It wasn’t the type of year any of us could have predicted and we have all been forced to make changes in our lives because of COVID-19. We had to be creative in the way we work, socialize and meet other daily needs. Quarantine is necessary to stop the spread of the virus, but that doesn’t mean that feeling confined within the walls of our home isn’t difficult to deal with day in and day out. I have often turned to video games as a way to relax and socialize, but this year they have become essential to fight against the isolation of not being able to interact with others on a daily basis. It was not a normal year and so I wanted to end 2020 by sharing a special appreciation for the games that have brought me and many others through these last months of quarantine.
When my quarantine started I really didn’t want to deal with what was going on around me. The world suddenly became frightening; The reach of COVID-19 was increasing, killing more and more people and we still didn’t know much about it. As someone with a chronic illness, I had to strictly quarantine, which meant I couldn’t even do simple things like going to the grocery store. It was too risky and my anxiety was growing. I hated sitting around in the dark about it all.
A few weeks later, Animal Crossing: New Horizons kicked off, and it was the stroke of joy many of us needed in our lives – a perfect distraction if you will. Ultimately, you were building your own world – a safe place where COVID-19 didn’t exist. Your only goal was to take care of your avatar and the other residents by making your island something better. Best of all, you can invite your true friends to your island to hang out and make memories. Watching social media explode with heartwarming and silly stories about Animal Crossing was a bright spot in a gloomy year, showing how powerful this game was in bringing people together. Suddenly we were all helping each other play in the “stalk” market, sharing cool clothing designs and proudly showing off our creative efforts.
Animal Crossing would be the first of many games that would thrive in these unexpected times. People were looking for ways to socialize with others in unique ways, allowing a multitude of games to gain a place in our social circles. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout It was the lightweight free-for-all competition that we all needed for a dose of adorable antics and silly strategies – all in the name of winning a crown for the ultimate bragging rights. Something about being the best over 60 is a high that can’t be topped, and your little jelly bean shaped avatar looks absolutely ridiculous trying to win. It was a game that made people laugh, applaud and, most importantly, everyone felt like they had a chance to win the crown.
For those who like to be a little more fierce and calculated with their friends, Among us served the greatest pleasure of outwitting your buddies, and if you were the impostor, of getting away with pleasure by murdering them. It amazes me that Between Us originally came out in 2018, but it took a pandemic for all of us to discover its glow. For those not in the know, this is a social deduction game where a team of crew members have to complete tasks to win, but you have individuals referred to as impostors trying to sabotage your progress and kill. your group along the way.
Among us this is my favorite game to play with friends because it gets the laughs the most about our theories and the ways we think we know each other for lying. Plus, it’s always hilarious when someone is royally mistaken and evacuates or murders someone in front of you, blowing their blanket. Catching someone red-handed is a joy, but I still can’t help but giggle evil as I slyly kill my friends and retreat from being an impostor. Every week I host games with us and always end the night in a better mood, even when things get ugly and I’m totally blamed when I’m not the damn impostor. Seriously, this game will test your friendships but also bring you closer at the same time.
Likewise, if you’re looking for something cooperative but rather scary, you can’t go wrong with Phasmophobia, which is currently in Early Access. Four people cooperate as ghost hunters, using equipment like an EMF reader and a Spirit Box to locate the deceased who simply won’t leave this world. The best part, however, is how you can use your voice to attract the apparition and make it respond, and they will interact with objects like a ouija board or a newspaper to add additional worry to the situation. In the end, you have to correctly guess what kind of ghost it is, which can be anything from banshee to yurei. I love trying out different tools to figure out which mortal being you’re dealing with, but the best part is watching these ghosts sneak up on you and your friends unexpectedly for screams. When we’re not doing our own audio the sound effects are top notch and still send chills up my spine.
Of course, I’ve spent the year getting lost in open world games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Ghost of Tsushima as well. And it was nice to be able to get my NHL 21 and NBA 2K21 sports fix. I also spent an unholy time on races in Hades, constantly telling myself “just one more try!” Video games have always been a big part of my life, but this year more than others simply because of our circumstances. I felt like I needed some unique ways to socialize with my friends who strayed from my normal game, which is why I wanted to name games that really helped me along the way. So here’s a toast to those special games that made a really tough year a little easier to endure.