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45 Great Games Like No Man's Sky Games Rated PEGI 18 and Younger

Our experts have spent time searching for great games similar to No Man's Sky and have found the following:

No Man's Sky is a space simulation about exploring endless planets and galaxies. It invites you to take your spaceship to explore and colonise a universe rich with diverse planets, creatures and fauna. Facing so vast a space is daunting at first, but a rhythm of survival, combat and trading draw you into a space drama of your own making. Choose a home planet and join other players to subdue the wilds of this breathtaking universe.

Unfortunately, No Man's Sky is not available on Android, Mac, PS5, Switch or iOS. However, we recommend the following games that offer a similar experience or theme:

DetailsGame Details

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 12-18 year-olds

Release Date: 10/08/2016, updated in 2018

Price: 48% off

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 23 features

Developer: Hello Games (@HelloGames)

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 32 players online

Costs: Purchase cost

42 Hand Picked Games Like No Man's Sky

These are our hand-picked games similar to No Man's Sky. This doesn't use automatic matching, instead, we hand-pick games that are good to play if you have enjoyed No Man's Sky. These selections also include games that offer a different experience but address a similar theme or topic.
 

Proteus

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 4-12 year-olds

Release Date: 30/01/2013

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3 and PS4

Genres: Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 3 features

Developer: A Twisted Tree (@ATwistedTree)

Players: This is a single player game

This game takes you to a pixelated island. As you explore you discover that your presence changes the seasons and time of day. Delving deeper, there are rudimentary interactions with the creatures that inhabit the land, and rain clouds that blow in from...

Sea of Thieves

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 12-18 year-olds

Release Date: 20/03/2018

Platforms: PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Open World, Role-Playing, Simulation and Stealth

Accessibility: 26 features

Developer: Rare Ltd (@RareLtd)

Players: You can play this with 24 players online

Sea of Thieves is an online game where you are a pirate searching for treasure and adventure. Cast into a large open sea you work with other online players to crew your ship and find treasure. The game has a main story but really focuses on creating...

Subnautica (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 10-16 year-olds

Release Date: 11/04/2016, updated in 2018

Price: 35% off

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World, Simulation, Stealth and Strategy

Accessibility: 14 features

Developer: Unknown Worlds (@UnknownWorlds)

Players: This is a single player game

Subnautica is an open-world adventure where you explore the ocean on an alien planet after crashlanding. You collect resources and fight creatures to survive. This enables you to establish an underwater base, gain new craft and equipment and explore...

Terraria

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 8-14 year-olds

Release Date: 25/11/2013, updated in 2019

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Stadia, Switch, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Platform, Shooting, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 23 features

Developer: Terraria Logic (@Terraria_Logic)

Players: You can play with 4 players in the same room and up to 8 players online

Terraria looks like a 2D, lesser, version of Minecraft. However, this is a game every bit as complex and creative as the better-known block building game. To the world-crafting and survival it adds hundreds of items to collect, characters to defeat and...

The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 11-18 year-olds

Release Date: 03/03/2017

Platforms: Switch and Wii U

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Simulation and Stealth

Accessibility: 12 features

Developer: Nintendo (@Nintendo)

Players: This is a single player game

This game departs from the previous Zelda formula with the scale and depth of its world. You walk, fly, ride and climb your way through a landscape that varies in climate, terrain, inhabitants and vegetation. Weather and the passage of the sun and moon...

Ark: Survival Evolved

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 08/08/2017, updated in 2018

Price: 33% off

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Fighting, Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: Survivetheark (@Survivetheark)

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 8 players online

This game offers hunting-and-harvesting gameplay in a primal setting. Although not as polished or streamlined as a game like Horizon Zero Dawn, this is a more ambitiously open world where you can choose your own way to survive. With crafting and...

Genshin Impact

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 27/09/2020

Price: Free

Platforms: Android, PC, PS4 and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Open World and Role-Playing

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: Genshin Impact (@GenshinImpact)

Players: You can play this with 4 players online

Genshin Impact is a role-playing adventure set in a fantastical open world you explore by walking, climbing, swimming and gliding as necessary. Like the Zelda games, you can collect items, and craft new weapons. However, in this game to create a party...

The Eternal Cylinder

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 30/09/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Creative, Fighting, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: The ACE Team (@TheACETeam)

Players: This is a single player game

The Eternal Cylinder is a strategy game where you survive by evolving your creatures to adapt to the environment. Your herd explore a strange world filled with exotic lifeforms and environments. All the while a menacing firey cylinder rolls towards you.

