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Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, the newest game in the Plants vs. Zombies franchise, just came out on February 23rd and it is already receiving a content update that includes balance fixes, new modes, and even a brand new map. Take a look at the list below (provided to the public by EA) and the trailer they provided for the so-called: Graveyard Variety Pack!


New Features

  • Added new co-op/team vanquish map “Aqua Center” which may seem familiar, yet completely different!
  • Added night version of the Great White North map to the Turf Takeover Playlist
  • Added Hide n’ Find missions to Backyard Battleground
  • Added Bot & Pot Missions to Backyard Battleground
  • Added unique character variant images to group HUD
  • World Options now shows all friends playing the game, not just the joinable ones
  • Added classic setting in options to change primary fire button (PS4 Only)
  • Added Aim Sensitivity slider to now allow more precise control over aim speed (for PC this is broken up into both mouse and gamepad sensitivity)
  • Added ability to select between hold button to aim or toggle button to Aim
  • Added kick player option to the in-game scoreboard for easy access (player hosted modes only)
  • Added difficulty to Pause Menu for some game modes
  • Game Now defaults to common chat in Private Matches
  • Added ability to view scoreboard while vanquished

Critical Fixes

  • Reduced length of round timer between rounds in Multiplayer matches
  • Imp now properly earns XP when in Mech
  • Players can now see other players’ Backyard customizations when visiting their Backyard
  • Players can now see stats on other players stats boards when visiting their Backyard
  • Improved audio for garlic drone primary weapon
  • Setting HUD to “Light” now also hides XP Meter
  • Major improvements to hit reaction “flinching” animations
  • A plethora of quality & bug fixes

Tuning/Balance Notes


  • Improved regeneration upgrade for all characters
  • Re-tuned all hit reactions for both players and AI to reduce the flinching effect even more


  • Completely re-tuned Rose class, bringing her back into playing as a support role
  • Reduced Rose’s health
  • Major changes to her homing abilities, ineffective at range, requires player to lead target in order to land more hits
  • Slightly reduced rate of fire for Magic Thistles
  • Significantly reduced length a victim is trapped in Time Snare
  • Changed how Goatify ability works so that damage does not break Goatify, creating a more predictable and less jarring experience, and lowered time as a goat
  • Slowed down rose variants (Fire, Ice) when charging their weapons to make them more vulnerable


  • Slightly decreased the Party Citron laser damage


  • We needed to improve Corn’s ability to be a front-line fighter so we increased his health and also improved his long range damage
  • Reduced Party Corn’s damage output


  • Decreased the digestion time after a chomp escape (i.e. your victim got away using anti-chomp ability like jackhammer)
  • Brought Chompers regeneration delay to parity with all other playable characters
  • Fixed a bug where Chomp Thing’s health regeneration didn’t match his weapon description. He now regenerates health slightly sooner and faster than default
  • Increased Unicorn Chomper’s Rainbow Warp cooldown time
  • Increased goop cooldown so it couldn’t be spammed quite as much


  • Zen Cactus was too damaging and needed some damage and reload adjustments


  • Imps tuning focused on ensuring he had a bit more survivability outside of his mech, and also improved his primary weapon slightly
  • Increased Imp health
  • Fixed a bug where the Imp couldn’t receive damage while he is making his Z-Mech phone call (he’s now only invulnerable when the beam of light appears)
  • Reduced Party Imp’s damage output

Super Brainz:

  • Slight cooldown reduction to Super Ultra Ball and Super Multi Ball abilities
  • Minor speed improvement to Turbo Twister but at the cost of decreased his armor while in Turbo Twister
  • Removed the decay from Toxic Brainz legendary meter to make it more useful
  • Damage reduction to Party Brainz

Captain Deadbeard:

  • We wanted to bring Captain Deadbeard closer to damage parity with Cactus, but just slightly below since he also benefits from his close range scatter shot
  • Made some movement speed improvements to his barrel when unlit
  • Made some damage reductions to Captain Partyman
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Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is releasing on February 23rd and Electronic Arts held a public beta for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. They did this for two reasons. The first test was to   test their servers and ensure they can handle the surge of players once the game launches. The second was to give prospective customers a chance to get a look at the game and hopefully buy it.

We spent a lot of time playing during the beta and came away very happy with what we saw. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is, essentially, an iteration on the original game and that isn’t a bad thing; not even a little bit. We loved every minute that we played the first game and the sequel looks like it delivers everything we would hope for in a new game: new game modes, new characters to play, and new maps.

The biggest (and best) addition to the game was the new hub world map that each of the two factions has. Each side has a home base of sorts where they players can explore, play mini-games, and look at stats for the different characters. These hub worlds are great for younger or inexperienced players because they provide a chance to practice movement and targeting in low stress environments and without other players. My youngest son spent more time in this mode than he did fighting in the different multiplayer modes and enjoyed the simplicity of running around the maze-like streets.

The new characters are awesome, too. Each side of the this epic struggle has three all new characters and we were able to try them all out over the course of the beta.

The plants have Citron (a slow moving orange that comes equipped with shields and a laser cannon), Kernel Corn (A heavy weapons specialist), and Rose (a support character). The zombies, on the other hand, have the Imp Zombie (a mobile character that can summon a massive mech to fight in), Captain Deadbeard (a sniper), and Super Brainz (a melee focused character that can do some serious damage).

Kernel Corn
Imp Zombie (With Mech)
Captain Dreadbeard
Super Brainz

These six new characters added a huge amount of variety to the game by bringing the total number of characters to fourteen. The various combinations of characters made every fight drastically different and really kept everything interesting. Any concerns that I we had about the game drying out and getting boring were wiped away as the beta passed.

We are less than a month from release so we don’t have much longer to wait. Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for more info as we get closer to release.

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Microsoft just wrapped up their 2015 E3 press event and while there was a LOT of amazing news the biggest announcement for parents was the impending release of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2!

The first game in the series was a surprise hit for Electronic Arts based on the popular PC and mobile game Plants Vs Zombies. The followup appears to follow the same family friendly shooter formula, but this time it takes place in what appears to be a dystopian future and includes plants and zombies that we included as part of Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time.

The original title is currently available at no cost to EA Access members. The sequel is slated for release in Spring 2016.

