A Couple Of Couch Co-Op Games To While Away A Couple’s Couple Of Hours This Valentine’s Day

You know that thing when a word doesn’t look like a word anymore? I’ve just done that to myself with ‘Couple’. Literally had to Google search it. Nevermind that though! The day of love is upon us! And I come bearing gifts of gaming knowledge, wearing a red sash I dangle gracefully above your head, showering ideas for you and your loved one on this day. And to be quite frank, if you don’t have a loved one this year, play these games anyway! You don’t have to share the loot with anyone, happy days! Personally, Valentine’s day isn’t a day for me or my partner. We literally get each other a card or write a note for each other, usually we order take away and watch a film or play games together. Nothing grandiose because in our eyes it’s not the product but the time being together that is important. A film is great but for me, playing games together is better. There’s more interaction and connectivity when fighting a boss together or solving a puzzle. And so with that, here are a few games to try this Valentine’s day. Some of these may be on my Gaming and Your Partner post from 2017 but I haven’t checked it. These are just games of the top of my head that I currently think are great games to play with your loved one or solo.

Diablo 3

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If you haven’t played a Diablo game before, you may be thinking that Diablo 3 sounds a bit much for Valentine’s day. And yes, while the games themes and visuals are more suited for Halloween, the gameplay is very much a Valentine’s day experience. Not only that but some people feel intimidated by Diablo 3. Because the series has such a loved history, especially with the PC community, the game sounds like it could be praised for its complexity. Wrong, in fact Diablo 3 is the perfect game to play hungover! I’ve done it and it’s a doddle. There is very little story, you’re constantly on the go and so there is very little down town. There are tons of difficulties and the basic enemies are easy to mow down. The game implements a very satisfying loot system too. When a legendary item drops with a loud dink and a ray from the heavens beams from it, you and your partner are racing to see which character class that item belongs to. It really is a non-taxing game and perfect for a lounging on the couch, vegetative day. If your partner isn’t as well versed in games as you are, this has very easy to understand mechanics and a lot of leeway in terms of difficulty and accessibility.

Don’t Starve Together

Don't Starve Together

My partner isn’t a full-fledged gamer but does like to dip her toes with games like this. More top down and rogue-lite kind of games. I never played this game until she showed me it. It’s a simple concept, you spawn on a random map and you have to build a base and gather resources to survive enemies and the seasons. It’s a game about seeing how long you can survive, just like real life! Playing it together is a great experience. 2 people looking for resources speeds up the whole process but also means that you go through those resources at double the pace. What I love about Don’t Starve Together is the delegations it requires to have a fighting chance. Sure you can both go off together in the same direction but you’re going to encounter the same stuff. With the clever mechanic of the screen splitting when players separate and merging back when both are together, it provides ample opportunity for solo adventures for a joint cause. 1 person might explore and find a scary cave to explore full of potential goodies, whilst the other player gathers berries and hunts animals for meat. Both players then grouping back up by the campfire at base, providing protection to each other but also sharing what they gathered. It really is a game that spurs on communication and team work and I’m all for it. See how long you and your partner can survive!

Divinity: Original Sin

Divinity Ori

If Diablo 3 is a light dungeon crawler, then Divinity: Original Sin is the heavier version of that. I possibly wouldn’t recommend this to very newcomers of games because it is quite slow at times and more plot focused but it does offer a great co-op mode. The whole game can be played in co-op and it’s a long game too. You both create a character at the very start and then begin your investigation into a murder in a sea-side town. What begins as a simple plot slowly unravels into more nefarious dealings and you, your partner and a few NPC’s must travel the land to solve  mysteries and defeat evil. Tale as old as time really. This is a full on RPG that is fully playable solo or co-op. Why I suggest it is because you don’t get that much. A game of this length and scope and that is 2 players hardly comes around. It won’t be for everyone though. Like I said, lots of dialogue to scroll through and micromanagement of gear and inventory can put a lot of people off. Not only that the combat is turned based. Both players will have to communicate and plan their moves as a team to succeed in a fight and while that is fun, there is a lot of waiting for your partner to take their turns. Again, not an issue for some but others will find the combat boring or too heavy which is a fair point if you want something more laid back. Similar to Don’t Starve Together, this also features the map split and merge function which can alleviate a lot of the waiting around time for you or your partner. While one player is in town selling their old weapons, the other player can be turning in quests or talking to NPC’s in another town or engaging in a battle with a troll. The game also has an amazing feature in the drop in and out function. For example, if your partner wasn’t fussed about playing the game, you could play it yourself. But, if you partner fancied playing it another time or a few hours later, they are able to jump back in and take control of their character. This lightweight feature makes this heavy game more manageable and accessible which is why I feel it deserves to be mentioned. It is also a brilliant game, solo or non-solo.

