When the video game industry looks back at May 2023, this month will most likely be remembered for just two things: the failure of Redfall and the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Redfall will serve as a cautionary tale about the industry embracing its worst impulses, while Tears of the Kingdom will likely be considered one of the best games ever made and serve as a North Star for video game design for the next several years, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild before it. Still, this month was about a lot more than that.
With this roundup, we hope to paint a broader picture of all the great games that were released over the course of May 2023; no single game can paint the picture of the entire industry. From Tears of the Kingdom to some of PlayStation VR2’s best releases to beautiful indies to a game Nintendo temporarily blocked from release over a TikTok joke, these are the best games of May 2023.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
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To get the obvious out of the way: yeah, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a really good game. We already considered Breath of the Wild to be one of the best games ever made, but Tears of the Kingdom‘s evolution of that game’s open world and mechanics make Breath of the Wild feel like a beta. Not only do players have two new open worlds to explore with the Sky Islands and underground Depths, but systems like Fuse and Ultrahand ask players to embrace their creativity to solve puzzles and traverse around the open world.
“So long as you’re willing to meticulously survey Hyrule like an archaeologist digging for fossils, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is an engrossing sequel full of mysteries to solve and experiments to conduct,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in his four-and-a-half star review of the game. “It’s a digital laboratory that I imagine will still be producing unbelievable discoveries 10 years from now.”
Details big and small impress across Tears of the Kingdomand at times it feels like this is the closest we’ll get to the ultimate video game experience. Its complex controls do take a bit of getting used to, but those who get the hang of it will be able to enjoy one of the most impressive games ever made. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is available now for Nintendo Switch, and this is the last time I’m going to mention it in this article. On to some other fantastic games!
In a year that’s proving to be relatively light in terms of compelling PlayStation console exclusives, Humanity stands out as both a fantastic puzzle game and a solid PSVR2 title. Players control a little Shiba Inu dog as it directs massive hordes of humans to end portals across intricately crafted levels. It’s a Tetris Effect-like sensory experience that’s part Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and part Lemmings. Those feelings are all only heightened if you decide to try the game in VR, which we highly recommend if you’re desperate to play something new on your PSVR2 headset.
“Whether you enjoy complex puzzle games or just want a good excuse to use your PSVR2, Humanity is one of 2023’s few ‘can’t miss’ games,” Colantonio wrote in an article about how Humanity is the best PS5 game he’s played. “What starts as a straightforward game about directing rows of marching people quickly turns into an insightful, challenging, and at times dark meditation on humanity’s ability to evolve and organize.”
Puzzle games are already immensely satisfying, and that feeling is only multiplied when what you’re manipulating are massive hordes of people. It’s a thoughtful, visually striking experience that will stick with you after you play it, especially if you did so in VR, so any PlayStation owner owes it to themselves to check it out. Humanity is available now for PC, PS4, and PS5. If you’re subscribed to PlayStation Plus Extra or Premium, it’s also included in that subscription service’s game catalog.
Another Fisherman’s Tale
If you’re looking for more good new games to play on your PlayStation VR2, Vertigo Games released Another Fisherman’s Tale. While this is technically a sequel, you don’t need to have played its 2019 predecessor in order to enjoy it. The main gameplay conceit is that players can detach their limbs and control them, whether they’re attached to their bodies or not. This opens up quite a few interesting puzzle situations, whether that’s simply detaching your hand to have it go pull a lever in another room or controlling your hands and body independently of your head in order to put your body back together. All of this is tied into a pretty heartfelt story about a daughter recounting her father’s tall tales.
After a couple of months with VR, I’ve found that my favorite experiences are ones that allow me to be a bit more of a manipulator and observer, like Humanityrather than intense shooters. Another Fisherman’s Tale finds the sweet spot between both styles of VR games. It allows players to do the cliché first-person actions we’ve all come to expect from VR games, but occasionally forces them to do so from a mind-bending perspective. It’s a fairly short game that shouldn’t take you more than three to five hours, but it’s worth checking out for those who are looking for new and experimental VR games. Another Fisherman’s Tale is available now for PSVR2 and Meta Quest 2.
