Top Pick: Yoshi’s Crafted World (Nintendo Switch) | $57 | Amazon
Love is in the air, folks. It’s February, which means that the weirdest Valentine’s Day of our lifetimes is almost here. Last year, couples everywhere could go out to celebrate and see Sonic the Hedgehog (the ultimate date movie, which actually released on Valentine’s Day). This year? Not so much. Nobody in their right mind should go to a restaurant, even if governors like Andrew Cuomo decide to open them for fun. You can always go for a nice, romantic walk, but this year will otherwise be spent on the couch.
Making a fun date night at home can be challenging when every date night for the past year has always been spent at home. A little creativity goes a long way when it comes to bonding experiences, so here’s a question: Have you tried video games? Okay, wait, come back. Sure, the idea of spending your evening playing games might not sound particularly romantic at first, but the right local co-op game can be a cute bonding activity for couples. You get to communicate, collaborate, and laugh with one another for an hour or two.
Not just any local co-op game will do. In fact, some could have a disastrous effect. Decide to play Overcooked on Valentine’s Day and your relationship is ostensibly over. You’ll need to find a friendly game that isn’t trying to test the limits of your bond. Instead, a chill experience built around teamwork is the sweep spot here. With that in mind, we’ve put together a short list of games you could try out this holiday if you’re looking to add a little gaming to your big plans.
As a single-player game, Yoshi’s Crafted World is a totally serviceable platformer that’s especially kid friendly. As a casual co-op game, it checks all the right boxes. For one, there’s nothing frustrating about it, unless your relationship is in a particularly precarious spot. The low-stakes gameplay makes it so that deaths don’t mean too much of anything. You’re free to bump into enemies or fall into the water without feeling like you’ve just ruined the game for your partner. It’s also cute as hell, and that’s going to be a running theme here. Valentine’s Day calls for media that’s almost saccharin in its sweetness. Bright colors, big hearts, precious Yoshi coos. Yoshi’s Crafted World has the aesthetic sensibilities of a candy shop, making it the kind of delightful game that’s going to keep you in a warm mood.
The Switch’s launch day was so enveloped by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that it almost feels like it was the only game released alongside the consoles. What you might have missed in all the pandemonium was a lovely little puzzle game called Snipperclips. Players control a little pair of clippers that can snip one another into different shapes, hence the title. It’s an adorable little gem that’ll put your teamwork to the test in a very playful way. Even when you’re trolling one another, it feels a bit like harmless flirting. With quick levels, it’s an easy game to pop in and out of, making it less of a commitment than your actual relationship, which is eternally bound by the pandemic.
Stardew Valley recently dropped its long-awaited co-op update, making it one of the absolute best date games around. Even before that update, the farming simulator was already a perfect game for couples with its sweet tone and collaborative nature. Think Animal Crossing: New Horizons, minus Tom Nook’s shady business practices. Work together with your partner to build a farm in split-screen, but just make sure they aren’t wooed away by one of the game’s charming NPCs. Note that the update isn’t available on Switch yet, so you might need to curl up on the couch with a laptop to go this route.
No, just kidding, don’t do this. Jesus Christ, don’t do this.
Here’s a bit of a left-field pick if you don’t really want to go the cutesy route. Portal 2 remains one of the all-time greats when it comes to local co-op. The classic Valve puzzler is a physics game masterclass that’s all about trial and error. That idea lends itself perfectly to a couch co-op format that rewards players who can think out loud and bounce ideas off of one another. Communication, patience, experimentation, and teamwork? Simply put, the fundamentals of a good relationship are also true for Portal.