Wow, so much for posting regularly again! I’ve had a pretty busy month with a fair few holidays, and more recently my other half and I decided to call time on our relationship. I may still be posting a little irregularly as I sort my life out but I’ll be back to normal soon. Needless to say I have been feeling a little weird so I made a list! I don’t know what it is but I like making lists. Sometimes we all need a bit of a pick-me-up. Whether that’s watching a good movie, re-reading the Harry Potter series for the 1,000th time, eating some damn good comfort food… We all have our ways. While I’m prone to all of the above gaming is something else that helps me to relax and feel better too (usually in the company of a Reese’s Pieces Krispy Kreme) in fact I can usually find a game to suit any mood; whether I want to curl up with a hot chocolate and play something slow paced and comforting, or if I had a bad day at work and just want to brutally murder the crap out of everything there is always something there for me. With that in mind I present to you Dragon’s Tea Party’s Top 10 Feelgood Games:
Number 10 – Kirby’s Epic Yarn
First of all, I’ve not actually played this but I really enjoy watching it. I never said they have to be feelgood games you’ve actually played! It’s impossible to feel bad while watching/playing this game. It’s just adorable, everything is lovely and colourful and it’s so imaginative. Maybe it’s because one of my hobbies is sewing but I really love the yarn-based aesthetic as well. If I’m having a particularly bad day at work I like to put on a Let’s Play of it in a cheeky small corner of my screen and it always makes me smile. Also, Kirby’s partner in it is called Prince Fluff and I think that’s adorable.
The only reason it’s so far down the list is that it’s lacking that nostalgia value for me as I always seemed to manage to avoid the Kirby games somehow back in my youth (totally unintentionally, they just never crossed my path). As you’ll see throughout this list nostalgia value plays a big part for me in feelgood stuff.
Number 9 – Skyrim
Getting almost as far away as we can from Kirby’s Epic Yarn we have Skyrim next on the list!
Skyrim is notorious for people wandering around for ages after being distracted by something or other, be it a side quest, a dragon, or a cool looking building in the distance. It’s so easy to become totally immersed in the world and time can fly by at a scary pace. It’s also very relaxed in that, due to the size of the world, there is no pressure to actually complete the main quest until you want to. You can do anything you like and the game will just go with it. In all honesty I never actually finished the main quest but even so I clocked up an enormous amount of time on the game, I really don’t want to know how much. If you’re looking for escapism this is the perfect game.
Once I have my PS4 back I’m going to download Horizon: Zero Dawn, which is similar to Skyrim in the escapism, large map, endless quests regard so maybe I could swap these round once I’ve played it.
Skyrim loses points though for having so many damn crypts. “Ooh a cave I wonder what… Ah, Draugr. I don’t know what else I expected.”
Number 8 – Dragon Age: Inquisition
Let’s stick with the adventuring theme for a bit here and talk about Dragon Age: Inquisition.
This game was one of the main things that got me through my last year of University and stopped me from going crazy. If you did a course where almost all your grades depend on group project work you’ll know where I’m coming from. Never again. I’d come home after an exhausting day of fighting with my group about something stupid. We’d start off OK with everyone trying to be civil, but then along comes the person with the massive ego and they propose Stupid Idea of the Day. They stubbornly don’t drop Stupid Idea and eventually their egos unfurl to reveal their true Satanic forms: self-centred Harpies with sonar speech, draining the life out of me with every word out of their mouths, like mind vampires but 100 times worse. I’d return home a shell of the woman I’d been when I’d left that morning. I took my anger out on a much more manageable demon army in Inquisition and got a lot more invested in my team there than I ever was in any team I was in at University.
One of the great appeals of Dragon Age is the characters. I am a sucker for games with good character interactions and relationships and I would devote a lot of time to making sure I could do everyone’s side missions and be besties with everyone as much as I could. I’d chill and eat cookies on the roof with Sera, admire Cassandra’s love of trashy romance novels, and just plain admire Dorian (that sass!) If only socialising IRL was as simple as that.
Number 7 – Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly
I did not realise until I googled it for this post that this game has pretty dire reviews all around but I don’t care. I really, truly loved this game.
This is the first big nostalgic game on this list. I don’t care what the reviews say, to me it was delightfully colourful, extremely fun, and the different levels were just wonderfully varied. I would spend hours trying to beat my previous time on the ice slide at the Monkey Monastery, the platform puzzle in the Thieves Den, or just swimming around Luau Island which was my favourite level because it was a beautiful tropical island where you could play the bongos, and the first time I was able to overcome my fear of in-game swimming. (For more about this weird fear you can have a read about it here.) I think that a lot of my enjoyment came from the childlike wonder at all the pretty colours and different locations available. It was just a nice, relaxed game where you blew bubbles at dragonflies and glided around cartoonish but beautiful scenery.
Hardcore Spyro fans may be horrified to discover that Enter the Dragonfly, and A Hero’s Tail (which I didn’t like, although that has much better reviews than Enter the Dragonfly, so goes to show what 9 year old me knew), were the only Spyro games I ever played so while I’m looking forward to the re-mastered games coming out it will be my first time ever playing them! I’m hoping I’ll like them as much as I used to like Enter the Dragonfly.
Number 6: Pokémon Sapphire
Ah, Pokémon. Capturing wild animals and forcing them to fight for money is so serene. In all seriousness though I do find Pokémon relaxing, probably because of the nostalgic value but I also like the mellow plot (you don’t always want something complicated), the niceness of the world in general, and the adorable little creatures you raise to be powerful companions.
