Every so often, on any particular day, people gather together to practice peace and harmony with one another. There are many forms, methods, and tools employed by all human walks of life in this guided practice of amity and inward reflection. One such tool to achieve this sought-after obscured state of zen-like euphoria, is video games! From the cinematic to the simple, these games help players zone-in on something beyond themselves, allowing them to reach a point of virtual vivacity otherwise unknown in the physical realm. So without further ado, and so as not to lose any more of you with your inhibited attention spans, I present to you on today, the 20th of April, 10 Games to Help You Find Your Zen!
The ultimate test of patience, precision, and timing: Peggle. You really can’t find a better zen-like experience in a video game. I mean, come on; one of the characters’ titles is literally Zen Master. The game is calm and serene, with soft music and cheery Disney-esque characters creating an atmosphere of tranquility and chill. It’s all juxtaposed with vibrant colors and boisterous sounds and music upon beating a level, making your sweet victory that much more entrancing. Whether you play with friends or by yourself, just try not to lose track of time.
Lasers! Shapes! More lasers! You’re going to have to block everything else out in a sort of videogame-and-Cheetos-induced haze as you smoke through all manner of squares, circles, and rhombi. Twitch reflexes, masterful hand-eye coordination, and the capacity for a singular thought process are all required if you want to find yourself on any sort of leaderboard here.
I’m pretty sure the guys over at ASR are already hopping up and down for the mere mention of Rocket League, and for good reason; Psyonix’s RC rocket-car/soccer hybrid is, well, downright amazing. While seemingly easy at first, it takes a practiced Zen Master to find themselves flying their tiny sombrero-wearing rocket-propelled toy car halfway across the map from off the wall, all just in time to slam the over-sized soccer ball straight into the goal. Be careful, though; it’s easy for matches to go by so fast they begin to blur into one giant, incomprehensible exploding soccer experience.
The classic fever. I doubt there will ever be a video game with a lifespan longer than Pac-Man, and probably because Pac-Man will never stop being played. Those blue lines have an ethereal pop to them against the black background, and the droning sound of eating pellets while dodging the ghosts can lure you into a power-pellet trip of classic ‘80s pop culture. Your eyes will be watery and red after hours of trying to claim the high score (and you will most certainly fail).
Super Mario Galaxy
While pretty much any Mario game could fit on this list, Super Mario Galaxy fits the best. The interstellar game worlds and gravity-bending gameplay are mystifying, and the game’s charm is highly amusing. One will have to find their own center if they are to have Mario do the same as he travels across the universe, so a relaxed and calm mind only serves to enhance an already amazing game. Gather your friends and pass the controller around as each person takes on a level for an even better experience!
Super Smash Bros.
Bro, do you even smash? Regardless of which iteration you play (Melee is the best, callin’ it), the Super Smash Bros. series is always about one thing: honor. Only one may truly stand victorious; will it be you? You had better bring your A game if you want to be crowned champion. I’m talking map awareness, combos, dodging; the list goes on. It can be a high strain for some people, so slowing things down in the beginning can have some medicinal benefits. Get in a few warm up rounds to find your inner Smash zen before throwing back some eye drops and pulling your chair right in front of the TV for the rounds that matter.
Seriously, who doesn’t love a good game of Tetris? Whether you’re playing it on the original Gameboy or on your smartphone, the stacking classic has survived over the years thanks to its simple and addicting gameplay. While easy at first, once those shapes start picking up speed you’re going to have to find your inner balance to keep pace. Playing on endless, watching shape after shape fall from the sky, can easily become mesmerizing (especially with that killer tune on repeat). If you do own the original Gameboy cartridge, be sure to find a way to beat the final level and treat yourself to the odd closing cinematic. It’ll take you into space.
No one likes failing in front of a crowd, especially when that crowd is either your close friends or a party full of judgmental strangers. That’s why when you want to live out your inner rock star, you had better be in the right state of mind. You have to be able to block out everything else and seriously hone in on those colorful notes (particularly during the solos, bro). Use whatever tools you have at your disposal to find your zen before throwing the strap over your shoulder.
Left 4 Dead
Surviving the zombie apocalypse is not easy feat. It takes strategy, preparation, teamwork, and lots of bullets. Left 4 Dead manages to capture the essence of a zombie outbreak and deliver it in a moody, arcade-like FPS experience. You and your friends are going to need to take a few smoke breaks in between safe houses to keep your attention focused and your twitchy trigger fingers steady. After all, how’s a team expected to survive an onslaught of undead if they aren’t relaxed?
The Impossible Game
This game is really more of a troll than a videogame. I’ve put more hours than I’d care to admit into the first level, and still have never managed to get over those damn three-spike traps. One has to be truly zenned out if they hope to reach level’s end. Time becomes hazy and unclear as you jump your square over the same traps over and over and over again. It’s the ultimate zen challenge to maintain a state of peace and calmness within yourself when playing The Impossible Game.
What games do you like to zen out to? Let us know in the comments!