Are you and your family as excited as we are?


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Privateer Press/Bodger Games
Ages 8+
1-6 Players
45+ Minutes


Holed up in the walls of a besieged brownstone, our heroes defend their lives, and the lives of their friends, from the shambling, leaping, and running hoards of undead.   Building massive contraptions of zombie destruction, they tinker to avoid their own demise – or worse, infection.  Who are these brave and brilliant souls who are the last line against a terrible foe? Goblins.  That’s right, Goblins.

Zombies Keep Out is exactly what you’d expect from a Goblins vs Zombies cooperative game,which is to say, a lot of fun for children with an impressively complex gameplay to keep adults entertained as well.  OK, so maybe that’s not what you’d expect, considering that it’s not likely you’ve actually thought about a game pitting these two completely separate factions of under-the-bed creatures against one another.  I assure you, it’s worth expanding your imagination’s boundaries to accommodate this unlikely rivalry.

Like most cooperative games, there are MANY ways to lose and only one way to win. Collect parts and build 3 contraptions while facing nearly insurmountable odds as each player’s turn increases the urgency of the situation! The interesting dynamic that Zombies Keep Out (ZKO) has that sets it apart, is that the player who draws the aptly named “Terrible Things” card must choose between 3 options of many possible occurrences that do their title justice.  Adding zombies, moving zombies, infecting characters, and even more problems must be chosen by the current player without consulting other players.

To make it worse, a player cannot choose an action that cannot be completed at that time, so as the game progresses. “Terrible Things” become “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad” Things.

Players get a trade and a single action on their turn. They can repair damage to parts of their building, to protect the much-needed contraptions from destruction. They can defend against zombies, flinging spare parts at the oncoming horde. They can tinker with a device to work on completing it. Or, they can scrounge for parts. It is crucial for players to act together, as completing contraptions requires an exact sequence of cards. Once a contraption is completed, it adds another action called… “Press the button!” which activates the contraption’s special abilities!

As the pool of zombies (it is actually a literal swimming pool full of zombies) depletes the option of being bitten becomes more and more probable.  Biting adds a very kid-friendly scale of terribleness. The first bite takes away your ability to trade with other players and makes you speak more slowly and sickly. The second bite brings you even closer to the precipice of undead-dom (yes, that’s a word) by making your words even less intelligible, and removing your ability to take a tinker action.  A third bite will render you completely unable to speak beyond the iconic zombie groan, and will make you BLINDLY select an option (using hand signals, of course) from each “Terrible Thing” you draw on your turn!  Finally, any bite past the third will turn you into a full fledged Zombie, groaning continuously (to add to the atmosphere of mostly primary colored, large headed monstrosities), and you now have your ability to take actions replaced by drawing another “Terrible Thing”, as you assist your brain-dead brethren in their quest to consume the ever popular delicacy that is green brains. Kermit beware!

This game is immensely enjoyable and the cartoonish characters will be a quick favorite of most children.  It’s an easy game to modify for younger players, by allowing the group to decide the “Terrible Thing” for each card drawn.  Smaller children can build their strategic planning skills individually and even advance to figuring out what’s best for the group as they choose their own actions.

Adults will find themselves questioning decisions and calculating moves as zombies shamble ever closer to devouring their most precious asset… their contraptions.

ZKO is basically the answer to the question on all of our minds: what happens after Pandemic?

Zombies Keep Out! will be available April 23, 2014 from Privateer Press! If you’d like to add more fun to your already awesome ZKO game, Privateer Press has just announced Zombies Keep Out: Night of the Noxious Dead will be released Late Spring 2014!  Adding Glow in the Dark Zombies to the swimming pool near you!

Love cooperative games?  Check out our other reviews here!

Big Zombie Fan?  Here are all our Zombie reviews!


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By: Stephen Duetzmann, Editor-In-Chief

PopCap Games

Rating: 9+

August 13, 2013

Available on iOS/iPad

Overall Review:

There are occasions where you anticipate a game so much that it can’t help but disappoint you when it finally arrives. This is one of the more tragic things that can happen to game fans like me. It has happened so often in the past that I have trained myself to just expect to be disappointed. There was no need for that when it came to Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time. Every single part of this game was a joy.

This is a sequel that builds upon the original just enough to make improvements without being such a vastly different experience that it feels alien. The same core game play elements are there, but they are given a new coat of paint in the form of sharper and more detailed animations. Everything feels more alive and more colorful. 

The game is more challenging than the original, which is exciting because it forces players to use out of the box strategies for different levels and challenges as opposed to relying on a single strategy throughout.

The biggest complaint against this game so far has been the free-to-play model. But, I have to say that I hardly notice it. The game can be played from start to finish without spending a dime, and even if you went out and purchased all of the one time unlocks, it would amount to a little more than $20. This game is well worth at least that, and purchases aren’t even required.

Family Gaming Assessment:

Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time is all about cartoon zombies and bad vegetable puns. The zombies are cartoonish and lack any of the gore that one would expect if they were “realistic.”

There is really nothing to be concerned about here unless your kids have a serious fear of zombies. (At which point god help you… because they are everywhere in the media right now!)

Playability Assessment:

We’re talking about a very challenging strategy game that belies its cartoon aesthetic. Kids will likely find it very challenging unless they spent a lot of time with the original. Parental assistance may be required even then.

The real charm of Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time is that kids might not even care if they are losing since the game play is so entertaining.

I do have a word of caution for the challenge stages though. These stages will be particularly challenging for kids because they will force them to change their strategies for each challenge.  You know your child better than I do. If they don’t enjoy that type of activity, then you might want to moderate their play.


Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s about Time is free to play. There are in app purchases, but it is entirely possible to have an engaging experience without spending a dollar. This makes it really hard to think of a reason why anyone SHOULDN’T download this game.

I feel strongly enough about this experience that I would be able to recommend it if it cost $14.99 or more. There is a lot of content here. Since the game is free to play, there is no reason not to try it out with your children.


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PopCap Games announced on its blog that they are releasing the highly anticipated follow-up to Plants Vs. Zombies in Australia and New Zealand first. They explained that they are doing this “soft launch” to help perform a stress test on their servers and to help put some of the final touches on the game before release.

