Despite being weeks into Autumn, Southern California is currently hotter than it was all summer. There’s no breeze, no cloud in the sky; no respite from the fist of the fiery death-orb that oppresses us all and stops me from going about my daily routine.
Also, I have no air-conditioning.
It’s too hot to go for my morning run; it’s too hot to practice my banjo (that thing is heavy); it’s too hot to work; it’s too hot move. On days like today, all you can do is stay as still as possible and do nothing.
It’s even too hot to play most games. What I’m currently playing for review is too, well, crappy, and I don’t need another way to suffer. As I browse my ever-growing stack of games I’m currently playing (and never finishing), I find few viable candidates
My brain is slowly baking, shutting down my ability to process information at any normal rate; that rules out StarCraft II. Any physical activity whatsoever would probably induce a heat stroke; down go usually-reliable, rhythm-game standbys Rock Band and Elite Beat Agents. Any frustration will most likely result in life-threatening exhaustion; sorry, last few levels of Valkyria Chronicles (I promise to finish you, someday).
I thought about revisiting Okami, and the comfort of its calm, serene, inviting world. But the adrenaline that would be aroused in me by the action of combat and celestial-brush painting would most likely cause me to catch on fire and die.
I thought about revisiting old 3D Zeldas. Hyrule is always a great place to escape to. Except for the barren waste of Twilight Princess’s Kakariko Village, the sun-drenched salt sea of the Wind Waker, or the desert fortress/clay oven of the Ocarina of Time’s Gerudo Valley. There’s no doubt in my mind that facing these horrors would induce such waking nightmares, that I may never recover from hallucinations of roasting to death.
Fortunately, hope is not lost. This list contains five games that a regular human person might actually be able to endure, on such days when Hell has clearly chosen to rise to earth, to punish us all for wasting all our time playing videogames (or whatever).
Ah, turn-based strategy with very few fail states, widely scalable difficulty, and a slow pace. The best part is, you only need to spend as many calories as it takes to move the mouse and click; sedentary gaming at its best!
For long stretches of the game (depending on your chosen speed and difficulty), all you need to do is click “Next Turn” and watch what happens. And when the heat gets to be too much, you can take out your aggression on the nearest, measly city-state. Yes, exterminating Florence will make it all better, if only for a few minutes.
Dragon Quest IX
DQIX strikes a very particular RPG balance. While it does feature some of the more aggravating features of JRPGs (occasional grinding, some tough bosses, excessively-talky NPCs), it also tempers itself by removing failure and punishment.
Death only robs you of money, which can be easily re-acquired. Most enemies pose little threat and, therefore, require little mental energy (precious on days like today) to defeat. There’s no convoluted plot to become overly-invested in/frustrated with when it interrupts play.
DQIX gives you the freedom to just tune out, blindly follow the path in front of you, and look at all the pretty colors and cute characters. You know, kind of like a baby zombie (or is it zombie baby?).
Any Game You’ve Played a Million Times
All the time I spent replaying Grim Fandango four or five times a year could have been spent learning algebra. But on a day like today, all that ‘wasted’ time pays off as a convenient go-to game for filling the void left by my melted daily routine. I could probably do a speedrun of Grim Fandango blindfolded; I know each and every puzzle by heart and still enjoy the ride each and every time through.
The best part is that we all have at least one game like that. One game that you’ve played so many times, its streets are more familiar than your own. No thinking required — you’re basically just on auto-pilot.
Any Harvest Moon/Rune Factory
I know, I know — all that manual labor is the last thing in the world you want to do, even if it’s just pretend. But look at it another way: the worlds of Harvest Moon and Rune Factory are so easy. Our world should be so easy. Running a farm involves no more than a few hours/day labor. Better yet, once you get some monsters to work it for you, you can just look for treasure and woo all the pretty, young single people living in your rustic farming community. And when winter comes around, maybe you can trick your brain into believing that you’re actually there in that frigid paradise…
Because in space, everything is temperature-controlled–
–even your clothes.