Ah, it’s that time of year again! Halloween is officially over and we’re already prepped for Christmas. Everyone’s writing their Christmas lists and major retailers are adjusting their prices accordingly to make us think we’re getting a good deal. The temperature is dropping, snow is ready to coat our streets, and wildlife is about to freeze over and turn the world into a sparkling winter wonderland.
It’s miserable, right? Who ACTUALLY likes to go outside during that kind of weather just to fight the holiday crowds? There’s a reason everything closes down when it snows, and it’s because no one can actually get anywhere out of fear of crashing into one another! It looks great in photos and Christmas cards, but otherwise, it’s just a giant pain.
So rather than hanging out outside, why not get the full winter experience through some games? You get all the thrills of playing in snow without the threat of pneumonia lingering over your head. We’ve sorted out our favorite winter-themed games down below!
10. Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
- System: Wii U
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Sega, Nintendo SPD Group No 4
- Release Dates: November 15, 2013
Screw who would win in a fight; let’s ask the real questions! Who would win in a ski race? Mario? Sonic? Peach? Eggman? Who knows? If you want the answer, check out Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, where you can put all of your favorite Mario & Sonic characters in official Winter Olympic games! Race down the slopes! Try your hand at curling! Maybe even check out some of the dream competitions!
Look, not every sports game has to be serious business. Not everyone wants a real reminder of what kind of awesome snowboarding tricks that they could totally do if they just put forth a modicum of effort towards learning how to safely make it down the beginner’s slopes. No, sometimes you just want to kick back and screw around for a bit with a few friends. And that’s exactly what the Mario & Sonic series was designed for. Perfect for if you’re in the mood for a few winter games with friends but none of you have the motivation to drag out your hockey gear.
9. Metal Gear Solid
- System: Playstation 1, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Classic
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
- Release Dates: October 21, 1998 (US)
In the distant future of 2005, the military organization FOXHOUND, led by the accomplished Liquid Snake, decides to separate from the United States. Worse yet, they’ve taken command of a secret military base just off the coast of Alaska that houses Metal Gear REX, a gigantic walking nuclear weapon with the power to level an entire country. To stop them, Colonel Roy Campbell has dragged the legendary super soldier Solid Snake out of retirement. His mission? Infiltrate Shadow Moses and take down Liquid Snake.
There’s no way you don’t know Metal Gear Solid, but you may be wondering what it could possibly have to do with winter? Well, many players forget that, though most of the game takes place indoors, it takes place right in the middle of the arctic! Those moments you’re outdoors remind you of the cold, chilling isolation of winter. But you’re thankful for the cover it also provides during that intense confrontation with Sniper Wolf nonetheless!
8. Batman Arkham Origins
- System: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC
- Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- Developer: WB Games International
- Release Dates: October 25, 2013 (US)
Gotham City didn’t always know Batman. Before Bruce Wayne returned home, Gotham was riddled with crime and corruption to an extent the world had never seen. Okay, that might still ring true today, but the point is that before the rise of Batman, it used to be so much worse. Batman Arkham Origins is the story of how Batman made his name in Gotham City, back when rumors were still circulating about his existence. However, there’s a massive prison break one fateful Christmas Eve, and that might be enough to put Batman in the spotlight.
Batman Arkham Origins is a unique case study on how writing can affect the development of a game. The developers wanted to create a lonely, desolate atmosphere, which is actually a little difficult to do in the hustle and bustle of Gotham’s streets. However, by setting the plot on Christmas Eve, there’s suddenly a great excuse for why no one is out and about. Snow also makes for a great backdrop for isolation, making Batman Arkham Asylum the perfect lonely Christmas game if you don’t have anyone else for the holidays (or if you just want to avoid the in-laws).
7. Indigo Prophecy
- System: PC, Playstation 2, Xbox, Android/iOs, PlayStation 4
- Publisher: Atari, Quantic Dream
- Developer: Quantic Dream
- Release Dates: September 26, 2005 (US)
Lucas Kane is not really sure why he brutally stabbed that man in the diner bathroom. All he knows is that he was not in control of his body when he did it. Of course, proving that to the police might be just a tad tricky. So rather than sticking around and hoping the police will hear him out, Lucas instead does what he can to make a break for it and investigate on his own. However, even weirder things are happening to him in his daily life, like a seemingly never-ending blizzard and giant bugs invading his workplace. Could they all be connected?
There are plenty of games that happen to take place during the winter, but very few actually revolve around the season! The plot of Indigo Prophecy is actually driven by winter, as you watch the world gradually descend into an ice age. You don’t really notice it at first either, as it begins almost more as window dressing until you realize that it’s only getting colder and colder as events get crazier and crazier around you. It’s a great reminder of what you’re avoiding by not going outside.
6. Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds
- System: PlayStation 4
- Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Developer: Guerilla Games
- Release Dates: November 7, 2017
Aloy’s work just never seems to be done. She’s forced to go investigate The Cut upon spotting some ominous smoke over the mountains. Not only that, but there are some heavy rumors of some dangerous machines that have made their stronghold over in that area. When Aloy arrives, she discovers the Banuk at war with a Daemon that’s taken over the Thunder’s Drum. Naturally, Aloy decides to do what she doesn’t best… throw herself into the middle of the situation and take down the Daemon herself!
