PC games for a 4 year-old?

Quoted for truth. I really want to enjoy these games with my son (7) but have found a lot of them to be game-breaking buggy and/or stocked with build-the-mystery-object puzzles that are rage-inducingly obtuse. (Lego Force Awakens, I’m looking at you hard on both counts.)

Whew, there, I said it.

On the positive side, when he was about the same age, my kiddo loved Kerbal Space Program. The controls are a little tricky for a young kid, so he mostly directed the rocket building and launching while I steered.

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Bayonetta of course


Yeah, Put-Put seems like a slam-dunk for a kid who loves cars.

Ugh, and Lego Force Awakens had those poorly thought-out cover shooting sections, too. The recently released Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 finally added in a feature where if you need a character to perform a specific ability on an object, it not only tells you which character, but also how to do it if you click the left stick. I can’t believe it’s taken over a decade of these damn games for them to finally put something like that in.

My daughter is six but I started playing some games with her when she was around that age.

General suggestions -

  • Anything that doesn’t require precision to interact with. Most of our games were on iPads or phones and the bigger the hit interface the better. She would get frustrated really quickly if she couldn’t find the hitbox.

  • As much interaction as possible. One of our favorite games when she was five was Hidden Folks. It’s basically an interactive Where’s Waldo, where you can play out these little scenes that play out when you touch people. it’s good fun.

  • Surprisingly, games like Burrito Bison have been a big hit! You don’t have to do much and there’s lots of stuff on screen. I think kids like to watch stuff in motion, you know?

  • Recently she’s been way into Animal Crossing, but she can read and likes to play by herself but she also previously liked to watch me play Stardew Valley, specifically to talk to all the kids and learn about them.

  • Minecraft! Kids fecking love Minecraft and even if they struggle with the controls they love moving around the world. It can also be surprisingly collaborative.
    “What do you want to build?”
    “A house!”
    [build house]
    “No, a BRICK house!”
    [build brick house]
    [brick house yellow and green-]
    You get the idea.

  • Abzu and Flower are both excellent for kids. There’s not penalty for playing poorly and the constant screen pretties keep them engaged.

We tried to play a Lego game but it was actually really frustrating. The objectives at any given time are super obtuse. If there’s one you have already played and loved, then definitely play it together but I wouldn’t recommend it if it’s not one you aren’t already familiar.

While waiting for them to be picked up and taken to after school clubs I sometimes let the 5 year olds I work with play on my switch, where they all unanimously were into Sonic Mania. It was fun watching them get to the point where they could beat the first boss, swapping the controller around. Shovel Knight I found took a bit of explaining and not all of them could get a grasp of the idea of holding down in midair, they could just about manage moving at jumping. Those were the only games I’d let them on that are on PC though.

And obvs Minecraft, yeah. Don’t know a single kid in this damn school that doesn’t know more about that game than I do.

There is seriously some kind of Minecraft-child-mind meld where they can play it for all of thirty minutes and be experts. It’s really astonishing.


Lots of solid videogame-ass video games so far, so I’ll throw down something a bit more low key: Windosill (free first half, store links can be found by clicking the up-arrow). It’s a really neat click-and-something-happens game with a bunch of interactive vignettes. Although Windosill is a bit simpler, it’s reminiscent of Amanita Design and their adventure games, which are also totally worth exploring. I love Machinarium, but Botanicula is way more upbeat and the pacing might be friendlier for kids. The Samorost series is also super fun, but generally weirder, I think.

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@Navster I hadn’t considered the Lego games. He loves Spiderman, so I could definitely get him the Lego Marvel game.

@Crocosmia You’re right. He says he likes racing, but what he really likes is crashing into other cars. He got a kick of watching bumpers and doors break off in Dirt 3. I should pull up a video of Sonic & All-Stars Racing for him and see if he likes what he sees.

@mosespippy I had a similar experience with my nephew and Portal Bridge Connector. He’s no good at building levels, but likes to direct me and click the click the button to watch the ways the bridges fail.

@EmuPrime I pulled up Cuphead for him last night, and I gotta say Vinny from Giant Bomb is a saint for playing with his son Max. My nephew (and me too) had a lot more fun when I found a trainer and turned on invincibility.

@AlexLW, @Quartz_Movement I had almost forgotten about Putt-Putt! I grew up on these too. He liked a video I showed him of Putt-Putt, but he has trouble using a mouse in other games and doesn’t like it when people try to help him as he’s struggling.

@Homemade_Pizza He’d probably like Kerbal because he loves seeing the cars fly straight up like rockets.

@VulpesAbsurda Scrolling through my library, the Doom marine caught his eye. I firmly told him no, but a part of me was curious to see how he’d do.

@Gary_of_Nivea He liked Burrito Bison at first, but got bored fast, so a lot of interactivity is definitely a must.

He loved A Hat in Time because of the number of things he could do in the world: jumping into mud and water, going down slides, smacking enemies, collecting gems. He was surprisingly good at the platforming once he got the hang of it. It made me think he’d like stumbling around in Grow.

Hidden Folks might give he trouble since he can’t do precision stuff with a mouse, though. But Minecraft he would totally love, and I had completely forgotten about it.

@CaptainMorton Seeing how much he moves the controller around in the air makes me think he’d love the motion controls on the Switch. He’d have a blast with something like Odyssey.

As for Shovel Knight, he probably wouldn’t like it without invincibility enabled. But he adores pixel graphics.

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I don’t know why it took this long for me to remember Burnout Paradise is on Steam. Can’t imagine he’d do much with the actual racing, but he can just drive around the city and hit the self-destruct whenever he wants.

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That’ll be perfect for him and it’s already in my library. I don’t know how I missed that one!

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Windosil is my rec since it’s sort of a toy box that naturally progresses as you just interact with all the toys and it gives you great feedback.

Everything might also be fun since you can just kind of roll around and play in the sandbox in a similar vein.

It isn’t on PC per se, eh hem, but Kirby All-Stars is a the PERFECT co-op game to play with a youngin. They can move around the world and not die, contribute in a meaningful way, and also enjoy the colorful world.

@siegarettes, @Gary_of_Nivea Thanks for the additional suggestions!

sonic and lego… or better if it’s educational… get him to learn to code.

As you might be able to tell from my avatar, I’m a fan of Commander Keen. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, this was a series of side-scrolling platform video games developed primarily by id Software for MS-DOS in the early 90’s. They’re the first games I remember playing as a youngin’ (hence the nostalgia/love) and imo they still hold up today as solid, fun games. You can grab them on Steam, GoG etc. for pretty cheap too.

I found them challenging but never to the point of frustration. Plus, if I ever got bored of dying or wanted to skip a tricky part, you can always use the GOD mode cheat (press G+O+D) and just fly everywhere on the pogo stick. :yum:

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For the Lego games, I’ve had better results with those that have large open-world segments, particularly the Marvel Super Heroes game. Once that’s unlocked the kid can travel all over the city committing chaos, running races, and doing mini quests if they like. Much more suitable than the missions.

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@SeriuzBiznus Thanks for the suggestion! It reminded me that I had completely overlooked the huge catalog of DOS games that exist.

I could easily load up familiar stuff for him like Pac-Man, and then there’s educational stuff from my own childhood like Math Blasters and Number Munchers. And, of course, things that would be new to both of us.

@qaraq Any estimate on how much time it’d take until he got to the open-world stuff in Marvel Super Heroes?

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Minecraft, Pacman and Lego are the only games that my 5-years old daughter play on PC.