Games worth remembering from 2023 (and Alan Wake 2)

Not sure how useful it is to mark moments in time by what super popular game1 is terrible. Some games are great and we are what we remember.

These have a wide range of quality, but all are worth completing and remembering2:

  • Jusant
  • Cocoon
  • Before Your Eyes
  • Uncharted 4
  • Dredge
  • Shogun Showdown
  • Paranormasight
  • Sekiro
  • Hollow Knight
  • Viewfinder
  • Before The Green Moon

The games not worth completing I don't bother to keep track of. Some are bad. Others I personally don't enjoy. Except for a select few notable bad games that stand out for disappointment. Diablo 4 and now Alan Wake 2.

Alan Wake 2 is a graphically impressive game. The innumerable high resolution game assets I cannot imagine how long they took to create. If the previous epoch of games were known for being shiny3, the current is marked by being reflective4. Unfortunately the characters and animation don't look good, and all of this graphical power for fancy light shafts and puddles is a genuine waste of electricity when games on the above list do all of it better and they don't raise the temperature of your home. This game is way too dark, desaturated, and full of visual noise, and these subjective flaws cause it to be objectively challenging to understand what is going on quite often when one is playing it.

Alan Wake 2 is avant-guard, for a game. It is clear the amount of time, dedication, and attention that went in to creating each unusual set piece and scene transition.

The problem with Alan Wake 2, like all bad games, is that it is not fun to play. The single best word to describe the game is tedious. Just like Diablo 4, I swear you will spend about 25% of your playtime in menu screens5. Almost everything you do in the game leads you back to a menu screen, I would wager at least once a minute. One particularly insane decision is that when you pick up pages of manuscript6, the game will only play you a snippet of it, and you need to visit the menu to listen to the whole thing.

Relatedly, the game does not respect your time. I quickly discovered that exploring is a waste of time as the most frequent rewards were more supplies, which you only needed because exploring triggers enemies to spawn7. I then deduced that fighting is therefore a waste of time, enemies will respawn if you explore, and you can simply run past most of them. My final conclusion, and the only hook remaining in the game, was that the story is a waste of time.

I have played "AAA" games that want to emulate film or television. This is fine, but to do that you need to have content worth sharing. The content in Alan Wake 2 has a lot of love, but it is so low on substance as to become meaningless. There are countless useless or repetitive bits to read, listen to, and watch. For about 4 hours I thought this was building up to something, creating an atmosphere. It is not. This game will take 20 hours to complete8 and it does not get better. Good news! You can watch the latest season of Twin Peaks instead, which the game inferiorly steals the essence of, in that length of time.

Alan Wake 2 is a well crafted labor of love that is not fun to play. My recommendation: either call it derivative modern art or tighten up the experience9,10.

  1. I'm trying to not say video game anymore. It is an antiquated term, even dumber sounding when typed out over and over again. 

  2. I completed these in 2023; they were not all released in that year. 

  3. Bump mapping 

  4. Ray tracing 

  5. Substantially higher if we also include cutscenes 

  6. Which are supposed to be supremely important 

  7. Oh and the supplies are "smart spawning" so if you are low on bandages you'll magically get more bandages, adding to the lack of agency 

  8. Not counting NG+ 

  9. PS I completed Control and enjoyed it. Much stronger gameplay and atmosphere. Complete transposition of SCP

  10. PPS I took every parenthesis and made it a footnote. Partly to test out footnotes and partly to demonstrate through gameplay the annoyance. On the first point, they look nice but they take too much effort over overabundance of parentheses.