Videogames right now are experiencing somewhat of a bumper crop of games about dads. Since Father’s Day is coming up, I’ve taken it upon myself to pick out some of the best from the past few years and present them to you in this piece. If it sounds like I’m using too many farm metaphors, it’s probably because I’ve been playing a lot of Stardew Valley.
Sometimes all you really need is a freshly mowed lawn, a tall glass of whatever dad-beer strikes your fancy, and some nice summer weather to really summon those dad-vibes. So let’s kick back, relax, and take a lazy stroll through the best games about dads, in honor of Father’s Day.
The Walking Dead: Season 1 by TellTale is a great game about dads because it’s not really about a dad. The relationship between Clementine and Lee (the protagonist of the first season of the game) is grounded in a familial understanding even without a biological connection. Lee finds Clementine, a young girl, in the ruins of civilization after a zombie apocalypse and they quickly become a pair, each looking out for the other. Over the course of the game, Lee and Clementine’s relationship is strengthened by the player’s growing sense of care for the girl. It has a very sad ending, but it’s just packed with great dad moments, like Lee teaching Clementine how to shoot a gun, or to tie her hair back in case zombies want to grab it. You know, basic dad stuff.
In The Last Of Us, which is sort of like The Walking Dead but if there was more guns and raiders and less zombies (except in a few parts of the game) and if Clementine was a slightly older girl named Ellie and Lee was a grizzled older white guy who has a lot of history with shooting guns. So what I really mean is that it’s a game set in a post-apocalyptic scenario and you play a dad. Joel is a dad, both to his own child and also, symbolically, to Ellie. Extra points for Ellie having a full playable chapter and having an entire DLC devoted to her, because what’s a good dad game without an emphasis on the kids. They’re good kids. They shoot some zombies real good.
Stardew Valley is a farming sim where you can actually choose the gender and look of your character but either way you will have the opportunity to be a great Farm Dad (as with all dads, a Farm Dad is an identity for persons of any gender). Not only can you be the father to an actual human child, but you can also father multiple generations of plants and farm animals. In my current farm, I’m the dad to about 24 stalks of corn, 6 pigs, a real human baby, and most importantly: My lovely, lovely, expensive, 16 cranberry plants. They’re like 1000 gold a pop. I’m very proud of them.
The kid’s good too.
Octodad (and its sequel, Dadliest Catch) is a game about a very normal human father who definitely is not an octopus. As such, it’s pretty simple, you just do basic dad things like mow the lawn or make breakfast, with your four normal human tentacle arms. Honestly, it’s pretty unremarkable? It’s just a game about a regular dad. Just your average dude, basically. Just trying to get by in this modern world.
In Shelter, you play as the mother badger of a small brood of tiny adorable badger cubs as you find them food, migrate across a forbidding landscape to a new, safer burrow. Aside from being a gorgeous title and a personal favorite of mine, the mother badger is an excellent dad. Through playing this game I learned that it’s very important to keep a tidy lawn (to avoid starting wildfires) and to make sure my future children are fed approximately once every twenty minutes.
Dante Douglas is a writer, poet, game developer, and editor of Deorbital. You can find him on Twitter @videodante.