Games Played in 2023

Below are the games in 2023 that I spent more than a few hours playing, along with my brief thoughts. This is roughly chronological from start to end of 2023, although some games I’d often return to here and there.

Grand Theft Auto IV

There’s something I love about GTA4. It’s probably down to the detail and tone, along with the harsh & unique physics. That said I’ve never completed the main game before having played it on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. This year I wanted to return to the game to finally close this one off.

The game was famously badly optimized on PC, and it remains so, although running via DXVK did wonders to smoothen things out. It’s still a fantastic game and I’m happy I’ve now experienced it to the end.

Some letdowns though, including a bug at the last bit of the very last mission meaning I could never actually complete it, which meant watching the end via YouTube. Other letdowns include the forced Rockstar launcher (and account) usage, and removed music due to licensing. Sad to see it get worse with time in this way.

Bounty of One

A simple and addictive auto-shooter with the twist of only shooting when standing still. Fun to play in spots of time, where you don’t want to get into anything more complex.

Transport Fever 2

This seemed to focus on two things I love about simulation & city builders: Transport and Logistics. It does this very well, with the ability to evolve over time, providing era-relevant vehicles. Really well made, visually pleasing, and I’ve had a lot of fun in this puzzle solving & optimizing transport networks. Would recommend if you’re the type of person that enjoys solving traffic in games like cities skylines.

Hogwarts Legacy

As a big fan of Harry Potter, I found this game incredible. It felt like a true 16-year-later follow-up to the open-Hogwarts “Order of the Phoenix” game, with its amazing recreation of Hogwarts and the surrounding area. There’s a wonderful amount of detail here to really flesh out the world. The combat, missions and story were all really well done in a way I wasn’t expecting that added a lot of depth, plus the whole game was absolutely beautiful.

If I had to nitpick though, the whole extra south-east part of the map felt a bit “filler”, whereas more could have been done in Hogwarts itself, but it wasn’t a major issue.

Would definitely recommend to any Harry Potter fan, this really got me excited for new games again. Excited to see where they take this in the future.

Euro Truck Simulator 2

Came back to this when feeling ill, as a relaxing game to play without having to use my mind too much. Still great at what it’s named to focus on, Simulating trucks in Europe, and awesome to see the developers actively supporting & updating the game over a decade on.

Slime Rancher

A very cute game farm-like game, with ever increasing depth as you go on. Seemed like a wonderful little game but I personally now find these kinds of games hard to keep focused on without more of a solid narrative to drive my interest, otherwise it just feels like I’m filling time.

Spider Man Remastered

After spending a lot of time enjoying Spider Man 2 back in the day on GameCube, I was late to playing this one, but glad I did since it was exactly what I’d hope for as a modern follow up to that old classic. The feeling of web-swinging was done just right, with plenty of speed, control, and momentum. Otherwise the story, combat, graphics and side-missions were all well-executed to provide a well-round spidey experience for hours. I’m looking forward to getting back to this for the extra content and storylines.

Horizon Zero Dawn

This is my second attempt at playing Horizon, now on PC after an original attempt years ago on PS4. I want to love this game and explore the story, but something about this makes me unable to continue, even after forcing myself to invest about 10 hours initially. I can’t quite understand what it is that puts me off this game, but something about the visuals and game-play just doesn’t work well for me. I find that frustrating, since I can respect that it’s technically a great game.


I was pretty excited to play this, after avoiding pretty much all media on it, other than verifying it’s in a technical competent state to play. Initial impressions were really quite good. The core gun-play and visuals were much better than I was expecting from a Bethesda game. I had some really good “organic” moments too, like coming across a space casino and raiding it in an awesome zero-G battle.

This broke down a little when I came across the same exact outpost dungeon withing a couple of hours of game-play (even when not specifically exploring “random” external locations).

But then the game just became a massive chore. I really didn’t enjoy playing it anymore since there was rarely a fun moment. Most of the time was spent walking between key locations, waiting for unskippable animations & loading screens, managing the very limited inventory, and using the menu screen to manage quick-travel between between locations. Additionally, character development felt off with so much locked behind upgrades, with progression increasingly so slow. When I did finally get a moment between chore work to take part in a fun gun fight, the levelling was always wildly off, with most enemies being seriously weak but then sometimes one or two enemies being way higher level than me.

It’s a massive shame as there’s so much potential here but it’s like they completely forgot about making sure it’s fun. In the end I had to stop playing since I could spend an hour in game with only 5 minutes of enjoyment.

Slay the Spire

I’m not great at card-games, or anything where you have to think more than one step ahead, but Slay the Spire is so well done that my incompetence in that area doesn’t really matter and I can still feel powerful & good at the game here and there. I started playing this last year on game pass, but bought it on PC to continue playing this year. Will just be one of those games in the continued background rotation to jump into every so often.

Cities Skylines

I usually go back to this a couple of times a year. Most recently I revisited after the Cities Skylines 2 release, which I thought I’d avoid for a while due to its sketchy release state.

The original is still a top-tier game. I love building up a city to the point of over-crowded traffic, then attempting to fix that with public transport and pedestrian/cycle paths. There’s something so satisfying about seeing loads of little sim people use those shortcut pathways.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Playing as of writing. Another game I’m re-attempting after previously starting a couple of years ago. Can’t remember why I stopped playing before, might have been a limited-time Game pass game, but really enjoying my time so far on the PC version. Of course, as a Rockstar game the level of detail, visuals, story, voice-acting, world-building, and polish is incredible to form such a well rounded experience. It’s one of those games where I’m just often in awe of how technically impressive is is, on so many levels. All the mechanics and parts of the game fit together so ridiculously well. The only downside is a couple of game-stopping freezes, leading to maybe about 15 minutes in replaying missions to catch up.