It seems like our collective levels of sanity were beginning to fray at the edges during the lockdowns up to today. Large numbers of frustrated people are still being forced to endure some level of pandemic related nonsense. It’s true that things are getting more back to normal – but this is by no means a world back to normal – and many people are still wary of spending time outdoors in large groups.
We are also entering the cold months where instead of heat we are greeted with the cold and snow. Winter is a opportunity for a wide assortment of entertainment options, but almost nobody wants to be out at night. So this means if you are going out you will be going to a place that will make you spend some money.
Many schools remain open or closed. You have couples still thrown together as both partners may or may not work from home and social isolation is still common. People are tired and sick of things being nuts.
However, there is a ray of sunshine that shines on the clouds of increasing mental stress or being on a budget. People at home need to rediscover the joy of simply playing games. Whether these are board-based classics, new card game releases, old favorites released as software, or new group games played over the Internet it seems that games are undergoing a bit of a renaissance.
So if you are determined to preserve the last shreds of sanity – or maintain a relationship without the growing fear of a significant other throwing a toaster into your evening bath, or reach out to friends for some quality time what are the best games on the market in the time of the Pandemic?
Computer Games for Two.
Let’s first take a look at software-based games that couples (and groups) can enjoy when in isolation.
A frenetic game that puts you and your partner in charge of a kitchen on a pirate ship as it sails the Seven Seas. As you prepare the meal for the merry band of cutthroats you will be faced with chopping onions and dealing with onions that have begun to burn., but the stove is out of reach as the ships rolls to port and your partner is cleaning dishes so they’re no help. Work together or go down with the ship. You can get your fix of culinary high seas chaos on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch or your Windows PC.
Don’t Starve Together
Stick together or fall prey to the perils of the wilderness. Find resources and build or you might not see out the night. The pressure is on in this great (but creepy) game and as the days go by your character’s grip on sanity may begin to slip as the challenges mount. Play with or against your partner, enjoy taking those isolation frustrations out on a partner or renew that bond – it’s up to you. Enjoy this great game on Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC and macOS.
It’s become a classic and now you can play with up to four players and calm things down by exploring and reshaping the world (don’t we all wish we could do that in real life?). Watch each other’s backs as you scavenge for supplies and expect the tempo to get increasingly fast as night falls and the creatures emerge. Great fun for couples or up to four players. Enjoy Minecraft on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I have so many hours spent on this one I’m almost afraid to tell people.
This is a core couples game where you get to run a farm. Improve skills, grow crops, explore the mine, and get to know the villagers. This is a very relaxing game that has soaked up a huge time investment from me.
Best Board Games.
There are a variety of board games that have stood the test of time – and we are not talking about Snakes and Ladders (Chutes and Ladders in the U.S.). There are also new entries onto the board gaming market that are rapidly building a fanatical following. Some games are perfect for a couple – and others are great for two, but the number of participants can easily be scaled up.
Let’s look at some of the best.
It would simply be remiss in these times to ignore a game that goes by the name of ‘Pandemic’. Playing as a medic, a scientist or a researcher it’s up to you to halt the spread of a deadly pandemic before it spreads across the globe. It’s a challenging game and victory is not always assured – but you have the chance to make a real difference in the fight (even if it is just on a board). It’s great for 2 – 4 players and given that it has sold 1.5 million copies worldwide it’s a good bet for those in search of a cooperative gaming option that gives you the opportunity to save mankind.
For a touch of the macabre play as Jack the Ripper or an investigator focused on taking him down. Moving players around the board it a game of cat and mouse. The investigator tries to identify who the crazed killer is – while Jack does his best to muddy the waters. As the investigator you only get one chance to accuse someone – make the wrong choice and Jack lives to kill again.
Card games have always been firm favorites for anywhere from two to an entire group – and there are some great new options out there to make those days of lockdown fly by.
Great Card Games
Card games are a simple way to enjoy the company of a significant other or a group that has been forced together during the course of the lockdown. But put away those aces and kings – there are far better options on the market today. Here are some best-sellers that can be delivered to your door to have some rectangular based fun.
This game has sold over 9 million copies, breaking records in games for kids, games for adults, and everything in-between since it became a Kickstarter success story. It’s the game for those who like explosions, laser beams and goats. Its billed as a ‘highly strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette.’
If you draw an Exploding Kitten, you lose and you are full of ‘loser sad-sauce.’ If you don’t explode, YOU WIN! 5 Minutes to learn, 15 minutes to play.
The CNN review said ‘It’s like UNO, except there are goats, magical enchiladas and kittens that can kill you.” Great fun.
Cards Against Humanity
This card game has become a classic. It has received rave reviews from all who have indulged ‘their horrible nature’ (according to their marketing blurb). It is an undoubtedly hilarious way to spend your time at home with a significant other or that group of friends.
Warning! This is not a game for the fainthearted. Simple to play ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ style gameplay leads to answers that are at the very least politically incorrect, offensive or risqué. Never has a game hit below the belt with such side-splitting results.
Being stuck indoors need not mean that each day should be a mirror image of the previous one. Order a game that provides fun and stimulates conversation. You might very well find yourself with a treasured way to pass those idle hours.
Instead of spending a pretty penny going out, I might opt to stay home a couple days a month to pump my budget numbers.