If you are giving a video game gift later this year, there’s a chance you’ll be wrapping up a copy of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Super Mario 3D All-Stars. You may be dutifully satisfying a request for Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales or doling out for Cyberpunk 2077. This is what people will ask for. Maybe you’d like to toss in a surprise?
The following games are all very good, but for various reasons aren’t likely to be on many people’s holiday wishlist. Trust us, though, if you give these games you might first get a quizzical look, but that will be followed a few days later with hearty gratitude.
This article has been updated since its original publication.
If you know someone who is a big fan of Overcooked and want to get them something that’s similar but different, Moving Out will make for a great gift. It’s a co-op puzzle game that perfectly captures the chaos of moving house. You’ll be trying to see how far you can chuck all of your furniture in no time. It’s also made by Australian developers SMG Studio, so you’ll be supporting some local talent too.
I’m at the beat’em up. I’m at the rhythm game. I’m at the combination beat’em up-rhythm game. No Straight Roads is a lot of fun. In it, you play as Mayday and Zuke, two rockers who are rebelling against the evil EDM-powered rules of Vinyl City, by taking them on through a series of boss battles.
In her review for No Straight Roads, Leah Williams had this to say:
The game’s sense of personality and flair comes to life in these battles as the catchy soundtrack, gorgeous character designs and fun combat combine to create epic, toe-tapping spectaculars. No two boss stage is the same, making every encounter a pleasant (but often challenging) surprise.
Depending on your age, there’s a specific type of nostalgia that’s created by low-poly arcade racers. You probably have memories of your parents giving you a couple dollars at the RSL to go play Daytona USA, so they can have some peace and quiet for a couple minutes. If you know someone who yearns for those days, they need to try Hotshot Racing. The game includes 16 fun courses to play through with an aesthetic that’s a good, modern riff on the low-poly graphics of the 1990s.
As far as art styles go, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is one of the most gorgeous looking games of 2020. A sequel to 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest, Will of the Wisps is a fun Metroidvania. If you know someone who was a fan of the original, or someone who loves a good platformer (you can still get into it without playing Blind Forest), this is
In Kotaku’s review for it, Mike Fahey described the game as being:
Will of the Wisps is bigger than Blind Forest in almost every way. The world is bigger. The cast is bigger. The list of abilities and items Ori can collect is bigger. With the addition of more speaking characters, the emotional moments are bigger. The frogs? Bigger. Bears? Same.
If you’re buying for someone who was lucky enough to get a PS5 before Christmas, give them something they might not expect, The Pathless. You play as an archer who is tasked with clearing a curse from an island. It’s an open world adventure with an emphasis on exploration (there’s a lot of secrets to uncover). You also have an eagle companion that can pick you up, which brings in some fun gameplay elements.
More than anything, The Pathless look great. The environments are beautiful and full of unique monster designs. It’s a real treat to submerge yourself into.