Lockdown has been hard on all of us. With almost nothing to occupy our time for the last 6 months, video games have come to the forefront as the new certified Best Hobby. Here is what some of our writers played to get through these unprecedented times.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
If you remember the original Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, you’re officially old. Fortunately, this March saw a fresh remake of the 2005 classic brought to Nintendo Switch.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is a dungeon-crawling spin-off series to the main Pokemon games, putting you in the role of a Pokemon. While many of the familiar Pokemon faces of the main series are here, it’s a quirky spin on the traditional formula.
Since the dungeons in the game can have over 50 floors – along with bosses who send you back to level one if you fail – making sure you’re properly prepared is vital.
This has been my perfect game during lockdown. In a lot of ways, I haven’t had so much free time since the last time I played this game at age eight. A huge part of the Mystery Dungeon games has always been grinding through countless levels. Since the dungeons in the game can have over 50 floors – along with bosses who send you back to level one if you fail – making sure you’re properly prepared is vital. While I don’t usually have time to curl up on the sofa and plod through 100+ hours of repetitive adventuring, this summer has been a stream of endless rainy days.
So if I had to pick a comfort game, this would be it. Pokemon is always a relaxing experience, and the monotonous fun the Mystery Dungeon series provides is a cocktail of fun, mind-numbing goodness.
Through the slog of lockdown, I would spend at least an hour or two a day looking for video games that seemed fun enough to play, and only found a few in months of searching. Probably my favourite one is Devolver Digital’s ‘reverse-horror’ game Carrion. This ‘The Thing’ inspired platformer has you play as a highly-intelligent, carnivorous, amorphous blob of flesh, tentacles and teeth, hinted to be a mutated form of tubifex worm.
The player controls this monstrosity from its initial containment breach, rampaging throughout the underground facility it’s been held in. As you escape, you devour helpless humans to gain biomass, mutations and nifty abilities as you progress through the game. These in turn allow you to more effectively terrify helpless personnel right before you tear them apart, or to more easily dispatch with security forces and mechas. Mechanics of the game are also supported by the tentacled movement system that is extremely fluid, and feels just right for optimal worm gameplay.
The pixel art graphics are blended with completely destructible environments with good physics and sharp lighting to create a perfectly eerie atmosphere.
There’s also a lovely puzzle element to opening up sections of the facility. Different abilities are locked to different ‘sizes’ of the worm you play as and are needed for progressing, which adds a nice little mechanic of having to manage biomass.
The pixel art graphics are blended with completely destructible environments with good physics and sharp lighting to create a perfectly eerie atmosphere. Above all else, however, it’s just extremely fun to cinematically rampage through the facility to the game’s lovely soundtrack, leaving a trail of sticky blood and mayhem in your wake.
Dragon Quest XI
My love for the Dragon Quest franchise was birthed at the age of eleven when I was gifted Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. It was that gift (and a fair bit of nostalgia) that made me a die-hard fan of everything Dragon Quest. My adventure with the eleventh installment started last September, yet for whatever reason I stopped playing. So, when lockdown arrived, I decided: “YES – I shall finish this game!”
I can say, without a doubt, that Dragon Quest XI has captured the imagination of not only myself, but also my flatmate. It has become common practice for us to gather around the TV and become immersed within the world of Erdrea. An average session would consist of us shouting profanities at the dense knight that states the obvious, laughing over the grandad hiding his dirty magazines and screaming ‘GAY RIGHTS’ at the jester with an army of twinks (aka the soldiers of smile).
So, when lockdown arrived, I decided: “YES – I shall finish this game”
With a vast yet beautiful world map and a rivetingly emotional storyline, Dragon Quest XI is the game to play. Although I have not completed it just yet, (I’m very close to) I can safely say that it will be the game that I will fondly remember for getting me through lockdown.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout released on PlayStation 4 and PC on 4 August, and has quickly become an international sensation. A party game following the battle royale formula, it is not only the most downloaded PlayStation Plus title ever but also one of the most successful games of 2020 so far.
It is an immensely fun and chanllending game with funky music, colourful graphics, level randomisation and silly physics to contend with.
Your aim is to be the last of 60 jelly beans standing and win yourself a crown after overcoming various obstacle courses (e.g. Dizzy Heights, Whirlygig, Slime Climb, Wall Guys), team games (e.g. Team Tail Tag, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Fall Ball and Hoarders) and – of course – the final, which can currently be one of four options: Fall Mountain, Hex-A-Gone, Royal Fumble and Jump Showdown. With the possibility to play either alone or in a squad of up to four players, it is an immensely fun and challenging game with funky music, colourful graphics, level randomisation and silly physics to contend with.
With a wealth of customisation options for your jelly bean, a cosmetic-only approach to microtransactions and a no-cost post-launch content plan already rolling out, there is a lot of personality to the game and many design choices to be respected. If you’re looking for a new game to play with friends, look no further than Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, and remember to time your grabs wisely…!
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
San Andreas is a game I always watched my brother play, but I finally decided to give it a go myself.
Some controls like the frustrating drive-by shooting feel dated, but for the most part everything works as you’d expect
Featuring a memorable map that I’d argue is more varied (but smaller) than its counterpart in GTA V, it was a joy to drive around from mission to mission. The story’s also a great one, with some genuinely surprising twists. Some characters return from GTA III and Vice City too, making San Andreas feel like the conclusion to a trilogy of amazing games. I also want to highlight the phenomenal soundtrack, which definitely influenced my taste in music today – there’s some great songs here (Hold the Line‘s my favourite).
Some controls like the frustrating drive-by shooting feel dated, but for the most part everything works as you’d expect. I was bad at the game, however, and had to resort to cheats in a couple of missions. There were also some annoyances like rocks popping up out of nowhere and causing collisions, sometimes making me fail a mission.
For such an old game, it’s amazing how much it got right. Subsequent open world games haven’t quite managed to reach this level of polish. Things like putting on muscle and fat in a game and having a romantic life aren’t anywhere near as fleshed out in other open world games (or even other GTA games). It was truly ahead of its time.Flickr]
Last modified: 20th October 2020