your pickaxe by your two rugged hands and smash you way through the levels of the mine to the north of town or you can get a pen and paper handy and start checking off the lists of required items to help rebuild the town.
With all of this to do and too much more to go into, the amount of time Stardew Valley will give you is well-worth your hard earned cash.
Pokémon Pearl is my favourite Pokémon game of all time, it is the one that instantly springs to mind whenever someone mentions Pokémon, not only does it provide you with all of the awe, thrill and excitement that comes with being a Pokémon trainer but it also gave us the Explorer Kit
The Explorer Kit was truly a thing of beauty for my younger eyes, at the simple touch of a button, (My Explore Kit was obviously assigned to Y), you turned into a human drill and burrowed down through the ground and landed in the undergrounds of Sinnoh. This place is amazing as it is filled with treasures, namely Spheres and Prisms, hidden within the walls. A simple tap on the bottom screen would send a pulse throughout the caverns and revealing to you where the treasure spots are, but be careful as it could be a trap.
Alongside the promise of riches, the traps would lay in wait for their next victim but a simple action would soon sort it out and you’d be back spelunking in no time. As well as the Explorer Kit providing hours of entertainment, there is also the fantastic Pokémon Contests. In these contests you had to pick a Pokémon depending on the theme and make it perform for an audience, firstly by dressing it up, then dancing to a rhythm but making sure to follow the previous steps and lastly by performing action moves.
These contests were always a bundle of fun and I’d often spend more time here than proceeding on with the game, Pokémon Pearl and Diamond are a solid option if you want to relax and smile for a few hours.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker is the type of game you don’t pick up unless you have checked your schedule and you realise that you don’t actually have 70+ hours free but screw it, you’ll make the time. Joker takes you by the face, kisses you ever so lightly then sprints away from you, stopping every now and then to beckon you and we can’t help but follow.
DQM:J is a brilliant game with the usual compelling story you come to expect from Dragon Quest, mixed with the hearty amount of grind that all JRPGs love to dish out. You gain a monster and have to train the monster and eventually you will get a team of monsters that you will also have to train, now before you say anything about Pokémon, let me say a few things.
DQM:J is different from Pokémon in many ways, the overall premise is pretty much the same, (Get a team, train them up, take out the boss) but if we were to head down that path we could say it about most JRPGs, then we would be here all night, so let’s not. In joker you have to impress the monster you want in order for it to join your team, you do this by showing a great display of power, the stronger your monster = the more impressed they will be.
The main thing about Joker that kept me re-tweaking my team every ten minutes was the synthesising system. You can take two monster that are compatible with each other and synthesize them into a completely different one, all depending on the factors that are in play E.G their class. If you do it right you’ll end up with a more powerful monster than your current one, on it’s first level. You level that one up and keep repeating the process until you have a formidable team. It does take time but it is completely worth the wait.
Roaming around the world, fighting different monsters and taking on the smaller side bosses will keep you entertained for a very long time.
Euro Truck Simulator 2
Forget Need for Speed and forget Dirt, Colin McRae can step aside and make room for the only driving game anyone needs, Euro Truck Simulator 2. This game just oozes relaxing vibes as you cruise your way to your destination with the radio blaring sweet melodies that vibrate throughout your head and down your legs, making your feet tap uncontrollably.
If you want to feel totally relaxed then look no further because this is probably as relaxed as you can be without breaking some sort of law, seriously, this game is almost soothing enough to send you to sleep. You start your new company and start to make you way up the ladder by taking small cargo jobs. If you do them well and without causing any damage to either your truck or other vehicles, then you will receive your promised pay and you start saving your money to build your company from the ground up.
You can buy different trucks and customize them differently from the others, take to the road and feel the wind hit your face. You can choose to listen to the radio or turn it off and drive in silence. If you do choose the radio then you can even upload your own music to listen to as the road disappears behind you as your truck smoothly passes between the surrounding scenery.
If you just want to chill for a while and let the troubles of the day melt away, you need to kick off your shoes and slip on your favourite slippers and start your engines.