This is a reasonable step for them to take. The original Plants vs Zombies has grown in popularity significantly over the years. It has slowly evolved into one of the most popular mobile titles available. The demand for a sequel is massive. They would just be asking for trouble if they didn’t add to that the fact that the sequel will be free to play. The last thing they want is to miscalculate things and fail to deliver their product to their fans.

This process can only mean one thing: The release day is imminent. We’ll post an update as soon as the game goes live and will follow-up with our full review shortly thereafter!

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Those of us who were waiting patiently for the long-awaited follow up to Plants Vs Zombies will have to wait just a little bit longer. PopCap Games confirmed via the franchise’s official Twitter account that the game is being delayed until later on this summer. The title was originally slated for release on iOS on July 16th.

This is definitely a disappointment as it was one of my family’s most anticipated games, but a few more weeks are a small price to pay if this means the game will end up being more polished by the time they release it.

We don’t know a whole heck of a lot else about the game so far. But we have been able to find a few interesting bits of information.  

First, and most important, is that the game will follow a free-to-play formula. They have indicated that you will be able to play every level and earn every plant without spending a dime. Now, before any of you cheer too wildly, you have to remember that free-to-play games often have features hidden behind a paywall. In this case, I’ll bet that unlocking different plants will require spending coins that you find on the field with the option to just spend cash to unlock them faster. This is actually a great system. Those people who don’t want to pay anything will be able to play through the game that way. Everyone else will be able to pick and choose their purchases.

Second, we’ve been able to confirm that the game will involve time travel this time around. We don’t really know what that means yet since they have been very cagey with the details. But, we can assume that this will result in a wider variety of zombie opponents to deal with like knights, cowboys, etc.

This game looks like it could be one of the highlights of the summer. How excited are you for this one? Sound off in the comments section!


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EA opened their press briefing at E3 2013 with a huge surprise. PopCap Games came on stage and announced a spin-off title for their immensely popular Plants vs. Zombies series: The third-person class based shooter Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

I’ll be honest with all of you. I missed the gag in there until my oldest son started giggling. “Dad, its like Modern Warfare…. but in a Garden.” (Well played PopCap. Well played.)

They only showed a brief trailer of a co-op “horde mode” that would be part of the game. Four players controlled each of the different plant classes that were available and fought against waves of zombies while trying to plant a garden. The casual grid-based strategy gameplay was stripped away in favor of fast-paced action. The four plant classes shown were as follows:

Peashooter: This plant appears to be an all-around character. He has a reasonable long range attack and could plant other peashooter drones to lay down cover fire.

Sunflower: This was a healer/medic class. They didn’t get into to many details about what this class can do, but I can say that parents of younger kids wanting to play this game should get used to the idea of playing this support class. (I’m wicked excited!)

Piranha Plant: This was a close range brawler. What adds some challenge to this class is that, just like in the original title, whenever the piranha plant eats a zombie it can’t attack again for a while. This requires a lot of advancing and retreating in order to stay safe.

Cactus: The cactus is a sniper. One thing that I liked the most is that each of the snipers shots leave a red trail of dust. This might seem insignificant, but when playing a team based level like that the ability to know where your lone sniper is feels pretty useful.

We don’t have a confirmed release date yet, but PopCaps website has confirmed that the game will release for Xbox360, Xbox One, and PC sometime in early 2014.

If you happen to be one of the many people who just can’t wait that long for more PvZ action, then you are definitely in luck as the official sequel Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time will be released on July 18th.

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The Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support families who want to play board games with their kids (and video games too). We work hard to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s gaming. To facilitate this, we help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing and help them find great board games for their kids.

The “EFG Essentials” is a core collection of games we frequently recommend across different genres. The purpose of these essentials is to provide a starting point for families to engage with high-quality games. Below are our EFG Essential board games for kids.

Games for the Whole Family


Buy Planted here at Target

  • Card Drafting/Resource Management/ Set Collection
  • 2-5 Players
  • Age 10+

There is something very satisfying about caring for plants and watching them flourish. Planted takes the premise of collecting and caring for plants and couples it with beautiful artwork and components. This Target exclusive game had a high production value for the price. Players collect Resource Cards and Item Cards at the beginning of each of the four rounds. Then players draft their cards by picking and passing the cards to the right or left, the direction changes each round.

Planted plays over four rounds with a very simple card drafting mechanism. The game design keeps beginning players in mind. The player boards and nursery board do a great job of communicating clearly for the players. Each round players draw 6 Resource cards and 2 Item cards. Over the round players pick a card simultaneously, reveal and gather any resources based on their cards.

Planted takes some more complicated gaming mechanics and has streamlined their play as well as provided lots of visual support on the player boards, cards, and nursey board. For novice gamers this have become a great new gateway into set collection, resource management, and card drafting.

Chonky Donkey

  • Party Game
  • 3-8 Players
  • Age 12 +

Buy Chonky Donkey here on Amazon

Party games are wildly popular and easy to find, but may have a similar gameplay or theme from each other. Chonky Donkey has taken the party game and transformed the judge into the reader. In Chonky Donkey, just as in many other party games with cards and a judge, players submit a card to a prompt.

However, this is where there is a twist, the judge is only a reader. This game has question cards and answer cards. First the reader flips an answer card and all the players (except reader, who is in “the hot seat) submit a question card that they feels goes with the question, or is just ridiculous. As they read the cards summitted my their fellow players. the reader can not smile or laugh. If the reader smiles or laughs, the player who’s card they were reading gets the prompt card and the point. Should the reader keep a straight face the whole time, the reader keeps the prompt card and they get the point.

Ticket to Ride 

  • Route Building and Set collection 
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Ticket to Ride on Amazon!

Ticket To Ride is the quintessential starting place for families looking for the next level in board games beyond Monopoly or Uno. This is the game that was the starting point for multiple members of the EFG team to become passionate about board games.

During gameplay, players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout the United States. Each player is working on completing their own secret routes. If another player claims a path they need, the player needs to try and find another path to complete their route, if possible. This also adds a potential “take that” element to the game.

On each turn you can only take one of 3 actions: draw Train Car Cards, claim a Route between two cities on the board, draw additional Destination Tickets. The object of the game is to score the highest number of total points. Points are earned from completing routes, and lost for incomplete route cards. Each round allows for players to plan, think strategically, and make tactical decisions.

