As Valentine’s Day approaches, many couples are planning the perfect romantic date night with their significant other. Whether it’s a candlelight dinner in-person or a little bit of Netflix and chill over Zoom, this year has provided a unique challenge for lovebirds all across the country. Some may prefer a simple night of gaming with their partner, and thankfully, there’s a hefty list of great co-op and competitive games for two. Here are six excellent two-player (or more!) games to cuddle up to this Valentine’s Day.
Stardew Valley (PC/Mac/Linux, PS, Xbox, Switch, Android/iOS)
Stardew Valley was met with overwhelming appraise when it first launched five years ago and remains a gem to this day. The cozy farming sim takes place in the titular Pacific Northwest-inspired valley, and situates the player as a farming newbie who inherits their grandfather’s farm and tidies the plot up after quitting their soul-sucking day job as a corporate lackey. It’s delightfully charming, beautiful and will engross you with its calming atmosphere and ever-growing pursuit for economic fruition. You can run a farm with up to four other players, and for a touch of romance, you can even marry one of those same friends in-game after a certain amount of progress (a hopefully suitable replacement for any COVID-delayed wedding ceremonies). The PC, Mac and Linux releases of Stardew Valley were recently just updated with local co-op, but you can play the game online as well on all platforms.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (PC/Mac/Linux, PS, Xbox, Switch)
Have you ever wanted to fulfill your childhood Star Trek fantasies and work with others to flawlessly man a space vessel through uncharted territory? If so, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is the game you’ve been waiting for ever since you learned that you couldn’t afford a VR headset to play Star Trek: Bridge Crew VR. This bubbly space management sim has up to four players taking various positions on a spaceship moving through the dangerous fringes of space to rescue various animals and defeat deadly creatures. As players can only control one aspect of the ship—like navigation or weaponry—at a time, they’ll have to work together to juggle tasks and prevent their vessel from exploding into deep space. Although Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime only supports local co-op, remote couples can use tools such as Steam Remote Play to stream the game to another player.
Portal 2 (PC/Mac/Linux, PS3, Xbox 360)
Although Valve’s 2011 smash-hit sequel Portal 2 has been played by nearly everyone and their grandmother at this point, many players have left the arguably much better cooperative campaign untouched. Portal 2’s two-player mode casts both players as the dynamic robotic duo of Peabody and Atlas, two test dummies whose sole existence is to suffer through dozens of brain-scratching chambers. Each chamber has a multitude of mind-bending challenges that will force you to cooperate with your partner to complete puzzles otherwise impossible to complete with only one player. The online co-op campaign is a perfect experience even for beginners to the Portal franchise and is the best couples communication therapy that $10 can buy.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (PC/Mac/Linux, PS, Xbox, Switch, Android)
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a tense but exhilarating bomb defusal simulator that places the bomb in one player’s hands and the defusal manual into the other’s. The catch is that the player defusing the bomb can’t read the manual (and vice versa), so success is dependent on a constant stream of effective communication between players. Levels start out challenging albeit accessible, but will escalate to a shouting match over colored wires, phrases, numbers, and convoluted games of Simon Says. With enough practice, dedicated and studious couples will reach a flow of communication unrivaled by any other gaming experience. Because the defusal manual is available for free online as a printable PDF, only one player needs to own the game, making this a perfect fit for remote and in-person dates.
Overcooked 2 (PC/Mac/Linux, PS, Xbox, Switch)
Overcooked 2 is the final gauntlet of couples gaming, putting every fiber of your relationship to the test with extraordinarily challenging levels that rely on elite cooperation and team management. This co-op cooking simulator puts up to four online or local players into unwieldy kitchen layouts, forcing them to work together to cope with incoming orders from hungry customers. Contestants will have to seamlessly weave between cooking, serving, and dishwashing all while the heat in the kitchen continues to grow. Overcooked 2 is certainly not for any but the most veteran of gaming couples but makes for an exciting, anticipating challenge that will have you shouting at the TV while on the edge of your seat. Success is triumphant and satisfying, but failure will likely leave someone sleeping on the couch.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the only game on this list that pits you and your partner against each other, duking it out over red shells and banana peels as you race across eye-popping circuits to a heart-racingly groovy soundtrack. The Mario Kart franchise’s success can easily be attributed to its accessibility to non-gamer audiences, with intuitive motion controls and pure fun factor accelerating the series to mainstream success since Mario Kart for the Wii. Anyone can pick up a controller and hop into the action immediately despite having no former expertise with kart racers or video games at all. Although Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a great way to ruin your friendships with last-minute steals and perfectly-timed blue shells, it’s also a wonderful way to develop fond memories with friends, such as that one time you made your partner so mad that they said they would never play Mario Kart with you again.