Right now the only console I have with me is my Nintendo DS so I’m working my way through Pokémon Y but as a dog-type only playthrough (don’t get me started on Smeargle… I should have done cats instead.)
I picked Sapphire in particular though because it’s the first one I remember seeing in colour, which at the time was absolutely incredible to me. My friend had it and until that moment I had only played Yellow so I didn’t know the joys of having a secret den to decorate, seeing the Pokémon world in such colourful detail, or even having a starter choice other than Pikachu. I was very jealous of my friend and used to play it at hers, if she let me. I eventually got my own version and it is definitely my most played Pokémon game, and possibly my most played game overall ever. I really like what they did with it in Alpha Sapphire too so that was nice.
Number 5 – Dead Island
Back to the action now! Another game linked to a stressful time at University (last time, I promise)… It was second year and that is the year where your grades actually count and people start taking group work more seriously. Always wondered what it would be like to be on The Apprentice? Do an Advertising degree and it’s literally exactly the same but instead of earning a significant of money at the end of it you end up in a significant amount of debt. My group work in my second year was actually miles better than it was in my final year (see Number 9) but it was still enough to annoy me enough to vent my anger on Dead Island after a long hard day of pointless squabbling.
I run the risk of sounding a little psycho-esque here but killing zombies in a gruesome assortment of ways is very therapeutic and when you pick up random items like wires, saw blades, nails, bleach, duct tape… You just can’t help but imagine what weapons you’ll be making at the workstation when you get back to the base. My personal favourite was the electric katana.
As the zombies run towards you, screaming that horrible zombie scream, you think about your day and swing your wire covered baseball bat *Thwack!* “fuck you and your stupid idea but stubborn personality Group Member 1”, *Boom!* “fuck you Group member 2 who obnoxiously designated themselves project manager even though there is not meant to be a project manager, it’s all shared work” *Crack!* “and fuck you Group member 3 who hasn’t actually even showed up yet”. Aah… Now doesn’t that feel better?
I’m sure most hack and slash zombie games could be in this spot but Dead Island was there for me when I needed it the most and I will always be grateful to it for that.
Number 4 – Undertale
There’s no denying that Undertale is an extremely well written game and I really can’t praise it enough (if you are looking for a bit more though here’s a post I wrote about it a while ago). The characters are just wonderful and time after time as I wandered through the monster world I kept wondering if I could just stay there, though I guess that wouldn’t be fair to my monster friends who were all eager to return to the surface.
Why isn’t it just a little higher on the list? Well… It’s emotionally devastating and some of the fights are far from relaxing (looking at you Muffet) so that counts against the more chilled out side of it somewhat. It is such a nice game to wander around in though and every character has something to say, every enemy has some funny quirk, it was just made with so much love and thought and to be honest that knowledge alone is quite relaxing.
Number 3 – GTA
I don’t know what it is about games where you dangerously cruise around a city in a car but I find it very relaxing. Maybe it’s the sudden freedom of being able to drive on the sidewalk to avoid the traffic or just the ability to do almost anything you want. It’s a bit like a modern Skyrim, if horses were cars and dragons were the mafia.
I do find driving games or racing games weirdly relaxing overall, even though I rarely play them, and when you add in those side quests and the occasional murder spree it just makes it really.
I’ve just put the franchise of GTA rather than any specific one because any of them could fit the bill here really. Feel free to mention your favourite in the comments!
Number 2 – Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Yes, this is on almost every list I’ve done on this blog so far, if not all of them, but you can’t deny it’s for good reason! I will make an effort to actually expand make a list that it’s not included on one day. Just listen to this start up music though!
Do you feel jaunty yet? Feel like exploring the seas? I do! Let’s go and chill on Outset island where you can chase mini pigs, or we can go see the adorable forest people, or how about sailing, sailing over the bounding waves until you find an unexplored island, have a little look around…
A recurring theme for the more nostalgic games on this list: it’s so beautiful and colourful! I must have been very attracted to colour as a child. The sea is a beautiful blue, as is the sky and the grass is the greenest shade of green… I mean there’s this big impending apocalypse that Ganon’s wanting to bring about but if you don’t collect all the triforce pieces he’ll never get to that stage, right? Just explore away for ever.
And then of course there’s Link’s expressions…
Number 1 – Stardew Valley
How could it possibly be anything else?
Yes, maybe it’s obvious but there’s just something about this game that is incredibly serene and just lovely. It’s like the game version of The Great British Bake Off. Everyone is generally nice (except maybe Shane at first but he could be a lot worse) and you can help them out and eventually get to learn more about them, some of the stories are surprisingly touching and really look at real world issues like depression, suicide, and PTSD. That part doesn’t seem “feelgood” but then you can help them to find their way out of it, or just help as much as you can and I think it’s very rewarding to see the characters grow.
The way of living in the game is so enviable, everyone sends each other gifts and they all come together at the village fairs and events, the farming is addictive and making your farm look pretty/organised becomes hugely important (or it does for me anyway). Are you bored of farming though? Why don’t you explore the mines for a bit of action instead! Or you could try to catch the legendary fish… You can give yourself a task or a goal and it feels so rewarding when you manage to achieve it, even though it seems so insignificant when you compare it to other game achievements like dragon slaying or getting from A to Z in a specific time. Wow, you robbed the tomb of a lich king and got his staff of ultimate power? That’s cool but I made cranberry jam so who’s the real winner here?
So there you have it! What are your feelgood games? Do you agree/disagree with any on the list? Have you got any feelgood recommendations games, movies, or otherwise?