Ticket to Ride has expansions for other geographical areas (EuropeAsiaIndia, etc), in addition to First Journey for younger players. We love the fact that this game has so many version and appeals to such a wide range of players.

  • See our review of Ticket to Ride here.
  • See our review of Ticket to Ride First Journey here.

Sushi Go

  • Card drafting 
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Sushi Go on Amazon!

Sushi-Go takes place in the fast-paced world of a sushi chef, you must be the most creative and the fastest of all to be the best! The game comes in a cute tin and plays two to five players.

Players start with cards in their hand based on the number of players. Then select one card to play before passing the rest of their cards to the next player to choose from!  The game plays in 3 rounds. The strategy of the game lies in making the most of the cards passed to you, while trying to stop opponents from making the combinations they need to maximize points. The most interesting dynamic of this game is the chopsticks.  They are played in one round, and used on a subsequent turn to play two cards at once from the current hand.  The chopsticks get passed on to be used by someone else.

Sushi Go! is a fun game to play with anyone, and it is a light streamlined game that is a perfect first card drafting game.

See our review here.

The Crew

  • Trick Taking, Cooperative Strategy
  • 3-5 players
  • Age 10+

Buy The Crew on Amazon!

Multiple award winner, the 2020 Kennerspiel Des Jahres and 2021 American Tabletop Casual Game, the Crew combines two unique gaming styles, cooperative game play and trick taking. Players take on the roll of a space crew trying to complete missions. The rule books tells the story of each mission as well as the conditions players need to follow to succeed. Once a mission is completes successfully players can move on to the next mission. The game has 50 mission, which increase in intensity both within the story and in the requirements needed to be successful.

The Crew does a great job of adding small elements to each mission to make the difficulty increase. It is done in a gradual way that keeps the game approachable for families. For a small game, and modest number of components there is a lot of game packed into the small box.

The Crew Mission Deep Sea

  • Trick Taking, Cooperative Strategy
  • 2-5 Players
  • Age 10+

Buy The Crew Mission Deep Space

If you like The Crew, another adventure is available. In The Crew Mission Deep Sea, players search for the lost city of Mu beneath the ocean depth with in this sequel to the award winning game, The Crew. Using an easy to learn cooperative trick-taking gameplay the players take on different missions to tell the story. Completing each hand under certain conditions completes each mission and advances you through the story on your search for Mu. Just like in its predecessor, as you complete each mission additional rules and conditions might applied to future missions.

Abandon All Artichokes

  • Deck Builder (Deck Deconstruction)
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 10+

Buy Abandon All Artichokes on Amazon!

Winner of the 2021 American Tabletop Early Gamers category, Abandon All Artichokes has you build your hand of garden vegetables by deconstructing your deck of artichokes. In Abandon All Artichokes, players start with a hand of all artichoke cards. The goal is to abandon their artichoke cards and create a hand with other vegetables from the garden.

This is a great deck builder game for players new to that style of game, and has been referred to as a “my first deck builder” While the game is rated for age 10 and up this is a game that can scale down to slightly younger players. The non-artichoke vegetable cards have text with the actions the card allows. Young players being able to read the cards is helpful.


  • Roll and Write
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Quixx on Amazon!

Qwixx is a simple roll and write where all players participate in every dice roll. However, you must be strategic about the numbers and colors you select each turn. Roll and write games have a set of dice and each player has a scoring sheet. The genre of roll and write games have become more popular in the last few years, and Qwixx is the perfect game to learn the genre.

To play, there are six dice, two white, one yellow, one red, one blue, and one green. On a turn, the active player rolls and announces the total of the two white dice. All players have the option to mark any color on their sheet with the corresponding number.  The active player only has the additional option to add one white die with any one of the red, yellow, blue, or green dice to select a number on their record sheet. The more numbers you can mark off the more points you score. Players must choose carefully once you cross off a number you can not go backwards.


  • Tile Laying
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Kingdomino on Amazon!

Kingdomino, the 2017 winner of The Spiel Des Jahres (The Game of the Year), and combines the universal simplicity of dominoes with kingdom building. It is a tile drafting and placement game for two to four players.  The game is played in short rounds.

First, tiles are laid out in a field and players take turns drafting tiles based on the order of the previous round. Players draw domino shaped tiles and lay them out in their 5×5 block kingdom. only one side of their domino needs to match the land the connect to, but it can gain them more points if both sides match. The goal is to sort their kingdom so that they have large contiguous terrain (lakes, forests, etc) to earn points. Points are calculated by taking the number of continuous terrain times the number of crown icons found on any domino in that terrain. The gameplay is quick, easy to teach, and the game ages down very nicely.

See our Spiel Des Jahres 2017 article here.

Forbidden Island

  • Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 10+

Buy Forbidden Island on Amazon!

Forbidden Island puts players on an island that is slowly sinking into the ocean, and they need to work together to gather treasures then escape. Each turn is filled with tension as players flip over cards that indicate which tile will sink (and thus shrink the board). As the game progresses it really feels like the world is sinking.

The tiles are laid out in a set island pattern, and six cards are flipped from the Flood Deck. As cards are drawn from the Flood Deck, the corresponding tile on the board is flipped over. Which reveals a blue tinted version of the same piece. This represents the location “flooding”. If a flooded location floods a second time (via the same flood card being drawn later in the game), that location is lost to the abyss and both the tile and the corresponding flood card are removed from the game. 

The randomness of the tile layout leads to huge variety and replay value. The difficulty can be scaled to all abilities based on how high the water level starts the game. Even at the easy setting can provide a decent challenge for some of the most experienced gamers.

See our review here.


  • Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Pandemic on Amazon!

In Pandemic, two to four players take on one of several roles, such as Medic, Dispatcher, or Researcher, in their quest to cure 4 diseases before time runs out and humanity is wiped out.

Game play follows a standard turn-based approach. Each player starts their turn by drawing from an event deck to determine where the newest infections are.  Then, they use location cards to move around the globe, treating diseases to prevent outbreaks.  Finally, they draw more location cards to restock their hand.  If a player can get three location cards of a single color and can get to a lab, they can create a cure.  The cure that won’t immediately eradicate the disease. Rather, it will make the disease easier to treat.

