The best video games of September 2023: Starfield, Cyberpunk and more

If you had any doubts before, it’s now clear that the flurry of fall video game releases is finally here. September 2023 is full of highly acclaimed and long-awaited games — it’s almost impossible to keep up with them all. The momentum isn’t slowing as we head into the busy months of October and November. That’s bad news for your stash, but at least there’s no shortage of good games to follow.

From expansive RPGs to experimental indies, there are plenty of high-quality games this month spanning a variety of genres. To help you sort through the multitude of titles, here are the seven that stood out to us this month. I suggest you check out at least a few of these while you still have time because we’re heading into a very busy month of October.

star field

Bethesda Game Studios

One of the biggest game launches of the year happened this month with the release of Bethesda Games Studios’ star field. There was a lot of pressure and anticipation leading up to the game’s release, and even though some aspects of the game didn’t live up to expectations, it’s still a giant sci-fi RPG that’s worth checking out. If you’re a fan of Bethesda’s previous RPGs, you’ll find a lot to like star field.

“The studio always dreams big, creating big titles like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that pushed the boundaries of what was possible in video games,” wrote Giovanni Colantonio in a three and a half star game review. “star field takes that philosophy to an even more awe-inspiring scale, seeking to capture the infinite wonders of our universe in an artistic medium often defined by its technical limitations. This is an incredible feat, but Bethesda faces the same harsh reality that the intrepid explorers faced in Constellation: those who search for the farthest stars will forever drift in space.”

star field will keep you busy for a while too, as even a simple storyline campaign will likely take you well over 20 hours, and the clever changes to the New Game Plus mode will keep you coming back. A Bethesda RPG of this scope only happens once a generation, so you’ll definitely want to check it out. star field is now available for PC and Xbox Series X/S and, like all first-party Microsoft games, is on Xbox Game Pass.

Mortal Kombat 1

Smoke and Cyrax in Mortal Kombat 1
WB Games

After street fighter 6, the golden age of fighting games continues this month with the launch Mortal Kombat 1. The latest from NetherRealm Studios is still as violent and grisly as you’d expect, but has deepened its mechanics with a Kameo system that gives everyone a support character to help out during the fight. While the story and Invasion modes are a bit shallow, at its core it’s still a very entertaining fighting game.

Mortal Kombat 1 successfully soft-rebooted the series with smooth gameplay that will keep fighting game fans interested for hours,” I wrote in three and a half stars. Mortal Kombat 1 review. “Invasion’s shortcomings and its core story mean that it isn’t the best choice for those who like to play and explore single-player modes in fighting games alone. However, for those who care deeply about the action-packed stories and tight gameplay of their fighters, no other genre matches the feeling of watching a fighter be torn to shreds with a truly grisly death.”

This is the best Mortal Kombat game ever played, so those looking for a slower-paced, gruesome fighter that’s fun to watch should have a great time. Mortal Kombat 1 is now available for PC, PS5, Xbox Series avoid the Switch version).

Sennaar’s singing

A character overlooks the desert in Chants of Sennaar.
Interactive Focus

One of the best games of the year was released this month, but it might not be the game you imagined. Sennaar Chanting, from Rundisc and Focus Entertainment, utilizes language as the main narrative and core of gameplay. As players encounter a language that feels foreign to them, they will be able to solve more puzzles and learn more about the world in which the language exists.

Sennaar’s singing is an ingenious puzzle adventure about the nuances and complexities of communication,” says Giovanni Colantonio in his book four and a half star reviews from Sennaar’s singing. “Players not only uncover the meaning behind unfamiliar letters, but also learn how language can be used to celebrate what we value in our culture… or suppress cultures we disagree with.”

Making translation a central part of gameplay is a bold choice, but developer Rundisc brings the idea to life while showing that communication can transcend culture and language. It also makes you feel pretty clever when figuring out the meaning of a Rune, so it’s a title that puzzle game fans should try when they get the chance. Sennaar’s singing now available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Freedom

Promotional art for Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty.
Red CD Project

Cyberpunk 2077 is a pretty well-known game at the moment, but CD Projekt Red finally brought an expansion to the game and released update 2.0 to overhaul many of the systems that initially frustrated players. Even though we are almost three years away Cyberpunk 2077’s an early release at this point, the game finally seems to be in a state that both developers and players can be happy about after its launch. Ghost Freedom.