Astroneer

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 10-16 year-olds

Release Date: 16/12/2016, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 23 features

Developer: SES dev (@SES_dev)

Players: This is a single player game

Astroneer is an open-world space adventure where you colonize planets by creating habitable structures, farming and mining resources. There is no specific story, although the challenges of each planet give rise to struggles of achievement to placate the...

Outer Wilds

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 11/12/2018, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: Mobius Games (@Mobius_Games)

Players: This is a single player game

Outer Wilds is an exploration space mystery about a solar system trapped in an endless time-loop. After 20 minutes of game time, you must start again – but each time brings a new opportunity to learn how you ended up on the planet and solve the...

Sid Meier's Civilization (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 21/10/2016, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Fighting, Open World, Strategy and Turn-Based

Developer: Sid Meier (@Sid_Meier)

Players: You can play with 12 players in the same room

Civilization is a long running strategy game where you develop a society from hunter gatherer to space travel. There are many ways to approach this challenge; socially, militarily, politically or perhaps building wonders to impress other nations.

Star Wars: Squadrons

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 02/10/2020

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Shooting and Simulation

Accessibility: 26 features

Developer: Motive Montreal (@MotiveMontreal)

Players: You can play this with 10 players online

Star Wars: Squadrons is a shooting game where you master piloting spaceships. Squadrons offers a single player, narrative-based game, in which you play as two pilots (one in the Galactic Empire and one in the New Republic) where you'll fight in battles...

Subnautica Below Zero (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 10-16 year-olds

Release Date: 30/01/2019, updated in 2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 29 features

Developer: Unknown Worlds (@UnknownWorlds)

Players: This is a single player game

Subnautica: Below Zero is an open-world adventure game that follows the original game, Subnautica. You play a scientist on an alien planet searching for clues about the research team that vanished there. To do this you explore and...

Haven

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 03/12/2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Action, Fighting, Narrative and Open World

Developer: The Game Bakers (@TheGameBakers)

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room

Haven is an adventure about companionship and exploration in space. As star-crossed lovers Yu and Kay, you escape to a forgotten planet to stay together and set up home against the odds. You explore the world around you, able to glide over the plains,...

One Hour One Life

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 27/02/2018

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Fighting, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Jason Rohrer (@JasonRohrer)

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 100 players online

This is a civilisation survival game where each player lives a whole life in an hour of play and then passes away. Born as a baby into the care of anonymous other online players, you initially depend on them for food. Quickly growing, you can soon fend...

Journey to the Savage Planet

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 10-16 year-olds

Release Date: 28/10/2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World, Platform and Shooting

Accessibility: 11 features

Developer: Typhoon MTL (@Typhoon_MTL)

Players: You can play this with 2 players online

Journey to the Savage Planet is an adventure-shooting game played from a first-person perspective. You explore a planet to catalogue various alien flora and fauna and collect the resources you need to craft items and upgrades like jetpacks and grappling...

Outward

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 26/03/2019

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing and Simulation

Accessibility: 8 features

Developer: Nine Dots Studio (@NineDotsStudio)

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 2 players online

Outward is a fantasy adventure focused on an ordinary character surviving against the odds. There's a focus on realism rather than superpowers or magical abilities. You have to look after your warmth, hunger, fatigue, illness, and thirst as well as the...

Sable

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 23/09/2021

Platforms: PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Accessibility: 33 features

Developer: Shedworks Greg (@ShedworksGreg)

Players: This is a single player game

Sable is an adventure game where you play a young girl, Sable, alone in the world, but bravely exploring ancient monuments, ruined architecture, and fallen ships to uncover her place in it.

Unturned

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 08/07/2014, updated in 2020

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Fighting, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Sdgnelson (@Sdgnelson)

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 100 players online

Unturned is a strategy survival game where you are in a Minecraft and Roblox-style world filled with zombies. You have to carefully explore the world, gather resources and craft weapons. You might go in guns blazing, sneak around making use of...

Everspace (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 12-18 year-olds

Release Date: 25/05/2017, updated in 2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Stadia and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Fighting, Open World, Role-Playing and Shooting

Accessibility: 10 features

Developer: Rock Fish Games (@RockFishGames)

Players: This is a single player game

Everspace 2 is a space shooting and exploration game. You travel star systems, gaining goods and items from the planets you find, but soon encounter a unravelling narrative that draws you in. Unlike other space games, it combines elements of open world...

