On an average day about a dozen new games are released on Steam. And while we think that’s a good thing, it can be understandably hard to keep up with. Potentially exciting gems are sure to be lost in the deluge of new things to play unless you sort through every single game that is released on Steam. So that’s exactly what we’ve done. If nothing catches your fancy this week, we’ve gathered the best PC games you can play right now and a running list of the 2023 games that are launching this year.
Release: December 15
Developer: LCB Game Studio
Bahnsen Knights is a gorgeous ’80s-style graphic adventure with superb pixel art. The art style takes me right back to the days when my EGA monitor delivered graphics that would never be topped on PC, but of course, the pixel art in Bahnsen Knights is more detailed and a whole lot more elegant than anything I can remember from that time. The story follows an undercover agent’s mission to infiltrate the Bahnsen Knights, a gnarly, bloodthirsty cult helmed by an ex-used car salesman. Like other games in the Pixel Pulps series (see Mothmen 1966 and Varney Lake) it’s a decision-driven “choose your own adventure” affair with some light puzzling sprinkled throughout.
Witch on the Holy Night
Release: December 14
Developer: Type-Moon, Lasengle Inc., Hunex
This classic visual novel got a Japan-only release in 2012, and after last year’s console reissue it finally returns to PC. It’s the work of Type-Moon, one of the most cherished visual novel studios, and this is one of their most highly regarded games (it also benefits from being entirely standalone and not an instalment in a broader series). Set in 1980s Japan, Witch on the Holy Night follows a young man recently moved to the city who meets two young witches. As far as visual novels goes it’s definitely one for the die hards: there’s not much in the way of choice or interactivity, but its sitting on an “overwhelmingly positive” rating on Steam so it’s doing something right. This new version adds voice acting and HD graphics.
Release: December 16
From the creator of One-armed Cook—a game about cooking with one hand—comes One-armed Robber, a game about robbing various locales with one hand. I can’t help but cite Payday here, because the format is pretty much the same albeit with simpler graphics and the added difficulty of having only one hand. Online cooperative play is supported, and there’s the freedom to infiltrate buildings either quietly or amidst a great squall of gunfire. Tools and weapons unlock as you progress through the missions, and like One-armed Cook, the game is entirely free, though paid DLC will presumably follow in the coming months.
Pioneers of Pagonia
Release: December 13
Developer: Envision Entertainment
Launched into Early Access last week, Pioneers of Pagonia is a fantasy city builder that lets you preside over a pleasant medieval-inspired village. One of its chief designers is Wolker Wertich of The Settlers fame, and there are vague similarities here, given the strategy elements and the art style. Chris played it in demo form earlier this year and was impressed, especially since, according to Wertich, “you don’t have to make your people happy, instead, your people have to make you happy”. Who could argue with that?
River Tails: Stronger Together
Release: December 15
Developer: Kid Onion Studio
It’s easy to overlook 3D platformers but River Tails looks like a heckuva lot of fun, and its co-op approach feels perfect for the imminent holiday season. Like Sackboy and that recent-ish co-op Mario game that will never come to PC, Rivertails’ multiplayer demands collaboration to solve its puzzles and beat its cheerful bosses. You’ll either be Furple—a purple kitten—or Finn, a mouthy fish. These natural foes have overcome their differences to save the world, or something, and will need to navigate the usual 3D platformer obstacles to do so. Seems like some chill, dare I say cosy, fun.