10. Myst: Masterpiece Edition (re-released in 2011)
The Myst franchise is absolutely bizarre. It is a surrealistic adventure in which the player explores strange worlds after falling into a book. Despite the fact that none of it makes sense Myst is actually quite an engrossing experience. You journey around a mysterious island solving bizarre puzzles. The visuals combined with the strange and effective music make for an atmosphere of escapism that works perfectly as a chilled out, slightly eerie Christmas game.
9. Scribblenauts: Unlimited (2013)
The concept of the Scribblenauts franchise is a genius one. It puts the audience into a world in which they can create anything. You can write almost anything into your notebook and it will materialise before you. The purpose of this is to use the ability to solve puzzles and help people. The positivity of the game coupled with its simple yet cute art style makes it perfect for the holiday season. It is available for a low price on a number of platforms including PC.
8. Grow Home (2015)
The premise of Grow Home is very simple, the player controls a robot called BUD. The little droid must harvest the seeds from a beautiful planet to save his home. You adventure and climb at will around an organic environment that has been created with a very interesting graphical style. Despite the game’s simple graphics it is aesthetically pleasing. I have always believed creating a visually attractive game was more about style and art than technology. You can have super high resolution 1080p graphics but if no passion or thought has gone into it the locations and characters fail to inspire any kind of emotional reaction. Grow Home focusses on freedom, has a really cool movement system and is not afraid to tug on the heart strings. For PC gamers in the UK it is currently only £5.99 on Steam and for those with a Playstation 4 it is £6.49.
8. Batman: Arkham Origins (2013)
If you are looking for something slightly darker to play this Christmas, the third Arkham’ game actually takes place on Christmas Eve. This is the weaker game of Arkham’ franchise, however, that is not difficult as the previous instalments received critical acclaim. The game’s poor reception is due in no small part to the fact that the developers of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City were not involved. Instead Rocksteady handed this one over to Warner Bros. Games Montréal. They did a decent job it just was not as perfect as the Rocksteady Batman games. It has a really cool concept, one that will resonate with any Batman fan. On Christmas Eve night rather than sitting down to festive movies with family like most people, Bruce Wayne is donning the cowl to fight some of Gotham’s deadliest killers. Some challenging and downright cinematic fights ensue as you face off against such villains as Killer Croc and Deathstroke.
6.Bully: Scholarship Edition (2008)
The idea of a Rockstar game taking place in a school was controversial to some. However, the people that thought this were idiots. Gamers, with good sense and taste knew that this was an excellent idea. Although it was not exactly a blockbuster that flew off the shelves it was a little gem. As is Rockstar’s style the game was a story driven, open world experience with edge and humour. What made Bully so compelling was that it was more than just ‘GTA High School’. It had heart to it, the characters were really engaging and they constructed an endearing world to explore. The soundtrack is lovely, putting the viewer completely at ease. It is a fantastic game to play at Christmas, in part due to that nostalgic feeling it gives the player when it takes them back to their formative years, but also because the seasons change as you progress. The environment changes as the holiday season begins and there are levels that actually take place at Christmas.
5. The Hobbit (2003)
I do not need to sell you on how The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are perfect for Christmas. But let me sell you on why this third person adventure game based on Tolkein’s The Hobbit is fantastic. The 2003 video game adaptation by Sierra is tragically underrated. It comes from a period where developers had started to push the boundaries of the generation’s systems. It is beautiful both in visuals and audio, The Hobbit’s endearing graphics still hold up today. The time you spend in The Shire at the start of the game is golden. The incredible music and faithful recreation of Hobbiton makes the time spent exploring a treat. The amount of work they put into crafting Bag End alone is extremely impressive. It will be especially relaxing and comfortable if you are already a fan of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. For a fan of Tolkein and the Peter Jackson movies it feels like coming home.
4. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (2001)
This one has a special place in my heart. Jak and Daxter is one of the games that cemented my love of video games. Although I played my uncle’s ancient Sega Mega Drive, the Playstation 2 was the first gaming console our family owned. One of the games that we got with it was Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. Everything about that game puts you under a spell. The fantastic music and the glorious environments work in tandem with brilliant writing to create an amazing adventure. The various open world settings just draw you in, you want to live in that world; run across Sentinel Beach, uncover the secrets of Misty Island. It even has a snowy level where the enemies are snowmen. However, these are not the only reasons that it is the perfect game to play at Christmas. Although it is not a Christmas game per se it does give the player the feeling of being introduced to a fantastical new world. The same principle applies to Jurassic Park, it isn’t a Christmas movie but it is on TV every year during the festive season because it has all of the elements in the criteria except the most obvious tropes.
3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002- Playstation 2 and Xbox Original)
This adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is fantastic and ahead of its time in many ways. It perfectly captures the heart of Rowling’s world in an adoringly recreated Hogwarts. The amazing soundtrack was composed by the master of video game scores; Jeremy Soule. What is strange is that I have been a fan of Soule for years unknowingly. There are many games that I have fond memories of, all of which draw you into a world and make the player want to stay there forever. All of those games connected with me almost entirely because of the wonderful soundtrack. When researching the unknown genius that created the Skyrim soundtrack I realised that all of the games in the previously mentioned group were composed by Jeremy Soule. He does an excellent job on this title as do the developers. For a Harry Potter fan roaming around Hogwarts at will make you feel really at home. That feeling you get when you watch the films, where you wish you could actually live there? This game inspires that exact sensation.
2. Bioshock Infinite (2013)
Despite there being many intense and violent scenes in the dark and winding plot, the locations of Bioshock Infinite are ethereal and majestic. Bioshock one and two took place in Rapture, a civilisation beneath the ocean. This instalment takes us to the skies, the story takes place in Columbia, a floating city. The soundtrack is one of the most masterfully effective I have ever heard in a video game, the player stares in wonder at the incredible sight when we first glimpse Columbia. The music in that sequence makes you emotionally invested from the very beginning. The visuals and music combined make this the relaxing, pleasant experience you would want from December gaming.
- Skyrim (2011)
The fifth instalment into the Elder Scrolls franchise takes us to the frozen north of Tamriel. There are some gorgeous winter wonderland vistas in Skyrim. Snow covered countryside is the most effective visual to get you into the Christmas mood. However, Skyrim’s greatness is not down to the visuals and story alone it also has a phenomenal soundtrack. Which was composed by the aforementioned Jeremy Soule. Furthermore, due to the game being of the fantasy genre it is full of the tropes that have become synonymous with Christmas content. On your journeys you encounter: giants, dragons and magic. The player can immerse themselves into the fantasy world of Elder Scrolls and spend some time in the attractive locations. I play this game every Christmas and if you own it you should jump back into that universe this December too.