Video games. They’re so hot right now. From the new arcade bars popping up around town to the amazing A.R.C.A.D.E exhibit currently in Centro Cultural Recoleta, we at La La Lista decided it was high time to give them the attention they deserve, and so I went to my local friendly expert — my guitarist Chris (hi Chris!) to sample some of his favorites.

In honor of Friend’s Day, we investigated several couch co-op video games that don’t take up too much space on your computer and are easy enough for beginners to give a whirl.

Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes

Summary:

This is a “party game,” but not like Mario Kart. Think older; a throwback to the classic party games like charades. The premise is the following: You and your teammate must work together to disarm a bomb before the timer goes off. One player (or group of players) looks at a bomb on the screen. They can examine it from any angle. The other player (or group of players) looks at a bomb defusal manual. Neither can look at the other person’s object. The players must communicate rapidly and effectively to disarm the bomb together.

Evy: I was not expecting to enjoy this —  how can anything related to reading a manual be any fun? But I soon found that I loved the mental challenge of reading something and translating it into something easily understandable. Reading comprehension is fun you guys! It definitely favors a more expressive person who is quick on their feet.

Chris: Yeah it might favor the more expressive, quick thinker, but watching people fail is half the fun. As you progress to tougher and more complex bombs, communication tends to break down as you and your squadmates begin to crack under the pressure. It can get pretty crazy when five people are yelling over each other, all in an effort to survive the round together. There isn’t anyone I wouldn’t recommend this game to. You’ll either have a hearty laugh at each other’s epic fails, or high-five in the sweet satisfaction of a bomb well-defused.

Available on Mac and PC.

Overcooked

Summary:

This is a cuddly co-op game where you and your partner play cartoon-like line cooks and try to deliver as many finished meals as possible (chopping vegetables, cooking meat, washing dishes, delivering plates) within a fixed time-frame. It’s stressful, but the cutesy aesthetic reduces the stress inherent in the game.

Chris: Similar to Keep Talking, this is another game that requires you to actually communicate with your buddies in real life. You can scrape by each level by doing your own thing, but if you want all three of those shiny stars, your pint-sized avatars will need to work as a tight unit! It feels great when your team develops a rhythm that runs like a well-oiled machine. Plus, this game just oozes charm. I have shamelessly spent way too much time scooting around the tilt-shifted level select screen in that adorable little chef bus.

Evy: The level select/map screen is so cute! The little chefs are so cute! Everything is so cute! Even though it kind of bothers me that you do the exact same chopping action for every ingredient. I feel like this game would be a great place to work out tensions in a relationship. If you can’t handle working together to fill simplistic orders for imaginary clientele, then you know you have some issues to work out.  

Available on PC only. Gamepad recommended.

Monaco

Summary:

A single player or co-op heist team in which you “assemble a crack team of thieves, case the joint, and pull off the perfect heist.” Choose the type of thief you want to be and then work with your teammates, picking locks, knocking out security guards, and sneaking around the shadowy and twisted maps.

Chris: What I love about Monaco is how it really nails its style. Between the loading screen banter among your pixelated rat pack and the jaunty ragtime soundtrack, the game feels like your favorite old-timey films. It does, however, have a small learning curve for beginner players, largely due to the busy visual style. Keeping track of your player, your friends, a slew of security guards, and your nearest escape route can be overwhelming at times. So, it’ll take a little practice before you’re coordinating stings like the best of ‘em.

Evy: Like Chris mentions, this game intimidated me a bit at first — but it really sucked me in once we started playing. I loved choosing the “type” of criminal, and figuring out how to use the unique skill that corresponds to my character, ie. a better view of enemies as “The Lookout,” or the ability to knock out enemies as “The Cleaner.” These roles on the team made the collaboration even more crucial — you have to play off of each other’s strengths!

Available on Mac and PC. Gamepad recommended.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime:

Summary: 

Steer a giant, circular ship around the cosmos, unlocking space bunnies, shooting evil aliens, and defending all the love in the universe.

Evy:

Ok, so in my notes I have:

  • Ya’ save lil’ bunnies
  • Cosmic space bunnies
  • THIS IS ADORABLE

I *squealed* when I saw the extremely adorable aliens you get to play, and entirely lost it during the intro when “Dr. Hopsy Flopsy” explained the terrible plight facing our characters. The game is incredibly cute and fun to play — I didn’t want to stop.

Chris: Originally, I thought the glossy art style of this game would be a big turnoff. So bright, so sugary sweet, and, as it turned out, also REALLY DAMN FUN. The controls are minimal, but teamwork is key. You can be the best shot in the neon galaxy, but you ain’t getting far without an ally manning the shields or steering the Gumball Zero (and yes, your starting ship is a giant pink orb). The more the merrier for this one. Two players is great, but the game really shines with 4 players.

Available on Mac and PC. Gamepad recommended.

Battleblock Theater

Summary:

This game’s mini-description reads: “Shipwrecked. Captured. Betrayed. Forced to perform for an audience of cats?” And yeah, that pretty much sums it up. We don’t even know where to start with this one. But the important thing to know is that it’s a puzzle platformer game with quirky animation and an even quirkier storyline.

Evy: Wow, this game is so… playable. You can’t die (in fact, respawning can actually be used strategically at times) and the controls are just a pleasure to use. I love how the characters contort and make crazy shapes — everything from jumping to ducking to climbing is fun to watch. I also liked that it starts easy and then gets increasingly difficult as you continue, so you have the chance to get comfortable with the controls before you face more difficult puzzles.  

Chris: This game is perfect if you’re looking for something totally stress-free to play with a friend. The absence of hardcore difficulty allows you to focus on other things, like its wacky animation style, silly sense of humor, or even trolling the crap outta your teammate! Any puzzles you’ll encounter will provide just enough challenge to keep you on your toes. Even for more experienced gamers, the tight and satisfying controls make Battleblock Theater a refreshing platforming experience.

Available on Mac and PC. Gamepad recommended.

Chris Lim is a musician and audio engineer who is currently involved in video game development as a designer and composer.  You can check out his work here or follow his Instagram.