Video games are one of the best ways to stay connected with your favourite people. Either on the couch or online, almost every device has something to play. The best party games don't require players to have a lot of video game experience so anyone, even your grandparents, can participate, if they’re open to it.
For those who can’t be together physically to play these games, there are a lot of free apps like Discord or Parsec that will help you play online co-op games via voice chat, video chat or screen sharing. As long as we all put in the effort to be there for each other, we can still have fun. Check out our list below to find some of the best party games on the market to date.
1. Castle Crashers (Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch)
It’s time to get medieval, save some princesses and defend the kingdom in this hack and slash adventure game. Castle Crashers has online and local co-op for 2-4 players.
If your squad has time for it, you can play the Castle Crashers campaign. You’ll work together to fight enemies and bosses, collect weapons and special attacks, unlock pets and raise your stats to be the best fighter in the game. You’ll need it because once you save a princess, you will have to fight for the spot of number one hero and kill off the rest of your compatriots.
There are also two shorter game modes for if you just want a quick match up. Arena lets you battle in a closed space in either free for all or team matches. The newest mode, Back Off Barbarian, is a mini game where you hop across the level to avoid enemies, but to do this you'll need to master the face buttons.
2. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch)
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a purely collaborative couch co-op space shooter for 2 to 4 players. You all work together to tend the different battle stations of your adorable neon spaceship, travelling across the galaxy to defeat the forces of Anti-Love and free the helpless space-bunnies they’re holding prisoner.
It's a mad dash to the various weapons, shields and engines in order to keep the ship running smoothly, but eventually you’ll all find a rhythm that works best. It's good practice to assign a captain to delegate tasks so you’re not all yelling over each other and frantically trying to run each station yourself. The level layouts are randomized and the ship upgrades vary so it’s a different experience for each crew who sets out to fight in the name of love.
3. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (Steam, PlayStation 4)
For anyone who ever wanted to be on Wipeout Canada but didn’t want to look stupid on national television, this is the game for you. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is an online party game that throws up to 60 contestants together to battle it out in fun and wacky challenges until one winner remains.
This is a colourful and kooky physics-based game that switches between competitive challenges, where you race and survive, and cooperative team challenges, where you all win or lose together, that eliminate players every round, who just can’t cut the mustard. You play as a Fall Guy, which can only be described as an allegedly 6 foot tall jelly bean with arms and legs that you can customize with different costumes, to really capture your individualism. Run, jump, grab and dive until you reach the crown in the final round.
4. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch)
Can't forget the classics. The definitive edition of Mario Kart 8 for Nintendo Switch has 48 courses, 42 characters, 23 power-ups and beautiful 1080p graphics, making it the biggest and best Mario Kart to date. Battle and race with up to four person local multiplayer on a single TV, eight person local wireless multiplayer on separate handhelds and 12 person online multiplayer.
This gives players a lot of ways to race their friends and family depending on where they are and whether or not players have a Nintendo Switch. If you’re a big Mario Kart enthusiast and want to take it to the next level, you can pick up Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit and drive a real, miniscule, Mario Kart in your home. Play with up to three friends using your Nintendo Switch systems and set up customized racetracks around your house. If anything, it’ll entertain your pets.
5. Among Us (Steam, Mobile)
Parasitic shapeshifters have infiltrated your spaceship posing as Crewmates in an attempt to take you all out before you reach your destination. Crewmates will have to work together to fix the ship and exile the Impostors to win. While, on the other hand, the Impostors, who are chosen at random each round, will have to keep their identity hidden until they’re able to kill off the crew to win the game.
You can play online with strangers where whoever is accused first is usually thrown off the ship immediately, or play with your friends in a private room and find out who the best liars are. Play online and over local wifi with four to 10 players. Among Us was developed by InnerSloth and has skyrocketed in popularity in summer of 2020, despite its initial 2018 release.
6. Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure (Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch)
This 70s-inspired, fast paced dodgeball game will have you chucking projectiles at your friends until you’re the last one standing. This simple, local multiplayer game has a lot of different terrains, mini games and unique characters to choose from to best match your personality.
If you can get your hands on the Deluxe version you can play with up to six people as opposed to four. Once you’re booted out of the game you can mess with the terrain in order to stump the remaining players so you don't have to wait to exact your revenge. If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.
7. The Jackbox Party Pack 7 (Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Mobile)
The Jackbox Party Pack 7 is a handful of fun party games, for up to eight players and up to 10,000 audience members, that participants can play using their phones, making it convenient for almost everyone. Jackbox 7 came out October 15, 2020, and is the best one yet for one reason alone, and that’s Champ’d Up. This drawing game is loads of fun because you name and design fighters that battle it out in the arena against your friends. Everybody then votes on who is the better challenger and the winner destroys the other one on screen.
Jackbox 7 also has a revamped Quiplash 3 that’s 3D, which lets you pick your character. There’s even a new final round, where you go head to head, instead of a free for all where you all answer the same question. Along with those changes, three new games: Talking Points, Blather Round and The Devils and the Details have all been introduced to the pack. These games can be a little hard to grasp right away, but they all have cute elements that are worth trying with your crew at least once.
8. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo Switch)
This fun, and surprisingly technical, fighting game has a roster made up from all of Nintendo’s most recognizable gaming icons. The fighters all have unique experiences in their separate games but, in Smash, they all have the same goal: to launch every other gaming legend off the screen.
Smash Ultimate allows eight person local multiplayer and four person online multiplayer. Playing online with strangers will match you according to your overall Global Smash Power, so you probably won’t get matched against someone who can blow you out of the water right away. It's when you play with people you know that you need to be worried.
For players who aren’t as skilled at this title but still want to stand a chance it's recommended to pick an easier fighter like Kirby or Jigglypuff that can fly if they are close to falling off the edge. Adding lots of items to the game that do damage to other players regardless of fighting ability will also help level out the playing field.
9. TowerFall (Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch)
This game is for everyone who signed up for archery at camp or thought about going to a range as an adult but never did. TowerFall is an archery combat platformer where it’s everyone for themselves. This local multiplayer game was made by the same creators behind Celeste and allows up to four or six players, depending on what system you’re on.
Each player has just one life and a limited supply of arrows. Shoot your opponents with arrows or jump on their heads to eliminate them from the game. If you run out of arrows you can retrieve them wherever they land on the map. Treasure chests are also located in random areas of the map that grant upgrades. You could get a shield, wings, better arrows or any number of other artifacts. Be warned, getting too greedy with the chests will leave you open to attacks from your rivals.
10. Bloons TD 6 (Steam, Mobile)
This age old battle between Monkeys and Bloons is at its best in Bloons TD 6. This tower defense game throws thousands of Bloons at you and it's your responsibility to put down the perfect Monkeys, while using your money to upgrade their abilities, so you can pop each and every one these menacing enemies.
This game has online co-op for up to 4 players, so you can all work together to defend your territory. Deciding how to spend your money, which is transferable among players, and where to place your Monkeys is key to succeeding in co-op. You’ll even push each other to devise new strategies and study the different capabilities of each Monkey to find the most air tight of defenses. With so many different maps and challenges you and your friends could probably play for years before you win all the ribbons.