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Published on January 18th, 2016 | by Peter Freeman


What to Play When You Don’t Want to Play Anything

It’s the beginning of the year, not a whole lot is coming out, and you’ve just gotten a bunch of games for Christmas. Yet, you don’t want to play anything. You do that thing where you stare at your shelf of games or scroll through your Steam library. There are plenty of new games sitting in both places and yet none of them appeal to you.

There’s something about the winter that makes it hard to start something new. At least in my experience, getting into a new game feels daunting. It’s also boring. Because in the end, who knows if you’ll like it or not? But there’s still that annoying pull to get through it. I mean, you just got it off the winter sale, or as a gift, didn’t you?

Well, ignore that obligation. There’s nothing wrong with going back to old favorites. Even more, there’s nothing wrong with just wanting something simple and easy to pick up and play. So here’s a list of games are perfect for times when nothing else is appealing to you.


FTL (Faster Than Light): You’re going to see a few rogue-likes on this list and that’s because the nature of genre makes it so easy to get in a little bit of gaming without committing to a several-hour-long sessions. What makes FTL even better is the soundtrack, which lulls you into a zone and gets you going during all the right times. FTL only has eight levels and the game takes about forty-five minutes at most per round.


Risk of Rain: I adore this game. Not only is the art style easy on the eyes, but it’s short. The game only has six levels, and playing through it only takes about an hour (usually less). The soundtrack puts you in a melancholic state. The gameplay is simple and easy to get into. It’s the variety of items that gives you a unique challenge each round.


Rocket League: I hesitated adding this to the list for two reasons. The first is that you have to rely on another person, something you should never do – unless you play solos only. The second is that it’s a competitive game, which introduces stress and might leave you more annoyed/frustrated than at peace when you’re done playing. But if you’re not big into raging while you play games and can easily forgive idiotic teammates, there’s plenty of fun to be found in the six to seven minute rounds of Rocket League.


Life is Strange: This is the first of two episodic series you’ll see on this list. The reason is that episodic games let you take them at your own pace. Go as slow or as fast as you want. Plus it’s in small parts, each of which is roughly two hours. So you can play for a bit and still feel like you’ve accomplished something. Life is Strange in particular follows this formula, but does so with a unique setting and a great cast of characters.


Tales from the Borderlands: Similar to Life is Strange, Tales from the Borderlands follows the episodic format. But unlike Life is Strange, there are fewer puzzles and all around less things you need to do. Most of the gameplay comes from moving around and making dialogue choices. You’re basically watching a “choose your own adventure” movie. That said, the humor is great and the characters are so much fun to interact with that it makes everything okay.


Undertale: Undertale is a game best played in small chunks. I’m not through a lot of it yet but if you’re looking for a bit of a nostalgia trip then this is the game for you. The characters make funny little noises when they talk and the game’s soundtrack will bring you back to the era of games like Banjo Kazooie. It plays more like an old SNES RPG, but that doesn’t mean that people who started gaming after that time won’t have a fond appreciation for it.

I could mention a few more games – Marvel Heroes comes to mind for instance – but these are the major ones that I took to when in need of something small to play. These games will still allow you to feel “accomplished” without having to commit to an entire sixty hour adventure. There’s also very little investment in these games. The stories are good and interesting (for the latter three games) if that’s something you need. Or if you’d rather play something without any story and just have something to explicitly play, then there are the first three items.

Whatever you choose, know it’s okay to not want to play anything. Most people feel bad about the fact that they have all these games and all this “time” and yet don’t play anything. Taking a break from games is awesome. It can clear your head and make you appreciate them more when you come back.

That said, if you’re just waiting for something new and awesome to come out, know I’m right there with you.

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  • tplarkin7

    Dragon’s Dogma or Blade and Soul were just released for PC. DD is the best RPG ever (I had played it on console). Blade and Soul is impressive for an MMO. Both of these games offer full native support for the Xbox 360 controller (not sure about Xbox One).

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