Video Games to Bring Back Your Spark After Finals

If you’re anything like me, you probably have been pushing your hobbies and things you do for fun to the wayside during finals season. Maybe it’s because you don’t have time with all of the studying that you’ve been doing or maybe it’s because you’ve been feeling guilty about letting yourself relax when there’s so much to do. Either way, the end of the semester and finals have come and gone and now it’s time to grant yourself a little bit of ‘me time’.

I have gotten into video games more this year than I have any other year in the past. I’m still not one for intense competitive games, but I do enjoy a good slow-paced and story-driven RPG and/or simulator here and there. And because of my newfound love for video games, I thought I would share my favorites with you all to potentially help someone relax and feel better about this mess of a fall semester we’ve all had. The following list is based on the games I think are most relaxing/casually enjoyable and by how many hours I’ve put into each game:

 

  1. 1. The Sims 4 (1,157 hours played)

    Platform played on: PC (Steam) using a keyboard and mouse.

    I wanted to start off with my favorite game franchise, The Sims. I’ve been playing The Sims since my brother and I received a PlayStation 2 way back in the early 2000s. We had the original The Sims and then every version after that. The Sims is the best way to live vicariously through a digital person doing all of the things you’ve ever dreamed of - like owning a house and having pets you’re financially able to afford… 

    The Sims 4 is also great for those who like to watch HGTV and judge other people’s choices in homes. The Sims 4 has a really great game mode where you can build your own houses. And if you’re more of an interior decorator, you can download pre-made homes and decorate away. I highly recommend this game if you’re into very casual gameplay.

     

    GAME TYPE(S): SIMULATION

     

  2. 2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (99 hours played)

    Platform played on: Nintendo Switch Lite.

    Next, I had to mention my other childhood favorite franchise, Animal Crossing. I had received a used copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World for my old Nintendo DS and instantly loved it. The music, the villagers, the tasks, and the museum and shops were all so cute! Sure, I was accruing debt to pay off to a capitalist tanooki, but hey, he was cute so it didn’t matter.

    The newest Animal Crossing on the Nintendo Switch is just as fun if not more than the old games. As I’m sure you’ve heard with all of the buzz going on about it from March until now, you are recruited to develop a resort island, which is a significantly different plot than in past games. You need to work hard in creating, selling, and trading items to villagers and other players in order to create your ideal island, size up your home, and fill up the museum.

    The game is basically fulfilling a never-ending task/side-quest list, but it doesn’t feel like work. I also recommend this game if you are into very casual games and enjoy cuteness and good music.

     

    GAME TYPE(S): SIMULATION

     

  3. 3. Stardew Valley (42 hours played)

    Platform played on: PC (Steam) using a keyboard and mouse.

    Stardew Valley is a cute game with a 16-bit art style where you inherit your grandfather’s farm. You can become friends with the townsfolk, build up your farm and home, develop your skill tree in things like foraging, fishing, mining, and combat, and you can save the local business from the monopoly Joja Co.

    Stardew Valley can be as chill or as involved as you want it to be. As the game progresses through a seasonal cycle you will be given permanent tasks and temporary tasks from various townsfolk. The temporary tasks have a time limit to be completed but there is no penalty if you can’t or don’t complete them. Permanent tasks drive the story a little bit further and will exist until you complete them, but again you don’t have to. 

    I personally like to spend my time in-game hunting for monsters in the mines and filling up the museum, but you can play in other ways focusing solely on foraging, fishing, farming, building relationships, combatting Joja Co., etc. You can also play online with friends and build a large farm together! It’s a great game to play after the stress of finals when you need a little bit more action than a The Sims or Animal Crossing game.

     

    GAME TYPE(S): RPG (Role-playing Game); SIMULATION

     

  4. 4. Sid Meier's Civilization V (29 hours played)

    Platform played on: PC (Steam) using a keyboard and mouse.

