Solo gaming has its pros and cons, a major downfall being that you don't get to fully share the experience with others. Here are some games where you can:
Many of us have been playing video games together for years if not decades, be that on the Atari consoles, the Wii, Switch, Xbox, or PlayStation – we know full well how fun gaming with friends can be. As we grow up, though, many of us prefer a solo venture, or we might play with friends, but for whatever reason we seldom game with our romantic partners. This Christmas, we’re aiming to galvanise the couples out there to get involved in some co-op gaming adventures over the holiday period. Discerning the game with the best bang for your buck is challenging, you have perhaps been recommended Portal 2 and Fortnite - but what else waits for us out there? Well, that’s why we’re here!
Dark Pictures Anthology
The Dark Pictures Anthology games, including Until Dawn, are not likely the first thought that comes to mind when considering quality time with your partner – but hear me out. Couples love to scare themselves silly watching horror films, well, how about a horror film that you can exert some control over? Gameplay lasts only a few hours, and the hurried decisions you must make during the heat of the moment of Dark Pictures gameplay determine the fate of each character – whether they live or perish, how tense is that? Not every couple wants to watch Zelda games and indulge in Disney movies, some yearn for grittier, more visceral ways to spend their evenings instead, in which case the Dark Pictures games are a perfect place to start. Don't knock it until you try it!
Call of Duty: Zombies
The only issue with Dark Pictures titles is the time you actually spend interacting with the game; a good chunk of the game’s playtime is in (albeit engrossing) cut scenes interspersed between wandering and coming across some rather terrifying revelations. Some want a bit more a hands on experience – I have a rather unorthodox suggestion to this end, Call of Duty Zombies. Zombies, if you didn't know, is a gaming mode part of most if not all Call of Duty titles. Yes, I know – it’s a bit intense and not very romantic, but there is nothing quite as entertaining as training a few hordes of undead with your best friends and jointly wiping them out with a shotgun. It’s a cute date idea, requires teamwork and reinforces the idea that two hands make light work – a staple principle in matters concerning the heart so I am told - plus it is extremely rewarding when done right. If you ignore the blood-thirsty wails of the hordes, Call of Duty Zombies really is a fairytale.
Moving on to a much warmer and more hospitable game that, although has been around a while, still has its praises sung from the rooftops: Stardew Valley. Life in Pelican Town is rather pleasurable; we find ourselves in the possession of a neat little plot of land with mounds of potential, it is our job as an unstoppable DIY-duo to cultivate our homestead in whichever way we see fit. Stardew Valley is a rosy, arcade-style and therefore pixelated alternative to Sims, only a bit more inclined towards minimalism and agriculture. Learn to live off the land together, raise beloved animals, tend to crops and craft items, explore the wilderness beyond the fences of your ranch and nestle yourself in the heart of the Stardew community, just don’t go romancing anyone in the town behind your (real) partner’s back, OK?
Baking cakes, constructing furniture, or putting together a nice picture book, creating something with your partner is a lovely way to spend some real time with one another. In the realm of gaming, tending to farms in Stardew Valley is of course gratifying, but some couples want to dream bigger, build larger and have no limit to their creative potential – one word: Minecraft! Relationships are all about unity, joining forces to achieve a shared goal or vision, Minecraft although brushed aside in this instance might prove a great way for you and your partner to game with one another. You can avail yourself of the game’s split-screen functionalities and, whenever you guys get the chance, establish your world block-by-block. It has romantic zombies too! A Minecraft world is a work in progress, an allure much as an addictive TV series that draws you in to settle down on the sofa each day and unwind. Eventually, you two can sit back and revel in the final product, savour it and move on to the next game or build again… sounds like a good gig to me.
If we’re talking on the epitome of wholesome gaming, the Animal Crossing games are probably the first thing we’d talk about. Those cute little anthropomorphic dudes chilling on Casa de la island never seem to grow ad nauseam, better still you get to design an island and create a community with your partner in a way again similar to Stardew Valley! Take full advantage of the freedom Switch Joycons present and play in Couch Co-op mode to grow an island together or, if both parties would rather have an island to themselves, visit as and when in Local play too. Not all relationships are the same, you see! Whichever mode you choose, Animal Crossing, the most recent of which is called New Horizons, is exactly the socially undemanding down-time some couples might be in need of after a stressful day. Not often are games rejuvenating, but Animal Crossing is not other games, hence why it is one of the best-selling Nintendo Switch games of all time!
It Takes Two / Overcooked! All You Can Eat!
In other times, it’s not competition or construction that might appeal to couples, it’s co-operation. Does that sound like something you and your partner might be interested in? I’ve got an elixir for you, two of them in fact: It Takes Two and Overcooked! All You Can Eat! The former, It Takes Two, is an extremely charming microcosmic split-screen adventure where a divorcing couple are shrunk to the size of tools in the shed they find themselves in. To return to their normal human stature, players need to let bygones be bygones, fuse efforts, hopping, swinging, and jumping around the workshop while negotiating puzzles and such. The latter is a less amiable co-op experience; players are tasked with managing a busy kitchen – sounds easy, right? It isn’t! Plenty of surprises lurk around each pot and pan ready to disrupt any rhythm your duo had going, and with pressure mounting on your chef’s hat, food either goes cold, incomplete, or overdone. It’s a challenge, this one – without efficient teamwork the only thing boiling is an absolute disaster. However, if done right, this game basically guarantees that you guys are elite communicators, cool under pressure and probably going to be together forever. No joke.
Mario Party Superstars
Until the release of Mario Party Superstars a few weeks back, I’d only really extensively played Mario Kart games. I regret that now; Mario Party Superstars is awesome with family, friends and, you guessed it, partners. A healthy dose of competition never hurt anyone… unless one of you can’t handle losing too well. A myriad of games on 5 classic boards, including Yoshi’s Tropical Island, wait to be played at the roll of a dice. When I say myriad, I mean it – over 100 mini-games! And each are a bag of fun. That said, if the classic Mario formula is a bit more up your street, consider opting for Mario Golf: Super Rush or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I forget which famous philosopher stated ‘there is surely a Mario game for everyone’, but you better believe it’s true.
The last on our list is not an individual title but a genre of games; sport games, particularly those along the lines of FIFA, UFC (be careful!), Madden NFL, NHL, and Rocket League. Whatever sport(s) you guys enjoy following most, and there can be more than one, you can’t go too far wrong by playing it virtually. It might seem to some couples weird to fulfil the stereotype of groups of lads playing FIFA, but if you are a female and enjoy football, what’s to stop you putting your hand to a head-to-head battle with your friends or boyfriend? Or if you prefer not to contest each other, join the same team and stick the fight to AI or Online-based opposition!
In every nook and cranny of the gaming world are there hidden gems just waiting for couples to have a crack at, we merely scratch the surface here with some of the most popular examples. Regardless, our collective experience as a team gives us confidence that if you and your partner stuck just with the games above, you would have an absolute whale of a time. Gaming solo is fun, it’s rewarding, but it can get tiresome – share your spirit for games with the people you love, who says there’s a limit on how many laughs you can have?