Limbo

Game by: Playdead

Game for: Pre-teens and up

Our Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review by: Mom

Limbo is a creepy black-and-grey platformer puzzle style game from Playdead. Although it’s a few years old, it’s still one of my favorite puzzle solving games, and I’ve played through it a couple of times. The thing I love about Limbo visually is its utter simplicity. The game is played through a series of atmospheric scenes that are dimly lit, and in shadow.

While games like Little Nightmares (see my review of this single player horror game here) depend heavily on lighting and color to guide your character along, Limbo takes visual simplicity even further by placing the puzzle solving on a 2D platform and removing all color from the game.

This quick side scroller relies on your ability to solve problems using physics and quick-thinking to survive. In my opinion, the minimalist design adds to the intrigue as you’re forced to get creative within the confines of the two-dimensional world.

If big horror titles and are too much for you, but you like a bit of creepiness in your video games, then Limbo might be the game for you. It’s beautiful atmosphere and simple adventure will keep you pushing through the trouble that lies ahead.

You can find Limbo for the Nintendo Switch on Amazon here.

Want to see more? Check out some of our other articles and reviews below.

Little Nightmares

Game by: Tarsier Studios

Game for: Teens and Up

Our Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review by: Mom

Available on: Microsoft Windows (PC), PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One

Little Nightmares is a platformer style puzzle solving game that Dad got me because I enjoyed the Limbo video game so thoroughly (you can see my review of Limbo here).

Unfortunately, when I first had it added to my Steam library, my ancient computer took a nosedive, and although it ran the game there was so much lag that I was having a hard time getting through the rooms and monsters. I played my first six hours of the game with the graphics turned as far down as possible, but still had such a problem with lag that I gave up. A person can only get caught and neck-snapped by chefs so many times.

Yes, I said neck snapped. Or suffocated, maybe. The intensely dark art design in this game sparks the darkest images of your imagination.

After I upgraded to a new Dell laptop, I gave Little Nightmares another try. I’m glad I did. Little Nightmares was a great horror style game for me. It isn’t overtly graphic, the game doesn’t depend on jump-scares to get the “horror” designation, and the slow pace and dark ambiance make the game pleasing to look at while you’re trying not to die.

I will admit, although I love puzzle games, I don’t like getting stumped to the point of frustration. There were a few points in the game where I simply couldn’t figure out what to do next, and rather than hit my head against the keyboard trying to figure it out, I referenced the Prima Games Little Nightmares Walkthrough and Guide.

The one thing I didn’t love was that the game wasn’t long enough, so I was glad that I had all the extra downloadable content to work through after Little Nightmares found its end. Adding The Depths, The Hideaway, and The Residence to my Steam library nearly doubled my playtime and kept me enthralled in the story of this delightfully creepy game.

Tarsier Studios took their storytelling a fresh direction by making the entire game without dialogue, relying on lighting, music and sound effects to move you through the plot. It’s clear that your character wants to escape the horrible child-farm she lives in, and it’s not difficult to piece together why, one scene at a time.

In fact, this immersive story style makes the game linger in the back of your mind long after you walk away from the screen, which is an emotional effect that I love coming from a cinematic video game.

As I mentioned before, my biggest complaint about the game is that I would have liked the core game to be longer. It took me about six hours to play through, and I’m not the most savvy gamer.

If you decide to try Little Nightmares yourself, make sure to grab the Secrets of the Maw Expansion Pass. Once you get involved in this story, you’re going to want it to last as long as possible.

I played Little Nightmares on my laptop through the Steam store. But you can find this game on just about all the current consoles here.

Want to see more? Check out some of our other articles and reviews below.

Qwirkle

Amazon Product Name (APN): Qwirkle Board Game

Manufacturer: MindWare

Review by: Dad

Our Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Qwirkle by MindWare is an easy to learn and accessible color and shape based tile laying game for ages six plus, and all levels of gamers.

Qwirkle’s rules are simple: shuffle 108 wooden tiles into a bag, and every player draws six of them.  The player who goes first is the one who can place the longest line of tiles of either matching shapes or colors. The next players add onto the beginning line, matching colors or shapes as appropriate. Each player lays tiles matching what is already on the board by either extending the line already there or starting a new one, similar to how words are place in Scrabble. Play continues with each player refilling their hand from the bag of tiles, scoring the tiles they’ve played at the end of each turn. 

Scoring is simple; one point per tile laid, and twelve points for a completed six tile line called getting a Qwirkle!  The rules allow for some crazy combo scoring once the board starts getting built up, which causes game play to get progressively more strategic.

Qwirkle is definitely a game that is easy to learn, but hard to master.  There are advanced strategies that can be used to block other players from getting Qwirkles, saving key tiles to ensure you get Qwirkles, etc. Qwirkle is an extremely fun tile laying board game that is perfect for families since it is accessible for all age ranges from six plus (but our son started playing at three years old) and the rules are easy to explain and learn quickly.

Our family has had games with ages ranges from four years old to eighty-five!  Qwirkle is available both in a standard edition and a travel edition, as well as Qwirkle Cubes which adds a dice rolling component to this classic matching game. Pick from any of the editions on Mindware’s Amazon listings that work best for you and add Qwirkle to your collection today!

Want more? Check out some of our other lists and reviews below.

Zombie Dice

Amazon Product Name (APN): Zombie Dice

Manufacturer: Steve Jackson Games (SJG)

Review by: Dad

Our Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zombie Dice is a fun and quick zombie themed dice rolling game by Steve Jackson Games. The base game includes a Zombie Dice themed dice cup, thirteen dice and the instructions.  Zombie Dice is fairly quick to play at about fifteen – twenty minutes a game with two – fourish players. (Note: We say “fourish” because we’ve played with many, many more than four people.) 

