The next few weeks will prove a challenging time for those of us faced with the prospect of lockdown. However, since it is for the health of society’s weakest that we practice social distancing, it’s a good idea we practice recommended measures. In the next week, The Badger will be recommending some of the best art to while away the hours with.
This time, myself, Arts Online Editor Jude Whiley, Arts Print Editor Lucy Peters, Features Sub-Editor Olly Williams, Social Media & Events Coordinator Elisei Sergevnin, Online Production Editor Rory Hinshelwood, Sports Sub-Editor Charlie Batten and Writers Tom Polyblank and Harry Laws are recommending the video games to play during self-isolation.
This article recommends everything from 2020’s smash-hit Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing: New Horizons to 2009’s post-apocalyptic action game Fallout: New Vegas to the Football Manager franchise that’ll fill the Premiere League shaped hole in your heart. There’s something for everyone to enjoy during the pandemic lockdown.
Just Dance (2009-present)
Is your government mandated once daily exercise excursion not enough? Well, force a family member or housemate to join you in the ultimate exercise dance battle of the ages. The Just Dance series spans 11 main series games but the original stays legendary with truly iconic songs including ‘Hot N Cold’, ‘Cotton Eye Joe’, ‘Fame’, ‘Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun’ and ‘Womanizer’; it’s the modern day equivalent to jazzercize – perfect to lift your legs and your spirits to during lockdown!
What Remains of Edith Finch (2017)
A single player exploration game, What Remains of Edith Finch tells the gripping story of Edith’s deceased family members from her great-great-grandfather Odin to her older brother and aspiring artist Milton. This game is perfect for a gaming binge as you’ll be absolutely enthralled by the art style and encapsulated by the narrative.
The Stanley Parable (2011)
You start the game in an empty abandoned office – not far off what it’d be like if we did go to work during the lockdown – and you are immediately joined by the mysterious British narrator’s voice leading you through the game and the possible options. With each decision, you can follow the narrator’s narrative or go against his recommendations. Either way, the game splits off in the weirdest and whackiest directions possible. With every office corner turned comes new possibilities and outcomes. This game could keep you entertained, freaked out and conscious of the nature of choice for hours.
Assassin’s Creed (2007-present)
Not enjoying 2020 so far? Then travel back in time using Animus to experience an array of stunning historical open-world settings as you take on the role of assassins fulfilling stealthy missions. Gameplay includes visiting Jerusalem and meeting Richard the Lionheart in the original Assassin’s Creed, invading the Vatican in Assassin’s Creed II, commandeering ships as a pirate in Black Flag, cross paths with Napoleon during the French Revolution in Unity and even as twins Jacob and Evie in Victorian Era London throughout Syndicate. There’s something for everyone in this franchise and with hours and hours of possible gameplay it’s ideal for the history nerd inside all of us.
Professor Layton (2007-present)
Lockdown can see your daily routine getting a bit repetitive so why not fire up some Professor Layton to get those brain cogs turning again. Full of intrigue and mysterious happenings backed up by aesthetic graphics, the Professor Layton franchise is ideal for a slow afternoon. Join Layton and his plucky side kick Luke Triton in solving endless puzzles in order to save the day. Highlights of the franchise include the Curious Village and Lost Future games.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020)
Guys, guys if you haven’t heard about the latest drop from the adorable franchise Animal Crossing, you haven’t experienced true 2020 culture. Also known as the game which has sold 1.88 million copies in Japan during its first 3 days of sales and has become the Nintendo Switch’s fastest-selling game EVER. For a game that seems relatively basic – interacting with cartoon animals, fishing and collecting insects, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become the breath of fresh air our world truly needs right now. Wholesome content abound, you’ll get to run around a cute little wilderness, furnish your home, and visit your real-life friends’ islands – needless to say it’s the perfect remedy for the woes of social-distancing. If you can afford to pick up Nintendo Switch (currently at £249.99 with a copy of the game), I highly recommend embracing real-world isolation and joining the revolution. This innocent seeming game is burning it’s way like a wildfire through meme culture and popular obsession – and shows no signs of slowing down.
The Sims 3 (2009-2013)
The Sims 3 is considered by all gamers of taste to be the mecca of The Sims franchise. Unlike The Sims 4, it features fully customisable content in-game, and the graphics are more focused on realism (or as realistic as 2009 games can be), than its successor’s cartoonish approach. It’s open world gameplay inherited the goofy storylines and adored expansion packs from The Sims 2 and built on them beautifully, solidifying The Sims Series one of the best and most beloved gaming franchises of all time. If you soon get bored of the base game, I recommend the expansions Late Night, Seasons, and Supernatural. Island Paradise is notoriously dysfunctional, but if your PC can handle the heat, the stunning world of Isla Vista will give you and your sims a well-deserved vacation from the confines of your isolation bunker. Crank up the stereo, hook up with the Grim Reaper, and spam motherlode… until you inevitably get sick of sending your sims to bed on time and end it all in a ‘tragic house fire’. Za Woka Genava!
