If you’ve never seen Collateral, you’re missing out on an excellent film. Tom Cruise plays a contract killer named Vincent, who forces taxi driver Max (Jamie Foxx) to drive him around all night while he completes a kill list. What sounds like a pretty straightforward action thriller though winds up being, as Roger Ebert said, “as much character study as sound and fury.”
That’s true, and it’s what makes the movie so good. But said character study is also super depressing. Max is a sharp, compassionate dude who deludes himself into thinking he’s going to start a high-end limousine business for elite clientele (when in reality he’s burrowed into the taxi-driving career). And in the midst of long hours doing what he doesn’t really want to do, he periodically flips his visor down to stare at a tiny, crinkled photo of a faraway island he hopes to visit one day. It’s not even a poster or magazine cutout; it’s a little 3×5 photo that’s been folded.
Fortunately for the film though, this is a brand of depressing escapism most of us can relate to! Who among us hasn’t wasted 10 minutes (or, like, an hour) at work gazing at an exotic screensaver? Who hasn’t daydreamed about giving notice and taking off to parts unknown?
Well, in this post we want to give you a few more daydreaming options that go beyond little crinkled pictures, screen-saving slideshows, and the like. Here, we want to list eight simple, silly little video games that can give you a sense of escapism right in your browser….
This game can be found at arcade sites like Crazy Games. And its premise is about as simple as they come: Build a little town in the middle of the sea. The challenges are in resource management, planning, and things of the like. But really, this game is about zoning out to gently rolling water and an obnoxiously delightful indie soundtrack. You’ll want to dive right into the game and never come back out.
Gods Will Be Watching
Yeah, so… this is a tough one to describe. In this game, you control a sort of pixelated agent, and use point-and-click mechanics to escape (sometimes with a group of similar pixel fellows) various situations. It’s a little dark, but oddly captivating. And while its locations aren’t exactly paradise postcards, the idea of escape can certainly fuel you through a burnout phase at your desk. Just be prepared for some frustration; it is, as Destructoid put it, bloody difficult.
Amazing Link Apollo
You know what aren't very relaxing? Slot machines. But relaxing isn’t the goal here so much as transporting yourself away from your desk through video games. And weirdly, slots have become some of the more vibrant and immersive games you can access in your browser, so we’re listing a few. In the case of Amazing Link Apollo, it’s all about escaping to… um… Olympus, we think. It’s not really specified, but holy olive grove does Apollo’s abode look delightful. You can just spin the reels and lose yourself completely in the marble walls, columned facades, and spotless canals in the background.
The beautiful thing about a lot of browser arcade games is that they don’t require explaining. In Parrot Simulator, you simulate life as a parrot. Seriously. You just fly around this pretty, green oasis, occasionally roosting or feeding. It’s pretty much designed to zone you out, and while the graphics may be lacking, it transports you to crudely-drawn-parrot-land pretty effectively.
Bigger Bass Bonanza
This is another slot game—or more specifically, one of the jackpot slots at Foxy Bingo, where it stands as one of the most popular games available today. It’s ultimately about fishing, so if you’re one of those people who relaxes by spearing aquatic animals in the cheek, you’ll feel totally chill playing. But in all seriousness, it’s a very pretty slot game with tranquil island and undersea graphics and backgrounds (and some fun bonus features when you catch certain fish). Play for a few minutes, and you can just about fool yourself into thinking you’re on an oceanside trip.
The Illusionist’s Dream
“It’s all about tranquility, and the art direction certainly sparked my imagination.” So stated the review at Jay Is Games, writing about this charming flash game as the escapist dream it is. The premise is a little sad… an illusionist has lost his love, and can’t escape the ensuing dream. But it’s your job to help him try, moving through a platformer-style fairy tale (and occasionally transforming into a frog and whatnot) in the process. It’s a little trippy, and a little melancholy, but maybe better than any other game on our list at drawing you out of your own reality.
Treasures of Kilauea
This is another slot game, and while it’s one in which you kind of feel like a volcano is about to erupt in your face, it’s still satisfyingly distracting. There’s a fast pace to the game, which combined with a jungle background and vaguely menacing tiki-style symbols makes you feel like you’re on some kind of life-or-death romp through untamed Amazon country. Anything’s better than what you ought to be focusing on at work, right?
We’re kind of kidding with this last one, but we’ve mentioned the game before, and it’s so ridiculous it deserves more attention (and yes, you can find it for browser play despite it being originally made for NES). Basically, the game commands (see what we did there) you to play through biblical adventures like the stocking of Noah’s Ark. This is done with early-Mario-esque animation, clumsy mechanics, and ridiculous actions. But hey, ultimately there’s something cheekily fun about this back-to-Bethlehem escape. Particularly when the alternative is answering an email you’ve been sitting on for three days.