There is one way to win (working together to cure all 4 diseases), and multiple ways to lose (running out of time, being overwhelmed by diseases, etc.)  Players can change the difficult by increasing the starting number of infections.

See our review here.


  • Tile Laying
  • 2-8 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Tsuro on Amazon!

Tsuro is a tile laying game for two to eight players with a beautiful Asian aesthetic. In this game you are a flying dragon. Your dragon is represented by a colored carved token. Tsuro consists of tiles with twisting lines on them, a 6×6 grid on which to lay these tiles and a token for each player.

Each player has a hand of tiles. On your turn you do two things: place a tile from your hand onto the board next to your token and move your token as far as it can go along the line it is currently on. You continue to move it until it is stopped by an empty space with no tile in (yet), the edge of the board, or if you collide with player’s token. If your dragon reaches the edge of the board or collides with another player’s token, you are out of the game.

The goal of the game is to be the last player left with a dragon on the board. The strategy, therefore, consists of trying to drive your opponents either into each other or off of the board. While trying to extend your own route in directions that will make it difficult for your opponents to hinder your path.

See our review here.

Zombie Kidz Evolution

  • Legacy/ Cooperative
  • For 2-4 Players
  • Ages 7+

Buy Zombie Kidz Evolution on Amazon!

Your successes or failures affect the game in your future plays of the game, in Zombie Kidz Evolution. This is a perfect first step into Legacy games. Legacy games are played over a series of sessions and what occurrences in previous sessions permanently changes the game and can influence the next events in the game. In Zombie Kidz Evolution you are working together to protect yourselves and drive off the zombies in the school. All the staff at the school zombies. The rules start off very simply, and as the game progresses new rules and abilities are added.

Zombie Teenz Evolution

  • Legacy/Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Zombie Teenz Evolution here on Amazon

The zombies are causing trouble around the town and you must work with your friends to find all the ingredients for the antidote to save them. Zombie Teenz is another game in the same world as Zombie Kidz Evolution. This is a stand alone game which can also be combined with Zombie Kidz Evolution. Just like in its predictor, this is a cooperative legacy games and evolves as you play. If your family likes Zombie Kidz Evolution, the this adds just a little more complexity and challenge for players.

Happy Salmon

  • Party Game
  • 3-8 players
  • Age 6+

Buy Happy Salmon on Amazon!

Happy Salmon is a great game for motivating your family to get up, laugh, and shout their way through a game. The rules also suggest being creative for a silent mode in locations where shouting is too disruptive. Each player gets 12 cards in their personal deck with three of each action card and the players who stand around a table. Each player shuffles their deck and flips it over so only one card is visible.

Once play begins, all players simultaneously say the name of the action on the revealed card. They are trying to find another player with a matching card. If no one has the same card the card moves to the bottom of their deck. If they find a match the two players perform the action and discard the card in front of them. The actions of Happy Salmon include: High Five, Fish Bump, Switch it up (where players switch places), and Happy Salmon (where players slap arms together) will leave players doubled over in laughter.  The first player to run out of cards wins.

Exploding Kittens

  • Player Elimination and Hand Management
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 7+

Buy Exploding Kittens on Amazon!

Exploding Kittens is one of the silliest games in our collection, and is a family favorite. There are fifty-six cards in the deck. The artwork is exactly what you may have come to expect from The Oatmeal. Characters such as Taco Cat and Beard Cat make an appearance alongside original artwork on each card. The game play is quite simple; the box claims it takes two minutes to learn. They weren’t kidding.

You can play as many cards as you like and you end your turn by drawing a card. If the card is an exploding kitten and you cannot defuse it you are out of the game. The last person standing wins. That’s it. The game really is that simple. The design is such that you never need to reshuffle the discard pile into the deck. There will always be a winner by the time the cards run out. 

This game is a lot more fun than one might think it would be. It plays very quickly and is very easy to learn.

Check out the review here.

Evolution: The Beginning

  • Engine Building
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Evolution: The Beginning on Amazon!

The Evolution Series by North Star Games has multiple games in this line. In the Evolution games you are evolving your creatures with various traits to help their survival. Each animal needs to have enough food or they die out and can go extinct. There is something for everyone in this series. For elementary age students you can start with Evolution: The Beginning. This is a simplified and streamlined version of the game good for ages eight and up. For older children: Evolution, Flight (which is an expansion), Climate, and Oceans.

The Evolution: The Beginnings the perfect lighter family game. It has streamlined the game elements of the Evolution series. For players new to engine building board games this gives a framework for that genre of game that is easy to understand. An engine building game is where the players are building something that will ultimately produce points for them in the game. The theme of Evolution is also very engaging to a wide range of players. It can be played with a wide range of players.

Block Ness

  • Area Control/Basic Resource Management
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Block Ness on Amazon !

Loch Ness Monsters are taking over the Loch, in Block Ness by Blue Orange Games. Players are vying for the limited space and trying to make their monster the longest before running out of room. To keep space limited and challenging at all player counts the number of players impacts the size of the loch (play space).

Each player gets 12 segments of their color monster, including a head and tail. Each segment is slightly different, they vary both in length and height. As players add to their monster, they can place a new piece horizontally or vertically only. Monster pieces can also (and eventually will need to) go over other monster pieces. The must be taller than the existing piece to cross over.

Block Ness is a great family game, and it plays well multi generational. The rules are very easy to learn and only takes 15 minutes to play, making it a great addition to family game collections.


  • Engine Building
  • 2-4
  • Age 10+

Buy Splendor on Amazon!


Blending a  balance of easy to learn rules and deeper strategy, Splendor is a fantastic game for older children and grown-ups alike. Splendor is a simple and elegant set collection game for two to four players. This is a game that is easy to teach, quick to learn, and will take a long time to master. The bottom line here; Asmodee has a huge hit on their hands as this has become one of our family’s favorite games.

In Splendor, players take on the role of Renaissance jewelers who are working to build their prestige and attract the attention of wealthy noble patrons. They do this by gathering resource tokens and spending them on development cards that represent new designs, tools, mining operations, and store fronts. The game is essentially a race to fifteen prestige points. Players acquire gems in order to buy mines, which in turn provide more gems (and ultimately points). While the gem-dealer theme may feel thin at times, the card drafting mechanic and  engine-building gameplay will quickly make this a family game night staple.

