Pencils flying, cars honking and people complaining; the stresses of everyday life weigh down on everyone from time to time. Relieving this stress is an act seen as difficult for some, so I have decided to present a couple of video games that have personally helped me overcome some difficult moments in my life. Through their music, visuals, themes and more, these video games can provide anyone with endless entertainment and creative expression.
“Stardew Valley” is a farming and social life simulator debuting in 2016 to near universal acclaim. You play as a personalized farmer dropped straight into Pelican Town, a rural village in a nondescript location on Earth. Many colorful faces live in Pelican Town, and as soon as you set foot on your farm, the game makes it clear that you have an abundance of things to do.
Farming is obviously a core aspect of the game, with the pastime being supported heavily by seasonal crops and many different seeds to purchase and plant. You’d be sorely mistaken for thinking there isn’t more to do, however, as there is a vast fishing mechanic, the ability to speak to and connect with every single civilian in Pelican Town, mines to explore and my personal favorite, a community center to rebuild.
One of the most striking and calming aspects of “Stardew Valley” is its vibrant soundtrack. Game creator and composer Eric Barone creates all manner of music to draw a player in, with each season of nature personified in beautiful compositions that allow the player to sink in to their new lives as a farmer. You’ll be humming these tunes nonstop after your first play session.
Finally, what truly makes me happy about this game is its cute and clever writing. Each unique character feels fully realized, with custom events and choices to make that allow the player to form connections and share special moments with the wide cast. Digging deep into your fellow townsfolk can keep your attention for many hours.
“Animal Crossing” is a game series that evokes much of the same emotions as Barone’s “Stardew Valley,” but to a much more broad scale. “Animal Crossing” is a life simulator that operates on a real clock and calendar, allowing each time you boot up the game to reflect the time and date in the real world. This allows for holidays and seasons to be updated as your year progresses, immersing yourself further in the game’s world.
You control yourself, the only human in an adorable world of humanoid animals. You all live in a village together with the main goal of the game being to simply live life fishing, talking to friends, catching bugs and completing the local museum’s collection of fossils.
While the music is indeed catchy, it takes a back seat to the much more impactful visuals, which are consistent throughout every entry. The artstyle is cutesy and appealing to all ages, creating a warm atmosphere easy to sink into and relax with. The all ages appeal is what I feel makes “Animal Crossing” extremely easy for anyone to sit down with and enjoy.