Lag is in the air… or something like that, anyway. February 14th is less than a month away, and with it comes a very important question. ‘Am I going to play Sniper Elite 4 or For Honor?’ is something all gamers worth their salt have to consider. Oh, and there’s the Valentine’s Day coming, too, I guess. [UPDATE]A good time to read about the best video game romances.[/UPDATE]
Finding the right gift is hard, always. Finding a gift for a geek is even harder. Buying something that can be enjoyed by two people, one of whom may not even be as geeky as the other is something of an ordeal, for either side.
But do not fret. We have a solution for you. We prepared a list of 14 great games, board- and video- alike, that are great solo, but become a thing of legend when played in a duet.
The items on the list may share a theme or two, but are not ordered in any other way. That said…
Divinity: Original Sin
Few things are more romantic than a co-op role-playing game, where you and your significant other get to control two people bound by purpose and fate to save the world from the Void.
Admittedly, Divinity: Original Sin is not exactly a game for inexperienced players, what with complex environmental interactions, non-linear quest progression, flexible character development, tons of heavily-statted loot… It may sound threatening (or exciting, I don’t know your gaming preferences, dear reader) in text, but plays extremely well and without a hitch.
Much like nearly every Larian Studios game to date, D:OS has both an epic scope and a sometimes silly, sometimes mocking, but always good-natured sense of humor. Oh, and it has a sequel coming up soon, currently available as a Divinity: Original Sin 2 on Steam.
Full disclosure: the sequel is more about another game based on the same core gameplay formula than a direct continuation of the storyline from D:OS.
Magicka 1 and 2
Magic is fun! Magic is cool! Magic is turning your loyal friends into piles of cartoonish goo… wait, what?
Magicka (developed by Arrowhead Game Studios) and Magicka 2 (Pieces Interactive) are, for the lack of better description, insane wizard simulators set in a relentlessly funny fantasy setting poking fun at the genre.
Eight base elements (and more to be created by combining), several spell manifestations (sprays, beams, shields, mines…), and, best of all: friendly fire by default set to “ON”. As a result exploding your friends or sending them flying across the map is as easy as clicking in a “wrong” place. Thankfully resurrecting you co-op partner is just as easy, which makes for a very fun and lighthearted game.
The first tabletop game on our list (and not the last one, either). Hive is an entomologist’s idea of what chess and draughts should really be.
Hive is made for two players, both of which get a number of hexagonal tiles with various insects depicted on them. The aim is to surround the opponent’s queen with your own bugs, each of which has its own movement scheme.
Hive is a game with simple, clear rules, and features some of the least threatening bugs you get to see. And given that a single game takes less than half an hour, it makes Hive a perfect proposition for a casual beginning of a nice evening for two.
Rayman is a legend. And Rayman Legends is too, or at the very least on a good way to becoming one. A side-scrolling platform game is very friendly to even utterly inexperienced players, especially since in coop bringing a fallen player back to life is a matter of pressing a button.
Creative levels and clever pacing make sure the game never becomes frustrating, and it never even comes close to being boring or tedious. The game’s highlight, however, are the music levels making Audiosurf blush in shame because of the creative use of music for level design.
In other words Rayman Legends is a game that can be enjoyed by players of any skill, and in coop it makes for a light, funny and friendly game.
Cooking together is a fun, but potentially messy affair. The creators of Overcooked are very aware of that. Their co-op game is a study in chaos born in every kitchen with more than one cook.
While Overcooked can be played by up to four players, each with a task like chopping vegetables, handling burners etc. it can be played with no problem by two people determined to make something worthwhile despite the world (or in this case: a haphazardly moving platform) being in their way.
The tables are moving, regularly cutting you off from where you absolutely *must* be to cook a perfect burger or whatever the recipe demands of you.
Overcooked is a game which makes losing fun, and embraced the entropy of trying to cook and serve anything when the other cook doesn’t know pasta from noodles. And the best part? You can play it on a single device, snuggled cozily to your controller, because the other person is overactive and already made you drop the pad twice, for heaven’s sake!
Explosions are awesome. Kittens are cute. Exploding kittens are…probably rather gruesome, as a concept. Thankfully, Exploding Kittens is a great game full of cats, lasers, and sometimes, as the tagline proudly announces, goats.
The rules are simple: when you draw an Exploding Kitten card, you lose. Unless you have a Defuse card, like a laser, or belly rubs to save your skin. Testing on real cats not advised, your experience may vary.
A single game is fast and amusing, and can easily be played by two people. We are not saying it will prepare you to handle a real cat, but we aren’t saying it won’t.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Defusing a bomb is easy, all you need to do is cut the red wire, right? Or maybe it was the green one? Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes capitalizes on that doubt.
One person sees the procedurally generated bomb, assembled by the game out of ready elements. The other player (or playerS, possibly, maybe, why would you) has the defusal manual, but doesn’t see the bomb. Both parties have to explain what they see and figure out what has to be done to stop the timer.