DayZ

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 03/07/2019

Price: 46% off

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Open World, Shooting and Simulation

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: Bohemia Interact (@BohemiaInteract)

Players: You can play this with 60 players online

Day Z (DayZ) is a post-apocalyptic open world survival game. The population are infected with an unknown virus and you play as one of the few who are immune. You fight other survivors for limited resources and weapons. However If you die there are no...

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 30/09/2014, updated in 2017

Price: 50% off

Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: Monolith Dev (@MonolithDev)

Players: You can play this with 2 players online

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War is an adventure series set in Tolkein's fictional work, between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. You play Talion, a Ranger who sets out to avenge the deaths of his loved one. The...

New World

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 31/08/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World, Role-Playing and Strategy

Developer: Amzn Game Studios (@AmznGameStudios)

Players: You can play this with 1000 players online

New World is an online role-playing game where you colonise fictional land modelled after 1600s colonial America in the Atlantic Ocean. The world is persistent and accommodates 1000s of players to create a living breathing eco-system in MMO (Masively...

Observation

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 21/05/2019, updated in 2020

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Narrative, Puzzle and Simulation

Developer: No Code (@_NoCode)

Players: This is a single player game

Observation puts you on a space station to solve a power outage and find missing crew. However, here you play the role of the SAM, the System Administration Maintenance artificial intelligence software, rather than human protagonist. Your limited view,...

The Outer Worlds

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 23/10/2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing and Shooting

Accessibility: 32 features

Developer: Obsidian (@Obsidian)

Players: This is a single player game

The Outer Worlds is a futuristic role-playing game where you are a colonist working to thaw your team and colonise the planet. Exploring, talking, shooting; how you do this is up to you, in what soon becomes a tangle plot of corporate control and...

Muck

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 05/06/2021

Price: Free

Platforms: PC

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Open World, Role-Playing and Shooting

Developer: Dani Dev YT (@DaniDevYT)

Players: You can play this with 8 players online

Muck is a survival adventure game where you are trapped on an island and must survive as many days as possible by using the resources you find. Played alone, or with friends, you work hard to have the defences you need before night falls.

Planetside 2

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 20/11/2012, updated in 2019

Price: Free

Platforms: PC and PS4

Genres: Action, Open World and Shooting

Accessibility: 24 features

Developer: Rogue Planet SD (@RoguePlanetSD)

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 2000 players online

PlanetSide 2 is a free online game you play with thousands of other players online. Set in a sci-fi universe, players join factions and then fight together to win territories. These massive battles feature typical first person shooter elements such as...

Star Wars Eclipse

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Action, Adventure and Narrative

Developer: Quantic Dream (@Quantic_Dream)

Players: This is a single player game

Star Wars Eclipse is a narrative role-play set in the High Republic Era of the series, when the Jedi were in their golden age. Like Detroit: Become Human, Heavy Rain, and Beyond Two Souls, the action focuses on character choices and branching narrative...

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 8-14 year-olds

Release Date: 16/10/2018

Price: 87% off

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Shooting and Simulation

Accessibility: 25 features

Developer: Ubisoft (@Ubisoft)

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room

Starlink is a space exploration and battle game. But unlike Elite, or No Man's Sky the focus is on arcade fun and quirky characters and Pixar-style storytelling for younger players.

Black Desert

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 03/03/2015, updated in 2019

Platforms: Android, PC, PS4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Open World, Role-Playing and Simulation

Accessibility: 29 features

Developer: Play Black Desert (@PlayBlackDesert)

Players: You can play this with 100 players online

Black Desert is an online role-playing game. Unlike other large online games (often called MMOs, Massively Multiplayer Online Games), it doesn't just focus on combat; you can explore the vibrant fantasy world, interact with inhabitants and choose how...

Starbound

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 20/03/2018

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Open World, Platform, Shooting and Simulation

Developer: Chucklefish Ltd (@ChucklefishLtd)

Players: You can play this with 8 players online

Starbound is an action-adventure similar from the same developer as Terraria. It takes place in a two-dimensional, procedurally generated space universe where you can explore and discover new weapons, armour, and items. You can also visit towns and...

