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5 Games You Can Play with a Headache

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Shhhh shh shh shh. Please don’t click so loudly! And turn that light back off, I’ve got a rager of a headache today and existing is not helping it. All I want to do is curl up into a ball and play something — either a game that plays well when muted, or something that’s generally low-key to begin with. Let’s dig around and look at some options as quietly and with the lowest screen brightness possible.

Slay the Spire

The audio in Slay the Spire, while delightful and well designed, is purely ornamental and can be safely disabled for head-pained players. The color palette also does a good job with maintaining contrast, so the cards are still pretty legible at low brightness settings.

Importantly, there’s no turn timer in Slay the Spire, unlike Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering Arena, so if you need to close your eyes for a few minutes, or get up for more water, or just kinda lay there and go “uuuuuuuuuggggggggggggghhhhhhhh” for a little bit, it’s okay.

Donut County

Donut County is a soft, colorful game that doesn’t berate you with its charming aesthetic, which is exactly what the doctor ordered for a day like today. Playing it is relaxing and done at your own pace, and the fact that it’s available on mobile devices means you can spend the day in bed and destroy several neighborhoods. Donut County is also pretty dang funny, and they do say that laughter is the best medicine.

That duck song slaps pretty hard though so maybe turn the volume down a smidge.

Threes

I can’t count the number of sick days I’ve spent in bed, absentmindedly combining numbers in Threes. Even if I’m too tired to actually work towards a meaningful score, the act of sliding the tiles around is its own catharsis, sorta like a digital fidget cube. Crucially, Threes has a dark mode setting, so you can play under the covers and not make your headache worse. Did they plan for this exact use case? Considering how smart the rest of the game is, I’m going to say yes, yes they did.

Frostpunk

Sometimes it just helps to know that someone else feels as miserable as you do, you know? Not in like, a vindictive or spiteful way of course, it’s more of an “at least someone else understands” kinda feeling. And there’s no better game about misery than Frostpunk, at least in recent memory. As you struggle IRL to maintain some semblance of control over your impossibly tenacious headache, simultaneously live an allegory for that experience through Frostpunk‘s bleak, dystopian tale of delaying the inevitable.

Stardew Valley

Conversely, escape the skull-pounding reality of your life by ensconcing yourself in Stardew Valley — a delightful, quiet existence about yams and mayonnaise. Every day, your character (whose head does not hurt even in the slightest) will plant new crops, learn new things, and maybe even find new love, as the acetaminophen in your real body loses a dire war of attrition.

Jordan Mallory
Jordan Mallory is a 10-year games industry veteran with more heart than sense. Lover of frogs and dedicated Girls' Generation S♥NE. Mr. August, Men of Game Development 2015.

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