Games these days are not satisfied with just being good. They need to be good enough to incorporate additional mini-games into their fictional worlds to make them more attractive.
Thus arose the age of mini-games: small activities or games players can play within the game they're playing while taking a break from the main story mission and campaign. These can be fun little experiences they can take small pleasure in or may become such an integral part of the video game experience that users take out extra time to play the mini-games.
Note: This article reflects the writer's opinions.
Five enjoyable mini-games that stole the show
1) Cobra Master - Blair Witch
Blair Witch is a survival horror game released in 2019 by developer Bloober Team. Capturing the ambiance and creepy esthetic of the original movie(s) on which the game is based on, Blair Witch delivered an inspired horror story containing a lone protagonist with only his trusty dog Bullet for company.
As ex-police officer Ellis Lynch, players search for a missing boy in the forest. After progressing a little into the jungle, they are prompted to use Ellis’ phone, a 90s Nokia-inspired handset. Curious players will be dutifully rewarded if they choose to explore the phone’s menus.
As was the norm in earlier handsets, a folder called games held the best treasure. In Blair Witch, this was in the form of two mini-games, namely Cobra Master and Shooter Deluxe.
While the latter is an adaptation of the Space Invaders arcade game, the first entry is the age-old mobile game Snake. Familiar users know that Snake is a reasonably low-budget yet engaging title that kept 90’s kids immersed in their parent’s phones.
They can do the same now, completely ignoring the horrors awaiting them in the forest.
2) Mine Haunt - Life is Strange: True Colors
Life is Strange: True Colors is a masterful game, possibly telling one of the most heartwarming stories in the entire series. As Alex Chen, players uncover a mystery in the town of Haven Springs while also learning to find their place in the community, making friends, and maybe even finding love.
However, Alex is also in possession of an arcade machine in her kondo, which, when accessed, allows users to enjoy two arcade games of their choice. One of these two is Mine Haunt, which, if players decide to give it a try, treat them to a familiar sight.
In this mini-game, gamers need to collect gold coins across various platforming levels while running away from ghosts and avoiding mine carts. There is also a power-up that allows players to kill the ghosts for a short duration. Sound familiar?
This is a combination of the original Pac-Man system with the platforming from the original Donkey Kong.
3) Gwent - The Witcher 3
A mini-game made so famous that it became a mobile game of its own, Gwent made its debut in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. An in-world pastime in the books, Gwent is a card game that has come to prominence among players as it was a rewarding yet challenging side activity to do while they took a break from the main story and monster slaying.
The intricate game design meant that users couldn’t pick it up as easily as it initially seemed. Getting good meant learning how to use each and every card, understanding how each opponent played, the difference between factions, and hoping that the AI wouldn’t start spamming Spy cards.
Despite this challenging curve, Gwent is an enjoyable game to play as each victory comes with some form of reward, with the game itself proving an entire questline around it. With development work starting on the next Witcher title, fans can only hope this mini-game makes a comeback.
4) Fishing - Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 has many activities in its expansive world, which can be counted as mini-games. These include but are not limited to robbing a household, having a shooting contest, taking part in an impromptu horse race, and hunting wild animals, to name a few.
Another activity that Arthur Morgan can get up to is fishing. The amount of detail put into this activity (like everything else in this beautiful game) by the developers makes RDR2 a perfect fishing simulator if players so desire.
In fact, some users power up Red Dead Redemption 2 (story mode or online) simply to enjoy such activities.
Compared to other activities, fishing is a calming endeavor to relax and get away from all the shooting and killing going on in the wild west. The main story itself showcases this as the title makes Arthur go fishing a few times, just to slow things down for a bit and enjoy the peace and quiet.
5) Machine Strike - Horizon Forbidden West
While humanity as we know it has been wiped out from the world of Horizon Forbidden West, there are still echoes of the past seen throughout various areas of the game. Examples are the Sunken ruins of Las Vegas and the desert lands of what used to be Nevada. Another such echo is the mini-game Machine Strike.
Even at first glance, it is evident how the game works in principle. See, Machine Strike is a variant (or evolution) of chess. Each player has different pieces to play, and taking down the pieces belonging to the opponent nets them points. Whichever person earns seven points first gets the win.
While this may sound easy enough on paper, it does have some key differences from traditional chess. Different pieces with better stats can be earned or won from NPCs, making the player's collection stronger and increasing their chances of winning against high-ranked NPC opponents.
So if anyone wanted to roleplay as Beth Harmon from The Queen's Gambit, Horizon Forbidden West is the best place to start. Aloy's even a redhead.