Tyler Roman’s Top 10 recommended games for the winter blues

by Tyler Roman, Editor

We haven’t been getting too much snow around here lately, and its kind of killing the wintry feeling that winter normally has. Video games, at least to me, can provide an escape from the misery. Conveniently, a good few of them might help to re-create that tingly feeling you sometimes might feel when watching snow fall, and I’ve listed the ones that I think might do the trick.

Skyrim (rated M): The fifth title in the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim is an open world RPG that takes place in the northernmost province of a continent called Tamriel. Despite the game having been released on November 11th, 2011, the game’s developers, Bethesda, have been milking it for all it’s worth. It’s hard to blame them though, as the game continues to make a ton of money.

The viking-like setting and cold, mountainous landscapes provide players with a large worldspace to explore. The game by itself isn’t very festive, but it helps that vast swatches of the map are covered in snow. Along with the large world-space, the symphonic soundtrack compliments the Nordic appearance of everything (Player be warned: after spending long amounts of time playing, it’ll start to sound repetitive). The main storyline features the player rising to power to defend the land from a returning horde of dragons, with only around four who’re actually friendly. The storyline takes the player across a broad spectrum of the game’s environments, from old burial crypts and mechanical ruins to mountaintops and valleys. I continue to play and enjoy Skyrim, but a sixth game would be great, too. That doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon though, but thanks to modding there seems to be an endless trove of ways to amuse yourself by messing with the game.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (rated M):

The second title of the MW franchise, this CoD game is mostly known for its story and co-op mode. While both of those are all fine and dandy, the part of it I’m going to be highlighting is one of it’s missions, Cliffhanger. Cliffhanger is special because of the one thing I’ll be repeatedly mentioning: snow. Taking place in an arctic environment, the player progresses through the mission experiencing things such as climbing a glacier with ice picks, navigating stealthily through a blizzard, and escaping on a snowmobile. I personally enjoyed the mission for these aspects when I first played the game, having never played anything like it before. Aside from that one mission, there aren’t many other parts of the game that truly emphasize a snowy, cold, frozen environment. As an honorable mention, the rest of the campaign is rather special in its own regard, building up a lot of the background for the third installment of the series with its dramatic conclusions and upsetting betrayals. 

Minecraft (rated E 10+):
Needless to say, this game has some very redeeming qualities. From the wide range of availability to its sleep-inducing soundtrack, Minecraft is a wonderful game to play on occasion during the holidays. For players on Xbox or Playstation consoles, there’s almost always a seasonal theme or character skin pack available for free. Being able to build almost anything allows more creative players to relax, somewhat, as they create things. The holidays often inspire some pretty cool seasonable builds, making it a fun game to play during the colder months. 

The Division (rated M):

Now this game is something interesting. I first played it in December of 2016, just after Christmas, so the nostalgia it wrought was intense. The events of the game take place in New York city on Manhattan island, sometime before Christmas. The general premise of the game is that a devastating epidemic breaks out just after Black Friday and society more or less collapses for the majority of the megalopolis. Sent in as part of a secret government program, players are more or less the ultimate version of the police, fighting to make the city safe again. The ever-changing time and weather keeps players immersed as they make their way from the west side of the island to the east, taking the city back step by step. I continue to enjoy the game whenever I occasionally play it, hoping it’s either snowing, nighttime, or snowing while its night out. My favorite part of the game is the mission where players have to work on restoring power to Times Square, where all the lights and signs turn on at the end. It’s not just the aspects of the game that make it special to me, it’s also the location. I’ve only been to New York city once before in my life and I desperately want to go back again sometime. The atmosphere, the lights, the coffee, etc. The city itself just appeals to me. Since I’m probably not going back anytime soon, The Division allows me to experience the city again and again, albeit not entirely. It should also be mentioned that the soundtrack plays very rarely, but it always kicks in at just the right moments.

