Best video games of 2023: Venba to Super Mario Bros. Wonder

We still too often talk about video games as forms of escapism, often not taken as seriously as other types of media. However, in 2023, I found that the most mature and thought-provoking narratives were found in interactive video games. Some of my favorites this year were “Venba” and “Super Mario Bros. Wonder,” both of which showcase the beauty of interactivity and the potential of video gaming as a storytelling medium.

“Venba” tells the multigenerational story of an Indian family navigating life in North America, while “Super Mario Bros. Wonder” takes a familiar character and puts him in a surreal, metaphorical world. These games demonstrate the capacity for storytelling and emotional depth in video gaming. They both utilize the environment to unravel their narratives, inviting players to engage and explore the game world.

Other standout interactive experiences in 2023 include “Thirsty Suitors,” a game about healing relationships, and “Oxenfree II,” which delves into existential, midlife themes. Additionally, “Slay the Princess” and “Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical” challenge traditional narrative structures and utilize gameplay to explore mature themes and characters.

“Alan Wake II” is a psychological horror game that experiments with narrative flexibility, constantly challenging players to reimagine the story. The game shifts viewpoints, alternates between animated and cinematic worlds, and explores deeply personal fears. Similarly, “Thirsty Suitors” and “Venba” use creativity and gameplay to explore heartfelt and colorful narratives about relationships and communication.

In conclusion, video games are increasingly serving as platforms for mature, meaningful storytelling, inviting players to engage with the narratives and characters in a unique, interactive way.

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