With Thanksgiving upon us, there are two types of people out there: the person who’s been thinking about the upcoming turkey meal since November 1 or the person who jumps straight to the winter holiday of Christmas, Hanukkah, or something else. Regardless of where you land, there’s a good chance that you’ll be eating some kind of breakfast, lunch, or dinner with family and friends sometime in the next two months.
These meals can be fantastic, but they can also be a nightmare for those that hate these typical family gatherings. The same can be said for family gatherings and meals in video games, and we’ve gathered up some of our favorites. Here are 10 of the best family meals in video games.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a massive game – the golden path spans at least 40 hours but can easily climb to over 100 hours with all that it offers. At the center of the playthrough is a story about a broken family, desperate to become unified again. It doesn’t help that one of the central figures (Kassandra or Alexios) is brainwashed to become the brutish killing machine of an ancient cult.
When your big fat Greek quest comes to an end in Odyssey, depending on your choices in the game, you’re treated to the one thing your character has been after the entire journey: a family meal. It’s more than a meal, though. It’s the family reuniting for the first time in forever, and everything is tastier as a result. It’s sure to warm your heart upon watching, and it serves as a great reminder of all that you fought for over your dozens of hours with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
Final Fantasy XV
When you think of video game food, there’s one game that’s sure to come to mind: Final Fantasy XV. The game is about four bros taking a road trip, and right from the jump, the themes of family, love, and friendship are strong. The entire game, which runs for hours and hours, centers on those same themes, and throughout the experience, you’ll bring food to the metaphorical friendship table. As anyone knows, food is the great unifier, and Final Fantasy XV makes that clear.
The food, cooked by Ignis, looks delicious, and each recipe rewards you with some kind of stat boost. More importantly, though, every meal in Final Fantasy XV is a chance for your four-person unit to grow stronger. It’s a chance to reflect on what’s happened thus far and how much everyone on the team cares about each other. Be it a hot soup on a wooden table or a quick sandwich on a beach, the meals in Final Fantasy XV are sure to make you drool.
Like many others on this list, Persona 5 is about friendship (and friends-turned-family) at its core. It’s about going the extra mile, doing what’s right, and ultimately, relying on each other to succeed. One of the best moments of the entire 100-hour-plus RPG is the meal that happens after completing the first palace. You’ve just risked your life to save someone in your school, you’re downright exhausted, and as expected, you’re hungry.
You’ve also got a nice amount of money in your pocket too, so why not treat the Phantom Thieves of Hearts to a delicious meal? Joker and the crew head to a local Shibuya restaurant and chow down. It costs a lot of money, but the sounds of the Phantom Thieves crushing plates upon plates are so satisfying. The team deserves it; the food looks delicious, and it’s the perfect way to bring everyone together for one big congratulatory celebration. There’s more eating and chewing than talking, but that’s always the sign of a good meal.
Red Dead Redemption II
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a sprawling Western that connects directly to the first game. In the epilogue of Red Dead Redemption 2, which is nearly a dozen hours long, you’re treated to dinner with the Marstons: John, Abigail, Jack, and of course, Uncle.
It’s a family unit we haven’t had the chance to sit down with like this since the first Redemption game - now over a decade ago - and while it’s short and sweet, it’s exactly what we wanted. John ensures that Jack is growing up to be someone like him; someone that would protect his family at all costs. He also lobs sarcastic jokes at Uncle just as we all do with that one uncle at Thanksgiving. And never mind the food on the table – seeing this family gather in a newly-built house is exactly the vibe we’re looking for this holiday season.
Celeste is one of the best platformers released last generation. It’s challenging, backed by a powerful and unique score, and centered on a heartfelt story that keeps the momentum moving. Simply beating a Celeste level feels like a win in and of itself, but there’s a moment that tops all of it (yes, even reaching the mountain’s summit): the celebration meal that closes out the game. First off, the “meal” is a delicious strawberry pie cooked using the strawberries you collected throughout the game. Any meal that starts and ends with dessert is top-tier.