Elite Dangerous

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 15/12/2015, updated in 2016

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World, Shooting and Simulation

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: Frontier Dev (@FrontierDev)

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 32 players online

This is a new version of the classic 1980s space game Elite. Like the original it’s a space exploration, trading and combat game that provides a huge and rich universe rather than a specific story. You can trade goods, become a bounty hunter, fight...

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 30/06/1995, updated in 2019

Price: 75% off

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Android, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting and Shooting

Accessibility: 24 features

Developer: Bandai Namco US (@BandaiNamcoUS)

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 8 players online

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is the latest flying and shooting game in the Ace Combat series of games. It features lots of real-life aircraft to master and weather conditions that impact gameplay and controls, while still retaining a fast-paced...

Tacoma

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 24/04/2018

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Role-Playing

Developer: Fullbright Games (@FullbrightGames)

Players: This is a single player game

Tacoma is set aboard a space station in the year 2088. As you explore you can discover how the station’s crew lived and worked, using an AR device that lets you review past actions and conversations, you discover clues that unravel a plot of trust,...

Conan Exiles

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 30/01/2017

Price: 60% off

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Fighting, Open World, Role-Playing, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Funcom (@Funcom)

Players: You can play this with 70 players online

Conan Exiles is an online survival game, set in the lands of Conan the Barbarian. Similar to games like Ark or Green Hell, you start with nothing and must use resources you find in the open-world sandbox. On your own or with friends, you build a base...

Death Stranding

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Skill Rating: 16-18 year-olds

Release Date: 08/11/2019, updated in 2021

Platforms: PC, PS4 and PS5

Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing and Stealth

Accessibility: 28 features

Developer: Hideo Kojima EN (@Hideo_Kojima_EN)

Players: This is a single player game

Death Stranding is an exploration game where you deliver supplies across a vast shattered, post-apocalyptic America while protecting and caring for a baby. It's intentionally slow, sometimes excruciatingly so, which means you carefully consider your...

Earth Analog

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 11/02/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World and Strategy

Developer: lgnkm (@lgnkm)

Players: This is a single player game

Earth Analog is a flying adventure where you take control of the exploration vessel Eurisko XI in a quest through deep space to find our new home. Unlike other space games, the focus is on the experience of other worlds rather than battling death and...

Jett: The Far Shore

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4 and PS5

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Racing and Stealth

Developer: Super Brothers HQ (@SuperBrothersHQ)

Players: This is a single player game

Jett: The Far Shore is a sci-fi adventure where you play inquisitive pilot Mei, exploring a mysterious planet on a nimble jet-powered craft. It's a fast action game but with deeper aspirations. Through characters, the world and its history there is a...

The Cycle: Frontier

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: Coming soon

Price: Free

Platforms: PC

Genres: Action, Open World, Shooting and Strategy

Developer: Yager Dev (@YagerDev)

Players: You can play this with 20 players online

The Cycle: Frontier is a shooting game where you team takes on other players and computer controlled enemies. You mine for resources on a mineral-rich alien world inhabited by monsters and ravaged by storms.

The Tomorrow Children

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 06/09/2016

Platforms: PS4 and PS5

Genres: Open World

Developer: Pixel Junk News (@PixelJunkNews)

Players: You can play this with 70 players online

The Tomorrow Children is an online strategy game where you collaborate with other players to build, explore and develop communities. Unusually, it uses social economics and a Soviet Union-themed post-apocalyptic dystopia as the setting. You play a...

Fallout 76 (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Release Date: 14/11/2018, updated in 2021

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing, Shooting and Stealth

Accessibility: 25 features

Developer: Bethesda (@Bethesda)

Players: You can play this with 24 players online

Fallout 76 is an open world adventure. You are a survivor of a nuclear war from Vault 76, which was designed to contain the best and brightest people, trained to re-start society once the radiation levels were safe to do so. Unlike other [link...

Warframe

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 25/03/2013, updated in 2021

Price: Free

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Role-Playing and Shooting

Accessibility: 26 features

Developer: Digital Extremes (@DigitalExtremes)

Players: You can play this with 8 players online

Warframe is a role-playing and shooting game with a focus on narrative-driven adventures and fast-paced, skill-based combat. It offers the fighting and shooting from games like Halo, but in a galaxy on a par with No Man's...

5 Games Like No Man's Sky Based on Genre

These are games of a similar genre mix to No Man's Sky. This includes games from the Simulation and Open World genres. We pick out games of a similar PEGI rating to further hone these generated suggestions.
 

