- Dying Light (RATED 18+, CONTENT WARNING)
Do you know what parkour is? Have you ever tried parkour? It’s really hard! And it takes an insane amount of practice to get good at. Luckily, games like Dying Light make it accessible for our eyes, even if our bodies are only sitting in front of the screen!
You play as a government agent dropped into Harran, a city turned warzone by an outbreak of zombie virus. With dynamic maneuvering controls, time and weather cycles, and a broad cast of characters, Dying Light throws you out of the pan and into the flaming horde of zombies at every opportunity. Unlike most post-apocalyptic games, DL doesn’t give you the satisfaction of mowing down weak, slow zombies at every turn. In fact, your foes are often way faster and more deadly than you—especially if you’re caught outside a safe zone at night.
My main draw to this game was because of the zombies, of course. I spent the first few hours I played hiding on a roof, afraid to go onto the ground and run through packs of zombies. Getting the special ability to use their heads as springboards helped, but I realized my favorite part about zombie games is how you acclimate to the fear. I know I have now—I’m almost done with the main story!
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons (RATED 3+)
What a turn from the apocalypse! Animal Crossing has never been so family-friendly—the villagers won’t even yell at you anymore. New Horizons was a special-release game for the Nintendo Switch geared toward a younger audience, but it was taken up by the older audience, who played Animal Crossing on the DS and DSi systems as kids, with zest.
You find yourself on a deserted island, and your job is to make it habitable for you and the other villagers who live there. Everyone is kind and accommodating toward each other; it’s an all-around great feeling to build the island from the ground up. Not only do you place buildings and pay for the supplies, you can also run all around the island and chop trees, catch bugs, go fishing and deep-sea diving, and dig up fossils to find neat items and earn money. Some people focus more on exploring, some want to find the perfect villagers to live on their island, and some love fashion design; you really can play your own way.
In the middle of the initial COVID-19 quarantine, I played this game nonstop. It’s hard to go back once you get sort of bored of doing everything, but luckily, Nintendo puts out updates even now, almost two years after its launch!
- Life Is Strange (RATED 17+)
Of all six games on this list, Life Is Strange has got to be the most story-driven. Sure, every game here has lore, and some games have set story modes alongside their side quests, but Life Is Strange is a lot more straightforward. Well… in a way. You go along a linear storyline at first, following teenager Max Caulfield as she discovers she can time-travel and uses it to her advantage. From there, you’re able to make decisions that cause effects in the story. The process is known as the “butterfly effect,” and the technique is used in other video games like Until Dawn, The Stanley Parable, and The Walking Dead.
I played this game on my Macbook way back in 2018, and it jumpstarted my love of story-driven video games. (I’ve also played all three of those games that use the butterfly effect listed above.) Life Is Strange actually has three installments now, not to mention the side stories. It’s a seriously successful game premise and a great franchise.
Well, I promised to stay in medias res for this blog, and I think I did alright. Other than that introduction post, but hey, I want to get to know y’all before we jumped into all that other stuff. Being an escapist is no excuse to be rude.
And what about escapism, you might ask? Here’s our very last blog post together, and you haven’t even told us your conclusion about it! Is it good? Is it bad? Or maybe both!
Here’s my conclusion, then: Does it matter?
Escapism, like all human coping mechanisms, isn’t amoral, but I think it means something different for everyone. Writing, reading, exercising, playing games, researching, improving yourself, painting… These are all great in moderation, and they can all unbalance your life if a hobby takes over. It’s not about whether escaping reality is good or bad—it’s about what it does to make your life better, worse, easier, harder, or whatever qualification you care about.
We humans spend so much time escaping, we can forget to enjoy the mundane. We spend so much time worrying about morality, we can forget that not everything is so important it needs to be assigned morality! That’s what I think. I think that I think too much; we all do. Sometimes, a game is just a game, and it’s what you need after a hard day. Sometimes you need a shower. Sometimes you need a nap. Give yourself what you need, and then what you want, and if you want to be an escapist? You’re in good company.
Signing off. Thanks for a great semester, and thank you for reading my posts. I’m off now! What are you supposed to do after you graduate, again?