If you didn’t find anything that you liked in my last list—or you somehow already blew through those games—I’ve got a whole new batch!
Duck Game – $2.59 on Steam until March 29th, $12.99 after that
Available for Windows, PS4, and Switch
My preferred means of socializing is through co-op play, and Duck Game is great for forming friends across distance. This wacky 2D arena shooter pits up to 4 ducks against each other in a slapstick duel fueled by trumpets, bananas, and death rays. The game is easy to pick up and play, but can have a surprising amount of depth for a game with a dedicated quack button. I’d compare it to Smash if it was made by Adult Swim and had ducks instead of Fire Emblem characters. Duck Game lends itself more to nonsensical “brawls” than competitive shooting and is better for that. The whole game is one big, well polished joke, and at that it is best in class.
Game Dev Tycoon – $9.99 on Steam, $4.99 on Mobile Stores
Available on all Major Operating Systems and on Mobile
The best praise I can give this game is that I’ve been playing it since 2013. In Game Dev Tycoon you, shockingly, are a game developer working from the halcyon days of the Commodore 64 up to the present. It’s a strategy simulation with animations and sounds so polished and satisfying that I think I still play it just to hear those little *plops*. Game Dev Tycoon scratches my brain in the same way that an idle game does without making me feel like a dopamine robot. It’s just complex enough without being stressful to let me focus on the simple pleasures of plopping and laughing at my own terrible game titles (surely Bethesda will get their act together if I make Fallout 76-2: The Search for More Money). If you’re a tycoon nut who enjoys really getting into the nitty gritty of economic graphs there’s a “super difficult pirate mode” that is sure to challenge you. For most though, this is a game that benefits from the low difficulty and I enjoy it as a relaxing grind through game history.
Stardew Valley – $14.99
Available on All Major Platforms
I almost didn’t bring this game because it’s so celebrated that I assume everyone has heard of it. If you haven’t, Stardew Valley is among the most bang for 15 bucks you’ll ever get. It’s a farming sim in the vein of Harvest Moon. You fix up a newly inherited farm and build a life in an idyllic town. It’s all very soothing while also succeeding as a satisfying simulation game. If you’re on a budget or don’t have a Switch this is the perfect game to scratch that Animal Crossing itch. The townsfolk are adorable and likeable, the activities are engaging, and the atmosphere of the game is like having warm chamomile tea on tap. It all cycles around a day system where you have a certain amount of energy and time to use before you have to get to bed and start a new day fresh. This cycle breeds habit and exploration unlike any other game. The daily chores you do become a relaxing reflex that you get to enjoy while planning the rest of your day. Resulting in each new day being a blend of delightful familiarity and excitement. Even if this isn’t a type of game you’ve enjoyed before, Stardew Valley is so good at what it does that I’d recommend you try it anyway.
Thimbleweed Park – $7.99 on Humble Bundle until March 31st, $19.99 after
Available for Windows, Mac, Xbox One, and Switch
I debated including Thimbleweed Park because I was disappointed in where the story went. However, the writing and atmosphere are still golden, and if you like point and click adventure games it’s a blast. The surrealist humor is well done without getting old and the tributes to 90’s adventure games are fun even if you only have a passing familiarity with them. You start as two FBI agents investigating a murder in the strange town of Thimbleweed Park, and to reveal anything else would give too much away. Suffice it to say that things get weird and you eventually control five characters connected by the mystery. The music, art, and dialogue combine to give this game a bizarre brand of charm that’s right up my alley. Thimbleweed Park happily pokes fun at itself, the player, and the genre to great effect. At times it can veer into “old man yells at cloud” territory, but the moments where it does are rare. If you enjoy adventure games, surreal humor, or mysteries I would heartily recommend Thimbleweed Park.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment