8 Video Games That Even Non-Gamers Will Want to Playby Chris Reed, April 29, 2015
1. Life is StrangeAvailable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows
Adventure games are great for non-gamers, because their primary focus is not to prove your mettle by jumping over pits, shooting zombies, or defeating dragons. Instead, like movies or TV shows, adventure games are more interested in telling a story.
The story in Life is Strange is a good one. You play as Max Caufield, an artistic high school girl who discovers she can rewind time. While it sounds like the start of a crazy sci-fi adventure, you mostly use your ability to try out different actions and conversation paths as you go through your fairly typical adolescent life. The characters are interesting, and there are hints of an impending catastrophe. How it plays out depends on your choices.
2. MountainAvailable on PC, iOS, Android, and Amazon devices
More a piece of art than a game, Mountain is quite unlike anything else on the market. It’s less a game that you play than something you check in on periodically. Onscreen is a mountain, floating in space, slowly rotating. Occasionally text appears, commenting on the weather or making vague statements like, “I’ve had dreams about this day of days.”
The weather changes, day turns to night, and giant commonplace items crash into the side of the mountain. You can zoom in and out, shuffle the items around, and rotate the mountain at will, but that’s about it. It’s a slow, meditative experience, and worth checking out if you enjoy thoughtful, artistic experiences that resist labels.
3. Gone HomeAvailable on PC
This game controls like a first-person shooter, but you won’t find any guns here. You play as a young woman who’s family has moved while she spent a year traveling through Europe. You arrive at the new house to find no one home, so you give yourself a tour of the place.
By exploring the house room by room, you find out what your family has been up to since you’ve been gone, including your aspiring novelist father and your teenage sister, whose journal entries are touchingly personal. It’s less a game than it is an interactive narrative, but it’s so good that you might not even notice.
4. Valiant Hearts: The Great WarAvailable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, iOS, and Android
Thousands of video games take place during wartime, but most of them put a gun in your hands and ask you to kill as many enemies as you can. That’s not the kind of story Valiant Hearts wants to tell.
This adventure game drops in on the lives of four ordinary people who have been deeply affected by World War I. The puzzles that make up the gameplay sections have you do things like perform surgery as a medic and dig trenches as a soldier. Between puzzles, you explore the world and end up learning a lot about that part of history — which is a pretty rare thing in video games.
5. Monopoly: Family Fun PackAvailable on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
If story isn’t your thing, a great entry point to the world of video games is a digital version of a board game you’re already familiar with. Monopoly: Family Fun Pack bundles together three different takes on the classic game of ruthless real estate development.
Here you can play Monopoly just how you remember it, or you can branch out and try a number of different modes. One is a fast mode, for those instances when you don’t have the four-hour block of time required for a standard play-through of the board game. Another lets you create your own board, re-naming streets and even customizing the rules.
6. 80 DaysAvailable on iOS, Android, and Amazon devices
Billed as an “interactive adventure,” this steam-punk game has you try to circumnavigate the globe in — you guessed it — 80 days. You pick which cities to visit and how to book your travel, whether on airship, horse-back, or hydrofoil. Along the way you’ll meet memorable characters and make plenty of good and bad decisions. It’s basically a modern choose-your-own adventure story.
If it sounds like fun, prepare to read. The developers say this game has a 500,000 word script, which is about 400,000 more words than your average novel.
7. Papers, PleaseAvailable on PC, iOS, and PS Vita
On the face of it, Papers, Please sounds about as fun as waiting at the DMV. You play as a border control officer in a fictional dystopian country. Your job is to assess whether visitors to the country should be allowed in or sent packing. You do that by going through documents like their passports and visas, and subjecting them to degrading security scans.
It sounds like drudgery, but it’s actually a lot of fun, and it makes you think deeply about real-world issues like immigration, politics, and who’s worthy of special treatment and why. Papers, Please is a rare thing: a game with something to say.
8. Monument ValleyAvailable on iOS and Android
Have you ever looked at the impossible architecture of an M.C. Escher painting and wondered what it would be like to explore it? That’s the unlikely premise of Monument Valley, a jaw-droppingly beautiful game full of pastel colors and tricky exploration. But don’t worry, it’s not too challenging. A full play-through only lasts a couple of hours, but it will stay in your mind much longer than that.
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