Every now and then, who doesn’t like to take a break from story heavy, intensely competitive games with complex controls and just sit back and play a game with no competition, less of a narrative yet equally as fun. Here are three of my favorite games to play when winding down. Maybe they could also be your escape away from the ultra competitive or intense games that ask for too much side quests and grinds.
In one of my first Xbox arcade games ever, N+, you’re basically a sleek and super stealthy ninja collecting gold and making it to the next level. With really simple controls, you navigate through the level using your jumping and running skills to find your way through the fatal obstacles as they try to vaporize, electrocute, or blast you, but you must also be wary of how you travel across the levels as you can fall to your death or even jump high enough to crush yourself to death. You must also be aware of the time as once time runs out, that’s it, and whatever time you earned in the last level continues in the next. Be wise with the amount of gold you collect as that counts as time. This game is purely about timing and strategy as you can find many different ways to get to your goal. Each level is quite creative in its own way, some levels are designed as an Xbox controller, others designed as a city, and some just designed to give you a hard time. With a long range of possible obstacles, some levels may or may not have something trying to kill you. The possibilities can be from a gun turret, rocket turret, laser turret, robots that chase you down on sight, or the simple mines that just stand in your way to victory. If you want to play with a friend, N+ does allow for four player multi-player where you can all play on single player levels or you can play on multi-player levels which are designed quite differently. One player has to make it to the button and another player has to make it to the door. This requires a lot of teamwork and of course patience, but it’s always fun to watch your friend become disembodied or vaporized. Lastly, N+ has one of my favorite features in any game, a level creator where you can design your own levels and share with your friends to put them to the test or even torture them.
Super Meat Boy
Next up, Super Meat Boy is an intensely difficult yet addictive game. It asks you to do only one thing – get to point B, and if you’re a perfectionist get that A+, that bandage over there, and that warp zone! I’ll have to be honest, this isn’t exactly a game that you’d wind down with, as it can become quite intense over time. Super Meat Boy, just like N+ also has really simple controls, jumping and running, and the skill cap to navigate through levels. Once you get a handle over the controls, you feel like you’ve got it under control – until you start progressing and suddenly you’re in hell. This game will really leave an impression, as it keeps you hooked on no matter how much you rage, but once you get past the level that you were on for the past two hours, the feeling is extraordinary and then you’re back in hell for another few hours. Keep in mind for this game it’s about timing and definitely plenty of patience. Its pixelated graphics, along with super catchy music, it feels reminiscent to the games you used to play on the NES or SNES. The obstacles become more and more difficult as at first it starts with meat grinders, eventually salt becomes a factor, lasers and fire, and much more as I have yet to beat it. If you’re a perfectionist or completionist you’re going to want to collect all the bandages which are even harder to get, you’ll want to find every warp zone, which some are time based whether you’re waiting for it to appear or you need to make it to it before it disappears. Not only are they time based, but you’ll need to find some of them as they can be hidden in walls. Also once you get a few A+’s you may want to visit the dark world version of those levels. The purpose of bandages and some warp zones are to unlock more characters which are actually cameos from other games such as Alien Hominid, Jumper, N+, Bit.Trip, and much more. Another thing Super Meat Boy is known for is its many video game references to classics like Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man 2, and more.
Recently got this when it was free, but would not mind purchasing it for the PC. Monaco is a unique overhead view stealth game. It’s difficult yet fun and best to play with friends to create that feeling of teamwork. Basically Monaco is about a skilled and competent team of four, which eventually grows into a team of eight. A team of criminals to be specific who basically run heists throughout the game. These criminals or characters would be the Hacker, Locksmith, Lookout, Cleaner, Mole, Gentleman, and the Redhead. Each character has their own specialty whether it’s collecting coins, pick-locking faster, being able to see more and sneaking better, hacking through computers, or finding their own ways to get by enemies. As mentioned, this game has an overhead view and is a stealth game, you cannot see anything at all other than what’s in your line of sight. Your goal depends on the story whether it’s collecting a certain sum of coins, stealing some jewels, breaking someone out, or even escaping from a burning building. Each character has their own specialty as mentioned earlier and depending on how you use those abilities can make your game play much easier, you may want to try some multi-player as this game does become quite difficult and having a hacker or even a lookout can be really helpful. This game calls for a lot of teamwork sometimes or just a really good strategy with some trial and errors. It can be a bit tedious at first but once you get a hang of it, eventually, it becomes really interesting, addictive and very rewarding. The story is actually really interesting besides the fact that you’re playing as a group of criminals as you read the dialog between the characters you learn about their relationship with one another and their interesting personalities. As you progress and actually beat the different levels, you learn the game’s story from everyone’s perspective. Who knows who’s actually telling the truth?