Best gaming palate-cleansers

Clear your head for the big games to come.

Happy New Year! If you're anything like us, then you massively overindulged during the holidays, binging on food, drink and games as though the world was about to end. Frankly, if someone offers us another festive biscuit, gift-wrapped craft ale or 60-hour RPG, we're not sure our guts can take it. Obviously we can't help with the former, but if you're feeling a bit jaded about switching on the PlayStation or Xbox again, here are a few gaming mood-cleaners to refresh your senses and get you back in mental shape for the likes of Monster Hunter World, Sea of Thieves and Far Cry 5, which are now just a few weeks away.

1. Proteus

We're not really a PC site, but if you're feeling remotely out of sorts this month, then we definitely recommend finding a way to play Ed Key and David Kanaga's Proteus. This is a simple game where you explore a dreamlike island and the ambient soundtrack responds to your meandering. There are no goals, Achievements or Trophies; this is just a nice place to be, and always feels like a welcome holiday from whatever else is going on in your head.

2. No Man's Sky

If you can set aside all the controversy - we appreciate some people find this difficult - No Man's Sky is a pretty substantial game at this point following 18 months of heavyweight updates. But really it's that underlying core of simply floating around the universe exploring beautiful procedurally generated planets with no particular agenda that rouses us from our January blues. Every time we break atmosphere over a fresh planet is like a new dawn.

3. Journey

We could have chosen thatgamecompany's entire oeuvre, including Flow and Flower, but in a month when we'd often rather close the blinds and ignore the world completely, Journey is a pretty calming way to reconnect with the rest of the human race. You've probably played it already, but hopefully not for a while, and either way, it's a rare pleasure to slide back into your robe and start making your way to that mountain in the distance, joined on your quest by other friendly souls who - certainly if you're both playing at this time of year - clearly share your desire to claw your way back to hope and optimism.

4. Stardew Valley

January is definitely the month we most feel like packing it all in and going to live on a farm, and thanks to Stardew Valley that dream can finally become reality. Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone's farming sim - obviously somewhat inspired by the immortal Harvest Moon series - sees players take over a dilapidated farm and set to work tending the land, rearing livestock and socializing with the locals. If you're tired of games where the world is about to end, here's one where a new world is about to begin.


Tom is probably best known for the 15 years - FIFTEEN YEARS! - he spent at Eurogamer, one of Europe's biggest independent gaming sites. Now he roams the earth, but will always have a home here at AllGamers. You can try and raise him from his deep, abyssal slumber through or he's also on Twitter.


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