As the long, boring Covid winter drags on and sitting in front of Netflix together has long since lost its appeal, video games remain one of the few social pleasures allowed to us. Though most of the best multiplayer games are online meaning you need two consoles at home if you want to join someone you live with there are still plenty you can enjoy together on the couch. Some of these recommendations are two-player games you can play cooperatively, others are shorter story-based games that are fun to play with company, and all will happily fill an evening or two.
A gently unsettling co-operative game in which you play two shadow beings rolling a big orb of light around. Step into the darkness and you dissolve, so you have to stay close to the orb and avoid accidentally catching each other in your own shadows. Good puzzles, creepy atmosphere and only occasionally frustrating.
You are a dog with two heads (or two dogs with one body existential question), pootling your way through cute and surreal puzzle dreamscapes, stretching your little sausage self out to wind around posts and reach for golden bones. Adorable, engaging, and not too demanding.
Two lovers fly off to a distant planet so that they can be together, and end up stuck there. You find them food and resources, explore the strange place youve ended up in, and guide their cute interactions. You can play this with two players, but the second players involvement is very gentle, so its also fine to watch.
Tomb Raider is more of a single-player cinematic deal these days, but the spin-off Lara Croft games are fun multiplayer Indiana Jones-style adventures with a supernatural twist. Expect ancient booby-trapped temples and face-offs with impressive gods and creatures. Most enjoyable when both players have some experience with games.
Inspired by the kind of retro 90s platformer that everyone remembers, A Short Hike is an extremely lovable game about climbing a mountain. Its only a few hours long, but in that time you come to know every inch of this capsule world, which is filled with quirky, chatty animals and enlivened by a deadpan sense of humour.
A cosy, heartwarming classic about exploring a family home and piecing together the story of the people who live there by digging through the meaningful detritus of everyday life. Gig flyers, old birthday cards and letters tell a story that is no less unusual and touching now than it was in 2013.
Beset by personal tragedy and desperate to escape, you take up a job sitting alone in an American national park, watching for fires. A mystery slowly unfolds, but what makes Firewatch memorable is the setting: those gorgeous open spaces, the sunsets, the long hikes home, staring befuddled at the map.
One of those rare video games expressly designed to be played as a pair, A Way Out is a B-movie action game about two criminal pals trying to escape prison. Dont expect much sophistication from this story, but its good fun.
This excellent detective story has you unpicking a complex tangle of lies told by its actors, all of whom put in great performances. The secrets at the heart of this thriller are so enticing that its impossible not to get drawn in together if youre playing it with someone else, bouncing theories off each other as you watch the protagonists through webcams and secret cameras.
A brilliant horror game that has you making decisions that save or condemn a group of overprivileged American millennials on an ill-advised holiday in a remote log cabin. Arguing over what choice to make is the source of this games genius as a multiplayer experience.
Not at all short, but more of a joint lockdown project. This game about starting an idyllic new rural life on an abandoned farm has been around for a long time, but its changed a lot and you can add in a second player to help till the land, harvest crops, pet animals and enjoy the villages social dramas. If youre bored of playing Animal Crossing together, this is a bit more involved, but still a chill, calming experience.
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