    Civ V is a bit different than the first three on this list. Civ V is a turn-based board-game-esque strategy game where you try your best to build the biggest and most advanced society. You can choose from a wide variety of world leaders from a variety of time periods in history to begin your conquest. You have the opportunity to fill out a skill tree with new technology from the wheel all the way to future technology as well as to engage in small battles and wars.

    There’s a multitude of ways to win the game such as the warmonger ended, the pacifist ending, the scientific ending, the defeat ending, and more. This game is a lot more straight-forward than the other games I’ve talked about so far, but it is tons of fun and it’s a great way to make your brain think that doesn’t involve crying over a research paper or doing math homework.

     

    GAME TYPE(S): TURN-BASED STRATEGY; 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate)

  5. 5. Don't Starve Together (17 hours played)

    Platform played on: PC (Steam) using a keyboard and mouse.

    Don’t Starve Together is a multiplayer version of it’s original game, Don’t Starve. As the title implies, it’s a survival game where you have to avoid starvation, dangerous beasts, the dark, the cold, and insanity. In Don’t Starve Together, you awaken in the woods alone with nothing on you except a special item which is determined by which character you choose. You have to harvest items in the forest to help you build survival tools like a pickaxe and to collect wood, stones, animal traps, and fire fuel. There are also a variety of biomes to explore that provide you with unique resources.

    Don’t Starve Together does not have a story or an ending, unlike its original game so you and your friends can get endless enjoyment from putting hours of hard work into a camp or base that you create. Or you can play alone in a private server and challenge yourself to see how long you can last. 

    Part of the allure of this game for me is not only the environment and great selection of music and ambient sounds but the art style and gameplay mechanics. I love the 2D sketch style of the world and characters, and for someone like me who is uncoordinated as heck, the point and click mechanic that the game operates with is so easy to use. 

    One last thing about this game that I love is its frequent updates. This game is a little bit older, but the developers have not forgotten about it. There are plenty of new updates every few months that gift you with free holiday and seasonal cosmetic and game items. There’s always something new to explore within the game so I find that it doesn’t get old very fast.

     

    GAME TYPE(S): SURVIVAL; SANDBOX

     

  6. 6. Among Us (11 hours played)

    Platform played on: PC (Steam) using a keyboard and mouse.

    Among Us is the talk of the town these days and there’s not much more I can say about it than what has already been said. Take one peek at YouTube’s recommended list and chances are there will be at least a handful of Among Us videos. 

    If for some reason you haven’t heard of Among Us before, it is a social game you can play with friends (or in public servers if you want to shake it up) in which there are crewmates and imposters. Crewmates are cute little astronauts tasked with fixing their spaceship in order to continue their journey. In addition to completing specific tasks, a crewmate’s other job is to stay alive. Imposters are aliens that look just like crewmates who are there to fake tasks, blend in, and kill as many crewmates as possible to win without being caught.

    If you ever feel like you just want to choose chaos and deceive your friends, this is the game for you. The thrill of being an imposter is so much fun and with different styles of gameplay like hide and seek, there’s plenty of laughter to be had. Additionally, fans of the game are creating mods such as Proximity Chat in which players can speak with one another during the game rather than staying muted, but you can only hear those who are in close proximity to you. Again, if you just wake up one day and decide to choose chaos, proximity chat adds an element to being an imposter as your crewmate victims cry out but no one is there to hear them.

     

    GAME TYPE(S): PARTY; SOCIAL DEDUCTION

     

  7. 7. Slime Rancher (6 hours played)

    Platform played on: PC (Steam) using an Xbox controller.

    Though this one is lower in the list, I hold it so high in value. This is a game I purchased recently so it is still new to me - hence the lack of hours - but I love it so much! I don’t normally like FPS games because they require a lot of coordination which we just determine I don’t have and they are often high-stress games which I don’t enjoy. However, Slime Rancher isn’t violent at all. The “gun” is a slime collection and depositing device that still requires a little bit of aim but is extremely easy to use.

    So, for a bit more background, you are Bea, the newest owner of the slime ranch on a planet called Far, Far Range. Your job is to cultivate a slime farm with different species of slimes to accommodate and contribute to the slime stock market. You get to raise these pets while also doing population control in different areas of the map to avoid pests and invasive slimes. 

    Slime Rancher is a very silly and wholesome game with so many adorable characters and cute slimes to collect. The art style is in my opinion like a 3D version of Bee and Puppycat and there are minimal controls so it makes it easy to zone out a little bit while you are playing and relax. 

    The map is a surprisingly decent size with multiple areas to unlock and plenty of easter eggs to explore. I will definitely be playing more of this game now that the fall semester is over. It just gives me a warm and fuzzy vibe every time I load it up!

     

    GAME TYPE(s): ACTION-ADVENTURE; FPS (First-Person Shooter)

     

  8. 8. Mario Kart 8

    Platform played on: Nintendo Switch.

    Everyone has played Mario Kart at some point or another. There’s not too much that I need to explain about the game. You get to unlock and choose from big-name Nintendo characters to race as well as unlocking new karts and kart accessories. I don’t actually own this game, but my brother does on his Nintendo Switch and we played it together and it was just tons of fun!

    The friendly competition and me being bad at the game in general called for a lot of uncontrollable giggling and unbridled serotonin production. This game is also easy with minimal controls and makes for an awesome stress-relief solution.

     

    GAME TYPE(S): RACING; PARTY

     

  9. 9. Journey

    Platform played on: PC (Steam) using an Xbox controller.

    This is another game I’m so excited to talk about! Again, this game is new to me so I have so few hours invested, but every single second I have played it, I loved it. This game is more of a concept than anything else. It revolves around the idea of culture, life, and death.  You play as a mysterious faceless sand-dweller who arrived in the world via shooting star on a mission to recover the culture of your people. You begin in the desert where you learn the skill of gliding and how to “chime” to recover gliding distance and to uncover lost artifacts.

    What’s so unique about this game is the absolutely gorgeous art. The settings include a dessert with beautifully rendered sand and red cloth carpets and creatures, a desolate snowy landscape with equally beautiful snow, and some scenes that make you feel as though you are floating underwater among gorgeous foliage. 

    Though the game on Steam is advertised as being single-player, among your progress through the game, you may run into some other real players to aid you and accompany you on your journey. No player you run into will have a name, but they have a unique “chime” and symbol. There is no voice chat ability, you can only communicate with your partner via “chiming” and I think personally that is one of my favorite features of the game. It’s strange, but you develop such close companionship with your game partners with the most basic communication features. 

    I don’t want to say much more than this because the game itself is literally a journey. You have to play it to experience it. It’s so emotionally moving and you’ll probably feel pretty alive once you finish the game - which takes as little as 90 minutes to play through the first time.

     

    GAME TYPE(S): ADVENTURE; ART

     

  10. 10. Stick Fight: The Game

    Platform played on: PC (Steam) using an Xbox controller.

    Last but not least is Stick Fight: The Game! I have so few hours in this game because the only person who I can play online with is my brother and we have both been so busy this semester. This is a 2-4 player comedic fighting game that has hundreds of levels and rounds. This is a game you could easily play for hours and hours at a time without getting bored.

    You play as a little stick figure on a platform map and the object of the game is to defeat your opponent. You can defeat them by pushing them off the platform, using weapons that are randomly generated and spawned, or by squishing them with breakable map pieces. This game kind of reminds me of Super Smash Bros. but significantly more casual. 

     

    There’s nothing else more to the game than controlling silly little stick figures with ragdoll physics in attempts to destroy your friends, but this most simple concept is sure to yield really funny moments for you to enjoy. This is a great game for when you just need a laugh.

     

    GAME TYPE(S): ACTION; FIGHTING

     

I could write about so many other games, but I think this is a good list to get you started on. I hope you’ve enjoyed my insight and opinions and maybe you’ve found something you would like to play. Take some time to give yourself a rest after an incredibly stressful semester.

Until next time,