It’s Always Better On Holiday

Summertime is vacation time. While some travel around the world, others stay at home and devote themselves to the hobbies that have been neglected throughout the year. However different vacation activities may be, they are united above all by one concept: relaxation! After all, work is clearly more than half of life and so one would like to be allowed to relax properly at least in the few days of vacation.

For me, vacation presents a real dilemma: time for the hobby, i.e. for video games, but at the same time the urge to relax, i.e… anything but video games? Because while most games excite me, they also stress me out. Continuously jumping from the brink of death, setting new highs, prevailing against others, all that doesn’t sound like relaxation to me. If I then also have to complete gaming’s favorite break filler, the fetch quests, and grab percentages and prizes in the process, the entertainment quickly turns into the infamous game work.

Fortunately, a few games have made it their business to offer a virtual plane ticket to vacation. On Wii and – very unnoticed – also Nintendo Switch, for example, “Go Vacation” called for an active vacation with a linguistically somewhat awkward imperative. Hiking, rafting, racing, jet skiing, riding, maximum outpowering was promised here on the controller! But what for me, who just wants to lie on my lazy bum?

The answer is: The Touryst! The game with the linguistically somewhat awkward spelling puts me in the role of an unfortunately exclusively male tourist whose belly under the Hawaiian shirt can also be guessed at in voxel optics. By the way, the experts for recreation behind this game are the Munich indie developers Shin’en, who, after some very fast racing games, have finally turned to a Bavarian core competence: Coziness. And indeed, The Touryist is above all that: cozy. Sure, the game also wants to lure me from island to island and explore mysterious temples. But I don’t really feel like doing that while playing, because I’m on vacation. And so I do what other games so often deny me because of quest logs and waymarkers: I hang out. Every deck chair wants to be savored extensively, I nod to other tourists in a friendly manner, but spare myself any unnecessary conversation. Somehow, the game does make me want to explore its secrets. However, I’m not motivated to do so by a gripping story, a main prize or a human tragedy, but simply by vacation boredom.

But even the obsessive urge for adventure is quickly broken by procrastination: Because the vacation archipelago, between which I naturally let myself sail back and forth instead of having to take the wheel myself, offers the central feel-good spot Leysure Island. There is a lot to do on Leysure Island, but none of it brings me closer to the actual goal of the game. Instead, I can comfortably hang out at the jazz café, do a bit of clothes and vinyl shopping, and visit the local arcade.

Since The Touryst, I’ve noticed more and more often that more games need their own Leysure Island. The higher the climaxes, the more dramatic the setpieces, the more brutal the action, the more tedious I find everything and the more I don’t care about many things. I often find myself just wanting to spend time in the beautiful worlds, but the game doesn’t give me the peace and opportunity to do so. I then spend my vacation somewhere else. A pity, really.

If you don’t want to experience too much on vacation, you won’t go wrong with The Touryst – which is by no means to say that the game offers nothing on Xbox and Switch. Quite the contrary. Because sometimes less is simply more!

This post is also available in: German