by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 18th April, 2018
Back in the day when Internet speed was measured in kilobits per second and when we were decades away from online multiplayer on consoles, almost every game could be called couch co-op. Since those were the days of platformers, most of them supported two-player modes, and since online multiplayer was nonexistent, the only way to play with friends was getting them to your place, turning on the TV, and playing the game together.
Nowadays, online play is the new standard meaning that most games don't support split screen multiplayer and couch co-op modes. Fortunately for us who still prefer physical contact and like to hang out with friends who are in the same room with us, playing games and chilling, there still are plenty of titles capable of offering superb couch co-op experience. No matter if you play games on a console or a PC (the best way to enjoy split screen on PC is hooking it up to a huge TV and getting some wireless controllers) we have plenty of games for you to play with your friends, not online but face to face. Of course, since we live in the era when the Internet is omnipresent, most (if not all) of these games support online co-op modes. Also, bear in mind that we focus on local co-op games, not those supporting competitive local multiplayer modes. Let us begin.
Let's start with the most recent title. While A Way Out supports online co-op, the game offers the best possible experience once you and your buddy get together and try escaping out of the prison while hanging in the same room. Really, the game is best when played locally, and not online. The potential for hilarious situations and scenes is much higher when you can shout at your friend face-to-face.
The game is made with co-op in mind, meaning that you have to play it with someone and that someone has to be a friend, even when you play online because there isn't any kind of matchmaking. The story follows two inmates who dream about escaping their shackles in order to revenge people who got them there, and while some don't like it, the story is quite good for the better part of the game. During the final third it does deflate a bit, but it is competitive enough to keep the attention of both players for the whole course of the game.
The co-op experience is excellent. Both players have to work and help each other in order for them to advance through the game. And even during the times when the two are separated, they usually have to do something in order to help the other player. Since the game can be played from two different perspectives, it has a pretty strong replay value because you will beat it at least twice, playing as both Leo and Vincent. Graphics are solid and are there not to amaze you but to provide solid-looking background for the action.
Most of the game is experienced in split-screen, with the game occasionally transforming the view to a single screen, during cutscenes and rare times when Leo and Vincent are next to each other. Overall, A Way Out is a solid game that is perfect for those who want to play a story driven local co-op experience.
If you live with a roommate who happens to be a hardcore gamer like you, or if you're lucky enough that your partner loves video games as much as you do, you have to play Divinity: Original Sin duology. The two games can be great fun when played alone, and even in solo play, they are some of the best isometric RPG experiences you can get today. But, when played with a friend (or even better, with a boyfriend/girlfriend) they shine as bright as a diamond, even brighter.
Both games feature huge and phenomenal single-player campaigns and guys and girls from Larian Studios have made them with co-op in mind. And while both games support online co-op, the fun is much higher when the second person is sitting next to you. This is because the two games are all about choices and we, as human beings, differ greatly when it comes to decision making. You will laugh, discuss why one choice is better than the other, you will argue and fight, and will occasionally be dumbfounded with the other person's explanations for his or her choices, but you won't get bored, not for a second.
The best of all is that both players partake in gameplay and decision making in equal part. Sure, one player (you, if you're lucky) will have the final say but if you don't want to provoke a fight with a roommate or, even worse, partner, you will wait and discuss every decision until both of you come to terms together. And the game's turn-based combat is also great for co-op. You and the second player will have to work together in order to defeat enemies because both games feature pretty tough combat encounters. Just one word of warning; if you plan on playing the entire game in local co-op mode (which is way more fun than online co-op, believe us) the other person has to either live with you or to move in for a couple of weeks until you beat the game.
This one is a crazy fun game even when played alone, so playing it with someone is more-than-crazy-fun, whatever that means. Almost every Rayman game is an excellent platformer but Legends is the best one. It came out a couple of years after Origins, which was a sort of a soft restart for the series, returning it to its 2D glory days.
And Legends continues where Origins stopped, offering even better-designed levels, fluid gameplay, even cuter art style, and longer campaign than its predecessor. Combine that with local co-op, two player mode and you got yourself a perfect time waster for those lazy weekend afternoons where you don't have anything to do than play games and your better half wants to join you in that adventure.
There's a lot to love in Rayman Legends. The game looks like a painting coming to life, it's so gorgeous that, during some levels, you simply don't want to finish them because they look so damn dazzling! And the gameplay is so fluid and fast-paced that you will curse each time you die because each level is made to be beaten in one breath, in one non-stop action sequence.
Legends is a game that is suited both for hardcore gamers and newbies because everyone and their cat will be able to learn how to play it in just a couple of minutes. It's a great title for introducing friends to video games, and perfect excuse to spend the day in front of a TV instead of going outside and enjoying that scorching sunshine during summer.
Another game that is an excellent even when played alone. Portal 2 brought a lengthy and super cool single player campaign with excellent replay value because of its cast of insane but still endearing characters, because of its superb level design, and because of its original and well-written story. But the game also brought a separate co-op campaign that puts you in bots of two testing robots that must work together in order to come out of the testing grounds alive.
And Portal 2's co-op campaign is one of the best local co-op experiences you can have on PC or on consoles. Excellent design from the single-player campaign is present here, making each level a unique experience where thinking ahead is crucial and where there's no place for rushed actions. You and the other player have to think aloud; have to actively communicate and to truly cooperate in order to progress through levels. When it comes to puzzle games, Portal 2 is out of this world, miles ahead of any other similar title.
The co-op campaign is lengthy, filled with levels that offer unforgettable moments, and it will offer you lots of hours of pure fun. On top of all that, the game features a unique atmosphere that became a trademark for every Valve game, along with graphics and art style that give it exceptional looks despite the fact that Portal 2 came out seven years ago. If you want to play it, just wait for the next Steam sale and buy it for a price of half a cup of coffee.
Another title from the creator of A Way Out, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons also is an experience made for local co-op. Yes, the game can only be played on one controller, and you can play it alone jumping from one character to another, but if you have a partner, just share the controller and you will enjoy one of the best co-op experiences video games can offer.
The sad and heart-crushing tale of two brothers who must embark on a dangerous journey in order to recover a remedy for their dying father. On this journey, they will have to work together in order to cross any obstacle found on their way. The game features top-down perspective and while its puzzles are relatively simple, the game's story is so good and spoken without using words that you will gladly accept simple puzzles just to find out what happens next. Graphics are solid and music is serene and strangely calm, making Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons a perfect game for those lazy winter nights. Snuggle with your partner and play this phenomenal fairytale in the form of a video game.
This one is a perfect title for times when you have a couple of friends at your place. The game is best when played by four persons in local co-op because Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a frantic co-op experience where four players must operate a spaceship during its travels through an unknown galaxy and its many dangers.
You and your crew will work as a shabby band of clumsy crewmates at the start because the game asks for a perfect teamwork. You have to man every system in the spaceship manually, meaning that you and friends have to constantly switch places manning turrets, shields, engine, and other systems found on your cute pink spaceship.
This is why couch co-op where four players are trying to overcome dangers while slowly growing as a team and becoming more and more skilled in what they do is an extremely fun experience. You will have to be super effective and coordinated in order to fight off strange and dangerous enemies, and in most cases there will be that one guy that just stands there doing nothing, one hyper-competitive player who shouts at all others, and a couple of persons just trying to have some fun, leading to memorable and joyful moments - well, except for that hyper-competitive person.
A frantic co-op experience that puts you and up to three friends in roles of chefs in a busy restaurant that have to prepare meals on time or see their kitchen burn, not literally of course. You have to coordinate, know each other strengths and weaknesses in order to relegate duties and play as a team in order to keep up with orders.
The game will probably drive that hyper-competitive person insane because it asks perfect coordination where one person in the group has to give orders (we wonder who usually volunteer for that role) and to keep up that others keep up with their assignments. Featuring hysterical gameplay and cute visuals, Overcooked is perfect for groups of four friends who don't want to go out and would rather have some fun to play video games.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a highly original roguelike that comes from the mind of Edmund McMillen, the guy who gave us Super Meat Boy. As is the case with Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth features twisted and a bit morbid art style along with dark humor story about Isaac and his mother who tried to sacrifice him making the boy to escape to the basement where countless horrors lurk in the dark, waiting for him. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is filled with dark humor, disgusting creatures and original weapons such as Isaac's tears along with highly original powerups and items. Levels are procedurally generated meaning that each journey into the dark basement makes for a unique experience.
