The tail end of 2020 and the first two weeks of 2021 have been really damn weird. For those of us looking for something to take the mind off of that, that isn’t work-related, video games are a haven right now. With money tight for most of America right now, choosing what to spend your money on, outside of bills, for entertainment can be a challenge. This month’s list of games are all worth it, even if some of them are on the bite-sized side of the equation.

Virginia (PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One)

I went to Google and searched “Xbox Games that can be beaten in an hour” at two in the morning. What was shown to me was a few lists of games that can be completed in less than six hours. On multiple lists was a game I had been avoiding based on the art style alone. Virginia has a weird look to it, like if someone tried to make a de-resolution version of Firewatch.

While that was initially off-putting the story told is one that is intriguing. It takes an X-Files style to the tale of an FBI agent tasked with working with a detective who is being investigated by the bureau. There is so much here to the game, plot twists, conspiracies, aliens, cults, all presented with no dialogue. No characters ever speak which makes the fact that the story is told (mostly) coherently is pretty phenomenal. It gets even crazier when the detective seems to take LSD and have a breakthrough (that’s where I kind of got lost). Virginia is presented in such a simplistic way but has much more depth than what is shown on the surface.  It usually runs just under ten dollars, however, it frequently dips to just three dollars on various sales.

Crysis (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

The game that became a benchmark in testing computers. It follows the story of soldiers who were given these intrusive suits to make them the perfect soldier. The suits integrate with their body to allow invisibility, incredible strength, intelligence gathering capabilities, and improved combat maneuvering.

One by one on a mission they get taken out by this alien force and the remaining team begins to suspect that their leader (eventual main character of the series) Prophet knew more about this mission than he let on.

This game shifts from this generic shooter to a sci-fi style game and it works, almost paying off really well. The first half or so of the game is spent making players fight human enemies and the last half spent exploring the alien side of the combat. I recommend grinding the combat-based achievements while fighting the humans, it’s just generally easier to get them here.

Overall it is an okay way to kill an afternoon, I definitely preferred the sequels over the first one but it is still well worth twenty dollars or grabbing it on sale when you can.

Sea of Solitude (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Sea of Solitude is a tale about depression and growing up. The protagonist Kay journeys through a literal ocean of her memories and darkest thoughts. She travels through iterations of her own sad relationship ending and how to move forward to forgive herself. She also tackles being present with her loved ones, seeing her brother as a giant metaphorical bird for a portion of the game.

She relives when she wasn’t there for him as he was bullied in school and considered suicide as a result. The gameplay of that revolving around her fending off evil shadow children as she helps her brother as she should have done earlier. During that segment, the brother is often heard talking about how the other kids pick on him and try to make him feel unmasculine. He comes to her with the problem and Kay is notably not paying attention, wrapped up in texting her boyfriend. It’s a great reminder to actually listen to the people in our lives and check on them.

Sea of Solitude also tackles the very delicate subject of the oldest child being more involved and trying to help their parents work shit out that they really have no business being a part of. Kay notices her parents are drifting apart and runs herself ragged trying to keep them together. That’s personified as she experiences her unconscious mind’s iterations of both of them fighting as she tries to keep it together. The game alludes to it almost killing her as her parents finally reconcile soon after. Then Kay turns inward to improve herself.

Tales of suffering and depression are sadly incredibly relatable for many people. Seek help when you need it and remember most of us would rather hear our friend’s problems out and try to help them as opposed to show up to your funeral. I know it isn’t always easy but friends and therapy can help. Sea of Solitude is available now for twenty dollars on Steam or available on Xbox Games Pass at the time of writing.

Pick of The Month: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PC, PS4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X)

I don’t see myself as a huge fan of Star Wars, barely even a casual fan. That being said Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is one of the greatest games I have played in recent memory. It is definitely the best narrative Star Wars game I have played. The Force Unleashed 1 and 2 were both highly recommended to me and I ended up setting them down very quickly to never think about them again. They just didn’t engage with me.

The story of Cal Kestis grabbed me from the moment I booted the game up and didn’t let me go for about fifteen hours. Cal is the last remaining Padawan years after Order 66 was initiated. He was hiding out as a scrap worker until he had to use his powers to save a friend. The Empire showed up soon after and Cal had to flee teaming up with an amazing and memorable cast of characters as he runs from The Second Sister.

He soon meets up with the best robot and best companion in the history of Star Wars and gaming in general, BD-1. This droid is my favorite part of the entire thing. He is a reliable and upgradeable friend to Cal that is there for everything. Scanning collectible, traversing the environment, combat, the humor it all mixes so well and makes him such a great addition to a well written and executed adventure.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order managed to pull me away from all other games until I rolled the credits. It pulled me away from Apex Legends, which is quite the feat since I have nearly 3,000 hours in that game. It has great combat that is easy to pick up but just challenging enough to master, a great soundtrack, fantastic level design across five planets, engaging subplots, and a world oozing in character.

It is well worth your time and runs about fifty dollars new (sixty on PC) but you can grab it cheaper used. I have even seen it marked down occasionally for twenty at Wal-Mart. Either way, it is well worth it to have a chance to run around with a custom lightsaber and meet BD-1.

Start off 2021 with some incredible digital adventures that won’t destroy a budget. From the far reaches of the galaxy to the pits of despair inside one’s mind, this month’s Games For Budget Gamers truly had something for everyone. Let us know down below if you have played any of these, also tell us which ones you would recommend to someone wanting to play something worth their time and money.

About The Author

Allen S
Editorial/Reviews Team, Manager

I started gaming when I was seven years old. I started my own game studio when I was twelve, went to school for game design. Now I work here and also on my own YouTube channel