Winter Games 2021

Escape rooms, planetary explorations, and nostalgia-fueled fun.

Subnautica: Below Zero

Alien planet, open world, underwater adventure: what else do you need? Subnautica: Below Zero perfectly captures the sheer vastness and darkness of the ocean, and the fears and exhilaration that come with it.

No Man’s Sky

On the surface, No Man’s Sky is a survival and exploration game, but it’s stunningly ambitious scope is hard to define. It does a really good job of constantly updating your goals and priorities for what you are trying to accomplish.

The Forest

The Forest is a cool, semi-sandbox VR game of survival. You’ve crash-landed and your son has been taken by the local cannibals (it happens) so now you must use your wits to build weapons and shelter in order to survive and find your son.

Hearthstone

Strategy card game Hearthstone is great because you can tweak your strategy in subtle or massive ways over time. The gameplay gives you the opportunity to learn new things or get new ideas all the time, so no one game ever plays out like any game before it.

Among Us

I really like the psychological aspect of Among Us, the (very) popular multiplayer game where imposters in your party are trying to sabotage and/or murder crew members on a spaceship.

Escape the Room

It’s really hard to translate such a location-based group activity into something that works genuinely well at home. I like that the makers found a way to keep the Escape the Room home challenges simple, while still maintaining a high level of problem-solving.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater

After the severe disappointment of Crash Bandicoot, I think I’m playing Pro Skater now because it reminds me of playing the original version when I was a kid. The new version has the exact same maps, beautifully rendered, which boosts the nostalgia factor.

Super Smash Bros.

Speaking of nostalgia, it’s still going strong for Super Smash Bros. It’s been around so long, it’s easy to take for granted how good it is. The competitive nature of the game is timeless, and like Mario Kart, it’s just fun.

Rummikub

Rummikub (pronounced rummy-cube) is one of those things you always see on the shelf in the Target games aisle but typically skip over. That is a huge mistake.

Praga Caput Regni

Is this the best-ever game about cooperative municipal construction? A fantastically esoteric premise — wealthy citizens build up medieval Prague — makes for an evolving experience where players are constantly weighing cost and benefit options. Game creator Vladimir Suchy was raised in Prague, and his childhood walks around the city inspired him to capture the personal and political mechanics of building something complex and beautiful.

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