Feature

6 Non-Christmas Games To Play Over Christmas Break

by Jason Dafnis on Dec 17, 2014 at 08:25 AM

Plenty of games feature holiday-themed levels, but it takes a special balance to inspire that warm, vaguely festive feeling without making the game about yuletide. Here are some you should play to get the most out of your time off without sacrificing that fuzzy feeling.

Batman: Arkham Origins
The Caped Crusader's first encounter with Joker includes a host of other villains to pummel, including Killer Croc, Black Mask, and Deathstroke. The setting – Gotham City on Christmas Eve – contrasts with the dark origin story, but the rush of blood through Bats' fists keeps him warm in the frigid city. Play Arkham Origins to remember the reason for the season: a wannabe anthropomorph using everything short of lethal force to stop the bad guys.

Snatcher
Hideo Kojima's cyber-noir adventure is a mystery filled with intrigue, evil, body-snatching robots, and Christmas. Neo Kobe City, where sordid plot unfolds over the snowy season, is decked like the halls with holiday decor throughout. There's even a portion where one of the main character's cohorts disguises himself as Santa to shake the Snatchers. The Blade Runner-inspired futuristic setting feels a lot less cold when garbed in green and red (and more red – it's a pretty violent game).

Max Payne
Max is a man hardened by time, love, loss, and lots of alcohol. The weather doesn't make his life any easier, slamming the city with a record-setting snowstorm as he tracks Valkyr, a designer drug that hits the market and takes off. It might not be festooned in holiday trimmings, but there's a certain solace to be found in the city's oppressive atmosphere – which, I guess, is the closest thing to happiness Max can really find anymore. Enter bullet time and hold onto that Christmas charm for as long as possible.

Home Alone
When Kevin's parents fly to France for a holiday vacation without him (a pretty crappy Christmas gift, if you ask me), nefarious burglars seize the opportunity to ransack their upper-middle-class home. Because cell phones weren't much of a thing in 1990, Kevin has to take matters into his own hands: He must avoid the two robbers, set traps for them, and do battle with giant rats, spiders, and ghosts (in the Super Nintendo and Game Boy versions). No, I didn't cross my '90s movie plot streams; depending on which version of Home Alone you play, you might fight gargantuan ghouls or even have to defend other houses in the neighborhood. Play this one just to be thankful you're not as unfortunate as Kevin.

Metal Gear Solid
Though it might not be set during the holidays, the original Metal Gear Solid's Alaska setting is plenty snowy enough to evoke the spirit of the season. There's a certain relief felt when you finally head outdoors after crawling through Outer Heaven's vents and into the open, chilling air. If that's not the true meaning of Christmas, I don't know what is.

Blue Stinger
Emergency Sea Evacuation and Rescue (ESER) member Eliot Ballade possesses both the dumbest name in Dreamcast gaming and the worst choice of Christmas-vacation spots. En route to Dinosaur Island for his first vacation in two years, Elliot’s boat is attacked by mutant creatures, derailing his vacation into a fight for survival and evacuation of Dinosaur Island. Join Eliot and his mom jeans as they both wrestle with a self-aware camera and a man named Dogs – and remember that Christmas is why Eliot’s in this situation in the first place.

Honorary Mention

Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Specifically, the Battle of Hoth mission. The thrilling Hoth run reenacts The Empire Strikes Back's AT-AT-tripping sequence so naturally, it feels like running around the Christmas tree with a silver boa, carefully weaving the shimmering ornament in between the tree's branches. Remember the ghost of GameCubes past with one of the best Star Wars flight sims of that or any other generation.