Life being stressful is a given - especially in today’s world. Everyone’s freaking out over pandemics, politics, and ethnic relations. Now, we know we can’t run from such issues. They must be faced. For as dangerous as the issues themselves are, ignoring them or doing nothing is far more deadly. Still, even God warned that worrying oneself to hysterics isn’t good either. Unchecked anxiety is harmful. He, our Great Physician, knows the importance of unwinding, releasing tension, and having fun. For while He is the ultimate source of perfect peace, He also invented fun for our benefit. We need it, and every good and perfect gift comes from Him.
Everyone has their favorite way to relax. For some it’s taking a walk. For others a favorite activity or pastime. For me, I love playing videogames. It’s the thrill of having an adventure and a challenge to conquer. That’s the ticket for me, but it’s no secret that when it comes to actually relieving stress, not all games are created equal. Thankfully, I have a few personal favorites for ‘those days’. You know. Those days when I’m not in an ambitious mood or need a decompressor. When they arrive at my doorstep, these are the games I like to boot on. So if you’re looking for a serene or uplifting escape yourself, consider these:
1. Alto’s Odyssey by Team Alto
(Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Andriod, iOS)
The buffed up sequel to Alto’s Adventure, Alto’s Odyssey is a game for the high spirited that’s wrapped in a simple package. Ever wanted to sled down colorful sand dunes, leap gorges, and skid along stone pillars under an Arabian moon? If not, you will. Alto’s Odyssey let’s you fly across ever changing landscapes that just pop with lovely pastels. Weather and day/night cycles add to the beautiful variance, and the game’s mechanics are so wonderfully streamlined, you can do a whole manner of tricks with the press of a single button. You can play for high scores. That’s always fun, or you can turn on ‘Zen Mode’. No mischievous lemurs will interfere. No ‘Game Overs’. Just a peaceful ride with no end. It’s perfect for anyone in need of a quick trip. You might even catch a rare solar eclipse on the way.
2. Flower by ThatGameCompany
(Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Microsoft Windows, iOS)
Nature lovers, this one’s for you - especially if you’re more into the flora than the fauna. Floating petals fly on the breeze, and you get to guide it along, awakening more blossoms as you pass. I recall one game reviewer calling Flower ‘poetry in motion’, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s like you’re springtime itself as you return color and life to barren fields. Sure, there are a couple dark sequences. It’s not all ‘sunshine and roses’, but those moments don’t last long. Besides, there are no ‘Game Over’s. It’s not like you can fail. Flower is more focused on atmosphere than survival. It’s no wonder then why the Smithsonian added this game to its pantheon of fine art. (No joke. They really did.)
3. Journey by ThatGameCompany
(Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Microsoft Windows, iOS)
One of the best games in recent decades, Journey took the 2012 game awards by storm, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Who knew a desert could be so gorgeous? The sunset sequence alone stole my breath. Add in a quiet yet resonating story; an Academy nominated score (a gaming first); and a masterful multiplayer mechanic and you know this game’s got something memorable. I won’t say too much more. Journey is best ‘experienced’ than ‘explained’, but I’ll say this. Once you begin, don’t rush it. Take it in. Trace pictures in the sand. Assist your travel companion. Explore the sights while on your way, and let the emotional highs and lows of your quest sweep you away.
4. Abzu by Giant Squid Studios
(Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows)
Can’t afford to scuba dive? You’ll find this game’s price tag much more agreeable. We all know that God’s oceans team with life. Fish, mammals and reptiles of all shapes, sizes, and colors call it home. Ever gone to SeaWorld and wanted to ride a dolphin or swim through coral reefs? Abzu grants your wish. I especially love how the developers decided to render real world aquatic life instead of just making up fictional fish. This game is literally a celebration of all that God created on Day Five. Besides, out of all the games on this list, this one is easily the most colorfully rich and vibrant. There’s a reason why Abzu is often referred to as Journey but underwater.
5. Sky: Children of Light by ThatGameCompany
(iOS, iPadOS, Android, Nintendo Switch *upcoming*)
This one is extra special to me; because I actually got to play a hand in this game’s development as a key beta tester! Everyone’s dreamed of flying. Everyone’s dreamed of fantastical places, and most everyone wants to connect with others. Well, Sky: Children of Light rolls all those desires into one. You can soar through the skies, visit unique lands, and have adventures. There are dangers to be sure. The ‘storm’ sequence is pretty terrifying, but this game is all about relationships. And that’s the real beauty of Sky. Oh, it’s visually dazzling to be sure, but it’s its friendly environment where it truly shines. You see, this game was designed to promote positive relations between friends and strangers. You hold each other’s hand. You can share hugs or give piggy-back rides. You can be a friendly guide to new players. You could even form an exploring party of five or more. Never before had I seen a multiplayer quite like it, and I considered it an honor to have played some small part in it’s production. Best of all, Sky: Children of Light is free to download! Anyone can pick up and play. So if you ever decide to take flight, consider subscribing right here on FlyingFaith and shoot me an email! I’d be more than happy to show you around.