Are you looking for something to spice up your Zoom calls with friends while adhering to social distancing guidelines? Try one of these four video games.

A picture of one the playable Monster Prom's characters upgrading their boldness stat. 
A screenshot from Monster Prom website.
A picture of one of the playable Monster Prom’s characters upgrading their boldness stat.
A screenshot from Monster Prom website.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all social distancing. What used to be an inconsequential act of getting coffee with a friend now includes a concerning level of risk. While many people have been converting their social interactions to video calling platforms like Facetime and Zoom, it has become clear that it is harder to find activities to do with friends and family besides simply catching up. 

If you are looking for an activity to add some variation to your virtual hangouts, consider trying one of these four multiplayer games that can be enjoyed no matter the physical distance between players. This list includes games with various genres, price points, and necessary hardware, so there should be a worthy option for a variety of interested parties.

Tick Tock: A Tale for Two

The Ravn's Clock is one of the buildings that house a puzzle for the players to solve. 
A screenshot from Tick Tock: A Tale for Two game website.
The Ravn’s Clock is one of the buildings that house a puzzle for the players to solve.
A screenshot from the Tick Tock: A Tale for Two game website.

If you are a fan of mysteries, grab a friend and play this immersive puzzle game by Other Tales Interactive. You and your companion find yourselves trapped in an unfamiliar world and must work together, and against time, to escape. The game’s dark color palette and suspenseful storyline make it a perfect way to welcome fall, especially for Halloween lovers. The puzzles get progressively more difficult as the story develops but are a satisfying challenge. The end greets you with a feeling of accomplishment and a haunting conclusion to the story. 

It is a great game to play when you cannot be in the same room as a friend because both of you see different information on each screen, and you are not supposed to see the other player’s information. Being apart makes it easier not to fall into the temptation of sneaking a peak and cheating! To get out, you have no other option than to cooperate, describe the information that you have, listen to theirs, and work together to decipher the clues. 

  • Developer: Other Tales Interactive
  • Price: $5.99
  • Average Playtime: two and a half hours
  • Available On: Steam, Windows, Mac, Nintendo Switch, and can be played cross-platform

Monster Prom

The dateable characters sit at the same table while the players are introduced to them. 
A screenshot from Monster Prom website.
The dateable characters sit at the same table while the players are introduced to them.
A screenshot from the Monster Prom website.

Explore the halls of Spooky High, a school run by monsters for monsters, as you choose one of the six most charismatic students to invite to prom. In this decision-making dating simulator, you navigate through social scenarios to raise your stats in areas including charm, boldness, and smarts, while hopefully impressing the monster you have your eye on. Standouts in the cast include Damien, a demon with anger issues and a secret desire to be a hairdresser, and Polly, the party ghost who always has a different story about how she died. 

With 422 possible scenarios and 1,514 different outcomes, this game has many different storylines, making it easily replayable. The dialogue is quick, witty, and always surprising with its specific brand of irreverent humor. It is important to note that it has some discussion of 18+ topics, so this is not the game to choose for family game night. 

Each round allows for up to four people. While it does not support cross-platform play, someone who owns the game on their laptop or PC can hop on a video chat platform and share their screen. Since the game is point and click, other players just have to tell the person in charge what options they choose. The game is also LGBTQ+ friendly, as you choose your pronouns at the beginning of each game, can date any character no matter what gender your character is, and it features trans characters.

  • Developer: Beautiful Glitch
  • Price: $11.99 for the base game and $5.99 for DLC
  • Average Playtime: 30 to 120 minutes, depending on party size and if you play a short or full game.
  • Available On: Windows, macOS, Linux, and the Nintendo Switch

Stardew Valley

Four players work together to cultivate their farm.
A screenshot from the Stardew Valley website.

Have you ever daydreamed about starting all over in a charming small town? You might have too many responsibilities and ties to fulfill this dream in your real life, but you can play it out virtually in Stardew Valley. You can even invite friends!

In this farming simulator, you work with up to three friends to cultivate a farm and earn money from your harvests. You can also grow relationships with your neighbors, discover what makes them tick, and maybe even end up marrying one. If you are more of a combat-inclined person, you can explore the mines, slay the monsters in them and collect the resources and gemstones inside. There is no shortage of things to do in Stardew Valley. Still, one advantage of playing with others is that if you dislike a certain necessary task, one of your other friends can do it, and you can focus on other aspects of the game that you find more enjoyable.

If you are looking for a game to play over a longer time span, this is a good option. There are many tasks you must complete to finish the main story. It can be a little difficult to find your footing at first since there is a lot to learn about the game, but if you play with an experienced friend, they can offer many tips and tricks. Also, a quick Google search can help you answer your questions because the Official Stardew Valley Wiki is very detailed.

  • Developer: ConcernedApe
  • Cost: $14.99
  • Average Playtime: at least 50 hours
  • Available On: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Xbox One

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

From left to right, residents Fauna, Reneigh, and Cookie sit or stand in front of the Residents Services building. 
A screenshot from Animal Crossing: New Horizons
From left to right, residents Fauna, Reneigh, and Cookie sit or stand in front of the Residents Services building.
A screenshot from Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

If you are looking for a relaxing game to play to escape from real-world stress, creating an island home in New Horizons might be just what you are looking for. The Animal Crossing franchise is known for its cast of adorable characters and easygoing gameplay. This installment features almost 400 different residents that you can invite to your island and has added more activities and customizable parts of the game than ever before.

While most of the game is played solo as you decorate your island and grow friendships with your neighbors, there are multiple ways to play this game with friends. If you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership, you can visit a friend’s island. This is a great way to catch up with a friend while adding another layer of excitement. You can hop on a phone call or video chat, and give each other tours of your islands, meet each other’s residents and shop at your storefronts. If you visit on a special occasion, you can even experience a KK Slider concert together or work together to tally up points at a fishing tournament.

If you want to make it a bigger event, up to eight people can be on an island at one time. Since many in-person events have been canceled, some people have opted to have them on New Horizons instead, including birthday parties and weddings.

  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Price: $59.99
  • Average Playtime: varies greatly
  • Available On: Nintendo Switch

These are four multiplayer video games that I found interesting to play while social distancing. If you have additional games, please let me know in the comments below!