Whenever he thought about it, he felt terrible. And so, at last, he came to a fateful decision. He decided not to think about it. ~John-Roger and Peter McWilliams
Question #92977 posted on 03/23/2020 12:11 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Do you have any video game recommendations? Mostly I like ones with good story/characters or wholesome, relaxing ones like Stardew Valley.

-My Name Here

A:

Dear you,

Spectre mentions Journey below, and I wholeheartedly second that recommendation. I talked a little more about why I love the game in my response to Board Question #92802.

Best,

Josefina

A:

Dear 0,

I don't have as many as I thought I would, but I do have a few. I don't know if you intended for the categories you mentioned to be totally separate, but I'm dividing my list that way anyway.

Story/character-driven games

1. The Kingdom Hearts series is an action RPG series which features your usual upbeat protagonist trying to save the world(s) from evil. What makes the series unique is its setting: in addition to its original material, it makes heavy use of Disney characters and settings while simultaneously featuring famous cameos from Final Fantasy such as Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth. While different games explore different character perspectives, the series focus is always on the happy-go-lucky hero Sora, with Donald and Goofy as comic relief party members. The series does get some criticism for the overall complexity of the narrative and fairly hit-or-miss script quality, but the games are fun, the world presents a lot of unique and interesting concepts, at the end of the day, I can't help but love the relentlessly optimistic story about determination and the power of friendship. 

2. The Fire Emblem series marries a self-contained (usually) fantasy narrative with strategic turn- and grid-based combat. Each game also has a large cast of unique and fairly diverse characters. The latest entry, Three Houses, also has significant amounts of gameplay directed entirely towards character interaction and development, as you spend the first year of the game as a newly recruited professor preparing your students for military combat. I enjoy the series' gameplay in general, but I want to highlight Three Houses in particular for its exceptionally strong cast of characters and comparatively improved writing.

Relaxing and/or wholesome games

1. I second Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Like Spectre said, it's a life simulator fairly similar to Stardew Valley in concept. The gameplay is slow, relaxed, and enjoyable.

2. The Rune Factory series is perhaps even more similar (I might even say identical). You start the game with an unworked farm; you can train various skills such as crafting, farming, mining, and more; you can fight monsters and explore dungeons; there's even opportunity to socialize with the townspeople and potentially fall in love and get married; the list goes on. This shouldn't be surprising, as Rune Factory's parent series, Harvest Moon, served as the original inspiration for Stardew Valley. If "Stardew Valley had a baby with an anime" is a pitch that interests you at all, give it a shot; the similarities will immediately be apparent. (The fourth and latest game in the series was just recently remastered on the Nintendo Switch, and the fifth game is in development for the Switch currently.)

3. I almost can't believe I'm doing this, but I'm going to go ahead and recommend RuneScape despite the fact that it's 2020 and the game is nearly twenty years old. I do that because whether it's an involved story-driven game or a relaxing one is entirely up to you; it's a sandbox MMO with a huge degree of player freedom. The game has a vast number of storylines in the form of quests, many of which are quite extensive. If you want to, you can intervene to stop civil war in the elven lands, fight to liberate the blighted lands of Morytania from the draconian rule of the vampyres, and more. Or you can just take it easy and cut trees or go fishing while you watch Netflix. Comes in two flavors: RuneScape 3 is the modern game, with pretty visuals, excellent music, and decades of content. Old School RuneScape is a legacy experience designed to mimic the game as it was in its browser-based heyday circa 2007, complete with compressed MIDI music, blocky polygonal graphics, and much less in the way of quality-of-life updates. Both versions of this MMO are still receiving regular content updates and have an active playerbase. The game can be played for free, but you'll have to subscribe for access to the majority of the game's content.

Happy gaming!

Genuinely,

9S

A:

Dear this-is-the-best-time-to-play-video-games,

Yes, in fact I do!

