I recently justified buying the lovely handheld gaming PC that is the Rog Ally by lying to myself that it was essential exercise equipment. Healthier types than me have been claiming that we need to get at least 10,000 steps a day if we don’t want to drop dead any minute now. As someone not confident that they get 10,000 steps a year, something drastic needed to be done, and I was hardly going to join a gym. No need, not now that I could simply walk around my room playing Forza Horizon 5!
Actually, playing Forza while walking around my front room turned out to be about as smart as playing it while actually driving a car. Likewise, my attempts to play Elden Ring while walking didn’t make a dent in Margit’s health bar, but made plenty in my shins courtesy of my stupid coffee table.
Once I’d found more walk-friendly games, I did find this an effective way of gamifying getting my 10,000 daily steps. So I’ve compiled a list of the games I’ve enjoyed walking with the most. You need something engaging enough to take your mind off horrible, horrible exercise. But not so distracting that you end up face planting your windows and never being able to make eye contact with your giggling neighbours ever again. The following games hit that tricky sweet spot beautifully. Make sure you’re walking around in a wide enough space and have removed any stray obstacles/pets/children that could potentially be stamped on. All set? Walk with me!
The Case of the Golden Idol
A set of murder mysteries with a cast so grotesque the murderer was honestly doing them a favour. This detective game uses the immensely satisfying Return of the Obra Dinn info-gathering formula to tell a delightfully macabre tale about an explorer who gets a fun new toy. Idol refuses to hold your hand and forces you to actually think, which pairs well with stomping around your front room, begging your brain to start working. God telling you you’re their personal favourite human being probably doesn’t feel anywhere near as good as finally cracking this game’s cases. Those hideous faces also helpfully reminded me what’ll happen to my lovely face if I don’t get those 10,000 steps in.
An even bigger surprise than a chainsaw to the chest cavity was how absurdly great this game turned out to be. Adding a welcome shot of dumb brawn to XCOM’s brains, Gears Tactics rewards grisly executions by giving your units extra turns. This encourages chaining incredibly satisfying gore-soaked murder sprees that often earn me some worried stares on the bus, so I prefer to enjoy it on a lonesome walk instead.
What makes the battles so thrilling in this one is that the tides never stop turning—it loves to throw more enemies at you just when you think things are wrapping up. I love finally finishing a surprisingly long battle and seeing I’ve hit my step count, which means I can spend the rest of the day lying in bed with my collection of pies. If you’ve got a Rog Ally and Xbox Game Pass this one is essential.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
A preposterous lawyer-em-up where you solve crimes in ye olde London. Carefully read through a witness’s testimony, search for contradictions, then present the evidence that proves they’re full of it. So it’s basically Exposing British Liars Dramatically: The Game, which is why it’s amazing. Pace your living room, stroking your chin until you realise why a crucial clue proves that the Queen is guilty of drowning all those orphans (hypothetical spoiler-free example). It’s very text-heavy, but it’s almost always entertaining text, and once I got sucked into its story those steps flew by.
428: Shibuya Scramble
An attempt to play Yakuza 7 while walking around my front room led me to hitting my knee so hard on the corner of my sofa that I kind of hate Ichiban now? (Just kidding, that’s literally impossible.) So I begrudgingly deleted all my beloved Yakuza games from my handheld. Luckily, 428 Shibuya Scramble has all of Yakuza’s melodrama, hilarity, and surprisingly big heart, but in the much more walk-friendly form of a visual novel.
It follows five characters, including a moron trying to solve a kidnapping, a journalist trying to hit a worryingly literal deadline, and a poor dope trapped in a mascot costume. You jump around in their timelines, trying to make the right choices that’ll sync their stories up. But failure is often punished brilliantly. I got one character jailed for trying a dodgy energy drink so awful that he murdered the salesman. 428 uses live-action photos and after five minutes with it you’ll be storming parliament to demand all visual novels are made this way. A great joke lands all the better when it’s accompanied by a nice photo of a screaming middle-aged man. It’s probably my most screenshotted game and there’s nothing on this list I’d recommend higher.
You’re Hell’s last hope, desperately trying to get a train full of demons to reignite a pyre that’ll save the infernal realm while the forces of Heaven understandably try to stop you. It’s tower defence strategy mixed with Slay the Spire–style card battling and is as terrifyingly moreish as that sounds. Monster Train’s greatest trick is how generous it is with units, cards, and seemingly limitless advantages, giving you rushes of power that often feel like playing Spire with the cheats on. But Monster Train is no pushover, and it’ll happily derail all but the most strategic and persistent passengers.
Sticking on a podcast and taking this one for a walk has become part of my daily routine. (I’m very interesting.) Several generous decks make it astonishingly replayable, with the only flaw being that it’s quite a blasphemous way to get your steps in. Sure, I may go to Hell, but think how good my pins are gonna look down there!
You should avoid walking with fast-paced puzzlers like Tetris unless you fancy falling down an actual well. Luckily there’s plenty of great puzzle games that encourage you to take your sweet time. A Monster’s Expedition, Gorogoa, and Carto are all delightful headscratchers that go nicely with a walk. I actually find getting stuck in puzzle games not nearly as infuriating now, because even though I’m not making progress in-game, at least I’m still accomplishing the nobler goal of keeping myself moderately healthy. Plus Carto’s all about navigating uncharted territory, so why not head outside, set off in a random direction while playing it, and do the same? I can think of no possible negative outcome.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator
Take a romantic stroll with the daddy of all dating sims. Just make sure to lay some pillows around your front room for when you inevitably start swooning. Plus, if things go well, who’s gonna judge you for giving your handheld PC a cheeky little kiss? I dated Damien, who proved he’s a keeper by not dumping me in disgust when I started sweating profusely after just 12 of my 10,000 steps. This game isn’t as replayable as some of the other entries on this list, but it’s a great example of a genre that pairs well with walking off your own dad bod. Fair warning that Dream Daddy is a little fiddly on handheld, refusing to acknowledge the buttons and forcing you to use the touch screen. What a tease.
Searching for the perfect superhero game to play on the move took me some time. I enjoyed Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and it’s very playable while walking, but I’ve met coke fiends who talk at me less. Marvel’s Spider-Man should only be attempted if you can spidey sense the walls you’re bound to smack into, and playing Guardians of the Galaxy on the go was an idea so horrible it’s worthy of whoever’s in charge of Chris Pratt’s PR. Stick with Marvel Snap! Easy to pick up and as polished as you’d expect from ex-Hearthstone developers, it’s a thousand times more fun than the boring card game it for some reason shares a name with. Plus, games only last a few minutes, perfect for getting those last few steps in.
Walking off a nasty hangover? Then why not spend that walk with this great game about a… actually, no. Horrible idea. Forget I said anything.