In the intricate tapestry of digital adventures, where each button press and joystick manoeuvre paints the canvas of our gaming narratives, my journey over the past year has been a rollercoaster ride through highs, lows, and unexpected turns. As an avid gamer with an insatiable appetite for captivating stories and adrenaline-pumping victories, 2023 brought a series of ups and downs that made my gaming experiences more personal than ever.

Amid disappointments and letdowns, moments of triumph added vibrancy to my gaming identity, even if these were generic heavy hitters of the year. Against the backdrop of frustration, I proudly completed three games.

Infinity Strash: DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai

The first of my game completions was Infinity Strash, the action/rouge-like game from Square Enix, which retold the story for the anime and manga of the same game. You can read my full review here, closing quote below.

Infinity Strash offers a captivating gaming experience, with 20 hours of gameplay dedicated to its main story, Temple of Recollection, and challenge mode. The game’s seamless performance on both PC and the Steam Deck is commendable. However, its association with a relatively obscure series, especially in regions like the UK, may hinder its reach. Nonetheless, the game impresses with beautifully rendered environments, faithful voice acting, and stunning cutscenes. The limited exploration opportunities beyond linear dungeons need to be improved. While side quests are present, the absence of major hubs and varied NPC interactions reflects the developers’ commitment to adhering closely to the source material. Infinity Strash holds promise in introducing new audiences to its franchise.

2023 was a year of love for the Dragon Quest franchise, and I hope this positivity continues. I’m choosing to ignore the fact that Dragon Quest Tact is about to be shut down in the West without any replacement.

Spider-Man 2

To be frank about Spider-Man 2, my intention wasn’t to prolong the entire gaming experience over a week; instead, I aimed to navigate the game swiftly. Finishing the story over 1 day and collecting any remaining achievements over the second. Having thoroughly enjoyed the original and the Miles Morales sequel, my anticipation was primarily focused on the narrative, as I didn’t have high expectations for the gameplay.

This isn’t to say that the gameplay was poor; I feel that the gameplay was stellar in the original games. I was expecting a polished experience, and they delivered.

I’m eagerly awaiting some form of additional content, I’m desperate for another reason to jump into the skin-tight suit of Spider-Man, and this time, I’ll take my time (honestly).

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name

The recent addition of this game to Xbox Game Pass felt like a delightful surprise, almost making me regret not buying the full version. After finishing Yakuza 0 and collecting the entire series, including Yakuza Ishin!, I found myself oddly distant from it. The enormity of the games and the challenge of unlocking achievements made diving back into the franchise a struggle.

Before the English dub release, I invested approximately 60 hours into Like a Dragon Gaiden. This involved immersing myself in the side stories and conquering the Coliseum challenges. Clocking in at about 25 hours for the campaign, this chapter breathed new life into the series for me, sparking a revived interest in its future.

Identifying precisely what captivated me in this instalment remains elusive. Perhaps the intense combat, the immersive exploration of Dōtonbori as a virtual tourist, or simply the game’s concise duration drew me in.

Resetting for the Future 

This article comes to fruition in response to the recent release of the 2023 gaming roundups by major gaming platforms. In reflection, I’ve reached the conclusion that, in many aspects, I’ve fallen short as a gamer over the past year. Whether attributed to the challenges of life, the advancing age (I’m 35!), or the possibility that gaming as an industry is losing its novelty – the reasons are elusive.

What I am sure of is that, over the past year, my gaming landscape has been dominated by an excess of Fortnite. It’s a realization that prompts me to contemplate the broader context of my gaming experiences and consider the evolving dynamics of the gaming world.

We are stepping into an exhilarating era with upcoming instalments of the Like a Dragon franchise and FINAL FANTASY VII: Rebirth. Anticipation is high, and expectations are soaring as we look forward to what promises to be a thrilling year for gaming – It has to be.