10 Easier Games than No Man's Sky

If you like the sound of No Man's Sky but find it too complex or challenging, the games in this section offer a similar experience but with a lower Skill Rating required.
 

12 Games With More Documented Accessibility Features than No Man's Sky

If you like the sound of No Man's Sky but it doesn’t offer the accessibility you require, the games in this section offer a similar experience but with more Accessibility Features. You can view a full breakdown in our No Man's Sky Accessibility Report.
 

No Man's Sky is in These Lists

In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to No Man's Sky in the following lists:

The Game Awards

The Game Awards highlight the best video games each year. It's an award produced and hosted by Geoff Keighley. Games are selected by video game news organizations who then vote on the games to choose the winners in each of the categories.
 

Get Children Into Science

Science can be a subject that many of us see as something for other people. Physics, Chemistry and Biology is something for the nerds, geeks and highly intelligent children at school and not for us or our children.

"Science is an incredibly important subject that many students never fully grasp. Knowledge of chemistry or other sciences is necessary to solve many real-world problems, but the way it's taught now often fails to capture students’ imaginations, discouraging experimentation and discovery."

That quote from the creators of Happy Atoms inspired this list of games. It's true not just about their game that unlocks the wonder of chemistry, but about many other games that often get children doing science without even realising it.

This can be the simple chemical puzzle-solving of a game like Sokobond. It can be the embodied understanding of gravity and momentum in real-time physics games like Portal. It can be the way different elements combine properties in games like Zelda Breath of the Wild. It can even be gaining a sense of scale of the universe in a game like Everything.
 

Inhabit Another World

Whether it’s a simple puzzle grid, a battlefield or a universe of planets to visit, all games create virtual spaces in which to play. Some of these are simply the background to a campaign - the game’s unfolding drama, missions or challenge. But others invite you to invest in the worlds they create, move in, tend to and inhabit in fantastical ways.

The games in this section invite you to spend time in spaces that have a sense of place, life and character. Worlds that hold history and lore in their landscapes, flora, fauna and inhabitants; environments that respond to your presence and invite you to restore them to their former glory.
 

Embrace Free Speech

Children talking to people they don't know in a video game rings alarm bells. In fact, even if they do know online friends, it can still feel a bit worrying what might be said. Worrying headlines about these conversations going wrong or being co-opted by adults means we rush to limit them.

While it's important to ensure our children are safe, the rush to lock down communication can limit the freedom they would have had to express themselves and make sense of the world with their peers. With digital spaces becoming increasingly important, the UN has recently stated that the Rights of the Child apply to the digital environment.

Sara Grimes Digital Playground book has a chapter on this topic. "Often safety manifests as programmed design limitations and systematic restrictions on children's freedom of expression. While such mechanisms are described largely as in children's best interests, in any other context they would almost certainly be classified as censorship".

Reading Sara's chapter led to this list of games that avoid the usual curtailment of children's speech with limitations, allowed phrases or the absence of verbal interactions. We wanted to highlight, as Sara puts it, "opportunities for children to construct types of secret spaces that once characterised childhood," rather than "adult-made embodiments of idealised visions of what children's play space should be".

These are games that provide a "forum for engaging with the exceptional, the repulsive, the taboo, the dark, transgressive play" and a break from "the beautiful, the sanctioned, and the sacred". This is uncomfortable ground for parents and guardians, but as Sara puts it, "provides valuable space for processing and rejecting social roles and expectations." "Within the secret spaces of childhood, children exercise their agency and authority, experiment with ideas and social norms."
  • Proximity Chat in games like Roblox, Sea of Thieves and Ark Survival Evolved offer players a way to communicate without censorship, and is usually accompanied by tools to ensure they are actually children talking rather than interloping adults.
  • Text Chat in games like Stardew Valley and Grounded, where it is not heavily filtered for phrases and terms that limit self expression and collaboration. Or games like Valheim that offer both whisper (to players following you on your team) and shout (to everyone and appears above your head) chat options.
  • Letters can be a way for children to speak to unknown others. This can be specific part of the design like in Kind Words, or as a message left for other players in The First Tree or Animal Crossing. Or naming planets for other players to discover in No Man's Sky. Then there's leaving time capsules with items and message for others to discover in Subnautica.

