By Dominique Weldon
Many consider video games to be trivial in comparison to literature; however, games have many artistic qualities that make them a valuable storytelling medium deserving of your attention.
While video games are often dismissed for their violence and perceived frivolousness, it is important to remember that games are a means of storytelling, no different than novels, film, and television. In fact, video games have many advantages over other storytelling mediums, one of those advantages being that games allow the player to become the hero. The protagonist’s actions are directly controlled by the player, and having a large impact on the narrative deepens our emotional connection to the world of the story. Therefore, anyone who is interested in storytelling in all its varying forms should experience the many narratives that gaming has to offer.
In fact, now is the perfect time to start enjoying video games. During October, several new and compelling games were released, games that both new and experienced players can enjoy. Here are several games you may want to add to your video game library to start your own gaming journey!
Detective Pikachu Returns
Nintendo Switch — October 6, 2023
Since its initial release in 1996, Pokémon has become a household name. People both young and old across the globe love the Pokémon series, whether because of its games, trading cards, anime series, or toys. The game’s wide appeal makes sense. After all, for there are currently over 1,000 Pokémon, and each one has a unique appearance, ranging from cute to fearsome; therefore, this variety means there is a perfect Pokémon for everyone. Nevertheless, when asked to name one’s favorite Pokémon, many people, myself included, often answer with Pikachu. After all, who doesn’t love Pikachu’s rounded cheeks, adorable smile, and lightening-rod tail? Asides from being cute, Pikachu’s electric typing and shocking speed makes it a reliable teammate. Therefore, it’s not a surprise to see Pikachu staring in several Pokémon games, and Detective Pikachu Returns is the latest entry to provide Pikachu leading role.
While most know Pokémon as a game series in which trainers collect every regional Pokémon and defeat gym leaders to become a champion, Detective Pikachu Returns varies up the familiar gameplay mechanic. A sequel to Detective Pikachu, a Nintendo 3DS game, Detective Pikachu Returns is a Nintendo Switch game that focuses on our main characters Detective Pikachu and his partner Tim Goodman. In the town of Ryme City, the pair must work together to solve cases involving both Pokémon and Tim’s missing father, Harry, meaning the story is not only narrative-driven but also contains a mystery to solve. For anyone who is a fan of the Pokémon series and crime novels, this cozy game may be a good fit for you.
PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC — October 17, 2023
Out of all the games on this list, Sonic Superstars is the title I’m most excited for. Like Pokémon, Sonic the Hedgehog has become another world-renown series. The first game was released in 1991, and the original trilogy is highly regarded within the video game community. Despite many newer Sonic games receiving criticism for their poor controls, choppy camera, and rushed production, the series is still beloved by many, due to the games’ quick-paced energy and charming characters. Therefore, Sonic Superstars return to a classic playstyle may be exactly what the series needs.
Sonic Superstars centers on Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy as they travel through Northstar Islands to prevent Dr. Eggman and other advisories from turning the local animals into mechanized creatures known as Badniks. While Sonic Superstars is a 2D game, meaning the characters move in a linear path to progress, the world is brought to life through the use of stunning 3D graphics, blending both old and new visuals styles. What may be the most intriguing aspect of this game is the addition of local co-op. Players can team up with three friends to save the Northstar Islands together. That makes this game the perfect title for anyone who is interested in adventuring with their friends and family.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
PlayStation 5 — October 20
Since his 1962 comic debut, Spider-Man has always been a favorite superhero among Marvel fans, and with every passing year, his popularity continues to grow. After all, Hollywood has frequently featured him on the big screen since the turn of the twenty-first century. From the Avengers films, Homecoming and its sequels, and the Spider-Verse series, there is no escaping Peter Parker and Miles Morales. Therefore, it is not a surprise that the comic series not only has successful films but video games as well.
