Since making a resurgence in the decade gone by, cooperative split-screen and cooperative games in general look to be on their way back to the mainstream.
Early attempts at bringing these games were sketchy at best, with Far Cry 3’s multiplayer being the shining example of this, unplayable at worst, and tacked in at best.
And although Call of Duty Black Ops II Zombies managed to reestablish some semblance into the waning mechanic, it wouldn’t be until a little-known developer called Hazelight Studios came in with their spectacular summer masterpiece.
A Way Out perfectly showcases the true immersive social power of co-op gaming and games like A Way Out are the core offerings of this niche.
11 Best Games Like A Way Out
A Way Out is an always-in split-screen action-adventure game with oodles of drama.
But while the plot might be campy and the gameplay not as appealing at times, what hooks you to this game is the symbolic nature of the decision behind making it split-screened even in co-op mode.
As I played through the entire campaign (with a random person on a random Discord server), A Way Out managed to amaze me with the tact to accommodate two players that have possibly never played together and still have them working in unmatched tandem by the end of the around 6-7 hour storyline, and that is if you go slow.
Hazelight have detailed a story so viciously thrilling that we couldn’t wait until we raced to the ending, despite the campiness, obvious plot twists and numerous bugs that still exist even after three years of release.
That being said, we’re glad that games like A Way Out are still finding audiences and a chock full of them, and here is our list of some other couch co-op games that you can pick up and enjoy along with a buddy.
11. Gears 5
The Gears franchise has always been known for their innovation with the third person genre, brilliant story, and stellar graphics. Gears 5 isn’t an exception.
And just like previous entries in the long running series, comes with a fully playable co-op campaign.
The plot in Gears 5 is nothing to write home about, but it satisfied my Locust-killing brain enough when I played it alongside a long-term gaming friend and fellow Gears fan.
Every hour of the 11-12 hour main campaign felt like the joyride that an arcade shooter is supposed to feel like, with just enough story to keep you going and sleep halfway through a cutscene.
The split-screen here is horizontal with up to 3 players being able to inhabit the field at any given moment in time, and the third player playing as either Dave or Jack, the robot companion.
- Developer/Publisher: The Coalition/Xbox Game Studios
- Release Date: 10th September 2019
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X
10. TRINE 4: The Nightmare Prince
With a very colorful and bubbly aesthetic, TRINE 4 lures you into a blast of a time to be enjoyed solo or with friends.
The best experience, however, is to play this 2.5D side scroller RPG with a couple of buddies online.
TRINE puts you and your friends in the shoes of the three protagonists, each with their RPG stereotype attached to them, but not to the point where it bores or tires you out.
Each character has their set of interesting abilities and unique powers to exercise, as well as further ones to unlock once you get past stages.
Not only that, but TRINE as a series has always been known for great puzzle variety, soundtrack, mechanics, and gameplay.
A must buy for anyone looking to fall in love with a side scrolling, swashbuckling adventure oozing buckets of charm. Grab this one now.
- Developer/Publisher: Frozenbyte/Modus Games
- Release Date: 8th October 2019
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Stadia
09. Man of Medan
The first chapter in the Dark Pictures Anthology, developed by Supermassive Entertainment and published by Bandai Namco, Man of Medan is loosely based on the true story of the disappearance of the SS Ourang Medan.
The 6-hour long campaign takes you and your friends through the story of 5 different characters stuck on a supposed haunted vessel while being out at sea.
Players can decide whether their characters take the pragmatic approach, the emotional approach or just decide to do nothing during its timed sequences.
As with all Supermassive offerings so far, the narrative changes according to the decisions of the player or players, and each branching choice leads to a different outcome.
Man of Medan is a solid horror offering for a night of gaming, and offers a very deep and well-constructed narrative, with brilliant mechanics such as the compass acting as both an activity selector and representing the moral ‘compass’ of the characters.
- Developer/Publisher: Supermassive Games/Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Release Date: 30th August 2019
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Borrowing inspiration from Walt Disney’s art style and a retro aesthetic, Cuphead is a lovingly crafted yet surprisingly disarming game if viewed only from a bird’s eye view perspective.
The most unassuming of Souls-likes, Cuphead is a journey with amazing twists and turns and keeps you generally motivated with the perfect balance of challenge and awe.
You play as the eponymous Cuphead, either solo or with a friend playing the role of Cuphead’s brother, Mugman, across side-scrolling action-adventure beat-’em-up style stages, with simple mechanics that are easy to pick up but offer a lot of challenges once you truly get into the thick of it.
Aside from that, Cuphead can be truly unforgiving with its difficulty, but the game design, soundtrack, and boss encounters managed to keep me and my compatriot hooked until the end of its campaign, even leading us to try the higher difficulty modes.
An indie joy.
- Developer/Publisher: Studio MDHR/Studio MDHR
- Release Date: 29th September 2017
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, MacOS, Nintendo Switch
07. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
A package deal containing both Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel, The Handsome Collection is an excellent look back at what made this series so unique.
With the punk-funk art style and the intended narrative inconsistency, to the charm and offbeat humor, Borderlands has made its way into the hearts and minds of first-person shooter lovers everywhere.
And it is no different in The Handsome Collection. The 4-person co-op sees you relive the narrative of the two games, individually of course, in split-screen with up to 3 more players.
The only critique that could be levied is that the frame rate tanks when you switch to the 4-person co-op mode.