God of War (2018)
The video game industry is in something of a golden age. With better hardware rolled out every year, the scope of video games has come a long way since Pong. Many even consider video games to qualify for the elusive A.R.T, but killing things offers different pleasures to gazing at a painting. God of War is a pairing of the two which works against all odds. It combines the most satisfying, violent gameplay I’ve experienced with the best story I have ever played: wherein an aged, emotionally distant Kratos must travel with his son to the highest point in ancient Norway to spread his wife’s ashes. Visually stunning, masterfully written and captivating at every stage, God of War is what all video games should aspire to be.
Resident Evil 7 (2017)
Games like Outlast and Amnesia: The Dark Descent made survival horror popular a few years ago, but there’s something which these games lack: a means of fighting back. Resident Evil understands that fighting should be an option, but makes it challenging enough that it’s scary. It’s wits that will keep you alive, though bullets will certainly help. A part of my mind still resides in that Louisana swamp, where our protagonist must face all kinds of monstrosities to find his missing wife. Horror arises naturally from the setting as opposed to cheap jump scares. The antagonists are the Baker Family: a group of deranged, cannibalistic hillbillies, and if that sounds funny, it’s because it is. They’re every bit as funny as they are terrifying.
You may know Undertale from its god-awful fan base, but if you can overlook that, you’ll find one of the most strikingly original games this side of the century. You can install it on the laptop you bring to seminars and it’ll run like a charm. The player (that’s you) has fallen into a magical realm called The Underground, which is populated by monsters banished from Earth in an ancient war. Turns out most of them are alright, honestly. Inspired by the silliness of internet humour, Undertale is surprising from beginning to end, subverting expectations every step of the way. Meta as hell, it’s also unique as a personal project from creator Toby Fox, who developed, wrote and composed for the game. You should play it because it’s hilarious, but I bet you’ll get sucked into the lore, too.
Fallout: New Vegas (2009)
Developed by the makers of the original two late-90s games, New Vegas is true to the franchise’s deep RPG roots while embracing the greater combat focus brought on by Bethesda Studio’s Fallout 3. And while certain mechanical tweaks make New Vegas’s combat even more thrilling than 3’s, the main attraction is undoubtedly its storyline. Beyond the beautifully subtle environmental storytelling the series is known for, the game’s campaign and DLC constitute a post-apocalyptic, postmodern epic centred on the subject of war (one thing that “never changes”). More than any other post-apocalypse game, New Vegas uses its genre, as well as the setting of Vegas, as a means of staging various beliefs, ideologies and cultures and have them battle it out wasteland style.
Hotline Miami (2012-2015)
This ultra-violent top-down low-fi indie game was nominated for IGN’s Game of the Year alongside triple-A titles such as Halo, Mass Effect, and Borderlands. The game’s soundtrack, 1.5 hours of 80s style synth/techno music, received particularly widespread acclaim and fits perfectly the fast paced violent gameplay and vibrant neon aesthetic of cold-war Miami. Hotline’s story follows an unstable loner who finds threatening messages on his answering machine telling him to commit murder. Inspired by a host of cultural sources, most notably Drive (2011) and David Lynch’s films, the game is as intriguing and mysterious as it is garish.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (2017)
Though some of the art style is off in this compilation remake of the original Naughty Dog series of platform game Crash Bandicoot (1996-1998), the N. Sane Trilogy remains surprisingly loyal to the original formula. Many nostalgic fans have critiqued a number of the game’s character remodels, specifically those of Crash and Neo Cortex, as well as a number of level re-designs. However, in many ways the redux does a lot to repair errors from the first game in terms of its overall control and responsiveness. Ultimately, if you want to play the original it’s available on emulators many of which are now online.
Rock Band 4 (2015)
A lot of us are self-isolating in groups. Therefore, it seems only appropriate that I recommend games that we can play in groups. The minute we heard about the prospect of a quarantine, the family consensus agreed that we needed this game back in our lives. The benefit of this game is the vast pool of songs players have access to. I myself have already downloaded the David Bowie and Talking Heads pack, as well as Weezer’s ‘Say It Ain’t So’, a classic of the original.
SSX Tricky (2001)
This is another old console game. SSX Tricky is the king of sport video games. The vintage graphics, gravity defying tricks and distinctly noughties character design all throw one into a nostalgic world where music taste was poor and fashion sense, senseless. A great quarantine game.
London 2012: The Official Video Game (2012)
This game throws up some complications, in that you need an Xbox 360 to play. However, since I wasted days playing this game since 2012, I see no problem wasting them again. Personal favourites are the diving (which I suck at), Clay Pigeon Shooting (which I’m great at), and Javelin (which is hit-and-miss). This is another great game to play in groups. It can get fiercely competitive.
Star Wars Battlefront II (2017)
After the initial backlash to the loot box mechanic the developers worked hard on fixing this into becoming one of the best multiplayer shooters out there right now. The maps are amazing with their detail being out of this world and easter eggs for Star Wars fans scattered throughout. I can spend hours on the large-scale galactic assault modes which really feel like you’re at war. The amount of iconic heroes and villains the game has is incredible and you can even fight them against each other. Every Star Wars nerd needs to get this game and live out your childhood fantasies.
Batman: Arkham City (2011)
As a huge fan of the Arkham franchise my favourite has to be Arkham City. It allows you to be Batman in Gotham City which previously had never been done. The sheer number of Batman villains you face in this is incredible and the boss fights are varied so you never feel like you’re doing the same one twice. I’ve replayed it so many times and each time I love it even more just because of the control you have to do what you want and go where you want as the caped crusader. If you’ve never played it before you need to get it. NOW.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019)
For a long time, Star Wars fans have been desperately waiting for a good campaign focused Star Wars game and now we finally have one. The story is a new spin on the well-known saga with new characters, creatures and planets whilst also adding in fan favourites as a nice thumbs up to fans. It’s has been described as Dark Souls meets Star Wars which it is meaning once you beat a boss you feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s an amazing game overall which both franchise fan boys and enjoy and regular gamers too.
Already hate being stuck inside your house? It could be worse! You could be stuck inside a testing facility, with no knowledge of who you are, navigating a series of confounding puzzles, all for the promise of cake. The formula is simple but delightfully frustrating. You’ll be surprised at just how difficult the level designers can make the, ‘in one hole and out the other’, principle mechanics of the game. I’ve never raged so hard at a non-combat game. If you ever manage to make your way through the first game and overcome your powerful and questionably sexy captor; the second game adds more fun characters, frightening puzzles and multiplayer ability so you can also torture a friend! Just remember, the cake is a lie…..
Stardew Valley (2016)
In development for over 4 and a half years, being programmed, designed, composed and architected by one man, this delightful little RGP sim has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The player quits their corporate life to move onto a farm inherited from their grandfather, in the sleepy town of Stardew Valley. For those who grew up playing MySims on the Nintendo DS, its much of a similar vibe with distinct and loveable characters about the town, each with their own trade and story to discover. The game cycles through four beautifully designed seasons as the player builds, designs and grows their farm. There is the option to get married, and this is not restricted by the gender of your starting character. The game also doesn’t shy away from themes such as loneliness, anxiety and climate change, but does so in a way that inspires hope and community.
Fable II (2008)
If you’re a big fan of the mystery, adventure and often absurdity of tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons, Fable brings the same medieval malarkey to the console. Hero, Villain, wife, blacksmith, Jester, the path to glory is yours to decide. Roam the hills and castles, cast spells, grow ‘flaccid celery’, dig up condoms in the middle of a forest. This open world is sitting somewhere between Skyrim and GTA V, striking a perfect balance of not taking itself too seriously, whilst also having amazing character art, story depth and attention to detail. A truly unique adventure every time.
Football Manager (2004-present)
Do you yearn for the return of the English Premier League, champions league, euros or even the Australian A-League? Throw yourself back into the depths of the football world with Football Manger Handheld or on your laptop. Manage and build your team, controlling tactics, training and transfers all in the pursuit of world football domination. Start a career as Real Madrid and form the next ‘Galácticos’, bring Celtic to Champion’s League glory or really challenge yourself and win the Premier League with Liverpool.
The Sims 4 (2014-present)
I hope most of you are already die-hard fans of The Sims franchise but if not, now is the perfect time to become one. This iconic life simulator allows you to create your own characters, build their homes and play around with their life – the possibilities are truly endless! The 4th installment has better animation and smoother gameplay than its predecessor but more importantly your sims can now experience a wide range of emotions, affecting their mood and actions! And with the Discover University expansion pack you can even live the remainder of this academic year vicariously through your sims! What a treat.