Few games make use of great communication skills the way KTaNE does, which not only makes it a fun game to play, but also a nice practice.
Keeping in with the explosion theme, we present to you: Broforce!
In Broforce you control copyright-friendly version of popular characters like Rambro, Brobocop, or Ellen Ripbro. Bring democracy, lead, and explosions to the unkempt masses armed with tanks, mechsuits, and hatred for a free world.
Broforce has pixelated graphics, simple controls, a staggering variety of characters (currently up to 35, not including Expendabros, each with a unique skillset). It’s great alone, even better with a partner. Figure out on your own who is going to be the main character and who’s the sidekick. We aren’t going to do everything for you.
Heart-shaped 8GB Flashdrive
Maybe it isn’t a gift that can be shared by two people, but it definitely is a gift that allows two people to share files. So it gets to be on this list on the virtue of being useful.
If you are of a punny persuasion you could always say it breaks your heart to share the files. And with an 8GB storage there is enough space to store at least half the photos from the last trip both of you took together. Possibly.
There are variations upon variations of the idea, but the one that caught our eye is a heart-shaped crystal pendant, with an USB stick hidden inside.
Sniper Elite 4
It is said, that snipers work in pairs. It’s not always applicable, and it’s not always necessary. In Sniper Elite 4 it’s definitely going to be fun, though. In SE4 the maps are much larger than ever before, giving two determined snipers a big playground. Coordinate your efforts and help the resistance.
The best part? Sniper Elite 4 comes out right on Valentine’s Day.
It is probably one of the most demanding games on this list, so take that into consideration if your significant other is not an experienced, or patient, gamer. But if both of you have more than a few games on your gaming resume, hop right in.
Another Valentine’s Day release, this time for those who like seeing the heads of their enemies chopped off and thrown onto a pile of dead bodies. Everyone has their own concept of a romantic evening, after all. If skewering your enemies and claiming their still bloody helmets as war spoils is your idea of fun, be prepared to enter the faction war in For Honor.
Simple control scheme, transparent rules, and the undeniable fun of answering the Internet-old question for yourselves. Who would win in a fight: a Viking, a samurai, or a knight? Form the ultimate power couple with your significant other and wage war on enemies unsuspecting the slaughter the two of you will cause. Or, you know, die in battle side by side, if you aim for a more classically romantic vibe. Your choice, either way you win.
If there’s a more relevant and PG board game for the Valentine’s Day we’d like to see it. No, really. Leave us a comment, there’s no such thing as too many good board games.
The goal of Love Letter is delivering a, uhm, love letter to the princess of Tempest, which we can only assume is a kingdom, an acknowledgement of ability. Either way, you aim to have your letter delivered first while throwing obstacles under your opponents’ figurative or literal feet. You can’t get any more romantic than that without enough candles to make local fire departments nervous.
Don’t Starve Together
Don’t Starve is a stylish (or dapper, if we’re to use the game’s preferred word) 2D survival game in a world looking like E.A. Poe’s collected works edited by H.P. Lovecraft and filmed by Tim Burton. It’s challenging, but rarely unfair.
Don’t Starve Together, on the other hand is a standalone expansion introducing cooperative play into the game. Pick a character from a roster of 15 characters with different abilities in various ways helping them survive in a weird and hostile world where the darkness itself is a palpable entity.
Can you and your loved one support each other capably and survive? Find out in Don’t Starve Together.
In keeping with the fruitful cooperation theme, we present to you Trine. Trine is a pretty, pretty game with a compelling gameplay and not too serious tone.
Pick an unsuccessful wizard, a friendly warrior, or an opportunistic thief. Each has a unique talent which makes them useful, but neither is quite competent enough to power through on their own. Although fully exploring what the game has to offer takes three determined players, two will do just fine. And if one game is not enough for you, there are two sequels ready for you.
- Joking Hazard – although technically a game for at least three, getting to create your own versions of Cyanide & Happiness comics is too good not to mention it somewhere here. The power to create your own version of one of the most witty and offensive webcomics to ever survive its first year is at your fingertips!
- Portal 2 – the sequel to Valve’s hit puzzle game features a dedicated coop mode with two robots prone to comedic hijinks not unlike Laurel and Hardy. It’s a great fun and a lot of potential for messing with your partner.
- Crypt of the NecroDancer – you like rhythm games and your partner prefers dungeon crawlers? Crypt of the NecroDancer is the game for you. Move to the music to defeat enemies and raise to the challenge issued by the nefarious NecroDancer.
This concludes our list. It is by no means exhaustive, since it’s a Herculean task to make a list covering all aspects of geekdom. So we focused on the gaming side, for the most part. Let us know in the comments what your ideas are and remember: AI will never giggle while apologizing for accidentally shooting you in the back when you were owning those mobs. This is the kind of interaction you get only from other person. Appreciate it and shoot them back.