2023 rekindled my love for RPGs, if only I had the time...

2023 rekindled my love for RPGs, if only I had the time...
Image via Larian

Written by 

Dani Cross

Last updated 

25th Dec 2023 14:30

If any genre had an amazing 2023, it's the role-playing game. And it's not just Baldur's Gate 3 - a wide selection of top-quality RPG titles came out across the year. For me, this was the year that rekindled my love for the genre.

So it's a shame I haven't had the time to finish most of them. RPGs can be notoriously long, with sprawling storylines taking place across gigantic worlds. A single act of Baldur's Gate 3 is longer than most video games (and probably better too). I wouldn't want to remove anything from that experience, but in a year as packed as 2023, it's difficult to actually complete a lot of these huge games before the next big release comes out.

Respect of time

Super Mario RPG is a great example of an RPG that respects your time. It's only around 10-15 hours for a full playthrough, and it doesn't require much grinding or force you to sit through endless cutscenes. It's straight to the point, comical, and satisfying.

Octopath Traveler 2, on the other hand, is an epic adventure with eight separate storylines and a whole endgame section that I never found the time to experience. It's a tough sell when there are so many other great RPGs on the market - I finished the stories I was most interested in and moved on to the next game on my list.

A story from Octopath Traveler 2
Click to enlarge
Image via Square Enix

That's not to say Octopath is a bad game. I actually loved it - it's a big improvement over the first game narratively, the soundtrack absolutely slaps and the combat is as flashy and fun as ever. I just wish it was a bit more succinct.

Fire Emblem Engage is another great example of what I'm talking about. The gameplay in Engage was very enjoyable, but at a certain point the story starts to drag and the missions start to feel drawn-out. RPGs need to introduce new mechanics, enemies or story elements to keep you hooked throughout their long runtimes, and sometimes they fall short. Sea of Stars had me hooked too, but before long my attention was grabbed by other titles.

Fishing in Fire Emblem Engage.
Click to enlarge
Image via Nintendo

Maybe this isn't even a game issue. It could easily be me and my eagerness to try other new games when they come out, inevitably leaving some behind in the process. This year has been busier than most, and it's even my first as a full-time writer. I've been jumping at the chance to review new games and covered plenty of guides for them too, which leaves me with less time for these immense RPGs.

I want to finish them, but it's easy to be distracted. It also means I haven't started games I'm eager to revisit. I'd love to give Cyberpunk another shot, but I simply don't know where to fit it into my schedule. I tried replaying some old Pokemon games on the DS, but I didn't come close to finishing any before I was pulled away by another big release.

Things aren't slowing down

2024 doesn't seem to be slowing down. There's already a bevvy of titles on the horizon, games I'll probably have to skip initially. I need some time to catch up on all these amazing games I never had a chance to complete after all.

But just because I haven't had the chance to finish all the RPGs I played this year doesn't mean I can't appreciate them. Many of them are my favourite games of the year, like the incredible Baldur's Gate 3. The freedom you have to carve out your adventure is unbelievable, and every character or story moment is compelling and expertly written.

My party in Baldur's Gate 3.
Click to enlarge
Image via Larian

The retro aesthetic of Sea of Stars is joyous, but the gameplay is where it truly shines. Bouncing Moonerangs between enemies and racking up combos never gets old, and it has the same charm as some of my favourite RPGs, namely the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series. Like Sea of Stars, Super Mario RPG has engaging, inventive combat, which is always important for a genre littered with random encounters and turn-based battles. 

These games, and many others, made 2023 a brilliant year for RPGs. Even if your taste is completely different to mine, there are RPGs of all kinds to get stuck into. I just wish I had the time to see everything they had to offer.

I'm fully on board with the genre again, and it's all because of the amazing games that came out this year. So for now, it's time to finally finish Act 3 of Baldur's Gate before the next big adventure comes out. Hopefully, I'll be able to find another 1000 hours for all the RPGs coming out next year.

Dani is a Guides Writer for GGRecon. She graduated from university with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, then worked as a freelance writer before joining the GGRecon team as a full-time writer in 2023. In her opinion, the best game of all time is Elden Ring – but her favourite is Halo: Reach, a game that created lifelong friendships and somehow started her down the path to a career in media. She’s also way too invested in Pokemon cards, and a big fan of guinea pigs, cats and other cute creatures.

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