Check out our review! 


  • Set collection
  • 2-8 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Skyjo here on Amazon!

Skyjo is a great addition to any game collection. It supports of wide range of players and scales well at all player counts. Being able to support up to eight players is a huge asset. It is challenging to find a game, which is not a party game, that supports such a high player count. Skyjo’s rules are simple and easy to learn. It fits a casual gaming and multi generational gaming setting.

Players receive cards face down at the beginning of the round they reveal three cards. On their turn a player can either draw a revealed card from the discard pile, or they can take a card from the draw pile. If a player selects a revealed card from the discard pile, they must use it either for one of their face up cards or flip over a card and use it there. Should they choose an unknown card from the draw pile, then players can either substituted for a visible card or flip a card as well.

The round ends when 1 player has revealed all of their cards. One final turn occurs for the remaining players. Finally, players reveal their remaining cards and calculate points. There is a risk to ending the round, because that player must have the lowest score or their points are doubled. Additional rounds are played until one player meets or exceeds 100 points. The player with the lowest score wins the game. There is one special condition in the game.

Check out our review here.

Drop It

  • Dexterity/ Abstract Strategy
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Drop It on Amazon!

Some of the best family games are easy to learn, but hard to master. Drop It has very simple rules and can be taught in minutes, yet has enough strategy within the simple rules to keep it engaging for all members of the family. Do not be deceived by the bright primary colors of the game, Drop It is more than a kids game!

In Drop It, each player has a collection of shapes in one color, and players drop them down the vertical game board to try and score points. The challenge come in meeting the criteria to score points. Along the side and the bottom there are colors (or shapes depending on the set up you select) and if your piece touches the side of the same color it does not score any points. Pieces also may not land touching another piece of a matching shape or color. The player with the most points when they run out of shapes wins.

King of Tokyo

  • Push Your Luck 
  • 2-6 Players 
  • Age 8+

Buy King of Tokyo on Amazon!

Attacking Aliens, Rampaging Lizards, Giant Robots, Mutant Bugs, and Ferocious Gorillas: this game has them all! King of Tokyo is a game for two to six players that combines a board game, a dice game and a card game. You play as one monster whose main goals are to destroy Tokyo and battle other monsters in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo!

At the beginning of the turn, each player rolls six dice. The dice show the following symbols: numbers 1, 2, or 3 (representing Victory Points that can be earned), a lightning bolt (representing Energy that can be earned), a heart (representing Healing), and a claw (representing Attack). The player with the most Attack dice goes first (the fiercest). Each turn consists of 4 steps: rolling and re-rolling the dice, resolving the dice, buying cards and using their effects, and the end of turn decision.

The fiercest player will occupy Tokyo, and earn extra victory points, but that player can’t heal and must face all the other monsters alone! When you add in cards that can have a permanent or temporary effect, like growing a second head, body armor, nova death ray, etc., you get a VERY exciting game. In order to win the game, one must either destroy Tokyo by accumulating 20 victory points, or be the only surviving monster once the fighting has ended.

See our review here.

Fire Tower

  • Area Control and Hand Management
  • 2-4 Players
  • Age 14+

Buy Fire Tower on Amazon!

Most fire fighting games are cooperative, but in the game Fire Tower, you compete with other players to protect your fire tower from the fire and spread the fire to your opponent’s tower.

Players are working to defend their Fire Tower, the nine squares in the corner of the board, and to breach their opponents. In the Fire Tower squares fire can spread, but water and fire breaks can not be used. Players take  a range of actions depending on the card they play. There are Fire cards that spread the fire regardless of wind direction.  Water cards put out the fire in a small area. Fire Break cards create areas the fire is unable to burn, but may not be added to adjacent spots with a Fire Break. Once fire reaches the orange square in the corner that player is eliminated. The player with the last unburned tower wins.

See our preview from when this was on Kickstarter here.

For Young Gamers

Rhino Hero

  • Dexterity
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 5+

Buy Rhino Hero on Amazon!

Rhino Hero is a competitive  3-D stacking game where players are building a tower of cards and moving Rhino Hero up the tower.  This is a great games for younger players and involves no reading.

This dexterity game directs players were the wall cards need to go on each turn.  Players have wall and ceiling tiles.  On their turn, the player first builds the wall in the place indicated on the ceiling tile and then place their ceiling tile.  Actions indicated on some of the ceiling tiles and those benefit the player, such as skipping the next player.  The game ends when the tower fall, a player places their last roof card, or all the walls are built. 

Animal Upon Animal

  • Dexterity
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 4+

Buy Animal Upon Animal on Amazon!

Animal Upon Animal is a dexterity game perfect for young games, where players are stacking wooden animal pieces.  On a turn, players roll a special die to determine what happens on their turn. If the player rolls one pip they add one animal, two pips the add two animals, the crocodile image has the player place one animal on the table touching one side of the base animals, therefore further expanding the base. The hand icon has the active player choose one of their animals and give it to another player who then has to add it to the stack. Finally the question mark icon has the other players determine which animal the active player has to add to the stack.

Should animals fall off while a player is trying to add one to the stack, the player who was placing the animals takes them if there are one or two that fall. Should more than two fall one two are kept and the rest returned to the box. The game ends when a player runs out of animals to stack, and the last player to place their piece can declare victory.

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel

  • Set Collection
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 3+

Buy Sneaky Snacky Squirrel on Amazon!

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game is where you are collecting acorns to feed your hungry squirrel.  At the beginning of each turn you spin the spinner and that dictated the color acorn you can take or if another event occurs.  If a player lands on a storm cloud their acorns get blown back onto the tree. A sad squirrel means you lose a turn.  The thieving squirrel picture allows the player to steal one acorn from another player. The first person to fill their log with acorns wins.

This is a great simple game for very young gamers.

Hoot Owl Hoot

  • Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 4+

Buy Hoot Owl Hoot on Amazon!

Hoot Owl Hoot is a cooperative game where players work to bring the owls back to the nest.  The goal is to get all the owls back before the sun comes up.  Each player has three cards dealt in front of them.  Players choose a color card to play, and draws a card to refill at the end of their turn.  With a color card the player selects an owl and move it to the next corresponding space of that color. If a player has a sun card they must play it, and the sun moves one space on the tracker. The difficulty can be increased by adding more owls to put back in the nest.

