Best Computer Games During a Pandemic
By now, almost everyone is in isolation/lockdown / a quiet room away and by now, you are probably looking for something a little different to break the monotony.
I mean, we have our fair share of tabletop games and some schools are even sending work home with the kids. However, a little break on computer games can be a good thing (more on that soon). And in all honesty, I am definitely looking for a break from the regular–so, here is my own list of the best computer games to play during a pandemic (and it does NOT include the stock standard you have already played).
Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly
I first saw this game at PAX Australia in 2019 and have been eagerly awaiting its release on Switch to share with the family.
In its purest form, it is a dog-fight of a game and I love it. When I spoke to the developers at PAX, it was clear this game had developed as a labour of love to be shared with the world. Many many stories could be shared from the number of group games they had played as friends, but alas–I am sworn to secrecy. Overall, it is a beautiful and fun game, with so many additional delights in both imagery and music.
Baron is primarily a party-game for up to 8-players. You can choose from a range of animal pilots with a range of biplanes. When you take the skies, it is a free-for-all insane multiplayer action game!! If you’re looking for some educational angle to justify playing with the kids, the game also comes with a slew of World War I inspired paraphernalia. I could go on about the correlation between 1918 Spanish Flu and this 1918-inspired game and point out that’s one reason why it’s one of the best computer games to play during a pandemic, but in all honesty, I had too much fun playing the game. Word of warning–it is a bit hard on the ol’ eyes for extended periods of time but this game is a great boredom-buster when the whole family needs to let off some steam.
Available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. Supports English, Chinese and Japanese on PC with more languages to come soon.
Munchkin Quacked Quest
As family games go, this one might not be my wisest suggestion due to the entire Munchkin brand and its effect on our family. Munchkin Quest is one of the spawnlings’ favorite tabletop games, thanks to the encouragement to backstab, gang up, and utterly destroy the hopes and dreams of your fellow gamers.
Munchkin Quacked Quest is a lot like that but in smaller digital bites.
A lot of the founding elements have remained: it’s still a dungeon crawl; you are still playing against others (up to 4-players); there are still ridiculous puns and monsters. Being a computer game essentially makes the same game more dynamic, and subsequently a little more manic.
The aim of the game is to beat your opponents in various missions; from collecting rubber ducks to gold to beating down the door to the next level. Missions change dependent on the card drawn at the beginning. It can be a little frantic for younger ones to play but the playing field can be leveled with the participation of a parent (read: the kids then gang up on YOU). I especially love the way they give the points at the end of each game, sometimes for the most obscure reasons thus giving everyone a chance of champion. I also love being able to set the time limit for the game, allowing you to play a quick game with the kids or a longer challenge on game night. This ability to control the time played is part of why it’s one of the best computer games to play during a pandemic.
Available on Nintendo Switch, Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
This game is outright gorgeous. If you need to be reminded of how beautiful art can be, then download this game. Absolutely gorgeous… and fun to play, which is a good thing being a computer game.
Another quick-play side-scroll for single player, with various levels of difficulty to take you through the story. You can play as either Stanley or Sydney, our characteristic heroes tasked to destroy the massive snake-like space dragons who soar above our planet.
Bonus skills and weapons are collected along the way, with a variety of landscapes (or dragon-scapes?) to experience.
While I have played this on the Nintendo Switch, I think it is one to be enjoyed on the iOS platform as well. The imagery is sure to be appreciated more on the big screen, however, the adaptability and mechanics of the game are suitable for the smaller screen.
This game is an indie-surprise you will love to keep in your catalogue for those moments when you need something bigger than the four walls you have been staring at for the last 3-hours. Definitely one of the best computer games you want to play in a pandemic
Available on Nintendo Switch, iOS, PlayStation 4, and Steam.
Tokaido is a fan-favorite when it comes to the tabletop game. It is a game known for its’ visual appearance and its’ ability to lull you into a false sense of serenity. It is a rather zen-like game, creating a little competition out of the idea of ‘holidaying’ in Japan. To be honest, none of us is travelling anywhere right now (thanks a lot, COVID-19), so if I can have a taste of holidays with a game like Tokaido, then I will take it all.
The great news is that FunForge has released Tokaido for free in the App store but only until March 27, 2020.
And this is one of those games where the spirit of the tabletop has transferred gracefully on to the iOS platform. I downloaded it on to my iPhone and while a little fidgety in the smaller setting, it was still very easy to play. Tiny icons smoothly move across the board, fleshed out to look more like 3D pieces.
As like the original format, you are locked on a set path with 2-4 other players (with the option of playing online, or pass-and-play mode with family in the same room). The goal is to travel along the path and explore various touristy-highlights, gaining experience points along the way. There are limited spots available at each highlight, so you need to be a little strategic in how you plan your travel. But not too strategic–the true benefit of this game is in the casual, relaxed feeling you gain from the play itself.
Available on both Android and iOS
Ticket to Ride (Digital)
Staying in the realm of tabletop-turned-digital, Ticket to Ride is possibly my Achille’s Heel of games on the iPad. I am seriously addicted to it, needing a game or two before bed to help me unwind from a day of ‘schooling’ the spawnlings at home. As soon as school opens again, they are all back with the professionals.
Ticket to Ride plays exactly the same on the iPad as it does in the tabletop form: you have ‘tickets’ or journeys on the map you need to complete by collecting cards to match the route on the map. Totally easy to pick-up and play from the age of 5 and up (yes, the 5-year-old beats me as well).
On the iPad, you can play online with specific friends you have connected with OR you can pass-and-play with family in the same room. I have fond memories of playing this game with the kids in a campervan while holidaying around New Zealand. I’m pretty sure it will work just as well in your small living room.
Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, and Android
Whether you’re self-isolating alone or feeling the strain of cabin-fever with the family, the current pandemic period is not easy on anyone. Extra kudos to the amazing people on the frontline fighting this damn virus: to the doctors, nurses, scientists, and medical support groups dealing with it first-hand–and also to the people in support roles like groceries, teaching, and human resource management who are dealing with the brunt of many other elements.
Sometimes it is nice to finally put your feet up for a 10-minute break and numb your brain with some beautiful computer games. Share with the family if you want; we won’t judge you either way.