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The Best Games To Play Over The Holiday Break

Don your most relaxing apparel, sit in your comfiest chair, and relax with the following selection of games that are the perfect length for the holiday season.

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Congratulations! You've survived another year and there's a temporary respite ahead of you, perhaps even one with at least one guilt-free week of being allowed to don your most festive slacks while you let your body recuperate over the festive season. There's no better way to unwind than with some video games, and no matter what platform you choose, you're going to be spoiled for choice. However, we all know the best holiday games are the ones that can be completed in a modest amount of time, occupying a reasonable amount of your day while providing maximum bang-for-your-buck entertainment.

We've got a few afternoon delights rounded up below, ranging from polished superhero adventures that can be bested in a few days, underworld dramas that can devour your attention over the course of a week, and indie darlings that'll leave you feeling introspective once the end credits have rolled.

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales
Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales

One of the launch games for PS5, Spider-Man: Miles Morales gets double-points for a campaign that is perfectly paced and for being a Christmas-themed game. With extra power and responsibility in comparison to Insomniac's 2018 Spider-Man game, the PS5--and PS4--spin-off provides a fascinating take on the newest web-slinger as he establishes his own identity as Harlem's Spider-Man. Electrifying powers, deadly villains, several extra costumes to unlock, and the trademark web-swinging system for getting around New York City makes Miles Morales' debut adventure a fantastic weekend game, especially when you're looking to sit back and spend a few hours relaxing with fun gameplay and compelling storylines.

Read our Spider-Man: Miles Morales review.


They Are Billions

They Are Billions
They Are Billions

A single round of They Are Billions can take an entire day to play out, as you navigate the post-apocalypse by building an outpost that can survive against the growing hordes of zombies outside your walls. It's worth it, though, as TAB's system of quid pro quo mechanics will keep your mental gears turning, while sitting back and watching your defenses route swarms of the undead is a satisfying experience. It’s catharsis via strategy, grueling but gripping entertainment as you come up with the perfect city that can survive billions of zombies looking for one final human buffet at the end of the world.

Read our They Are Billions review.


The Artful Escape

The Artful Escape
The Artful Escape

A video game about great expectations, folk music, intergalactic rock concerts, and audio-powered laser battles, The Artful Escape hits a number of high notes with its thoughtful construction and impressive design. It's a game that can capture your attention for an entire afternoon, as it goes all-in on its cosmic rock adventure setting to deliver a foot-tapping odyssey of substance and style. A quirky adventure that stands out as one of the best games of 2021, The Artful Escape may be short, but the narrative centered around self-discovery will stick with you long after you've completed it.

Read our The Artful Escape review.


Unpacking

No Caption Provided

In a year of time-looping island adventures, the return of Xbox's favorite son, and Resident Evil's latest spooky chapter, Unpacking is a palette cleanser of wholesome entertainment built around a simple mundane task. Having a load of boxes to unpack and items to sort into place is strangely engrossing though, as the process of slowly uncovering another person's life over the pivotal years of their development is fascinating, intriguing, and ultimately, heartbreaking. Unpacking tells a story without speaking a single word, its retro-inspired visuals are an ocular treat, its sound design is amazingly subtle, and its gameplay is consistently mesmerizing.

Read our Unpacking review.


Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite

We're taking a look at Halo Infinite's single-player here, as 343 Industries' latest game combines a great story with an open-world design that allows for some relaxing exploration between firefights. Halo Infinite isn't too challenging, the pacing of its main story-beats are rock solid in design, and if you don't spend too much time being distracted by the game's bounty of extra content, you'll be able to easily work your way through the campaign over the course of a stress-free week.

Read our Halo Infinite review.


New Pokemon Snap

New Pokemon Snap
New Pokemon Snap

Digital tourism at its finest, New Pokemon Snap is a relaxing journey and a fantastic example of how Pokemon can be more than just a game of lightning-fast RPG battle sequences. It's an on-rails game where you'll be honing your photography skills, snapping images of Pokemon in their natural habitat, and aiming to grab that one image that has the potential to headline the cover of National Geographic magazine. Essentially a hobby distilled into a more digestible form on Switch, New Pokemon Snap captures the best of photography, and after a few hours inside of its various biomes, it'll transform you into a shutterbug-type Pokemon.

Read our New Pokemon Snap review.


Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11

The formation of NetherRealm and the rebirth of Mortal Kombat has resulted in the prime-time fighting game franchise being one of the best franchises in the genre over the years. More than just a brutal display of bone-crunching power, Mortal Kombat games have set a new benchmark for fighting game single-player campaigns, making each blow dealt serve a greater narrative. Mortal Kombat 11 easily has the best story of the current series, wrapping up lingering plot threads that harken back to the original game, mostly excellent voice-acting--Ronda Rousey is no Sonya Blade--and a conclusion that paves the way for an exciting new direction for the series. Plus, you can pit the likes of Shang Tsung's glorious cinematic incarnation against Robocop and John Rambo. What more could you ask for in a viciously relaxing video game?

Read our Mortal Kombat 11 review.


Judgment series

Lost Judgment
Lost Judgment

Sega's Yakuza series has been one of its best products to find global acclaim, but the Judgment games are well worth looking into if you're looking for a dive into a world of crime and drama that’s mostly unrelated to Kiryu Kazama’s saga. Both Judgment games are terrific action-packed adventures with a heavy amount of mystery thrown into the mix, although Lost Judgment plays better thanks to several quality-of-life upgrades and additional fighting styles. At their core, both games feature an episodic structure, engaging characters, and cinematic showdowns. The equivalent of binging a Netflix series, the Judgment games and their gripping stories are perfect vehicles for a week of gaming when you're on a well-deserved break.

Read our Judgment review and our Lost Judgment review.


Kena and the Bridge of Spirits

Kena and the Bridge of Spirits
Kena and the Bridge of Spirits

Developer Ember Labs' debut game may be heavily inspired by Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series, but there's more than enough original content on offer within it to help it stand apart and establish its own identity. A compact adventure that doesn't overstay its welcome, Kena and the Bridge of Spirits keeps its storytelling light and its arsenal of unlockable skills to a manageable level, combining these elements to deliver a breathtaking adventure. It looks gorgeous, the soundtrack complements the journey perfectly, and challenging action will keep you on your toes in this short but enjoyable experience.

Read our Kena and the Bridge of Spirits review.


Sable

Sable
Sable

Another small-scale game about reconnaissance and personal growth, Sable takes a different approach to its explorative themes and essentially allows you unfettered access to a world that you can explore at your own pace. It's instantly memorable in the visual department, and while it doesn't hold your hand when it comes to telling you where to go, it'll gently nudge you in the right direction from time to time. There's a joy in getting lost in Sable, as you'll be setting your own pace and defining your own sense of progress in this introspective journey.

Read our Sable review.

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