Games warm cold hearts
These three games provide fall fun for everyone. | Photo Collage by Maxwell Heilman/ THE CHIMES
Fall is maybe, possibly here and hopefully a real winter follows. In the meantime, here are some cheap indie games to get you through the colder months ahead.
“Year Walk,” Simogo — Something about old folk tales resonates deep with humanity. We almost believe them on instinct, as if mysticism feeds our spirits when we wander from God. Year walking is an old Swedish tradition going back centuries — maybe even longer — the purpose of which was to get a small glimpse of the future. The rules of the tradition were very strict — disobeying them could be fatal. Once one steps out for the Year Walk, there was no turning back.
This is a horror game, but not a scary game. No one forces the player to take the walk, so they can take courage in their decisions and see this night through, even if one has to wander through the woods for hours.
The dark, cold nothings of Scandinavia provide a melancholic, introspective backdrop for this game, inviting players to think about their own lives, values and purposes. The simplistic puzzles become obstacles, not stumbling blocks, allowing thoughtful design that avoids frustrating and breaking the tone. The storybook visuals and simple music make this game disarming, while still oddly disturbing. In any other context this story would be fuel for nightmares, but this game does make that its purpose. The Steam and Wii U versions feature more puzzles and areas, but the iOS version excels just as much. Even if summer never ends and winter never comes, this game has enough cold to last players to next semester.
“Stardew Valley,” Concerned Ape — “Stardew Valley” highlights the same feeling of “Year Walk,” but on the other side of the spectrum. Where “Year Walk” evokes melancholy, “Stardew Valley” evokes nostalgia. The elevator pitch makes “Stardew Valley” — a game about organization, time management and daily routine — seem extremely boring, yet it provides pure unadulterated escapism. Essentially, the player has been given some land to farm and people to meet in a new town and new life far from the burdens of modern life.
Plant, tend and harvest becomes the game’s rhythm. Plant seeds in the ground, take care of them and reap the rewards, plant seeds of relationship, keep in touch with the people of Stardew Valley and reap friendship. This game provides an escape to a simpler time, but it transcends FarmVille in depth. Though they cannot stay there forever, players will surely come back every day.
“Mountain,” David O’Reilly — If the last one was a hard sell, then this takes the cake. This Steam and iOS title represents the epitome of an idle game. At the beginning, the game asks players to draw a few random pictures with some vague directions, then gives them an image of a mountain. Rather, they become the mountain. Naturally, players cannot move. Some call it a screensaver, but really the game centers around the passage of time, entropy and influence. It’s sympathetic with existential thoughts. “Do I affect people?” one might ask, knowing full well that people affect them. As time goes on, the mountain becomes damaged. Meteors crash into it, it gets snowed on and bit by bit starts eroding.
Although not all sad, it certainly becomes thoughtful. Dignity and peace remain as eons go by in a matter of hours. Not meant for active play, players can notice this game occasionally while doing more important things like homework. Run it in the background, and check on it as convenient. It will always be there for you when you need it.