My year in gaming: 2023 edition | Big Daddy Digest

Numbers don’t lie. They really don’t. So, at first, without any further ado, here are my statistics as measured by Nintendo: I’ve played thirty-five different games in six hundred and twenty-six hours on my Switch. That’s quite a lot for someone who has a full-time job. Oh, and there are four hours and seventeen minutes of gameplay on my WiiU, too.

WiiU

This WiiU screenshot was saved via the excellent service at shutter-u.com. It doesn’t work with all games nor at all times, but is still awesomely nice to have.

“Wait, you are still playing on that system?” you might ask? Well, yes ma’am!
One hour was spent playing Monster Hunter 3 ultimate. My Monster Hunter journey began with Monster Hunter 4 ultimate on the 3DS, so I wanted to have a look at the predecessor’s infamous water combat. Didn’t get so far yet, but already learnt to appreciate the QoL-changes that went into Generations and Rise/Sunbreak. Also, my go to weapon, the insect glaive, first appeared in 4u, making 3u rather hard to play.

That’s one hour of gameplay taken care of. The rest was taken up by Xenoblade Chronicles X, which really needs to be ported/remastered to Switch, dear Nintendo. And while you’re at it: change the atrociously tiny font size. It’s impossible to read anything on my 1.20 m TV screen, let alone on the WiiU’s gamepad. Bloody hell! (Please pardon my French.)

Switch

So, 1st console done, let’s get to the meat of the year. On Switch I’ve played some really heavy hitters, both time and story wise. Here’s my top three:

  1. Persona 5 Royal
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  3. Borderlands 3 Ultimate Edition

Borderlands 3 Ultimate Edition

I’ve played all Borderlands games on Switch so far and was delighted by their story, charm and looting, so getting the latest part was a no brainer. Limiting the multi-player to two people instead of four didn’t hinder me in any way: I usually play these games on my own anyway. No need for sharing my loot!

November 2023 was spent shooting and looting the galaxy to defeat the nasty twins. December saw me working my way through the DLC upping the difficulty to Mayhem 2. I can see myself returning to Pandora to simply finish off some still open quests, as Moze with “Bottomless Mags” rules! All in all, the game runs fine with minimal stutters and is a lot of long-time fun.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Some people say that this game is just more of the same when compared to its predecessor. Well, weapons still break and I still don’t like that mechanic, so there’s that, yeah. On the other hand, rebuilding Hyrule and defending it against yet another baddy was terribly engaging. The story kept me occupied and focused through the individual temples and the new creative abilities introduced. Exploring all the different parts of Hyrule was a blast!

I’d say that was a very well spent May and June. I’m far from finished with the story, but the sole reason for that is that I’m stuck at a stage where combat relies too much on mastering a single mechanic, which I somehow simply can’t. Still an awesome and much better Zelda than any other on the system.

Persona 5 Royal

I freely admit that JRPGs are my favourite genre. In 2022, I got to enjoy Shin Megami Tensei 5 and this year gave me, among others, Persona 5 Royal. Needless to say I was hooked. The game’s mixture of RPG, dating sim and visual novel managed to tell a story of epic proportions, and I luckily managed to get the true ending on my playthrough. Yeah, ok, “luckily” here is a euphemism for doing the homework of checking out which decisions will set me on the right path. But then, who wants to pump 100+ hours into a game only to get a bad ending?

Additionally, browsing through the guidebook (only available in Japanese) and artbook (similarly only available in Japanese) added immensely to my enjoyment of the game. The art is simply divine in this one: August, September and October were well taken care of.

The places further down

These were my top-played games of 2023. There is still more to come, though. Some of the following games are games I returned to after some time. Some are smaller games that didn’t take long to finish. Some simply are games that were abandoned because of other games (or work, as sometimes happens).

Octopath Traveler 2

This is one of the games quickly abandoned. The art is as great as before, HD 2D simply rules. The mechanics are nearly identical, with minor QoL changes. The stories are again wonderful and engaging. Still, when another game came around it was put on the back burner and needs to be finished later. Hopefully.

Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse

Survival horror is normally not my thing, but I make an exception for the Zero/Project Zero/Fatal Frame series. (Names are different according to the region: Japan/Europe/USA.)

After playing Maiden of Black Water, and reviewing it for BGD, too, I had to do the same for Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, especially since this port was finally coming to the west. I thoroughly enjoyed surviving the cultish island adventure, but in the end, Maiden is still the better game.

Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the lost Demon

I still hold a grudge about how Platinum Games killed off its titular hero at the end of Bayonetta 3. However, bringing her back to life as a young fledgling witch with Bayonetta Origins was a godsend. Also, it made sense to change the genre from hard-packed action game to a more relaxed puzzle game with exploration and fighting.

Learning about Ceresa’s past was a joyful experience and the art and music of the game were amazing. I’d be up to further sequels like this!

Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed

After the game means before the DLC. In the case of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, this is the Future Redeemed DLC taking place roughly 500 years before the events of the main game.

The DLC features new characters, new music and is well worth a playthrough. The mechanicas are slightly changed, too, which results in a pleasant unique experience. Definitely worth playing!

Monster Hunter Rise Sunbreak

Definitely a game I returned to throughout the year. Monster Hunter is simply one of my favourite series and I can’t stay away from the games for long periods of time.

Since my little daughter caught the Monster Hunter bug as well, we had quite a lot of hunts together. That was really nice. (My wife, on the other hand, wasn’t that happy about this outcome.)

Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors is a rogue-lite that somehow reminds me of the old Commodore 64 game called Gauntlet. You pick a character and try to survive an onslaught of monsters.

We tried to play multiplayer, but none of my daughters was very keen to play this game. A shame, really, because it is a lot of fun.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Another game I return to once in a while. New Horizons doesn’t pull me back often, but when it does it delights. I usually return for special events and try to catch up with my neighbours.

My daughters love this game and always pester me to let them visit my island. Usually I then find my fields harvested and my shops sold out. But hey, they have fun!

Fire Emblem Engage

Oh, when I started playing Engage, I had the feeling that it would end up being my favourite and most played Fire Emblem game since Awakening. It is very similar to it, actually.

I was really engaged in it (no pun intended) but after a few hours my enthusiasm dwindled out and I can’t really put a finger on why that happened. I will return to it one time, because I want to know how the story ends, but it isn’t a high priority at the moment.

Chained Echoes

Chained Echoes was a game dear to my heart. It was developed not 50 km away from me, so there was a bit of local pride added when I backed it on Kickstarter.

The 16bit RPG has a good story and an interesting battle system. Definitely a game to get when you like role-playing games.

That’s all folks!

So, that was my 2023 in gaming. Not that many games, but great games! So how am I closing this year game-wise? Well, I’m going to finish Xenoblade Chronicles, finally. I began the game on my New Nintendo 3DS when it came out, but only played up to chapter 5. The events in that chapter made me stop the game.
I gave it another try when the definitive edition came out on Switch and actually made it past these events. I don’t even know why I put the game away again. That said, in the beginning of December I returned to it and made it to chapter fourteen. Looks like I’m going to finish it this time!

%d bloggers like this: