Welcome back to the Gamers’ Guide to Isolation, a short series here at Later Levels to help you get through this current period of isolation. Here in the UK, we’ve now been inside for over three weeks – but there are still plenty of video games to play to keep us occupied.
On Monday we looked at releases to make you feel like you’re outside even though you’re indoors. If you’re in the mood for stretching your digital legs and hiking through mountains, walking through forests or going for bike-rides, check out the titles suggested by my lovely blogger-friends in this post. Later this week we’ll be discussing games to make you feel as though you’re with friends even when you’re on your own, but first: what have we got lined up for today?
Many people across the country are supposed to be working from home right now, and it’s important to remember to take breaks the same as you would do if you were in the office. If you’re looking for something you take your mind off of that spreadsheet for a few moments – or keep you awake while you’re listening in on that three-hour-conference call you really weren’t looking forward to – here are some games you can play while working (and nobody need know).
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
“I struggled with this category as I’m not working from home and was trying to imagine something that would fit in nicely. Then I realised if you just have a little bit of time in between work or a little bit of a quiet period, a game on the Switch could be the perfect remedy. A that is so good in little sessions right now is Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Ok, so I know a lot of people are spending all their time in this but I’m playing it slow and steady. I drop by and do a little fishing, or I go hunt for fossils or I catch some bugs. I look at what I can buy and I collect materials. I haven’t got the Able Sisters yet and don’t even have Nook’s shop built as I still need some of one of the types of wood. However, this has been the perfect game for little bursts for me. There is always something you could do from planting some flowers to clearing some weeds. Taking the risk of shaking a tree to see if Bells or items fall out (and quite often having an unfortunate encounter with some wasps). It’s such a nice relaxing game and it gives you options for picking it up and putting it down. You can do a lot in a short space of time so in between working would be possible and there’s nothing that needs done right away so if you end up getting an urgent work call you aren’t going to struggle.”
“All variations of Solitaire. Rumour has it this game was invented by a French Noble during the French Revolution while he was waiting to be executed. If that’s not the perfect fit to describe the current situation, then I don’t know what is.
“You could also sink some hours into taking over the world in Sid Meier’s Civilization, if that’s more to your liking. For me, the best one in the series is Civilization IV because it offers the most freedom in organising your civilisation, and allowed for some crazy political combinations. Plus, in the German version, the technologies’ flavour texts are read by Thomas Fritsch, one of my favourite voice actors. The drawback? You might miss all of your meetings because you wanted to play just… one… more… turn…”
“Despite working from home a bit (even before this whole… thing) I’m generally pretty good and don’t game on work time. So my entry here is one that I’ve always wanted, and should really try, playing over a working day. DEFCON is a tense nuclear-war strategy game presented via a cold war-room style vector graphics interface. It has a chilling edge as you watch the devastation caused by the missiles raining down in dispassionate numbers. It’s also a game with a few pretty cool game modes including diplomacy where all the superpowers start off aligned and it’s essentially a game of chicken until someone snaps and opens fire or forms a breakaway faction. The reason I picked it however is that it has a dedicated work-mode; a single eight-hour nuclear conflict that plays out real-time with a handy built in ‘hide game screen’ button for when the boss walks past – it’s not a feature I’ve seen in any other game.”
“Still an incredible game after 20 years, yes it has been that long! Hours will evaporate before your very eyes. I fired it up to ‘test’ the other day at 21:00, and by 03:00 the following morning I was sure it was time to stop and go to sleep. I regret nothing. Best of all, this will run on damn near any hardware these days.”
“For the record in case my boss is reading, I’ve been putting in 110% of myself into working from home the 90% of the time I can do that… honest. Okay. I’ve been trying. It’s hard not to get sidetracked and distracted by all the things that aren’t work when you’re comfortably at home. Would the boss really notice if you played a video game for a bit? If it’s The Longing that answer is probably no! Studio Seufz’s indie adventure waiting game seems designed for this purpose. Send your lonely Shade to walk to a random part of his cave complex while you endure yet another conference call with your cranky colleagues… sounds legit!”
The Longing (again)
“The Longing takes place over 400 days in real time so there’s no need to rush. The clock continues ticking down while you’re away from the game so you can pop back every now and again while you’re working – but don’t worry, there are different ways to tackle it and you can speed up the clock if you wish! Although this isn’t the happiest title out there, it’s a unique experience. Most of the endings are quite dark but they remind you how important it is that we look after each other, especially now.”
“Viva Piñata has recently re-entered my life as a game that’s been on in the background. Well, mostly it is distracting me from my work! It is surprisingly slow-paced and leaving the game to play out on its own for a moment can work in your favour. Of course, the real benefit to the game is the lack of stress-inducing mechanics; it’s a relaxing experience watching your colourful and papery pals live in your garden. Both the combination of the music and the colours are enough to make the most stressful workloads seem redundant.”
Don’t worry: we won’t tell anyone you’re playing video games while you’re meant to be working! If you have any further suggestions please leave them in the comments below, and come back on Friday for titles which will make you feel as though you’re hanging out with friends while you’re alone in isolation. Take care, everybody!
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.