The EFG Essentials are reviewed and updated every few months to make sure we have the most current information for our readers.

The EFG Essential Guide Collections

Check out our other Essentials Guides for great collections of games!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support to families who want to play video games with their kids (and board games too). We work hard to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s gaming. To facilitate this, we help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing and help them find great video games for their kids.

The “EFG Essentials” is a core collection of games we frequently recommend across different genres. The purpose of these essentials is to provide a starting point for families to engage with high-quality games. Below are our EFG Essential games for kids for both the PS4 and PS5.  We have chosen at the moment to include both of these systems on to one list as there are currently very few PS5 exclusives at the moment and even fewer that would fall under the “Family Game” umbrella.


  • ESRB rating: E 10+
  • Survival
  • Also Available On PS4, Xbox One, and Everything that has an electronic signal

 Minecraft is one of the best-selling games of all time, and one of EFG’s family games of the last decade. It is so well known that I questioned whether or not to include it here. But, it is too important of a game to leave off. 

Minecraft holds a special place in a lot of kids’ hearts because it is so flexible. It can be so many different games for so many different people. It can be a survival game, a creative outlet, a multiplayer battle game, and more. It even ends up being the equivalent of a popular TV show considering how many hours of the game are consumed globally each month (Hint: It’s a lot.)

Marvel’s Spider-Man

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action-adventure
  • Exclusive

Spider-Man was our game of the year in 2018, and would easily hold its own against other games of the year that we’ve announced in the past. Insomniac Games was the perfect developer to bring the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to life. They were able to capture the true essence of what makes Spider-Man a fun hero to watch and to play: the traversal.

Swinging around New York City looking for backpacks, finding crimes to fight, and battling with supervillains was a blast from the very first second until its emotional end.

Madden 2021

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • PC, Xbox One

Madden 2021 is the singular NFL title for all your gaming needs. If you are looking for a high-quality football simulation with all the applicable NFL licenses this is going to be your go-to.

MLB The Show 21

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Exclusive

The exclusive Major League Baseball property across all platforms, MLB The Show 21 is an exceptional baseball simulation.  This year’s version brings two changes to the classic game. First, there is now a ballpark creator mode that allows you to custom-build your own ballpark to whatever specifications you desire.  Secondly and we believe more importantly this is the first time that this is not a Sony Exclusive and instead has been released on both the Playstation and Xbox platforms, allowing access to the game to a whole slew of players that could only look on from behind a Sony sized wall.

NBA 2K22

  • ESRB Rating E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5

Buy NBA 2K22 on Amazon.

The NBA 2K games are far and away the most consistent and best performing NBA property on the market today.  This is truly a basketball simulation that allows you to play as any of the current NBA teams, customize your own, or even play as some of the iconic teams of the past. 

WWE 2K22

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Genre: Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series

Buy WWE 2k22 on Amazon.

In WWE 2K22, you can take your dream of becoming a WWE superstar and make it a reality. With over 200 superstars from throughout WWE’s history to choose from, you and your family will enjoy laying the Smackdown on each other in a family-friendly way.

2K20 was remarkably bad. So bad in fact that they took a year off from publishing in order to refine the game engine. 2k22 is a return to form for the franchise.

This year’s entry gives you the chance to relive highlights from the brilliant career of Rey Mysterio Jr. Some of his biggest highlights are missing because the opponent isn’t in the game. But, it is a fun ride through history nonetheless.

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Classic Mac OS, Linux

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched in 2015 to great fanfare and has only grown as they added more game modes like “hockey” and “basketball”

This is a great game to play (and watch) because of how wild the matches can be. There is just something exciting about watching race cars flying around a trach crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal.

The Messenger

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Simply put… The Messenger is a modern response to the Ninja Gaiden series from the NES era. Sabotage Studio is a team full of people who love that game and have gone out of their way to show their reverence in game form.

It isn’t an easy game, but the experience is well worth the effort. The soundtrack alone is worth spending time with the game. But, exploring the different levels AND playing with time travel mechanics are rewarding.

This is definitely a game that needs to be on your radar.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game

LittleBigPlanet gave the world a gift in Sackboy. Sony didn’t really have a mascot until he came along and he finally gets his own dedicated game in Sackboy: A Big Adventure.


  • ESRB Rating: T
  • First-person Shooter
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Overwatch is a great alternative for parents looking to let their kids play a multiplayer shooter. It features cartoonish graphics, a diverse cast of characters, and a number of game modes that keep things interesting. One of the things we love about Overwatch is that the cartoonish aesthetic helped keep the ESRB rating down, and makes this more of an Avengers-like experience than a Saving Private Ryan one.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

  • ESRB Rating:E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • PS5 exclusive

The sixth installment of the wildly successful Ratchet & Clank series, Rift Apart leverages the capabilities of the PS5 to provide exceptionally smooth gameplay and stunning visuals that were not possible on the previous versions of the Playstation.  This game stays true to the themes and style of the previous Ratchet and Clank installments; it introduces plenty of new twists and turns such as the “Rift Tether” that allows the player to instantly change worlds, and the introduction of Rivet, the first playable female character in the franchise.

Kingdom Hearts All-in-One

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On Xbox One

The Kingdom Hearts All-In-One package includes 10 different Kingdom Hearts experiences dating back to the PlayStation 2. This is an amazing value for Disney fans who are looking for an Action RPG series to sink their teeth into. Once you finish this amazing collection you can pick up Kingdom Hearts 3. 

Stardew Valley

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Simulation
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Playstation Vita

Stardew Valley is a remarkable game. It is a farming and life simulator where you play as a younger person who inherits relatives run-down farm. You need to build it up, explore the surrounding wilderness, meet people, get married, etc. It is a wildly engaging game that has been a sensation since it’s release. This is a great game to relax with. 

Final Fantasy XV

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Stadia

The Final Fantasy Series is a benchmark against which all role-playing games are weighted. Final Fantasy 15 is one of the best stand-alone role-playing games of the PS4/Xbox One era.  The Final Fantasy series incorporates fantasy and futuristic elements into a compelling story.  