Celeste and all the people she met along the journey gather around the pie. Everyone’s happy (well, maybe not the ghostly Mr. Oshiro) and excited to be together. It’s also an on-screen representation of Celeste’s happiness, something she only just achieved after reaching the mountaintop. The meal gets some bonus points, too, because it uses just a single photo to exemplify all these feelings.
Stardew Valley features seasonal and holiday-centric festivals. They’re fantastic examples of what the farming game is all about: how each person’s contributions can make the whole experience better than it was before. While the events are entirely optional to attend, doing so is worth your while as it provides you opportunities to make new friendships and strengthen old ones.
Even better, your town’s community space is lined with tables of food, flowers, and more. All of that was made possible by you and your neighbor’s efforts. It’s a special moment in real life to see people come together over a meal you made, and Stardew Valley captures that feeling perfectly with its community feasts.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin’s Creed is known for many things, but it’s not often associated with tears. The pirate take on the formula in Black Flag brought plenty of them, though. Perhaps one of the best pirate games ever made (that just happens to feature some assassins), one of the greatest joys of Black Flag is sailing around with your crew, singing shanties, stopping at ports to take down some Royal Navy soldiers, and finding treasure. Over the game’s narrative, you take new members to the Jackdaw crew and alliance. Eventually, you have the likes of Blackbeard, Charles Vane, Jack Rackham, and more on your team.
But, as any good pirate knows, the golden age can’t last forever, and that’s the crux of Black Flag. This is personified in a heartbreaking scene during the game’s final hours where Edward Kenway is drinking. While not technically a meal, a good round of drinks can be just as engaging as food. He looks around and sees all of the infamous pirates that accompanied him on his sea-faring journey. Then, they begin to fade ... because they’ve died. Edward is drinking with the ghosts of his friends. Some meals are remembered because of laughter and smiles; this one, though, is remembered for the heartache Ubisoft used to signify the end of the golden age of piracy.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is an excellent game for a lot of reasons – it’s built on the foundation of 2018’s awesome Spider-Man game on the PlayStation 4, it’s set during the winter holidays, and it features Miles Morales. However, one of the best parts of this succinct Insomniac title is a dinner scene in its opening hours.
What makes it so great is that it’s the most classic Spider-Man thing ever – something goes wrong, so Miles has to find a way outside to fix the electricity problem sneakily. It’s Spider-Man antics you’ve seen dozens of times in comics, movies, and TV, but playing it is even better. You have to sneak your way back to the dinner table, too, and once there, you’re treated with a heartwarming scene that showcases the importance of family to Miles.
Telltale's The Walking Dead: Season One
Okay, so we didn’t necessarily say that every family gathering and meal on this list would be rooted in the warm and heartfelt emotions typically associated with Thanksgiving and other winter holidays. Case in point: Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 1.
In a now-infamous scene, you escape a locked room as Lee Everett in a house full of cannibals. Clementine, the person he’s trying to protect, is seated at a table with these killers, unaware of what they’re dining on. As Lee barges into the room, he must stop her from eating a piece of human meat. It’s disturbing, especially when you consider the way different choices can play out, and it’s one of the most memorable parts of that entire season. What did it teach us? If someone tells you not to eat some mystery meat at Thanksgiving this year, listen to them.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Alright, you can’t say you didn’t know this one would be on here after reading the entry above. Resident Evil 7 was a great revival of the horror aspects of the franchise, and a dinner scene with the deranged Baker family during its opening hours establishes that from the jump.
After Ethan kills his own wife, patriarch Jack Baker gives him a good sucker-punch and it’s lights out. When Ethan finally awakes, he’s strapped to a chair, looking at what might be the most grotesque dinner in all of video games. Sure, the table is full, but it’s not your mother’s trademark stuffing or your grandpa’s 24-hour pot of beans. No, it’s human organs and guts. Delicious. Jack, unhappy with his son Lucas’ table manners, proceeds to cut off his son’s arm right in front of everyone … and it seems like a standard occurrence based on the reactions of all in attendance. Then, Jack has his way with you by way of a big rusty knife.
After that, everyone but Grandma Baker gets up from the table, upset and angry at the events that have transpired. No family meal should end that way, so hopefully, yours is much better.
Are there any family gatherings or Thanksgiving-like meals in video games that we missed? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!