Great games can also be great accompaniments
Sometimes you want to just spread out on something comfortable and listen to a good podcast. But, if you’re like me, you also like to have a game to play at the same time - something fun to play while you listen to people blab on about games, movies or whatever you’re into.
Some games are better suited to this than others. Life is Strange 2, for example, is a terrible choice - it’s a rich narrative adventure, and to play without sound would be to miss… well basically the entire point.
But other games are perfectly suited podcast accompaniments - and we definitely have some cued up ready in the Square Enix roster.
But first, we should clarify our criteria for a good ‘podcast game’:
Here are our 3 golden rules:
It must let you take a break from the main story if it has one - you don’t want to miss important plot points and cool cut scenes. Also, many games have incredible sound design - so only play these ones if you can enter a sort of 'holding pattern'.
The tasks must be relatively undemanding - if what you’re doing requires too much concentration, you won’t be able to split focus between both the game and the podcast.
It must be pick up and play - if you have to take 5 or 10 minutes to get into the action, it’s probably better you give the game your full attention.
With that out of the way, here are 6 fantastic Square Enix podcast games:
One of the joys of FINAL FANTASY XII is how open it is. At almost any time, you can take a break from the main quest and go for a wander round the expansive world, look for hidden treasure, challenge powerful monsters through the hunt system, and test new party configurations.
The gambit system is the big draw here. It lets you set incredibly detailed instructions for your party to follow in combat, and with a good setup, your team can be largely self-sufficient - at least in a particular area.
Once you have an effective strategy against the local fauna, it’s incredibly satisfying - and addictive - to enter battles and watch your team do their thing. This is particularly true in the ZODIAC AGE edition of the game, where you can speed up time and make fights zip past.
So while you do have to keep your wits about you to an extent - occasionally monsters can surprise you and force you to adjust your tactics - it’s ideal for keeping you occupied while you listen to your favorite shows.
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The genius of DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 is that it encourages you to play it your way.
While there is a story, and various tasks to complete, it’s largely up to you how and when you get to it. Sometimes it’s fun to simply take a break from being a hero and just… build something. Like when you’re listening to a podcast, for example.
Construction in the game is compelling loop of resource gathering, crafting and block placement. It’s not complicated to understand or control - the biggest requirement from the player is creativity.
So while you’re chortling away to some audio anecdote, you can build a mansion, create the world’s tallest tower, carve your face into the ground… whatever you fancy really.
When Sleeping Dogs’ story gets going, it can be hard to take a break. It’s a deeply compelling story of honor, betrayal and conflicting loyalties that makes you desperate to find out what happens next.
But it is worth taking a break, because Hong Kong is packed with things to discover - and many of them are perfect podcast fodder.
There are health shrines to find, hidden crates containing loot, and gang hideouts in which to indulge the robust martial arts combat system - and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Or you can pick up a sports car and head out of the city center for a change of scenery - a fast car, a good podcast and the open road. What could be better?
We wouldn’t recommend turning sound off when you play DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT online - the audio cues and announcer Moogle can be vital if you want to stay one step ahead of your rivals. But offline? That’s a different story.
The Sparring and Gauntlet modes are a perfect way to blow off steam while you listen to a show. It’s supremely satisfying to take control of a beloved FINAL FANTASY character and simply let the flashy visuals wash over you as take them into battle.
We suggest Gauntlet mode for maximum podcast diversion. It’s a series of six battles and if you keep the difficulty down throughout, you’ll be able to divert focus between that and your audio without issue.
Even better, you’ll also build up valuable rewards, such as money to spend in the store, new icons for your profile and even new music to listen to. After the podcast though, obviously.
Boundless may be the ultimate podcast game.
This subscription-free MMO basically drops you in a vast, almost limitless, universe and says “go have fun”.
There’s no cinematic storyline or driving narrative - it’s really up to you what you do and how you do it. For example, if you want to explore the vast universe, using portals to hop from world to world, you can. Or you can lay down roots and build up your own city. Or go hunt dangerous monsters. Or craft materials and open your own shop.
It’s that uniquely freeform design that makes it work so well with podcasts. You’re entirely free to interact with the game in the way you want - even if there’s a minor celebrity jabbering away in your ear.
It may not be the most well-known game on this list, but it’s definitely one that’s worth attention.
MMOs do make fantastic podcast partners - and FINAL FANTASY XIV Online proves it.
There’s so much to do in the world of Hydaelyn that it’s almost silly. You could complete some quests to level up a new job and get some loot, join some friends in a dungeon or raid, or even head over to the Gold Saucer and play a few rounds of Cactpot… and that really is the tip of a very large iceberg.
The recent expansion, FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers adds even more fun, including new quests, new dungeons, new features... the list in seemingly endless(though do play with sound if you're going through it for the first time, because the music is utterly wonderful).
Here’s a general tip from us - give the Blue Mage job a go. It’s a unique class that’s designed to be played solo, so you don’t have to worry about other people diverting attention away from your audio.
What’s more, the nature of the job means it’s perfectly suited to podcast play. The Blue Mage learns skills directly from monsters, so you have plenty of incentive to pick fights with everything around you.
Those were our picks, but what about yours? Do you agree with our criteria for a good podcast game - if not, what would you add? Share your thoughts in the comments or on social media:
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