Stay Inside, Play Video Games

The best games to binge this summer

Not everyone is an “outdoorsy” person, and while there are great joy and health benefits of seeing sun and being outside – sometimes, all you want to do is stay at home. One of the best things to spend your time on is on video games. Yes, video games are for everyone, and here are some of are best recommendations for your summer binge-gaming.

Dota 2

This one won’t ask for your money, just your soul

Imagine if an advanced alien species created an infinitely more complex version of chess and then gave it Adderall. That’s Dota 2. Out of all the other games on this list, it’s the only one you actually need. It can be your forever game – one that you obsess over in your every waking moment, or one that you can come back to again and again. Also, it’s one of the only real “free to play” games out there. There are no hidden costs. No need to grind away to unlock characters or items. All you need is a half-decent computer and an internet connection.

In Dota 2, the goal is simple: defend your Ancient, destroy theirs. How you do that is where the real challenge takes shape. The game boasts hundreds of heroes to choose from, all with different abilities and a dizzying number of items to augment their strengths and weaknesses. The learning curve is immense, and for new players it can seem overwhelming. But that’s what keeps over 10 million active monthly players hooked. Even after hundreds of matches played and thousands of hours in-game, Dota 2 still reveals new layers of intricacy. There’s always something new to learn, a new strategy to try, a new hero to master.

The game has a highly competitive pro scene that culminates every year in The International. It is one of the largest e-sports tournaments in the world and boasts a prize pool of over $20 million. What separates the pro from the amateur in Dota 2 is the same as in any other sport: dedication, practice, skill and talent. A player’s ability to win a fight or outsmart an opponent only reflects their own abilities and not how much time or money they have sunk into the game. The first time your team snatches victory from the jaws of defeat, you’ll be hooked.

With the announcement that the Dota 2 International is being held in Vancouver this August for the first time ever, you’ll want to see what the fuss is all about. If you start binging Dota 2 all summer, maybe one day you’ll be on the main stage playing for millions. Now is as good a time as any to find out.

Super Metroid

An adventure that stands the test of time

With Nintendo’s announcement last year that we would be seeing a new Metroid Prime come to the Switch, the release of the SNES Classic last fall reminded us why the series has become such a staple in Nintendo’s catalogue. Whether you’re a long-time fan or just a casual gamer, Super Metroid remains as playable in 2018 as it was in 1994.

The third instalment in the Metroid canon once again follows Samus Aran to the planet Zebes, where she clashes with space pirates and classic Nintendo villains such as Ridley and Kraid. While free roaming was hardly a new concept in video games or even the Metroid series, it is what makes Super Metroid so special. Players will find pleasure in freely choosing their own sequence of events, all while acquiring power ups and shooting some aliens along the way. If exploring diverse 16-bit environments like volcanic caverns and abandoned ships aren’t enough to keep you engaged or even slightly uneasy, the game boasts a haunting soundtrack that further adds to the tension and isolation felt in Samus’ quest to retrieve stolen Metroid larva. However, what will keep the modern gamer coming back to the eerie depths of planet Zebes in the 21st century is the ability to perform heroic acrobatics including wall jumps and “moon walking,” while maintaining almost modern, user friendly controls.

While Nintendo has kept any details and release dates of future Metroid games notoriously secret, the wait is the best excuse to spend the summer revisiting some all-time classics.

Design Home

For the mid-century modern fanatic

Having grown up sans-gaming consoles, I’ve always looked to either computer games or phone/tablet apps for entertainment. Throughout my adolescence, I enjoyed games like The Sims, Club Penguin, Restaurant City, or any of those cheesy Facebook business games really, and I’ve noticed a pattern. I’ve found myself drawn to simulation games, especially ones that centre on design.

Design Home offers the opportunity to design endless amounts of rooms, varying from industrial-style living rooms to luxe patios. Each challenge gets users to meet room requirements, such as using a certain number of items from a particular brand, colour or style to furnish and decorate beautifully realistic animated rooms. The challenges take place in various cities around the globe, therefore users can exercise their creative minds, stepping outside of the aesthetics they’re used to. Some of the rooms can be quite challenging in terms of working with premade layouts, such as having to make a space look nice with preset ugly-looking curtains, wall colours and floor patterns. However, I will say that what makes this game my favorite decorating simulation by far is how gorgeous the luxury furnishings can be. Not only may users feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in their completed masterpiece but if they have the funds to do so, users have the option to buy the furnishings in real-life, and bring their designs to life.

After a few days, the chance to decorate certain rooms disappears, but with a constant stream of newly laid out rooms to work on, and new items to try out, it’s hard to get stumped. Progress in the game and unlocking more furnishing options is based on a voting system, daily bonuses and in-app purchases. This app offers a ton of creative freedom for those interested in simulation design games, and I know that I’ll be sporting this by my side during those heat wave days when I’m sprawled on my floor in the dark, with the fan running – when a trip to Pottery Barn or Knoll just ain’t viable.

Illustration by Andrea Alcaraz

Persona 4

For those seeking immersive action

Persona 4 is a Japanese role-playing game with a murder mystery plot and a supernatural twist. Set in 2011, you play as a Japanese high school student who moves from the big city to a rural town called Inaba. While attempting to acclimate to your new life with your uncle and cousin, strange murders occur in the mountain town, pertaining to an urban legend called the Midnight Channel.

Legend says that if you stare at a blank TV screen on a rainy evening at midnight, you will see your true love. You try this one night, only to get sucked into the screen and transported to an alternate dimension populated by creatures called “shadows”. These creatures represent emotions or thoughts that humans keep bottled up inside themselves.

The only way that you can fight these shadows are through Personas – beings that can be summoned by a user when they accept their shadow and bottled up feelings. Through a Persona, you must find the culprit responsible for the murders by entering the TV world and defeat the shadows. While the combat aspect of the game is fun and exciting, its not just the gameplay that will get people interested. The characters are engaging and take welcome twists from regular character tropes like the rich, sheltered girl who wants to live her own life rather than inherit the family business, to the female detective prodigy disguising herself as a boy to be taken seriously. Though the story and characters are compelling, the soundtrack is probably the best I’ve heard from any other game, exemplified by the laid-back music of the city to the guitar riffs in the boss fights. Overall, this game hangs its hat on aesthetics, characters and beautiful soundtrack.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

“Screw you guys, I’m going home”… to play this game.

Released in October 2017, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is the sequel to the award-winning South Park: The Stick of Truth. For fans of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s animated series, this game encompasses nearly all of the best and most memorable characters from the iconic show – the latest DLC even gives us Casa Bonita content.

Like its predecessor, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a role-playing game, but this time around we’re playing superheroes. Being the new kid yet again, your character falls into a team of super small super heroes whose job is to find out what’s happening to all the cats in South Park. Within the game are several side tasks and puzzles to solve, each more truly South Park than the last. And with so many missions to complete, this is definitely a game that’ll keep you busy.

While this game definitely serves existing fans of the show, it can still be enjoyed by anyone. A word of caution, however. If you already know that you hate the show, this is not the game for you.

NBA 2k18

Play a sport while you’re at it

Unless the Summer Olympics is on, we pretty much don’t get any basketball between July and October. What better way to quell this thirst with the best basketball simulation ever!? Even more exciting, when September rolls on, we get the new NBA 2k19 to replace the already out-dated, just a year older version. Take my money now.


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