June 2023 was a month of old gaming classics successfully resurfacing. Thanks to the flurry of gaming showcases, we got promising looks at new games in stories franchises like Super Mario Bros., Fable, Prince of Persia, Forza Motorsport, and Sonic the Hedgehog. More importantly, this was reflected in some of the month’s biggest launches. Franchises like Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, and Diablo, which don’t receive new mainline games that often, all got new entries that lived up to expectations.
Even the cult classic Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective got a remaster. This was actually one of the strongest months for AAA games in a while, although there were definitely still some creative indies in the mix, creating a month that was quite exciting from all corners of the gaming industry. In particular, the following games stood out as the best games of the month.
Capcom released a brand new Street Fighter at the start of the month, and it fixed almost every issue that plagued its predecessor. The core fighting gameplay felt as amazing to play as ever, bolstered by a flashy new Drive Gauge system. Those who enjoy the series for its hardcore, competitive elements will like that, as well as its multiplayer Battle Hub mode. That said, Street Fighter 6 is also the friendliest fighting game ever for newcomers to the genre. New modern controls, as well as a meaty RPG World Tour mode that teaches the ins and outs of many of the game’s characters and mechanics, means there’s a ton of enjoyment to be had no matter one’s skill level.
“From its control options to World Tour’s RPG setup, Street Fighter 6 ensures that it can be a fighting game for pretty much any type of player,” I wrote in a four-and-a-half star review of Street Fighter 6. “You’re likely to find your physical, cultural, or gaming background represented within this game somewhere and have all of the tools at your disposal to go from flashy amateur play to seasoned pro, all in one of the best-looking games of this console generation. Street Fighter 6 is the ultimate fighting game and should be the new gold standard for the genre.”
Street Fighter 2 kicked off the original fighting game boom, and Street Fighter 4 brought the fighting game genre back from irrelevancy. There seems to be some magic surrounding even numbered Street Fighter titles, as Street Fighter 6 feels like the most accessible fighting game yet, and one that everyone will be comparing new games in the genre to for years to come. It’s available now for PC, PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.
With all the controversies and workplace issues that Blizzard Entertainment has faced over the past several years and all the development struggles this game faced, it seemed unlikely that Diablo IV would live up to expectations. Surprisingly, Diablo IV, the latest entry in a series where mainline entries have become a once-a-decade occurrence, is a whole lot of fun. It brings the series back to its roots with a darker tone and aesthetic while also keeping the combat and looting grind as enthralling as ever.
“Diablo 4 strides out of the gate with an impressive blend of engrossing storytelling, engaging gameplay, and top-tier audio-visual design,” Gabriel Moss wrote in a four-star review of Diablo IV. “As a result, it stands as a groundbreaking addition to the ARPG genre, despite my hovering concerns about its compulsory persistent multiplayer and potential future microtransactions.”
While its always-online nature and some of the issues that come with it are frustrating, Diablo IV finally gave Blizzard Entertainment the win it has desperately been looking for since the launch of Overwatch in 2016. Now, if the company can keep up that momentum, keep releasing good games, and fix its workplace issues as the idea of getting acquired by Microsoft looms over the company remains to be seen. Diablo IV is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
In a sea of storied franchises making their grand returns, Dordogne manages to stand out because of its distinct visual style. Developed by UN JE NE SAIS QUOI and published by Focus Entertainment, this is an adventure game with a striking watercolor art style that helps present an emotional story about recovering and reflecting on childhood memories. It’s a short experience, but one that will stick with you long after the credits roll.
“Dordogne is as effective as it is because of that handcrafted touch,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote of Dordogne. “I can feel the human hands working behind the scenes, something a lot of games tend to hide in the name of immersion. And I’m invited to put my own stamp on my journey through the journal pages I assemble and the memories that I have a role in shaping with my own fingers. It all makes the mechanical nature of video games feel more human, as I’m physically connected to Mimi during the short adventure.”
Those who enjoy a gaming experience that emphasizes a distinct art style or an emotional narrative need to check Dordogne out. It’s the sleeper hit of the month. Dordogne is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. It’s also available as part of the Xbox Game Pass subscription.
