Looking for the best summer video games to jump into? You’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re seeking experiences which carry that seasonal flair or comfy games that’d work nicely during those hot summer holidays, there’s plenty that’ll cater to your needs. Assuming you’ve not gone off somewhere nice for a break, visited a nearby beach, or you’re simply taking some necessary downtime. We all need to look after ourselves where possible.
For what it’s worth, there’s never a bad time to play any of the best summer video games. Some might argue that there’s potentially better times, sure, but there’s no set deadline to get your latest seasonal fix in. That’s not to say there isn’t a spot for big hitters like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which keeps track of real-world seasons according to your hemisphere. Maybe there’s a summer-themed level/world you really enjoyed, like in Astro’s Playroom or Ratchet & Clank.
The Best Summer Video Games
Within this list, you’ll find recommendations across various genres, ranging between indie delights, classic platformers, and action-packed adventures. We’ve all got our favourites but for now, here’s our recommendations for five of the best summer video games.
Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and what better way to celebrate than by making a return trip to Isle Delfino. Taking Mario on a beachside vacation, this classic sees the iconic plumber taking a much-needed getaway, exploring a vast tropical location filled with beaches, palm trees, and crystal-clear water. Unfortunately, almost immediately upon arrival, we find Mario getting framed for drawing graffiti across this beautiful island.
We soon learn that the graffiti has caused the Shine Sprites, the island’s guardians, to flee, plunging it into darkness. It’s up to us to restore Isle Delfino to its former glory, cleansing this island of graffiti, saving Princess Peach, and eventually, saving your team’s vacation. Even if this GameCube classic isn’t your favourite Mario outing, it’s still a fine adventure worth exploring.
A Short Hike
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call A Short Hike one of the best indie games we’ve seen in recent years. Providing an isometric 3D platformer, you play as a bird called Claire, who’s taking a vacation at Hawk Peak. Unable to find their mobile phone signal while waiting for an important call, Claire seeks to find higher ground, and so begins her ascent of Hawk Peak. While you can just go straight to the summit, you’ve got plenty of side quests to do along the way too.
In many ways, A Short Hike feels like the embodiment of summer. From the bottom of this mountain, we’re right by the beach, chatting with fellow visitors and collecting seashells. If it’s warm where you are and you don’t fancy a long gaming session, you’ll be pleased to know this can be beaten in a single sitting too, even with all the side content. A Short Hike really encapsulates the summer spirit, and you owe it to yourself to give it a try.
If you’ve ever gone scuba diving on a holiday – or perhaps you’ve always wanted to – Abzû is a wonderful choice for a summer video game. Playing as a diver in this vast ocean, you’ll explore some beautiful and interactive underwater environments, each packing great attention to detail. Players will discover the secrets this holds, tackle some puzzles, and interact with aquatic life through sonar abilities
While it’s often been considered as an aquatic take on Journey – in fairness, several key developers from Journey worked on Abzû – this underwater adventure perfectly holds up on its own. Abzû is a visual delight and exploring these submerged forests feels incredibly fun, as does interacting with the wider wildlife. You won’t need long to complete it either, making it an ideal choice for your summer gaming.
Are we choosing Sunset Overdrive just because of the name? Not exactly, because Insomniac Games’ colourful action-adventure packs significant charm. Taking place in the dystopian future of 2027, we find ourselves in Sunset City, which has become overrun by mutants corrupted through a new energy drink from FizzCo. Set across an open world filled with quests, our aim is to eventually take down FizzCo HQ.
There’s no denying that Sunset Overdrive is a stylish game. Exploring Sunset City by performing parkour, wall running, acrobatics, and more is very enjoyable, making this world your playground. Combined with a strong sense of humour, entertaining combat, and an appealing art style, you’ll find Insomniac brought us a great summer game that can be played in smaller bursts.
Many of us dreamed of going on a big adventure during our summer vacation as kids. While real life rarely provides something that exciting, Tunic may offer that necessary fix. An isometric action game, Tunic sees you playing as an anthropomorphic fox, and it’ll feel very familiar to fans of classic The Legend of Zelda games. Without trying to spoil anything, our goal is to explore a strange and colourful land, collecting mysterious items and weapons to advance onto the next area.
You’ll soon learn that Tunic is more than your average Zelda tribute, adding in a touch of Dark Souls too, thanks to the stamina-based combat system. Paying homage to gaming manuals of the 80’s and 90’s, we’ll find pages scattered across these lands that provide vital clues on progression. Tunic’s a refreshingly nostalgic experience that keeps you cleverly hooked in with its exploration, making for one of the finest indie games we’ve seen this year.