Ghost Freedom, along with the 2.0 update, represents the culmination of CD Projekt Red’s efforts to rehabilitate the game’s troubled launch. “After not playing since the early months before any patches, entering this expansion finally feels like the game has reached the state it should be,” wrote Jesse Lennox in a four-star review on Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Freedom. “It might take almost three years, but Cyberpunk 2077 now is the game that should have happened all along.”

In terms of new content Ghost Freedom itself actually presents a lot of new story content (starring Idris Elba) and a completely new Night City area called Dogtown. If you like the world of Cyberpunk, then the expansion has a lot of benefits for you too. Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Freedom now available for the PC, PS5, and Xbox Series

El Paso, Elsewhere

James dives at the meatpacking level in El Paso, elsewhere.
Strange Scaffolding

If you like new indie games inspired by classic video games, you should give it a try El Paso, Elsewhere. On the surface, it’s a tense and fun third-person shooter that takes a lot of inspiration from the first two Max Payne games. However, if you look deeper, you’ll find that developer Strange Scaffold uses the throwback premise to tell a deeply personal story about relationship trauma. There’s a reason this game is about vampires.

El Paso, Elsewhere the game’s early 2000s aesthetic is crucial to maintaining the oddball shooter’s otherworldly feel as the player descends deeper into its main character’s true and personal hell,” my four stars El Paso, Elsewhere review states. “What starts as a supernatural, neo-noir homage to greats like Max Payne and Blade over time turns into an intimate tale of abuse. Clearly a very personal project from Xalavier Nelson Jr. from Strange Scaffold, tough times El Paso, Elsewhere that’s what makes it a beautiful and must-play indie.”

El Paso, Elsewhere the aesthetics, gameplay, and narrative all work together to amplify the otherworldly feeling while telling an intense story. This is a special indie game that only Strange Scaffold could make, so it’s worth checking out whether it’s the gameplay or the narrative that initially drew you in. El Paso, Elsewhere now available for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. You can also play it if you have an Xbox Game Pass subscription.

P’s lie

Pinocchio in P's Lies
Neowiz

If you’re a fan of Soulslikes, then you should know about the eccentric Pinocchio game starring a Timothée Chalamet-like character. Yes, we know it sounds strange, but P’s lie is a very competent Soulslike that takes the right lessons Transmitted through blood, one of the best FromSoftware games. Some of the boss fights can be annoying, but that’s all part of the fun and charm of the game P’s lie.

“With its interesting setting and atmosphere, as well as a unique gameplay system that twists the Soulslike formula, P’s lie is one of the most impressive genres to date,” by George Yang three and a half stars P’s lie the review explains. “With some solid imitators in the genre like that Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Code VeinAnd Nioh, Lie P at least it matches its contemporaries.”

This game has such a strange premise that it always felt like a joke to me. The fact that developer Neowiz really does it with such aplomb earns a lot of respect and strong recommendations for those who like games that play like FromSoftware titles. P’s lie now available for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S

Cocoon

Alien structures appear in Cocoon.
Annapurna Interactive / Annapurna Interactive

Pioneered by limbo And In the lead gameplay designer Jeppe Carlsen, Cocoon is a puzzle game about insect-like creatures that explore worlds within worlds. It’s a simple yet unique concept and even intuitive enough to pick up and play, but Carlsen once again shows off his talents with intricately designed puzzles and gameplay that feels grand yet intimate at the same time.

“Cocoon was an extraordinary experience that I had never played before,” wrote Giovanni Colantonio in a four and a half star review of Cocoon. “It’s a wonderful celebration of the tiny creatures on our planet that operate with machine-like efficiency. Elegantly designed, if sometimes routine, the puzzles transported me into the mind of an insect, an unknowable, instinctive intelligence that I longed to understand.”

However, few games from former developer Playdead can live up to the studio’s pedigree Cocoon is the closest to those developers. Such are those who worship him limbo And In the need to try this game before the year gets more crowded with great video games. Cocoon now available for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. It’s also available as part of Xbox Game Pass.

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