christmas six pack

The 6 Best Games Set During Or Around Christmas

These games are so sleigh.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. 

Delicious eggnog is fresh on tap, while Michael Buble and Mariah Carey claw their way free of their nests for yet another festive season. Over the course of this Christmas there will be belly-bursting lunches, plenty of family time, gifts, and a little bit of game time for the fortunate.

Everyone talks about Home Alone and Die Hard as quintessential Christmas films, but no one ever considers the video games that fill people’s stockings and hearts during the holiday period. 

So, here are six of the best games you might indulge in this Christmas. 

Dead Rising 4

Not only did this fourth installment of Capcom’s zombie murderfest welcome back original protagonist Frank West despite ultimately sealing the franchise’s fate, it brought Christmas joy and cheer to the streets of Willamette. 

There’s so much trademark silliness in this game, right down to the fact that one of the maniacs Frank has to best is Sadistic Claus and his elves, all presumably former mall workers who’ve simply gone mad amidst this undead outbreak. Not only that, but the holiday content that dropped nearer Christmas was bonkers.

It featured a Santa suit to paint redder still with the blood of zombie elves and snowmen, as well as a baseball bat known as “Candy Pain.”

Like A Dragon

Although I was oblivious to the fact, a great number of the Like a Dragon titles take place during the month of December. Of course, it still showcases unbridled silliness and hunky men fighting more than it features Santa Claus—although some in the series lean whole-shouldered into Christmas schtick—but there’s still an undoubtable undercurrent of the seasonal joy that’s present throughout much of the Like a Dragon series. 

Aiding those in need and altruistic attitudes are also core to the experience, which is obviously fitting for a time of year where people more willingly go out of their way to selflessly help others. 

So if bashing criminals against a white Christmas backdrop is your idea of a holiday well spent, the Like a Dragon games, of which there are many, could be a wonderful substitute for Carols by Candlelight this year. 

Tom Clancy’s The Division 

Although The Division doesn’t strictly take place during Christmas itself, it takes place at a point in time where Manhattan stands frozen in time as the city, on the back of Thanksgiving, ramps up for a holiday unlikely to ever arrive courtesy of the pandemic. 

The chilly winter streets make for the perfect survival setting, while the string lights and decorations that illuminate the frostbitten bodies laying in the gutter, it’s definitely a grim image of Christmas that this game cuts. 

Staggeringly, that’s a small group online that religiously revisits this game for the holidays, like a time-honoured tradition.

Parasite Eve

Parasite Eve in another one of these video games based around the holiday that I’ve simply overlooked for most of my life. Taking place over a handful of days, it has become a bit of a roleplay event within a roleplaying game for players to boot it up on Christmas Eve and progress as the days tick over.

It’s a twisted narrative about dormant mitochondria and spontaneous human combustion that was pretty unique for its time, blending JRPG sensibilities together with survival horror. 

Although there’s nothing Christmassy about the threat of spontaneous human combustion, it’s always a real chance after a couple of hefty plates of ham and my mum’s cauliflower au gratin for Christmas lunch. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

The spirit of Christmas is thoroughly felt throughout Miles Morales’ standalone spin-off that followed Marvel’s Spider-Man from 2018. It’s Miles’ first family holiday since the shift to Harlem and, more significantly, the first Christmas without the Spider-Man in training’s father, Jefferson Davis. 

Of course, Miles Morales still checks all of the superhero genre boxes, though it’s this focus on families, both the ones you’re born into and the ones you forge for yourself through community, that made it a spirited display of Christmas’ grander meaning.

So not only does Miles Morales tell a more concentrated story about its titular hero, the themes it explores go hand-in-hand with the holidays.

Batman: Arkham Origins 

Speaking of superhero games set during Christmas, we’d be foolish to not spotlight Batman: Arkham Origins. In the prequel, we’re shown a much more novice Bruce Wayne as he’s still trying to find his footing as the world’s greatest detective. 

I think it’s a sorely overlooked title within the run of Arkham games, due to a flailing multiplayer mode as well as it not being a product of Rocksteady. Things take a dire turn for the Dark Knight right around Christmas time, and I’m not talking about a lump of coal in his cowl. A veritable rogue’s gallery of assassins descend upon snowy Gotham to make the most of Black Mask’s multi-million dollar bounty for the head of Batman. 

I hope there’s a gift receipt, because that’s one crap present for Bruce.