While we live through interesting times and luxuries like food and toilet paper rocket beyond the realms of affordability, things like holidays and time off become hilarious pipe-dreams.
I’m writing this to you while on holiday with NAG’s own Dane Remendes (who looks incredible in a pink Speedo, FYI), but I expect this may be the last one for quite some time. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of games to play that come close to feeling like a holiday, without all the inconveniences like needing money and getting sand in your buttcrack.
If you’re looking for the kind of holiday that sees you waking up drunk and pantless using a hooker’s ass as a pillow, you may want to move further down the list.
If your idea of a break however is a month of tranquil solitude and beautiful scenery, this one’s for you. There’s an adventure embedded in this game, and even a bit of tension, but everything happens at a slow, thoughtful pace that gives you time to appreciate everything.
As the story plays out you’ll spend plenty of time exploring the Wyoming wilderness, and straying from the beaten track can have a meditative quality to it.
I loved my time spent with this game; it provided a satisfying break from reality but never felt pointless or unengaging.
Now for something completely different – Uncharted 4 ratchets up the pace to breakneck speed and holds it there for long periods, with occasional puzzling exploration thrown in to release some of the pressure.
This is a game on rails, make no mistake, but while there’s not much room here for the intrepid explorer, the scripted nature of the whole thing makes it an enjoyable distraction from the responsibilities and pressures of the real world. The game takes your hand and leads you on an exhilarating escapade, its forceful, guiding hand comforting if you feel like being the passenger rather than the driver.
Think of this one as a couple of days spent at an amusement park.
The biggest criticism of this game is that it isn’t a game at all. Which is also often its most prominent praise as well.
Dear Esther has a player exploring a rather beautiful island, while listening to a narrator. Different playthroughs offer different snippets of letters written to Esther, which allows one to piece the story together over time.
If you thought Firewatch was a chilled experience, it’s like juggling flaming chainsaws compared to Dear Esther. If you’ve had a particularly stressful few weeks though, taking a walk around the island can be quite soothing.
Far Cry 3
This one scores major points for immersion as the game starts with the protagonist actually being on vacation. With “holiday gone wrong” being a Hollywood favourite, this one lets you feel like an everyman badass having to take on an army of pirates during your time off.
Unlike Uncharted 4, Far Cry 3 lets you do things your way. It’s a very different kind of experience, but opens itself to exploration, self-appointed side quests and approaching things in different ways. It helps that the setting is gorgeous too.
In spite of the action, things feel somewhat low stakes here, and it’s easy to approach a particular scenario in a number of creative ways. Unlike a real holiday, you can reverse all poor decisions, so you’ll never get stuck with one shoe and a petri dish worth of STIs.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead
Sometimes the worst part of going on holiday is dealing with annoying friends and family; so why not see them all die horrible deaths instead? Even better, you can feel instrumental in the process.
Crying yourself to sleep will leave you feeling refreshed in the morning, a cathartic experience as good as any beachside holiday.