After being stuck in quarantine for a few weeks, I found myself craving a very specific type of gaming experience. Games with strict story-telling and linear plots aren’t for me right now; I’m wanting games that simulate a sense of freedom, beauty, and give a lot of choices (bonus points if they’re bright and colorful!). Here are some of the games that have satisfied these cravings recently.
1. Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild is my go-to game when I want to explore and see some new sights. Not only is it an open-world environment, but it’s also filled to the brim with interesting things to do and find. Similar games have simply created a beautiful world and left it relatively empty, but BOTW managed to make it both awe-inspiring and interesting. I love seeing all of the different biomes throughout the map and solving a bunch of puzzles on my way. It’s the ultimate sense of freedom that I’ve been missing while trapped indoors.
Journey has some of the best story-telling I’ve seen in a game, and it all takes place in one of the most incredible settings I’ve ever seen. Every time I play it, I’m filled with a sense of existential peace that no other game has been able to replicate for me. The game only takes about two hours to complete, but it has an enormous amount of replay value because of its cyclical nature. There are also a lot of cool trophies and achievements to aim for that make it worthwhile to replay.
3. Mario Odyssey
Most people praise the smooth mechanics and gameplay of Mario Odyssey. It completely deserves those praises, but I’ve found that it’s also an extremely good mood-lifter and it removes that sense of claustrophobia I get from being indoors. Although it isn’t as open-world as Breath of the Wild, the scenery still instills a sense of adventure as you make your way through the clever obstacles that keep you from Princess Peach. And, like Journey, it has a lot of challenges that make it worth replaying.
4. The Last Guardian
The hype for The Last Guardian has passed a while ago, but I’m honestly still charmed by the setting and by your giant companion throughout the game, Trico. This game gives you an adventure and a pet; if you’re someone who gets attached to your house in Breath of the Wild, you’ll fall hard for Trico.
5. Jak and Daxter
A childhood favorite! Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy inspired hours of exploration and imagination when I was a kid, and it set the precedent for a good game in my mind. The other games on this list probably looked to Jak and Daxter as inspiration for their own tales, so its worthwhile to check out this classic as well. Some of the humor and storytelling hasn’t aged well, but even a modern player can appreciate the world-building, lore, and passion put into this game.