It’s a common tradition for many to watch Christmas movies around the holiday season, but what about Christmas games? You may find yourself in the mood for a more festive game experience than usual. While there may not be as much of a market for Christmas games compared to movies, there are still some options. I won’t be mentioning any kind of DLC. These are full releases that take place during the Christmas season.
While you may not associate the mental image of a jolly Christmas time with the Yakuza franchise (now being rebranded as the original Japanese title, “Like a Dragon” in English-speaking countries), several games take place during the Christmas season. I could list other games in the series here, but why not start with the remake of the original game that started it all? It won’t cost you much and the chances are likely that you will be able to pick this up on sale soon.
The game follows Kazuma Kiryu as he takes the blame for a murder he did not commit. Ten years later, he is granted parole and must now protect a young girl named Haruka. The majority of events in the game occur during the December of 2005. While Christmas may not be at the forefront of its story, the game features themes of family that feel right at home with Christmas.
You could also start with the critically acclaimed prequel Yakuza 0 if you wish, as it also takes place around this Christmas season. However, Kiwami may feel like an underwhelming follow-up if you choose to play 0 first. While Kiwami may be a remake of the original game, its content doesn’t differ too wildly from the original. On the other hand, 0 is an original game that offers a lot more content than Kiwami. Whichever you choose to go with, both make for great Christmas games.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Following the events of Marvel’s Spider-Man, Miles Morales features the titular character exploring a snow-covered New York City. After Peter Parker has to temporarily leave the city, Miles must protect New York on his own. The events of the game occur during the holiday season, making Christmas imagery appear everywhere. Seasonal decorations dress up the city streets as you swing around.
Serving as something along the lines of a standalone expansion, it may not be as long of a game as Insomniac’s first Spider-Man title. However, if you are a fan of the webhead and have not yet played Miles Morales, this may be the right time to check it out. The game was also recently ported to PC and is playable on Steam Deck if you have the storage space for it. No matter what platform you choose, Miles Morales is likely to be a good time for those looking for some superhero holiday fun.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Continuing with another superhero title, Batman: Arkham Origins is a great fit for the holiday season. While considered the weakest title in the Arkham series, it may be worth a purchase if you’re a Batman fan and haven’t played it before. After Black Mask places a bounty on Batman’s head, he must survive the night as he faces various thugs and villains in the streets of Gotham. All of this occurs on one stressful Christmas Eve.
As the game’s title implies, Arkham Origins serves as a prequel to the Arkhamverse Batman games. It may serve as a decent entry point to the franchise if you’ve never experienced it before. It’s also worth noting that the Arkhamverse will continue with Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Now might be the time to check it out, as it’s a perfect fit for the holidays and you’ll probably be able to pick it up for cheap. If you do end up enjoying it, you’ll still have even better games in the franchise to check out afterward.
With the somewhat recent launch of Bayonetta 3, you may find yourself interested in previous Bayonetta titles. However, what if I told you that there’s a Bayonetta game that is great for the holiday season? Bayonetta 2 is that game. While the game doesn’t have all that much to do with Christmas, the prologue quickly establishes that the game’s events occur during the Christmas season.
The game may have been trapped on the ill-fated Wii U for a few years, but fortunately, it got a Switch port. Thanks to this, it should be fairly easy to either download or get your hands on a copy of the game. It may feature less Christmas than some of the other games here, but it still does a good job of bringing holiday cheer.
We arrive at another game on this list that happens to take place in New York. Parasite Eve is sure to be an interesting title for those who are ok with playing something a bit older. Taking elements from other 90s JRPGs and survival horror games, Parasite Eve features a unique combat system and a great sense of atmosphere. Serving as a sequel to the novel of the same name, Parasite Eve follows NYPD officer Aya Brea as she must put a stop to a threat that could end the entire human race.
The game begins on Christmas eve and continues past Christmas itself. While a horror/RPG hybrid may not sound similar to the most wonderful time of the year, it somehow nails a Christmas feel. The pre-rendered environments present a chilly atmosphere that can feel reminiscent of walking outside on Christmas Eve, especially when exploring Central Park.
If you’re in the mood for something spooky this holiday season, do yourself a favor and play Parasite Eve if you haven’t already. It may not be as well remembered as the classic Resident Evil and Silent Hill titles, but it deserves to be. Parasite Eve will provide you with a unique holiday experience you won’t soon forget.
Twisted Metal (1995)
Another old PlayStation title, the vehicular combat title Twisted Metal is a bit more of a Christmas game than you may first assume. Like Batman: Arkham Origins, the events of Twisted Metal occur on Christmas Eve. A man who goes by the name of Calypso hosts a lethal competition where he will grant the winner any one wish of their choosing. This naturally attracts competitors from all walks of life who desire to see their wishes realized.
When a victor gets their wish, it often doesn’t go the way they planned. Weirdly, this fits with the Christmas theme. The playable characters all want something for Christmas, and they can get what they think they want in a twisted way. Like Parasite Eve, this may be worth your time if you have an interest in older titles.
If you’re in the mood for some Hideo Kojima this holiday season, then look no further than Snatcher. Set in a dystopian cyberpunk world reminiscent of Blade Runner, Snatcher follows an amnesiac named Gillian Seed as he joins an agency called JUNKER. This agency works to stop humanoid robots known as Snatchers. If you have watched Blade Runner before, you can probably already notice some of the similarities between the two.
Snatcher wears its influences on its sleeve, but that’s part of the charm. If you want to feel Hideo Kojima’s love for movies, Snatcher will probably be a great time. However, it also makes for a fitting Christmas title. The game is set around the Christmas season and even contains a rendition of “Jingle Bells”.
If you wish to find a more legitimate way to play this game, you may be out of luck. In Japan, Snatcher was released on multiple platforms, but only the Sega CD release got an official English translation. A single copy of the Sega CD version can cost you well over $1000 on eBay. Unfortunately, Snatcher has no remaster as of writing this, which is a shame.
We Need More Christmas Games
It’s challenging to find major releases that celebrate the holiday season. This isn’t completely surprising as the amount of time it can take to develop a game can be quite inconsistent. Development for a Christmas-focused title needs proper planning and a release date that can’t budge. As game development becomes more expensive and complex, this becomes a harder task to achieve.
However, I can’t help but feel there’s some untapped marketing potential here. I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of bigger releases here and there celebrating the winter holidays. When I saw the trailer for the recent Violent Night movie, I thought to myself about how much stupid fun it would be to play an action hero Santa Claus. There’s still so much developers can achieve with a Christmas setting. However, hopefully, this list has helped you discover some titles to play during the winter festivities.