10 video video games we’re enthusiastic about in 2023

Once I consider the video games I‘m most curious about in 2023, one word comes to mind: story. Well, maybe two words: story and characters.

The modern video game era has been a showcase for interactive narratives, and it seems like the rest of the entertainment industry is starting to pay attention. Two of the most acclaimed animated series over the last year were ones inspired by “League of Legends” and “Cyberpunk 2077,” and in a few weeks, HBO will launch an anticipated show based on “The Last of Us.”

But these examples just reinforce something game players have long known: some of the best stories in recent years are found in interactive media.

More so than competition, challenges or even puzzle solving, it’s the online game tales I’m most trying ahead to in 2023. Listed here are some on my quick listing.

A scene from “Colossal Cave 3D Adventure,” the new game from Roberta and Ken Williams.

(Cygnus Entertainment)

Colossal Cave
Release date: Jan. 19
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PC, Meta Quest 2

To gamers of a certain age and disposition, the following words are as sacred as any Shakespeare: “You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully.” That is the opening text of William Crowther’s “Colossal Cave Adventure,” credited as one of the earliest computer games and one that helped ignite the adventure game movement of the 1980s.

And now that game is being reimagined by a pair of legends. Roberta and Ken Williams were the game duo behind Sierra On-Line, home to Roberta’s “King’s Quest” series, a landmark in interactive storytelling. “Colossal Cave” is Roberta’s first game in more than two decades, and the fantasy tale promises a number of her hallmarks — head-scratching puzzles, humor and vividly drawn fantastical characters.

Explore and contemplate a world in "Season: A Letter to the Future."

Explore and contemplate a world in “Season: A Letter to the Future.”

(Scavengers)

Season: A Letter to the Future
Release date: Jan. 31
Platform: PlayStation consoles, PC

A love letter to travel, solitude, meeting strangers, taking photographs and writing, “Season: A Letter to the Future” looks to be a thoughtful road trip adventure, one in which we bike ride through a vast changing world. Patient and meditative, “Season” purports to be a game of collecting memories, those of the people we meet and even the nature that surrounds us. One of the joys of games is the ability to disappear into a world, and the one of “Season” looks familiar, but just off-kilter enough to create space for us to sit, play and contemplate.

"Star Wars Jedi: Survivor" is the sequel to the well-received "Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order."

“Star Wars Jedi: Survivor” is the sequel to the well-received “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.”

(Respawn / Electronic Arts / Lucasfilm)

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Release date: March 17
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, PC

“Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” was a joy. The 2019 game relied heavily on old “Star Wars” standbys — cringe-inducing, hokey dialogue and a Jedi on a journey. And that was more than fine, as this was a “Star Wars” tale more than worth digging into, as we got to know Jedi-on-the-run Cal Kestis (Cameron Monaghan) as he stumbled his way into a host of lesser-explored “Star Wars” mythologies. “Survivor” looks to darken things up a bit — and fine-tune some of the often wonky combat sequences — but if it continues to mix puzzles and the ability to use the Force, expect this to be an action adventure worth taking.

"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" is the sequel to "Breath of the Wild"

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” is the sequel to “Breath of the Wild,” one of the best reviewed games of all time.

(Nintendo)

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Release date: May 12
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Nintendo has kept much of “Tears of the Kingdom” under wraps, but what we’ve seen looks striking.

Early images show our hero Link soaring among the clouds, traversing a kingdom with floating mountains, giving us all new terrain to scale and explore. The “Zelda” lore is a bit convoluted and complex these days, but individual goals of each particular game are always clear. And this sequel to “Breath of the Wild” is so highly anticipated because the latter redefined how we approach open-world games, as it gave us an universe to wander rather than tasks to simply tick off. It was an approach to nonlinear storytelling in which we could go in any direction and missions were largely optional, allowing us to create our own “Zelda” tale.

Get to know a new crew in "Star Trek: Resurgence."

Get to know a new crew in “Star Trek: Resurgence.”

(Dramatic Labs)

Star Trek: Resurgence
Release date: TBA
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, PC

Set shortly after the events of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Resurgence” introduces us to a host of new Starfleet characters as they navigate interstellar diplomacy. Drama can escalate quickly, whether that’s among gossiping crew members or trying to broker negotiations among multiple alien races. The game will follow a familiar formula — a third-person, dialogue-heavy game with light puzzles and multiple conversational branches. And that’s just how I want my “Trek,” as attempts to emphasize action in the video game space have tended to not suit the brand well.

