The 2023 Annual Raskup

December 28, 2023

Given that the last article I wrote for this site was my "The 2022 Annual Raskup", I get the distinct feeling I haven't had a lot of time to do any writing. Also, given that the last time I went live on twitch was over 10 months ago, I'd say I haven't had a lot of time to go live either.

Sadly, true on both accounts. This year was incredibly busy in real life - not only did I move into my own little office for my own little business that I've been running for just over three years now, but we did a horrific amount of home improvements, including the biggie that we had been putting off for years now - the kitchen.

However, I have made time for gaming, even if it was for an hour a day to unwind. I've managed to spend some quality time with some excellent titles, the best of which I would take great enjoyment in sharing with you below, including my game of the year.

I came across Death Roads: Tournament at the end of 2022 during a Steam Next Fest and I was immediately hooked. Car combat has always been a pleasure of mine - Dark Future was the last game to capture my imagination in this genre. However, here it is presented in a rogue-like, deck builder fashion and boy does it work.

death roads tournament

Choose a character (each with their own unique abilities and cards), choose a car (again, with their own unique stats and cards) and then hit the road. Your goal is to get across the board in one piece and to be ready to take on the final boss at the end. You will come across other challengers as well as random enemies wanting to take you out. You will also encounter random events that will have either positive or negative impacts on your game.

There is also a non digital version of the game too - