From the Big Daddies of Bioshock to the hot daddies of Dream Daddy, dads are everywhere in video games. There are a couple reasons for that, and they range from poignant to very silly. On the one hand, the fear of failing to protecting your children is a universal one. On the other, the internet just loves a good dad meme. (And yes, it sucks that moms in video games are usually either absent or monsters.)
To celebrate Father’s Day this year, we’ve rounded up the best games that tackle fatherhood in meaningful, depressing, silly and downright awkward ways. If your dad has even a passing interest in video games he’d probably enjoy playing through some dad-themed games with you. Proceed with caution on some of the more depressing and/or awkward ones, though. Nothing ruins a Father’s Day like failing to save your son from a serial killer.
Scary Daddy: God of War
Come for the giant monsters and Norse gods, stay for the intimate, personal story about a father and son. God of War is one of our favorite new games this year, mostly because of its story, which is full of mythology but reads as timeless and universal. (The gameplay is also just very cool.) For bonus points, teach your dad how to play God of War and really drive home the message that parents and children are always learning from each other.
Zombie Daddy: The Last of Us and Telltale’s The Walking Dead
Both The Last of Us and Telltale’s The Walking Dead feature gruff, resourceful men forming parental bonds with tenacious young women to whom they’re not biologically related. And also there’s zombies. If you’ve got a father figure in your life who would be by your side in a post-apocalyptic world, either one of these games will probably make you cry.
Big Daddy: Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinite
Unpopular opinion: Bioshock 2 deserves more credit. Sure, some of the themes are a little heavy handed, but subtlety has never been Bioshock’s thing. More importantly for the purposes of this article, the Big Daddy storyline is actually moving. Bioshock Infinite may have been more innovative in terms of gameplay, but the Bioshock sequels do a good job of exploring fatherhood and trying to protect your children.
Secret Daddy: Dishonored
Dishonored is another game that explores what it means to be a father figure, though not as overtly as some of the other entries on this list. Still, the bond between Corvo and young heir-to-the-throne Emily is what keeps the story going, so by the time we find out the truth about their relationship, their close bond makes sense.
Crime Daddy: Grand Theft Auto 5 and Yakuza 6
Grand Theft Auto and Yakuza are both open world series where you could (and probably have) run around causing havoc instead of paying attention to the storyline. If you do play through, though, both Grand Theft Auto 5 and Yakuza 6 tell stories about men pulled back into a life of crime while trying to do the right thing for their families.
Sad Daddy: Heavy Rain
As a story about a grieving father whose surviving son is abducted by a serial killer, Heavy Rain is kind of a bummer. The themes of responsibility and fatherhood are out in full force, though, so of course we had to include Heavy Rain in a list of games about being a dad. (If you need a laugh after playing through, check out Video Game Theater’s recreation of a very silly glitch.)
Definitely Normal Human Daddy: Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Nothing to see here, just a game about a normal human dad doing normal human things. Running errands, doing yard work, going to the aquarium and being thrown into a shark tank by an evil police chief who’s sole mission is to cook and eat you. You know, dad stuff.
Bad Daddy: Who’s Your Daddy
Antiquated ideas that dads are bad at taking care of children aside, Who’s Your Daddy is the only co-op game on this list so you can actually play it with your dad. If you haven’t watched Griffin and Justin McElroy play this very silly game about a baby trying desperately to die, I highly recommend it.
Dream Daddy: Dream Daddy
A dating sim about hot single gay dads sounds like it could at best rely too heavily on silly memes and at worst treat queer dads as a joke, but as Simone de Rochefort pointed out in her review, this game is much more wholesome and inclusive than you might expect.
Buy Dream Daddy (PC) here: Steam
Lather Daddy: Shower With Your Dad Simulator
Okay, maybe looking at 8-bit genitalia is a little much for Father’s Day. Save this one for Thanksgiving.
Buy Shower with your Dad Simulator (PC) here: Steam