October 2023 was one of the best months for video games in a long time. From the indie to the AAA space, there was a spectacular new game coming out every few days. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and Super Mario Bros. Wonder arrived and improved upon their predecessors in almost every way, while indies like Jusant and Wargroove 2 hit the scene with fresh ideas. While the phrase “there’s something for everyone” is played out in the game industry, that truly felt like it was the case this month.
Having so much to play can also be overwhelming, though. Players are left to sift through which titles are worth checking out, which are fine, and which should be passed up entirely. To help you out on that search, I’ve rounded up our seven favorite games released during the blockbuster gaming month of October 2023.
Nintendo dropped a brand new 2D Mario game this month, and it’s outstanding. Super Mario Bros. Wonder lives up to its namesake, eliciting a sense of wonder with its expertly designed levels that reward players who poke around in them and also feature Wonder Effects that can drastically change what players are doing on the stage. From singing Piranha Plants to a top-down perspective shift, Super Mario Bros. Wonder stays consistently fresh and creative the whole way through.
“With its wealth of unpredictable levels, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the series’ best 2D entry since its SNES days,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in a four-star review of Super Mario Bros. Wonder. “It’s still the same familiar platformer, but one that’s been given a new lease on life thanks to a fantastic new art style, delightfully absurd transformations, and flexible difficulty. It’s the closest I’ve gotten to recapturing those magic moments with the original platformers, even if there’s still room for Mario to grow into his new overalls.”
Personally, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is my favorite game of the year and one that I know will appeal to gamers of all ages and skill levels. If you only play one game on this list, I urge you to make it this one. Super Mario Bros. Wonder is available now exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
Insomniac Games followed up Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales with a sequel that ups the ante in almost every way. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 looks excellent, taking full advantage of the PS5, and plays just as well thanks to a multitude of improvements that make its combat, swinging around the city, side-quests, and more even better than ever before. And I haven’t even mentioned the story, which gives the Symbiote and Vemon center stage.
“Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 throws a lot of ideas up in the air, but juggles them with ease in a grander sequel that’s purposefully overwhelming when it needs to be while delivering a deceptively sleek adventure (even a 100% completion will take no more than 35 hours),” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in a four-and-a-half Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 review. “It can make me feel the enormous weight of Spider-Man’s burden while still getting me excited about unlocking tons of customizable super suits that let me live out my own superhero fantasy.”
The original Marvel’s Spider-Man was already so good that it was tough to know whether or not Insomniac Games could top itself. The developer did, though, by telling an enthralling, emotional, and inclusive story that also provides a kind of superhero experience that’s only possible in the medium of video games. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is available exclusively on
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 wasn’t the only fantastic sequel to drop this month. Remedy Entertainment’s long-awaited Alan Wake 2 also launched this October, and despite some technical issues, it was still a frightening survival horror game. Remedy continued to do what it does best — mind-bending narratives that aren’t afraid to get high-concept and meta — while also delivering engrossing survival horror gameplay inspired by the recent Resident Evil remakes.
“Save for a few odd gameplay quirks and frustrating tech issues at launch, Alan Wake 2 is Remedy Interactive’s most confident, fully realized creative vision to date,” Giovanni Colantonio’s four-star Alan Wake 2 review states. “It fully pays off the long-simmering potential of the studio’s interconnected universe to create a densely detailed, cerebral experience about the nature of horror – both in the nightmares we face in everyday life and the scary stories we create to cope with them.”
The less you know about Alan Wake 2 going into it, the more surprising (and frightening) it will be, so go check it out now if you love spooky games with compelling stories. The only thing to keep in mind is that you might run into some glitches and other technical problems on lower-end PC consoles, so it might be best to pick this one up on consoles if you don’t have a high-end PC. Alan Wake 2 is available now for PC,
A fantastic indie sequel also emerged as a hidden gem early on in October. Wargroove 2 is a turn-based strategy game in a series inspired by Nintendo’s Advance Wars franchise. Wargroove 2 stands out in the wake of Advance Wars’ remake thanks to a compelling variety of fantasy stories, tactics that encourage deeper thought into the positioning of units, and a roguelike mode that adds lots of replay value.
“The fact that Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp launched earlier this year seemed like it could reduce the necessity of a game like Wargroove 2, but that’s not the case,” I wrote when explaining how Wargroove 2 was one of October’s hidden gems. “Wargroove 2 is a deep and engaging strategy game that emphasizes terrain and the tactical relationship between standard units and powerful Commander ones, which are active on the field in this game.”
October 2023 was a surprisingly solid month for strategy games in general, with The Lamplighters League, Total War: Pharaoh, Star Trek: Infinite, Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless, and Front Mission 2: Remake all also coming out this month. If you’re a strategy game fan with time to only check out one of them, I’d recommend going with Wargroove 2. Chucklefish’s latest is available now for PC and Nintendo Switch.
As this list is otherwise made up of direct sequels or the latest entries in long-running franchises, Jusant is a welcome standout as an original idea. It’s a meditative, dialogue-free game from developer Don’t Nod about climbing a gigantic tower in a world where water no longer appears to exist. At times melancholic and relaxing at others, Jusant emphasizes climbing by making players grip holds with the triggers and place pitons as they climb so they can swing around, wall run, or climb further without the danger of falling very far.
“Despite the drastic differences from Don’t Nod’s past work, Jusant is one of the studio’s best games since it left the Life is Strange series behind,” I wrote in a four-star review of the game. “Its trigger-based control scheme makes climbing and traversal fun, and the constant introduction of new ideas and twists across its five chapters overshadow any jank that emerges in a five-hour playthrough.”
I used my review playthrough of Jusant throughout October for some respite between these other big titles, so it’s a good title to keep in your backlog for when you want something calming to play. Don’t be fooled by its chill vibe: It tells a sobering story about humanity’s relationship with nature that will probably only get more relevant with time. Jusant is available now for PC,
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged is a follow-up to a surprise arcade racer hit from 2021 featuring the titular toy cars. Like all the other sequels on this list, it improves upon what came before in all the right ways. That mainly happens through new mechanics tied to boosts like jumping and strafing, as well as the new Waypoint mode that lets players race around large environments, like a dinosaur museum.
“Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 isn’t the most complex or challenging racer. It has a nonsensical story mode and some gambling-like presentation when unlocking cars that I don’t love in a game made for kids. Still, a few key additions go a long way toward making a faster, more fun racing game for kids (and kids at heart),” I wrote in a three-and-a-half star review of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged.
If you’re looking for a fun game for kids that isn’t Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Milestone’s newest racing game is a solid pick. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged is available now for PC, PS4,
If simulation racing games are more your speed, then October 2023 still has you covered. Forza Motorsport is the long-awaited
“Forza Motorsport cements itself as one of the best-looking and most approachable racing simulators to date,” I wrote in my four-star review of the game. “It can sometimes feel too clinical, but the core driving is perfectly fine-tuned. It’s a tremendous first-party visual showpiece that demonstrates the power of the
It’s a must-play for any
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