Being the avid gamer that I am, I like to enjoy my games in different settings and scenarios depending on the mood I am in. Somedays I want to sit down on my couch and tackle something difficult or action oriented. On a nice spring or summer day, I will often find myself on my balcony, enjoying a nice beer and cigar, delving into a turn-based or strategy RPG.
But when it nears that time to fall asleep, I find myself selecting another, more specific set of games that are just great to fall asleep to.
Got to Have That Narrative
Much like how a good book is the perfect before-bed entertainment, a narrative heavy game can serve the same function. Visual novels and text heavy RPGs fit in perfectly by simply being games that are focused on stories. Perhaps one of my all time favorite games to play before-bed is the Ace Attorney series.
If you never played the Ace Attorney series, you play as a defense attorney who is tasked to defend your clients in court. The game is text heavy, features memorable characters, and has no time sensitive inputs. It also contains one feature that books typically have as an exclusive, the ability to save anywhere. Regardless of where you are in the game, you can save right there, a much loved feature when you may potentially pass out at any moment. Similarly, I have found the same enjoyment that I did playing Ace Attorney in the Danganronpa series. Again you meet interesting characters, the story is a murder mystery that manages to keep you guessing up until the very end, and gameplay is limited to mostly walking around and talking.
While these are not the only visual novels around, I do recommend these two series above the rest as they involve the most gameplay in comparison to others of the genre. Games like Steins;Gate—while fantastic—are visual novels in the purest sense, and at times can lack when it comes to actively playing. These games elicit a far more book-like experience that frankly doesn’t scratch the same itch as playing a game such as Ace Attorney and Danganronpa. The key is to strike a balance in gameplay where you are not always actively participating, while also having to participate properly to advance the story; making fantastic bedtime games.
Games containing good narratives make for some fine bedtime games, but simple games can also fit into the niche of what to play before you are dreaming
Keep It Simple
Just because a game contains action, doesn’t make it a bad candidate for a bedtime game. What’s important, is making sure that action is simple, repeatable, and limited in depth. Kirby hits these points game after game, and is the prime example of a game that is simple but still enjoyable. Looking past the incredible cuteness that is Kirby, combat in Kirby games are simple. You can jump, suck things up, and shoot them out, and in newer games, you can slide. Nothing in Kirby’s move-set is complicated and always maintains a few moves per powerup. For example, when Kirby gains the bell power-up, you can attack with the bells, perform a charge attack, or side a long reaching bell toss attack; that’s it. Each move-set for each powerup sticks to this limited amount of abilities with some having fewer moves than others. This makes the game easily repeatable as the range of abilities are limited, but also enjoyable due to the sheer amount of them. Giving Kirby games a limited depth in terms of mechanics, but a wide breath due to the sheer amount of variety.
Simple games don’t just need to be on Kirby’s level of complexity to qualify as great bedtime games, they can also just be straightforward. As I mentioned earlier, narrative heavy RPGs make for some fantastic bedtime games, but straightforward RPGs with limited depth can also serve this niche. Take the Mario & Luigi or Paper Mario series for examples of this in action. In both games, you only have a handful of moves that you can perform, but the complexity comes in actually performing them. At first jumping on enemies can be somewhat complicated, as you must time your button presses for maximum damage. After you do this the first few times, you learn the correct timing and can repeatably achieve this. The same is true of enemies attack, they too contain only a limited set of moves, and the player must learn how to time your parries properly to avoid taking damage.
It’s not only Nintendo games that lend themselves to being simple in the right sense. Even a series like Persona can be simple in some aspects such as combat. Enemies have a set amount of attacks, there are weaknesses you must exploit, and doing it in a certain order gains you an all-out-attack. This combat portion of Persona still fits in perfectly with being simple enough to be enjoyed right before bed, without it being overbearing.
The main theme when it comes to picking a bedtime game is making sure the player isn’t immediately required to perform an action or that those actions are limited in depth (not breath). With those in mind, here are a few highly recommended titles that I have found are perfect bedtime games:
- Ace Attorney Series – Fantastic stories that require you to pay attention to solve the case. Plus you can save whenever!
- Danganronpa – Murder mystery with interesting characters, great to fall asleep to.
- Kirby Series – Combat is limited and simple but still enjoyable, especially before bed.
- Mario & Luigi – Turn based RPG that has simple combat that keeps you engaged
- New Super Mario – Not as stressful as the original 2D games making them enjoyable before bed.
- Persona 3, 4, 5 – These titles feature easier modes than past Persona games which combined with their simpler combat mechanics are perfect to get lost in and pass out.
- Pokemon – Simply combat and story with engaging gameplay, can’t go wrong
- Professor Layton – The puzzles make you think but sometimes it’s exactly what you need to sleep.
- Yoshi’s Island- A far more slower paced Mario game that you can take your time with.
All these titles come highly recommend as being fantastic games that can easily be played right before it’s time to drift off into a dream-world, one more time. If you never tried playing before bed, well, what are you waiting for, now is the perfect time to…zzZzzzZzzz.
Let us know in the comments below what kind of games you like to play right before bed? Is it any on this list or something else? Or are you simply confused why anyone would play games at such a time? Let us know!