Quick! Get these last-minute gifts for the gamer in your life
2023 was an absolute unit of a year for gaming. No one could possibly have played all the awesome titles that came out across platforms. I certainly didn’t. But that also means that you have options for grabbing a last-minute gift for that gamer in your life! I’ve gathered a few of the best titles that happen to be the type someone might have put off while playing the latest Final Fantasy or Call of Duty.
I’ve also tried to select games that are multi-platform, other than Mario of course, so make sure you know what your giftee is playing on and make the appropriate selection.
If they’re a nerd or want to be: Baldur’s Gate 3
If your gamer is the type who carries dice everywhere, plays a complex card or tabletop game or makes jokes about “crit fails,” get them Baldur’s Gate 3 if they don’t already have it. Now available on PC, Xbox and PlayStation, this most epic of RPGs is garnering award after award and is even better now than it was when it got released. There’s a good chance they already have it, since it’s been out for a while, but a lot of people have also been waiting for it to go on sale, which it now has. Their hesitation is your gift.
If they like a challenge: Lies of P
If your gamer talks about how much they love difficult games or that there’s too much hand-holding in games today, get them Lies of P. You wouldn’t expect a Pinocchio-themed game to be one of the best Souls-likes (as imitators of the Dark Souls type are called) in years, but somehow that’s exactly what happened. This game has a dark, original story and setting, as well as a long, satisfying campaign with lots of secrets, weapons, obscure gameplay elements and, of course, unbelievably hard bosses. You might want to buy a spare controller in case they tear theirs in half.
If they are over 35: Super Mario RPG
If your gamer is a nostalgic one (as those of us “of an age” often are), get them Nintendo’s latest nostalgia bait, the remake of Super Mario RPG. More of a remaster of the beloved Super Nintendo game, this remake has the same story and gameplay elements but updates the graphics and handling for the modern era. It’s another one many will have held off on buying due to the amount of great games right now, but they’ll be happy to receive it.
If they are over 35 and talk about anime: Star Ocean The Second Story R
This is also a nostalgia kick, but it’s for people who don’t mind their media to be a little on the anime side (or don’t have a Switch). Star Ocean 2 was one of the biggest and best of the 16-bit era and has received a masterful remake that uses a stunning “2D-3D” art style. Like Super Mario RPG, some people feel a little weird paying full price for an old game, but getting it as a gift lets them dive in without a care. You don’t really have to be over 35 to enjoy these games, but it will probably help. (PC, PlayStation, Xbox)
If they have a friend they play with a lot: Remnant II
Does your gamer have a buddy they reliably play with? Get them Remnant II. One of the surprise hits of the year, Remnant II is a fantasy/sci-fi shooter that’s built for cooperative play from the ground up. The environments and enemies are really imaginative and strange, the gameplay is tough, variable and fair, and every playthrough is slightly different due to procedural generation. If you want to go all-out, get a two-pack on whatever platform they play on.
If they love original, artsy things: Jusant
If your gamer is always talking about indie games and movies, and seems to value originality over other aspects, get them Jusant. This absolutely gorgeous and totally original game came out rather quietly, possibly due to people not knowing what to make of it. You’re an unnamed protagonist climbing — handhold by handhold, with ropes and all — a seemingly endless stone tower studded with the remains of a civilization, which you learn about as you explore. It’s gorgeous and totally its own thing, plus it’s pretty fun to play.
If they played Stardew Valley for 700 hours: Roots of Pacha or Moonstone Island
Like many who played it, I’ve searched exhaustively for a game that comes even close to the bar set by Stardew Valley in the “life sim” space, and the closest I’ve come is Roots of Pacha. This brand-new game is set in the Stone Age, and you’re essentially a young cave person helping their tribe discover everything from crop improvement to animal husbandry to almond milk. It’s charming, plenty big and very peaceful. It also has multiplayer built in if you like that.
Alternatively, check out Moonstone Island, which combines the town and farming sim part of Stardew with exploration and Pokémon-like combat — with a deck-building component and procedural generation! It’s a lot of trends at once, sure, but it all fits really well together and is delightful start to finish. Great deal for the money.
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