As we head into February, the month of love or whatever, I wanted to give you guys my favourite games to play with a significant other. Valentine’s Day in 2021 is going to be unlike any other – there will be no rushing to get a dinner reservation at that fancy fish place, there will be fewer fancy socks being worn and there will sadly be more virus in the air than affection. That being said, there doesn’t have to be less fun. For a small sum, less that a main course at that fish place, you can get a few hours of solid entertainment for you and your partner and still have change left over for some cheesy chips at the local takeaway.
Some of these titles require spot-on communication, lest you fall foul to complete chaos, a lot of them are just a fun time though and are a great alternative to binging Married at First Sight Australia on those chilled out evenings. I don’t think you can really go wrong with any of these picks, they are all great couch co-op choices and I’d encourage you to pick up any of these especially when they’re discounted.
Starting off with an excellent showcase of a simple mechanic that provides plenty of depth. Snipperclips is a co-op puzzle game where the main hook involves overlaying your cute little paper avatars and mercilessly hacking eachother into different shapes to solve the challenge at hand. These challenges range from making your paper guys fit within a frame to helping some origami frogs traverse a lake and get home. It is a lot of fun and strikes a perfect balance between challenging and frustrating where each solution made sense and I rarely felt cheated. Although perhaps a little pricey for the number of hours you will get out of it, the main mechanic was interesting enough and fun enough to play around with that I don’t regret splashing out on this one.
If you really dig the game, there looks to be a bunch of DLC available for it too which might be worth diving into. I can’t speak to the quality of it having not played myself, but I am confident it will be a good time considering the quality of the base-game.
Unravel Two is a fantastic 2.5D platformer where you play as Yarny and his pal – Blue Yarny? I’m not sure what their canonical name is. The game is set in a very British country setting, which being a Yorkshire lad I relished, it is gorgeous too.
Utilising the rope that binds you and your partner to swing and entangle through the various situations is always fun. I especially liked having my partner anchoring me to a high platform and descending like Mission Impossible. The way that Unravel encourages you to communicate with your partner is truly great and the platforming itself strikes that perfect balance between satisfying and forgiving. There isn’t much I can say here that I haven’t already gushed about in my full review, but this is a brilliant game for a rainy day, a massive mug of tea and a fresh packet of chocolate Hobnobs.
The game is also available on EA Play if you have that, this is included in Xbox Game Pass too, so there aren’t many excuses not to give this one a shot.
You can read more about my thoughts on Unravel Two here.
Phogs is an utterly adorable co-op game where you play as a titular phog, a two headed dog conjoined by a shared stomach. As a phog you must overcome various puzzles utilising your unique biology to the best of your advantage and gather up a range of objects throughout various stages. These worlds are all bizarre, bursting with colour and personality whilst being themed after the three doggy essentials – sleeping, playing and eating.
The magic here comes from fantastic and imaginative level design combined with a simple two-button control scheme. Each player controls a head each so even navigation encourages conversation and cooperation. I absolutely loved this one and whilst the price tag might seem steep, my partner and I totally got our money’s worth. Best of all, if you are short on controllers, there is an option to share a single pad and still have the two-player experience. Just don’t have any garlic bread beforehand.
I wrote up my more in-depth thoughts on Phogs in a recent review if you are interested to know more.
Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time
Do you and your partner fancy yourselves as a bit of a space crew? Then is the game for you. This neon-drenched dogfighting game is a brilliant foray into exploring just how well you communicate with your partner. I consider this to be the perfect example of the “one too few hands” gameplay philosophy found in many party games. You and your crew are tasked with piloting a ship and returning love to the universe, the spin here is that you don’t control the ship, you control the creatures within the ship. This means that you have to dash around, up and down ladders, constantly swapping stations between guns, thrusters and shields, at times, this can be complete madness, but it is always fun.
Various difficulty modes also help to ensure that you never get too frustrated by mandatory sections, whilst additional collectibles are available to entice you to come back and venture a little deeper. Throughout the levels you can also collect gems which allow you to upgrade certain aspects of your ship and create your own seemingly adorable, death-dealing warship. There are also multiple ships to choose from so you are sure to find a layout to suit you.
