Chants of Sennaar

8 Best Games Worth Playing to Welcome December

Here are the 8 best games worth playing to welcome December that you shouldn’t miss.

8 Best Games Worth Playing to Welcome December

We’re nearing the end of what has been undoubtedly one of the most spectacular gaming years in recent memory. So, if you’re hoping to get some gaming in at the end of the week, how can you possible choose among the plethora of titles published this year alone?

That’s why we’re here to assist. As we do every week, we’ve compiled a list of games that have been on our minds and in our consoles that you might want to consider playing this weekend.

1. Chants of Sennaar

8 Best Games Worth Playing to Welcome December - 1

I’m currently racing to complete smaller 2023 games that came highly suggested to me but that I couldn’t fit into my schedule earlier in the year. The top of that list is Chants of Sennaar, and it has not disappointed.

It’s a linguistic puzzle game in which you decipher languages to assist individuals in communicating, also known as “The Tower of Babel: The Game.” Its retina-scorching color palette and understated soundtrack are only set decoration for the extremely intriguing and gratifying gameplay trick of navigating numerous views and the space between them. This is accomplished by encountering alien language and striving to match them with proper thoughts, even when they are challenged.

I’m not usually fond of language problems. They can be wishy-washy and ambiguous. What I appreciate best about Chants of Sennaar so far is that it isn’t a guessing game at all. Instead, it feels precise and methodical, fostering revelation rather than perplexity. Ethan Gach’s

2. Gears of War 3

8 Best Games Worth Playing to Welcome December - 2

There hasn’t been a new mainline Gears of War game since 2019’s Gears 5, therefore I’m hopeful Microsoft will announce a new entry in 2024. And, in my never-ending search for a new Gears of War game, I’ve chosen to divert my attention by replaying all of the previous ones. At this point, I’ve played all of the mainline games at least once, and some of the older ones several times more.

But this time, I’ll be accompanied by my wife. She’s only played the first and second Gears of War games, so this is an entirely new adventure for her. It’s like returning to my childhood home for me. I recall beating these games in co-op with my brother a long time ago.

We finished Gears and Gears 2 over Thanksgiving break and had a terrific time with them. The Xbox 360 titles run better now because to the FPS boost on the newer Xbox systems, but it’s still a shame that all of these earlier Gears games never received full Xbox One or PC versions.

Personally, I’m looking forward to Gears of War 3. Back in the day, it was my favorite and the one I played the most. I’m curious how it will hold up in 2023, and if my wife will be as interested in this entry as I was when it first came out. Gears of War 2 was still a blast to play, so I’m optimistic for Gears of War 3. — Zachary Zwiezen

3. Control

8 Best Games Worth Playing to Welcome December - 3

Control is the third name in the collection of the 8 best games worth playing to welcome December. Few games this year (if not in the last five or ten years) have captivated me as much as Alan Wake II. And as soon as the credits rolled, I knew I wanted to keep riding the high that this universe and developer Remedy’s storytelling gave me.

But Alan Wake II was a little tough on my PC, so I’m thinking a proper return is in order after a significant update, when I can enjoy it with more of the amazing graphics elements turned up to 11. That gives this weekend an excellent opportunity to continue my exploration of Remedy’s 2019 Control, which was definitely one of my favorite games of the decade.

Having never played any of Control’s expansions, I’m looking forward to seeing some new (to me) narrative developments, particularly the material that connects Control more closely with Alan Wake. And, while I like Alan Wake II’s gameplay, the explosive intensity of Control’s frenzied combat takes it to a whole new level of excitement and action, fulfilling that part of my brain that enjoys overstimulation and the joys of witnessing video game physics go utterly wild.

Control is the kind of game that interfaces directly with my brain. It’s absolute, 100 percent immersion for me. The delightful linguistic play at work in the dialogue, use of vivid imagery and symbolism, and a plot whose secrets are always just out of reach yet demand my attention with its compelling mystery, sync with me like little else. Alan Wake II didn’t disappoint in those areas (and in many ways exceeded what I got from Control), but damn if Control doesn’t do a great job of reminding me why I love video games so much. — Claire Jackson

4. Climbey

8 Best Games Worth Playing to Welcome December - 4

I appreciate how virtual reality can make video games more tangible than ever before. Consider the case of Climbey. This game is all about scaling big structures with your hands, arms, and (if you have body trackers) feet. You can also leap like a Brooklyn plumber, but without the use of a button. Instead, you grab the air in front of you with both hands and fiercely fling it downward, hurling yourself upward with the same velocity as the motion. This gratifying, intuitive movement is haptic as well as subtle, providing a very high ceiling for not only mastery but also inadvertent humor.

Climbey, like many of my favorite games, makes moving enjoyable. In fact, the movement is the most enjoyable part. Its arm-swinging walking style is also remarkable. Furthermore, Climbey’s disregard for traditional realism distinguishes it from more staid, boxed-in VR climbing experiences. This is as artificial a game environment as there has ever been, with abstract obstacle layouts restricted only by the authors’ whims. You’ll breeze through the 15 built-in levels in no time, but over 1,000 player-created courses await on Steam Workshop.

