What’s Your Comfort Game?

So, following my playthrough of Breath of Fire III I took some time to work through my backlog of smaller games that I bought for super cheap during a sale a couple months ago.  There were some good things in there, like Machinarium, which is a pleasantly doofy point-and-click style adventure game about a robot trying to rescue his friend from a gang of hooligan robots, and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons which is quite brief, very beautiful, and punched me in the feels with the ending.

Before too long I found that I had worked through all the short games I had banked up, and I was faced with the prospect of starting on a new, longer title.  My choices at the moment are Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, which I’m sure will be lots of fun, but is leaving me a little hesitant just because I just binged a bunch of Ultra Street Fighter IV and I’m ready to break from fighting games for a little while, and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which is just a little bit more commitment than I really want at this point in the summer.  A third option would be going back to finish my second playthrough of the Mass Effect trilogy, but again, that’s a pretty heavy story commitment, and a shooter isn’t really what I’m craving right now.

Alternately, I could jump back into my retro library and pull out something else (I’ve toyed with doing a playthrough of Breath of Fire IV, but the flavor’s just too similar to what I just wrapped up).  I spent an afternoon the other day replaying the first Mega Man X game to completion, which was satisfying, but didn’t really leave me wanting to carry on to other games in that series.

All in all, I’ve been pondering this gaming conundrum for a few days now (one downside of having so much free time during the summer is that filling it with a good balance of leisure and productive tasks can be really challenging, and playing something I don’t intend to blog about can sometimes feel a little empty), and last night I finally hit on what I think is a pretty good solution.

A couple months ago I was at the local GameStop (which is located next to the local Walmart and the local Little Caesar’s Pizza, so you know it’s right in the heart of the axis of evil) trading in a game that I’ve been trying to get rid of for years (it’s one of those old workout titles for the Wii that were so fashionable five or six years ago; I finally found all the accessories that went with it, which were necessary for the trade-in), and for all of my effort I received a store credit of a whopping twenty-five cents.

Yep, it’s still good. (Image credit: The Elder Scrolls Wiki)

Now, twenty-five cents is a paltry sum, and with that kind of payoff, I probably would have been better off just chucking the game in the garbage; however, I like the idea of games continuing to flow through the secondhand ecosystem, and throwing a game away (even one that probably no one will want) feels like a waste.  So I took the twenty-five cent credit, and recognizing that it would be absurd to actually make the clerk put it on a card that I would have to carry around until the next time I got the urge to go bargain hunting for physical media, I decided to spend it in store.  I’m not a big one for impulse purchases on video games, so I inevitably agonize over the decision to spend any money on something that I haven’t planned on buying in advance.  I decided that with such a ridiculous bit of credit to put towards my purchase, I was going to peruse the ten-and-under bin to see if I could find a reasonably well-loved copy of something that I knew would be fun and which wouldn’t end up sitting on my game shelf for another three years before I decided I needed to get rid of it.

I found a copy of Skyrim.

Not a GOTY edition with all the DLC included, mind you, just a plain, vanilla, Playstation Greatest Hits Skyrim.

This felt like more or less a coup, since I really enjoyed playing Skyrim a couple years ago when it was the most recent “last game you’ll ever need to own” (a fine tradition that Dragon Age: Inquisition carried on last year, and which I hear The Witcher 3 is doing this year), but I had sold my copy because it was on Xbox 360, and as longtime readers will remember, our household Xbox got hit by lightning.  So I brought my purchase home and it sat on my game shelf for the last couple months.  Skyrim‘s a sprawling game, and I figured I better not jump back into it until I had cleared out some other gaming obligations (how strange is it that I prioritize what I’m playing in my leisure time based on a sense of obligation?).

So that brings me to this weekend where I realized that for the first time in several months I was clear of things that I wanted to finish up before starting something new.  I also didn’t want a game that would be excessively twitchy or flashy, and which I wouldn’t feel like I had to play through to the end in case something shinier happened to come along.

Bingo!

So, Skyrim‘s my current comfort game.  I don’t have many words to share regarding the gameplay experience itself, but it’s been really nice to have something familiar and low-stress to settle into.  And, considering I have never finished the main plot of an Elder Scrolls game, I won’t freak out if something else catches my interest and I put Skyrim away again.

What about you folks?  By the time this goes up I’ll be heading out of town for a long weekend, so updates may be a little sporadic until next week, but in the mean time I’d like to hear from people.  What games do you find yourselves going back to over and over again when you’re not trying to keep up with the latest and greatest?

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