Two-person computer games?
July 13, 2011 2:40 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for two-person computer games for Mac whose main emphasis is on strategy / thinking / puzzle-solving, not fighting or socialising.

My husband and I are looking for computer games that we can play together (i.e., on two separate laptops but in the same room). I'm really not into games where a main focus is on fighting like Warcraft or first-person shooters; I'm not morally opposed by it, just bored. In an ideal world the game would be something that is thinky and engaging. No MMOs (we want it to just be the two of us and not have to bother with meeting up with or coordinating with other people). It's proving surprisingly difficult to find games that meet all of our criteria - either that, or we really don't know where to look.

So, to sum up, the criteria are:

1. Two-player (i.e., two controllers on two laptops in the same room) but not MMO
2. The emphasis is on strategy / puzzle-solving rather than hitting buttons quickly.
3. Must be available for the mac

The three options we have identified so far are SimCity, Age of Empires, or Civilization, but we're not perfectly satisfied with any of these. Any other suggestions?
posted by forza to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Portal 2 has an excellent co-op mode. It looks like an FPS at first glance, but don't be fooled. It's a collection of tricky physics puzzles. It got rave reviews when it came out a few months ago, and it's incredibly satisfying when it all clicks into place.
posted by Ted Maul at 2:44 AM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

For a change, the answer to a "good co-op game, but no FPSs please" question is actually Portal 2. Great co-op puzzle-solving stuff.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:28 AM on July 13, 2011

This might be off base, but... card games? If you like, they can be played online. I recommend Canasta.
posted by segfault at 3:39 AM on July 13, 2011

Defcon does involve violence---of a very very abstract kind---and you have to have a rather dark sense of humour to enjoy it, but it fits your categories. I can guarantee, since I see you're old enough to have lived through the same 1980s I did, that it'll make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck at least once during the first round you play.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:58 AM on July 13, 2011

Frozen Synapse [Steam] has guns but it's primarily a strategy game. Turn-based, you don't have to be playing at the same time.
posted by episodic at 4:07 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Age of Mythology is a great game. A spinoff of Age of Empires, but more myth-y. There is some "attacking" but there's also strategy and building up your civilization, collecting resources like wood, gold, and food. You could play against each other, or you could team up and play against the computer(s). My husband and I used to play it a lot, in the same room.
posted by franc.o.bolos at 4:18 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Trine sounds like what you want.
posted by piato at 4:39 AM on July 13, 2011

Sleep Is Death is a 2-player collaborative storytelling game. One player controls the protagonist of the story, while the other creates the rest of the world on the fly, in response to the protagonist's actions. It's hard to explain, but this slideshow should help clear it up.
posted by skymt at 4:56 AM on July 13, 2011

This is kind of out of leftfield, but if you're in the same house (rather than looking for a way to connect when you're travelling) have you considered board games? They really have come a long way since Monopoly and Cluedo. This Board Games with Scott video explains some of ways in which modern games are ~100000000x more fun than slogging through Monopoly, and lists a few games that might catch your eye. Settlers of Catan (featured in that video) is probably the most well-known "modern" (i.e. not fundamentally broken) board game (although you'll need to tweak the rules in the box to make it suitable for 2 players), and there are hundreds of other highly rated, 2-player friendly games.
posted by caek at 5:21 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thank you everyone for your suggestions! This is quite a list of interesting games, so even when we finish one we'll have many more things to do after that. We are currently going through the list and having lively discussions about which to choose. We will keep checking so if there are any more suggestions keep them coming.

caek: I love board games but unfortunately my husband doesn't like them (and I've really tried to introduce him to some of the new cool ones, like Settlers of Catan). His comment is that every time he plays a board game he wishes there was a computer to take care of "all of the annoying admin." Anyway, I don't want to turn this thread into a discussion on the merits of board games, but that's not really what we're looking for - even though I'll keep that list in mind for playing with people other than my husband.
posted by forza at 5:43 AM on July 13, 2011

If you like board games such as Settlers of Catan, and the husband wants a computer to take care of the administrative stuff, you might like the iPhone or iPad app of Carcassonne. Can be played multiplayer or vs. the computer, and I like it even better than Settlers (which I like very much indeed).

There are evidently PC and console versions, but I haven't tried those out.
posted by jeffmshaw at 5:55 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you have an Xbox, you can get Carcassonne on Xbox Live Arcade, where the computer does indeed take care of the boring admin stuff. You can get Ticket To Ride and Setters Of Catan on there too but those can't be played on local multiplayer (since they have an element of keeping your cards secret). Carcassonne on the iPhone is pretty decent too.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:55 AM on July 13, 2011

If you want new German board games online, to take care of all the annoying stuff, that exists!

Settlers of Catan Online is available online for free, although it isn't a 2 player game. If you pay for the premium subscription, there are some other related games available, some of which are 2 player.

There are some other German board games available online here, although it can be very confusing to learn to play the game online if you haven't played it with cards before. Some of the translations from German are a bit iffy.

Both have downloaded clients that work on Macs.

Seconding the Carcassonne app for iPhone/iPad - it's very well designed.
posted by asphericalcow at 10:37 AM on July 13, 2011

Ticket to Ride for iPad was just updated to have local pass-and-play multiplayer (as well as symbols for us color blind folks), so I finally bought it after... ahem... trying it. We'll see how responsive the wife is to it.

Thirding (if that's a thing) Carcassonne on iPhone/iPad - very well polished and simple to play (since the boring admin stuff is handled for you).

Back to the question: as for playing on a Mac, the previously mentioned Portal 2 is great. The first Portal has a demo you can check out to get a general sense of how it works, but the co-op stuff in Portal 2 adds a lot to it.

You can always comb through to see if there are any classic games that might work for you. Most everything from there runs through DOSBox, so it can be played on a Mac (through Boxer is probably the easiest method, but there are guides).

For less graphically intense games, you could use WINE or set up a virtual machine with VirtualBox and play Windows games.

Also, Caek's suggestions for board games are great. Board Games with Scott has a ton of great information (sadly, no more new episodes), and BoardGameGeek is a huge time suck that will make you want to buy way too many games. If your husband won't budge, you might have luck on the sister site,
posted by hankscorpio83 at 12:30 PM on July 13, 2011

Online Dominion?
posted by moira at 8:49 PM on July 13, 2011

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