The Best Games to Play This Christmas

The Christmas season is here! And what better way to celebrate it than by cozying up on a warm blanket and booting up a video game during the wee hours of the night? The holidays are in full swing, and it’s the most beautiful time of the year. Some would prefer to have a night out or make plans to get the family together. But what about us gamers? Is there something that could get us feeling that it’s Christmas? Lucky for you, I’ve conjured up a list of the best Christmas-ey video games that melt even the Grinch’s cold, icy heart.

Cthulhu Saves Christmas

From the makers of Cosmic Star Heroine, Cthulhu Saves Christmas has that same old-school paint reminiscent of the SNES-era RPG games we grew up playing. Pair that with tongue-in-cheek humor, and you’ve got Cthulhu Saves Christmas. The title is a holiday-themed sequel to Cthulhu Saves the World, but you don’t necessarily have to play that to enjoy the second game. It’s very self-aware, with much of the game’s dialogue breaking the fourth wall.

If you want some Lovecraftian touches dabbling into your holiday cheer, I highly recommend checking Cthulhu Saves Christmas. Best of all, the game is on the shorter side, so you don’t have to worry about sinking in 30 to 50 hours of gameplay like in other RPGs. The graphics, gameplay and everything else about it oozes nostalgic memories for me. And if you want to relive that memory of when you were a kid that woke up on Christmas morning to find a gift disguised as a console under the fireplace, then this is the game for you.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

The Animal Crossing games always do an excellent job of encapsulating the seasons throughout the year, and New Horizons nails Christmas. Known as Toy Day in the game, your whole island turns into a winter wonderland if you’re based in the northern hemisphere. As for the south folks, you’ll be pleased to hear they’re in for some vibrant and sunny days.

It’s all a wonderfully festive time. You can craft Christmas-exclusive furniture and drips, all island folks are wearing their Christmas outfits, the trees are decorated, and you can exchange toys with your favorite villager. Oh, and don’t forget Jingle the reindeer! So what are you waiting for? Wear that Santa outfit and purchase those themed items from Nook’s Cranny.

Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams

It’s nigh impossible to talk about Christmas without mentioning the game about the holiday’s cheery vibes. NiGHTS Into Dreams is arguably one of the more obscure titles on this list, and its Christmas counterpart, Christmas NiGHT Into Dreams,  is even more so. The game was launched multiple times in the SEGA Saturn as a promotional disc. Thanks to the HD remake, it’s much easier to get your grubby hands on it.

When I say Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams is the epitome of Christmas at its core, I mean it. Compared to the normal series, the more festive version of the game features snow particles that fall across the levels, icy backgrounds, Christmas trees, and festive wreaths that are enough to choke a mule. If that’s still not enough to get you in the mood for the Yuletide, the original music is replaced with an instrumental version of Jingle Bells.

NiGHTS isn’t my cup of tea—I think it runs like rubbish, even in our current consoles. You can see certain aspects of it in Balan Wonderworld, which we all know is a flop. Of course, both games were created by the same man. But hey, I digress—it might not be for me, but it might be for you. If you want to add a retro feel to your gaming experience this Christmas, Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams is the perfect game.

Dragon Quest Treasures

The Dragon Quest franchise has been here for decades and is here to stay. As we wait for the next mainline entry (Dragon Quest XI), why not kick back and relax with Dragon Quest Treasures? As you immerse yourself into the colorful DQ universe, you’ll follow along with Erik and Mia’s adventure as they hunt for treasure. Erik and Mia are the characters from Dragon Quest 11, and this is before they encounter the Luminary. What’s great about Dragon Quest Treasures is that, for the first time, the combat is real-time and lets you fight alongside iconic monsters from the series.

You can use your companions to aid you in the battle or their special moves to traverse the map better. The story isn’t much to look at, but Dragon Quest Treasures is sure to satisfy that thirst for exploration. As the title suggests, the main goal is to look for treasure; by doing so, you can upgrade your “town.” You’ll also meet all sorts of monsters and characters as you play this open-world adventure game. If you want to delve into some light-hearted gameplay and a story that doesn’t go too in-depth about things, give Dragon Quest Treasures a try.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion

If you’ve played the Final Fantasy VII remake we just had two years ago, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is the perfect accompaniment for it. Even if you have not played the original FF7 game, that’s fine; you can still enjoy Crisis Core. Originally released on the PSP in 2007, the gameplay is far from what you’d expect from a Final Fantasy game back then. FF games are typically turn-based, but Crisis Core changes it up by featuring the DMW. The DMW (Digital Mind Wave) is a unique slot machine mechanic seen on the side as the game progresses.

On top of this, the story is solid. I won’t go too much into this, but if you’re looking for an emotional way to spend your Christmas morning (or evening), Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is the way to go. I kid you not; the narrative is impactful and riveting—it’s one of the few games that actually made me tear up a bit.

Happy Holidays!

And that’s pretty much it! Naughty or nice, everyone loves a good game—especially at Christmas. Whether you’re thinking of getting something for a gamer in your life or yourself, hopefully, this list managed to help you with your dilemma. If you want to share your suggestions on what games I should play for the holidays, let me know in the comments below.

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