So you’re a dad who loves video games, especially the best PS4 games. Welcome to the club. So how, exactly do you get them to share your joy over games that are, well, appropriate? While most Playstation games are designed to suck you in to hours of shooting, killing, strategizing how to bring down your enemy, or just generally waste time, there are games out there specifically designed with kids in mind. They’re fun, imaginative, and occasionally incredible..
While we don’t recommend spending hours in front of the TV with one of these masterpieces, we do encourage you to steal an hour here or there and play. One of the most important things that we looked for in family-friendly games was the chance to bond. That means they’re all co-op, or can be played with at least two people. The other thing we looked for: imagination. A good video game for kids should be like a novel or Pixar movie: it should spur some creative juices. With that in mind, here are our top picks for the best PS4 games for kids and parents.
Rayman Legends is a gorgeously drawn and rendered kids’ game involves you (Rayman) versus an array of monsters, including dragons, toads, and… lunchdores (we had to look that one up). Run, jump, and fight your way through a series of mazes, puzzles, and simply breath-taking art.
Pros: Naturally, as a family-friendly game, four-person co-op is a must, and Rayman Legends even lets players change in and out without interrupting the game. Online challenges let your kids — or, let’s face it, you— compete and rank internationally. But what we really love is the excellent, vivid art and the adorable story.
Cons: It could get a little childish for older kids, who’d rather jam on Battlefield and the like. And for younger ones, it can be a tough game to play — some of the puzzles and mazes get rather complicated rather quickly.
You know it. You love it. Or, you love to hate it. Either way, you can’t beat the undeniable draw and cultural cachet of Minecraft. This legendary game offers a couple modes that can get both kids and parents really into it: Creative Mode lets up to four players create (or dismantle) their own pixilated world, and Survival Mode makes the family fight the Creepers.
Pros: The key to co-op Minecraft is creativity — so while you may think some games melt your kids’ brains, Minecraft actually makes them think in the abstract and long-term. Short of building a fort together, the game gives you the opportunity to create something cool with your kids, giving you a quality bond.
Cons: Minecraft has been long known for its robust online community. While that’s an awesome opportunity to play different kinds of people from many places into the world, a kid going into it solo can lead to negative interactions with strangers. Be sure to play with you in the room.
Keep playtime simple: Rocket League is basically soccer, but with futuristic cars instead of people. Up to four players can create their own cars, drive around, and battle it out to knock the ball into an opponent’s goal. Nominated for over 150 “Game of the Year” awards, Rocket League is a modern classic for the whole family.
Pros: The ability to create your own, customized car that you can use to beat your kids in a video game is priceless — reportedly there are over 10 billion combinations you could make. Leaderboards show off who’s the best, and with the eight-player online mode, you could even challenge your neighbors down the road.
Cons: Competitive sports games can get the blood boiling; it’s not exactly cooperative. And the ball can be tough to kick, so get ready for a little learning curve.
A culinary co-op game? We’re definitely in. In Overcooked! you prepare, cook, and serve up an array of tasty meals before the demanding customers walk out of your restaurant. Your setting, naturally: The Onion Kingdom. As you play, you’ll unlock new levels, chefs, and even different sorts of challenges. Hopefully the gameplay will turn into a real-life love of cooking for the kids.
Pros: This game requires teamwork, and a lot of it. There’s no other way to put it. You’ll bond for hours as a family — no matter your kids’ ages. Between two to four players can play at once. As you level up in the game, you can even unlock the ability to go two-against-two. Plus, there’s food.
Cons: The game can get difficult rather quickly, leading to some frustrating levels. So patience is a virtue with this one. And, since you’re just cooking the whole time, it can get repetitive.
You loved LEGOs, your kid loves LEGOs, it’s a match made in heaven. In LEGO Worlds you’ll drop into a world made entirely out of LEGO bricks — a template, if you will — and manipulate it to your will. Build, destroy, whatever floats your boat. Explore your world on the back of a dragon or motorcycle. The only limit is your imagination—or your kids’.
Pros: Like Minecraft, LEGO World forces you and your family to use some serious creative juices. Two-player split screen allows you to collaborate with a family member, and online multiplayer lets you play with your kids remotely.
Cons: The game can be pretty complicated—not recommended for the really young ones. Lots of cutscenes and tutorials force you to sit a bit before playing around. The lack of a plot might bother some more narrative-minded gamers.
What’s more fun than watching a game show? Being in one, clearly. Knowledge is Power gives you, well, that power. This one has a twist, though. You can use your smartphone or tablet to answer questions, power play over your opponents — such as tapping through ice before they can answer a question — and much more. Fun for the whole family.
Pros: Naturally, as a game show, you and the fam will have to use a lot of brainpower. The interaction with the smartphone/tablet also gives your kid some exposure to a phone in a way that’s not all about the phone.
Cons: Things can get heated in competition. It may prove too difficult for younger kids as well — those with a less vast knowledge base.
Explore every corner of the “Imagisphere” in this super-fun and super-family-friendly adventure game. In Little Big Planet 3, you create a customizable character from a template — an OddSock is bouncy, a Swoop can gly — and hop from place to place, solving mazes, puzzles, and challenges, all with amazingly drawn and rendered 3D.
Pros: It’s just plain super fun. And it’s meant to be played two at a time, so you’ll get some quality bonding with at least one of your kids. Your kids can create their own character they’ll grow to love. And for most kids (and adults), it’s just challenging enough.
Cons: This game is not for the novice — it’s a little too difficult. The concept is fun and imaginative, though, so we have no doubt they’ll enjoy watching.