Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
Insomnia friggen sucks. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with sleeping: it’s fantastic once you’re unplugged and unconscious, but it’s getting to sleep that I struggle with. People tell me to count sheep, yet trying to keep an accurate count just keeps me wide awake; chamomile tea, walking around, reading books, or taking a warm shower doesn’t help much either.
On those sleepless nights I sometimes find myself back at my computer, sifting through my Steam library. While there are plenty of games out there that can get your adrenaline pumping, there are others still who will help you fall sleep with their atmospheric music and steady gameplay whose pacing almost hypnotizes you.
Regardless of whether or not you wish to calm your busy mind, stay up until the sun rises again, or are just in the mood for being an introvert, these games are welcome companions (and/or bedtime stories) when everyone else has gone to sleep.
Now Sunless Sea existed before as a browser-based game called Fallen London. While I know very little about Failbetter and its predecessor titles, the studio’s debut on Steam this past February had me hooked quickly and mercilessly–much like any of the various monsters you’d encounter as you and your zailors made your way across the briny Unterzee (for some reason, all nautical terms miles beneath the surface begin with “z” rather than the traditional “s”).
First and foremost, this is a game that appeals to writers and book-lovers alike; its steampunk-themed storyline evolves with every choice you make, heavy with descriptive language and beautiful illustration. The game boasts over 200,000 words in stories and quests, detailing you and the lineage of your avatar (as one captain perishes, another takes up the call of the Zee–sometimes to your benefit) as you discover and chart an ever-changing ocean miles beneath the surface of the Earth. Oh and if that’s not enough, they’re also always adding new quests and storylines for free, along with some DLC expansions in the works.
While heavy on text, Sunless Sea still has its moments of action and quick decision-making when dealing with the plethora of Zee-creatures who’d gladly bite a chunk out of your vessel. As Captain, you’ll have to manage your crew, its officers, supplies and fuel reserves, and the very equipment of your ship, from port to starboard and everything in between. And, just in case you die, you also can manage inheritance to some extent, making it easier for your successor, learning from where you’ve failed. Ahh, sweet mortality.
With the dark blues, grays, and greens of the Unterzee and the waves lapping against the hull, I often find myself enchanted in a state of calm even at midday–much like a zailor lulled into false security by a siren’s song. And while some of my own encounters with monsters and mayhem had me jump once or twice in the night, Sunless Sea is truly best enjoyed in the later hours.
I mean, if the name isn’t a good indicator all its own, I don’t know how much help this article’s gonna be.
Dungeon of the Endless
If you were to ask me for some chill tunes to listen to after the sun goes down (or, honestly, really any time of day), Amplitude immediately comes to mind: like their 4X strategy games Endless Legend and Endless Space, Dungeon of the Endless too boasts some of the best atmospheric music in games to date that I can think of. While the first two examples have a similar effect as Civilization on the perception of time, Dungeon of the Endless is a little too fast-paced to keep you from completely checking out, but still lull you into a twilight state of mind.
There’s certainly a lot of depth and strategy to this dungeon-crawling pseudo-tower-defense game where you lead a small contingent of survivors through a forgotten labyrinth of monsters and treasure. Each room you clear is equivalent to a turn, adding more resources to your stockpile and more space to build upgrades like turrets or resource generators. After finding the exit of each floor, you must successfully transport your power source safely to escape.
Simply put, Dungeon of the Endless‘ gameplay, tongue-in-cheek references to popular gaming culture (I believe some Team Fortress 2 characters have made their appearance on the survivor roster), and artfully executed visuals (especially if you like pixel art) and musical score make this a fantastic game to try.
Sid Meier’s Civilization V
I know what some of you are thinking, and let me just say this: while the first two suggestions are great to zone out to, this third one is great if you wish to instantly turn night to day.
For those of you who, like me, enjoy a good strategy game, you know how much of a time-sink Civilization V (and really any and all Civ games and their spin-offs) can be. “Just one more turn” easily turns to 50 just as 11:00p turns to 4:30a in the blink of an eye. And let’s be honest, if you’re playing one of these games, you probably only did blink once in those five and a half hours.
It doesn’t help either that Firaxis paints their game boards in vibrant colors, filling them with ambient sounds and music of the local cultures you’re zoomed in on. From the chirping of birds to the rushing water of ocean waves, from the bustling streets of Berlin to the tranquil gardens of Babylon, there’s something about being a god among men in such an idyllic setting that lets all of your waking-world problems melt away into nothingness. And if you’ve been playing Beyond Earth, those paltry performance reports Jack from Accounting wants you to look over this weekend are nothing in comparison to the shaping of human colonies beyond our solar system.
Indeed, Civilization is a title that has you shifting all sorts of priorities–including sleep.
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