With the Covid-19 pandemic going on, many countries around the world have now gone into full lockdown for the next month or so with people having to stay at home, traveling only to get the essentials or to stretch their legs for a walk around the block. If you are left at home with little to do but play video games to pass the time, but you don’t know what to play, this article is for you.
These games are all single-player games with cracking storylines and are great games to either start if you haven’t already played them before or replay and fall in love with all over again. The reason for them all being single-player games is because big battle royale games bring out the worst in me. We don’t need that kind of stress during this time. Anyway, on with the list!
| The Last of Us (2013)
Without drawing any parallels between the world’s current situation and the setting for The Last of Us, this game can only be described as nothing but a masterpiece. It has zombies. It has a beautifully horrifying storyline. It has won over 200 video game awards. And it has a sequel coming out later this year. Ever since its original release on PlayStation 3 back in 2013, this game has been at the height of “Must Play” games.
The game focuses on the relationship between Joel and a teenage girl called Ellie. Joel is tasked by an underground rebel group called the Fireflies with getting Ellie to a medical facility in a different state – no easy task in zombie-infested, post-apocalypse USA. Yes, this is a zombie game, but this is by no means a traditional zombie game. The storyline focuses more on the human relationships of the survivors and how the zombies aren’t necessarily the monsters you need to be most afraid of.
As if this game couldn’t get any better, in 2014, a remastered version of the game was released for PlayStation 4 with the DLC mini-campaign The Last of Us: Left Behind. This campaign is to be played after the main and explores the events of Ellie’s story before she meets Joel. Although it is a much shorter campaign, it is just as much of an emotional rollercoaster as the main game.
If you have a PlayStation and have not played this game – WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?! This game hits you straight in the feels from start to finish. As Simon Cowell puts it so famously, “It’s a yes from me”.
| God of War (2018)
This game is a follow up from the original God of War series and is all about a man and his boy. This game takes place years after the end of the last game. After the slaughter of the Greek gods by his hands, Kratos has left his homeland of Greece and has moved on to the greener pastures of the Norse realm of Midgard. He settles down with a woman named Faye and they have a son together. At the beginning of the game, Faye has passed away and a long journey begins for Kratos and his son, Atreus, to fulfill her final wish – to scatter her ashes from the highest peak in all of the Norse realms. As you play through the game, Kratos and Atreus uncover many secrets about each other, Faye and the Norse gods who now stalk them throughout their quest.
The look of the game is very different from the original series, but I would describe this difference as an evolution. As a character, Kratos has evolved from being a violent, hot-tempered and vengeful brute into a more mature, level-headed and wiser man. As you go through the game and unravel the story, Kratos tries to protect Atreus from his past and his life in Greece, as well as trying to suppress Atreus’ true nature. There are strong themes of how a son should not be blamed for the sins of his father and how the past never truly stays in the past.
The game is also an evolution in that there are many different fighting styles compared to previous games. It introduces customization for armor and the enhancement of weapons, including the new Leviathan Axe which feels so effortless and fluid to use. But the story doesn’t end with the end of the main game – oh no no no! It also has New Game Plus, so you can get even better loot and enjoy the story all over again. If you were a fan of the original God of War series like me, this game will make you feel whole again – almost like coming home.
| Horizon Zero Dawn (2017)
This is another game that takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting, but this time human civilization has gone back to living in tribal societies while robotic animals roam the wilds. The game is about the story of Aloy, an outcast of her tribe since her birth. She is told that her exile is due to being “motherless”. When she is young, she falls into a cave containing technology from long ago and finds a device called a Focus. When she is old enough, she takes part in a set of trials called the Proving. During the Proving, however, Aloy and the other participants are attacked by an unknown group of assassins. Aloy survives the attack but learns that the assassins were lured to the Proving by her Focus. Aloy, with a little help from some friends she meets along the way, goes on a journey of self-discovery to learn her true identity whilst trying to uncover the identities of the assassins from the Proving.
In terms of recommending this game, where do I even begin?! First and foremost, you play as a female protagonist. Secondly, Aloy is a female protagonist who does not need any romantic arc in her storyline to be a complete character. Does she need a man? Hell to the no! She is a strong, independent woman who kicks a lot of big robotic animal/dinosaur keister with nothing but a bow and arrow. Well….she does get other weapons and tools, but you get my point. It is so refreshing to have a female lead who is truly not bothered when it comes to love interests.
This game gives the player the right to choose how Aloy responds in conversations she has with other people. These are generally three different choices – responding with your head, your hand or your heart. This doesn’t necessarily affect the outcome of the game itself, but can result in some interesting dialogue. But like I’ve said, there is no dialogue that results in Aloy having love interests or romantic relationships with anyone.
In November 2017, the Frozen Wilds expansion was released. I would highly recommend this DLC to anyone who has already played the main game but has not played the DLC. It is to be played at level 40 (so more end game stuff) but adds more lore, more enemies and more hours of playtime.
