Feature

Break The Holiday Ice With These Amazing Couch Co-Op Games

by Ian Boudreau on Dec 12, 2016 at 11:25 AM

The holidays are upon us, and that can often mean spending quality time with extended family and friends. But there really are only so many snowpeople you can build and cups of egg nog you can drink (i.e. one) before you’re out of things to do together.

Fortunately, there’s a great selection of video games to pick from in 2016 that actually bring family and friends closer together – specifically on the trusty old sofa. The recent crop of couch co-op titles might even be enough to interest the gaming skeptics in your family. Here are some great cooperative activities for the whole clan that don’t involve fighting each other or eating too much starch.


Overcooked

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
1-4 players

Thin out the number of chefs “helping” in the kitchen with this bright and fast-paced kitchen nightmare. Up to four players can join in preparing deceptively simple meals for increasingly finicky customers in a restaurant that always seems to be running low on something. The controls are simple enough that two players can share a single controller (but you can also use separate controllers). But the trick is working out how to be the living room version of Gordon Ramsey, coordinating your team’s frantic efforts and getting food served without burning the place down. And did I mention that you can travel through time and cook for the devil?

You can check out our Overcooked review for more information. The free holiday-themed DLC is out now.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux
1-4 players

How much do we really know about the Death Star? Maybe all we’ve heard so far is Rebel Alliance propaganda. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime offers a different spin on spherical starships, casting players as crewmembers who have to scramble between different stations in order to pilot their craft together. There’s steering, weapons, shields, and other systems to jump between, which makes communication crucial. The game features playful neon art that won’t alarm any nearby grandparents as you navigate around looking for space bunnies to rescue.

Editor Kyle Hilliard reviewed the Xbox One version last year, and it’s now available on PlayStation 4 as well.

Push Me Pull You
PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, Linux
2-4 players

The tagline “A videogame about friendship and wrestling” is perhaps the most profound understatement made about games this year. Push Me Pull You is something you kind of have to see in order to understand, and if your first impulse isn’t to run away screaming, you’re in for a treat. Each player takes control of one end of a stretchy two-headed human flesh snake, which you use together to move large croquet balls around a wrestling mat. Confused? Well, the designers say, “it’s a bit like a big hug, or playing soccer with your small intestines.” Okay, that doesn’t help much either. If you can get over the body horror though, it’s an uproariously entertaining game.

You can watch the Game Informer crew try their hands at Push Me Pull you in this hilarious episode of Test Chamber.

Enter the Gungeon
PlayStation 4, PC, Linux
1 or 2 players

Don’t be fooled by the cute pixel art enemies; Enter the Gungeon is a difficult game. So why not bring your cousin along? Enter the Gungeon is a shoot ‘em up rogue-lite with a focus on shooting and dodge rolling. The huge arsenal of weapons is full of pop culture references, including tributes to the original NES Zapper, Ghostbusters, and Nerf. There’s also a gun that is a beehive. Which shoots bees. Again, this is a tough game, but the adorable characters and bright, cartoonish look make Gungeon almost as much fun to watch as it is to play.

For more, read editor Daniel Tack’s review here.


Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
1 or 2 players (4-player online)

The war between the plants and the zombies has raged on so long that nobody even remembers why it began. What’s important is that Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 manages to do the seemingly impossible by being a multiplayer shooter appropriate for kids that adults (such as editor Jeff Cork) can also enjoy. There are charming characters, goofy art, a constant reward loop, and the recently patched in split-screen local co-op.


BroForce
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
1-4 players

As everyone knows, Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie ever made. BroForce is a gleeful tribute to it and basically every other action film the developers could remember, including Terminator, Robocop, and Judge Dredd. To avoid troublesome copyright issues, each lead character is renamed so as to incorporate the word “bro” into their nom de guerre, which results in names like Indiana Brones, Broniversal Soldier, and Ellen Ripbro (the developers do not consider the term “bro” to be restricted to men). It’s a fairly straightforward platform shooter, but with fully destructible terrain – which means things get extremely chaotic very quickly when you have four Bros on the same screen.

Check out editor Brian Shea’s review here.


Videoball
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
1-4 players

As Kyle points out in his review, Videoball doesn’t have a lot of appeal as a single-player experience. But that makes it almost perfect for a group of people with different skill and experience levels. It’s part dodgeball, part Asteroids, and part air hockey, and with four players (plus spectators) in the same room, things can get mighty noisy. In a good way. Probably.


TrackMania Turbo
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
1-4 players

Racing games can get as complicated as you want them to, but TrackMania Turbo’s focus is on the good old days of snapping plastic tracks together and sending Hot Wheels cars around loop-de-loops until their little wheels fell off. But even though it’s an arcade game instead of a racing sim, the controls are remarkably sensitive, giving the cars the feeling of a tightly-tuned R/C racer. Still, it’s easy to jump in and start racing around the game’s fantastical tracks, and up to four players can play together in split-screen multiplayer. There’s even a track editor mode to help relive those memories of toy cars and Christmas trees.

Check out editor Matthew Kato’s full review here.


Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens or
Lego Marvel’s Avengers

Available on pretty much everything
1 or 2 players

As a kid, there was never anything I wanted for Christmas more than new Lego sets, so there’s always been a strong association for me between the plastic bricks and the holidays. Both Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Lego Marvel’s Avengers are solid puzzle adventures, and they make for fun two-player co-op experiences as well. Which one you pick depends on which Disney-owned universe you prefer, but both games manage to expand on the lore of their chosen source material and crack some jokes along the way.

Editor Andrew Reiner enjoyed his time with both games. Check out his review of Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens here, and Lego Marvel’s Avengers here.