Christmas is coming…
A time for lists, gifts, and trips to evil malls at their very worst. All of this wonderful holiday spirit coexists right alongside the stress of making sure you did everything you were supposed to do. Blech.
The great news is that the holidays can be a fantastic time for gaming. You’re guaranteed some time off, late nights, and days spent in your jammies (or underwear) curled up to the warmth of a screen.
I will now muse on the types of games that could be considered slightly more appropriate to play during this festive time.
Die Hard Trilogy
Yeh this one. A fascinating relic that screams PS1 with every hardware limitation while hinting at what games would eventually do very well. Jaggy textures, limited polygons and dated controls (triangle=jump, shoulder buttons strafe) mask intriguing elements.
The third game (of the three-game disc) has you racing around a large city in a taxi cab defusing bombs and running over plenty of pedestrians. It’s an impressive piece of gameplay for the PS1 and although limited, feels like the first steps towards GTA III.
It’s clunky but worth checking out if you have any interest in game history. I recommend wearing bifocals and sipping brandy while you investigate.
That long-ass RPG
A few days off from responsibility could be all you need to finally knock that daunting RPG off your backlog. I’ve had The Witcher 3 waiting for the perfect moment as I’d hate to get a few hours in and then lose steam.
A few Christmases ago I got heavy into Shadowrun: Dragonfall, the best in the series according to me. It fleshed out the world and systems that Returns introduced and maintained much stronger writing than Hong Kong. If you have any interest in cyberpunk, strategy RPGs, and love reading text, this is a great one.
If you’ve got a gaggle of relatives and friends around, they’ll most likely not want to watch the remaining 20 hours of Witcher 3 side quests. If you can find a suitable party game however, they just might join you for some digital fun and stop talking about politics.
The previous generation primed the pump for casual party games with the Nintendo Wii and Rock Band games getting everyone involved (while cluttering the living room with plastic).
The current meta of gaming isn’t so local-multiplayer friendly, but there are still a few options.
Jackbox Party Pack is the lowest barrier of entry. Almost everyone has the required smartphone and that means no dual-stick controls to frighten away non-gamers.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is another great one for a group not used to holding controllers. If they can read the manual and yell instructions, they’re good to go.
Overcooked requires controller usage but it’s so simple you can actually have two players share one (up to four can play). Overcooked hits a sweet spot of challenge and fun. Hardcore chefs can strive for three stars in a level, but filthy casuals are rarely punished for running a kitchen that requires a realty-show rescue.
Rocket League is perfect for those friends that grew up playing simpler sports games but dropped off when every button on the controller demanded use. Simple to learn but holy shit I didn’t know you could do that!!?!?
VR or your best looking game
For the relatives that still call every game “Nintendo” it’s nice to show them just how far gaming has come. Strap grandma into a roller-coaster VR experience but remember to keep her heart medication nearby.
If you don’t have the funds for VR you can still wow the mainstream with the photo realism of Battlefront/Battlefield, or the cinematic loveliness of Uncharted 4. Heck I showed a friend Uncharted 2 last year and it blew her mind.
When you think of games released exclusively in Australia you obviously think they’ll be Christmas-themed. Daze Before Christmas eventually hit Europe but got it’s start down under.
Players control Santa who swings a sack and uses magic. An interesting twist has him turning into an evil version named Anti-Claus after drinking a cup of coffee.
Nightmare Before Christmas and Home Alone 1 & 2 are easily a few of the top Holiday films of all time, but unfortunately couldn’t spawn a classic game. Jack Skellington’s best reviewed outing was on the Gameboy Advanced (71 on metacritic).
The Home Alone games came out during the dark ages of movie tie-ins.
These newer games I know nothing about
Dead Rising is one of the few AAA franchises dedicated to the Holiday theme and the fourth entry is no exception. I’ve never played one and reviews seem middling. Combo weapons look great though!
Saints Row DLC : How the Saints Stole Christmas has a great name and premise, but most reviews claim the fun of the base-game is sorely lacking. It deserved a mention, but probably best ignored at this point.
What are your holiday go-tos?