It’s Valentine’s. Again. And as is usual with these kinds of pieces, I’ve been doing serious in-depth research into the origins of the day. Did you know, for instance, that the Feast of Saint Valentine was created by Pope Gelasius 1 in the year 496 AD? And that the association of the day with the notions of romantic love started way back in the 14th Century, and the traditions of gifts and flowers and so on can be traced back to the 18th century? Well, I certainly didn’t; with my cynical head on I may have thought it was just an invention of the greetings card industry. However, it appears I was wrong, so I’d like to apologise to Saint Valentine for my assumption. Now, as this is a gaming website, and not a historical one, I’d best wrestle this article back on track before the Editor loses patience.
So, what I’d like to present to you here is a listing of games that may bring you closer together with your partner or significant other. The criteria I have used is fairly simple, and mainly revolves around playing a cooperative title, rather than a competitive one. Nothing is going to kill that loving feeling faster than scoring a headshot on your partner with a sniper rifle from across the map, after all!
With Valentine’s Day 2021 a socially distanced affair, unless of course you are “lucky” enough to live with your partner, then video games could well play an important part in being together virtually. So without further ado, these are the games I’ve selected to give you the warm fuzzies on Valentine’s Day, if you can’t be with your other half.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Now, this is a bit of a left-field entry, as it isn’t even an Xbox title, but bear with me.
Animal Crossing, to me, is all about being together, and not necessarily doing anything in particular; just bimbling around an island, collecting sea shells and so on, while just spending time together. It’s such a – for want of a better word – harmless game and promotes just being together, which is really the message of the day.
While crafting items, catching fish, or even running away from bees are all activities included in game, there’s absolutely no competition involved, and as such it’s very hard to make any kind of romantic mis-steps with Animal Crossing. While the Switch multiplayer isn’t the greatest, and it can be a little annoying trying to connect to each other’s island, once you have managed it this is one of the most laid back gaming experiences on offer, and as such is perfect to play while you declare love and devotion to each other.
Of course, should you try and sneak that dinosaur skull off the island back to your own museum, all bets are off.
As a way of virtually spending time together, it certainly beats a Zoom quiz into a cocked hat, and as such I recommend Animal Crossing to any relationships who can’t actually be together on the special day.
A Way Out
A Way Out is a pretty unique proposition amongst games – a game where you have to play cooperatively or not at all.
Luckily, this can be done either sat side by side or by using the power of the internet and Xbox Live, so whichever situation you find yourself in, it is a game that can be added to the evening.
The story may not be the most romantic in the world, following the exploits of Leo and Vincent, two convicts who escape from prison and need to stay one step ahead of the authorities. But – and stick with me here – this is the point of the game in a way, the two characters, each controlled by one person, must work together in order to stay one step ahead. As an example from the start of the game (no spoilers here), whoever is controlling Vincent needs to distract a nurse so Leo can look for and locate a chisel that they both need to escape.
In addition to the story goals to be achieved, there are also a number of mini games to master, including arm wrestling, horseshoes, and even exercises like bench presses to perform. There’s no shortage of things to do, and while it may be a little grittier than the first entry on the list (okay, A LOT grittier), it certainly forces a feeling of togetherness that is missing in a lot of games these days.
Just maybe finish the game on a day that isn’t Valentine’s, would be my advice.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
What could be more appropriate to play on Valentine’s Day than a game where the objective is to defeat the forces of Anti-Love? If you can rescue some space bunnies along the way, all the better, right? Well, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a fast and frantic couch based co-op game that sees you and your partner (and up to two others, if there are kids kicking about) take control of the Spaceship of Lurve – I don’t think that’s actually what it’s called, but it should be.
Your spaceship is very pretty, with a lovely neon look to the graphics, and there are various stations throughout the ship that need to be manned (or womanned, as the case maybe). These range from the engines which are used to fly the ship around the tight levels, to weapons used to destroy the Anti-Love enemies, to a shield that reflects bullets away from the ship and so on. Luckily, as you go through the levels and rescue various creatures in distress, you can find “space gems” that can be combined and also slotted into the various stations throughout the ship, unlocking new abilities.
With randomised levels created each time Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is begun, the chances of playing the same game time and time again are slim, and so the replay value is high. And, as it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re battling the armies of Anti-Love, the game seems to fit the brief like a glove.
The only slight fly in the ointment is the lack of online multiplayer, so if you aren’t together, this doesn’t work in that situation. It’s a real missed opportunity if you ask me, but otherwise give it a try, assuming your loved ones are in the same room.
As long as I’ve been playing Destiny – either Destiny 1 or Destiny 2 – there has been a festival associated with Valentine’s Day. Crimson Days, as the event is known, is a way of playing together with your loved ones, allowing you to take part in events and earn loot together.
Last year’s event, for instance, allowed you and your partner to earn Exotic Sparrows, matching Sparrows to scream around the planets on, which is pretty cool. These Sparrows featured half of the Crimson Days logo on each vehicle, so riding around in close quarters allowed the Sparrows to make a picture, kind of like a rocket-powered friendship locket.
Ghost shells and ornaments could also be earned, in addition to a variety of emotes that could have been earned in past events, letting you indulge in public displays of affection with your significant other. There was even a special crucible event, called Crimson Doubles, which saw you taking on other duos in a PvP setting, And if there’s anything more romantic than killing other loved up couples with a sword, I’ve yet to come across it.
Ironically, when I floated the idea of this article with the esteemed editor of the website, Destiny 2 was the first game that came to mind to include, but Bungie have announced that the Crimson Days has been cancelled for this year at least. The reason they gave is that they want to concentrate on the contents of the new Season, and because they felt that the Crimson Days quality wasn’t high enough over the last few years.
While it wasn’t in any way essential, it was a bit of fun, and so curse you Bungie for ruining my article.
However, the romance of travelling to other planets and filling alien scum with bullets is as powerful now as it’s always been, and so don’t write Destiny 2 off just yet. It may just allow you and your significant other to blow off some steam!
Okay, this is going to be the hardest sell as regards romance, but I’m choosing to rely on the co-op gameplay mechanic here to dig me out of the hole.
Playing Diablo III together is a great deal of fun, especially if one of the players is a lot higher level than the other, and so can act as a tank. This will allow a low level player to rank up and gain a ton of sweet loot without putting themselves in danger, and as they get stronger they can then begin to deal their own damage and get involved more. Of course, if you have two equally skilled, equally levelled players, the fun you can have unleashing magic and melee-based destruction on the minions of Diablo is amazingly good fun.
Each of the classes can be a male or a female, so starting new characters based on your particular relationship is easily possible. A massive female Barbarian (Barbarina?) is certainly a sight to behold, while a male Witch Doctor is surprisingly scrawny, so make your characters as much like yourself as you wish.
With a large amount of game to go at, spread over five acts if you have the Ultimate Evil Edition of Diablo III, and with each level having some random generation elements, again it’s another game you can keep coming back to. Slaying spiders, undead warriors and large hordes of baddies is as romantic as ever (read into that what you will). It’s not an obvious choice, I’ll grant you, but it’s nice to have a choice out of left-field, isn’t it?!
So, there they are then – my five choices of games to play together with your partner at this most romantic time of the year. Does anything on the list strike a chord with you? Indeed, do you play games together, now or throughout the rest of the year? Articles like these are designed to be a starting point for conversations, so let us know in the comments. As Ringo Starr might say, “Peace and Love!”.