I have fond memories of sitting side by side on the floor, playing games like Halo and Borderlands with my childhood friends. I’m sure the nostalgia of couch co-op games is something many gamers can relate to, but the local co-op experience has become less prevalent in an industry increasingly focused on online multiplayer.

Of course, the convenience of online multiplayer is undeniable; you can play with anyone from anywhere in the world without having to leave your house. However, there’s something to be said about the experience of playing video games side by side. The banter, the laughter, and the camaraderie that comes with it just can’t be fully replicated online.

While they may seem few and far between, there are still plenty of gems you can play within screen-peeking distance of your friends if you’re willing to look hard enough. Forget that, though, because I’ve taken it upon myself to do the hard work for you. Here are seven of my favorite couch co-op games that I’ve fallen in love with over the years.

7. It Takes Two

It Takes Two 2

Fun and charming with emotionally impactful story beats and satisfying puzzle-based progression, players take control of May and Cody, an estranged married couple on the verge of finalizing their divorce. When the grief of their daughter Rose triggers a spell that traps them in doll versions of themselves, they must go on a fun-sized journey where they’ll be forced to confront their problems head-on and perhaps see things from a new (and smaller) perspective.

Teamwork is very much the name of the game in this title. Each puzzle is designed so that both players are required to complete it, ensuring that everyone gets to contribute regardless of individual skill level. The puzzles themselves range in complexity, some of them rather straightforward while others require strategy and timing. Even the combat in this game is puzzle-like, often requiring specific steps to be taken before an enemy can be defeated. This makes it incredibly important to be able to communicate with your partner. Otherwise, everything winds up out of sync.

While the game relies heavily on cooperation, It Takes Two certainly hosts a lot of ways to mess with your co-op partner. For instance, May and Cody are given a magical hammer and nails near the beginning of the game. While these tools are vital for solving the area’s puzzles, they can also cause unintended collateral damage. I still remember the shock I felt when I accidentally impaled my roommate with one of Cody’s nails, and the glee when I subsequently repeated the mistake (for scientific purposes, of course). None of us can escape karma, however, and I soon found myself embedded in the ground after being on the receiving end of May’s hammer.

Beyond just messing with one another, players can choose to directly compete through any of the 25 minigames strewn throughout the game. The selections range from shuffleboard to laser tennis, and you can even play a full game of chess. They are all competitive in nature, and the game even keeps track of each player’s win/loss ratio so that you can finally determine who the true master of musical chairs is. 

6. Hellpoint

Hellpoint 1

Hellpoint is a Soulslike game with a dark sci-fi setting. It takes place on Irid Novo, a derelict space station overrun by interdimensional monsters and blind ledges without railings (seriously, an OSHA inspector would have a field day with this place). Up to two players locally (and four online) can team up to tackle hordes of enemies together, working to re-stabilize the chaotic energies of Irid Novo. 

This was a gem to find, especially since Soulslike games tend to have pretty restricted multiplayer. Couch co-op is essentially nonexistent for the genre, and even online co-op is limited by the transient nature of typical Soulslike multiplayer. Normally players are summoned in order to help complete a specific task, like defending the host or defeating a boss, and then are forced to return to their world afterwards. Not in Hellpoint, though. While each area is instanced rather than open world, players are able to explore the full extent of each level without having to worry about wandering too far from the host.

Having a second player along also allows for more in-depth strategizing. Since the second player is able to fully manage and level up their character while in a multiplayer session, each player can tailor their build to make up for their partner’s weaknesses. Combat is made more dynamic by a partner, as well. One player might distract an enemy while the other flanks, or simply offer supporting fire from afar. A helping hand certainly makes the duo bosses more manageable, and it definitely creates cool moments where you’re both trading blows with your respective boss. Hellpoint is definitely one for fans of Soulslikes looking for a pinch more camaraderie! 

5. Moon Hunters

Moon Hunters

Moon Hunters is a roguelike RPG where up to four players engage in cooperative world-crafting and strategic combat in procedurally generated levels. The campaign takes place over the course of five days during which players investigate the sudden disappearance of the moon, but the exact experience changes depending on which of many paths are taken and what secrets are uncovered. Each player makes independent decisions that determine their overall personality, stats, and abilities, as well as the fate of the world and the legacy they leave behind.

Although it can be played solo, Moon Hunters feels as if it was designed to be played by two or more players. There are four starter classes (and three locked) to choose from, each with its own abilities ranging from relatively straightforward damage-dealing to more nuanced support and crowd control. My personal favorite class combo would have to be the ritualist and the sun cultist. The former can launch a gravity well that pulls in and holds enemies in place, while the latter can call down a fiery meteor that deals AOE fire damage. Black Hole Sun, anyone?

Overall, there is just a ton of variety to play with in this game and even within each class, and thanks to Moon Hunters’ roguelike nature you’ll never wind up with the same build twice in a row.

4. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is an award-winning farming simulator video game, one that I would be foolish to not put on this list. Having left the city behind for a fresh start, players take over their grandfather’s neglected farm and must find a balance between developing their farm, socializing with the local townspeople, and exploring the world to discover its secrets.

Having a friend along certainly helps with time management. Stardew is meant to be a relaxing game, but it can be stressful trying to get everything done in a day. Not managing to water all of your crops, for instance, effectively prevents those crops from growing at all that day. Now those specific crops are out of sync with the rest, and you might even get less yield overall from your harvest depending on what day the season ends. You’ll eventually unlock more efficient methods of running the farm as well as shortcuts to get around town, but an extra farmhand is a nice way to speed up the beginning grind. 

Really, though, it’s just nice having someone else with you. It turns your farm from a solo venture into a group project, and it’s amazing to watch it grow from a combined effort. After all, the only thing better than leaving the city behind for a simpler, rustic lifestyle is to bring a friend along as well!

3. The Ascent

The Ascent

An isometric action RPG set in a gritty cyberpunk world where up to four players can team up in local co-op, each creating their own custom character – a great choice if you’re having a games night! You start as an indentured servant to the Ascent Group, the corporation that runs the massive arcology the game is set in. After the company goes under, players must navigate the chaos and intrigue running rampant through the streets as the different factions vie for control.

A variety of weapons, tactical items, and augmentations allow for some pretty creative playstyles, and the addition of other players adds deeper levels of strategy to the game. Perhaps you’d enjoy stunning enemies while your partner prepares an otherwise difficult-to-aim missile barrage, or maybe you’d like to turn invisible to flank your enemies while your buddy draws their attention with a gatling rocket launcher.

There are numerous ways to play, whether you want to play damage, support, control, or a hybrid combination of the three. This deeper layer of strategy allows players to make up for each other’s weaknesses, culminating in deeply satisfying and engaging combat against the overwhelming odds The Ascent throws your way. 

2. Divinity: Original Sin 2


A turn-based RPG with a heavily choice-based narrative and strategic combat, two local players (and up to four online) can join to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and complete vast, branching questlines in a lore-rich world. Every player is the main character in Divinity: Original Sin 2, able to make their own choices independent of the host player and shape the world around them. Players can choose from six premade characters with fleshed-out backstories or choose to create their own custom character.

Nuance matters in Divinity: Original Sin 2. Say the wrong thing to a quest giver and they might not want anything to do with you. Worse, insult a gang boss and he and his underlings could turn violent. While each player has their own choices to make, they also must face the responsibility of those choices. It was not uncommon for me to have to rescue my friend from danger after she managed to upset someone, even once rushing to save her from an entire fort’s worth of guards, oops! While players might be averse to letting themselves make similar mistakes, it is exactly those moments that make the game feel more alive to me.

Where the game shines most brightly is in how classes can synergize with one another. One player might call down a torrent of water while another strikes the pool it left behind with a lightning bolt, potentially stunning everyone inside the hazard. With how often players are outnumbered by the sheer amount of enemies, being able to use the environment to your advantage (and even alter it) is a crucial and fun key to success.

Funnily enough, my favorite memory from playing Divinity: Original Sin 2 happens to not be a tale of success, but rather of failure. My friend and I were both playing undead characters, which meant that poison would heal us rather than cause damage. I had the bright idea to summon a pool of poison to heal us both, not accounting for the burning dog that would be running toward us the next turn. The ensuing combustion dropped us both and taught me a valuable lesson: always plan ahead!

1. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime


A cute game with a whimsical plot, where up to four players take control of a spacecraft on a mission to prevent the spread of anti-love through the galaxy, rescuing adorable space bunnies along the way. While the story isn’t anything to write home about, where Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime really shines is its cooperative nature.

Coordination is key. The game encourages communication and teamwork as players must work together to pilot and defend the ship. Each player has their own role to play on board, choosing between steering the ship, navigating, manning the turrets, or rotating the shield. Things go much more smoothly when you’ve got co-pilots to help stave off environmental hazards and enemies rather than trying to man all the systems yourself. That is, as long as the crew doesn’t fight over who controls what, because yes, you can kick someone off their position if you want it that badly.

With its colorful visuals and intense action, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is an exciting co-op experience that will keep you and your friends entertained for hours. And while you might prefer things to run more smoothly, some of the best fun in the game is when you’re flying by your coattails, barely avoiding enemy missile barrages and narrow cavern walls as you attempt to navigate the various treacherous galaxies the game takes you through.

So, there were the seven couch co-op games that most stuck with me over the years. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it will hopefully be a start for those of you looking to dive into a fresh cooperative experience. There’s no better way to forge some truly unforgettable gaming moments with your friends.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments