I didn’t realize at the start of the year that 2018 would have the most memorable couch co-op gaming experiences of my life (so far). But looking back at all the games I played this year there are so many memorable couch co-op moments that stick out I had to highlight them for anyone else looking for some games to play with their friends or significant others!
A Way Out, Josef Fares’ next game after Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, feels like a spiritual successor. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was essentially a single player co-op game. Players control two characters simultaneously with each thumbstick on the controller. Fares and Hazelight Studios took that concept and made into a big budget co-op game where now two different players take on the roles of two characters, Vincent and Leo, in a campy, trope-laden prison escape story set in the 1970s. And I loved every second.
I played through A Way Out with my girlfriend and good friend Tyler. We swapped controllers back and forth, tackling the various puzzles and challenges involved with escaping prison. But there were so many little vignettes peppered throughout that made the co-op play feel that much more special. From playing simultaneous rhythm games on two different instruments to make a song together to sitting awkwardly on the teeter totter, the little moments that made us laugh set a high bar for what co-op experiences can and should be.
A surprise announcement at E3 this year was available the same day, so my friends who were over watching E3 started playing through the game right after the press conference. We beat the game in a couple days, taking on the gorgeous and tricky platform puzzler together.
We were passing the controller around when one of us was better at the platforming sections then another or someone had a eureka moment with the puzzle we were stuck on. Unravel Two is a delightful, challenging little co-op game that took everything that made the first so memorable and made it shareable.
My expectations going into Overcooked 2 were set pretty low. The first Overcooked was pretty alright! There were some annoying finicky bits with the controls, like where I would place something on the floor when I wanted to put it on the counter. The overall game was quite obviously a “Made in Unity” game, meaning I could recognize the simple things that are the default in the Unity engine they didn’t really polish up like the Menus, the lighting in the hub world, etc. But Overcooked 2 fixed everything the put me off the original and added a literal smörgåsbord of new features, modes and even a steady online mode which for an indie game is quite a feat.
I played through Overcooked 2 initially with my girlfriend, we split it and beat the first four worlds in a matter of days. I took on the last chunk of the game with several of my friends over the next weeks, finally finishing the game’s ridiculous final level with my girlfriend again ❤ it’s a stellar co-op experience, with new features like throwing ingredients to each other it becomes as much a skill-based game as a communication-based game.
Welcome to Super Mario Party, where stars are made up and the points don’t matter! You really just play Super Mario Party for the minigames and shenanigans you pull with your friends on the boards. The overall goal isn’t really “winning” the game picks a random winner at the end with the randomly assigned stars. But goddamn the minigames are fun.
Unfortunately, my friend group got real tired of Super Mario Party really fast. I count this as a co-op game because even outside of partner mode the game forces you into co-op minigames all the time with the 2v2 and 1v3 minigames that randomly occur. And after you’ve played the four different main modes on the only four maps in the game there’s not a whole lot to do. Which is great, because now that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is out I’m sure we’ll never play it again!
Just like the original, Guacamelee! 2 lets players enjoy almost the entire campaign with a compadre (or compadres). Up to 3 other luchadores can join Juan on his quest to save the Mexiverse, and while the game doesn’t scale the difficulty of the enemies there is a new challenge for those wishing to keep their combo up as when anyone gets hit it resets. So there’s some much-needed coordination and beat-em-up skills to succeed stylishly.
Even if you don’t want to play with anyone, this game is so quirky and fun that many times my girlfriend would be on the couch next to me while I played and we’d share a laugh at a funny vignette or spot one of the games many easter eggs of other games and shows we enjoy. Overall Guacamelee! 2 is an exceptional experience whether you’re playing together or not!
Another game I split with my girlfriend to play together, Pokémon: Let’s Go Eevee would be the game that hatched if Pokémon GO and the original Game Boy Pokémon games did the Poké dance with no pants. It’s a weird mashup of Pokémon GO‘s catching mechanics and overworld display for wild Pokémon but placed into an HD remake of the original Pokémon games story.
The co-op is as limited as possible. The second player makes no contributions to the game outside of catching and combat. They just run around the screen, which is fixed to the first player so if they run off screen they’re just gone. It’s really lazy actually. But that was okay with us, Pokémon: Let’s Go Eevee was a mellow out game. Mindlessly through pokéballs at Pokémon and destroy every trainer in the broken 2v1 co-op combat. Pokémon: Let’s Go Eevee is a really bad co-op game if you’re looking for anything meaningful in the game itself, but I liked just running around with my girlfriend and breezing through the game.
Some of my favourite moments with the new Smash Bros. game have come from playing the game’s online co-op with my friend Tyler against other teams around the world. The pleasure that comes from a well-executed sweep of an opposing team and the stress from being the only one left on your own team against two opponents led to many exhilarating moments. While many wouldn’t consider Smash as a strong co-op game I think some of my favourite co-op gaming moments from 2018 have come from Smash Bros. Ultimate.
If you were looking for something to play with your friends or significant other I hope something on this list piqued your interest. If not, thanks for reading this far!
I’m posting my Top 10 Movies and Top 10 Games of 2018 lists soon, so I’ll hope you’ll come back and tell me why I’m wrong 🙂