First released in Japan for Nintendo DS in 2010, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective got a second shot at life this month with an HD remaster. This re-release proved that the quirky adventure game, which was made by Ace Attorney series creator Shu Takumi, stands the test of time and feels as distinct in 2023 as it did in 2010. There isn’t another game that has players hopping around from object to object to save people from being murdered like Ghost Trick does, and even if there was, none could match the charm of Ghost Trick’s writing and visuals.
“I can’t say I’ve played anything like Ghost Trick, even over a decade after its initial release,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote after playing through the remaster. “The newly remastered version stands as a lasting testament to Nintendo’s now waning era of hardware gimmickry, a time that pushed developers to produce a wealth of innovative and out-there titles that we rarely see from major publishers anymore.”
While the core adventure is mostly untouched outside of the visual upgrade, there are a couple of things that returning players might be able to appreciate. That includes the ability to switch between the original and remastered soundtracks, the artwork and music Collection library, and the Ghost Puzzle mode that features sliding puzzles based on some of the game’s most iconic scenes. This new version of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is available now for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Even Crash Bandicoot got a brand new game this month, although it’s not quite like anything else in the series. Titled Crash Team Rumble, it’s a competitive multiplayer game inspired by MOBA games, where the main goal is for players to collect Wumpa fruit and return it to their team’s goal. While this is an idea that doesn’t seem like it should work, it’s actually a ton of fun once you get the chance to pick up a controller and play it.
“After just one full multiplayer match, I was entirely smitten,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in a GDC preview of Crash Team Rumble. “If you’ve already written off Crash Team Rumble as a lame spinoff, you’re going to want to give it a second chance, lest you miss out on an incredibly creative multiplayer invention that’s an absolute blast.
As a premium $30 release and not a free-to-play title, I understand the hesitancy some Crash Bandicoot fans have toward giving the game a shot. Still, I’ve had a ton of fun with the game, and it looks like Toys for Bob and Activision have a healthy post-launch live service plan for the players that decide to stick with the game. Crash Team Rumble is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
An indie game not attached to a big IP or notable studio, Brotato is still one of the most entertaining games to come out this month. It builds on the formula of Vampire Survivors, players use a variety of auto-firing weapons to fight off hordes of aliens. It taps into the simple fun that the power trip in games like this and Vampire Survivors can provide and does so while incorporating more roguelike elements into the experience.
“While I started hearing rumblings about the game earlier this year, I’d originally written it off as an irreverent copycat. I was dead wrong,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote of the game. “Brotato is a silly, but smart evolution of the Vampire Survivors formula that leaves even more room for wild character builds. It’s quickly becoming an addiction that is going to occupy a lot of my free time this summer.”
If you’ve played enough Vampire Survivors to the point where it’s getting a bit stale, Brotato is the next game you should check out. Brotato is available now for PC and is in development for Nintendo Switch.
It’s rare that the 16th entry in any series could feel as different and fresh as Final Fantasy XVI does compare to its predecessors. This fantasy RPG pulls from the likes of Game of Thrones to create a darker, more intense narrative, with combat that feels much closer to something like Devil May Cry 5 or God of War: Ragnarok than Final Fantasy VII. Essistenally, it’s a Final Fantasy character action RPG with some stunning boss battles that take full advantage of the PS5’s hardware.
“Final Fantasy XVI delivers on the “action” side of its action-RPG formula. A fierce and fast-paced combat system makes for the series’ most exciting stab at real-time swordplay yet, while its blockbuster Eikon fights rank among some of gaming’s most awe-inspiring battles,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in his review of the game.
Now, Digital Trends didn’t like Final Fantasy XVI as much as some other websites, giving it three stars. We criticized its “shallow RPG hooks” and “dull sidequests” so steer clear of this game if you’re expecting an RPG with the depth of something like Final Fantasy VII Remake or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Still, even with those problems, it’s a really enjoyable, beautiful action RPG hybrid that continues Final Fantasy’s long legacy of drastically changing things up with each new mainline entry. Final Fantasy XVI is available exclusively on PS5.