Redbrick Gaming’s Writers and Editor come together to explore the games that they have played in 2023

The Sims – Beth Chase

I’ve been playing the sims recently. Let me introduce you to my family…

Sul Sul! I’m Celia. I’m a vampire-astronaut and my wife is a mermaid-police officer. We have two children, our son is a werewolf and our daughter is currently training to be a spell caster. We live on a beach and have two horses, both award winning racers of course. We also have an ice skating rink in the back garden and a sail-boat in the garage.  

My wife fancies herself as a bit of a botanist! She grew a healthy Cowplant over the summer but we did receive a bit of backlash after it ate one of the neighbours. Luckily, his daughter seduced the grim reaper and managed to spare his life. 

We’ve recently had to renovate the kitchen, it burnt down after my daughter made herself a bowl of cereal. She really needs to improve her cooking skills.

Sadly, my father passed away last year. He drowned after someone removed the ladders from the pool. Not long after that, my mother laughed herself to death. It was a hard year for us all. 

Oh, I’d better be off, my friend was stargazing and has been abducted by aliens again.

Zero Escape – Ash Cole

I rapidly became immersed with the trilogy’s eclectic cast of characters

I entered the Zero Escape trilogy’s first outing, 999, with tame expectations. By the time I’d reached the sequels Virtue’s Last Reward and Zero Time Dilemma, I’d realised I had accidentally stumbled into a truly bizarre downward spiral, and I was hooked.

Each entry pits the player in the centre of a Saw-esque life-or-death game, wherein they must solve numerous escape room puzzles to find a way out. But this is only scratching the surface – I rapidly became immersed with the trilogy’s eclectic cast of characters and increasingly insane thriller/sci-fi narrative. 

This year I spent over 70 hours barrelling along the dizzying rollercoaster that is Zero Escape. I can’t say that I didn’t occasionally bruise myself on this wild ride, knocked around by the alarming frequency of twists, turns and shark-jumping, but I proudly recommend taking the plunge to anyone who enjoys a good brain teaser, or indeed having their mind blown.

Gardening Mama – Jess Parker

A lesser-known spinoff to Cooking Mama (2006), Gardening Mama (2009) always managed to fill the horticultural hole in my eight-year-old heart, and still does to this day.

Gardening Mama is an entirely rewarding play

Returning to the game on my battered Nintendo DS Lite this year was a complete accident, having found the game card while on a manic blitz of my bedroom, but it was an entirely welcome discovery. Gardening Mama presents to players a series of simulation-based mini-games based upon multiple stages of gardening, revolving around the player building their own idyllic garden. From tending to saplings to reaping your produce, Gardening Mama is an entirely rewarding play, and has become a core comfort game to me this year.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet – Louis Wright

Pokemon has, for near enough 15 years now, been a constant in my life. Between the creature collecting, character design, and ease of accessibility it is a series I have been passionate about for a long time. Pokemon Scarlet (2022) is no different.

This world is the game’s strongest point

Not my first foray discussing the game, my 4.5k word review had to be split into 2 articles, I still find more to talk about even a year on from its release. Running around the region of Paldea on your mount (Koraidon for me) has always been a blast, but the additions of Kitakami and soon enough the Blueberry Academy in the DLC expand the possibilities. 

This world is the game’s strongest point, especially in bringing the Pokemon to life. Seeing wild Pokemon live the world provides a level of immersion that the series has not seen before but, fingers crossed, will see again.

Baldur’s Gate 3 – Weronika Białek

BG3 takes the name “open-world RPG” very seriously

Larian Studio’s Baldur’s Gate 3 has taken over the gaming community by storm. From the day news surfaced that you can make love to a bear, social media has been filled with clips of all the possibilities of this astounding RPG (most of which don’t involve beastiality). It has already won many awards at the Golden Joysticks and is bound to win even more in the upcoming Game Awards. 

Having played 70 hours of BG3, I can confidently say that it is not only one of the best games of 2023, but also one of the best games of all time. BG3 takes the name “open-world RPG” very seriously, you can just about do anything you like in any order you like. Besides this, the storytelling is beautiful, the characters uniquely intriguing and the voice acting perhaps the best in gaming ever.

Risk of Rain 2 – Tom Green

Endlessly entertaining, Risk compels you to play just one more game…

Bar Hades, Risk of Rain 2 might be the zenith of small-studio indie roguelikes.

The game catapults the ‘survivors’ through extra-terrestrial terrain to face legions of mutants, sentient slime, and ancient demons while accumulating a menagerie of otherworldly apparel. Risk of Rain shines because of its breakneck speed; as every minute passes the difficulty ramps up as you scramble to amass outlandish power-ups, charge the teleporter, and make it to the next stage. Its low-res aesthetic is genuinely charming, and what it lacks in polygons, it makes up for in pure, unalloyed alien destruction. Endlessly entertaining, Risk compels you to play just one more game…

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