Overwatch (rated T):

Overwatch has quickly risen to popularity as a first-person shooter with its wide cast of characters and intense player vs. player matches. The game itself is entirely player vs. player, making it a good time-filler for whenever one would be bored. While the gunplay could definitely use some work, as well as the rapidly-paced movement system, the availability for different play styles and team roles make it very enjoyable for people looking for team-centered games. Since it’s an MMO, the game also features seasonal additions. For example, Blizzard–the game’s main developer–adds in new character skins during times like Halloween and the winter holidays. Said character skins are relevant to whatever holiday or event happens to be going on. 

Destiny/Destiny 2 (rated T):

I’m mentioning Destiny because of its fourth DLC, Rise of Iron. Along with added story, it includes two new world spaces that are decked with snow. Since both areas are up in Siberia, it makes sense location-wise. It more or less dumped a bunch of snow and constant snowstorms on parts of the Cosmodrome and added a mountain you can go to as a social space. It may not sound like much, but I had purchased it on Christmas day and it helped to make it feel more like winter, since it hadn’t snowed much where I lived at the time.

I mention Destiny 2 because of the Dawning, an event that began December 19th and ends on January 9th. The event adds in a few activities and some seasonal-themed items, giving players something to do during the holidays. This year’s Dawning event sends players on a scavenger hunt to put together presents for the various characters that can be interacted with. When players give the present to whomever its for, they receive one in return. The other way to receive more themed items and armors is to complete various quests that came along with the event.

A smaller, yet rather fun, addition to most world spaces are piles of snow that players can pick up snowballs from. Since they’re snowballs, their main function is for throwing at things. Granted, it didn’t feel as special as the first game’s Dawning events, which featured a seasonal racing event that everyone looked forward to. To everyone’s disappointment, sparrow racing didn’t make a comeback this season. 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (rated E 10+):

If there’s anything that can be said about BotW, its that its very well done. From captivating scenery to tall traveling birds with accordions, this TLZ game is one to remember. I haven’t had the pleasure of playing this game for myself, but from the nonstop praise a few of my friends give it, its gotta be special. From what I can gather though, it looks to be quite interesting. Boasting a world-space larger than Skyrim’s, and way more environments, too, Breath of the Wild hosts plenty to look at while traveling place to place. However, unless you already own a Wii U or a Nintendo Switch, purchasing BotW is going to be pricey.

Batman: Arkham Origins (rated M):

This game can be described as the Die Hard of video games, as its only ever considered to be a Christmas-y kind of game because the events in it take place during the end of December. Definitely a one of a kind experience though, as not many games let you play as the Dark Knight, serving up justice and punching baddies to the tunes of the season as it snows delicately in the background. 

Battle Block Theater (rated T):

This game is special because it includes the quirky narrator, the ludicrous story, and the mind numbing difficulty of collecting everything that can be collected. While it may seem like a typical platformer, it’s only slightly above a typical platform. Very important distinction, can’t forget it.  The whole point of the game is to survive deadly performances on a stage, performing in front of an audience of giant cats. The ultimate goal is to somehow rescue all of your friends, with a bit of an emphasis on Hatty Hattington- everyone’s best friend.

All throughout the game, the player(s) is/are antagonized and “encouraged” by the quirky narrator, who plays the part of a story teller whenever a chapter of the game is completed. As spoken by the narrator in one of the game’s trailers, “If you hate our stuff, shut up, and do better!” The game has a thing that allows players to make their own levels, which is neat for any creative types who want to ruin someone’s day (or maybe their whole week).

Super Meat Boy (rated T):

Yet another platformer, this classic work of crazy has been around for awhile. To simplify the game, you’re a sentient cube of meat whose girlfriend, who happens to be a sentient cube of band-aids, gets kidnapped by a fetus in a jar. The player then spends the entirety of the game almost getting her back but then failing at the last second. The game’s mechanics reward quick thinking and learning from mistakes, giving immense moments of satisfaction upon completing levels and beating bosses. The 8-bit music and design of the game makes failing every ten seconds more bearable, and even comical on some occasions. There isn’t anything winter-ish about the game, but it remains a fun challenge for anyone not afraid of wasting a good 30 minutes on a level. 

Overall, these are just a few games that I recommend at least checking out sometime, and they will heat you up with frustration and success until summer!