 

DualSense Haptics PlayStation 5 Games

The PlayStation 5 DualSense controller added new features over the PlayStation 4 DualShock controller. It added a higher-quality microphone, a larger more sensitive touchpad, longer battery and more robust USB C charger cable. That last one is a welcome addition as DualShock controllers charge cables often wore out over time.

In addition to these improvements it added two new features:
  • Haptic Feedback - Detailed vibration and movement from within the controller to extend immersion of the game to your hands: the pattering of rain or a blast of energy.
  • Adaptive Triggers - The triggers on the controller can be made harder or softer to press by the game. This offers a nuanced way to feel more in the game, while also to provide more information about aiming.

The games in this list all use these Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers functionality.
 

Virtual Reality Games

Video games take you to virtual worlds for adventures, challenges and stories. Virtual Reality games extend this experience by putting the world right in front of your eyes and then matching your motions and head movements with the game.

VR is an experience that's hard to describe. Putting the headset on is like stepping into another room. This not only makes existing games more immersive but also opens the door to new types of experience.

While this can be quite expensive, it has become more affordable over the years. The main options for VR are as follows:
  • Oculus Quest 2 - Is self-contained so doesn't need lots of wires or setting up. You can also purchase a (costly) cable to tether the Quest to a PC for more demanding games.
  • HTC's Vive Cosmos - Is a PC-tethered system that supports motion controls. It supports games on SteamVR as well as its own Viveport online store.
  • Valve Index - Is a high end PC-tethered system with more advanced controllers.
  • PlayStation VR - Uses PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 hardware to offer a wide range of interesting highly polished experiences.

 

Exuberant Games For Pre-16 Year-Olds

There's a gap when children are starting to outgrow PEGI 12 rated games but aren't necessarily ready for PEGI 16 rated shooting and fighting experiences. The games in this list offer some options that are genuinely exuberant and exhilarating but with lower levels of violence.

It's important to say that parents should take a close look at the rating information for these games and make their own judgement on appropriateness for their child.

These are intended as good first steps into older rating games, when you think your child is ready. We go through some really good examples of these exciting, fast-action game for a range of ages. They are mostly all PEGI 12 or under, apart from games like Halo or Jedi Fallen Order, which we have included as this is a lower ESRB TEEN rating in the US.
 

Play With People On Different Systems

Most online games only work if the person you are wanting to play against has the same system that you have, console, PC or smartphone. There are, however, a growing library of games that offer what is often called cross-play. This lets you play with people on different systems.

These games are a good way to extend the list of friends and family that you can play with. It also makes it less critical which system you have in your home, even if your friends have a different one.
 

Often Overlooked Family Games

Family gaming has been a “thing” since I started writing about games around the time of the Wii. We all know about Minecraft, Roblox, Mario, Fortnite and FIFA. However, these are just the tip of the iceberg of games perfectly poised for you to enjoy with your family.

We’ve worked with video game website Kotaku and one of its writers, John Walker, who runs the Buried Treasure site, to unearth some games you may have overlooked for your family. Kotaku (a made-up word combining "ko" meaning small and "otaku" meaning geek) has covered specialist video news since 2005. Buried Treasure exists to highlight great, interesting, bizarre or downright silly games that you’d otherwise likely miss.

This list highlights games you may have not discovered or considered as good for your family:
  • Weird: Games like Chuchel and Nuts offer a peculiar and intriguing way to discover an unusual world and story.
  • Collaboration: Games like Minecraft Dungeons, Ibb and Obb, Wilmot’s Warehouse and It Takes Two offer different ways to work together to progress by playing and talking together.
  • Mechanics: Games like Lonely Mountains Downhill and Boomerang X are experiences driven by learning intuitive controls. They are designed to let the player become one with the game, while also ensuring they are approachable for the newcomer.
  • Emotions: Games like Alba: A Wildlife Adventure and Rainbow Billy offer new ways to share the emotional landscape of characters. These head into identity territory at the player’s pace, without being heavy-handed.
  • False Start: Games like Vane or No Man’s Sky had a troubled initial release, but were either enhanced or fixed soon after. They are worth revisiting for the polished experience.
  • Older Rated: Games like Overboard or Spelunky 2 are rated higher in some territories because of gambling content. These are great games to play together as a family that you may have ruled out because of the ratings.
  • Impenetrable: Games like Sea of Thieves, Kingdom Two Crowns or Terraria can seem confusing and complex when you first start, but persevere and you discover expansive experiences that your family will love playing together.

