In 2016 I wrote a list of 5 games parents and kids can play together, and while that list is as relevant today as it was then, a lot has come out since summer 2017, and so much of it is fantastic. It’s time, then, to take a look at the releases from the past year and find the games that really stand out. Mostly these lists try to find games that parents with limited or no gaming experience can get into and enjoy, but even seasoned parent gamers will be able to enjoy everything here. Unlike that first list, these games can be enjoyed over a single weekend.
As it happens, every game on this list can be played on a single PS4 or on two online PS4s. Using two PS4s gives everyone more screen space, and in Everybody’s Golf it opens up more modes.
The Escapists 2
Released: August 22, 2017
Price: $26.99 [Track Price Drops]
The followup to Team17’s success story The Escapists, Escapists 2 improves the formula in every way, especially with the addition of local and online multiplayer. With the multiplayer comes awesome new escapes that require teamwork and make for an entertaining afternoon. There is also multiplayer versus mode for the more competitive families, allowing characters to escape on their own instead of requiring everyone to escape together.
The Escapists 2 works really well with kids because of its simple gameplay. Searching, fighting, and following routine are all easy to do, and even crafting is approachable for my 8-year-old. The crafting screen features recipes for every item and simple item designs—such as a blue book or orange book—make it easy to pick out what you need from another prisoner’s desk. I found my 4-year-old lost interest a little quicker than his brother, but he had fun peeling potatoes in the no less than six times he got sent to solitary.
A Way Out
Released: March 23, 2018
Price: $39.99 [Track Price Drops]
Coincidentally, keeping with the “escape prison” theme, A Way Out is a new IP published through the EA Originals system. I’ve seen it described as a cinematic co-op experience, so depending on what type of games your kids are into, this one could be a little hit or miss. My kids prefer action-oriented games like Star Wars Battlefront II and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I’m hoping A Way Out will combine my 8-year-old’s love of movies and games into one experience. We haven’t actually played this one yet; we plan to start it in the next week or two. But having seen the press and the discussion on the game, I feel confident recommending it even though I haven’t played it myself.
I started and shelved this post a few months before actually posting it. Since then we started A Way Out and have had some fun with it. Definitely still a recommended game. But it has some pretty bad language, which is why I thought I’d add this little note here.
Released: June 5, 2017
Price: $26.99 [Track Price Drops]
Portal Knights sits in this kind of space in between Minecraft and Skylanders. It has building enough building to compare it to Minecraft, and enough adventure to compare it to Skylanders, but it doesn’t have as much as either of those two franchises. For adventure games there are so many other games that do it better, such as LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 (or any LEGO game, really), Knack 2, and Ratchet & Clank. But Portal Knights still made the list, and that’s because even though the combat and action aren’t as engaging as some of those other titles, it’s that combination of action, construction, and character building that makes Portal Knights special. The game features character building similar to many RPGs, and in a lot of ways helps prepare kids for future RPGs by allowing them to level up, equip weapons and armor, and customize skills.
Released: August 29, 2017
Price: $49.99 [Track Price Drops]
Everybody’s Golf is the only game on this list that you play competitively, rather than cooperatively. That said, the art style and comedy of the game don’t exactly lead to a heavy competitive experience. On a single PS4, Everybody’s Golf offers turn-based gameplay, where each player plays the same hole until everyone is finished. Everybody’s Golf really expands its fun when played on multiple PS4s, as this opens up tournaments and a fun domination mode. With a customizable avatar and plenty of clothing and style options, everyone can have a golfer that exhibits exactly the style you want.
Dungeon Defenders 2
Released: June 20, 2017
The only free game on the list—though it does contain microtransactions in the form of shortcuts and unlocks to speed up progression—Dungeon Defenders 2 takes the now-ancient Tower Defense idea and merges it with action-oriented combat. You control four heroes, each with different combat abilities and defensive structures, and coop works both split screen and online. Like many free-to-play games, Dungeon Defenders 2 makes sure you never have enough time or resources to do everything you want in a reasonable amount of time, and just when you start to wish you could speed things up, it reminds you that you can buy speed with real money. We play it casually and haven’t felt the need to spend any money, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. Still, it’s a fun time waster for a few weekends.