Games that got us through tough times

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Image: Nintendo Life

As you may have seen across the web, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While much of the stigma around the subject has died down, the issues and challenges remain across all strata of society. Throughout this month, efforts are made to encourage support, understanding and knowledge around the subject.

There are different ways to help improve and maintain mental health, from the basics like regular exercise and healthy eating to more complex treatment and support. Yet on a smaller scale, other pleasures can help us get through the tough times that life throws at us, whether it’s a favorite book, movie or, of course, a game. . Part of the reason we play games is for the joy they bring, providing escape, emotional connection, or just bright, colorful fun.

In this article, a number of our team members talk about the games that are old favourites, the kind of title we turn to when we need a boost in tough times.

Okami
Picture: Capcom

Gavin Lane, editor

While various games have helped me through some tough times at one point or another, I’m going to go with Okami’s Punch on Wii and Fable 2 on 360.

It was the late 2000s and I was living alone in London, and I was feeling depressed for some reason (well, one specific reason that tied into a bunch of others, but I won’t bore you with the details – it’s a story as old as time!) and I found myself wanting to inject some color into a very gray period of my life.

Whether that pair of brilliant games really helped me or not, I’m not sure – the real change only came after many years of walking away and re-evaluating things to get a good perspective and really get started. to feel better – but making my way through those two games in quick succession felt like a way to stop and catch my breath at that moment. Each offered sweet humor and incredibly beautiful worlds to slip into, and looking back, my mind is filled with rich, warm memories of a time when I have very few.

Minecraft picture
Image: Mojang/Microsoft

Kate Gray, Editor

The year was 2020, etc. etc It was a difficult time, as the title says – made even more difficult by being in a long-distance relationship, unable to travel to see each other. So we decided to take our relationship to the next obvious step: Minecraft!

I tend to focus on games when I’m going through a tough time with my sanity, seeking solace in the familiar. As a result, our Minecraft sessions were frequent and long. Almost every night, we would both hop on our shared server and go on long adventures deep in the ocean or the Nether, or focus on building our little mountain house, while phoning together on Discord .

Soon the house wasn’t small anymore – instead it was a sprawling farm full of animals that I had painstakingly brought home, and inside there was both an aquarium and an aquarium (at my insistence). But once we had all the modcons, we realized we had to start from scratch, using all our acquired knowledge to create something bigger, better and more suitable for our needs (like a gigantic storage).

It's our pet arctic fox, Popcorn.  He is tied up because he really wants to escape
It’s our pet arctic fox, Popcorn. He is tied up because he really wants to escape

Several hundred adventurous miles later, we found a small spot between two mountains, next to a tundra village that had a huge cave system below (unfortunately the village would later be abandoned after we forgot to protect the villagers). We’ve built an underground palace, complete with everything a person could need: a sorcery room, an underground railway, and a large tube-shaped room with a fish pond window at the top.

It was really nice to forget about the worries of the real world by immersing myself in the virtual world of Minecraft, and it’s a game I return to frequently for calm. It’s not an easy game, but it’s mechanically quite simple and repetitive in a fairly soothing way. In addition, it is quite easy to spend several hours without even realizing it, which made it possible to pass the confinement much more quickly. And now me and my partner live together! In real life!!! Courting!!!!!!!

Whenever we want, we can go and visit this world we created together, remember the hard times, and be grateful for the healing power of time. And Minecraft.

Xenoblade Chronicles
Image: Nintendo / MONOLITHSOFT

Alana Hughes, Writer

Looking back, it’s weird to call this a “difficult time” among the many troubled times I’ve been through, but when I started college, I needed Xenoblade Chronicles. I have impostor syndrome, and it was particularly bad in college. I didn’t think I was good enough to be there that I would have a hard time talking to people and shutting myself down. But the stunningly beautiful world of Xenoblade taught me otherwise.

Even going through each location, finding a new secret, defeating a unique monster, or sometimes something as small as helping a villager confess their love, made me feel like I could actually achieve something, and it helped me gain confidence and confidence. put myself into it a bit more. I also have a soft spot for Shulk – a kid who can see the future and ends up saving the world, among other things, but he accepts his responsibility and overcomes his fears and doubts with the help of his friends.

Xenoblade came to the rescue again in early summer 2021. I had lost my grandmother earlier that year, and the two family dogs the year before, and fell into quite a bad depression. I started Definitive Edition one night and threw myself into the world. Makna Forest and Eryth Sea ate my cares and I felt weightless for only a few hours. I did this for a few nights and it got me through sleepless nights filled with anxiety.

I strongly believe that video games can help you and teach you things about yourself. Celeste helped me understand my anxiety disorder and Florence helped me recognize that life is full of love and heartache. So I’m sure that video games will continue to be a force for good in my life, and I hope that eventually I can be ever kinder to myself.

Resident Evil 4
Picture: Capcom

Ollie Reynolds, Editor

It’s funny how we perceive certain media depending on the context in which they were consumed. For example, I find it hard to imagine watching the 2000s comedy movie “Bedazzled” again without feeling a little nauseous. Why? Not because it’s awful, but because I was watching it in my little storage room in 2004 when I found out my parents were separating.

Looking back on that year, much of it seems hazy, and I’m pretty sure I’ve intentionally shut off much of it from my mind in the years since. I remember there were, however, two very specific media that I turned to. The first was Green Day’s american idiot album: I listened to it constantly and learned almost every song on my cheap, counterfeit guitar.

The second was Resident Evil 4 (yes, it came out in 2005, but that’s close enough to count), which I became completely obsessed with. I completed the game several times in the first year of its release and rinsed off the extra “Mercenaries” mini-game – I couldn’t stop. I started speedrunning before I even realized speedrunning was a “thing” that people do; I just did it out of pure love.

Needless to say, running around and blasting infected Ganados’ heads was cathartic for me at a time when I was feeling particularly hurt and angry. I was surrounded by my family and friends who helped me along the way, of course, but Resident Evil 4 was my escape, my comfort blanket. There are a lot of people who joke about how many times it’s been re-released over the years, but to me, the more the better. Resident Evil REmake is my favorite game of all time, but Resident Evil 4 comes close behind for good reason.

Sonic 2
Image: SEGA

Thomas Whitehead, Associate Editor

In my case, I’m going to focus on the present, and the times when I’m maybe too tired (sometimes I’m a terrible sleepy), or sullen about something or other. Sometimes I have small micro-periods of down, a few days where absolutely everything is a big effort but the only choice is to continue.

I often find myself returning to shorter games that give me a favorite game or nostalgia boost. A staple of the last two years on Switch has been Sayonara Wild Hearts, a wonderful “pop album” experience; after clearing the stages, you unlock Album mode, where you can play through the levels non-stop. It really is the intended way, and I like to put on some headphones, sit in my favorite chair, and immerse myself in a game. Not only are the music and visuals fantastic, but the story is also touching – it’s a journey to remember.

My other choice requires charging and turning on my 3DS – Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (I know it’s on Switch too, but the 3D version is fantastic). It’s more of a nostalgia thing, as it was my favorite game as a kid and it’s still in my top 5. Again, it’s something I can play in a few hours, finding a quiet place and headphones. It’s sublime Sonic, full of classic levels; if I ever want a more immediate option, I can fire up Sonic Mania on Switch.


These are games we turn to when we need a boost, as you can see they vary in genre and style. That’s one of the great things about games, of course – let us know in the comments which games you enjoy the most in tough times.

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