While Spider-Man has starred in video games for decades, one of the most popular Spider-Man games ever released is Marvel’s Spider-Man. Launched in 2018 for the PlayStation 4, Marvel’s Spider-Man allows players to explore the streets of New York City as Spider-Man to keep the citizens safe. Due to the popularity of the franchise and the time put into the game’s development, Marvel’s Spider-Man was a huge success. Therefore, it makes sense that a Miles Morales spin-off was later released, and now we are getting a true sequel. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 takes the exploration and action from the first game and pushes those aspects even further. What really makes this game stand out is that players can control both Peter Parker and Miles Morales by seamlessly changing between the two characters when the situation calls for it, which is often in mid-battle. Therefore, the larger cast, expanded map, and new spider powers will allow players to truly become the heroes New York needs. This game is a must-play for anyone who is interested in high-action, cinematic storytelling.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder
Nintendo Switch — October 20
It is nearly impossible to discuss video games without bringing up Mario and Luigi. In fact, since the 1983 arcade release of Mario Bros., the Super Mario Bros. series can easily be considered the most popular video game franchise of all time. For decades Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, and friends have entered the hearts of gamers both inside and outside of Japan, and there are many reasons why this series has thrived for over forty years, and will surely flourish in the future. From the unique characters, the innovative world of the Mushroom Kingdom, and unique platforming and level design, the series provides players with a true sense of adventure. The time and attention put into these games’ development truly makes them shine. Whenever a new Mario game is announced, fans know to expect a polished and fun experience, which is why many fans are eager to play the latest game in the series, Super Mario Bros. Wonder.
In Super Mario Bros. Wonder, a 2D platforming game, Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, and friends must stop Bowser from taking over the Flower Kingdom. While there are several side scrolling Mario games, this game stands out among the rest. That’s due to the addition of new powerups. Mario games are known for their varying powerups that can increase Mario’s size or even provide him with a limited burst of invincibility. In Super Mario Bros. Wonder, players can now transform into a powerful elephant, gain bubble shooting skills, and obtain drilling abilities. These new powerups completely change the mechanics of the familiar gameplay, providing players with an experience that differs from previous Mario games. What really excites me about this game is the inclusion of the Wonder Flower, a brand-new game mechanic that changes the landscape and physics of the world. By touching a Wonder Flower, a surprise awaits the player, including the possibility of warp pipes moving on their own, the camera perspective changing, and characters even transforming into Goombas. Overall, the game introduces the players to never-ending surprises, and that makes this game truly a wonder.
Alan Wake 2
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC — October 27
As it is currently fall, this list wouldn’t be complete without a horror game. While many individuals view horror as an unsettling genre to avoid, there are plenty who are captivated by dark plot points and sinister settings. As someone who grew up in a horror-loving family, I have experience with eerie storytelling and can confidently say that Alan Wake is not a game to miss. Those of you who enjoy haunting storylines, may want to check out Alan Wake series.
Alan Wake 2 is a sequel to Alan Wake, which was released in 2010 for Xbox 360 and is considered a cult classic. The original Alan Wake centers on its titular protagonist, who is a writer suffering from writer’s block. To spark his creativity, he and his wife Alice travel to Bright Falls, Washington for a relaxing vacation. However, his vacation quickly takes a turn for the worst when Alice disappears. Therefore, Alan must uncover the mystery of his wife’s disappearance and the mysterious darkness settling in Bright Falls. If the first game sounds intriguing, then Alan Wake 2 may also be of interest. While I will not spoil the events of the first game, I will say that Alan Wake 2 continues to center on those strange forces affecting Alan’s life and introduces a new playable character, Saga Anderson, which changes up the game’s formula. I highly recommend this series to anyone who appreciates narratives about writers and the genre of psychological horror.
In the end, video games are continuing to grow in popularity. As more games are created and published every year, now is the perfect time to enjoy the stories these games have to offer. By giving this beloved medium a try, you will open yourself up to a narrative world of possibilities, forever changing the way you view storytelling.
About the Writer:
Dominique Weldon is a Black biracial writer based in Indiana, IN. She is a first-generation college graduate of the University of Iowa and received her MFA in Fiction from Butler University. Her work appears in Lover’s Eye Press and DarkWinter Literary Magazine. Currently, she reads fiction for Split Lip Magazine and writes for Erato Magazine. Find her online at www.dominiquekweldon.com