The nights are getting longer, the leaves are starting to fall and scarves are getting pulled out of the closet. That means that for many of us it’s time to wave goodbye to summer and head back to school. It can be a tough shift, going from an easygoing summer break hanging out with friends to long, intense studying sessions.
It’s important to get into good habits early in the semester, especially as you’re just easing back into things. In particular, it’s important to take a break. There are proven benefits to taking a little timeout from the work you’re doing. They’re good for both your physical and emotional health. They can break “decision fatigue” that can come from making choice after choice after choice. They restore motivation. And, most importantly for your studies, they improve creativity and productivity.
Nowadays, with a smartphone always in reach, it’s easier than ever to take a break without ever leaving the library. Your DMs are always tempting, of course, but social media can be a real brain drain. Why not try a game instead? They’ll stimulate your brain in different ways than studying and help massage your problem-solving skills. We’ve got a few suggestions to get you going.
1. Assemble With Care
Just released on the newly minted Apple Arcade on iOS, “Assemble With Care” is the latest game from the geniuses at UsTwo, the developer behind the incredible “Monument Valley.” It’s a wonderful narrative about, in the words of the UsTwo, “taking things apart and putting ourselves back together”.
The game stars Maria, a traveling antique restorer who arrives in the town of Bellariva, but she quickly realizes that it’s more than just the town’s stuff that’s broken — their lives need putting back together too, one screw or piece of electrical tape at a time. Basically, the game is a series of puzzles that has you taking clunky old analog objects and working out how to put them back together. You’ll be winding in unspooled VHS tapes, tinkering with Walkman’s and reassembling old-school cameras. This is a game that’s drenched in ‘80s nostalgia, with hand-drawn graphics and a soundtrack inspired by the sounds of the decade. It’s beautiful, charming and blissfully chilled out.
2. Vikings Slot
Slots are just about the most laid-back real money gambling you can do. They’re low stakes and they don’t require any skill or ability to play — for all their bells and whistles, you basically just put money in, push a button and see what comes back. There are a huge number of slot games out there, with various themes, meaning there is something for everyone — slots are the most accessible and low risk form of online gambling for those old enough to play.
A particularly popular game is the Vikings Slot, based on the hit historical HBO show. It’s big on visuals aimed at drawing you right into the bloody world of the show so you’ll feel like you’re playing alongside Ragnar, Bjorn and Floki. The biggest thing worth noting about this slot is that it has, depending on how you look at it, either 243 ways to win or 78,125 ways to win. That’s because the game is played with five reels and 243 active paylines. When you activate the “Raid Spins” feature, however, the number of reels expands to seven and all of a sudden you have 78,125 ways to win on each spin.
3. Neo Cab
Chance Agency’s “Neo Cab” is something really cool and different, thanks both to its interesting sideways take on a dystopian near-future and for the diversity of characters that you’ll meet in there.
You take on the role of Lina, a cabbie who drives around town picking up customers (as cabbies do). “But wait!” you’re thinking, “Won’t Uber have replaced all the taxi drivers with self-driving cars by then?” Yes, and that’s part of the point. Lina’s one of just a handful of human drivers still roaming the streets.
As Lina, it’s essential that you keep your 4.8-star rating lest the authoritarian tech company running the app you use kicks you off. To do it, you’ll have to make the right choices in the conversations you’ll have with your highly variable customers. Will you sacrifice your personal time to keep them happy? Will you stay true to yourself despite the possibility of losing your job? This is a game that’s all about the choices you make, and it’s a great piece of commentary of tech startups, capitalism and the gig economy. Plus, the writing is great and will have you laughing, crying and opening your mind. This game is moving stuff, and well-suited for those longer breaks you need to take from time to time.
“Neo Cab” is out now on Apple Arcade, but it’s heading to Steam and the Switch, if you fancy sneaking your console into the library with you.
Although it’s out on the Xbox One, PS4 and various other more static platforms, “Minit” is a game that feels like it has playing on-the-go baked into the concept, and it’s perfect fodder for a break. The game is a riff on the dungeon crawling action RPGs of the past like the early “Zelda” games — particularly those on the archetypal handheld console, the Game Boy.
Presented in charmingly blocky black and white pixel graphics, the game has you wake up in a hut and gives you exactly one minute to get as far in the game as you can. At the end of the minute you die, waking up back at whatever save point you last saved at. Your previous minute wasn’t wasted, however — whatever you found, unlocked or changed persists in the world. The drive to achieve as much as you can in a single minute makes for a superbly-paced experience without ever relying on twitchy, trigger-happy gameplay loops. In other words, it’s a perfect way to kill five or 10 minutes in between longer stretches of study, and a perfect pick up and play game for your phone.
Minit is out on just about every platform under the sun, which of course includes Android and iOS.