We at CGMagazine know there’s just as much work in fighting boredom as there is in staying safe through a worldwide pandemic. While things could feel restricted under a roof, the sky’s the limit when you take a chance to dive back into a backlog of titles.
Whether it involves paying off a raccoon who’s better with money than impulse Switch buyers or ending a (game) boss you kept waiting years ago, there’s a real purpose in using games to literally take back control of newfound time and space at home.
This time around, we’ve thought about the titles which help fill the void of curiosity, exploration and even relationships - all of which could be on a pause menu over the year. These feelings are also some of the pain points games were designed for in their own unique ways. In our latest curated list, we’ve found a particular spark with some new and familiar games to create indoor adventures with.
Admittedly, it also took a fellow impulse-Switch buyer to build the selections below.
Systems: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Reason: A virtual breath of freedom when you need it most
A household name for gamers since the days of Vice City and San Andreas, the latest member of the Grand Theft Auto family was able to fully realize its open world formula with next generation hardware. This leads to a near-limitless time killer for players looking for freedom to live in a world that looks eerily similar to ours (without the UFOs). A compelling campaign is split between three characters with a satirical hook, keeping players invested in progressing their lives while exploring Los Santos without consequences.
Pure, unadulterated activities broaden the scope of Grand Theft Auto V for a variety of gamers across mainstream platforms. On top of the single player experience, its Online mode turns the game into a larger sim as your custom character gains a questionable income to build an empire. With a friend, the collection of heists, survival missions and races are enough in sparking mindless laughs and some nostalgia.
CGMagazine’s task: We suggest getting from Michael’s house to Mount Chiliad - without breaking any laws. Believe us, it’s easier said than done.
Systems: Nintendo Switch, Wii U
Reason: 60 plus hours of quests in a stunning Hyrule
Link’s first “true” open world adventure takes players into over 60 hours of challenges which take the best parts of beloved Zelda games and mashes them together into a large scale quest. It’s hard to see Hyrule the same way again after exploring every corner of the map, filled with as much activity as there is detail. Surprisingly, the sheer size of the game on the Switch can be enough to impress anyone, right when they wake up in the first ten minutes.
From here, Breath of the Wild has a way of using its mystery to keep players wanting more as they progress through quests. But it’s also the journey before the destination which is most rewarding. Sidetracking to complete the game’s intricate trials and mini bosses bring rewards to make Link stronger before facing Calamity Ganon. The whole experience gives you the final boss right away, but also lets you decide how the fight goes by spending some time exploring Hyrule first. This lets you stretch the game out for your own pacing while giving new players a chance at beating their first Zelda game. As a gateway or backlog item, it’s magical.
CGMagazine’s task: For new adventurers: get the Master Sword. For veterans: restart the game and defeat Ganon without help from all four Divine Beasts.
Systems: Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, SteamVR, PSVR
Reason: Wear different hats or rekindle your workplace woes
Hear us out. A mindless sandbox for VR, Job Simulator’s madness comes from making your “if I do this, I’d get fired” thoughts come true. Whether you’re a chef, mechanic or accountant, the game is designed for hilarious experimentation. It’s also a chance to revisit a familiar space for those yearning to go back to their workplaces, without the seriousness or time crunch.
This is when hiring a weird applicant, sabotaging a snobby customer’s lunch or changing car oil with Sriracha makes you a great employee. Interestingly, the game does more than give you a twisted impression of real-world occupations. A list of specific tasks can be completed in order to fully learn about a workplace’s tools (and its equally funny coworkers). Job Simulator almost feels like an escape from home in a strange, backwards vacation. For hardcore staff, the game also features an Infinite Overtime Mode for the true nine-to-five experience. Catch 22: It’s unpaid work.
CGMagazine’s task: Become the Mechanic, finish every task in a way that gets you fired in the real world - without laughing or grinning.
System: PC, PC VR, Mac
Reason: Distance never stopped game nights with friends
Social distancing never stopped a reverse card or green hotel acquisition from happening in this definitive party experience for up to ten players. Tabletop Simulator is more than a large serving of board games - it’s also a tool to create any game you want and a place to play them with friends online. Adding to the appeal are the mods which outpaced Tabletop Simulator’s own pre-made games. A strangely satisfying physics system also keeps the game together and mimics movement for virtually any game. You can even flip the table and get away with it under intense matches. Its best feature allows for cross-platform multiplayer under incredibly accessible requirements.
Thousands of these are adapted straight from every board game normally played with others. If it exists, there’s probably a way to add it in on Tabletop Simulator. Its mods know no boundaries, even bringing the full Cards Against Humanity, RISK, Dungeons & Dragons and Yu-Gi-Oh! experience for free at one download away. At a time when board game cafes and weekly game nights are cancelled, Tabletop Simulator becomes a hidden gem for friends (complete with voice chat, of course).
CGMagazine’s task: Reconnect with your friends. Have fun and build some meaningful moments with board games that brought you together in the old days. While you’re at it, flip a table!
