The couple that games together, stays together. That is, of course, as long as you pick the right titles. This Valentine’s Day, swap overpriced flowers, tacky chocolates and extortionate restaurant fees for some quality console time with your partner. This trio of couch co-op picks are cupid (and IGN) approved; better value and tonnes more fun than the commercialised chaos of a night out, even if your other half is not usually into video games. Free from complex mechanics and devilishly difficult boss fights, each is instead packed with bonding moments and entertaining twists on established genres. Add an extra controller to your basket, and get ready player 1… and 2.
For narrative-driven platforming fun: IT TAKES TWO
Not only is It Takes Two a thematic bullseye – with players controlling a married couple who are trying to escape an enchanted world and rekindle their romance – but it’s also a quirky and creative take on a co-op platformer. Set largely within aforementioned duo Cody and May’s house, the pair are forced to team up when their dampened spark results in their young daughter Rose magically transforming them both into tiny wooden dolls.
The game seamlessly weaves a compelling narrative into every stage, with the dual protagonists gradually shifting from constant sniping and one upmanship to reconciliation as they navigate supersized domestic landscapes and imaginative hidden universes (including portals to space in Rose’s room, and an expansive winter wonderland within a snowglobe).
Mechanically, It Takes Two makes the most of Cody and May’s individual strengths, providing them with character-specific items and abilities throughout their journey. This means that players truly need to cooperate to defeat bosses and reach each stage’s goals, whether that involves simultaneously deploying a hammer and nails, combining Cody’s pilot skills with May’s combat moves, taking turns to implement time-freezing and teleportation, or simply utilising two halves of the same horseshoe magnet.
Along the way, there are also plenty of environmental details, fun diversions and stage-themed mini-games that add to the playful nature of the experience. Rather than offering a race to the finish line, It Takes Two encourages you to progress at your own pace, but most importantly, to enjoy doing so together. The game is available to play now on PS4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC and Nintendo Switch. In need of extra co-op accessories? PS5 owners can purchase additional DualSense controllers from just £59.98 in the EE Game Store.
For physics puzzles peppered with witty charm: PORTAL 2
Despite being a sequel, Portal 2 immediately introduces new players to both the game’s sci-fi premise and the dimension-shifting required to tackle its iconic puzzles. Although interactions within the world are facilitated by your futuristic portal gun, the co-op campaign is fuelled by brainpower and not brawn, often rewarding the type of outside-the-box thinking that less seasoned gamers bring to the table.
If you’ve completed a single player runthrough, you’ll be pleased to discover that the two-player mode picks up right where you left things at the Aperture Science facility, continuing the story rather than simply retreading old ground. You and your partner each play as specially built robots, Atlas and P-Body, designed to tackle villainous AI GLaDOS’s Cooperative Testing Initiative side by side. Both robots carry a portal generating device, enabling up to four space-bending holes to be in play at any one time, which opens up countless new challenges and possibilities. It also means that no single player can lead the way; Portal 2 requires constant communication from both parties if you want to succeed.
Aside from testing your problem solving and spatial skills, the game thankfully retains the deadpan humour and sharp quips that made the first entry so enjoyable. As you navigate the courses, GLaDOS will have both of you giggling as she chimes in with sarcastic criticism, pointing out your flaws and even trying to turn Atlas and P-Body against each other. The sadistic supervisor may wish you a swift demise, but fear not – Portal 2’s co-op campaign gives both players an infinite amount of lives, so if either robot is destroyed, it will quickly be rebuilt before spawning at the nearest Reassembly Machine. Checkpoints also allow for progress to be saved at regular intervals throughout the test chambers, so there’s no danger of either ‘bot being left behind. Take that, Jack and Rose!
Portal 2 is playable on Xbox One and Series X|S and is currently priced at just £14.99. Players can also bag themselves a second wireless controller in a choice of six different colourways from £54.99 in the EE Game Store.
For cosy management and heartwarming contemplation: SPIRITFARER
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a game about dying has no place on a list of titles to enjoy with your significant other, but Spiritfarer is so much more than its underlying premise. Despite its heavy themes, the game handles their exploration in a soft and reflective way, placing players in the role of Stella – a ferrymaster who peacefully transports spirits to the afterlife – and her adorable cat companion, Daffodil.
Together, Stella and Daffodil must sail across a mythical ocean, collecting resources and picking up characters who are ready to travel to their final resting place, known in game as Everdoor. Resources are used to craft upgrades for your ship (required to visit fantastical islands that are further afield), to make your passengers’ stay aboard the vessel comfortable (enabling you, for example, to cook their favourite dishes) and also to complete tasks for the people you meet each time you dock. Quests often reveal the heartwarming details of lives well lived and, unlike the timed jobs in other management games, are conducted at a gentle pace, allowing for a cosy cooperative experience.
Stylistically, Spiritfarer’s 2D graphics are also far from bleak or sombre. Instead, they paint a vibrant picture of wholesome lands and the anthropomorphic souls who inhabit them.
Ultimately, the stories the game tells may be poignant, but they are underpinned with positivity, and the relationships you forge with the cast of spirits radiate warmth. As you hug each one farewell at the end of their journey, it underlines the message that although leaving this world behind is an emotional experience for all involved, it’s one that swells with love. And on Valentine’s Day, you can’t get more fitting than that.
Spiritfarer is available on PC, macOS, Xbox One, PS4/5 (including via PS Plus Extra subscription) and Nintendo Switch. Upgrade your Switch experience by purchasing a second set of Joy-Cons via the EE Game Store, where you can select from a range of neon and pastel editions for £59.99.
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