Video game buddies, banter and battles: Casual couch co-op chaos

Get ready for a riotous round up of co-op games that will have your friends and family laughing, shouting, and possibly questioning their life choices. — Photo by RDNE Stock project:

My partner and I are massive fans of the chaotic couch co-op game Overcooked, but after we completed our umpteenth play of the game (blindfolded and upside down for an extra challenge), we decided to look for another good co-op game to play together.

Shockingly, this was much more difficult than expected. Websites like Co-Optimus ( might list various kinds of multiplayer games, but we’re both very different kinds of players – she’s a fairly casual gamer, whereas I like memorising entire game wikis to theorycraft optimal play strategies, so Overcooked was like a unicorn for us.

I know there are other people out there who’d love to play more games with their partners, friends, kids, and/or highly intelligent pets, so I’m going to try to help out by doing a roundup of some fairly casual couch co-op games.

Good co-op games

So what makes a good co-op game? The obvious answer, “a game you can play together with friends”, is generic enough to be useless.

By that definition, solitaire can be a good co-op game if you enjoy having your partner hover over your shoulder, shouting “jack of spades to queen of hearts!”.

So when I talk about a “good co-op game” in this article, I’m specifically talking about a video game that (1) requires cooperative play between two or more people to achieve a shared goal and (2) allows players to have fun together despite different skill levels. Oh, and also, everyone can be sitting in the same room together.

I believe the best co-ops are couch co-op games (or local multiplayer) played on the same console, simply for practical and economical reasons.

Success comes not from reflexes and skill but from communicating a plan with your fellow chefs ... and working together anyway when that plan inevitably catches fire. — SHAUN A. NOORDINSuccess comes not from reflexes and skill but from communicating a plan with your fellow chefs ... and working together anyway when that plan inevitably catches fire. — SHAUN A. NOORDIN

I’ve enjoyed raucous rounds of Monaco and Streets Of Rogue with my PC gaming buddy in Aussie, but we’ve always had to buy our own copies of the games and maintain our own machines.

If you just want to play a quick game with your friends and family, it’s easier (and cheaper!) to simply sit them down on a couch and hand them a spare PlayStation 5 or Nintendo Switch controller.

To provide some structure to my game recommendations, I’ve developed a system for evaluating a game’s cooperative play value by measuring a few factors on a scale of one to five:

(A)sks you to communicate: The real challenge of a good co-op game should come from players having to coordinate and communicate with each other, not individual skill and strategy.

(I)ntuitive controls: Good co-op games should have controls that are easy enough for a child to grasp. Bonus points if the game has a simple camera (for example, a fixed top-down 2D view of the level), since gamers tend to forget not everyone is capable of handling 3D split-screen camera controls.

Eas(Y) to start playing: You want games where players can start playing together in a matter of minutes – arcade-style games are ideal.

If you have to commit to learning a game’s four-year-long epic backstory and grind to level 150 before you can even start playing with your buddy, then that’s not playing co-op, that’s marriage.

(O)bvious rules/goals: It should be obvious at all times to every player what they should be doing.

(H)elpfully un-frustrating: Good games to play with another person have adjustable difficulty levels, optional assist modes, and accessibility options.

This isn’t Dark Souls – when a level is too tough, you want to change the difficulty, not yell “Git gud!” at grandma. Or worse, have grandma yell that at you.

Now that we’re armed with this very scientific and patented A.I.Y.O.H. couch co-op scoring system, let’s get down to some game recommendations!

Overcooked: All You Can EatOvercooked: All You Can Eat

Overcooked: All You Can Eat

One to four players, couch and online

Ghost Town Games/Team 17

Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, PC (Steam), Xbox Series X/S

Here’s my gold standard for couch co-op: Overcooked AYCE is a game where a team of chefs work together to cook up and serve dishes within a time limit on various weird and wonderful levels.

The methods of assembling various recipes are very obvious, and the controls are very intuitive because they mostly consist of “move”, “take an item”, and “do something”. The challenge comes from the wacky, ingenious, and/or outright evil level designs.

Sometimes, the levels divide chefs so only one can chop ingredients and only the other can cook. Sometimes, the levels have obstacles and bottlenecks that’ll cause chefs to bump off each other (metaphorically and literally) unless they synchronise their movements.

But always, success comes not from reflexes and skill but from communicating a plan with your fellow chefs ... and working together anyway when that plan inevitably catches fire. That’s what makes Overcooked so brilliant.

A.I.Y.O.H: 5 / 5 / 5 / 5 / 4

Bonus points for cross-platform online multiplayer and Kevin the dog.

Manic MechanicsManic Mechanics

Manic Mechanics

One to four players, couch and online

4J Studios

Platform: Switch

Manic Mechanics is one of the two new co-op games I got that made me want to write this article to begin with, and yes, it’s good.

In this game, you and your friends play as a team of mechanics fixing various vehicles.

