Winter is a time for new beginnings, reflection, building action plans, looking for diversions, and many, many hours looking at screens.
What games are we playing to pass through the cold months? What games can help lighten our moods? What games could bring you and that special someone closer?
Dominating the world, making pinballs into art, tapping into the force, vacuuming in space…take your pick from some of our favorites this season.
Looking for a mashup of Deadwood, Wild, and The Revenant, but with calmer bears, brighter colors, safe-for-work language, and fewer near-death visions? The Trail: A Frontier Journey is your ticket. You can create characters, build stuff, explore, settle down in one place, or keep going to find new, interesting locales. Spoiler alert: the game involves you walking on trails, a lot of them. But it’s about the journey, man. (iOS, Android)
Lux Touch updates the classic Risk-style format, making it easy and enjoyable for mobile play. It mixes up the maps too (over 900 options), so you’re not stuck within the same old post-war 20th century geopolitical borders. Through chance and cunning, your goal remains comfortingly familiar as every child’s dream: total world domination and the absolute elimination of all other players. (iOS, Android, Steam)
Pollock sure plays a mean pinball. Inks adds an avant-garde artistry to the game you’ve played a million times. You flip the little ball, and when it hits one of the targets, watercolor paint explodes everywhere. The ball’s path makes ink trails and pretty pictures. (iOS)
There’s a whole crop of new classics that we still play regularly and are perfect for winter. Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic™, Heroes of the Storm, and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition hold up for good reason. The recent Skyrim upgrade in particular is a lesson in how well-trod games can benefit from a stunning overhaul, and a much-needed quicksave feature. (All on multiple platforms)
Rocket League was a sleeper hit a few years ago, and its playability persists for good reason. Cars+soccer+rockets=pretty great. Taking some life lessons from Mario Kart, Rocket League keeps it simple, colorful, and fast-moving. Defeat can be harsh, especially in the early going, but it keeps you coming back. Rocket League was the PlayStation Store’s most downloaded title of 2016 in the U.S. and Europe. (PS4, Xbox, Steam, ports for OS X and Linux)
Stop playing all these video games, and have some real interactions with real people. Just kidding, keep playing Rocket League. But if you do need a break, or you’re forced to be social, Brooklyn-born Punderdome is a creative and very fun card game option. Also, their father-daughter commercial is fantastic. Puns, jokes, special prizes, trading witticisms with friends…isn’t it time YOU tried Punderdome?
Star Wars games since the Disney acquisition have been a mixed bag. Thankfully, Star Wars™ Force Arena from Netmarble Games is a well-designed, fairly addictive game that combines card decks with MOBA. Force Arena wisely rejects the pay-to-win model, and the benefits are immediate — no stress about what you’re getting hustled into in order to move up. Just put the time in and you’ll be rewarded handsomely by the Empire. (iOS, Android)