8 games to play while you wait for Stranger Things season 2

The debut of Stranger Things, descending upon Netflix as if from a time capsule buried in the early 1980s, stands out as one of the biggest TV events of 2016. The show got heaps of adoration, but the single season ended much too quickly for its binge-watching fans. Fortunately, we have only a few weeks before Stranger Things season 2 makes its triumphant arrival and returns us to Hawkins, Indiana and its peculiar goings-on. If you're losing your mind wanting to find out what happens next, here are a few games that might help you enjoy the wait. And after you marathon the entire season in one weekend, maybe they'll also help soothe the addiction. Pass the Eggos, please.

Silent Hill

Format: PlayStation
Release date: 1999

Let's start with the obvious. Horror game fans knew they'd found kindred spirits in the Duffer brothers even before the series-creating duo confirmed that Silent Hill was a key inspiration. The show's Upside Down drew inspiration from the visuals of the famed Konami series - but it's more than just an homage to a classic franchise. The look of Silent Hill games is a very particular style of psychological horror, and it's one that Stranger Things has painted all over its '80s nostalgia canvas. Besides, you'll want to revisit one of these masterpieces around Halloween anyway.

Dungeons and Dragons

Format: Tabletop
Release date: 1974

Here's another one in the 'well, duh' category. The Stranger Things pilot kicked off with the four friends in the thick of an intense campaign battle, instantly securing the show a whole bunch of fans. D&D is more than just the granddaddy of all role-playing - it's a game about camaraderie. When you've played a campaign with people, you forge a close kinship over the course of your great adventures together. Seeing the game in the show immediately sets up your understanding of who those four characters are and their joyously nerdy bond. And what better way to while away the time before season 2 than to run your own campaign based on the people of Hawkins?

Galaxy of Pen and Paper

Formats: Android, iOS, PC
Release date: 2017

Fans of 1980s science fiction should already know about the ridiculously charming Galaxy of Pen and Paper. Many video games use the mechanics and mathematics that started in tabletop role-playing as an invisible foundation, but Galaxy of Pen and Paper puts them center stage, telling the story of a group of friends playing together online. The writing is a geeky delight, with nods to sci-fi favorites from Dune to Back to the Future, and you've never been so amused by jokes about floppy disks and dial-up. It's also just a darn good role-playing game.

Read more: The best Stranger Things merchandise (Eggos not included)


Formats: Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release date: 2016

A group of friends, left alone overnight on an island. What starts as a standard-sounding horror premise takes a turn into the supernatural and results in a memorable tale about mystery and friendship. Rather than the typical, clunky divide between being an angel and acting like a massive jerk, you'll have to make nuanced decisions about how you converse with the other characters. For instance, protagonist Alex might choose to say nothing, or she can interrupt others. These are subtle but realistic examples of how a teenager talks to her friends, especially in the high-intensity situation of being followed by ghosts and talking reflections. The coming-of-age tale should speak to those who loved watching Eleven, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin band together to save Will from the freaky world of the Upside Down.

Rusty Lake Roots

Formats: Android, iOS, PC
Release date: 2016

If weird is your jam, then you need to be made aware of the crew at Rusty Lake. The team is both absurdly prolific and profoundly strange. This studio makes the Cube Escape adventure game series, which is a freaky delight, but if you're only going to play one of its works, make it Rusty Lake Roots. This game takes family drama to a macabre place, where you'll solve puzzles one moment and gouge out a relative's eyes in the next. The content is creepy, but the presentation has a sheen of detachment and buttoned-up properness that keeps Rusty Lake from being too unsettling. That approach to horror is one that aligns well with much of how Stranger Things builds suspense. Plus, once you've seen how the Vanderblooms treat each other, the high-intensity Joyce Byers will seem like a way more normal parent.

The Swapper

Formats: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Release date: 2013

Wrestle with spatial puzzles and the meaning of life in this space odyssey, a recent standout of the indie scene. Story-wise, you're an astronaut who arrives at an abandoned space station and tries to piece together what happened to the crew. It seems to have something to do with a strange device you find, which lets you create copies of yourself and transfer your consciousness between the clones. To progress through the station, you'll use those clones to collect power cores guarded by beautifully crafted puzzles. Continually cycling through copy after copy starts to get real eerie after a while, and it's a masterful example of how a game can set atmosphere through its mechanics. The Swapper's awe-inducing experience of trying to wrap your head around forces outside your comprehension will feel very familiar to the Stranger Things crew.

Read more: 4 things we learnt about Stranger Things season 2 from the SDCC panel


Formats: PC, PlayStation 4
Release date: 2015

Things going horribly, horribly wrong at a lab is another classic horror setup. It's how Stranger Things starts, and so it is with Soma. You play as Simon Jarrett, a patient receiving what you're told is an experimental brain scan to help your recovery after a car crash. But you wake up from the procedure apparently alone in an empty underwater research facility. The less you know going in about plot, the better, as Soma's storytelling and psychological horror are part of what make it such a stellar game. For Stranger Things fans, this is a must-play.

Thimbleweed Park

Formats: Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release date: 2017

The team behind Thimbleweed Park has quite the pedigree in point-and-click adventure games - ever heard of a little project called The Secret of Monkey Island? How about Maniac Mansion? Yep, those guys. That old-school attitude is alive and well in this new title, where what seems like a straightforward murder mystery turns out to be anything but. You play as a rotating cast of characters as you work to get to the bottom of the strange secrets in this sleepy town. It's a throwback in the very best ways, and fans of '80s nostalgia should be satisfied with the mysteries that Thimbleweed Park has to offer.

Anna Washenko
Freelance Writer

Anna is a freelance writer who has written for the likes of GamesRadar, Ars Technica, Blizzard Watch, and Mashable. She's also created games as part of various game jams. Anna likes games about solving puzzles and/or shooting things. She wishes she could trade zingers with GLaDOS and have beers with Garrus Vakarian in real life.