The cinemas may be shut, the gig venues closed, but there is one place you can still meet your friends and be entertained without leaving your house: the world of gaming. For many of us, it has been years since we could really justify spending all day in our pyjamas slaying virtual dragons – now that way of life, for some at least, is a little less frowned-upon. But if you’re returning to serious gaming after a few years away, where exactly should you be spending your valuable money and time? Here are no less than 100 highly recommended titles, from family favourites to epic sci-fi sagas – all available on current platforms, be it PC, smartphones or consoles. Whether you want to be moved, terrified, relaxed or intellectually challenged, alone or with pals, we’ve got more than enough here to keep you occupied until you’re out and about again …

Family

Untitled Goose Game

No harm, no fowl… Untitled Goose Game.

Crossy Road
(Hipster Whale; Mobile)
The “8-bit endless arcade hopper” (think Frogger, older gamers) retains all its charm, as you guide your character across increasingly busy roads.

Lego Marvel Superheroes
(Warner; PC, Consoles/Feral; Mobile)
Battle Doctor Doom above a recreation of NYC, taking on the roles of more than 100 heroes. Filled with side-quests and fizzing with humour.

Luigi’s Mansion 3
(Nintendo; Switch)
As Luigi, armed with a vacuum, explore – alone or with a partner – the delightfully themed floors of a haunted hotel, dispatching its troublesome ghosts.

Marching Order
(SFB Games; Mobile)
In this adorable logic puzzle game you are a marching band leader arranging the cute animal musicians into an order that makes them happy.

New Super Lucky’s Tale
(Microsoft; PC, Switch, Xbox One)
Known by one of our writers’ toddler as Boing Boing Fox, this bright run-and-jumper is sure to raise the spirits.

Overcooked

Too many cooks… Overcooked.

Overcooked
(Team17; PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Work together to chop, fry and mix ingredients in hazardous kitchens on moving cars, swaying boats, or in space. A chaotic bonding experience.

Snipperclips
(Nintendo; Switch)
Clever two-player where you play sentient, snippable pieces of cardboard. Involves geometry, spatial awareness and creative thinking.

Super Mario Odyssey
(Nintendo; Switch)
A freewheeling adventure through quirky, colourful planets with classic Mario bounce. Kids can tag along by controlling Mario’s hat.

Toca Life
(Toca Boca; Mobile)
These digital dolls’ houses are great for open-ended play, letting kids set up their own stories on themes such as school, seaside and snow.

Untitled Goose Game
(Panic; Mac, PC, Consoles)
Run riot as a goose with a to-do list of ways to torment the inhabitants of a quaint village: sneaking, stealing and – naturally – honking.

Wattam
(Annapurna Interactive; PC, PS4)
A surreal puzzle action game about the wonder of friendship, filled with charming visuals, eccentric characters and silly humour.

Yoshi’s Crafted World
(Nintendo; Switch)
A joyful craft-themed platformer, with a special “mellow” mode for the inexperienced. Run, jump, gulp, and collect goodies.

Narrative

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The missing Link… The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

80 Days
(Inkle; Mac, PC, Mobile, Switch)
In this interactive fiction set in an alternative steampunk history, you are Passepartout helping Phileas Fogg try to circumnavigate the globe.

Assemble With Care
(Ustwo; PC, Mobile)
Repair beautiful objects and learn the stories of the people who owned them. There’s a 70s/80s aesthetic flavour to this beautiful game.

Disco Elysium
(ZA/UM; PC, PS4, Xbox One)
You are an alcoholic, amnesiac cop trying to solve a murder, wandering a city in political flux. Somehow makes treatises on socialism and authoritarianism fun.

Elsinore
(Golden Glitch; Mac, PC)
Ophelia is stuck in a time loop, trying to change the events of Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. Her tools? Knowledge, and conversation with its familiar cast.

Her Story
(Sam Barlow; Mac, PC, Mobile)
Search through video clips to piece together the past of a woman and her missing husband.

