Stevens: Top five video games of 2023


The top five games of the year include ” A Space for the Unbound,” “Pokémon Legends: Arceus,” “Chicory: A Colorful Tale,” “Splatoon 3” and “Xenoblade Chronicles 3.” These games cwere developd by Mojiken, Game Freak, Finji, Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development and Monolith Soft.

Levi Stevens, Staff Writer

As the video game industry continues to grow and evolve, it can be challenging to keep up with all the latest releases. Although the amount of games I played last year doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of new releases, I wanted to organize my thoughts into a ranked list. These are my top five favorite video games of 2022.

No. 5: “A Space for the Unbound”

I can’t really describe this game without spoiling the entire experience. The game’s launch trailer sold me on the story just from the music at the start. While you can’t hear the full scope of the music in the trailer, I can assure you the music is poignant and moving throughout the game.

As a combination between a visual novel and an adventure game, “A Space for the Unbound” can be a little bit hands-off at times. I expected this, but I didn’t expect the tasks you’d have to do before reaching another story chapter. Many of these tasks were often tedious fetch quests while others were actually very creative puzzles. This inconsistency can  often crush the game’s pace. 

Nevertheless, this game’s story was so emotional and impactful, I was almost crying a bit by the end. If a game can do that, it deserves a spot on the list.

No. 4: “Pokémon Legends: Arceus”

With two big entries in the “Pokémon” series this year, it’s hard to decide between them. While “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet” were able to refine the adventuring experience to make wild Pokémon a bit more lively, the mechanics of “Pokémon Legends: Arceus” have my heart. 

This game has a ton of the same pros and cons as “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet.”  However, this game focuses on catching Pokémon without battling at all. This creates a gameplay loop reminiscent of a scavenger hunt.

Even if it makes a lot of visual missteps, this game is still an addictive and fun experience throughout.

No. 3: “Chicory: A Colorful Tale”

I must admit this is a pretty biased pick for me. The game itself is a great “Zelda”-like adventure, but the soundtrack triumphs above everything else. Composed by Lena Raine, who also worked on “Minecraft” and “Celeste, the soundtrack hits all the right beats during tense moments while still offering up some relaxing tunes. One such track is “Do the Impossible” which is a late-game piece that hits all the right notes. 

The story of the game is primarily about dealing with imposter syndrome, from the perspective of an artist that has the entire world’s weight on their shoulders. To deal with this, your character is tasked with coloring in everything you see. This game’s entire map is just one big coloring book, and these coloring mechanics are used in clever ways. As you progress, you’ll unlock more skills with your paintbrush so you can swim in the colors, climb up walls and so on. These fun abilities are frequently used in the game’s creative puzzles.

I absolutely loved how emotional this game’s story could be when it’s all just a bunch of doodles and scribbles. I can’t say much because there are some awesome moments if you play!

No. 2: “Splatoon 3”

It’s hard to continue loving “Splatoon 3,” but I do. This game is so close to competitive multiplayer perfection, but it struggles in key areas which could be addressed quickly.

Although it has connection issues and balancing problems, these issues are being addressed through a series of post-launch updates. However, these have come at sluggish rates. 

Nevertheless, that doesn’t keep “Splatoon 3” from being one of the most unique in its genre in every way. The character designs are colorful and noisy, which really accentuates the chaotic themes of this game. The music is often a distorted form of punk rock, which matches well with the game’s rebellious teenagers. This can be heard  in the game’s signature track, “Clickbait.”

No other game has the movement of “Splatoon 3,” and I love it for that. Being able to climb up walls, swim in the ground and dodge roll are just a few mechanics that keep this game fast-paced and extremely fun. Having a good grasp on the fundamentals of “Splatoon” is a massive part of improving at the game. This is why balance issues can sometimes be overlooked in the eyes of skilled gameplay.

This game just has such a fun, colorful and unique atmosphere that I always find myself coming back to. Despite its multiplayer flaws, this game prioritizes fun in the best ways.

No. 1: “Xenoblade Chronicles 3”

I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started up “Xenoblade Chronicles 3.” I have a friend who gushes about the series all the time, but it was hard to get a feel for what made the games unique. 

Having played the latest release, I now understand what sets this game apart from all others in the Japanese role-playing game genre. The music,  story and gameplay all flow together seamlessly to create an engaging experience where you’ll never notice you’ve actually been watching cutscenes for half an hour. 

The open world of this game is absolutely breathtaking, especially for the Nintendo Switch. The developers, MonolithSoft, know how to optimize a game in every possible way so players don’t notice performance or graphical issues. Exploring the massive world of this game is a worthwhile experience because there’s loads of quests, chests, monsters and other goodies within these colorful biomes. It never feels like you’re wasting time in this game because there’s always an item to pick up right below you.

I’m in love with the character design of this game as well. Any of the 20-ish characters are all unique and interesting because they each have their own side stories which tie into the main game’s plot. This makes the party members feel a lot more developed than most JRPGs.

Just like listening to my megafan friend, it’s hard for me to explain how great this game is without just passing the controller. Listen to the track “The Weight of Life” and just feel how impactful this game can be.