Like Overcooked, the gameplay itself is simple enough for anyone to understand: take the engines/wheels/doors/etc to the repair/inflation/paint/etc stations, then fit the fixed parts into the cars/trucks/etc.

Manic Mechanics feels like “Overcooked Lite”, possibly aimed at a slightly younger audience, and I sincerely mean this as a compliment.

The generous scoring system means players rarely fail outright, but you’ll still need to divvy up work properly and avoid stage hazards if you want to reach the high scores.

The game feels a bit short at only 25 levels, but my partner and I have had fun replaying the stages and learning to abuse the floaty physics system for higher scores (for instance, I can “repair” cars by chucking engines precisely across huge halls). I hope this gets DLC (downloadable content)!

A.I.Y.O.H: 4 / 4 / 5 / 5 / 3

Moving Out 2Moving Out 2

Moving Out 2

One to four players, couch and online

SMG Studio/DevM Games/Team 17

Platform: Switch, PS4/5, PC (Steam), Xbox Series X/S

Moving Out 2 is the other new co-op game that inspired me to write this article, but only as a contrast to the positive things I have to say about Manic Mechanics.

The basic premise of Moving Out 2 is that your crew has been hired to move furniture out of (or occasionally into) various buildings, and most of the game is about grappling with the physics system with your buddies to move bulky couches through tight corridors.

My issue is that – and to be fair, this is subjective – the controls and physics systems are more frustrating than fun.

The collision physics mimicked the difficulty of forcing two players to move heavy objects through narrow spaces a little too realistically, which resulted in actual “no, you turn left!” or “Whose left?” arguments.

Credit where it’s due, though: Moving Out 2 has some robust assist mode, accessibility, and control-remapping options, so my partner and I could still have fun by tuning the difficulty way, way down. That way, we could properly enjoy the chaos of smashing through the levels to quickly deliver furniture together.

A.I.Y.O.H: 4 / 2 / 4 / 2 / 4

Streets Of RogueStreets Of Rogue

Streets Of Rogue

One to four players, couch and online

Matt Dabrowski/tinyBuild Games

Platform: Switch, PC/Mac/Linux (Steam), PS4, Xbox One

Of course I was going to talk about Streets Of Rogue – this is a game where my Aussie buddy and I once released a caged gorilla into a room full of mad scientists to create a distraction to break into a jail to steal a muffin and accidentally started a zombie apocalypse instead.

Streets Of Rogue is a roguelike immersive sim action sandbox full of zany nonsense (for example, chicken nuggets are an in-game currency) coupled with brilliantly open-ended interactive game mechanics (in this case, there are dozens of ways to break into a building, ranging from combat to faking a fire emergency to distraction gorillas). Your goal? Become the mayor of this insane town.

This game is extremely rewarding if you and your buddies thrive on slapstick chaos and/or love working together to come up with creative, experimental, or absurd solutions to problems.

However, one of you probably needs to memorise the entire game wiki just to understand what is happening at any given point in time.

The game unfortunately scores quite low on the A.I.Y.O.H. scale since it’s the least casual or family-friendly game on the list (this is NOT for kids!), but I wanted to mention it anyway because it’s incredibly fun and because they announced a sequel for 2024. Bring on Streets Of Rogue 2!

A.I.Y.O.H: 3 / 2 / 4 / 1 / 2

Bonus points for: Look behind you, it’s a gorilla!

Good Job!Good Job!

Good Job!

One to two players couch co-op

Paladin Studios/Nintendo

Platform: Switch

I think Good Job! was designed to be a one-player puzzle game, but given the amount of mayhem-induced laughter I’ve had with my friends, I’m going to say it’s one of the best inadvertently designed co-op games.

In Good Job!, you’re the incompetent child(ren?) of a big company’s CEO, and you (and your buddy) need to work your way up the corporate ladder by performing odd jobs.

Unfortunately for everyone else at the company, you’ll do this with the proficiency and safety of Mr Bean bumbling through a nuclear power plant.

The game’s simple aesthetics and cartoon physics allow you and your partner to find unorthodox solutions to simple tasks, such as moving a projector to a meeting room by slingshotting it through walls.

There’s nothing in this game that requires you to play with a friend, but trust me, this game is best played with a buddy for maximum anarchy.

A.I.Y.O.H: 1 / 5 / 5 / 5 / 1

Your next co-op conquest

I really love playing video games with my friends and family, and I hope this article helps you find games that you’ll enjoy with yours.

I can’t possibly cover all the multiplayer games that are available out there, but I can certainly give you the tools to help evaluate what makes for a good, casual, couch co-op game.

So the next time you and your partner have to deal with a burning kitchen because one of you insisted on cooking while blindfolded and upside down; or when your garage explodes because your child thought a five-engine car was a good idea; or when your grandma calls you a scrub just because you accidentally got a couch stuck in a hallway, just remember to think: A.I.Y.O.H.

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