Here’s Why I Was Gone Last Week, And What I Played To Get Me Through

Hello, gamers and ghouls! I’m back from a much-needed week off from Kotaku Australia, and I played a few games in the process.

If it wasn’t already obvious from my general demeanour, I’ve been struggling a bit with mental health issues. To be completely honest, I am an anxiety-riddled mess most of the time. However, after not taking time off for myself since I started in November on top of personal issues, I burnt myself out to an absolute crisp and was horrifically depressed. I was essentially a ciggie butt you’d find on the floor of a sticky pub at that point. I needed a little break.

I’m also terrible at making plans, and the thought of going on a spontaneous and not meticulously-planned trip away terrifies me. What if I die? What if I run out of money and am stranded in the wilderness with a horrid beast? Sure, it’s all incredibly unlikely. Despite that, if there’s something bad that could happen that’s not entirely impossible, it’s something I can imagine happening to me. That’s just my everyday life, baby!

So instead of whisking myself away to a faraway land, I did a staycation. I stayed home. I stayed with friends. I took it easy, I took it sleazy. I spent time with my family, and I tried not to think about every single embarrassing or traumatic thing that’s ever happened in my life all at once as I usually do when I have a quiet moment. I read, I relaxed, and I played some video games.

Of course, I didn’t play these games for work. That would defeat the purpose of the whole “taking a week off” situation. The thing is, I love video games, and something I promised myself when I started this job is that I wouldn’t let video games become the bane of my existence. Work can do that to the things you love sometimes, it can make them feel like a chore. I couldn’t have that.

So I didn’t spend my whole time off work playing games but I did take the time to give a few a go, and I’d like to tell you about them. Please, take a look.

Islets

The platform I played on: Nintendo Switch

Here’s Why I Was Gone Last Week, And What I Played To Get Me Through
Image: Armor Games Studios

Islets was a little bit of a hidden gem. I had seen Islets pop up on the Recent Releases page of the Nintendo eShop and scrolled over it a few times before ultimately deciding to jump in on it. I love a good Metroidvania, so I got amongst it and lemme tell ya, I was not disappointed.

Islets is a lovely little Metroidvania made by solo dev Kyle Thompson and published by Armor Game Studios, the same publisher behind Bear & Breakfast and LumBearjack. It’s a hand-drawn little dream where you play a brave little rat(?) that must fly around and bring four floating islands back together to make one big island.

The writing is great, with a cast of characters that are equal parts endearing and ridiculous. The gameplay was pretty similar to Hollow Knight albeit a little easier, however, there’s no healing on the go which adds a little more challenge. It also runs really smooth on Nintendo Switch, and I didn’t run into any bugs or issues. I really enjoyed Islets, definitely give it a go if you’re a Metroidvania fan.

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

The platform I played on: Mobile

Here’s Why I Was Gone Last Week, And What I Played To Get Me Through
Image: Graffiti Games

So this game is actually the reason why I’ve put the platforms I played these games on below the titles. I tried playing Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion on Xbox Series S months ago and couldn’t get into it, which was a bummer considering everything about it is right up my alley. The mobile version, however? Very good.

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is an action-adventure game developed by Snoozy Kazoo and published by Graffiti Games. You play as Turnip Boy, and your mission is to rip up government documents, cause trouble, and avoid paying taxes. It seems simple enough, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Finding good phone games is hard, and mobile ports of console games can be very hit or miss. Thankfully, Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion for mobile devices is an absolute hit. There’s not too much going on in terms of UI so it doesn’t feel like a busy screen, allowing for a good look at the very cutesy graphics. It also makes plenty of pop culture references but in a way that doesn’t feel cheap or cringe, which is hard in this day and age!

If you’re anything like me and you’re looking for phone games that aren’t hyper-casual or overloaded, I can’t recommend the mobile port of Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion enough.

Disney Dreamlight Valley

The platform I played on: Xbox Series S (Game Pass)

Here’s Why I Was Gone Last Week, And What I Played To Get Me Through
Screenshot: Disney / Kotaku Australia

Alright, alright, that’s enough. Enough goofing around from me. I added this screenshot as a joke, but I honestly had a really good time with Disney Dreamlight Valley. That is, what I managed to play before getting locked out.

That’s right, I was one of the unlucky suckers that pulled the wrong move and saved and quit the game after eating a cookie. Turns out, Mickey Mouse will shoot you with a gun if you do this. Just joking, not really. It was Goofy.

Disney Dreamlight Valley is visually magical, and a nice chill life/farming/friendship simulator that puts you in a Disney world. It’s fun! It really is! I was really enjoying it and actually planned to spend the last weekend of my time off playing it. Then I got locked out.

Thankfully, a fix is on the way and soon I can keep playing it. All I want to do is cook a meal with the rat.

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