While the game is excellent when played solo, it is better when you bring a friend with you. Since it features perma-death mechanics and since it is pretty punishing and tricky to beat, playing in two is always better and more rewarding. You and a friend can cooperate and perform combos as well as enjoying Isaac's dark and twisted imagination together. The game features excellent 2D visuals and can be bought for a couple of bucks, making it a more than a solid choice for some local co-op fun.
While this one is almost a decade old, it is the best choice for those who both like local co-op and Marvel superheroes. The game is filled with different playable characters, with a choice between more than 20 superheroes, from Wolverine to Iron Man, to Captain America, to Deadpool. Graphics are passable, but that's okay because the game is awesome.
Since the game is played from an isometric perspective, co-op action is delivered on the same screen. Up to four players can fight together, but no, you can't play with two identical heroes at the same time so we advise you to agree on superheroes to play with before starting the game. The story follows Marvel Civil War synopsis, and there are tons of bosses from the comics to fight against. The game features special combo attacks that can be pulled off by combining attacks from two players, which is really fun to perform. The single player campaign is long and interesting and the fact that new players can seamlessly jump into the action is great for when you and that friend who always comes early can't wait for others to arrive to the game night.
Rocket League is one of the best competitive multiplayer games at the moment, a game with incredibly high skill ceiling that offers hundreds of hours of pure, skill-based fun. And when we talk about its co-op most gamers will presume we talk about multiplayer co-op where you along with one of two friends are climbing the ladder, or having some fun in casual.
But today we want to talk about couch co-op experience in Rocket League. The game is incredible when played with a friend who sits next to you. You can now finally punch them when they make huge mistakes, or when they kick the ball instead of passing it to you. Of course, this also means you can be punched, meaning this way both of you will be more teamwork oriented in order to prevent any physical fights.
Okay, maybe you won't end up fighting each other, but when Rocket League is played in local co-op the game can bring extremely tense and fun moments that cannot be recreated during online play. You will constantly shout at each other, every conceded goal will be followed by loud curses, but every scored goal and insane save will be celebrated with high fives and spilled drinks. Believe us, Rocket League is most fun when played in front of a huge screen in split-screen multiplayer; just a handful of games can get near its level of excitement and adrenaline rush.
Yes, we have Trine 3 but the second game is much better than the sequel, which tried to put the game's winning 2D formula into three-dimensional levels and failed. On the other hand, Trine 2 is amazing co-op experience best played with two friends, two friends that share the same couch as you because the game asks for lots of coordination and teamwork in order to advance.
There are three playable characters and each of them possesses unique skills that are needed in order to solve the game's numerous puzzles. The wizard can summon blocks, platforms, and also move them around; the knight is a powerful warrior capable of destroying obstacles, and the thief can cross over gaps with her grappling hook or light fires with her bow and arrow.
The game features mesmerizing graphics and a fairytale-like art style making it extremely pretty and a joy to look at. The co-op mode is played on one screen and all three players have to coordinate their moves and actions in order to solve puzzles. Trine 2 is one of the best local co-op games and while the game is also excellent when playing solo, the joy of solving puzzles by working together cannot be achieved when playing alone.
This one is an excellent co-op experience. Unlike most other Resident Evil games, the focus in Revelations 2 is on cooperation instead of survival and action. You play as Claire Redfield and Moira Burton, with additional two playable characters (Barry Burton and Natalia Korda) also being available to pick. One player is the muscle of the group capable of wielding weapons while the second player fills a supporting role, solving puzzles and helping the first player battling zombies with melee weapons.
A cool co-op experience with interesting story and solid visuals, Resident Evil Revelations 2 is an excellent choice for those who like local co-op multiplayer titles. While not so good like its older cousin, Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil Revelations 2 will give you hours of quality fun and the option to play as support or gun-wielding character gives the game strong replay value. Do note that local co-op is available only on console versions of the game.