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Of the different senses, it's easy to overlook the importance of hearing. We encourage children to read, watch and observe. But just as important is to develop more than just cursory listening. Despite their name, video games use sounds just as much as visuals to create their worlds. As well as this, audio is often a crucial aspect of interactions and clues for puzzle solving.Because of this, video games (like walking in nature) are a powerful way to learn to notice and use the sounds around us. Playing a game with headphones helps the player focus on the sound. Doing this intentionally can help younger players discover a new world of sound in the games they play.There are games like Limbo, Hellblade, Overboard and Super Mario Odyssey that use sound to set the mood and aesthetic of the play. This is more than just background music as it reacts and integrates with the sounds the player is making while they play.Then there are games like Uncharted, Alba, Fortnite and Sea of Thieves that use audio to indicate things happening in the game. Not only what is happening, like the sound of someone boarding your ship, but where that is happening in relation to your character with spatial audio.There are games where you create the audio with your actions. Touching petals in Flower adds notes to the classical music. In Mini Metro you add to the ambient sounds as you place stations and new tube lines.Finally, there are games where sound is your main way of navigating the world. Games like The Vale and Frequency Missing can be played with just sound. This not only offers an accessible experience to those without sight but a chance to engage with a virtual world using just our hearing. This list includes 47 games from the last 22 years, with 2,005 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to play with audio.
Release Date: 09/09/2021, updated in 2022
Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made
Webbed is a running and jumping game with a twist - you play a spider who can make webs, swing, climb and all the while creating music as she goes. It follows the story of our happy little spider on an adventure to save her boyfriend from a big dumb...
Release Date: 11/12/2020
Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is an adventure game where you play as a young girl who starts a wildlife conservation club. Play involves exploring the island, using the bird song you hear to find and photograph all manner of real-world birds. It stands out...
Release Date: 20/03/2018, updated in 2023
Out Now: PC, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night, Open World, Persistant World and Weather
Sea of Thieves is an online game where you play a pirate searching for treasure and adventure. Cast into a large open sea you work with other online players to crew your ship and find treasure. The game has a main story but really focuses on creating...
Release Date: 27/10/2017
Out Now: Switch
Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World
Super Mario Odyssey is a running and jumping game in the long-running Mario series where you save Princess Peach from Bowser. While it's a familiar setup, here you explore vast open worlds and use your hat to help you get around, fight, and even possess...
Release Date: 16/09/2007, updated in 2021
Out Now: Mac, PC and iOS
Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On
Osu! is a rhythm action game where you tap the screen in time to the music similar to the Elite Beat Agents games. This starts as a simple challenge but develops in speed and complexity. At higher levels, the games is an esport with people competing to...
Release Date: 19/06/2020
Out Now: PS4
Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Day and Night
The Last of Us Part II is an action-adventure game set five years after The Last of Us. You control two characters in a post-apocalyptic United States. Ellie is out for revenge after suffering a tragedy, and Abby is a...
Release Date: 12/02/2009
Out Now: PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4 and iOS
Components: 3D First-Person, Open World and Weather
Flower is a traversal collecting game where you control the breeze across fields of grass and blow petals into other flowers to make them bloom. Flower is simple and single-purpose in evoking the feeling of the wind. What starts as an awkward struggle...
Release Date: 06/01/2015
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and iOS
Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds
Components: 2D Overhead and Grid
Mini Metro is a sequencing strategy game where you create an ordered, efficient underground train system. It sounds like hard work, but the simple Tube-map visuals, calm music, and streamlined interactions make this relaxing, like sudoku. Dip your toe...
Release Date: 04/03/2019
Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS
Mini Motorways is a sequencing strategy game by the same developer as Mini Metro but tasks you with planning a road network rather than a subway. You lay down roads, traffic lights and motorways to ensure enough cars can get to the buildings that pop up...
Release Date: 02/06/2021
Out Now: Android, PC, Switch and iOS
Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On, Hand-Made and Text
Overboard is a murder mystery narrative game played in reverse. You murder your husband at the start of the game and then try and get away with it. It's played on a ship where the characters are affected by your choices and changes their actions...
