I would be beating a dead horse if I announced to all of you that the state of the world has not been great lately. Many of us have been feeling the stress and pain from myriad issues that I’m not going to delve into- we’ve heard them all before. Still, there are also myriad ways to cope, including playing games. Whether it’s a board game that brings back family memories, a video game that provides some distraction for an hour, or some laughter shared over Cards Against Humanity, lots of us have comfort games that help to get through the hard times.
Here are some of mine, in no particular order…
In a world of social distancing, Among Us has allowed me to connect with friends and family online…as we all try not to get murdered by said friends and family.
For those who haven’t played it yet, the premise is simple: you and your fellow astronauts have to perform tasks on your spaceship. But one of the crew members (or two, or three, depending on the settings you use) is an impostor, whose sole goal is to kill everyone else on board. As soon as a body is discovered, everyone on the crew has to discuss who the impostor might be. If they guess wrong, the game continues. If they guess right, the impostor gets ejected from the ship and the day is saved.
There’s a lot of thinking that goes into this game on both sides. If you’re the impostor, you need to be fast on your feet to avoid getting caught. But sometimes, people end up overthinking what’s happening. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been ejected from the ship because I was “acting suspicious,” when I wasn’t the impostor. It’s all good fun though, and it’s ridiculously addicting. Best of all, the game allows for crossplay on computers and mobile devices, so everyone can play together! I know, that sounds sus, but it’s true.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory
Yeah, if you know me at all, then you knew that a Kingdom Hearts game would be coming up on this list. Really, any of them count, even the ones that weren’t my favorites. Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2 hold so much nostalgia for me. Chain of Memories has the best story. 358/2 Days has the multiplayer mode that lets you play as any Organization member. Dream Drop Distance has a Fantasia world. Birth by Sleep is a lot of fun to play. Kingdom Hearts 3 has beautiful Disney worlds to explore and fun additions like Data Greeting in the DLC. The mobile games have a simple style of gameplay where you’re tapping and slashing across your phone. Oh, and Coded exists.
But I’m giving this one to Melody of Memory because of how often it’s helped me with getting through a pandemic-filled winter. There have been times when I didn’t know what to do with myself and didn’t have the energy to do much of anything anyway. Melody of Memory is good for days like that. There’s not a whole lot of story involved. Pick your favorite team of cute Kingdom Hearts characters, select some music that you like, and off you go. Once you get the hang of the rhythm, you don’t have to put a whole lot of thought into what you’re doing. You just tap some buttons and enjoy the music. I usually feel better after playing it, and if that’s not grounds for a comfort game, I don’t know what is.
You might assume that this Nintendo 64 title made the list for nostalgic reasons. Which, yes, it does hold nostalgic value to me, but that’s not the whole reason. Games like Banjo-Kazooie work really well for when you need a distraction.
In this platformer, a bear named Banjo, along with his bird friend, Kazooie, must go on a quest to rescue Banjo’s little sister from a wicked witch. Said witch, Gruntilda, really hates being ugly, so she kidnapped Banjo’s sister to steal her youth and beauty. Banjo and Kazooie have to navigate a multitude of themed-worlds inside Gruntilda’s lair in order to save the day.
There’s just something about this game where I feel compelled to seek out every last puzzle piece, musical note, Jimbo, and other collectibles in each world whenever I play. I get so focused on completing each challenge that it helps to take my mind off of whatever might be bothering me at the time. It’s also a really fun, colorful game that still holds up today.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Boy, did Nintendo time the release of this game perfectly.
The Animal Crossing games, as a whole, are the definition of comfort games. In its latest installment, you live on an island with several other cute animal residents, as well as the Nook family, Isabelle, and other familiar faces. Your goal? Develop an island paradise. You spend your days fishing, collecting bugs and dinosaur fossils for the museum, landscaping, helping your neighbors…just living life in a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere. The kind of world that anyone would want to live in.
And speaking of worlds that people would want to live in…
…okay, the world of Ace Attorney is by no means a perfect one. Not by a long shot. But it’s still a comfort game for me because of what Phoenix Wright and his friends represent.
I’ve written about Ace Attorney several times for this website. At its core, it’s about a young defense attorney who specializes in people accused of murder. Despite all of the evidence stacked against them, Phoenix believes in their innocence and works hard to prove it in court. He’s completely dedicated to finding the truth behind each crime and bringing the real murderer to justice.
There’s something really cathartic about stepping into the shoes of this fictional lawyer and fighting for people who have no one else to speak on their behalf. And you get to watch as Phoenix influences people for the better and shows them the importance of seeking the truth over a victory in court. Plus, the courtroom antics are always funny, even when the cases themselves become increasingly dramatic and intense. It’s fun to play and the characters are engaging. What’s not to love?
Anyone else remember this board game from their childhood? A couple of years ago, I bought a Harry Potter version, called “Triwizard Tournament” that added a twist to the original concept. Your goal is to get all four of your pegs from the Start spaces to the Home spaces by hitting a plastic bubble in the center of the board. The bubble pops the die inside and subsequently gives you a number from 1-6.
But the Triwizard version takes things a step further: you can land on spaces that require you to draw a card. That card can have any number of commands on it, from “Move one of your pieces to Home,” or “Switch places with an opponent.” The idea is that you are playing through the Third Task in the maze and encountering all sorts of obstacles on your path to victory. (Thankfully, winning does not involve touching a Portkey and being forced to bring Voldemort back.)
My mom and I like to play this game every time my parents come to visit, so it’s definitely up there with my other comfort games.
I asked my fellow Real Women of Gaming staff members if they had any titles that they considered to be comfort games. Here’s what they recommended:
Soliyra and Crymson Pleasure both love Don’t Starve. To Soliyra, “Something about being alone in the wilderness, gathering and crafting while trying not to die or go insane really speaks to me.”
Crymson also enjoys Stardew Valley and Vanri the Rogue likes Animal Crossing. Kinked Nitemare enjoys chilling with the browser game, Slither.io, where you attempt to grow the longest worm. Jenngad enjoys standing next to a parasaur in Ark, a survival game with dinosaurs. She also recommends Dragon Age. SaltyHylian likes to play The Sims. Otter_Limits recommends Fluxx and Forbidden Island. And for those who like board games, Thia the Bard considers Clue her comfort game.
What are some of your favorite comfort games?