Final Fantasy 15 is a coming-of-age story, as the young prince Noctis grows from a brash teen to an adult and wielder of magic powers. His journey is assisted by three friends that are as many mentors as they are friends, each with stories in their own right. 

With a steady, fast pace in mind, Final Fantasy 15 handles the action in the third person view. It has simple commands mapped to the controller ahead of time. Combat happens in real-time, players can choose to pause the action for an opportunity to plan and strategize which is an anchor point of the RPG experience. 

The Final Fantasy Series represents a collection of stories throughout gaming history. All of the games are great in their own right, and everyone has a favorite that can be endlessly argued

FIFA 2021

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Stadia

Soccer (Football for our international readers) is the most popular sport on Earth. It stands to reason then that the digital version would be wildly successful as well. If your kids play soccer, then they likely have this game on their wish lists every year. I can’t say that I blame them. FIFA does amazing work each year in crafting as authentic and fun of an experience as they can.

Tetris Effect

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle
  • Also Available On PC, Oculus Quest

Just like the original Tetris, Tetris Effect requires you to place tiles in order to clear lines.  This update though adds themes and music through different levels based on the beat of the music.  It also adds a mechanic that allows you to place several blocks at once and a VR compatibility that varies greatly from your standard Tetris game.  This is a high-quality addition to one of the most popular gaming titles ever.

Horizon: Forbidden West

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action Role-playing

Buy Horizon: Forbidden West on Amazon

Horizon: Forbidden West is an open-world action and adventure title that takes place in a land so far removed from a global catastrophe that civilization has reset again in the ruins of ancient cities. The game encompasses a rich story, beautiful landscapes, and great voice acting.  In addition, there is the thrill of hunting giant robot dinosaurs.

The Story of Horizon: Forbidden West continues the story of Aloy, a young woman raised as an outcast, and her struggles to navigate and explore the lands beyond her home. This time around she is recognized everywhere as a hero who has already saved the world. She has to face the ramifications of that newfound fame while trying to save everyone from a dangerous blight that threatens to choke out all life. This takes her to new regions and introduces her to new tools, new people, and new robot beasts to fight.

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, macOS, Linux

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched in 2015 to great fanfare and has only grown as they added more game modes like “hockey” and “basketball”

This is a great game to play (and watch) because of how wild the matches can be. There is just something exciting about watching race cars flying around a trach crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal. 

Hollow Knight

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game/Metroidvania
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Linux

Hollow Knight is an independently developed action game that blends the best of Castlevania and Dark Souls into a beautiful and family-friendly title. You take on the role of a wanderer who is brought to the entrance of The Hollowness from unknown circumstances. 

The Hollowness is an interconnected dungeon with multiple entrances and exits to each beautifully crafted zone. Every part of the Hollowness is built to be both journey and destination, with levers and gates revealing backtracking paths to the surface, and many difficult challenges focusing on platform-based movement and fair, but brutal combat. 

Hollow Knight is built to unfold by itself in a very organic path. Exploration and curiosity open up alternate paths and entire sections of the world. Your skills and the story are shown rather than told and are left for you to discover through environment and inference rather than straight and simple exposition.

LEGO Games

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Adventure
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS

From Harry Potter and Star Wars to Marvel and DC, LEGO has consistently captured the imagination of kids 0-99.  That they have somehow managed to consistently do this with their video games titles is somewhat remarkable.  Most of their games follow the same basic format of providing you with familiar characters to interact with your environment while collecting blocks either by battling enemies or destroying objects in the world around you.  This has proved a winning formula time and time again and has provided tens of thousands of hours of entertainment to its fans.

Plants vs Zombies: Neighborville

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Tower Defense
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One

Parents regularly approach the EFG team looking for alternatives to more violent M-rated shooters on the market. We regularly suggest the Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare series. This is the latest entry to the series, but any of them are worthy additions to your collection. 

Everything about this game is all bright colors and goofy characters.  There is even a Disco Zombie character! 

Everybody’s Golf

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Exclusive

The latest installment in the series “formerly known as Hot Shots Golf” was published specifically for Sony platforms.  Everybody’s Golf is a cartoony arcade-style golf game that allows for single-player or online multiplayer gameplay.  The gameplay is refreshing and simple allowing for easier accessibility to players of all ages. In keeping with the theme, Sony has also decided that if you need a break you can feel free to drive your golf cart anywhere you like.  This is typically frowned upon by the “establishment” for those that would like to know and infinitely entertaining.  Go out, play golf with everybody, and have a great time.


  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Adventure Art Game
  • Also Available On: Playstation 3, PC, iOS
Journey Video Game Review - Video Game Review of Journey on ...
Click the image to purchase

Journey is one of the best games to come out in the last decade. It is a relatively short experience where you guide a cloaked wanderer through a desert, but the way that this game handles multiplayer will take your breath away. 

No Man’s Sky: Beyond

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Survival
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One

No Man’s Sky was released in 2016 and wasn’t very well received. However, Hello Games has been releasing regular, free updates since its launch. It is almost unrecognizable from its original form now. It still has the exploration mode, but it has base building, a creative mode, multiplayer, and more!

Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Role-playing
  • Also Available On PC, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS

Dragon Quest XI is the most recent edition to an ongoing series of role-playing games by Square Enix. The series is known for the art style of Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball. 

Dragon Quest is a series that consistently comes out with a reliable turn-based combat system that has seen nothing but simple improvements. 

Its place as an EFG essential is based on its ease of entry in an ongoing, fantasy story. The fantasy elements that many other games work off of got their start here with a chosen warrior of light and a band of friends and heroes rally to fight the darkness. 

Dragon Quest has had a consistent following in Japan since its first incarnation on the NES in the 1980s. That following was earned by creating a game that was as much a storybook as it was a turn-based game.

Addendum: Fortnite

At this point almost every kid on Earth has played Fortnite. But, we wanted to include it here for the sake of completion. It is a worthy recommendation though. Fortnite is huge. It is a great alternative for more mature shooters since there is no blood and most of the action is over the top and silly as opposed to violent.

The EFG Essentials are reviewed and updated every few months to make sure we have the most current information for our readers. Last updated 4/10/2022.

The EFG Essential Guide Collections

Check out our other Essentials Guides for great collections of games!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

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