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  • Writer's pictureThree Dads And A Console

Three Dads and a Console's Favourite Games of 2023


2023

This year in gaming has been one for the record books. It started with everyone thinking developers needed to get out of the way of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom to Zelda, which was not even the year's winning game at the Game Awards. Some say this is one of the best years in gaming ever, but when you have been a gamer as long as we have, that is said every couple of years.


Here at Three Dads and a Console, we wanted to share our favourite games this year but with a twist. We're dads, and our kids play games, so we wanted to share their favourite games this year.



Pez


fire

Fire Emblem Engage - Nintendo Switch - Released January 20, 2023

 

It feels like Fire Emblem Engage came out years ago after a star-studded 2023, but this January release was one of my most played games on the Nintendo Switch this year. My Nintendo Switch Year in Review for 2023 stated that I played 122 hours on my Switch, and 39 were Fire Emblem Engage. 

 

As I said on the podcast, I've never been a big Fire Emblem fan, but that changed after Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I was excited to pick up Engage, which certainly did not disappoint. For those new to Fire Emblem Engage, it is a tactical RPG where you control the main character, defaulting to Alear, though you can change the character's name and gender before you begin. 

 

The story is fun and doesn't linger too long, but I wouldn't expect epic levels of writing. In this department, you're looking at your typical JRPG. You're a dragon with amnesia looking to take down the big bad. It would be best if you found the Emblem Rings scattered across the region to do that. 

 

The Emblem Rings are the primary focus of this game. Those rings will be equipped on an ally, allowing them to learn new skills or weapon proficiencies. Previous Fire Emblem characters like Marth, Roy and Byleth are inside the rings. This is a beautiful nod to the last games, but the rings allow some customization regarding the class build of you and your allies. 

 

Ultimately, Fire Emblem Engage satiated my pallet for something turn-based on my Nintendo Switch. It was an engaging and fun game that I could sink some time into and enjoy! 

 


Super Mario Bros

Super Mario Bros. Wonder - Nintendo Switch - Released October 20, 2023

 

I have a full written and video review of Super Mario Bros. Wonder for you!

 

Given my distaste for previous 2D Super Mario Bros. entries, Super Mario Bros. Wonder was a complete surprise. The "New" Super Mario Bros. entries were stale, bland and unoriginal, and I was expecting much of the same from this Mario title, but the folks at Nintendo outdid themselves. 

 

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is similar to its brethren in that it is a side-scrolling title, and that is where the similarities kind of end. In this title, your mission is to collect Wonder Seeds to stop Bowser from trying to take over the Flower Kingdom. To do this, you and Prince Florian head off on a magical journey through different terrains, eventually fighting the big bad in Prince Florian's transformed castle. 

 

Super Mario Bros. Wonder allows you to play as someone other than Mario. You have a selection of Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, blue Toad, yellow toad, Four different Yoshi and Nabbit. The Yoshis and Nabbit characters do not take damage from enemies but also do not benefit from using power-ups. This is a beautiful addition to the Mario franchise because it allows parents to have their children join them without worrying that they'll be a live leech. 

 

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a, pardon the pun, excellent dive into a 2D Mario game with some great new twists on the formula. 




Balder

Baldur's Gate 3 - PC - Released August 3, 2023

 

You come across a travelling merchant in a grove looking to sell their wares to you and your party members. The merchant is prickly toward you, making snide remarks about you as you look through his stuff. You decide you've had enough of his lip and stick a dagger between his ribs. Thirty hours later, in Baldur's Gate 3, you meet a dwarven merchant who refuses to sell you anything because they got word that a party matching your description killed their cousin. 

 

This is just one scenario in Baldur's Gate 3 that could happen. There are seemingly millions of scenarios where your actions in the game have positive or negative consequences later in your journey. 

 

Baldur's Gate 3 is a huge game. Early in Act I, you'll come across a druid grove where a tiefling refugee encampment is threatened with being sealed in with the druids due to goblin attacks. You have multiple choices, including slaughtering the druids or the tieflings or trying to save everyone. Sitting behind this druid grove is a small tiefling boy being sung to by a group of harpies. Saving the boy can possibly trigger assistance in Act 2 or Act 3. 

 

I didn't see this until I played a co-op campaign with my friends. 

 

I've been playing Baldur's Gate 3 since I purchased it in Early Access on Steam in 2021, and I didn't even realize that Harpy Fight existed. That's how big and content-rich Baldur's Gate 3 is. 

 

Not only can you do many things in Baldur's Gate 3, but the writing is superb. You're essentially a blank slate of a character, a silent protagonist that goes about your way to figure out why you have a tadpole in your eye and how to get it out. You're allowed three party members out of the six main characters; this is where that writing shines. 

