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5 Life changing Video Games for your free time

Updated on February 18, 2015

For the layman, there already are some excellent fictional worlds in the form of games that can offer life-changing experiences. Here are 10 life changing video games for your free time that can have an incredible impact on you, whether emotionally or in honing certain practical or mental skills.

The Last of Us

Fans of zombie apocalypse stories will find The Last of Us, by Naughty Dog to be an outstanding twist on the cliché of a pandemic that turns infected people into mindless zombies and brings American society down. The story follows bitter Joel, a Texan smuggler, and a precocious teen, Ellie, through their journey from Boston through Pittsburg to the Rockies, meeting other (often ruthless) survivors and battling monsters. The mood is melancholic, the art and sound design are fantastic, as is the performance and direction of this tough action thriller.

This is survival thriller at its best. If you've ever wanted to find out how to survive in the case of post-apocalyptic world, then this is the game to experience. The main characters must scrounge what supplies they can from their surroundings, make difficult choices, work with limited ammo, and generally make the player feel like they really are the survivors. There is a good balance of unpredictability and logic about the game, and you'll always feel threatened.

This gives the player plenty of tactical and spatial routes to explore. The combat is also complex, making for very intelligent gameplay, and bound to improve aspects of your attention, decision making and spatial reasoning. Added to that is the very touching relationship between the two main characters – they are like real people you know, and that makes the journey even more tense, even terrifying in places, and overall, very emotionally wrought.

Mass Effect 2

Bioware's Mass Effect 2 is the second chapter in the science fiction single player, action-adventure role-playing trilogy set in a universe populated with mysterious planets and dangerous alien life. In Mass Effect 2, the story picks up after the defeat of the evil Geth soldiers led by Saren, when the humans are struggling to gain a greater role in the galactic community and face a bigger hazard. You play as Commander Shepherd, and lead the humans on missions, quests and battles against threats to the human race.

What's special about the game is the great balance between action and storytelling, character building, involved mythology and lore, a strong plot, and very tight combat that will keep you engrossed and challenge you for hours. Besides being a third person shooter, it also has an open-world sandbox element.

Players will relate to the theme of racism (no one trusts the humans, who are new to the galactic community must struggle to build their identity in the face of threats to their very existence). The tone of the game is dark, with themes like broken families to robot ethics and rights to inhumane experimentation running through the story, and difficult moral choices that many have found emotionally wringing. There is much to learn from the real-world problems and action of Mass Effect 2, the least of which is better decision making skills.

BioShock Infinite

This first person shooter comes from Irrational Games, the maker of the original Bioshock which sold more than 4 million units across the world. <a href='/experts/2172-Game-play-review-BioShock-Infinite.aspx'>Bioshock Infinite</a> opens with your character ex-Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt finding himself in a lighthouse, with a mysterious task to 'find the girl', Elizabeth, in exchange for something. The initial stages of the game involve going to Columbia and finding Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is probably one of the coolest game characters to have ever populated a fictional world (she is smart, inquisitive, well-read, resourceful and an excellent wingman in combat for your character), and what a world Columbia is. This floating city in the sky alone offers hours worth of exploration, reminding animation fans (only in a small way, because the world is huge) of the brilliant imagination that went into Hayao Miyazaki's Laputa. When you first arrive in Columbia, you're likely to spend some time simply gaping in awe at the luminous detailing of the superbly imagined world at the height of the Industrial Age (steampunk lovers take note!).

The story is just as gripping as the characters and the world. Columbia is a floating symbol of American ideals in the beginning, but things go terribly wrong along the way. DeWitt's relationship with Elizabeth grows stronger, and the two match their abilities to escape from a city that is literally dropping from the sky. Along the way, the player learns to fight enemies at high speed on Sky Lines and tactically employ 'vigors' and gear to beat boss foes.

This is a game that will blow you away with its masterful graphics and smooth gameplay, while immersing you in a nuanced, heart-breaking world which deals with themes like racism, religion and zenophobia and the ideological turmoil in America.

Fallout 3

Yet another masterpiece from Bethesday, the maker of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3 is a twisted and brilliant game. Set in a dystopian future in the 'fallout' of a nuclear bombing, the player begins as a dweller of the Vault 101, who must leave the vault to find his escaped father in the wasteland on the surface. Outside, Washington DC is in ruins, and the landscape is very recognizably real. In this visceral setting, you will learn a number of things – what thirst and desperation is like, how to survive in a world where everything is poisoned by radiation, and how to preserve your morality despite such harsh conditions, or not.

Throughout the character building process, you get the choice to be good or evil. As an evil character taking advantage of the weak in order to survive, you have to carry out some horrible tasks, some of which even the most seasoned players have a hard time going through.

The choices and possibilities are endless in this open world game, which is where you learn the far-reaching consequences your decisions can have. You can cheat, lie, flirt, steal your way to get what you want. The way you talk to people can change the story drastically. There is such a great level of flexibility and such a complex story in this magnificently-crafted game that you can't come away from playing it without having changed your perspective about morality or improved your problem solving skills.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Another open world game by Bethesda, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is probably one of the most engrossing, natural and fully-realized RPG out there. There is every day domestic minutia as well as combating dragons and frost trolls to give the game a great sense of freedom.

In the vast Skyrim world, you can explore however you choose. Play any character you want, amid rugged mountains, rolling hills, lush green fields, cities full of life and gloomy dungeons. Build your character by making choices, choose from hundreds of abilities, spells and weapons, battle dragons, learn their secret and use their power for yourself and so on. You can expect complete immersion in the world (with perfect music to boot), and may even find your Skyrim alter ego taking over your real life. And the life lessons that Skyrim can teach you? Weddings are for life!


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