‘Tis the season to kick back, switch off, and play video games to you heart’s content. Spreading some festive cheer, I’ve compiled a short list of the best games set during Christmas for you to jump into, ideal for those quiet interludes between family activities or when your relatives are about to nod off, succumbing to their turkey induced comas.
A couple of ground rules first: no Christmas DLC packs – the majority of a game in this list must be set during Christmas instead of one or two bonus levels. No seasonal events for games either. Now that’s done, let’s see what that leaves us with…
Spider-Man: Miles Morales
This one is a touch more spoiler-laden than the other entries in here, but only for the early portions of the game. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a more personal story than the last game, and features a colder New York City covered light dusting of snow. You can barely swing through a single block of the Big Apple without seeing Christmas trees or some garish decorations of some description.
However, the bitter cold of winter is melted by a heart-warming scene during an early part of the game where Miles sits down with family and friends for a meal on Christmas Eve. In spite of all the responsibilities, stresses and differences of those there, they just share time together. Honestly, it’s possibly the closest games get to that warm, fuzzy feeling of classic Christmas films.
Here’s one for the old-school JRPG fans out there. Don’t you hate it when you get all dressed up for the Christmas Eve plans you had only to have them ruined by the spontaneous combustion of everyone at the opera? Well, you didn’t want to be Aya Brea in 1997 then, who not only had to cope with the above nonsense, but then spend her entire Christmas holidays trying to stop a homicidal creature hellbent on destroying humanity.
It’s not exactly how I would want to spend the tail end of my year, especially given the long shifts Aya puts into the investigation, the mass evacuation of New York City, and the copious amount of orange goo all over the place. But as your actions reunite a family, I can’t imagine many games that encapsulate Christmas more, if you can excuse the occasional combustion.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Christmas? It might not be for all of you, but I would take a guess that “presents” would have at least been high on the list somewhere. Bayonetta 2 opens with our favourite Umbran witch indulging in the middle of what looks like a heavy spot of Christmas shopping with her long-suffering companion Enzo as her porter.
Enzo is simply trying to get a toy fighter jet for his kid, but obviously angels attack and ruin what was an enjoyable, if eccentric, shopping trip. Thus begins a classic tale of Christmas cheer, complete with a trip to Hell itself and a fight to save the world from an ancient evil. But more than this is the true meaning of the season, from Bayonetta herself, “it’s not Christmas without caviar”.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Christmas is a time all about family and friends, and if there’s one thing you can say for Batman: Arkham Origins is that the Caped Crusader got the opportunity to catch up with some old friends. You could argue that this was only because Black Mask had put out a $50 million bounty on Batman resulting in Killer Croc setting out to hunt the Dark Knight, but that’s beside the point.
I mean, the bounty also brought seven other deadly assassins and a corrupt SWAT team after the Bat for good measure, but that just means that Batman could give everyone the greatest gifts of all – exclusive tickets to Arkham Asylum. If you add this to the gift from Alfred to Bats, everyone in the game gets a visit from ol’ Saint Nick – even if several of them are very much on the naughty list.
Die Hard Trilogy
I know that not all of this is set over Christmas and I’m cheating a little against my own rules, but John McClane doesn’t play by the rules either. All I’m saying is, if the movie is a Christmas film, then Die Hard Trilogy is a Christmas game. You all know the drill by now: McClane finds himself in Nakatomi Plaza at precisely the wrong time, takes down some deadly terrorists for reasons, you know, classic festive fun.
The game has the player filling the shoes of McClane, shooting terrorists and saving civilians like some kind of extreme tank-top adorned Santa. You might think that this has little to do with Christmas, but I dare you to find a story more fitting for the festive season than one that ends with the reconciliation of a husband with their estranged wife. I mean, it’s the plot of most of those Christmas movies with practically identical covers you can find on Netflix.
That’s my top games set over the Christmas period to wile away a few mulled wine-soaked hours with, but what are yours? Is yours on this list or have I missed a key festive adventure? Let me know wherever you can find me and have a great Christmas, one and all!