Platforms: PS4 and coming to PC this summer
| The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
If you are looking for something in a fantasy setting, then look no further than the ultimate quest giving game! Easily can be described as Dungeons and Dragons as a video game – minus the dice and ruthless Dungeon Master of course. At the time of its release, Skyrim, as it is affectionately shortened to, was revolutionary. It is so dense with details, places, and quests that you can easily have 20 quests listed in your journal at any given time. So dense in fact, that it is estimated to have over 500 playable hours!
The game takes place in the realm of Skyrim, a province controlled by the Empire on the continent of Tamriel. It is a place where its mythos has drawn from Norse mythology and the Vikings with Jarls and mortal heroes who live on forever in song or even immortalized as gods for their great deeds. They even have their own version of Valhalla called Sovngarde where all the honorable dead go when they die. The best part about Skyrim is the character creation. All manner of races live in Skyrim, so when it comes to character creation, you can be one of 10 playable races which include various elf and human races, orcs, and even cat and lizard people. On top of that, you get to choose how you fight, whether it be with magic, bow and arrow or dual sword-wielding. Once you have spent a good two hours making your character, then the real fun begins.
As you play through the main storyline, you learn that dragons have come back to Skyrim – thought to have been extinct for hundreds of years. Not only that, but it turns out that you, yes YOU, the character you made but a few hours ago, are a mystical hero of legend destined to battle the dragons: the Dragonborn (or Dovahkiin in the Dragon language). With this knowledge, you seek out some weird monks who live in a castle at the top of a mountain and learn the ways of the Dragonborn, including the power of the Thu’um (which is basically you yelling words at people and magic happens). Apart from that, you are also just going out and exploring the world and helping the smallfolk of Skyrim.
In all seriousness though, there are reasons why Skyrim has had so many memes made about it. But it really is a game you cannot pass on. Oh, and those 500 playable hours? Those don’t even factor in the game’s three DLCs, Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn. So even more hours of fun! On a side note, if you are the kind of person who loves listening to video game soundtracks, the soundtrack for Skyrim is phenomenal. You can listen to it on Spotify and it has a track called ‘Skyrim Atmospheres’ which is just 45 minutes of the ambient music that plays in the background while you are out exploring Skyrim. I often find myself listening to it when trying to find some relaxing music. Props to the composer Jeremy Soule.
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC and Nintendo Switch
| The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
With the recent release of the Netflix TV series The Witcher, there has been a spike in people buying, playing or replaying this game according to CD Projekt RED. Just like Skyrim, this game has a lot of hours of gameplay. It is estimated that there are about 200 playable hours in the main game alone. Add in the Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine DLCs and you are all set to fight both man and monster as our favorite Witcher, Geralt of Rivia.
In this game, Geralt is tasked with finding Ciri and protecting her from a group called the Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt, led by the ruthless King Eredin, travel between dimensions and worlds on giant flying pirate ships, raiding and pillaging as they go. With Ciri’s powers, they would be unstoppable and would easily be able to decimate worlds. It is a race against time for Geralt to get to Ciri, where ever she is, before the Wild Hunt gets to her first.
What I love about this game is that so much thought has gone into the world and the societies in it. Because of this, the environment is very immersive. There is also a lot of diversity in the types of beasties you get contracted to deal with which means you make use of your bestiary fairly regularly for any helpful hints to get the upper hand in a fight. A quick note as well, just like the Netflix series the game is partial to the occasional titty, so if you are deterred by video games with nudity in them, be aware of that.
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC and Nintendo Switch
| Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (2001)
It’s an oldie but a goodie. If you are feeling like having a healthy dose of nostalgia, then open up your heart to Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. This game is the first installment in a series of games, but the main trilogy consists of Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak 2 and Jak 3.
The story centers around a mute boy called Jak and his talking muskrat friend Daxter who must take down Gol and Maia, an evil duo who wishes to reshape the world using a material called Dark Eco. The graphics are more cartoon-like but don’t think that this makes it a low-quality game. Even after almost 20 years since its release, the storyline is up there with the best and it is still so much fun to play.
For any parents out there who are looking for games for your kids to play that doesn’t involve the use of guns, then this game is a good suggestion. However, be aware that the later games of Jak 2 and Jak 3 do include the use of guns.
Platforms: PS4 – games can be bought individually or as a collection from the PlayStation Store.
| Tomb Raider (2013)
This game satisfies those Indiana Jones vibes you may have where you trudge around in caves, old settlements and a couple of tombs (of course) in search of some cool artifacts. The same could be said for the Unchartered series, but my preference is Lara Croft over Nathan Drake. Controversial, I know.
