What better way to spend some quality time with your significant other than by cuddling up on the couch together and laying the smack-down on some virtual bad guys? This is me and my boyfriend’s idea of couples therapy: taking out our frustrations in-game, working with one another to solve problems, and coordinating in combat to pull off the most effective combos. These three games in particular are ones that we both have enjoyed playing together, and provided us with more team-building and satisfaction than some hack-n-slash multiplayer like Super Smash Bros does.
Divinity: Original Sin
Divinity: Original Sin is a fantasy RPG that features a unique, turn-based strategy system of combat. The story is really neat, the characters are great, and there are a lot of puns. The game presents two playable characters and the players can select one of 11 classes to build their fighting style around. These include standard D&D classes such as Fighter, Ranger, and Rogue, but also include more unusual classes such as Shadowblade and Battlemage. The player is not restricted to these classes, however – you can pick and choose which skills you want to learn for a fully customizable character build.
The combat system allows the two players to collaborate with one another to come up with the best strategy to defeat the enemy, using both the environment and their own skills to their advantage. This game is really fun to play because each player has full control over their own character – you are free to explore without having to stick to your partner’s side at all times. This eliminates the frustration of some games (such as the Tales of series, below) that allow only one character to control the movement of the party. The unique style of combat also helps to bolster teamwork and critical-thinking between players, which can be a great skill for couples to possess. If they can strategically get through a frustrating in-game problem without losing their cool with one another, they have the potential to work through real-world problems, too.
Divinity: Original Sin is available for PC, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One. A sequel is currently in early access, and should be released in full later this year.
The Tales of Series
The Tales of games run in a manner similar to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest: there are a lot of them, currently 16 games total in the main series. Don’t let this discourage you, however; just like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, the games each have a standalone story and you can jump in wherever you like. Many of the games in the series work great as a couch co-op, but my personal favorite is Tales of Graces f.
The basic premise is the same in each game: one person controls the main character in the field, and the other player controls another party character in combat. Each game ends up with around six or seven characters by the end, so there is a fair selection to choose from. Each character specializes in a certain skillset, so figure out which one bests suits your play style. Tales of Graces f has an engaging story, funny characters, and a real-time combat system. Your character develops different attacks, and it is up to the player to determine which attacks to chain together depending on the situation, and how to play off the attacks of the other characters.
Tales of Graces f, specifically, is available exclusively on PS3. The other Tales of games can be found on multiple platforms.
Consider Terraria to be Minecraft‘s less popular older brother – it is a 2D side-scrolling sandbox game that places emphasis on building, exploration, and combat. Terraria is not an infinitely-expanding world like Minecraft is, however. There are three sizes of worlds and each world is capable of being fully explored. The player hunts for different materials to make better armor and weapons, defeats special bosses which unlock different world states, and builds homes for recruitable NPCs who each serve a unique function.
There’s no real plot to the game, but there are different goals that the game expects you to reach. Working towards these goals together is enjoyable – there’s a bit of a learning curve when you’re trying to figure out what you need to do next, but figuring that out together is half the fun.
Terraria is available on multiple platforms, but I found that playing with a controller made the game very clunky and awkward. I much preferred playing the PC version.
(As a side-note, Minecraft is fun to play together, too.)