The multiplayer is also enjoyable. Offer a friend a helping hand upward, or simply cling to their back while they navigate a difficult area. So far, I’ve had two Climbey sessions with a friend, and it’s been a terrific place to simply hang out and shoot the crap as we engage in the never-ending parade of hand-over-hand climbs, controlled falls, and all-or-nothing leaps. More open-ended, innovative, extremely tactile games like this are needed in VR. Climbey is highly worth the $8 if you have someone to play with, and it may also be if you don’t – Alexandra Hall’s.

You may also like:

5. Warcraft Rumble

8 Best Games Worth Playing to Welcome December - 5

Warcraft Rumble, a cute mobile action-strategy game set within the Warcraft universe, was the best revelation for me at BlizzCon. After dismissing it as a Clash of Clans clone, I can now proudly say that I’m hooked. (On a related Blizzard mobile gaming topic, I’ve returned to Hearthstone after a year off, but that’s a story for another week.)

The minis you collect and fight with are adorable, overflowing with old-school Blizzard charm and aural quality that makes them a delight to own. When I summon a Darkspear Troll, I am greeted with a hearty “Taz’dingo!” You can hear that telltale “swhoosh” effect as my Defias Bandits slide into stealth.

Rend Blackhand, a former World of Warcraft baddie (and terrible Hearthstone card), leads my go-to army. When he’s in play, his passive function reduces the cost of all flying troops. This weekend, I’ll be attempting to restore the Horde’s genuine Warchief to their proper place atop Blackrock.

If you’re not into fliers, Baron Rivendare’s constantly generating skeletons are an excellent leader option, giving you plenty of push power in the combat lanes.

One quibble I have with Rumble is that the upgrade tiers for leveling up your minis and outfitting them with impactful “talents” feel way too steep, going from 3 to 10 to 25. This serves to make the experience feel very grindy in mid- to late-game scenarios, and is something I hope the developers consider flattening out going forward. But overall Rumble’s been a very pleasant surprise in this absurdly stacked year. Now…where the hell is Warcraft IV? — Eric Schulkin

6. The Last Faith

8 Best Games Worth Playing to Welcome December - 6

While folks continue clamoring for a Bloodborne remaster, developer Kumi Souls Games’ The Last Faith might be the closest thing we get to a new Bloodborne outside of the excellent Lies of P. A Soulsvania—Metroidvania and Soulslike—The Last Faith sees you controlling the amnesiac Eryk, who embarks on a quest to uncover his past after emerging from a dungeon prison. The story is fine, but what makes the game compelling is its blend of Metroidvania exploration with Soulslike combat, creating something that’s been dubbed 2D Bloodborne on account of its gothic setting and macabre enemies. There are a handful of weapons, from axes and maces to whips and swords and even guns, but I’ve got my eyes on one specific weapon.

I’m a sucker for katanas, and The Last Faith has two of them you can acquire in the late game. However, relatively early on is a badass-looking scythe that scales with my current build. It’s called the Severance Reaper, and it’s giving Bloodborne’s Burial Blade, my fave weapon in that game. It’s easy to get—found in a chest once you get two movement skills you pick up about a fourth of the way through the campaign—and hits pretty hard. What makes this weapon awesome, though, is its Bloodborne-like moveset.

Like FromSoftware’s gothic RPG, The Last Faith’s Severance Reaper has an alternate attack pattern that breaks the weapon in half, letting you attack with just the blade portion in a similar fashion as the Burial Blade. This flurry of strikes is faster than the base combo and ends with a wind gust that deals extra damage while also, on some occasions, pushing enemies back. It rules, and it must be mine. So, I’m hunting. — Levi Winslow

7. Mediterranea Inferno

8 Best Games Worth Playing to Welcome December - 7

Mediterranea Inferno, an adventure game starring three queer italian twinks, is one of the most immediately compelling games I’ve played in 2023. I’m playing it as part of my indie catch-up marathon I’m working through as we near GOTY talks, and what starts as three friends reconvening after covid lockdown has immediately taken dark turns in its first hour. It has me by the throat.

The game is already exploring the vapid, performative excess of some queer spaces. While my initial knee-jerk reaction was to find its protagonists grating for all that vapidity, as it peels back the existential layers as I explore the Italian town they’re vacationing in, it’s reminding me that there is more than meets the eye to everyone you meet. — Kenneth Shepard

8. World of Warcraft Classic (Season of Discovery)

8 Best Games Worth Playing to Welcome December - 8

Blizzard shared a ton of World of Warcraft news at BlizzCon earlier this month, with the reveal of the game’s three upcoming expansions getting the most attention. However, it was a different announcement that perked up my ears: World of Warcraft Classic, the faithful recreation of the landmark MMO as it was in its early years, was getting new seasons that’d toss some game-changing new elements into the mix. The first of these, called Season of Discovery, has just launched, and I’ll be hopping in this weekend to see if it can lure me back to Azeroth.

I won’t sum up everything the season is doing to change up the classic WoW experience—this video does a fine job of that if you’re interested—but I will say that the emphasis on exploration is particularly appealing to me. The star of World of Warcraft, for me, has always been Azeroth itself, with its varied and beautiful zones, its immaculate fantasy vibes, and its rich sense of history. If Season of Discovery can rekindle the feeling that Azeroth still holds secrets waiting to be discovered, well, I just might find myself spending way too much time roaming its lands once again. — Carolyn Petit