 

Each party member has the motivation to get this tadpole out of their head and finish their quest. Whether it is Astarion trying to stop the master vampire from ascending to a vampire lord or Karlach trying to figure out how to control the infernal engine inside her, their job isn't just to "follow the voiceless idiot around and hit things." They have a life with goals and aspirations, which was disturbed when the mind flayers started scooping people up. 

 

Having such a deep roster of party members makes multiple playthroughs possible because you want to find out what everyone's conclusion was without switching them out all the time. In my first playthrough, I did a run with Wyll, Shadowheart and Astarion, and all of their findings were satisfying - whether it was good or not is a different story. Once I finished my first run, I immediately started a second with L'Zael, Karlach and Gale because I needed to know what their problems were and what the conclusions to their journeys were. 

 

Baldur's Gate 3 isn't just about turn-based Dungeons & Dragons 5e mechanics. It isn't just about rolling dice and getting from point A to point B. It is about how you get from point A to point B and the different ways you can do it. Here is another example: In Act 1, you walk into a massive goblin party (a legit party, not a party of goblins), and this is how I handled things: Playthrough 1: Strong arm my way into the camp and kill all of the goblinsCo-op playthrough: Poison the goblin's tub of booze and pass out drinks to everyonePlaythrough 2: Seduce one of the goblin's leaders, pass through the shindig w/o issue and then kill her in her bed chambers. 

 

And that is just three of the seemingly endless ways you can solve problems. Much like sitting at a table playing Dungeons & Dragons, you can most likely do it if you think it. 

And that's what makes Baldur's Gate 3 different than almost every other game not named The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Unlike Spider-Man 2 or Super Mario Bros. Wonder, you don't need to follow the path given to you to win. In Spider-Man 2, you have to fight Venom the way Insomniac wants you to fight Venom. Every playthrough will be the same because it is a semi-linear single-player experience. In Baldur's Gate 3, the options seem limitless. 

 

I could write pages and pages on why Baldur's Gate 3 was my favourite game of 2023 and etched itself in my top 5 favourite games of my lifetime, but instead of reading this, go play it! 

 

Honourable mentions: 


  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom 

  • Dead Island 2

  • Sea of Stars



Court


CyberPunk

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty - Released September 26, 2023


I had written off Cyberpunk 2077 as a game I wouldn't return to, and it wasn't for me. I loved The Witcher 3, so it truly bothered me that I couldn't get into Cyberpunk 2077 at its launch. Fast forward three years, and I love the game.


With update 2.0 and the best DLC I have played in years in the Phantom Liberty, I couldn't put the game down. Phantom Liberty is what CD Project Red intended the game to play like. The story for Phantom Liberty covers espionage and politics and is captivating. Idris Elba steals the show, and you can't convince me otherwise.


Phantom Liberty has a smaller map and much more evolved combat with new systems like vehicle combat and updated melee combat with update 2.0. CD Projekt Red makes your cyberware more crucial and allows you to continue to upgrade past previous limits. The driving has improved along with the vehicular combat; your car steers better and doesn't feel clunky.


To go from a game I regretted buying to a game I highly recommend to everyone looking for something to play says a lot about the time and effort CD Projekt Red put into Phantom Liberty and Cyberpunk 2077 Update 2.0.

 


Spider-Man 2

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 - Released October 20, 2023


Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is by far the best superhero game I have ever played, taking the crown away from Batman Arkham Asylum. I know I gushed over it already in my review, but it's my game of the year this year.


The character growth of Miles and Peter throughout this story truly shines, and their bond grows stronger as the story progresses. The story becomes much darker than previous Insomniac Games Spider-Man stories, but it adds more layers to an already great franchise.


The side quests they added to Spider-Man 2 don't feel forced and help progress the story, and I would say do not skip any of them because some of the best stories in the game are some of the side quests. They add so much to a well-thought-out superhero story but give you a back story to the others in Miles's and Peter's lives.


Kraven and Venom as villains are perfect choices and the most formidable foes you have ever faced in a Spider-Man game.


Marvel's Spider-Man 2 holds a special place in my heart as it's one of the first games of its calibre that I have ever finished with my daughter. I didn't let her play the back half of the game as I knew the story arc would become too dark. Thanks to the second controller assessability function on the PS5, I could use the controller simultaneously as my daughter, who would swing from one mission to the next but let me handle the fight scenes.


Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is the first game that ever affected my daughter emotionally during our playthrough, as there is one side mission that made her feel sad, and she felt for the character.


I can't recommend this game enough. Check out my video review below.



