Keeping Sane in Self-Quarantine: Let’s Talk Video Games

Video Games have always been a great escape for me. Books, music, and video games – these are the things that allow my brain to shut down and take part in some other (ideally nicer) universe. So I wanted to talk about what has been keeping me sane while I’m stuck at home as the world copes with Covid-19, and perhaps my recommendations can help someone else who needs a little escape.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Nintendo Switch)

Or as I call it, Fire Emblem: Check out my handsome husbands. This one is a classic series that I only got into recently as it never really became popular in America. Fire Emblem has always been popular in Japan and many of its characters have made their way into other games, like Super Smash Bros. Its popularity likely lies in its formula which mixes strategy, relationships, and character development.

In Three Houses you can choose one of, you guessed it, three houses to join! It starts off as a Harry Potter-esque academy tale but has a shocking twist about halfway through. Every house has a unique story which means that you can replay the game many times so you are definitely getting enough bang for your buck (my playthrough has over 100 hours).

The gameplay can be broken down into three sections.

Exploration

Your character (you can choose to be male or female, yay!) explores the monastery grounds which will be your base throughout the store. This includes talking to the various characters living there and building your support levels – this is done by finding and returning lost items, giving gifts that suit their personality, and even inviting them to tea parties and choosing appropriate conversation topics (it’s pretty easy, not to mention hilarious, to bomb this).

Support levels matter because they create bonuses for when two characters are close together during fights, which is extremely helpful. Plus it’s fun to get to know the interesting cast, learn their back grounds, and choose who you want as your husband/wife at the end of the game.

Teaching

Your character takes on the role of teacher which includes guiding the students into classes. Will they use sword, bow, magic, or ride a wyvern? It’s really completely up to you, though characters do have strengths and weaknesses you should take into account when guiding them.

Fighting

This is a tactical game which means the battle map is broken up into squares and characters, depending on their class, have a certain amount of squares they can move. So it’s really important to take the map into account and plan a good strategy. This is not an action-RPG so people who don’t like this style may get a bit bored. I always have a blast though, especially in story-related battles where the stakes are raised and familiar characters may suddenly turn up as your enemies.

Animal Crossing

The one is a bit of an obvious choice, and it is certainly popular now. That’s probably because Animal Crossing is innocent escapism at its finest. You create a cute little character to live on an island with animal friends and live blissfully ever after (until you are attacked by a tarantula anyway). You can enjoy decorating your house, amassing an awesome wardrobe, and populating your island. There are also small daily tasks you can do such as fishing, harvesting fruit, and digging up fossils for your island museum.

There are basically no rules and even if aren’t a “gamer” it’s super easy to learn the controls and play however and whenever you want.

My Animal Crossing dream house in progress

Final Fantasy VII: The Remake

For Playstation 4

Okay, to be honest, I’m writing this is as a huge Final Fantasy nerd. This series really defined my view on RPGs, so I may be a bit biased. Because of this I was certainly skeptical of this game that called itself a remake but seemed to introduce many changes from the original. How dare they!

But actually, I ended up not minding the changes at all, and in fact really enjoyed the expanded universe and characters! There were scenes that I was literally laughing out loud for the entire time, which doesn’t happen often (yes that scene does take place at the Wall Market and it does involve some famous drag).

The game-play is action-oriented but also still involves ATB gauges that you have to wait to fill before taking a special action – this included special attacks, using items or magic, and summoning. I played on normal and the game was definitely challenging, most fights require you to be prepared and paying close attention. There is an easy mode as well so beginners need not fear.

Persona 5

For Playstation 3 and 4

Persona is part of the Megami Tensei Franchise which includes a number of games, but I don’t think you need to play the earlier ones to enjoy this one. The characters and setting are new but the enemies and play style are pretty similar to earlier installments. What’s great about this one is you can virtually explore Tokyo! One of the date spots is Inokashira Park which I talk about in an earlier post.

This game is broken into two main sections – exploring dungeons, and exploring Tokyo and going to School. Exploring dungeons (called Palaces in the game) is fighting oriented, while Tokyo is about making friendships and connections with people around the city and also self improvement. The main character has stats such as charm and guts that influence what he can do in his social life.

Plus, the games theme of people becoming so warped that their darkness manifests as an actual place is really interesting to think about and explore. As well as the question of what counts as acceptable justice and who is allowed to mete it out.

What’s keeping you busy during these long days at home? Let me know if you have any questions!

Published by tokyodreamlife

Nerdy girl living in Tokyo. Spends too much time playing video games and spacing out in public. Often misses her train stop. I write about traveling in Japan, living in Tokyo, and life as an expat.

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