Today we blur the lines between single-player and multiplayer. Just because the back of the box says it’s just for one doesn’t mean we have to listen to it! The joy of many games can be experienced simply by watching a friend play through them or even sharing participation. A lot of narratives and puzzle games aren’t about the conscious movements and button presses you make with the controller. They’re about the story unfolding in front of you, the decisions you arrive at, and the deductive reasoning you work through. These don’t have to be limited to just a single player.
We reached out to our readers to ask what are the best “single-player” games to play cooperatively. Here’s what you all selected.
I submit the Zero Escape series. The first-ever games I played with my current fiancé—who had never played games before. Heavily story-based with a story that I would describe as extremely engaging. The escape room puzzles help alleviate monotony that might happen with other visual novels and are a great little game to alternate between. Trying to puzzle out the various links and where the story is going with each other is incredibly fun. And if the person you’re playing with has little to no gaming experience there are no moments that will test reaction time or anything like that.
Detroit: Become Human | $26
This game is a movie in video game form. Like Return of the Obra Dinn, there’s not a lot of gaming skill required; a series of relatively easy quick-time events is the only challenge you’ll encounter. Rather, the beauty of this game is in confronting its scenarios and making your choices about how the story proceeds.
The graphics, animation, voice acting, and plot are all superb, and the game holds up on multiple playthroughs as you explore all the different endings available. It’s the perfect single-player multiplayer game. Get a friend or three to watch you and contribute to the decision-making as you play; they’ll be mesmerized by the plot and invested in determining what happens next.
Outer Wilds | $25
Outer Wilds is a mystery game (IN SPACE!) that fits this bill perfectly. Since it’s purely an exploration game where the mysteries are intuitively designed, the backseater can feel very included by actively helping to solve the mystery and share in the joy of discovery without ever having to touch the controller—probably more-so than any other single-player game I’ve ever “co-op”d (besides maybe Return of the Obra Dinn).
- Nick Ha
Life is Strange (Series) | $40 each
The Life is Strange games. Any storyline-heavy game where you can make the choices together can be fun to play as a couple or group.
Return of the Obra Dinn | $20
This should come as no surprise after hearing it referenced in the other comments. I personally adore this game. Even though I had played it myself alone, I have recommended it to a number of friends who decided to play with an SO, roommate, friend, or what-have-you. This 2-bit mystery puzzle game sends you back in time to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of an East India Company shipping vessel and is unlike anything I have ever played—perhaps will ever play.
My buddy and I did Return of the Obra Dinn as co-op this way and it was amazing. Highly recommended. - CircularReference