Remember the days of whatever your prime Smash Bros is? For me, it was Melee. Getting everybody together on the couch and playing a game together. Even if you weren’t playing that round you were into it. Screaming at each other and dropping your controller when Jerod gets THAT FRIGGIN HAMMER AGAIN. It was good times. I’m in a stage in my life where there are often people in my living room. I have friends and roommates and they have friends and sometimes I just can’t block off the TV in the living room to binge more Breath Of The Wild. I always appreciate a good party game. Growing up, we could just play games together. There was no “well do you have a PSN login?” Or “Okay we can play together but we both have to buy a system and the game and also a membership to the online service.” So with that in mind, here are a few of our picks for games that bring up that same feeling.
Friday The 13th (1p, PS4, XB1, PC)- Boom. Right out of the gate with a curveball. I know what you’re thinking; “but doesn’t that only have online multiplayer?” Yes it does but we don’t play together! This game is great because no matter who is playing we all get into it. Remember passing the controller on deaths? Do that. Turn on the mic and let the whole group talk to the other players. It’s a great time. The game itself is pretty meh but when it gets intense it gets really intense and between the clunky gameplay, glitches, iffy animations, and cheeseball source material it’s rife with opportunity for a laugh. It’s a solid mix of good fun and hilarious quirks.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (2-?p, PC, PSVR)- Alright so there’s a catch for this one. You can either play it online on steam or, and this is the best way, on VR. We play on PlayStation with the PSVR setup and it’s fantastic. The premise is that one person (the one with the VR headset on) is in a room with a bomb and everybody has to help defuse it. The TV displays a manual for everybody to follow but you have to communicate. The man with the bomb can’t see the manual and the people with the manual can’t see the bomb. The ticking timer and occasional distractions make for tense gameplay and the teamwork is a really fun way to bond.
Until Dawn (1p, PS4)- Okay this is the last one that isn’t technically multiplayer. What this game lacks in straight action it more than makes up for in tension. The game follows six young adults staying in a mountain cabin (you know, the one where two of them died last time they stayed there). The story twists and turns and in the end, depending on how you’ve played, you can either keep the whole group alive or have them all killed (or any variation thereupon). What makes this game fun for a group is the gameplay. It’s centered around making choices for the characters (similar to a Telltale game) with short bursts of action between. The exploration is rewarding in the form of totems which provide a glimpse into a possible future and the game takes a psychological profile (done within the lore and characters of the game) to customize some of the scares. Allowing the group to make these decisions together is like watching an 8 hour interactive horror movie. It also has some real acting talent behind it with the likes of Hayden Panetierre (Heroes), Peter Stormare (Prison Break, Destiny 1 and 2), and Rami Malek (Mr. Robot). Overall It’s just a really good time.
Gang Beasts (1-4p PS4,PC, Mac, Linux)- This game shouldn’t work. The controls harken back to “I Am Bread” with their user friendliness and the graphics are delightfully simple. It’s brutal and when we play for any extended amount of time, we all lose our voices. It’s simple, everybody is on some kind of platform, and the goal is to be the last one up there. You have a button to grab with each hand, one to raise your arms, and a jump button. How you use them is up to you. You can grab anything but often, set pieces will crumble and fall away, taking you with them. It’s simple, dumb fun and honestly what we spend most of our time doing over at TNG headquarters.
Towerfall Ascension (2-4p PS4, XB1, Switch, PSVita PC, Mac, Linux, Android)- It was a tough call on what to put at the top of this list. Towerfall just barely edged out Gang Beasts. It’s a simple 2D battle to the death. Everybody gets a bow and some arrows and you play to a certain number of kills. The thing that makes this game great is the sheer amount of customization. You can change the default arrow type, the number and content of item drops, starting ammo count, and other modifiers that punish and reward different things. The rounds can be quick or go on a while depending on how everybody plays but the map will make sure it doesn’t last too long. It brings that hit-your-best-friend-in-the-face rage from smash bros and genuinely doesn’t get old.