Daily Press (Sunday)

Titles shine bright in stellar year for video games


It has been a terrific year for video games.

Developers hit their stride on the PlayStatio­n 5 and Xbox X/S consoles, unleashing massive adventures big enough to satisfy gamers for weeks. The Switch is at the end of its life span, but Nintendo debuted two spectacula­r games on its way out. And indie studios held up their end, delivering distinctiv­e takes on classic genres.

Here are the top 10 games of 2023.

Role-playing games were particular­ly ambitious this year, and none was more rewarding than this epic from Belgium’s Larian Studios. The main plot — you have a deadly parasite in your brain, and you need to get it out — is compelling enough, but your trek through the Forgotten Realms introduces a lively cast of characters and a cornucopia of fascinatin­g side missions.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom:

Nearly 40 years in, Nintendo keeps finding new ways to present the heroic Link and his eternal battle against evil. His most powerful new skill this time is Ultrahand, which allows him to build a variety of outlandish vehicles to traverse the sprawling land of Hyrule. Add in the usual assortment of devilish dungeons and brainbusti­ng puzzles, and you can spend hours goofing around before tackling its emotionall­y moving climax.

Feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world? That’s literally the burden of the beetle at the center of this masterpiec­e from Annapurna Interactiv­e. Each of those spheres gives you a special power, and you can jump inside each world and explore. By the time you’re moving worlds within worlds, your mind’s fully blown.


Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom

This year’s expansion of Cyberpunk begins as an “Escape from New York” riff — the president’s plane crashes in an urban hellhole — and evolves into a brutal take on technology, global politics and corporate voracity.


Super Mario Bros. Wonder:

Nintendo’s most iconic character returns to the

2D, side-scrolling, runningand-jumping antics that made him famous. Mario has some new powers: He can drill through the ground, trap enemies in bubbles and even turn into an elephant. But the real highlight of each level is the Wonder Flower, which can transform the whole environmen­t in an entirely different challenge.

This puzzler from French indie Rundisc is built around a distinctiv­e mechanic: translatin­g foreign languages. Your mission is to explore an edifice inspired by the Tower of Babel, but you’re not going anywhere until you can make sense of the enigmatic signs and cryptic speech of each level’s inhabitant­s.

Chants of Sennaar:

Sea of Stars:

The latest throwback from Canada’s Sabotage Studio is the tale of two young warriors who can harness the powers of the moon and sun as they fight monsters summoned by a wicked alchemist.

The graphics and gameplay evoke 16-bit classics, the characters are thoroughly charming, and the story takes some surprising twists. While it works as homage, Sea of Stars has enough original ideas to make an old formula fresh.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2:

Sony and Insomniac Games’ latest comic-book romp soars, with two

Spideys — Peter Parker and Miles Morales — webslingin­g their way between the skyscraper­s of New York’s Manhattan and beyond. It’s beautifull­y paced, alternatin­g low-key personal episodes with high-octane brawls against flamboyant supervilla­ins.

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew:

Afia, the swashbuckl­er at the center of this pirate caper from Germany’s Mimimi Games, has a problem: She’s dead, with a big old sword sticking right through her torso. But she’s not about to let that stop her from reassembli­ng the crew of the ghost ship Red Marley and wreaking havoc on the high seas. Each of the sailors has a mystical power, while the ship’s carpenter can drag people to hell. The result is an addictive series of tactical challenges with a bracing dose of black comedy.

Bethesda Softworks tries to cram decades of science fiction into its newest role-playing game. It doesn’t always work. But Starfield’s sheer ambition is arresting, and there’s enough of Bethesda’s well-honed storytelli­ng finesse to make the journey worthwhile.


 ?? Baldur’s Gate III: ?? “Baldur’s Gate III,” a role-playing game, is among the year’s best video games.
Baldur’s Gate III: “Baldur’s Gate III,” a role-playing game, is among the year’s best video games.
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“Super Mario Bros. Wonder.”
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“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.”
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