We’re cheating a bit for this entry, as Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds can only be played if you already have a copy of the original Horizon Zero Dawn. However, being forced to play one of 2017’s best games can hardly be considered a bad thing! And Frozen Wilds is about as perfect of an experience as we’re ever going to get regarding Arctic exploration, so we say just take your quality winter experiences it where you can get them! For only an extra $10, it’s more than worth the price.
5. Bayonetta 2
- System: Wii U, Switch
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Platinum Games
- Release Dates: October 24, 2014 (US)
Killing God was rough on ol’ Bayonetta, but hey, the holidays are right around the corner! Bayonetta is out with her favorite slave, Enzo, and her bestie Jeanne on a lovely Christmas shopping spree, but that plan goes to the dogs once they’re assaulted by a group of demons. They prove to be more difficult than either of them anticipated, and as a result, Jeanne finds herself dead! Well, Bayonetta can’t have that. She begins a trek to Hell in order to reclaim Jeanne’s soul, and along the way, she may figure out why demons have been so reckless lately.
Look, we’re going to be honest… Bayonetta 2 is not the most festive game for the season. The wintery ties are tenuous at best. But, c’mon. It takes place on Christmas. If Die Hard can be considered a Christmas movie classic, then so should Bayonetta 2. Platinum Games are the masters of action game design, and Bayonetta 2 does not disappoint, with wild set-piece after wild set-piece thrown at you at every turn and the most buttery smooth combat ever found in a video game. It’s perfect for getting your blood flowing as you warm up from the subzero temperatures.
4. SSX (2012)
- System: PS3, Xbox 360
- Publisher: EA Sports
- Developer: EA Canada
- Release Dates: February 28, 2012 (US)
Do you get bored of the humdrum snowboarding lanes at ski resorts? So does Team SSX. That’s why they’ve got a mission: to challenge the 9 Deadly Descents of the world and raise money for their livestreams. However, they’re not the only ones looking for glory. One of Team SSX’s former teammates, Griff Simmons, is looking to defeat the Deadly Descents all on his own. A race is declared to see who can beat all 9 Deadly Descents first!
Look, winter is when we all start getting antsy to break out our X-Games gear and try our hand at snowboarding. Rather than risk the inevitable head injury and hospital bill, why not satisfy your boarding urges with the most recent SSX? SSX is the definitive snowboarding series for one reason, and one reason alone: it’s precisely how wild we want snowboarding to be in our imaginations. It’s not about Olympic grade scoring and precision, but performing as many sick flips off of unbelievable ramps that could never exist in reality.
- System: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Developer: Ubisoft Annecy
- Release Dates: December 2, 2016 (US)
Don’t want to limit yourself to just snowboarding? Steep also includes skiing, paragliding, and even wingsuit flying! Explore the vast mountains of the Alps or Denali and find the perfect spot to perform your chosen sport. While you’re hunting, you may even stumble upon hidden areas that house secret races. Plus, Steep is always online, so you can be sure to always find someone to play with!
Steep was an ambitious title among sports games. Not content with just the competition-based stylings of other titles, Steep creates an entire open world for its players to explore. It really gives you the sense that you’re exploring the mountains so that that you don’t have to get off your couch to do so. Better yet, just make your living room into your own makeshift ski lodge and never make a trip up to the Alps ever again!
2. Until Dawn
- System: Playstation 4
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Developer: Supermassive Games
- Release Dates: August 25, 2015
Did you ever have any yearly traditions with your friends in high school? The stars of Until Dawn are lucky enough to have family that owns a lodge up in the mountains that they can retreat to once a year. However, a terrible prank gone horribly wrong kills both Beth and Hannah and the gang just isn’t the same after that. However, after a year, Josh wants everyone to make amends and invites everyone once again to the lodge so as to not ruin their tradition. However, strange things are happening, and as it turns out, no one is safe.
Generally, when you think of winter games, you’re probably thinking of something a little more relaxed and laid back. A game you can play while curled up under the covers with a nice cup of cocoa. Until Dawn is not that game. Instead, it’s all about the intense, raw fear that comes from being isolated due to a blizzard. It’s a game for the Scrooge inside all of us, turning its winter setting into the perfect setup for a slasher horror mystery.
1. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
- System: Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
- Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
- Developer: Climax Studios
- Release Dates: December 8, 2009
What is present and what is past? What’s reality and what’s an embodiment of the patient’s fears? These are questions that Dr. Kauffman is trying to figure out for his patient in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. All he can determine for sure is that Harry Kaufman at one point returned home to find his young daughter Cheryl, only to get lost in a frozen wasteland. Now, whether the parts about monsters attacking Harry are up to interpretation, but there are bits of reality seeping into his patient’s tale and he’s going to figure it out.
One of the neat things about snow is how it completely obscures your vision. It creates a great sense of mystery, as you can never tell what that figure lurking in the distance actually is. So many stories use snow as a reason to block people off, but Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is unique in how it actually drives its players to explore. It uses snow and winter to blur the lines of reality, something that, for whatever reason, is rarely attempted.
When it comes right down to it, these are the games that best represent what winter is all about. They’re all about the thrills and excitement of what’s possible with the cold, snow, and holidays that are associated with them, all done from the comfort of your own living room. All of them will give you the sensations of winter without actually having to, you know… deal with it.
But, hey, do you have your own suggestions? Did we miss out on your favorite winter games? Miffed that Disney shut down the servers to Club Penguin? Well, please, let us know in the comments down below!