Whenever the world becomes too much (and it has), I often retreat into video games. It has been a coping mechanism for me since I was a child. The escapist in me needs a break from reality every once in a while and video games offer just that. In the same way other people may binge-watch a new series on Netflix or get through a book in a single day, I reach for my Nintendo Switch, cozy up with a blanket on the couch, and go to a different place.
There was a brilliant essay published earlier in the pandemic about how many people were turning to video games to simulate normal life. I, like so many others, found comfort in repeating daily tasks and chatting up animal residents in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I felt accomplished collecting and evolving hundreds of monsters in Pokémon Sword/Shield and exploring the vast Wild Area.
Now, especially in the height of winter, I, like many others, have been seeking refuge in video games. Here are only a few of the games where I’ve been enjoying my second life.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
For when you need to unwind.
I have spent nearly 1,000 hours in Animal Crossing: New Horizons since last March, and I’m nowhere near done with it. I am currently in the process of updating my Dream Address for the third time, which is a lot more work than it seems! I’ve also been spending my day-to-day building snowboys, crafting DIYs, and delivering gifts to my residents to win their coveted portraits.
When I’m not fishing and thriving around my island, I’m usually visiting other islands. From meeting up safely with my IRL friends on their virtual land to shopping with my mom on her island, I’ve done more socializing in this game than I’ve done in person for nearly a year.
For when you want to catch them all.
I’ve always considered the world of Pokémon a home away from home. Ever since I was a child, I’d disappear into the world of Pokémon. Then, I’d come back to reality wishing it were real.
Pokémon Sword/Shield originally released back in Fall 2019. However, last year we saw the release of both the Isle of Armor and the Crown Tundra DLC. And boy, did they come at a great time. There’s something so satisfying about setting out in a brand-new world to explore while completing your Pokédex. I’m currently working my way through completing my Pokédex and even doing a little shiny hunting.
For when you want to get to work.
If you haven’t yet heard of this free-to-play GATCHA game, you may have been living under a rock. While congresswomen may not be livestreaming it on Twitch (yet!), it has garnered the attention and obsession of open-world adventures everywhere.
Anime-centric and heavily reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, this game is a grind. Leveling up and completing tasks take time and strategy—the perfect combination for months in quarantine (or a long winter hibernation).
While it’s available on both PS4 and PC, I’ve been playing this one on mobile. It isn’t my preferred platform of choice, but until it comes to the Switch, iOS it is!
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
For when you need to vent.
Speaking of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’ve been diving deep into of the latest installment Hyrule Warriors. It’s a love letter to BOTW and expands on the original story from 100 years ago when our darling Guardians were alive.
Lately, I’ve been taking my time through the game and am especially fond of pulling it out after a stressful day. The 1 VS 1000 style of gameplay encourages you to let off steam while you slash your way through hordes of enemies. There’s just something so satisfying about watching gentle Mipha destroy an entire army of Moblins that I never tire of.
Are you also throwing yourself into video games at the moment? What else are you doing to help cope when you need a mental escape? I’d love to know!
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Megan Portorreal is a professional writer, editor, and creative in the New York City area. In her spare time, she enjoys reading books, writing about her life, and playing video games.