Overcooked 1/2

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I will always suggest Overcooked games to couples! The original was one of the first games me and my partner completed together and Overcooked is the kind of game that will progress your relationship years ahead or at least that is what it feels like. By that I mean, the game starts nice and light and you learn to cook a burger together in a restaurant whilst politely requesting ingredients and asking each other to do the dishes. By the end of the game you’re demanding fish from your partner so you can make the blasted sushi that customer 37 has been waiting for for 6 damn minutes and your partner is yelling at you that she can’t serve the customers because I haven’t done the dishes again! Sorry, it got a bit personal there. I was having flashbacks. This game can truly test your relationship at times but there is no other game that has made us closer, than when we’ve completed a particularly difficult level in Overcooked.  A simplistic idea with easy controls and a difficulty that scales nicely for the most part. Overcooked is an easy recommendation for Valentine’s day or date night and if you’re feeling extra daring, a double date night. Be warned, that night could end with 1 or 2 relationships coming to an end. Word of advice, wash the dishes before you have to be told to wash the dishes.

The Witness

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A bit different here as technically this isn’t couch co-op but I think this deserves a mention. The reason being is the simple phrase: two minds are better than one. Have you ever been staring at a puzzle or riddle for ages and someone just glances over your shoulder and solves it in one try? Remember how smug they look and how stupid you feel? Good news! The Witness can help you to relive that over and over again.  The Witness is a puzzle game set on an island. You walk around the land and find a variety of puzzles that gain complexity as you progress. This game will truly stump you at times and to be quite honest, I still haven’t cleared it. Me and my partner got stuck at a puzzle and I refuse to lookup the solution. You may fare better though. It is a great game to play with your partner or even just to ask them now and then if they can help with you a puzzle. It doesn’t require full commitment from both people which is a weird strength for it in this discussion. Your partner could be on the couch on a laptop or something and when you get to a puzzle, you can get them involved. Nobody can turn down a chance to outsmart their other half. Everyone enjoys figuring out puzzles too, it releases those endorphins and makes the individual’s head grow 3 times bigger that day. A beautiful, serene game that I fully recommend checking out and getting your partner involved with.

Bonus Board Game Recommendation: Love Letter

Love+Letter

With a name like that, you know it’s perfect for Valentine’s day. Yeah, while the others you can quickly download for you and your partner to play, this one will require going to a nearby board game shop if you have one or using Prime Now or similar. But, I also highly recommend this game outside of Valentine’s day. In fact, this is a staple for any time we go away anywhere. Even if only for a day, we still take Love Letter. It comes in a really small box that is perfect for travelling. Love Letter is a quick board game that consists of 7-14 rounds that can last several seconds to several minutes. With easy to pick up rules, several index cards to keep track of details and a basic premise, Love Letter is ideal for getting your loved one into board games. The game is simple, you have 16 cards and each card has a character on it. There are only 8 characters, each with a skill and point ranking. Each player begins with one card and when it is their turn they must pick up a card and discard a card. When they discard a card, they must activate that character’s skill. The round ends when all cards are gone from the deck or if a player has to reveal their card. Then the winner takes a token of affection and the first to 7 tokens wins.

Simple enough but what really makes the game is the characters. As I said, each character has a score from 1-8. At the end of the round if nobody has revealed their card, both players show their card. Whoever has the highest scoring card wins the round. You would then think that the lower numbered cards are the weaker ones but in fact they are the strongest cards to have. For instance, the Priest card is only worth 2 points. If you have this at the very end of the match, then more than likely you will lose. But when you discard it, it lets you look at what the other player is holding. Then if you have the lowest scoring card, the Guard card, this lets you guess what card the other player is holding when you discard it. Now, any reasonable player will try to discard their card when you see what they have but some situations won’t allow that. For example, the Princess which is the highest scoring card in the game and will guarantee victory if all the deck is depleted, is also the deadliest card to have. The text on the Princess card says ‘If you discard this card, you are out of the round’, so you can’t get rid of it, you just have to hope the other player doesn’t guess that card if they get the opportunity. For a game that only features 16 cards and only 8 different variations, there is a lot of minutiae. If you want something a bit different to video games for you and your partner then I highly suggest checking Love Letter out. For more of an in-depth look and a review on Love Letter, I recommend Michelle’s review at A Geek Girl’s Guide, here. If I can’t convince you to try this amazing card game then maybe she can.