System: Nintendo Switch
Reason: Having the best island for bragging rights
Practically the leading time-killer which led to a worldwide console shortage, New Horizons is an escape. It lets you create an island you always wanted in a lifelong goal of furnishing your future home and appeasing our overlord Tom Nook. Your own progression in the game drives elements of exploration and expansion - leading to an addictive routine of using what you find to shape your own world.
As our reviewer Jordan Biordi wrote, New Horizons makes you feel in full control while “providing further incentives to complete small goals.” Added measures Nintendo created also include maintaining your virtual lifestyle and getting to show it off to friends online. The game’s visuals tie into the charm from neighbours and service staff who are essential in helping you along. However, we can’t help you with the inevitable weed infestation and every beautiful insect that wants to bite you.
If you’re lucky to have a Switch during this time, we suggest clearing your backlog of unfinished games first before investing more time than money for New Horizons.
CGMagazine’s task: Earn 1,000,000 bells without messing around with the Switch's internal clock. We're watching.
Systems: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Reason: A fresh start to keep your self-maintenance skills sharp
Far off from the clutches of Tom Nook, The Sims 4 is more unforgiving for players and adds accountability with every decision you make for custom characters. The game’s lengthy support of DLC is enough to warrant a do-over for veteran addicts while creating new objectives to whittle away at. In this case, an idea could branch off to several other smaller requirements.
It also leads to a tedious fixation to keeping the Sim alive while making a decent living. As simple as it sounds, The Sims 4 adds wackier curveballs and even some supernatural occurrences which can grant you a visit from Mr. Reaper. If you didn’t invest in building relationships or raising children, Sims can even experience permadeath and cause you to reset a household.
CGMagazine’s task: Pay your bill on time and break-even, five times in a row.
Systems: PS3, PS4
Reason: A day by day anime series of your own making
The critically-acclaimed RPG classic puts you back in high school, where your social interactions with characters can make a difference between tackling conflicts alone and being unstoppable with the Phantom Thieves. Persona 5 lets you play as Joker, a teenager living in an explorable Tokyo while leading a group of others with supernatural abilities.
Your persona is shaped by the game’s focus on conversations, leading to opportunities for increasing income and player experience. Unlike other RPGs listed, Persona 5 also uses its freedom in turn-based combat in visits to the Metaverse. This parallel world is combat-centric and lets players test their strength against enemies using a combination of skills gained from the work you put in. Its rewarding progression is mixed with daily challenges. Part-time job opportunities allow Joker to make money and customize his two lifestyles.
On top of that, the progress is tied together with a unique 3D animation style and anime cutscenes to push Persona 5’s campaign forward. A day and night cycle changes the gameplay at a constant, keeping gamers addicted for over 150 hours. Following the first session, you’re in Joker’s life for good. Its new Royal edition arrives in time with every past DLC, an extra semester and additional Social Links for Joker.
CGMagazine’s task: Complete a gun-only challenge run.
Systems: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mobile
Reason: Cultivating your own farm business
Created by sole developer Eric Barone (ConcernedApe), Stardew Valley takes the best farming aspects from Harvest Moon and sets players on one mission: to simply cultivate as many resources as possible. The fruits of your labour can be used in a variety of ways, from expanding into an empire or bartering with other local townspeople. As daunting as it seems, the game makes it possible to thrive and make your hard work known.
16-bit graphics and a wholesome virtual community take players away from a different world altogether, in exchange of delivering Stardew Valley beautiful prosperity. Essentially, this game is only limited by your imagination to see and achieve - without killing anybody.
The game’s unique variety also bends the farming genre to your liking. From our 2016 review, Jake Yanik tells players there’s no wrong way to play the game as anything you do will only pile up resources. As a result, you can start a side business at home and watch every plan unfold.
CGMagazine’s task: Thrive with only one farm type and rebuild the town.
System: Paper, Browser, Book
Reason: Hours of tedious accomplishment without staring at a screen
If you’ve scrolled this far, then let it be known that not every game has to be played from a bright monitor. Players looking for a self-engaging title without burning their eyes out can do so with pen and paper. What makes Sudoku simple is the 9x9 grid itself. Just fill in each 3x3 section and row with numbers one to nine.
The catch: Each section and row can’t have the same number in them.
Things get complex when players begin strategizing the numbers. One wrong placement and the rest of the puzzle becomes confusing. Gameplay mechanics including experimentation and branching choices keep the brain jogging in a quest to solve the entire puzzle. On beginner generated puzzles, it’s easy for new players to become hooked after their first solved grid. Higher levels offer less pre-placed numbers to use as guides.
Without a menu or a controller, self-set modes from CGMagazine include:
Sudoku is deceptively simple, while it’s responsible for consuming hours at a time. For gamers taking a break, the grid works.
CGMagazine’s task: Solve this
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Already got a game which is keeping you busy at home? Let us know how with your game and personal challenge via a comment below!