Each player is a brain eating zombie, and the dice are the survivors.  Each player takes turns loading up the dice into the cup, giving it a good shake and then removing and rolling three dice. Brains are points, feet are the survivors running away and can be rerolled (if the player continues), and gunshots are damage to the player.

Three gunshots rolled, and you’re dead!

For example, on their turn, a player pulls three dice and rolls three brains. They can immediately shake the cup, pull three more dice and keep rolling until they either stop and bank their earned brains, or three gunshots are rolled. It’s a game that’s half chance, half strategy, and all fun.

If player gets lucky enough to empty the cup and not roll three gunshots, they can keep going by placing all dice except the shots back in the cup, permanently banking what they’ve already earned, and continue rolling.  It’s up to each player on their turn to see how far they push their chances while playing Zombie dice.

The game ends when one player exceeds thirteen banked brains. Every other player is then given one more turn to try to improve their score before the game fully ends, and the person with the highest final score wins.

Zombie Dice is a fun and thematic game that is quick and easy to play, if a little more mature in theme.  Zombie Dice is still a fantastic game for families as it easy to learn, portable, and fun. We love Zombie Dice so much that it ended up on Our Top 10 Board Games list! Check it out here.

Want to pick up a set of Zombie Dice for your next family game night? You can find it on Amazon right here.

Want more? Check out some of our other lists and reviews below.

Board Games as a Family Hobby

A Family Game Night How-To Article

By Dad

Gaming is one of oldest forms of entertainment. Game pieces have been found in archaeological digs around the world, dating back to some of the oldest civilizations on the planet. In modern times, Board Games have become one of the most diverse and interesting pastimes available to us.  There are so many different types of board games, card games, and miniature games available today that no matter who you are, there is a game out there that you and your family can enjoy.

Family game night has become a staple in households around the world, and for good reason.  Playing tabletop games together gives your family a reason to get unplugged from screens and interact with each other. Board games tighten much-needed family bonds and encourage families to spend time together. For kids, family game night provides an opportunity for new experiences and can be used as learning opportunity to reinforce basic math, vocabulary, reading and writing skills.

Cooperative games like Castle Panic and Pandemic help families learn to work together, problem solve and overcome challenges together. In contrast, competitive games like Munchkin, Ticket to Ride or Small Worldcan teach conflict resolution, critical thinking and problem solving. Games like Hi Ho Cherry-O or Jenga can help kids practice basic math skills, manual dexterity or other educational skills.  The multitude of games on the market today make it possible to find a game that is right for your family game nights, no matter what your family gaming goals are.

Setting up family game night is easy! Pick one evening a week to play a couple of games as a family instead of watching TV or playing video games.  Let each member of the family have a turn picking the game to play so everyone has a chance to play the games they want.

Make time to check out your local game store and shop for games together. Boardgame stores can be great resources to learn about new games and some will even let you play them before you buy.  I’m lucky that gamestores near me feature open play areas where we can go and play games outside of the house, providing a change of scenery. Playing games in a store play room is also great if you don’t have space at home for games that require more room.

If you don’t have a local game store near you to help you choose the game right for your family, check out Youtube or a review website like OurFamilyGameReviews.com to find out what other people are saying about games they love to play.

Game Night Rules:

We have a rule for our family game nights banning electronics from the table when playing board games or role playing games. It’s too easy for the entire family to get sucked into their individual screens, causing us to interact with each other less than we should. Setting up a time where the whole family can come together that doesn’t include electronics is a much needed break for everyone. All it takes is commitment by the whole family to show up for that weekly evening to play games.

Be aware that you need to give yourself permission to adjust your rules as needed. As an example, my father enjoys playing miniature games, but because of his poor eyesight he needs a tablet with zoom to read rules and warscrolls for Warhammer Age of Sigmar. We make exceptions where it makes sense.  The main goal of our “no electronics” rule is to keep us from getting distracted from playing the game.  This rule may not work for every family, but it has served us well to keep everyone focused and having fun.

Our family has built years of amazing memories playing games on family game night. It has helped our family bonds grow tighter.  Countless game nights and camping trips, hauling our game collection along, have taught us that the family that plays together, stays together, and you don’t have to be staring at an LCD screen to have some serious fun.

Want more? Check out some of our other lists and reviews below.

Melissa & Doug USA Map Wooden Puzzle

Amazon Product Name (APN): Melissa & Doug Wooden USA Map Puzzle, Wipe-Clean Surface, Teaches Geography & Shapes, 45 Pieces

Our Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review by: Robby

I play with this puzzle all the time! I like building the USA Map and learning where all the states go. It’s cool because it shows pictures of things about each state. It’s funny because the puzzle has 45 pieces. But there’s 50 states! That’s because the tiny states like Rhode Island and Connecticut are added to bigger puzzle pieces, so you don’t have teeny tiny puzzle pieces that would make it hard to play.

It’s hard to remember where all the pieces go when they’re out of the puzzle. We use the Melissa & Doug USA Map to help us learn about the U.S.A. in school. Did you know that Alaska is actually much bigger than Texas? Why don’t they print it that way on the maps? I don’t know!

I think this puzzle is really good for kids 5 and up, because that’s when I got the puzzle to learn about the U.S.A. If you want to get this puzzle for your kids, you can find it on Amazon.com here.

Want to see more? Check out some of our other articles and reviews below.

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