Other than that, revisiting Borderlands is an incredibly pleasant experience, and this bundle truly showcases the love put into every single little detail that makes these games tick.
More of this please.
- Developer/Publisher: Gearbox Software/2K Games
- Release Date: 24th March 2015
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, MacOS, Switch
Of course, Minecraft makes the list. This adventure sim has something for everyone, and if you wish to kick back and relax with your friends farming and building, a night of Minecraft is absolutely perfect.
Although there is no plot set in stone, the visuals, activities, and sandbox of Minecraft make up for any shortcomings that you might think of that could plague the game.
Invite a couple of buddies over to harvest and build houses, or just go around finding secret areas to explore and dungeons to crawl, OR just make your own dungeon and secret area.
Minecraft is a symbol for absolute freedom of choice and expression.
On top of that, the various mods and additions to the game make sure that once you pick it up, you’ll be spending more time at making that perfect hideout than you could have possibly imagined.
- Developer/Publisher: Mojang Studios/Microsoft Studios
- Release Date: 18th November 2011
- Platforms: PC, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, Xbox 360, PS3, Fire OS, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, tvOS
05. Mario Kart 8
Our favorite Italian plumber makes the list with the host of characters from his universe. Mario Kart 8 is an arcade racer with hours upon hours of fun hidden beneath its simplistic art design and easy to pick up gameplay.
The absolute best kart racing game that Nintendo has made since the days of the 64, Mario strikes the perfect balance between introducing fresh new concepts to the genre and franchise and retaining what made Mario Kart what it is today.
With a diverse cast of 48 characters and a wide stage list of 48 courses, Mario Kart has something for you and all your friends to experience and enjoy.
The incredible graphics and soundtrack are just the perfect cherry on top of this gorgeous pie.
A Deluxe version is now available on the Nintendo Switch, for a more modern audience.
- Developer/Publisher: Nintendo EAD/Nintendo
- Release Date: 29th May 2014
- Platforms: Wii U, Nintendo Switch
04. Divinity: Original Sin 2
Not only is Divinity: Original Sin 2 one of the best top-down RPG games of all time, but it is also a fantastic journey best experienced with a couple of friends. This 2017 release developed by Larian Studios is a medieval fantasy masterpiece.
With a brilliant story set in the fictional world of Rivellon, and fantastic combat mechanics, Divinity builds on top of the RPG blueprint set by superhit titles that came decades before it and expands upon each and every aspect to its cult popularity.
To sweeten things and a token of love for their community, a Definitive Edition has been released which tweaks and fixes some of the general annoyances in the game, without trying to fix the perfect isometric formula they established back at launch.
We’ve said this a lot, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 is truly hours’ worth of fun and immersion which can either be enjoyed solo or with up to 3 friends in a party.
- Developer/Publisher: Larian Studios/Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Release Date: 14th September 2017
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, MacOS, iPad OS, Nintendo Switch
03. It Takes Two
The latest co-op offering from Hazelight, It Takes Two is a beautiful story of a couple struggling to keep their marriage afloat and their little daughter who has a very vivid imagination.
One of the best games similar to A Way Out, Hazelight’s earlier smash-hit, It Takes Two has you control one of two characters along with a buddy in split screen.
What ends the similarity between the two games, however, is that It Takes Two is a brilliant puzzle platformer instead of an action-adventure prison break drama.
The always split-screen mode is also special as it allows you to monitor your friend and for both of you to work in tandem to navigate the Honey! I Shrunk The Kids style environments.
The puzzles themselves are incredibly intuitive and there isn’t much repetition unless we’re talking about objective failure.
- Developer/Publisher: Hazelight Studios/EA
- Release Date: 26th March 2021
- Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X
02. Portal 2
Portal 2 puts you and a friend in the shoes of two robots, each carrying a portal gun. Set after the events of the first game, Valve did not disappoint with this offering.
The perfect integration of co-op into what was largely a single-player-driven campaign is what makes this game tick, with each player having to work in sync with the other to make sure that the puzzles are solved without any mishaps or hilarious fails.
No matter whether you hate or love puzzle games, or don’t care about the Portal series, this second installment is an excellent way for you and a companion to experience a very easy to pick up and rewarding to master game.
Casual gamer or not, this is a perfect ode to modern indie gaming, and to get a few laughs at your friend’s expense or vice versa.
Portal 2 offers a gameplay freedom typical of its sandbox structure and a benchmark for others to follow since 2011!
- Developer/Publisher: Valve/Valve
- Release Date: 18th April 2011
- Platforms: PC, MacOS, PS3, Xbox 360, Linux
01. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Millions of PC fans rejoiced in unison when it was revealed that the Master Chief was coming back to PC in all his assault rifle slinging, plasma sword-swinging glory.
And this is the perfect chance for people who did not initially experience the titles on the Xbox 360 to live the best moments of the Chief and other Fireteams.
The Master Chief Collection allows you to play the core campaign with an online co-op functionality.
Releasing with remastered graphics while maintaining the same allure of the long-running marquee Xbox franchise, the PC ports are just as good to run through today with a friend or a squad and still have all the fun that you missed out on years ago.
- Developer/Publisher: 343 Industries/Xbox Game Studios
- Release Date: 11th November 2014
- Platforms: Xbox One, PC, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox Cloud Gaming
Games are all about social integration and having a good time with whoever you decide to spend time with, and that is a fact echoed by developers and publishers worldwide.
You can find all this and more on Steam and other marketplaces and let us know what your favorite co-op experience is!