And that’s it for me on this romantic day. Hope all you love-birds out there have a nice day and for all you solo players I highly recommend the video games I suggested. Each one has solo or online play and are all amazing no matter which way you play them. In my opinion anyway but feel free to let me know how you feel in the comments. Take it easy!

 

 

 

Gaming and Your Partner

If you’re reading this, you more than likely have an affinity for video games. With something that you enjoy, there’s always the desire to share it with you SO. But in the situation where your partner hasn’t had much experience in gaming, then finding the right games can be tricky. In this article I want to talk about co-op games and just games that offer a more basic approach. So first person shooters are out of the question. Maybe you’ve had better luck. But usually when I give a new gamer the controller to an FPS or over the shoulder perspective, they continually run into walls or run sideways into gunfire. The games I’ve selected are games that tend to not involve camera control. As novices seems to have issues with connecting the left stick to movement and the right stick to viewpoint. Lets delve in.

Overcooked (PS4, Xbox ONE, Switch and PC)

Make sure to play this only if your relationship is sturdy and ready for conflict. You have been warned. In Overcooked you and your partner take control of chefs in a kitchen. Orders come through and it’s up to you and your partner to prepare, cook and serve each order hastily. If a customer doesn’t receive their order in a set time, they’re out the door and you’re down a tip. Sounds simple enough so far but as you progress the kitchen place becomes more and more ludicrous. These kitchens range from the basic setup of a standard kitchen to a more challenging fare. Ice levels ensure a slippery time whilst lava levels spew magma which if touched, eliminates that chef for several seconds. You won’t know fury till you’re about to serve a meal and a stray fireball destroys you and your plate. It starts out as chop lettuce, chop tomatoes, BAM, salad done. Next order! The game ups the ante continuously by introducing new meals and new gimmicks. One challenge can see 3 different meals needing to be served, requiring intense co-ordination and communication to receive top marks. Another level might have the prep station on one moving lorry, while the hobs are on another lorry. The basic controls and isometric view means that the control scheme is simple and easy to learn. The game is easy to learn too, just hard to master. While some games like Mario Party can cause angry glares from your adjacent couch seat, Overcooked could potentially lead to some fiery words when someone (not naming who) burns the kitchen down. But the sense of accomplishment you and your partner will have when you 3 star a space mission, after the 8th try. You will definitely release a sigh of relief and a smile on both your faces.

Overcooked
As an added bonus. This game can be played with up to four players. Making it an ideal double date night game.

WarioWare Smooth Moves (WII)

The Nintendo Wii was an immense success. Everyone and their cat had one. And while nowadays the Wii is looked back on as more of a gimmick console. It still had some stand out games. Nintendo really knew how to market it and get the ‘console for the whole family’ brought to reality. WarioWare Smooth Moves shows this to the fullest. With Wii remote in hand and a visual prompt card on the screen, what follows is an absurd mini game which needs to be completed within seconds with the action shown on the prompt card. If completed successfully, a new prompt card is shown and a new weird mini game lined up. As you complete each mini game they get more difficult and faster until you complete them all or fail. Usually because you chugged the water too quick and drenched your characters face. It always gets me that mini game. With a multitude of modes such as Survival where each person is an angel soaring through the air. You take turns at the random mini games and if you fail one, you descend lower and lower each time until you’re out the match. Or All Mixed Up where all mini games are up for play and you see how long you can go before you lose all 4 lives. This mode in particular is a great; pass the controller party game. I can’t recommend this enough for your SO or even a house party. The simple motion controls and absurdity on screen make for lots and lots of laughter. Here’s a video to show its uniqueness and it speaks for itself.

The Binding Of Isaac: Afterbirth (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

