Taking the place of E3 this year, Summer Game Fest 2023 managed to be a spectacle that offered a thrilling showcase of innovation, creativity, and immersive storytelling from across the games industry. Now a month later, some final announcements and previews have been revealed, like Armored Core 6 and Blue Protocol, so we thought now would be a great time to sum up our experience at the event!
This showcase and industry-focused event served as a celebration that unboxed a trove of new and exciting games that teased what is coming soon to consoles and PCs everywhere. From next-gen RPGs to adrenaline-pumping action adventures, our gaming horizon was redefined. With CGMagazine on the ground at Play Days, we go over the best of the best from the event, meticulously curated for the gaming enthusiast in you.
We will delve into diverse worlds, challenging combat systems, innovative mechanics, and gripping narratives that made a mark in this festival. With some massive titles on display, it was hard to break it down, but we tried our best. Whether you’re an ardent gamer or a casual player, here’s your chance to get the inside scoop on the best titles shown off at Summer Game Fest 2023.
Mortal Kombat 1 – NetherRealm Studios
At Summer Game Fest, the iconic fighting franchise Mortal Kombat returned with a brutal reboot simply titled Mortal Kombat 1. With our hands-on gameplay sessions, we got to experience stunning photorealistic graphics and smooth, hard-hitting combat animations that push Mortal Kombat’s signature gore to new levels. Exciting additions like Kameo tag-team fighters and an increased focus on aerial combos introduce strategic depth while retaining the franchise’s instantly recognizable feel.
A limited character roster of series mainstays like Sub-Zero, Liu Kang, and Kitana showcased the potential of augmenting move sets and abilities in this reimagined narrative universe. While new mechanics could have a steep learning curve for veterans, Mortal Kombat 1 lays the groundwork for a refreshed, modernized fighting experience that innovates while honouring heritage. From heart-pounding music to spine-crunching sound design, this brutal reboot bleeds next-gen polish and imagination. Mortal Kombat 1 brings the bloodbath into a new generation with style, promising to be a must-play fighter when it releases later this year.
Alan Wake 2 – Remedy Entertainment
At Summer Game Fest, journalists got an exciting first look at Alan Wake 2, the long-awaited sequel to Remedy Entertainment’s 2010 cult classic. Set 13 years after the original, Alan Wake 2 introduces a new dual-protagonist system with Alan Wake and FBI agent Saga Anderson investigating disturbing events in the Pacific Northwest. During a gameplay demo, Saga explored an eerie forest searching for clues about a mysterious cult, showcasing new investigative mechanics like the Mind Place hub. Alan Wake 2 boasts stunning visuals that maximize next-gen hardware to enhance the atmospheric horror.
Combat retains the strategic use of light to defeat enemies but with more survival horror influences. While combat has evolved, the storytelling and psychological tension that defined the original remains. With clever links to Remedy’s Control shared universe, Alan Wake 2 continues the complex narrative fans love while introducing new characters and mechanics. Promising an unforgettable horror adventure that respects franchise roots while breaking new ground, Alan Wake 2 releases October 2023 for Xbox and PC. Remedy’s dedication has paid off, with a sequel that was absolutely worth the 13-year wait.
Thirsty Suitors – Annapurna Interactive
Following Jala on her journey back to her hometown for her sister’s wedding. Drenched in South Asian culture, it portrays it in a way that also makes it accessible to those of us who did not grow up around the culture. So far, what I experienced in the story was enough intrigue and hilariously written dialogue that I can’t wait to see how far Thirsy Suitors goes.
A unique stylized game even under the indie umbrella. It was immediately apparent that Thirsty Suitors is a passion project filled to the brim with love. With a combat system based around conversation and visually stunning attacks with a certain flair thrown on every action. Even the first encounter with Jalas exes had so much character it’ll be interesting to see how they manage to top it.
Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis – Square Enix
Final Fantasy 7 is the game that Square Enix just can’t stop readapting and changing for good reason. It is an incredible story, but in Ever Crisis, they look to expand it further by adding in Dirge of Cerberus and Advent Children content to flesh the story out even more.
Final Fantasy 7 Ever Crisis aims to be the most complete and accessible way for fans, both new and returning to the series, to be able to relive the story in a new and exciting way. While I’ve only played the bombing mission, it was changed up enough that I could see myself sinking hours back into the world of Final Fantasy 7.
Fae Farm – Pheonix Labs
Fae Farm was on a short list of truly adorable games playable in LA this year, making it the perfect addition to the Best of Summer Game Fest list. Not only is it shaping up to be one of the most intricate farming simulators out there, but the team at Pheonix Labs paid special attention to creating an incredibly inclusive cozy game. Whether you’re looking for representation during your character creation or in the NPCs themselves, Fae Farm will see that you are reflected in the game somewhere.
With its adorable style, Fae Farm will easily win over anyone in love with farming sims. It has farming, raising animals, combat—if you want it—and, of course, friendships and romances. The game releases on September 8th on Nintendo Switch and PC, and a fair few reviewers here at CGMagazine can’t wait to get their hands on it!
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty – CD Projekt Red
So, technically Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty is not a full release, but it was playable at Summer Game Fest and looks too good to pass up! Cyberpunk 2077 has always been full of hype, even after it bombed so tremendously on its release. Though the game has come a very long way since then, they are doubling down with the Phantom Liberty DLC, so much so that I have halted all progress in the base Cyberpunk 2077 so I can start fresh when the DLC releases.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty is bringing some mechanics that may sound familiar to GTA players, like driving and wanted levels. There is a whole new section of content featuring the magnificent Idris Elba, and they didn’t stop there. This DLC is pretty much a complete overhaul of the original game, where you will be able to re-spend your skill points in an all-new skill tree design. Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty releases on September 26, 2023, and we suggest you dive in!
The Best of Summer Game Fest Honourable Mentions
CGM had three writers on the ground at Summer Game Fest, so this list was extensive! With different preferences and playstyles, a variety of games really stood out to our team. Here are a few honourable mentions for the best of Summer Game Fest!
- Disney Illusion Island: The perfect family-oriented game with incredible accessibility options making it playable for all ages and skill levels
- Forza Motorsport: A beautiful “CaRPG” many years in the making. Racing sims will be spoiled for choice when they get their hands on this!
- Stampede: Racing Royale: Fall Guys meets Mario Kart in this sure-to-go-viral competitive racing game.
- Foamstars: Yes, we know, Splatoon. But it doesn’t change how fun it was to rip around and blast your enemies in this fast-paced shooter.
- Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon: While only a theatre demo during Play Days, FromSoftware gave a good taste of what players could expect. With fast-paced action and stunning visuals, it was hard not to include Armored Core VI on the list somewhere.
- Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown: With Ubisoft revisiting Prince of Persia after a 13-year hiatus, fusing nostalgia and innovation in a bold shift to the Metroidvania genre, how could we not at least mention Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown on our list?
The event has ended and our best of Summer Game Fest list has come to a close, but fear not, because there is still plenty more gaming to come this year!