A lot has changed over the past few weeks due to the global Coronavirus pandemic – I’m sure you didn’t need me to tell you that. Whilst the news is plastered everywhere, it’s difficult to avoid the stress from it all, whether it be the virus itself, the panic buyers, or having to come in close proximity with those people who still fail to understand the act of basic hygiene. With a lockdown taking place in many countries – the UK now included – many people are now in self isolation, some of which are working from home. As someone who is used to working from the comfort of my own home, I know it can sometimes be difficult to concentrate with so many distractions around you – especially if you’re going to be committing to this abnormal routine regularly.
Over the past week, as I’ve been working from home myself, I’ve used my breaks to play some of the smaller titles in my backlog. I find this suites my schedule perfectly as most levels usually only take around 30-40 mins to finish, allowing time for my work and time to relax, usually between a 10am – 8pm schedule. This won’t be ideal for a lot of people, but I’ve found it works for me and thought it might be a useful tip for somebody.
I’ve selected a handful of small games with a play time of 5 hours or less. These can be played nicely in short sections, or alternatively, they can also easily be completed in one session. Playing a short game in a single run can also offer a great mental escape for a few hours as the story won’t drag out over a number of days, weeks or even months.
Here are 5 games I’ve cherry picked with a brief description and my total play time:
GRIS is an absolutely stunning little platformer with breathtaking animation and art design. Although the platforming is fairly simple, GRIS uses the art style to its advantage to keep the gameplay engaging with the way everything flowed so beautifully. Each level has its own theme with a new mechanic thrown into the mix too, however – unlike some platformers I know – the previous abilities were still used regularly which was very much appreciated. The visuals and audio complemented each other wonderfully and the whole atmosphere this game provided is one everyone should experience.
Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons (3hrs)
Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons takes the player on a spectacular journey from start to finish through a variety of environments as the brothers search for a cure for their sick father. Although this game has no speech, the storytelling is superb and the connection between the brothers is portrayed well through their interactions. The gameplay is straightforward with various small puzzles throughout, but the unique feature is definitely all about the controls. Play as both the brothers at once, each having a separate half of the controller – or you could challenge yourself by using a keyboard like I did. This game does contain some depressing themes, but I appreciate how it wasn’t afraid to approach these subjects. Brothers is a solid game that any gamer should try, and there’s no excuses since it’s available on such a wide variety of platforms.
Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders (5hrs)
I was very impressed with Detective Di right from the start. Based on the Chinese TV show ‘Amazing Detective Di Renjie’ and set in ancient China, follow the Detective as he tracks down a serial killer in a case of related murders. From the pixel art style to the level design, this point and click adventure was fantastic including a selection of small puzzles, a well written story and great pacing. This game deserves far more recognition and I’m hoping to see a sequel someday.
Contrast is a stylish puzzle platformer, alternating between 3D and 2D platforming. Play as Dawn, who is able to shift between reality and the shadows, as she accompanies Didi on her journey through the city. The creativity was well displayed in the form of clever shadow manipulation puzzles, some of which were simple and others really made you think. The 1920s cabaret / circus setting suited the style of the game which was complimented by a jazzy soundtrack. Contrast was a great little game with an interesting puzzle mechanic.
The First Tree (2.5hrs)
The First Tree provides a relaxing, chilled out experience which can be finished in just a couple of hours. This walking simulator combines two stories simultaneously; one through gameplay and the other through narration. Each area is pretty big although there isn’t really a great deal to see unless you’re wanting to get all the unnecessary collectables. Overall, The First Tree was a laid back game that can really help to de-stress, although I can imagine some people claim it to be boring due to its very simplistic approach.
Remember, it’s important to social distance and take care of yourselves during these unusual times, and if you find yourself stuck for something to do, I hope this list proves useful. Stay safe!