The Binding Of Isaac Rebirth, Afterbirth and Afterbirth+ are all fantastic versions. I’ve just listed Afterbirth as that’s the one I’m currently playing on PS4. They’re all great and so if you fancy getting it just get whichever version is available on your preferred platform. Afterbirth+ is the latest and has more content than the others so that’d probably be the best version to get. This game is primarily a single player game. It does have a couch co-op option but it’s more of a help option than a 2 player mode. This game is quite dark, has lots of gore and religious themes and so you yourself will have to gauge if this is an appropriate game for your situation. Isaac is a twin stick shooter. Left stick moves and right stick shoots. There are a few other buttons such as ‘use item’ and ‘use a bomb’ but you’ll figure that out when you play. The basics are you pick a character, start a run and are dropped into a randomly generated floor. You then control your character as you battle rooms of monsters and puzzles until you get to the boss of each floor. Defeat the boss, go down another floor and repeat until you either die or you succeed. Along your travels you will find money, keys, bombs to help you on your descent. You will also find items that not only offer new gameplay styles but also visually change your character. Sometimes into a grotesque, demonic child. As I said, the game is randomly generated. Each run is different but pertains to the same structure. And there lies the fun of The Binding Of Isaac. Every time you play is a different experience and although at the start it can be very difficult and confusing. With practice and time you learn the game mechanics and enemy patters. You learn which items to take and which to leave. This is why I recommend this game. To novices Isaac can be very daunting. There are over 300 items in the game and so many mysterious things that even after dozens of hours of playing you won’t have seen them all. Which is why this is the perfect back seat gaming game. Set you SO on a run and provide help. Tell her/him to save that key for the shop. Tell them that Isaac’s Heart is one of the worst items in the game and don’t pick it up.  Let them know the secrets to completing a run that you yourself have learned or are currently figuring out. It’s a great game and topic for discussion. Walking in from work and being told ‘I had a great run as The Lost today. Got to Hush and picked up Bob’s Brain by accident’, that means nothing to you if you haven’t played it. But to me that warrants a ‘Oh. Unlucky. Next time though’. It’s like talking in a secret code and it’s great. Highly recommend as long as it’s themes don’t cause offence.

TBIDINGOFiSAAC

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls is an isometric, action RPG. You and your partner will pick a class, name your character and begin your quest. With 6 classes to choose from (7 if you get the DLC) you get a myriad of roles to play. Do you be a wizard and attack enemies from afar. Or go the barbarian route and get up close and personal to your foes. With this, a story mode, rare loot drops, randomised rifts to explore and a great online experience. Diablo 3 can keep you engaged for a long, long time. When you’ve levelled up your character as much as you want and got all the gear you’ve hunted for. You can start as a new class. See how that class’s style differs. When you level your characters you unlock access to new skills. What skills you choose is up to you. Communicate with your partner and choose skills that compliment her/his style. As a wizard I would slow enemies down while my partner rushed them as the barbarian. It’s this versatility and range that makes Diablo 3 a great couch co-op game. With tons of difficulties too, which the higher the better as it yields rarer loot. There is even the terrifying (to me anyway) hardcore mode. Which means that if your character dies, then that’s your character gone. Deleted from the system. If you and your partner wish to try this mode then you’re braver than we are. Diablo 3 also has a story which in of itself isn’t anything special. But it’s nice to be able to play a game with your SO that isn’t just mini games or a funny game. This is a fully fleshed game and with its easy to grasp controls and camera view, it makes for many hours of fun co op dungeon crawling.

diablo-3
This game can be played with up to 4 players. Couch co-op, online or a mixture of the 2.

Puyo Puyo Tetris (PS4, 3DS, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, PlayStation Vita, Switch)

Tetris! Released in 1984, this series has retained it’s addictive quality and basic concept. Shapes fall from the sky and you have to rotate, move and line them up to form rows so that they can disappear and you can rinse and repeat. The game gets speedier and you go until you can’t go anymore. This latest edition combines Puyo Puyo with the chaos for an even more frantic mayhem. Add in competitive multiplayer between friends/SO’s/AI and you have a great party game. Prior to this game I never played Puyo Puyo before but understood its concept. Connect 4 or more Puyos of the same color in a row, vertically or a combination of the 2, to make them disappear. Basically like Tetris except, in Tetris if you clear a line, nothing else happens to your playing field. Puyos on the other hand fall if the ones below them vanish. Which leads to strategies and forward thinking to win.  If you create chain reactions and cause multiple Puyo colors to disappear this sends obstacles to your opponents. Ruining their lavish design that would have rained hell on you, if they got that particular color they needed. With an ample choice of modes you can’t go wrong with this game. Simple controls and mechanics, but a lot to master. Not only do you have Tetris and Puyo Puyo modes but you also have the new Fusion mode. Which combines to the 2 elements for a confusing at first, but addictive mode, if you can grasp the concept. If you aren’t a competitive couple, then you can always team up and take on the computer. Or take turns in seeing who can last the longest in a certain mode. If you like puzzle games then I really recommend checking this game out.

Puyo Puyo

I think that’ll about do it for this post. I have other games in mind but will save them for possibly a sequel to this feature. Thank you for reading and if you wish to suggest any games ideal for discussion then feel free to leave a comment.