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Three great games to play with a non-gaming partner

overcooked
(Image credit: Team17)

Gaming is a fantastic hobby to share with your partner — provided that they actually enjoy video games, that is. If they don’t, games can seem like a mystifying pursuit, where twitch-based action is the order of the day, and only the most skilled players stand a chance of completing a single level.

Thankfully, that’s not the case, as some of our partners discovered recently. Gaming is a more diverse and welcoming pastime than it’s ever been, with titles to suit every taste and skill level. Still, it can be extremely difficult to predict exactly which games a non-gaming significant other might enjoy, since they don’t have any basis for comparison.

Here, then, are three games that actually caught the interest of our non-gaming partners. Perhaps they’ll do the same for yours — and if not, we’d be curious to know which ones did. 

Bugsnax 

bugsnax

(Image credit: Young Horses)

When the PS5 launched, I installed every new game I could find to put the system through its paces. My domestic partner wasn’t at all interested in playing Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls or Sackboy: A Big Adventure — but asked whether we could play “the bug game.” I realized she meant Bugsnax: a weird indie adventure that happened to be the complimentary PlayStation Plus title that month.

I loaded up the game and handed her the controller — and didn’t get it back until she had finished the whole experience a week later. Aside from the occasional round of Mario Kart, my partner had never played a console game before, and certainly never a narrative-driven one. But something about Bugsnax’s colorful world, intriguing characters and intuitive gameplay drew her in and didn’t let go.

For those who haven’t played it, Bugsnax challenges you to collect a bunch of edible bugs while rebuilding a small town and forming bonds with its residents. It’s kind of chill, kind of challenging and kind of touching. She hasn’t yet found another game that’s entranced her in the same way, but Night in the Woods got positive marks, as did Astro’s Playroom. – Marshall Honorof

Little Nightmares II 

Little Nightmares 2 review

(Image credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment)

My partner has never really shown much interest in any of the games I’ve played over the years. He typically sits glued to his phone throughout, which almost makes me feel guilty — almost. Funnily enough, I piqued his interest while I was watching someone else play a game on my phone. Who would have thought that this, rather than live play, would finally get his attention? 

I don’t make a habit of watching others play games, but Little Nightmares II was interesting enough to intrigue us both. When I spotted my partner watching over my shoulder, I first thought he was judging my video choice. But then, he said, "what happens when you get caught?" We ended up watching the rest of the video together, amazed at the quality of the graphics, and the creativity that had gone into the plot and monsters. It’s not the sort of game I would usually play, which goes to show how well it’s done. Little Nightmares II builds suspense so well, and gets your heart racing once you start a chase. 

When I finally get a copy of the game, maybe we can take turns, and I can finally give him a glimpse of why the hobby is so addictive. — Katie Mortram

Overcooked 

overcooked

(Image credit: Team17)

After my partner bounced off both Lego Harry Potter and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I’d all but given up on getting her into gaming. Then, a little co-op game called Overcooked came along.

I can’t say I had high hopes going in, but Overcooked quickly won us both over. The easy-to-grasp core concept, charming visual aesthetic, and simple control scheme all make it extremely accessible for gaming novices. 

Within minutes, the cartoon cooking simulator had us working in harmony, creating burgers and soups for our hungry diners. The inclusion of an assist mode, which increases your allotted time and prevents order tickets from expiring, also helped her ease into the game at her own pace. 

We might not be topping the leaderboards anytime soon, but I’m thrilled that I finally found a game she wants to play. — Rory Mellon