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
(Nintendo; Switch)
Hours of exploration await in this superb fantasy adventure: pick up your sword, choose a direction and see what happens.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Rootin’ tootin’ shootin’… Red Dead Redemption 2. Photograph: Rockstar

Marvel’s Spider-man
(Sony; PS4)
Joyful web-swinging through a stunningly realised New York with Marvel’s most lighthearted superhero. Squillions of tasks to keep you busy.

Mutazione
(Akupara Games; PC, PS4, Mac, Mobile)
You are a teen girl visiting her ailing grandpa in a community of friendly mutants, tending gardens and discovering small-town drama.

Outer Wilds
(Annapurna Interactive; PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Explore a charming time-looping solar system and its weird and wonderful planets, all while figuring out why the sun keeps exploding.

Photographs
(Eightyeight Games; PC, Mobile)
On the surface this is a photography-themed pixel-art puzzler. But beneath are some beautiful (and gut-punchingly emotional) stories.

Red Dead Redemption 2
(Rockstar; PC, PS4, Stadia, Xbox One)
If there ever was a time to embark upon this ludicrously huge epic about the last days of the old west, it is now.

The Stillness of the Wind
(Fellow Traveller; PC, Mobile, Switch)
Coining the “goat farm ’em-up” genre, this is the wonderful tale of Talma, whose life you learn more about as you run her farm.

Wide Ocean Big Jacket
(Tender Claws; Mac, PC, Switch)
Like a short story or indie movie, this stylistic little game uses well-written conversation to tell the tale of one family’s camping trip.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(CD Projekt Red; PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Adults-only fantasy that’s as close to Game of Thrones as video games come, featuring lashings of sex, violence and moral ambiguity.

Sport/Fitness

Just Dance

Hoofing around… Just Dance. Photograph: Nintendo

Arms
(Nintendo; Switch)
One of the more ridiculous beat ’em-ups on modern consoles – that’s a compliment – with springy-limbed fighters and some imaginative game modes.

Beat Saber
(Beat Games; PC VR, PSVR)
Dual wield imaginary sabres, slashing at beats that fly towards you in time to the music. A must-buy for those with a virtual reality headset.

Fifa 20
(Electronic Arts; Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
If you’re missing televised football, here’s the next best thing: all the biggest leagues, international teams and players, with luscious visuals.

Football Manager 2020
(Sega; Mac, Mobile, PC, Stadia, Switch)
The famous football management sim still keeps you up all night, but its Touch and Mobile spin-offs are excellent for lapsed or time-poor fans, too.

Forza Horizon 4
(Microsoft; PC, Xbox One)
Drive a variety of cars around a gorgeous reimagined Britain that changes with the seasons. Play alone or with friends online.

Forza Horizon

A craic of the whip… Forza Horizon. Photograph: Microsoft

Just Dance
(Ubisoft; Consoles, Mobile, PC, Stadia)
This game is a great leveller. Fire up a pop song, windmill your arms in a vague imitation of the stylish choreography on-screen, have a blast. That’s all there is to it.

Lonely Mountains Downhill
(Thunderful; Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Stylish downhill mountain biking sim where players choose their own routes through a range of beautiful rural landscapes, from forest trails to desert slopes.

Mario Tennis Aces
(Nintendo; Switch)
The latest title in the long-running tennis series allows tournaments of up to four players and features all your favourite Nintendo characters. Absolutely ace.

New Star Soccer
(New Star Games; Mobile)
Its New Star Manager offshoot is great, but the original is still king: control a player’s career on and off the pitch. A battery life destroyer.

Ring Fit Adventure
(Nintendo; Switch)
Attach your Joy-Con to a pilates ring and leg strap, and perform a variety of exercises to progress through a colourful and well-crafted adventure.

Rocket League
(Psyonix; Consoles, PC, Mac)
Football, except with RC cars. A fabulous competitive game that, like all the best sports, is fun to learn and challenging to master.

