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GAMES

12 games to try now

These digital games come highly rated by local experts

Kind Words by Boston-based Popcannibal allows gamers to send and receive letters of encouragement to low-fi beats in real time.
Kind Words by Boston-based Popcannibal allows gamers to send and receive letters of encouragement to low-fi beats in real time.Handout

Even though your home is now your office, you don’t have to unplug to unwind. A world of adventure, escapism, and distraction (for you and the kids) awaits online. Digital games — played via your phone, computer, or console — can provide an endless supply of entertainment. We asked local game experts for their favorite apps and video games for every member of your household.

The experts

Timothy Loew, executive director of Massachusetts Digital Games Institute

Stephen Duetzmann, founder of EngagedFamilyGaming.com

Ziba Scott, owner, Popcannibal

Jason and Nicole Loeb, founders of Trapology Boston

Brianna Wu, game developer

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The games

Tangle Tower (Apple Arcade, Steam, Itch.io, Nintendo Switch): Creepy-cute point-and-click adventure game with plenty of humor and drama. “A cartoonish murder mystery [that] requires detective skills and deductive reasoning to win. Because it’s on Apple Arcade, parents can relax that there will be no microtransactions or pay-to-win mechanics.” BW (Ages 9+)

Roundguard (Apple Arcade, Xbox One, Steam, Nintendo Switch): Addictive, adorable, based on pinball physics — you’ll want to steal this one from your kids. “It’s a clever puzzle game where you drop round little adventurers onto a playing field and they bounce around knocking out targets.The App Store says 9+, but I see no reason why younger gamers couldn’t play it. I let my 7-year-old play it all the time.” SD (Ages 9+)

Kind Words (Steam): Immersive game by local studio Popcannibal where you respond to (real life!) strangers’ questions in real-time — or submit one of your own. Only house rule: Be kind. “It’s fascinating and very wholesome. It’s comforting and really nice in the best sense of that word. In this moment in time, it might just be the sort of thing people need.” TL (All ages)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo Switch): Beloved classic characters (and familiar icons) battle for victory in a crossover competition. “Smash Brothers is a free-for-all battle game — anyone can play and have a great time, even if you’ve never held a game controller before.” BW (Ages 10+)

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Glitch Games (multiple options including Steam, iOS, Android, Amazon): A collection of hauntingly addictive adventure games — tackle alone or as a family. “Hands down, my favorite escape game puzzles ever. They are well designed, well developed, and satisfy me for hours.” JL (Ages 12+)

World of Warships (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, iOS): Free-to-play naval action with a splash of history. “It’s an amazing battle game featuring historically accurate ships. There’s a high level of competition, so it scratches a different kind of itch.” TL (Ages 13+)

Slime Rancher (Steam, Xbox One, PS4): Just when you thought your household was finally slime-free … “I enjoy capturing slimes and watching them bounce around in their enclosures. There is just something relaxing about building up a zoo full of colorful slimes.” SD (Ages 10+)

River City Girls (Nintendo Switch, Steam, PS4, Xbox Live): Sync up with your girl gang for a couch-to-couch rescue mission. “Flipping a dated gender trope on its head, River City Girls has Kyōko and Misako rescuing their boyfriends in a side-scrolling ‘beat-em-up.’ Rather than being pink and sugar-coated, River City Girls is sarcastic and edgy in the best ways.” BW (Ages 10+)

Kine (Epic Game Store, XBox, PS4, Switch, Stadia) A super fun puzzle adventure that follows three quirky machines on a musical journey. “Gorgeously presented … it has character, charm, and the coherent feel you get when the artist, designer, and programmer (Gwen Frey) are the same talented person.” ZS (Ages 10+)

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Red Dead Redemption 2 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia): Play dominoes or plan a heist while you free-roam this immersive adventure game set in the Wild West. “It’s like Grand Theft Auto in the American West circa 1899 … but then you also have a whole community of people who do nothing but go bird watching. It’s an open-world game that offers you many ways to define how you’d like to play. You can spend hundreds of hours in that game and never see the end of it.” TL (Ages 17+)

The Room (Android, Amazon, iOS App Store, Steam, Switch): A 3D puzzle in a virtual space. Easier said than done. “A beautiful puzzle box with incredible mysteries. You have to play it to believe it.” NL (Ages 9+)

Factory Town (Steam, itch.io): Imaginative graphics keep kids and adults busy completing engineering tasks for days. “A calm, engrossing, town building experience that gives you the control over your world we’re all longing for these days.” ZS (All ages)

42Apps' Factory Town allows gamers to automate and build their own towns using engineering and imagination.
42Apps' Factory Town allows gamers to automate and build their own towns using engineering and imagination.Handout