Greetings and salutations, dear reader! The question “what do you want for Christmas?” is probably one of the hardest questions for an adult to answer. Its right up there next to “what do you wanna eat for dinner?” or “is Santa real?” For gamers on the other hand, this question is slightly easier to answer. There’s always going to be a plethora of cool games you’ve yet play, and all you gotta do is ask for Santa to deliver you one this Christmas (only if you’ve been a good boy or girl this year).

The sheer scope of video games available out there can make choosing a very difficult task. If you’re a little unsure what to get for this Christmas, well I’m here to help ya. I’ve compiled a short list of recently released titles this holiday season for a wide range of consoles.

1. God of War Ragnorok (PlayStation)

One of 2022’s most anticipated game, God of War Ragnorok, the sequel to Santa Monica Studio’s 2018 masterpiece that was God of War. Building upon an already existing foundation but to further improved upon it. Everything from the game’s brutal combat to its gripping story and characters is worthy of immense praise. God of War Ragnorok is a good example of video games be a great from of storytelling, if not better, than all other forms of screen media.

The one major drawback as to why you probably haven’t picked up this game yet: is the hefty next-gen price tag of $70usd… Fear not for ‘tis the season after all, and games do go on sales (even AAA ones), and there’s bound to be a relative willing buy one for you. If not, why not make the game a joint present with yourself and that significant other. And if you’re going all the way, the game is currently bundled with PlayStation 5 consoles, so it’s like killing two birds with one stone sorta thing.

2. Evil West (PC, PlayStaion, Xbox)

Evil West by Flying Hog Studios is the opposite of God War Ragnorok, and I mean this in the most positive way possible. A game which you play as a cowboy-vampire hunter set to the backdrop of the wild west, wielding steampunk inspired weaponry to defeat your enemies. Evil West is a linear 8 to 12-hour campaign spread across 16 different missions that all follow the same format. With each level having a clear start and finished with collectables sprinkled each level.

This action adventure game may not have the same grandiose open world or complex combat mechanics- what it does have however is a fun experience that respects your time. Sometimes you just wanna play something for a short time and not be bombarded with a plethora of quests or side missions. Evil West is a game akin game found in the early to late 2000s.

3. Bayonetta 3 (Ninted Switch)

The long-awaited threequel to Bayonetta 1 and 2, Platinum Games’ Bayonetta 3 a game of visual extremes. Fighting a horde of enemies in spectacular fashion, gracefully dodging blows to slow down time, and summoning demonic kaijus to devastate your foes. Much like its predecessors, Bayonetta 3’s core gameplay doesn’t change all that much, so it’ll definitely please fans of the hack & slash genre like the Devil May Cry series.

While the plot in the Bayonetta games have never been a real draw for most gamers, but ntroduction of the multiverse in 3’s story mixes things up a bit and major revelation of the previous two-games. The parallel world-spanning adventure is a solid concept, but left rather predictable to any whose watched any superhero movies the past few years. But as I’ve said before, the gameplay is what matters here, and it delivers.

4. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion (PlayStation 5)

Final Fantasy 7 fans rejoice for this PSP (PlayStation Portable) classic is getting the FF7 Remake treatment and is a must for any fan of the franchise. While FF7 Reunion is not as an ambitious remake as 2020’s FF7 Remake, instead this game is combination of remake and remaster- a charming reimagining that confidently portrays Crisis Core on modern hardware.

5. Callisto Protocol (PC, PlayStation, Xbox)

From the developers of the Dead Space games, comes the Callisto Protocol- a spiritual success to the space-survival-horror game. From the minimalistic HUD such as the implant on the back of our protagonists’ neck that indicates health, to stomping on creates and corpses to uncover resources, to a glove that gives you telekinesis powers. Hell- they even included a mysterious cult into the story just for good measure. And yes, comparisons are avoidable here as to any who have played the Dead Space games will find the Callisto Protocols rather predictable, will sure to scare you nonetheless.

One noticeable deviation that Callisto Protocols makes from the Dead Space games is the emphasis on melee combat, with weapon ammunition being scare in the early levels. As you progress further into the game, your arsenal and upgrades will increase of course, but melee combat and stealth remain best option. While many reviewers out there have criticized the game for its lack of exploration and liner gameplay, the Callisto Protocols delivers with its stunning visuals, sound design, and tension.

6. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet (Nintendo Switch)

After almost 3 decades of linear exploration, Game Freak’s latest Pokemon titles: Scarlet and Violet, finally allows you freely explore the map and tackle any challenge as you see fit- even making trainer battles optional now. While previous games like Sword and Shield, and Legends: Arceus had large open spaces for you to move about freely, but never to the extent as Scarlet and Violet.

Since this is Pokemon’s first true open world game, it does have its shortcomings as well. For instance, the game doesn’t have level scaling leaving underleveled players at a disadvantage. To mitigate this, Game Freak have implemented a few quality of life improvements like an auto-battle function, team exp-share. While this may leave some old school players bored from the lack of challenge, it is a great entry point for newcomers.

7. Persona 5 Royal (PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch)

This past summer, Sega made an unexpected announcement: Persona’s 3, 4, and 5 are finally being ported to other systems, finally free of PlayStation. A combination of turn-based rpg and social simulator, the first of these re-releases is the popular Persona 5, and not only that, it is the Royal Edition. The version of the game adds an extra campaign and a new playable character after beating the main game, as well as previously released dlcs.

For anyone new to the world of Persona 5, in quick summary: you play a teenage boy who is falsely accused of a crime and ends up with a criminal record. You befriend other teens who have been screwed over by evil adults, discover the power make those evil adults repent and confess their crimes (by fighting monsters in their brain) and set about trying to save the world.

8. Marvel’s Midnight Sun (PC, PlayStation, Xbox)

Comic book superheroes and video games are very common pairings, and Marvel’s Midnight Sun is no different. What sets this game apart however is the full-on supernatural theme compared to most superhero-based games. Taking inspiration from Marvel’s more obscure Midnight Sons comic from the 1990s, and centers on the corrupt witch Lilith returning from the dead. The game features an impressive roster of heroes: like the Avengers such as Captain America, Iron Man, and Captain Marvel; X-Men like Wolverine and Magic, to more supernatural like Ghost Rider and Blade.

With developers Firaxis Games, Midnight Suns takes a que from the dev’s previous work, the strategy game XCOM. Combat is solely turn-based and attacks are executed by drawing a random assortment cards from your deck. The mechanics are simple enough to pick up but will prove a challenge to master effectively. The second element to Midnight Suns game play is the social aspect (kinda like ones seen in persona games) to raise their stats. Give this game a try if you’re looking for something new.

Well, dear reader, dear gamer, here are just some of my personal recommendations of games to get this holiday. I know this list is nothing really comprehensive, but I assure you, I’ve played and bought these games, and they’re pretty fun. Regardless if whichever you pick or find something else, the one receiving the gift will enjoy it (probably). So, we’re just two weeks away from 2023, I guess I’ll be seeing in the new year!

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