Hate going outside, but love nature and video games? Me too! When I look out and see Mt. Hood, I sometimes wish I were hiking it. However, as soon as that thought hits I immediately eschew the idea in favor of, well, something that doesn’t require me to exert immense amounts of energy. Fortunately, for those of us who want to hike Mt. Hood but also don’t want to change out of our basketball shorts, there’s a solution! I’m going to introduce you to three games that will help you scratch your itch for nature but also allow you to keep those shorts on.
The Long Dark
The Long Dark is a first-person, open-world survival simulation game available on Microsoft Windows, Linux, MacOS and Xbox One. It takes place in the Canadian wilderness (that’s sort of like Mt. Hood, right?), where the player is a pilot who recently crash-landed and is trying to survive after an apocalyptic disaster. The player has to regulate their own body temperature, keep track of their caloric intake, and watch out for a myriad of other factors as they try to survive. The Long Dark even includes “permadeath” to simulate real life, meaning once you die you have to start a completely new save file regardless of the amount of progress you have made. The Long Dark was lauded by critics for its amazing graphics and unique mechanics.
ABZÛ is an adventure simulation game available on Microsoft Windows, PS4 and Xbox One. My favorite of the three, ABZÛ is truly something to behold. It may only last two and half hours, but it will be some of the best time you’ve ever spent gaming. ABZÛ takes the player on a beautiful journey through the ocean rescuing sea creatures from the clutches of an ancient deep sea enemy. You’ll dive and swim through beautiful coral structures, be able to identify the genus and species of different fish (it’s fun, I promise) and fall in love with the ocean in ways you never thought possible.
Firewatch is a first-person mystery adventure game available on Microsoft Windows, Linux, MacOS, Xbox One and PS4. Firewatch takes place in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming in 1989 after the 1988 Yellowstone National Park fires. The player takes on the role of Henry, a fire lookout, whose only method of communication is a walkie talkie that connects him with his supervisor, Delilah. Henry has to navigate the forests, discovering new areas as the player dictates his actions through choices in dialogue with Delilah. Firewatch also features a day-night cycle, creating an extra element for players to maneuver around.
Whether you want to explore the vast Canadian wilderness, immerse yourself in the beauty of the ocean, or try to solve the mysteries of Shoshone National Forest, you’re guaranteed to have that itch scratched. Maybe you’ll master all three games and become a master of the virtual outdoors. Who knows? Even better, grab a VR headset and really feel like you’re exploring the world from the comfort of your desk chair and those basketball shorts! Whether you decide to explore the world through video games or not, the most important part is having fun!