 

BAFTA Nominated Games

The British Academy Games Awards are presented annually to recognise, honour and reward outstanding creative achievement in Games. The awards categories reflect the wealth and diversity of the games sector.

The awards started in 2004 and are presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). For parents, they are a great way of discovering brilliant games to play in their family. The games included here are from these categories:
  • The Family Games Award highlights games that will work really well for parents and children. These often include multiplayer features and feature a cast of family-friendly characters.
  • The Games Beyond Entertainment award is also of interest as this highlights more unusual games with an emphasis on storytelling that addresses topics that parents may find appealing themselves.

 

Gaming Projects: Photography

The spaces and places that video games create are often designed with a particular interaction or way to progress through them. However, because games are open to the player, how you play, the direction you move and what you do in the game is up to you.

This means that you can often put video games to unusual uses. Photography is one aspect of this as Paul Buttle recently highlight on Twitter. All modern video game consoles enable you to capture an image of the screen. At a rudimentary level this allows you to take pictures of your adventures. Beyond this, many games offer a Photo mode that allows you to freeze the action and take control of the camera -- even letting you control effects, depth of field and shutter speed in some cases.

This means you can take really beautiful and engaging pictures in the games you play. Some families have tasked their expert players with capturing a certain type of photograph as they play:
  • Portraiture - capture images of the people you meet.
  • Photojournalism - create a photo diary of the events of the game to be annotated later.
  • Fashion - document the different outfits and wardrobe styles your character chooses.
  • Sports - capture sporting moments, including not only players, but the crowd and coaches.
  • Still Life - capture the inanimate, mundane and overlooked elements that make the game world what it is.
  • Architectural - find ways to photograph the buildings in various states of build, decay and renewal.

Some examples of these projects include:
 

The Great British Video Game

There are 2,277 active games companies in the UK employing 20,430 people. The biggest concentration spread through the country in cities and towns like London, Manchester, Brighton, Guildford, Aldershot, Bristol, Sheffield, Glasgow and Liverpool. The UK market for video games reached a record £7bn in 2020.

Many of the biggest video game franchises have been created in the UK. Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider, Football Manager, Elite Beat Agents, Fable and Batman: Arkham Asylum. But along with these well-known titles are some amazing games for families and children.

There are some amazing (and huge) series of games made in the UK that are perfect for families. Forza Horizon, Lego Games, Fall Guys, LittleBigPlanet and Viva Pinata. Then there are games from smaller and independent UK game studios: Overcooked, Wilmot’s Warehouse, TerraTech, Phogs, Snake Pass and Chime to name a few.
 

Fidget Toys

Fidget spinners burst into the hands of children a number of years ago. While that initial trend subsided, the interest and enjoyment of tactile objects to fiddle with are very much with us.

Fidget toys are like the yo-yo or Rubik's cube but without the focus on skill. The enjoyment comes from doing something that isn't learning or achieving anything. It's no surprise that there are a number of video games that have picked up on this style of play.

Some games, like The Longing, Animal Crossing and Adopt Me, simple slow down the need to progress, so all you do is check-in, fiddle around with the game world and then leave. Then there are other games, like Townscaper and Pok Pok Playroom, that let you craft your own structures but with none of the usual video game emphasis on score and winning. Other games, like Everything and Proteus, offer a huge world to poke and prod without getting embroiled with progression.

Even games that do offer a strong sense of story and development often include post-game play or side-quest distractions that are simply there for you to spend time fiddling with rather than winning or losing. Games like A Short Hike, Alba A Wildlife Adventure or even No Man's Sky.
 

Game Time Has Day-Night Cycle

Games use the spaces they create to tell stories. Some games do this by locking you in a key moment where the time of day doesn't change. Other games let you explore and revisit places at different times of day.

These day-night cycles invite players to explore at different times not only to find different things to do but to see how different locations change visually and audibly at different times of day.

Some games, like The Long Dark, do this to offer a different environmental challenge at night, when the sun is in and the cold wind really affects your character. Other games offer more unusual ways to tie in-game light levels to the real world, like Unmaze that uses your smartphone's camera to determine how much light there is in the game.
 

New Yorker's Games of the Years

Each year, journalist Simon Parkin picks the top games for New Yorker magazine. Along with a look back on the major events in video games, these offer a window on the games that stood out for innovation, novel interactions as well as perfect execution.

This includes games from the following years: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013.