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Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Writer’s Pick: Top 5 Games of the Year of 2023

Illustration by Pamela Garcia

The landscape of video games in 2023 shows that the medium continues to evolve by presenting compelling stories, exciting and innovative gameplay experiences and, most importantly, a wide variety of games from nearly every genre.

Photo courtesy of Steam

5. Hi-Fi Rush

Tango Gameworks surprised everyone when it released “Hi-Fi Rush” the same day it was announced during the “Xbox & Bethesda Dev Direct 2023” earlier this year.

The colorful, rhythm-based action game stars Chai, a wannabe rock star, who accidentally gets a music player implanted in his body by an evil corporation. He meets friends on the way while destroying the company’s killer robots and defeating the evil executives.

The game takes players on a musical journey as they hack and slash through waves of enemies. However, “Hi-Fi Rush” is unique in that rhythm becomes a key factor for scoring extra damage and adding flair to the world surrounding Chai. The stellar original soundtrack in the game is made even better with licensed rock music from the likes of The Black Keys and Nine Inch Nails. The music breathes life into the game’s vibrant world, with the robots and buildings themselves rocking out to the beat.

The cel-shaded art style also reminds players of early 2000s games, such as “Viewtiful Joe” and “Jet Set Radio,” evoking a sense of nostalgia for this game’s amazing graphical presentation.

Hi-Fi Rush’s Title Screen. Screenshot by Jesse Illanes.

4. Street Fighter 6

Capcom has delivered one of the most accessible fighting games yet, hooking first-time players with its new offerings, while also encouraging veterans of the series to stick around and compete in this extremely polished fighter.

The new modern control scheme provides newcomers with an easy entry point to the genre, while classic controls keep the traditional six button style, balancing the game for both new and returning players. Likewise, fan-favorite characters, such as Ryu and Chun-Li, are joined by a new cast of appealing characters, including Luke – the young, military-trained MMA teacher – and Kimberly, a graffiti artist and ninjutsu fighter.

“Street Fighter 6” features three main modes: World Tour, Battle Hub and Fighting Ground. World Tour mode provides fighting game fans a 3D open world to build their avatar and become a world warrior in the process. It’s a nice change of pace as the mode eases in new players to the mechanics of Street Fighter, teaching them the fundamentals as they progress through the mode. Battle Hub features an online arcade-style lobby for avatar battles and traditional Street Fighter gameplay. Lastly, Fighting Ground is the mode that captures the true essence of “Street Fighter,” which is 1v1 fighting, featuring a story mode, online matchmaking for ranked and casual play, plus tutorials on how to play a fighting game and how to master your favorite character.

Luke successfully countering Ryu with a Drive Impact move in Street Fighter 6. Screenshot by Jesse Illanes.


3. Final Fantasy XVI

Square Enix had all hands on deck when creating the 16th mainline entry of the legendary “Final Fantasy” franchise. From the combat designer who worked on games like “Marvel vs. Capcom 2,” to the writers who previously wrote the amazing stories of “Final Fantasy XIV,” the team boasts a high pedigree from some of the greatest Japanese game developers. “Final Fantasy XVI” provides fans and newcomers a captivating story along with an over the top, action-packed gameplay experience.

Players assume the role of Clive Rosfield, a mercenary looking for the person who killed his little brother, Joshua, years ago. Joshua was a child blessed by the Phoenix, a god-like being, as his royal family was grooming him to become ruler of the nation of Rosaria. Clive meets allies along the way, uncovering a threat that could destroy life itself. The enthralling story has many twists and turns and makes players feel like they are part of an epic journey throughout the whole experience.

The game eases players into its setting, as the medieval-like aesthetic works in harmony with the violent and dark tone the game excels at. The gameplay is designed exceptionally well, as players start off weak, but are gradually given “Eikon Abilities” that give them god-like powers to defeat enemies and explore the vast world of Valisthea.

Final Fantasy XVI Splash Screen. Screenshot by Jesse Illanes.


2. Resident Evil 4 Remake

The original “Resident Evil 4” from 2005 is still one of the greatest games of all time. The fact that Capcom created a remake that does not replace the original, but rather, complements it – almost like a companion piece – is remarkable in the age of modern remakes.

Resident Evil 4 Remake features Leon S. Kennedy, who, after the events of Resident Evil 2, is searching for the president’s kidnapped daughter in a rural village in Spain. The hostile villagers are infected with parasites, so Leon must battle through them as well as endless nightmarish creatures, creating a fantastic survival horror experience.

Players can approach combat with a lot of versatility, mixing gun play with melee attacks. However, stealth kills and knife parrying – both new to the remake – provide more options to even the tides of battle. Fending off hordes of brain-dead residents has never felt better in a Resident Evil game, as this game entices players to upgrade and buy the best weapons to contend with the horrors that await them.

Everything that made the original great has been modernized and refined with this remake. Even aspects like the story and the controls have been perfected to offer the best Resident Evil experience to date.

Leon fighting hostile villagers in the Resident Evil 4 Remake. Screenshot by Jesse Illanes.

1. Alan Wake 2

Alan Wake 2 is, arguably, the game of the year. It redefines what “survival horror” is by giving players an absolutely unmatched experience, above any other game in the genre.

Players control two characters, FBI Special Agent Saga Anderson, who is uncovering a missing person’s case, and titular character Alan Wake, a famous novelist who has gone missing for 13 years, fighting his own demons mentally and physically.

The eerie horror atmosphere, paired with solving a frightening mystery, creates an absorbing dynamic. The game transcends the way stories are usually told in video games by experimentally incorporating live-action cutscenes of the characters mixed with surreal in-game cutscenes, which makes even players with the sharpest of eyes wonder if the cutscene they are watching is the game’s graphics or a real life scene.

Having limited resources to confront the game’s enemies, “The Taken,” forces the player to reconsider if wasting ammo on them is worth it or to just avoid them, desperately hoping they don’t pursue. This gameplay is the pure definition of survival horror. It delivers the best gaming experience of the year from beginning to end.

If you would like to read more about Alan Wake 2, please check out our full review here.

Alan Wake 2 Splash Screen. Screenshot by Jesse Illanes.
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