In Square Enix’s version of Lara Croft’s origin story, Lara and a group of like-minded people set out on an expedition to find the lost Japanese kingdom of Yamatai. Their journey takes them into an area called the Dragon’s Triangle (similar to the Bermuda Triangle) where their ship is caught in a storm and wrecked. Lara is separated from her group and becomes stranded on a strange island. While she looks for the others, she realizes that the island is Yamatai. However, she begins to learn of the island’s unnerving history and its sinister god-like queen, Himiko. Battling her way through the island’s crazy inhabitants, Lara must find and protect her friends from the ancient and supernatural forces at work.
This game has a well thought out fictional history that is really captivating, great for players who like being caught up in an archaeological adventure. This Tomb Raider game is the first game in a trilogy – the other games being Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015) and Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018). The reason I chose this game by itself rather than recommend it as a series is that it is by far the best out of all of the three games. The sequels, which were decent games in their own right, unfortunately, don’t quite reach the same level of quality as this game. Don’t let this deter you though. This game can easily be am an impressive stand-alone.
Platforms: PS4, XBO, and PC
| Death Stranding (2019)
If you are looking for something different – like veeeeeery different – Death Stranding is the game for you. From the beautifully strange mind of Hideo Kojima, this game is a mind-boggling adventure from start to finish. The star-studded cast really brings this game together, including Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal, Casino Royale) and legendary video game voice actor Troy Baker.
It is really hard to talk about this game without giving away spoilers. You play as Sam Porter Bridges (played by Norman Reedus) whose job can best be described as a glorified postman who makes deliveries whilst carrying a baby strapped to his front in an artificial womb that detects and allows Sam to see creatures called BTs. I said it was weird! This is a game that has to be played and experienced to be believed.
Platforms: PS4 and PC
| Until Dawn (2015)
This is a horror game where your choices determine the outcome of the characters, meaning everyone can either come out of this alive or dead. With several different endings, it could take a few playthroughs to get the “good ending”. It is made to feel like you are controlling an interactive horror movie. And like most horror movies, this game starts with a group of friends, a tragedy that ties them together and a cabin in the woods.
The decision making element of this game can get really intense with the game starting you off by making small decisions like dialogue choices and quickly escalates to deciding things like whether or not to shoot a gun. There are also totems that can be found throughout the game that revel snippets of outcomes that can happen in the future. However, you don’t know whether these glimpses are for good outcomes or bad outcomes and can sometimes make your decision making even more difficult.
Just like Death Stranding, you may recognize some of the actors who play key characters in this game, including Hayden Panettiere (Heroes, Nashville) and Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Mr. Robot).
| Batman: Arkham Collection
This is my final pick! I could not choose which game of the series was the best, so I just had to suggest it as a series. The Batman: Arkham Collection contains three games: Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009), Batman: Arkham City (2011) and Batman: Arkham Knight (2015). There was another game that was released called Batman: Arkham Origins (2013), but as the title suggests, it is a game that focuses on the origin story of the infamous feud between Batman and his archenemy, the Joker. It does not follow the same storyline of the main trilogy and is therefore not included in the Arkham Collection.
As you would expect, the trilogy hosts a full cast of Batman heroes and villains and the games get better and better with each installment. Batman: Arkham Asylum takes place at Arkham Asylum (duh!) with Batman having to deal with the chaotic inmates after Joker takes control of the facility. In Batman: Arkham City, both Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison can no longer contain the large number of inmates they hold. In order to resolve the problem, a section of Gotham City has been transformed into a giant prison run by Doctor Hugo Strange. But of course, Joker, Penguin, Two-Face and a number of other villains are still up to no good and Batman must stop them from executing their plans. In the final game Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman faces off with Scarecrow who sets plans in motion to pollute Gotham City with his fear toxin. Along the way, however, a mysterious figure known as the Arkham Knight is determined to put an end to the Dark Knight for good.
This has made the list because, well, who doesn’t like to pretend that they are Batman flying around Gotham City serving up some knuckle sandwiches to bad guys?! If you said that you don’t, you are lying. It is a staple collection for any gamer.
Platforms: PS4, XBO, and PC
| Honorable Mentions
Of course, there are some amazing games that missed out on making this list but are worth being an honorable mention. My five honorable mentions are:
Two words: gun porn. The ultimate loot-and-shoot series.
Far Cry Series
A great anthology of a game with the common theme of a person being caught in a life or death situation and having to fight your way out of it tying them all together.
Assassin’s Creed Series
Even though this series is about going around being a stealthy assassin, it is also a great way to learn some history while you are cooped up inside. The game series is so big now though that it is far too hard to recommend just one.
Doom 2016 / Doom Eternal
Hell in space. Use an arsenal of guns to show demons what happens when they mess with the Doom Slayer.
Red Dead Redemption 2
AKA Cowboy Simulator. Nothing quite like screaming “YEE-HAW!!” while shooting your virtual revolver at the sky.
And that is it! We hope you like the list. Hopefully, these games will help you pass the time while you are self-isolating at home. Remember: stay safe, stay at home and stay positive.