Assassin's Creed Mirage - Released October 5, 2023


Mirage

Ubisoft went back to the drawing board with Assassin's Creed Mirage. Initially, it was supposed to be a DLC for Vahalla; it was made into a full game but not a full-priced one. I reviewed Assassin's Creed Mirage at launch. Ubisoft returned to the roots of Assassin's Creed and made gameplay more stealth-focused.


We learned Basim's origin story and ran and jumped through the streets of Baghdad. Baghdad becomes its character in the game and feels alive as you climb its rooftops to see the beautiful architecture and run through the bazaars and alleys while being chased by guards.


With Mirage's success, I hope we get more Assassin's Creed games like this. Mirage was refreshing and welcoming as a long-time fan of the franchise, and if you have doubts or have suffered some burnout on the franchise, I suggest giving it a try.


Honourable mentions: 


  • Dead Space 

  • Star Wars: Jedi Survivor

  • NHL 24


Court's Daughter's Favourite Game


Disney's Dreamlight Valley - Released December 5, 2023


Diseny

Disney's Dreamlight Valley has to be the most played game in my house because my daughter plays it daily, and my wife plays it occasionally. They're playing the same game on the same save but for different reasons. My daughter plays it because she loves unlocking new Disney characters and seeing what adventures she can take. The photos she takes with her character in different outfits are one of her favourite things daily. On the other hand, my wife plants vegetables to sell them to earn money so that my daughter can buy any outfit or item she dreams of in the game. I would suggest planting and selling pumpkins as they yield the best profits for your time. The game's premise is for your character to free Dreamlight Valley and its characters from forgetting who they are. It's a life-sim game with quests and adventures to be handed in. It was supposed to be free-to-play, but they're leaving that model. You can find it for free on Xbox Game Pass. It's enjoyable for the whole family and number one in my house.



Honourable mentions: 


  • Bluey The Videogame

  • Super Mario Bros. Wonder

  • Lego Fortnite



Wabba


A Space for the Unbound - Released January 19, 2023


A Space for the Unbound

A Space for the Unbound is one of my favourite games of all time, let alone of 2023. It was rightly nominated for Games with Impact at this year's game awards, and man, it delivers. The story takes place in 1990s Indonesia, exploring two student's daily life turned upside down by a little bit of the supernatural. You are a boy named Atma, and with your girlfriend Raya, you pet cats, explore the town, experience rural life, and make sense of some of the strange things happening. This game has a fantastic pixel art style that can convey emotion and colour to characters you grow to care about in just a few short hours! The tremendous music makes emotional and impactful senses that much more powerful. There are different things to collect besides the main story, leading to a True Ending for the completionists. It has such an anime-story vibe grounded with real-life struggle, leading to an ending I will never forget.



NHL 24 - Released October 6, 2023


NHL 24

NHL 24 is the game I play most because, believe it or not, I find it fun. I've been an avid EA NHL fan since 2015, and I will say, despite community feedback, the gameplay is some of the best I've experienced, which, at its core, makes this game fun to play. While the content loop could use an upgrade, the improvements to physics and, most specifically, controls are why it's my favourite NHL yet. I was a hybrid player, using buttons to perform actions, and they took that control mode out, which I was against at the time. But it forced me to use their Total Control scheme, which gives me more ownership over what happens to the puck, both with passing and stickhandling. The fact that I can dictate who the puck goes to with an assigned button rather than pressing X and praying it goes to the guy who can shoot is a huge win. And there was a Bobby Orr event, so I gave an A+ to that!


Star Wars: Jedi Survivor - Released April 2023


Star Wars

Star Wars: Jedi Survivor is a game I could not put down at launch. It looks beautiful and has a great mix of exploration and linearity. I prefer more linear stories, but this game has a sandbox that's not too big to explore and have that exploration be rewarding. The characters are great, both ones you remember and ones you meet, and the story is so well written that I had a connection with characters and events when I'd only met them. If you can get invested in a new character so quickly, that shows they were written well. Cal is such a great character, and being able to explore his struggles throughout the game made for an even more entertaining journey. The fact that Cal is canon shows that this team knows Star Wars, and this game will not disappoint!


Honourable mentions: 


  • Sea of Stars


Wabba's Daughter's Favourite Game


Bluey The Video Game - Released November 17, 2023


Bluey

Bluey is the game my daughter and I had the most fun with. She loved the familiarity of the setting, being able to play and look around the Heeler household, and, of course, she loves the characters. Immediately, she was hit with being able to play keepy-uppy with Bingo and Bluey, and the areas give the kids a small sandbox they can explore and play in. The original voice actors do a great job, and they make it feel like the show! I like that my daughter and I can play this together as two different characters, and it was great watching her laugh as much during the Bluey video game as she did the TV show!









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