First, my favorite flash games website (RIP Flash Player) is Kongregate. It has a bunch of great games, and some of the best are on the "Quests" page. One of my favorite things about Kongregate is the ability to comment on games and achievements in games that gives you a method to measure "progression" on a much larger scale. If you're into more Steam-style gaming, they also have a platform called Kartridge. My favorite game on their website (and one of my all-time favorites) is The Company of Myself (puzzle). Other favorites from the site are Exit/Corners (interactive fiction), Solarmax 2 (puzzle, cell), all of jmbt02's games (mostly adventure, the best are the elephant ones), all of Nerdook's games (awesome creator), all of bontegames's games (especially colors games and cat games), Realm of The Mad God (MMORPG, the only game on the list with no end), Jacksmith (time management/creator, but with a twist), Planet Juicer (classic house defense style), SAS: Zombie Assault 4 (shooter, action), FancyPants (adventure), TODO: Today (relaxing interactive fiction similar to those you like, on Kartridge though), Monstrüous (short, puzzle, also on Kartridge), Age of War (house defense style with units), That Pokyman Thing Your Grandkids are Into (short, adventure), Agony: The Portal (action/fantasy), Demons v Fairyland (tower defense), There is no game (short, puzzle), Royal Squad (adventure, fanstasy), Sort the Court (short, interactive fiction), The Woman Who Can't Jump (puzzle), and Ducklife (puzzle). As I was compiling this list, I did my best to put my favorite games and creators first, and then less and less as the list went on, but I still really enjoy all of them. If you would like other favorites, just email me at <inklings(at)theboard(dot)byu(dot)edu>. Besides flash games, I don't play much except Age of Mythology, which isn't as much of a favorite game as a game that we play as a family.

As long as we're on the topic of games, as far as X-box games go, our family likes Star Wars Battlefront II, all the Halo games, SSX Tricky, and 007: Nightfire (again, not a super great game by itself). I also have played all the Lego games up until The Hobbit, my favorite being the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit ones.

If you're looking for more suggestions of games, or just want a great channel to watch, check out Polygon (Youtube link here). They are awesome and create lots of quality content. For example, here is their Journey video that you should watch when you finish the game.

Best of luck!

Inklings

A:

Dearly Beloved,

I don't write here much anymore but I just wanted to hop in and give some recommendations because wholesome video games are a great creation. So here are my recommendations:

  • Journey - Silent protagonist. Great music. Great story. About 3 hours long if you play the whole thing and then you will probably want to play it again. You interact with other people playing at the same time as you but there's no voice chat, just movement and the feeling of achieving something together with someone else on a journey of their own. Available on PS3, PS4, PC, Apple App Store, Epic Games Store.
  • Kind Words - Imagine if people were honest with each other and just wanted to support each other online. That's this game. You can write letters of how you are feeling and ask questions. People will anonymously respond with helpful letters. You can do the same for others and read their letters and respond if you want. It's not toxic because there's no reward for it. You don't know if someone read your response, you only know that you tried to help. Available on Steam.
  • Alto's Adventure/Alto's Odyssey - You want to snowboard down a mountain with llamas to chill beats? Join here. It's an easy to play game with lots of goals and content if you want, but if you want to just glide down a mountain to the nice music there's a mode for that too where falling down doesn't mean game over, it just means you get up and start from where you are and keep going. Available on Apple App Store, Mac App Store, Google Play Store, Kindle.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest - This game is hard. It's a platformer but it's also beautiful with a great story about love, loss, hurt, friendship, and finding a way to live with those that are different than you. And the MUSIC! And you get to play as a cute little spirit-bunny-fox thing. Don't you want that? Sequel releasing soon. Available on Xbox, PC, Switch.
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons - If you like Stardew Valley then this is right up your alley. Live on an island with friends. Make a nice home for yourself. Share the island with animal friends and real life friends who also have a Nintendo Switch. Take it easy since you have objectives that sometimes make you wait real-world hours to start or finish. Available on Switch on March 20, 2020.
  • Monument Valley/Monument Valley 2 - Perspective puzzles. That's the game. Story and dialogue are light but the story motivates your character to move through the puzzles. Available on Apple and Android, free if you have the game subscription for Android.

I tried to give you some games on every platform to try out. Alto's Adventure/Odyssey are free but the rest have a price that is pretty reasonable in my opinion. Happy gaming!

-Spectre

posted on 05/18/2020 6:54 p.m.
I know that it's been a while since this question was posted, but I wanted to include one of my all-time favorite games on Kongregate, Socrates Jones: Pro Philosopher. It's a nice interactive philosophy game, and I would recommend it to anyone.

-Inklings