From cooperation to communication, it takes a certain set of skills to build and maintain a relationship. September is Friendship Month, so I’m looking at the art of friendship in seven different video games you can play alone or with friends. Each game highlights a particular aspect of relationship maintenance you can learn or reflect upon while playing.
1. The Gardens Between (Reflection)
If you had the chance to relive the past with the person who knows you best, would you do it? In The Gardens Between, you follow best friends Arina and Frendt as they navigate a series of island gardens littered with relics from their childhood. Nostalgia fuels a lot of the action in this game, and it can encourage players to think back to their own childhoods and reflect. Solve puzzles and discover secrets about your lives together in this emotional adventure game with soft, dreamy graphics and a soundtrack filled with lo-fi ambient tunes.
2. Biped (Cooperation)
Biped features cuddly robot pals who are just looking to solve some puzzles and live to see another day in their world. Two bipedal robots controlled by two humans work together to leap over obstacles and generally avoid danger. This brightly colored co-op has simple puzzles that most players can figure out with time, and the game is short enough that you can beat it together without breaking up your friendship. Cooperation is the key here, as you’ll need a lot of it to get through some of the final levels.
3. Overcooked! 2 (Communication)
A chaotic cooking sim, Overcooked! 2 has a reputation for being a relationship killer. Two players have to work together, either calmly explaining how to complete the tasks, or wildly shouting at each other to “plate the sushi, so help me god,” whatever works. It’s your mission to save the world via the power of cooking, and in doing so you’ll hopefully learn how to communicate with your friends to get the job done with minimal hurt feelings.
4. Moving Out (Teamwork)
Which friends can you call to help you move? After playing Moving Out, you may need to revise your list. It’s a physics co-op game about arranging furniture, and if you’ve ever had to do it in real life, you know it can be tough without strong friends at your side. You have to tote couches across streets and moving walkways, loading everything safely into a moving truck if you want to get paid. Moving Out is all about couch co-op, so sit down, learn the extent of your friends’ knowledge of basic physics and find out whether they’re true team players.
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5. Ori and the Blind Forest (Support)
One of the most beautiful and frustrating platformers on the market, Ori and the Blind Forest focuses on the friendship between Ori, a small guardian spirit, and Sein, the “light and eyes” of the Forest’s Spirit Tree. Ori and the Blind Forest is not an easy game to complete, but the friendships developed between the characters along the way make avoiding all the thorns and dangers of the forest worth it. Supporting your friends is a common theme with this game, and you’ll need to do it to make it all the way to the beautiful, intense end.
6. Undertale (Decision-making)
Undertale puts you in the shoes of a child who must fight (or negotiate with) monsters in the Underground. You’ll meet and have the opportunity to befriend various monsters during your journey back to the surface, and the choices you make as will determine the dialogue, characters, and ultimately the ending of the game. Ultimately, Undertale teaches players about the decisions they must make to earn others’ trust, and the ways in which betrayal can ruin lives.
7. Night in the Woods (Reliability)
Explore the world as a 20-year-old college dropout living in her parents’ attic in a town called Possum Springs in Night in the Woods, a game that isn’t nearly as bleak as the setting would suggest. Mae, the game’s protagonist, looks for clues as to why her mental health is suffering with the help of her colorful cast of friends. There’s Bea, a chain smoking crocodile; Gregg, a cheery fox; and his boyfriend Angus, who happens to also be a bear.
Night in the Woods teaches players about the importance of reliability and sharing your true thoughts and feelings with your friends. Helping Mae find the source of her mysterious dreams and work with her friends to find her missing childhood friend, Casey, is truly rewarding. It’s a memorable game about rebuilding old relationships and watching them blossom into something new.