Great video games don’t just have the potential to be social events to look forward to every week, they can also be the perfect reason to hold a family gathering. Think one-on-one brawling in Street Fighter or taking turns in classic Super Mario Bros. games. If you’re looking for some games to play with the whole family this holiday, we’ve rounded up the highest-rated games of 2021 on GameSpot’s sister site Metacritic.
To whittle down the list to 10 games, we specifically focused on games that are appropriate for kids of all ages. The end result is an eclectic mix of games across a wide variety of genres.
Football Manager 2022
Sports, possibly the single greatest activity that can bring families together…if you’re all on the same side that is. Football Manager 2022–based on the British and European definition of that sport–plays like a hobby that a family can share in. All the glory of managing a football team from hometown heroes to top of the Premier League. It’s the finer attention to detail that makes this game standout, and the best fantasy football simulator that you could ask for. Football Manager 2022 is available on PC and Xbox.
Sumire tackles the topic of death, something that few people want to discuss especially when there are kids in the room. How it accomplishes this, is through a bleak but touching tale that examines loss and bullying through stunning visuals. It’ll only take a handful of hours to complete, but Sumire’s heartbreaking story is perfect for a few runs, and makes for some great discussion after the end credits have rolled. Sumire is available on Switch and PC.
The latest Formula 1 game from Codemasters is many things, but for the younger members of your family, it’s a reminder that they’ll probably never be behind the wheel of a real F1 car that costs as much as the entire GDP of a small European nation. While it’s a dream-shattering lesson that the game delivers, the game itself is absolutely superb. The single-player campaign is fun for all ages, featuring racing that focuses on the relentless pinpoint precision that the actual sport requires from its drivers, and the game oozes pure glamor.
Even if your home is unlikely to produce any F1 champions, at least that fantasy can be brought to digital life in this year’s latest iteration of the sport of kings.
Overcooked! All You Can Eat
Looking for a co-op game that can fit the whole family into one digital kitchen of culinary competition? Then Overcooked: All You Can Eat is the game that you’ve been looking for. Far more fun than sitting around a table with a Monopoly board, Overcooked is all about teamwork, getting orders right, and not cooking up a crime against the culinary arts. It’s a great family bonding experiencing, packed with an absurd amount of content, and it’s a visual treat for the eyes.
Pure chaotic fun during its wildest moments, Overcooked: All You Can Eat is the one game that can make your family a more tight-knit unit than ever before…or possibly break that bond when a single order gets ruined and derails the progress of an entire round.
It Takes Two
It Takes Two is a highlight of co-op gaming ideas, a thrilling ride that can be enjoyed with an online partner but plays at its very best when you share your couch with someone. Be that a spouse, a sibling, or your own kids, the game is a masterpiece of tag-team action encapsulated inside of a platform adventure. You and your partner play as Cody and May, a couple who must learn to work together and overcome their differences if they want to escape a magical world and possibly salvage their relationship, It Takes Two is a unique experience that offers family-friendly visuals and a few hard-hitting emotional lessons. The platforming sequences, puzzles, and boss fights are constantly thrilling and incredibly varied. It Takes Two is available on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.
Metascore: 89 | Read our It Takes Two review .
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Super Mario games transcend all ages, and if you grew up playing them, then the joy of seeing Nintendo’s favorite plumber in the hands of a younger family member makes for a special moment. If there’s one Mario game that easily bridges the generational divide, it has to be Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. The port of the underrated Wii U classic still has plenty of charm in its 3D visuals, the core gameplay mechanics are classic Mario, and the amount of content available here is simply staggering. Up to four players can run through the 3D World campaign together on one console. Meanwhile, the brand-new Bowser’s Fury campaign is an open-world romp that can be played with two players. It’s great for youngsters, as the second player doesn’t have to be a platforming master to take on the role of Bowser Jr.
It’s a buffet of Mushroom Kingdom fun, an absolute blast to play or watch when you hand the controller over to someone else. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is a Nintendo Switch exclusive.
Metascore: 89 | Read our Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury review .
Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Life can be both wonderful and brutal, and it’s only a matter of time before a harsh reminder of reality enters the scene. The beauty of Chicory: A Colorful Tale is how it merges a gorgeous adventure with thoughtful and touching reminders of the world around us. Whether you’re an adult struggling with inner turmoil or you’ve yet to encounter the bitter sensation of your hero letting you down, Chicory serves as a poignant lesson in these matters as well as a hopeful reminder that no matter how bad things get, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Chicory is exclusive to PlayStation and PC.
Metascore: 90 | Read our Chicory: A Colorful Tale review .
Microsoft Flight Simulator
There’s a certain joy in visiting new locations, and with international travel slowly picking up again, there’s also a reminder of the pure misery of being crammed into a gigantic tin can for dozens of hours. The best solution for the entire family? A quick download of Microsoft Flight Simulator, a packet of stale peanuts, and a final boarding call for everyone to sit down as you fly over some of the greatest landmarks in the world.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is digital tourism that won’t cost an arm and a leg, as you’re able to use an entire hangar worth of aircraft to visit scenic cities, tropical jungles, and frozen tundras. There’s no hassle involved with hopping onto a flight, you can keep your shoes on when you pass through your security log-in, and you won’t have to worry about your flight being delayed. Now that’s a family getaway to get psyched up for. Microsoft Flight Simulator is available on Xbox and PC.
Metascore: 91 | Read our Microsoft Flight Simulator review .
Psychonauts 2 isn’t just a great game for everyone in the household, it’s a terrific title that also focuses a large chunk of the idea of family bonds. Protagonist Razputin Aquato has to deal with his own parents and siblings when they crash his adventure with the Psychonauts agency, and in the middle of all that estranged acrobatic anarchy there’s a fantastic game that teaches hard-hitting lessons on the inner demons that people have to deal with, the importance of legacy, and never forgetting to floss your teeth. All valuable life lessons, contained within one of the best games that developer Double Fine has ever produced. Psychonauts 2 is available on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.
Metascore: 91 | Read our Psychonauts 2 review .
Forza Horizon 5
Fast cars, wide open roads, and a celebration of petrol power makes for a language that anyone can understand regardless of their age. Forza Horizon 5 speaks to the soul with its collection of cars and an emphasis on putting the pedal to the metal, reveling in the culture of unrestrained V8 horsepower, flashy liveries, and burning rubber as you throw your wheels around a tight corner. Fun for families, safe for the environment, and admittedly brilliant at making the younger members of your household ask for a ludicrously-priced car for Christmas or their birthdays.
Metascore: 92 | Read our Forza Horizon 5 review .
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