The PlayStation 5 era kicks off with a surprising focus on kids and families, offering four great games to dive into on day one. As a parent, I’m always on the hunt for games I can play with my daughter. Given how heavily Nintendo caters to this market, we usually game on Switch, a system that is flush with amazing experiences that we can both enjoy. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have a handful of great kids games like Roblox and Minecraft, but this market hasn’t been a strong focus for Sony and Microsoft. Sony’s buyer’s guide for kids and families weighs heavily on games from yesteryear.
New gaming generations often bring different ideas and perhaps even a shift in who games are being made for. I reached out to Sony to see if PlayStation 5 is putting more of an emphasis on family-friendly gaming, but did not receive a response in time for this story. That doesn’t change the fact that some of the best games on PlayStation 5 right now are designed for a younger demographic.
If you happen to get your hands on a PlayStation 5, one of its best kids games is free and already loaded up for you to play. Astro’s Playroom is an absolute delight. Yes, it’s designed as a celebration of decades of PlayStation gaming and is a tool to show you what the new DualSense controller can do, but it’s also a hell of a game with lighthearted action and excellent level design.
The next game I recommend is Sackboy: A Big Adventure from developer Sumo Digital. The star of the LittleBigPlanet series is no longer pushing you to create your own games, and is now the star of a platformer that is as colorful as it is fun. Some of the button presses are a bit complex, requiring use of the trigger and face buttons together, so it may not be ideal for younger children, but my daughter (8) is having no problems ripping through it and enjoying every second. Even better yet, Sackboy: A Big Adventure can be played cooperatively with up to four players. Co-op has some issues as Jeff Cork points out in his review, but it is still enjoyable to play with family. The real rub here: You need to make the expensive investment of getting three more DualSense controllers.
If you do make that investment, you might as well pick up the enhanced PlayStation 5 port of Overcooked, a game that demands constant communication to quickly cook and serve up the required number of dishes to please hungry customers. Overcooked: All You Can Eat! comes with both Overcooked 1 and 2’s content and takes advantage of the DualSense to deliver haptic feedback and audio for a variety of things, such as when food is ready or burning. Yes, you can feel the burn in your hands. Overcooked is one of the best family games ever made, and it’s great on PlayStation 5. It also has new content!
The oddest game you can get for your family on day one is called Bugsnax. True to the name, colorful Muppet-like creatures eat bugs as snacks. The bugs just happen to be made of various foods that, when ingested, transform an appendage into said food. The Muppet of note could suddenly have a strawberry leg. It’s a strange first-person experience that is a little difficult to control, but may be a good game that the adult plays while the kid dictates the direction and what gets eaten. My daughter is digging it, but is having a little difficulty with the item wheel when on the sticks.
PlayStation 5 also has Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on the way in the near future, another family-friendly game that will hopefully be every bit as great as this series has been in the past.
When I picked up my PlayStation 5, I figured I would be spending most of my time playing Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, and various third-party juggernauts like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, but lo and behold, it’s become the family machine, and is currently dominated by Sackboy.