Wii Sports
(Nintendo; Wii)
If you’ve got a Wii lying around, now is a great time to dust it off for some bowling, tennis and other accessible living-room sports.

Sim/Strategy

Total War: Warhammer 2

A bit of a drag(on)… Total War: Warhammer 2.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons
(Nintendo; Switch)
Make yourself a home on an island populated by anthropomorphic animals. Catch fish, make furniture and visit real-world friends.

Cities Skylines
(Paradox Interactive; Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Build impossibly utopian cities, tinkering with road layouts and municipal parks until your mouse hand hurts.

Civilization VI
(2k Games; Mac, Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Forget modern civilisation’s problems by making a better one yourself. Or just go to war with everyone in a strategy game that sucks you in.

Dicey Dungeons
(Terry Cavanagh; Mac, PC, Switch)
Choose your hero and combine dice rolling with your deck of ability cards to fight whimsical monsters and collect loads of loot.

Euro Truck Simulator 2
(Scs Software; Mac, PC)
If you’ve ever dreamed of driving an 18-wheeler from Torino to Bern, this is very much the game for you. Relaxing yet challenging.

Stardew Valley

Ideal husbandry… Stardew Valley.

Game Dev Story
(Kairosoftsnk; Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch)
Old but gold, this puts you in charge of a (pre-smartphone) game developer, ultimately building a console.

Islanders
(Grizzly Games; Mac, PC)
Drop buildings on to a procedurally generated island, positioning them strategically to gain points and unlock the next island. Simple, engaging, soothing.

Kingdom Two Crowns
(Raw Fury; PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Ride your horse through your beautiful 2D kingdom, distributing resources to manage subjects and defend the realm from monsters.

Planet Zoo
(Frontier Developments; PC)
Design and run a zoo, taking care of animals and making sure visitors are wowed. See also Planet Coaster: this, but with theme parks.

Pocket City
(Codebrew Games; Mobile)
SimCity’s re-emergence as a freemium mobile game opened the path for this, a city-building sim that you pay for once, but play endlessly.

Stardew Valley
(Concernedape; Mac, Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch, Vita, Xbox One)
Tend the crops and animals on the farm you inherited, with a spot of dungeon-crawling treasure-hunting on the side.

Total War: Warhammer 2
(Sega; Mac, PC)
An epic real-time strategy simulation pitching vast fantasy armies against each other in tactical battles that fill the screen with drama.

Two Point Hospital
(Sega; Consoles, Mac, PC)
This sim making you a healthcare boss has lots of depth, along with some moments of ridiculousness.

Xcom: Enemy Unknown
(2K Games; Mobile, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
The world faces a grave threat, commander: aliens have landed, and they are not friendly. Tense, difficult and compelling. The sequel, XCOM 2, is excellent, too.

Multiplayer

Fortnite

Shoot the messenger… Fortnite. Photograph: Epic

Brawl Stars
(Supercell; Mobile)
From the people who brought you Clash of Clans, this is a top-down action game with short, sharp three-on-three battles at its core.

Butter Royale
(Mighty Bear; Mobile, Apple Arcade)
It’s Fortnite but with a dairy theme, silly food weapons … and seriously good gameplay.

Call of Duty: Mobile
(Activision; Mobile)
Call of Duty can’t work on a phone … can it? It can, complete with squads and battle royale modes, and controls well suited to touchscreens.

Fortnite
(Epic Games; Mac, Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Let’s hope the servers hold up while schools are closed … Kids still love Fortnite, and the shooter’s second season is also great for newcomers.

Gang Beasts
(Double Fine; Mac, PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Jelly babies wrestle with each other and the laws of physics to throw opponents out of the arena. Laugh-out-loud fun.

Sea of Thieves

Original pirate material… Sea of Thieves. Photograph: Microsoft

Golf Blitz
(Noodlecake Studios; Mobile)
Tiny not-quite stickmen in four-player multiplayer battles is an absolute hoot. Regular new courses and challenge modes keep it fresh.