Convergence: A League of Legends Story
In April, The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story showed just how great Riot Forge’s indie League of Legends spinoffs could be. And Convergence: A League of Legends Story continues that trend. This game follows Ekko, the time-manipulating Champion you might recognize from the Netflix show Arcane. Convergence gives us a deeper look into the character and his life in Zaun as he fights to protect the people of Zaun’s Undercity. It once again shows the deep story potential of Runeterra, even with characters that are already featured in other expanded world media. What’ll keep you coming back to Convergencethough, is its smooth gameplay and animation.
Convergence is a fairly standard combat-focused Metroidvania, but it has one key hook: Ekko’s Zero Drive gives him the ability to rewind time. As such, if you get hit or miss a jump, you can rewind a certain number of times and get another shot at whatever you were trying to do. Some of Convergence’s fights can get quite tough too, so this is a mechanic that you’ll be using a lot. Essentially, if you’ve ever wondered how Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time would work in a game like Super Metroid or Hollow Knight, Convergence gives you just that. And considering The Sands of Time’s remake is in development hell, this is probably the closest you’ll get to that experience for quite a while.
On top of all that, this game features silky smooth animation that makes the whole game a joy to look at. With The Mageseeker and ConvergenceRiot Forge has proven that fans of indies and the world of Runeterra shouldn’t ignore its games. Convergence: A League of Legends Story is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch.
At a glance, Sunshine Shuffle looks like a cutesy Texas Hold ’em sim featuring cute animals, but the more you play, the more it becomes clear that there’s a deeper meaning to all of it. Turns out, this is also a visual novel about a group of animals playing poker after a heist went wrong, and you’re there to learn more about what actually happened. It’s 2023’s Poker Night at the Inventorywith an even weirder premise and better writing.
Colantonio calls Sunshine Shuffle a “smart, hilarious, and at times strangely emotional little indie gem,” which uses its solid Texas Hold ‘Em gameplay “to tell a funny, but poignant story about risk-taking.” Sunshine Shuffle is available now for PC. It’s available for Nintendo Switch too, but Nintendo of America initially blocked its release due to a misunderstanding over whether or not the game actually promotes gambling to children. It’s a wild story, and you should check out developer Xalavier Nelson Jr. explaining how it all went down to Digital Trends.
Planet of Lana
Those who are fans of sci-fi and Playdead’s classic 2D puzzle platformers Limbo and Inside will want to check out Planet of Lana. This game follows the titular Lana as she works with a cat-like creature to save her sisters after giant mechanical aliens start to take over her planet. An adventure with simple puzzle platformer obstacles and some beautiful, colorful, and chilling sci-fi vistas ensues.
“Planet of Lana doesn’t bring much new to the table thematically, but it doesn’t really need to,” Colantonio said in his three-and-a-half star Planet of Lana review. “Instead, its focus is on capturing a feeling — and that’s something it nails. Like the Studio Ghibli films that look to have inspired its art and tone, it finds peace within an apocalyptic premise. Its focus is on immersing players in a relaxing world that’s worth saving rather than wallowing in dystopian cynicism. It makes for a hopeful little adventure that always has its heart in the right place.”
Planet of Lana hits all of the right notes if you’re looking for an atmospheric 2D platformer experience. The game is available now for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and is part of Xbox Game Pass.
Star Trek: Resurgence
Dramatic Labs is one of the developers that popped up in the wake of Telltale Games’ closure, and its first game is based on Star Trek. Titled Star Trek: Resurgencethis game follows the crew of the USS Resolute as they initially try to settle a conflict between two feuding alien races. The narrative and dialogue-focused Telltale formula is an excellent fit for the ethical and philosophical subject matter that Star Trek is at its best dealing with, and the result is something that may be the most faithful Star Trek game of all time.
“Rather than creating a big action game filled with blaster battles, Dramatic Labs delivers an engrossing game about diplomacy,” Colantonio said of Star Trek: Resurgence in an article about some great sci-fi games that released recently. “Impactful, difficult dialogue choices show the challenges of keeping peace, both in international affairs and personal ones. That makes for a gripping sci-fi story that feels correctly aligned with the cerebral nature of Star Trek.”
This game has flown under the radar a bit because it was released during such a crowded period, but it goes to show just how solid of a month May 2023 was for gaming. Star Trek: Resurgence is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.