Video games to play while on break

A screenshot of characters from the video game, Persona 5 Royal. CREDIT: ATLUS
The holiday break is the perfect time for immersive games with great stories and experiences.

It’s that time of year.

The semester’s almost over, you’ve been feeling overwhelmed through several weeks of final projects or exams and you’re looking to finally kick back and relax this holiday season and play some games.

You deserve a break from all the studying and grinding career goals so here are my picks for three great games coming out or going on sale that you can pick up early and play during your holiday season on various platforms.

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1. Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 is an all-time great RPG by AAA developer Atlus, a subsidiary of Sega. It used to be a PlayStation exclusive, as were the other games in the series, before Atlus decided to port it to the PC along with other entries in the Persona franchise.

The game plays like a life-sim RPG hybrid where the player character must battle shadows and the darkest desires at the heart of their enemies at night in a plot to reform society as the renegade Phantom Thieves. In between, our protagonist has to attend school and fit in social activities with the supporting cast that assist the player in the overall narrative of Persona 5. The game gets its name in the introduction of Personas, beings of immense power that reflect the personalities of the user, which help our cast of characters in battle when they travel to alternate dimensions called Palaces, which are physical manifestations of each major villains’ inner mind. The mix of social mechanics and RPG dungeon crawling create an interesting progression and battle system that keeps the player engaged with the narrative and makes Persona 5 such a complete experience.

Persona 5 Royal is the expanded and definitive edition of the game released a couple years after the original with revamped battles, extra social links, new music and an entirely new semester of original content added to the calendar to expand on the finale of the original game.

The best thing is Persona 5 Royal was just on sale on Steam for their Autumn Sale and will likely be on sale again for their Christmas Sale (Dec. 22 - Jan 5). PlayStation and Xbox users can also rejoice because they had coinciding sales for the game for the same price at 30 per cent off the original.

2. Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight’s earliest incarnation was in a Game Jam entered by indie developers Air Gibson and Team Cherry which they then meticulously crafted into a Metroidvania that has exceeded all expectations and set new standards in the genre.

Metroidvanias get their name from the style of gameplay pioneered by old 2D Super Metroid and Castlevania games and have experienced a revival with the indie game boom in 2015.

Enter Hallownest, a ruined kingdom of insects and heroes. You play as a wanderer called The Knight exploring twisting caverns, infected creatures, bizarre bugs and tribes all in a beautiful hand-drawn 2D style that will keep you wanting to see more of this world and uncover its secrets. The game is accompanied by an excellent atmospheric soundtrack composed by Christopher Larkin, a composer with a classical approach and creative use of sound design.

The game is hard but it is definitely one of those games you have to play at least once in your lifetime. It’s just that good, and it was on sale for 50 per cent off, an already cheap base price on all platforms.

The game is a year out from the anticipated release of its sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, which Team Cherry expects to drop before July 2023.

3. Hades

The latest and greatest game from standout developer, Supergiant Games.

Hades follows the story of Zagreus, prince of the Underworld, as he attempts to battle through the underworld and escape his unloving father Hades and reach his mother Persephone in the mortal world.

Players fight through the underworld and start at the beginning each time they die to purchase upgrades and interact with denizens of the Underworld before they go on their next rampage.

It’s the perfect combination of hack and slash and narrative gameplay. Supergiant has included a whopping 21,020 voice lines spanning 305,433 words of dialogue with an intricate trigger system so even if you keep dying over and over like I did you’ll definitely enjoy learning about the underworld and witnessing the numerous unique situations that keep the characters as fresh and interesting as your first run to ascend the Underworld.