Heads Up!
(Warner, Mobile)
Charades, basically, where one person holds the phone in front of their forehead and everyone else frantically acts out whatever is written upon it.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
(Steel Crate Games; Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch, VR Platforms, Xbox One)
A riotous co-op game where one of you defuses a bomb, and the others help – by talking, because they can’t see it.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
(Nintendo; Switch)
Anyone can play this familiar kart racing game starring Mario and pals, with well-designed tracks and plenty of power-ups to keep things interesting.

Overwatch
(Blizzard; PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Team-based online shooter set in a vibrant world filled with katana-wielding mercenaries and environmentalist snowball throwers. Frenzied but tactical.

Sea of Thieves
(Microsoft; PC, Xbox One)
Gather a scurvy group of buccaneers and take to the high seas in your own galleon, discovering buried treasure and engaging in sea battles with other players.

Splatoon
(Nintendo; Switch, Wii U)
Stylish shooter series where, instead of kills, the aim is to splat an arena with ink to claim more territory than your rivals.

Creative

Nintendo Labo

Make and make do… Nintendo Labo. Photograph: Nintendo

Dragon Quest Builders 2
(Square Enix; PC, PS4, Switch)
For anyone who’s played Minecraft and wants a bit more direction, this is just the thing: blocky crafting and building, but more progression.

Draw Something
(Zynga; Mobile)
A 2012 mobile craze that quickly faded … but Pictionary-inspired Draw Something is still going, and retains the social x-factor that made it a hit all those years ago.

Dreams
(Media Molecule; PS4)
Essentially a full-blown artist’s and coder’s studio. You can sculpt, paint, make music, and combine it all into a player-created game – or just explore other people’s.

Gurushots
(Gurushots; Mobile)
Part-game, part-photography contest, GuruShots provides daily challenges for you to submit your photos for the verdict of fellow mobile snappers.

Kerbal Space Program
(Private Division; Consoles, Mac, PC)
Part-engineering sim, as you build and launch space rockets – but then there’s also a whole solar system to explore with your crew.

LittleBigPlanet

Getting the Sackboy… LittleBigPlanet.

LittleBigPlanet
(Sony; PS3, PS4, PSP, Vita)
The stylish handicraft platforming series allows players to build their own levels out of everyday objects, like a charming 1970s children’s art programme.

Minecraft
(Mojang; Mobile, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
The blocky builder has continued to reinvent itself. Whether you’re a crafter or a fighter, its open-ended nature is still enthralling for all ages.

Nintendo Labo
(Nintendo; Switch)
Follow friendly instructions to craft clever toys from pieces of real cardboard, and combine them with the Switch and its controllers to play little games.

No Man’s Sky
(Hello Games; PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Blast off into an infinite universe, flying between millions of unique planets with weird fauna, wary aliens and natural resources to mine and build with.

The Sims 4
(EA; Mac, PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Create little people. Build their houses. Manage their needs, relationships, careers, and aspirations. Join a community, try out their challenges. Tell stories.

Super Mario Maker
(Nintendo; Switch)
All the fun of old-school Mario, except you can make your own levels, which can be as bizarre as you like as long as they’re not impossible.

Terraria
(505 Games; Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Looks like Super Mario, plays like Minecraft: Terraria is a crafting-heavy sandbox game that has plenty of originality to explore.

Puzzle & Word

Tetris Effect

Blocks, rocking beats… Tetris Effect. Photograph: Monstars/Resonair

Baba Is You
(Hempuli; Mac, PC, Switch)
Solve a series of small puzzles by pushing around word tiles that fundamentally change the rules of the level. It becomes deliciously difficult.

Donut County
(Annapurna Interactive; Mac, Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
The world’s best (and no, not only) game where you play a hole in the ground gobbling up plants, buildings and more.

Gorogoa
(Annapurna Interactive; Mac, Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
A unique puzzle game: a two-by-two grid of hand-drawn scenes that you adjust and combine to uncover the story of a fantastical world.

