10 best Christmas games that aren't really Christmas games

10 best Christmas games that aren't really Christmas games
Image via Sony

Written by 

Joshua Boyles

Last updated 

23rd Dec 2023 17:30

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! A chance to catch up with your relatives, exchange gifts and consume as much food as is humanly possible. What’s not to love?

Well, depending on your circumstances, you may not love that your gaming habits are almost certainly thrown up in the air. You can hardly throw something as gory as Mortal Kombat 1 up on the living room telly, unless you want to see how far Nan can spit her teeth out in shock, almost emulating a finisher from the game.

Still, that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for gaming at all on Christmas day. Below, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best Christmas games that don’t actually have that much to do with Christmas at all.

10 - LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga
Click to enlarge

I don’t know what it is about LEGO games, but they’ve always felt a bit Christmassy to me. Maybe it’s because they can be played in co-op, letting a sibling or other relative get in on the action, too. It certainly helps that LEGO is inherently kid-friendly, so there are no worries there if you’ve got little-'uns around.

What’s more attractive about playing LEGO games at Christmas is that they’re nice and simple. All you’re really doing is going around collecting studs, smacking a few minifigs and occasionally solving a basic puzzle. LEGO titles are the epitome of a chilled-out video game, and that’s exactly what you need at Christmas time.

9 - Overcooked

Overcooked
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On the far opposite of the spectrum, who doesn’t love a bit of family drama at Christmas? If someone’s not started an argument over cooking the roast dinner, why not instigate that argument early by getting everyone involved in Overcooked.

This game from Team17 sees up to four players work together to run a kitchen, serving meals as quickly and efficiently as they can. It starts out simple, but very quickly ramps up in complexity. Before you know it, you’re all shouting at each other incoherently as if you’re in an episode of The Bear. It’s delightful fun, but be aware it may sour the conversation over dinner.

8 - Minecraft

Minecraft
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Let’s swap to something a bit more chill again. Whack a bit of Minecraft in peaceful mode on the telly, and you’re all set for a fantastic day of fun. Available in either split-screen or via local network co-op, setting up a Minecraft world lets multiple family members log on throughout the day to help build up a Christmasy world.

Whether you want to go off on adventures together or build a magnificent monument in Creative mode, Minecraft can offer you that. Best of all, you can log in and out during the day depending on when the festivities get busy.

7 - Batman Arkham Origins

Batman Arkham Origins
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Ok, when we said that none of these games had anything to do with Christmas, we lied a bit. Batman Arkham Origins is in fact set at Christmas time, with Gotham covered in a sheet of snow and the decorations hung haphazardly around the Batcave.

Sometimes, the Christmas festivities can get a bit much. A couple of hours to yourself can do just the trick, and what better way to spend them than living out the ultimate vigilante power fantasy as Batman in his early days? Although not developed by Rocksteady, Origins is still a damn fine Arkham game, and may just satiate that craving before Kill the Justice League launches next year.

6 - Hearthstone

Hearthstone key art with characters at a table
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When I think of a cosy Christmas, I think of sitting around the fireplace with a good book, the low rumble of socialities bubbling away in the background. The best game I can think of that emulates that experience is Hearthstone, which literally sees you playing card games while sitting around a fire in a World of Warcraft tavern.

The best thing about Hearthstone games is that they’re quick, easy to pick up, and there’s no real consequence to losing unless you play ranked. Getting a few matches of Hearthstone in on Christmas day feels oddly apt - bonus points if you can do so while sitting around an actual fireplace in real life.

5 - Wii Sports / Switch Sports

Switch Sports
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We’ve all reached that point of Christmas where everyone’s food has finally been digested and the drinks are starting to flow again. It’s at this point that your Grandparents have shaken their usual video game cynicism and are actually up for giving them a go.

A decade ago, there was nothing funnier than seeing your Nan try and bowl a fake bowling ball down the living room. As luck would have it, it’s still just as funny in 2023. If you still have a Nintendo Wii knocking around, be sure to get Wii Sports set up. Otherwise, Switch Sports works just as well.

4 - Mario Kart 8

Mario kart 8
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Another Switch game, Mario Kart 8 is the perfect way to pass some time while you’re waiting for your Christmas dinner. Suitable for all ages, and with plenty of accessibility options for those who aren’t complete speed demons, you can get a proper tournament if you’ve got enough people (or controllers) to hand.

Plus, with all the DLC tracks now out for the Nintendo Switch version, there's a whole new collection of content that lapsed players might have missed.

3 - Tetris Effect

Tetris Effect
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Tetris is timeless, and Tetris Effect is perhaps the best modern take you can find on the game. Equally stressful as it is zen, you’ll find that no one will really mind if you stick this on the big telly during the day, as it can be just as fun to watch as it is to play.

I actually played this for a good few hours a couple of Christmases ago, and I was fascinated to see that several members of my family saw it as more of an art display than a video game. As someone who’s spent years trying to convince the family that video games aren’t stupid, actually, I certainly wasn’t expecting Tetris to be the one that finally got through to them.

2 - Skyrim

Skyirm
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You can’t make a list of Christmassy-feeling games without putting Skyrim on it somewhere. It might be because the game originally launched around the festive period, and the snow-covered peaks of the mountains certainly contribute to the cosy vibes.

What’s more, Skyrim doesn’t even need to be an anti-social affair like it was a decade ago. With devices like the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch, you can play Skyrim without committing a social faux pas - unless you play at the dinner table. We don’t recommend that.

1 - God of War Ragnarok

God of War Ragnarok
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Last but not least, we have God of War Ragnarok. I promise I’m not just putting this on the list ‘cause it’s a bit snowy again. The major theme of God of War Ragnarok is family - how our lineage affects us, but also how we can break away from the norm and forge our own path.

It’s unlikely you’ll get time to finish this 30-hour epic adventure in one day, however, I think it’s quite a poignant tale to play through at Christmas. After all, it’s a time that’s often spent around family, and also reflection as we move towards the New Year.

That’s all for our list of the best Christmas games to play that aren’t really Christmas games. Whether you end up playing lots of video games this festive period, or indeed none at all, we wish you a very Merry Christmas from all of us at GGRecon.

Joshua Boyles
About the author
Joshua Boyles
Joshua is the Guides Editor at GGRecon. After graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in Broadcast Journalism, he previously wrote for publications such as FragHero and GameByte. You can often find him diving deep into fantasy RPGs such as Skyrim and The Witcher, or tearing it up in Call of Duty and Battlefield. He's also often spotted hiking in the wilderness, usually blasting Arctic Monkeys.
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