Release Date: 19/11/2016, updated in 2017
Out Now: PS3 and PS4
Components: 3D Third-Person
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is an action-adventure game set several years after the events of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. You play Nathan Drake, a happily married former treasure hunter coaxed out of retirement by his brother. This leads into another...
Release Date: 16/02/2018
Fe is a platform-traversal game where you play a fox in a magical fairy tale forest. The world extends in front of you in stylised form, with trees, mountains and streams glistening with sparkles of life. You run, jump, climb and dip your paws in every...
Release Date: 16/10/2012
Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person
The Unfinished Swan invites you to explore a world by splashing paint on it. The tactile experience leads you into a fairy tale about an unfinished painting that leads a child back to his parent. It stands out for the unusual revealing of a world you...
Release Date: 05/09/2023
Chants of Sennaar is a traversal and translation puzzle where you play a traveller called to reunite the Peoples of the Tower who are unable to communicate with each other. Play involves exploring the cell-shaded world to decipher the glyph-based...
Release Date: 14/06/2013
Components: 3D Third-Person and Weather
The Last Of Us is an action-adventure where You play a father, Joel, whose daughter was killed during the early stages of a deadly fungal outbreak. It’s now 20 years later, and he has clearly suffered from the loss. When Joel is given charge of a...
Release Date: 29/06/2016, updated in 2018
Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds
Inside is from the same developer as Limbo. As such, you play another boy in a dark dream-light and horrific world. Here though, it's more modern-day and realistic.
Release Date: 08/08/2017, updated in 2018
Out Now: PC, PS4 and Xbox One
Skill Rating: 15+ year-olds
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a dark fantasy adventure, drawing on Norse and Celtic mythology, where you play a young female Pict warrior, Senua. You explore and fight your way to Helheim to rescue the soul of her dead lover. As you play, though, you...
Release Date: 05/06/2013, updated in 2015
Out Now: Android, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One and iOS
Limbo is a narrative traversal game where you control a small boy as he runs, jumps and climbs through a dark, silhouetted forest that clanks and hums with foreboding. As the age rating suggests, he is killed in all manner of gruesome ways. But this is...
Release Date: 27/09/2018, updated in 2019
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Wandersong is an adventure where you play a bard on a quest to gather parts of a song. Uniquely, you interact with the environment and inhabitants by singing with one of the direction sticks. It stands out not only for its start of love and loss but for...
Release Date: 28/04/2009, updated in 2018
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 and iOS
Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels
Bit Trip (Bit.Trip) is a series of games with a focus on simple game-play, retro visuals and chip-tune music. The games range from pong to platforming but each one requires you to play in time to the music.
Release Date: 25/07/2017, updated in 2018
Out Now: Android, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World
Fortnite is an online multiplayer shooting game where 100 people compete to be the last player standing. You stealthily traverse the world to collect weapons, out-maneuvering and out-gunning your opponents, while a storm gradually shrinks the playable...
Release Date: 22/10/2021
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On, Cartoon and Day and Night
My Friend Peppa Pig is a narrative role-play game. It recreates the TV show Peppa Pig and features a few of the voice actors from the programme. Unlike the show, you are in the cartoon, controlling a character you create. You play with Peppa and her...
Release Date: 07/11/2018
Out Now: Android and iOS
Frequency Missing is a point-and-click adventure. You play young radio reporter Patricia who has just started her first job at a radio station. However, strange things are happening. Richard, her friend who got her the job has vanished and someone is...
Release Date: 08/12/2022
Secret Shuffle is a rhythm game where up to 60 players dance to music and have to try and spot who is listening to the same track as they are. Play combines aspect of Twister and Silent Discos to create a game that's both approachable and fun. It's...
Release Date: 04/11/2010
Out Now: Oculus, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Dance Central is a dancing rhythm game you play by moving your body in front of the Xbox Kinect camera. The focus on full body movement celebrates accurate, well-timed and energetic moves. As opposed to Just Dance's rough choreography, Dance Central...
