The Dent · Reviewing every game I finished in 2023

Reviewing every game I finished in 2023

Hello internet. It’s me, back once again copying someone else’s fun post idea! A few weeks ago Matt Birchler shared a post highlighting the new games he’d played in 2023. At the time I commented that I wished I had made time for some single player games instead of just focusing on competitive online games (that I suck at).

I checked what I had actually finished in 2023, in the excellent Gametrack by Joe Kimberlin and was surprised to see that there were actually a few pretty decent single player games I managed to start, and finish, in 2023, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts on them.

Alan Wake Remastered - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I kicked off January with my first play through of Alan Wake, which I played exclusively on my Steam Deck. There was no particular reason for this, but it did play really well there.

I really enjoyed my run through of Alan Wake, which felt more like an interactive movie than a game in parts, in both good and bad ways. It was a game I’d heard the name of over the years, but knew absolutely zero about it which I think helped with my enjoyment of it.

Whilst the gameplay is pretty repetitive and even this ‘remastered’ version is showing it’s age from mechanics perspective, the story kept me intrigued throughout and I’m a sucker for a film, or game, with a narration from the main character throughout. Alan Wake 2 is definitely on my wish list ... once it’s available outside of the Epic Games Store that is.

Time to complete: 5.1 hours

God of War - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It wasn’t until March that I recorded my next completion, in the form of the PC port of the 2018 PlayStation original. I was back on the PC for this one, because it looked just terrible on the Steam Deck, though it did run very smoothly.

I’d played the original series back in the PlayStation 2 era, but I knew very little about this rebooted series, but it didn’t disappoint. The game had a good story, challenging yet enjoyable combat and a clear focus. Whilst there were some side quests offered up, I didn’t do these, yet I didn’t feel I was missing anything out.

All in all this was an example of a single player game I like. It didn’t take forever and a day to complete and you almost had to go out of your way go off the main story track. If I had to offer any criticism it’s that, and this may be controversial, but I really hated Atreus (Boy!).

Time to complete: 15.6 hours

Resident Evil 4 - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

There was another short gap aftee God of War, taking me to May until I got around to the next title. A year or so ago I set myself a small challenge of replaying all of the (mainline) Resident Evil games and I had an absolute blast. I played the original for the first time during that run through and, whilst it was a pretty jarring change from the 3 titles that preceded it, it ended up being one of my favourite games in the series. This remake keeps everything that made the original so fun, and enjoyable, and cranks it up to 10.

This was definitely a highlight of the year for me, and was my ‘game of the year’ in terms of titles I completed. I think I may well be one of the few people that really liked 5 and 6 as well, so I’m very excited for the inevitable remake of these to come out also.

Time to complete: 20.3 hours.

Hogwarts Legacy - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fast forward three months, to August, and after a dry patch I actually finished two games in the same month. A personal best! First up is the Harry Potter inspired Hogwarts Legacy.

This game had a lot of hype behind it at launch, both positive and less so. After plying thorough it I ended up somewhere in the middle to be honest. I quite liked the Harry Potter films back in the day, and I felt like some time in that universe could be fun. For the most part, it was a pretty enjoyable romp, but as is often the case with open world games such as this, it’s incredibly easy for you, the game, or both, to simply lose focus.

This was certainly what happened to me. The main storyline is simple, but engaging enough, but the game is packed full of a load of filler fluff that I got bored of pretty quickly. After a few hours I gave up on all side quests, and random busywork and just focused on the main story quests. After doing this the game became much more enjoyable and still took a decent chunk of time to complete. The fact that I remember basically nothing about the what I did in the game, or any of the story beats or characters involved is pretty telling. I think if you are a huge fan of the Potter world, and just need more of it, you'd get a lot out of this game. For everyone else, your time is better spent elsewhere.

Time to complete: 25.9 hours.

Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I strangely rolled from one open world(ish) game, right into another, and in retrospect this may have been a bad idea. Mechanically Spider-Man is very similar to Hogwarts, and every other open world game. You follow a main story, but have a million and one other tasks to do along the way. You unlock 'towers', or various forms of them, to unlock different areas or missions, and you rinse and repeat this for as many hours as you can stomach it.

The saving grace for Spider-Man, however, is the setting and pure style of it. Spider-Man has always been one of my favourite characters not only from Marvel, but in media in general, so an opportunity to swing through New York as this character is pretty thrilling. Whilst this form of navigation does start to get a bit repetitive over time, it was so enjoyable I don't think I took the fast travel option once.

After a few hours of doing nothing but collecting backpacks, and stopping petty crimes I 'did a Hogwarts' and essentially stopped all side-missions bar those I came across organically and just played the main story and I had a real blast. The story is good enough, but the boss fights against much of Spidey's rogue gallery were a joy. All in all, a few hours well spent, but it was again something that didn't really stick with me after I finished it and uninstalled.

Time to complete: 16.9 hours.

Diablo IV - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Next up, in September, I bought and finished Diablo IV after quite a lot of hype and build up. This is an interesting one, because as far as a single player goes, it's pretty lacklustre. The story of an ARPG has never really been that important, and this continues in Diablo IV. From what I can remember, you're essentially just following one step behind Lilith for the whole game, you catch up with her and kill her, the end. Whilst I enjoyed the ride, you really are just plowing through a million mobs and not a lot else. As a single player experience, I would probably have given it 5 stars. It's great at what it is, but the story element, the key part of a single player game (for me) is really not there.

The thing that escalates Diablo IV from a 5 star to an 8 is the end game and seasonal gameplay. The end game / seasonal mode takes the whole levelling / story out and just gives you a variety of basic tasks to complete whilst you explode your way through a billion mobs, collect all sorts of items to try and eek as much power from your character as possible and take part in a variety of in-game events. A seasonal character only last few a few months and gives you an opportunity to focus on one character for the season, before doing it all again in a few months.

Diablo IV has ended up being a great second screen game for me. I mindlessly grind away, whilst a film or podcast is on, and have an absolute blast with it. I think, unlike the other games in this list, I will be playing this game for years. Unfortunately, this is one game that went from me playing through some single player games into grinding yet another game as a service monstrosity, and I don't like that fact ...

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III - ⭐️

I actually posted this, and completely forgot about this game. That sums up my experience with this years Call of Duty campaign. It was less a campaign, and more a bunch of small multiplayer maps populated with some PS1 quality AI bots. Shameful.

Time to complete: About 3-4 hours

Since November and the disappointing Call of Duty campaign, I've sadly not only not finished, but I've barely played, any single player games. I'm slowly working my way through Super Mario Wonder with my daughter, and fully plan on finishing that relatively soon. I also have The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom which I must get back to. Baldur's Gate III has been tempting me also, but I can almost guarantee I will quickly bounce off that so I've resisted so far.

Moving into 2024, I am planning on setting myself a small challenge to complete one single player game a month. I will aim to avoid large, open world monsters where I can, and may even throw in some retro stuff like Chrone Trigger which I love, but don't think I've ever actually finished. Here's to 2024 and less mindless grinding for me!

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