Overall, it is just really cute. Get it when you can.
Death Road to Canada
Next on this list is a co-operative rogue-like title which is a unique blend of top-down arcade action, akin to Zombies Ate My Neighbours and part choose your own adventure novel. That might be enough to sell you on this alone, but if not, let me tell you why this made the list.
You begin each run as your survivors, each is completely customisable with unique perks and personality traits to suit how your want to play, or more entertainingly, how you are in real life. For example, I am a chirpy and lucky scavenger, but atrocious at fixing anything, be it cars or weapons.
As a team, you must navigate to the Canadian utopia in a deadly road trip encountering challenge after challenge. Each section is broken up by great sections that can either help or hinder your progress at the hands of a decision you make and some of the scenarios that play out are brilliant. The combat that connects these scenes is extremely loose and isn’t Devil May Cry by any means, placing more of an emphasis on positioning and smart manoeuvring around the amassing zombie horde.
True to any rogue-like, along the way you will be granted a range of opportunities, such as power ups, new weapons and even new party members. These party members can also be customised to resemble your friends and family, allowing for many great stories to be told, such as how your best mate from Uni left you to die in order to save himself.
Overall, it is a great time, and proper cheap due to being out a couple of years, give it a shot.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
What a great time. It is rare to find a game with the personality and charm of a Disney movie, but if anyone is going to do it, it is Nintendo. In what initially seemed like a discouraging move – making a historically single-player title entirely playable with a friend, Luigi’s Mansion nails it. This could have been something as shallow of Mario Odyssey’s multiplayer, but it isn’t. The full thing is playable with a friend, and I wouldn’t have it any other way now. It is worth noting that there is a short mandatory single-player section before this option opens up.
Armed with your trusty vacuum backpack, you and your partner get to explore the expansive Last Resort Hotel, solving puzzles and hunting down some kooky ghosts, with each floor ending in a memorable showdown with some superior spectre. These boss battles are by far the highlight of the game and the relentless back and forth of trying to suck a ghost up is always a laugh. Exploration, humour, great puzzle design and satisfying combat make this not only one of the best games of 2019, but one of the best co-op experiences on the Switch.
I have reviewed this in the past, I loved it then, and I’m sure you’ll love it too. Check out the full thing here.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game
For good measure, I wanted to include a brilliant arcade brawler. Admittedly, this can be substituted out for any of the following – Castle Crashers, Streets of Rage 4, River City Girls.
My choice however, is Scott Pilgrim vs the World. For those who know me, this is surely no surprise, being a huge fan of the comics and subsequent movie by my favourite director Edgar Wright, I was stunned to see how faithfully the personality of the comic was translated to the video game medium. Granted, the comic was influence largely by video games so it is poetic to see it all come full circle. Play through the whole thing with a friend and vanquish the League of Evil Exes one douchebag at a time, though simplistic, it is never a dull time. Actually, there are some paparazzi guys in the second level who are the worst thing ever. Other than that, it rocks.
Gorgeous pixel art, some light RPG elements and a fantastic chiptune soundtrack by Anamanaguchi bolster what was already a great combat system and make it something truly special. I love this title so much and I am so relieved to finally be able to unplug my PS3 and play this on current hardware. Not only is this one of the great movie tie-in game, it is one of the best 2D brawlers around, even 10 years after it’s initial release.
I wrote a little bit about this in an early piece around movie tie-in games, I hate reading my old stuff, but you can find it here.
So, there is my list for you. Hopefully you and your significant others can have fun with a couple of these. For those of you brave enough to try, Overcooked and Moving Out are also great games to play with a partner, although they can get a little hectic and voices will certainly be raised. Despite the theme of this piece being around having fun with your partner, these are all fantastic titles in their own right and you don’t need to be in a relationship with someone to have a good time playing these.
What are your favourite couch co-op games? I’d love to know, let me know below and I’ll give them a go. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.