There are some familiar characters — Spock, for instance, has been shown in demos — and the game looks to highlight interpersonal drama. The way we’re perceived by others, including Spock, appears to be key to navigating the world of “Resurgence.”

Explore a vast world of magical insect-like creatures in "Hole Knight: Silksong."

Explore a vast world of magical insect-like creatures in “Hollow Knight: Silksong.”

(Team Cherry)

Hollow Knight: Silksong
Release date: TBA
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac

The long-awaited sequel to the 2017 indie hit “Hollow Knight,” “Silksong” boasts new characters, new locations and a refreshed look. And what a look it is, as the hand-drawn and painterly style makes it look as if we’re exploring a Gothic fairy tale. It’s a world of bugs, but everything in “Silksong” looks a bit magical, from shaman-like slugs to glistening, glowing beehive-inspired fortresses. Like the first, expect a platforming action game with plenty of nooks to explore, towns to uncover and a host of friendly insect-inspired creatures to help us along the way.

"Oxenfree II: Misplaced Indicators" is a dialogue-driven game of mystery and puzzles.

“Oxenfree II: Lost Signals” is a dialogue-driven game of mystery and puzzles.

(Night School Studio / MWM Interactive)

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals
Release date: TBA
Platforms: PlayStation consoles, Nintendo Switch, PC

Local game developer Night School Studio — now a part of the Netflix empire — has focused its efforts on honing conversation in games, creating a relatively realistic dialogue system in which characters speak, interrupt one another and overlap with each other. The result: games that more closely merge the interactive medium with television. Perhaps that’s why Netflix took a shine to the company. The original “Oxenfree” had a mystical, slightly foreboding tone — think “Goonies,” “Stranger Things.” Its sequel promises another set of mysteries to unravel via radio frequency.

"Disney Phantasm Island" looks to feature lots of pleasing, old-school platforming action.

“Disney Illusion Island” looks to feature lots of pleasing, old-school platforming action.

(Dlala Studios / Disney Interactive)

Disney Illusion Island
Release date: TBA
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Once every year or two, I revisit the vintage ’90s Disney game “Castle of Illusion,” still a joyous storybook of a game all these years later. “Disney Illusion Island,” modeled after the latest “Mickey Mouse” shorts, looks to be the unofficial sequel I’ve long wanted. The game is bright, and looks to be full of mysterious libraries, candy-coated worlds and bewildering caverns. What’s more, with the option to play as Mickey and his pals — Minnie, Goofy or Donald — I’m hopeful for the ability to explore different character traits. Nevertheless, I can’t wait for some charming, old-school platforming action.

Get ready for more adorable strategic planning with Nintendo's "Pikmin 4."

Get ready for more adorable strategic planning with Nintendo’s “Pikmin 4.”

(Nintendo)

Pikmin 4
Release date: TBA
Platform: Nintendo Switch

All we’ve seen of “Pikmin 4” is about 30 seconds — so we don’t know much. But those 30 seconds were still pretty, as we saw a lovely, backyard-like nature setting with wooden fences that seem only as tall as the tiny critters of the game’s universe. All that cutesy-ness, though, sometimes makes one forget that “Pikmin” games are full of complex strategy — resource management at its most adorable. More important, anything that comes to fruition under the tutelage of game design master Shigeru Miyamoto, who created “Donkey Kong,” “Super Mario Bros.” and the “Pikmin” franchises and announced the release of “Pikmin 4” — is worth celebrating.

"One other Crab's Treasure" is an motion sport with local weather change on its thoughts.

“Another Crab’s Treasure” is an motion sport with local weather change on its thoughts.

(Aggro Crab)

One other Crab’s Treasure
Launch date: TBA
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Change

Trash shouldn’t look as interesting to play with because it does in “Another Crab’s Treasure,” an motion journey that additionally has some ideas about local weather change. We discover huge underwater vistas as a hermit crab on a quest to get again his shell. Within the meantime, something from previous steel cans to discarded espresso mugs can double as a shell — and a defend. Fight is a central part of “Another Crab’s Treasure,” and the ocean creature foes will encounter look powerful to deal with, however preventing video games with a considerate message are all too uncommon.