It’s been almost a year since Dad passed away (December 22) and one thing I remember vividly about the blurry four days between finding out about it and December 27 when I had to do a bunch of stuff to get ready for the quick trip to Iowa is how much the card game app Onirim from Asmodee Digital just really calmed me down.
Over the last year, I’ve actually found myself retreating to the game whenever I’m feeling especially anxious or down, depressed or just unhappy.
I’m not sure exactly why that is.
For those of you who don’t know, Onirim is a card game where you are trying to escape a nightmarish dreamscape by unlocking a series of doors of four different colours. (See my review for the detailed how to play)
You do this by playing cards of the same colour but they have to have different symbols on them. You can’t play two suns together or two moons. You can play sun-moon-sun, though. In the base game, there are 8 doors (2 of each colour) but with the expansions you have 12 doors and then a wild 13th door.
Why does this calm me down, or make me feel better? Especially when the premise is a dreamscape where nightmares may come and make you discard cards while you’re searching for doorways?
I think it all boils down to the game’s basic simplicity. All you are doing is playing cards, deciding whether to use a (for example) green key to try and eliminate any nightmares that are in the next 5 cards and even set those cards up so that you will draw them in a great order for yourself or whether you should keep it and use it in a 3-card sequence.
Do I use the glyph as part of a 3-card sequence or do I take a chance that there’s a door in the next 5 cards that I will get for free by discarding the glyph? Or did I just use a key and discover that there definitely is a door there so I should definitely use it?
In a broad sense, it’s kind of mindless, but yet you are making decisions and trying to give yourself the best chance to succeed. However, you are still at the mercy of the cards.
There is no deep strategy involved. You’re not feeling pressure to do something quickly like in some real-time game, something that can be incredibly difficult to do when you’re feeling the blues.
I played almost 100 games of Onirim in that 4-day stretch last December as I just felt numb.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the game and will often play it even when I’m not depressed (so if you see my playing it, don’t automatically think that I’m having a bad day).
But when I’m down, this is my go-to game.
Do you have any games that you play when you’re down, that pick you up when you’re thoughts are blue (or even black)?
Let me know in the comments.