2023 was an epic year for gaming. I’ve played over 150 titles released from January to now, and I could recommend many of those from the bottom of my heart. As such, here’s a list with just five picks I’d like to highlight this time.
Though I’ve played impressive visual novels this year, like Tokyo Necro, The Future Radio and the Artificial Pigeons, and Nukitashi, my one pick would have to be Lkyt. Parade’s samurai BL game is a finely tuned somber fantasy experience that beautifully hinges on tragedy.
Tasuku’s story carves for intimacy in a hopeless situation of a doomed future. It can get quite gory, so I can’t recommend it to people who can’t handle something too dark. Nonetheless, this is one of the best experiences in the genre this year.
Koei Tecmo’s rendition of the Fate series using their know-how of samurai drama is an impressive experience. Not only is this my favorite entry into the franchise (other Nasuverse experiences like Tsukihime notwithstanding), this is simply a great action RPG.
While some people may shun Omega Force for the repetitive nature of their Musou formula, they masterfully used their expertise here. Battling a lot, mastering the protagonist’s battle stances, and using other characters like multiple servants feel very fluid. The story is also a compelling drama that kept me curious from start to finish.
CyberConnect2’s passion project of steampunk furry adventures continues in Fuga II, and frankly speaking? Though it may be too similar to the original for some people, it’s a genuine improvement over the first game and one of the best RPGs released this year.
Though I was initially wary of rethreading the tragic war tale of the little kemono kids, Fuga II learned from the original game’s minor missteps. The story now carves deeper, the player has even more control over their actions, and the new “Soul Cannon”-based systems are now much more than a desperate measure to avoid as much as possible.
I still don’t understand how Gust can have such a magic touch with their titles. It’s impressive to see a yearly series like Atelier that offers so much depth and flavor, and I have yet to find them stale.
Atelier Ryza 3 brought Reizalin Stout’s story to an end in yet another impressive entry in the franchise. Now, with a lively open world to explore, it manages to end the trilogy on a high note. Even though I’m not into gacha titles, which leaves me a little cautious about the next title in the franchise, I’d still say that the future looks bright for Gust when looking at their recent console titles.
In the middle of a forest, there’s a little cabin where a captive princess lives. You’re here to slay her lest the world forever be doomed. That’s the whole premise of this visual novel, which is deceptively simple but mesmerizing in its execution.
Here, you can find a sketch-like black-and-white ambiance, an “absolutely trustworthy” narrator, and the horror of facing unknown mysteries beyond human comprehension. Slay the Princess is a title that invites players to be curious, explore the possibilities, and truly dig for the beauty that lurks within its horrific nature.
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