Release Date: 19/10/2020
Out Now: PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One
Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Hand-Made
Kine is a 3D puzzle game where you control three robot instruments: Roo, the accordion; Quat, the drum; and Euler, the trombone. To help them become a band, you solve puzzles that involve their different abilities in various ways.
Release Date: 11/01/2002, updated in 2020
Out Now: Android, Oculus, PC, PS2, PS4 and Xbox 360
Rez Infinite is a shooting game where you fire musical energy rather than bullets. As you guide a figure through the darkness of space you bring down enemies in time with the music. Rez is novel for its use of music and vibration feedback to create a...
Release Date: 01/11/2019, updated in 2023
Out Now: Apple TV, Mac and iOS
Monomals is a game about fishing and music. You drop your line into the water, catch a fish and make music along the way. There are different animal DJs to choose from, each with a different sound and 21 different underwater courses to fish in.
Release Date: 26/10/2020
Out Now: Android, PC and iOS
Components: 2D Side-On and Open World
Pitch Black: A Detective's Demise is an adventure game set in a technological noir-detective world. You play using sound alone which offers voice acting and environmental sound effects to enable you to navigate.
Release Date: 16/10/2013, updated in 2020
Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch, Wii U and Xbox One
140 is a sliding, rolling and jumping game where you control a changing geometric shape to traverse a minimalist world. It's challenging for the timed jumps and reactions but keeps distractions to a minimum with its abstract colorful graphics.
Release Date: 10/03/2021
Blind Drive is a driving adventure game you play with audio rather than visuals. You are Donnie and are in a scientific study that has got out of control. You find yourself cuffed to the wheel of a car driving blindfolded against traffic. It's tongue in...
Release Date: 04/05/2020
Out Now: iOS
Here Kitty! is a real-world hide and seek game you play by hiding your phone. It's from the same team behind Heads Up. When the child calls out or gets near the phone makes cat noises to give them clues to find it. When it's...
Release Date: 19/08/2021
Out Now: PC and Xbox One
Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Hand-Made and Open World
The Vale: Shadow of the Crown is an audio-based role-play adventure where you play Alex, a blind princess. After your brother takes his place as king, you are made warden of a small castle on the outskirts of the kingdom. Without sight from birth and...
Release Date: 07/04/2016
Components: 2D Side-On and Text
A Blind Legend is an adventure game that is played without graphics using headphones. You play Edward Blake, a blind knight who is guided by his daughter Louise. You use the audio-based interactions to find your way, avoid traps and confront dangerous...
Release Date: 29/08/2019
Obakeidoro is a hide and seek adventure game. You play with up to four people, three are humans hiding from the other player who uses a monster to chase them down. The humans have 3 minutes to work together to get away.
Release Date: 24/08/2015, updated in 2017
Planet of the Eyes is an atmospheric running and jumping game where you play a robot stranded on a mysterious planet. You progress by well timed jumps and puzzle solving to traverse a fantastical planet with a dark secret.
Release Date: 30/05/2023
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon
To Hell with the Ugly is a narrative, fighting game where you investigate 1950s Los Angeles to solve the mystery of your kidnapping and recover what was stolen from you. You talk to characters, uncover clues to sneak into new areas and enter into...
Release Date: 11/10/2018
Eloh is a puzzle game with an unusual dual focus. You may start playing to solve the puzzles, but it soon draws you in to appreciate and take time over the rhythms you create in doing so. It creates a low pressure puzzle with a meditative feel.
Release Date: 10/12/2020
Swordy Quest is a role-play game where you craft, gather and hunt your way through a fantasy world that gradually unlocks over time. What's unusual is the simple interface that creates an accessible way for anyone to experience the surprisingly deep...
Release Date: 23/08/2021
Out Now: PC
Heartbeat: Regret is a horror rhythm-typing game. It's a tough game where you are hunted in a mansion by a dark monster. Unusually, you need to press buttons in time with the audible heart beat to move around and then type directions to take specific...