Christmas: the most wonderful time of the year? What’s so wonderful about hearing the same old songs and carols? Seeing the same old decorations? Putting up with the same forced ‘goodwill to all men’ sentiments while seeing those same people tear into each other on Black Friday? For plenty, Christmas isn’t just a humbug: it’s the whole rotten confectionary. So, how can people who detest Christmas get away from the ‘festivities’?
They could convert to another religion, or turn up the death metal or hardcore gangsta rap tunes. Maybe stacking up a whole shelf’s worth of non-Christmassy movies could neutralize all those TV specials. However, these video games will work as an antidote to the Christmas cheer, and last long enough to pass it by for another year.
7/7 Yakuza 0
One way to avoid Christmas is to go to a country where it isn’t such a big deal. Or at least play a game set within one of them if the airfare is too pricey. For example, many of Japan’s Yakuza games take place around the holidays, but players wouldn’t know it because it’s that tangential. The closest the games get to being in the holiday spirit is Saejima dressing up as Santa in Yakuza 5.
Yakuza 0 gets the nod because it’s more dedicated to being a 1980s sim than a Christmas one. By the time players are done with its crime drama theatrics, hostess club sim, real estate mini-game and more, it’ll be the middle of January. By then, anything Santa-related will be passé. If even the hint of Christmas is too much, Yakuza 3 and 6 eliminate the winter setting altogether for the sunnier environs of Okinawa and Onomichi respectively.
6/7 Civilization VI
Another escape from Christmas culture is to build an entirely Christmas-free one! The long-running strategy game series Civilization lets players pick any nation via one of its notable rulers, and expand their territory, culture, and customs against their rivals. The first to eliminate them all, or reach a milestone like launching into space, wins. Players can pick whatever religion, philosophy, economical and political system they like to get ahead of the competition.
Even if the player opts for Christianity, capitalism, or other holidays traits, the characters aren’t suddenly going to wear red Santa Hats and advise on how many resources to allocate to figgy puddings. Though if a player wanted to pick Gandhi in Civilization VI and make do on his nuclear weapons threat against a Christmas-observing nation, that could feel quite cathartic.
Though if players disliked the religious aspects of Christmas that much, they might prefer this Catholic-flavored Metroidvania title. While the religion at its heart isn’t literally Roman Catholicism, the iconography, character designs, and overall style is inspired by Spain’s take on the Christian institution. Probably because the developers, Game Kitchen, are based straight out of Spain.
Players control the Penitent One, a knight brought back from the dead to embark on a pilgrimage through the highly religious nation of Cvstodia. They have to solve quests across the realm to complete their journey, fighting off monsters and adherents to His Holiness Escribar, the Last Son of the Miracle. It’s a dark and tricky game that can neutralize the saccharine sweetness of the holidays.
4/7 Resident Evil VII: Biohazard
Even in secular houses, Christmas is presented as a holiday where families get together, exchange gifts, and pal around a nice dinner as they all try to get along. If only all families were as warm as the schmaltzy images present. Some relatives just aren’t worth putting up with, especially if they make Resident Evil VII’s Baker family feel normal by comparison. The game shows that not all families give each other fuzzy feelings.
In the Bakers’ case, they’re monsters that are a nightmare to deal with and can’t even provide an edible spread for dinner either. As Ethan Winters searches for his long-lost wife in a decrepit plantation, he has to put up with them and their malign machinations. He has to dodge their traps, avoid the near-invincible Pa Baker, and survive long enough to learn just what happened to them and his revived but psychotic wife.
3/7 God of War series
Funnily enough, many Christian traditions actually come from the Norse and Anglo-Saxons than any Christian sources. Yule logs, Christmas trees, beardy men riding in sleighs with presents: they all originate from tales about Odin and his family of Asgardians. So, it’s a good thing God of War: Ragnarök came out! Now players can finish off the originators of Santa and co into the ice through Kratos and his arsenal of goodies.
Even if the two Norse games aren’t to one’s tastes, the original Greek hack n’slashers manage to provide a bloody, cathartic adventure for the particularly stressed. God of War 2 and 3 even give them their own beardy, white man in Zeus to get their bloody vengeance on. So, whether players appreciate a proxy Santa to smash, or a non-Christmas culture being at the forefront, God of War will give them their escape.
2/7 Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue
Though why beat up gods that inspired or look like Santa when other games let them smash the real deal? Designed by Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert, the Deathspank series sees the titular hero smash his way in an action RPG to rid his world of evil. In the second entry, Thongs of Virtue, Deathspank has to supplement the Artifact he got in the first game with the Six Thongs of Virtue to complete his quest.
One of the skimpy underwear owners is Santa Claus himself, who has been corrupted by his Thong of Generosity. He’ll force Christmas on anyone and anything, and kill anyone who gets in his way, including Deathspank himself. Santa can’t attack him directly because he’s on the nice list. But he can lock him in a dungeon with his Coal Monster. It’s not often a game makes killing Santa and ruining Christmas a good thing, but it makes Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue a godsend to grinches.
1/7 Fight of Gods
Digital Crafter’s fighting game isn’t exactly great. Not in comparison to other fighting games anyway. It can suffer from broken gameplay and cheap difficulty. It was even banned in Malaysia and Singapore, and censored on the PS4 because its premise, gods of religion and mythology fighting each other, was a little too spicy for them to handle. It remains uncensored on the PC and Nintendo Switch.
However, one of its playable figures is Santa Claus himself. Christmas fans can try and spread the holiday spirit through the jolly old elf’s fists. But scrooges can join in the fun by picking everyone else and smashing Santa to bits. Want to put Hannukah first? Pick Moses! Love Ancient Egypt? Go for Anubis! Want to re-enact that South Park pilot? Select Jesus and see who truly is the reason for the season.