Heaven’s Vault
(Inkle; Mac, PC, PS4, Switch)
A fantastical story about an archaeologist and her robot companion. The main draw is the puzzles, which gradually teach you a fictional hieroglyphic language.

Murder By Numbers
(The Irregular Corporation; PC, Switch)
It’s 1996. You are a television actor-turned-hobbyist detective with a robot sidekick, solving pixel puzzles to find clues.

Return of the Obra Dinn
(3909; Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
A stylistic puzzle aboard a 19th-century ghost ship, in which you explore frozen scenes from the past to figure out who died and how.

What the Golf?

Fore everybody… What the Golf?

The Room: Old Sins
(Fireproof Games; Mobile)
The fourth in the series of The Room games features some of the most intricate 3D puzzles yet, in a truly creepy setting.

Tangle Tower
(SFB Games; Mac, Mobile, PC, Switch)
This funny point-and-click adventure sees Detective Grimoire and sarcastic sidekick Sally explore a sprawling mansion, solving puzzles and questioning quirky suspects.

Tetris Effect
(Enhance Games; PC, PC VR, PS4, PSVR)
The block puzzle game we all know and love, transformed into absorbing experiences where the music, sounds and imagery evolve as you play.

What the Golf?
(Triband; Mobile, PC, Switch)
It starts like a regular mini-golf game, and takes about five seconds to descend into physics-based lunacy, to wonderful effect.

Wilmot’s Warehouse
(Finji; Mac, PC, Switch)
You work in a 2D warehouse, receiving items, deciding how to store them, and trying to find them again when needed. A surprisingly calm game.

Words With Friends Classic
(Zynga, Mobile)
Inspired by Scrabble, this venerable social game is still being updated, and keeps your wits sharp with multiple matches on the go at once.

Chill Out

Alto’s Odyssey

Board: stiff… Alto’s Odyssey.

Abzû
(505 Games; PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Go diving into an ocean full of life, swimming with fish and dolphins. A game to zone out to, but one that also packs a strong environmental message.

Alto’s Odyssey
(Noodlecake; Apple TV, Mobile)
You are a sandboarder racing through an ever-changing desert, jumping obstacles, collecting coins and doing tricks. Lightly challenging, but pretty and calming.

Coffee Talk
(Toge Productions; Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Serve coffee and listen to strange if believable characters talking about their problems. A lo-fi, hip-hop soundtrack adds to the chill vibe.

Everything
(Double Fine; Mac, PC, PS4, Switch)
Control literally everything from subatomic particles to entire galaxies in this strange, contemplative game.

Firewatch
(Campo Santo; Consoles, Mac, PC)
You are a fire warden in one of America’s natural parks. It’s just you and thousands of acres of gorgeous scenery – or so it first appears.

Monument Valley 2

High Escher environment… Monument Valley 2.

Fugl
(Kotori Studios; Mac, PC)
Fly around infinite landscapes as a transforming bird, just taking in the scenery. Truly one to zone out with.

Mini Motorways
(Dinosaur Polo Club; Mac, Mobile, PC)
A joyously hypnotic traffic-management game: you draw the roads and design a city without gridlock. Hopefully.

Monument Valley 2
(Ustwo Games; Mobile)
Like its predecessor, this isometric puzzler majors on beauty rather than brain-pain, as you guide a mum and her kid through Escher-like levels.

Mountain
(Double Fine; Mac, Mobile, PC)
Watch the seasons roll over a mountain as it spins in abstract space and pontificates on its own existence. Passive, but interesting.

Proteus
(Twisted Tree Games; PC, PS3, Vita)
A peaceful game where you go on a hike through abstract scenery just to see what’s there. A sensory experience soundtracked by nature.

A Short Hike
(Adamgryu; Mac, PC)
A bird called Claire must hike and glide to the top of a mountain to make a phone call, with delightful distractions along the way.

Sky: Children of the Light
(Thatgamecompany; Mobile, PS4, Switch)
Put on a cape and swoop through the skies in this peaceful exploration game, where interacting with players in non-verbal ways is the emotional heart.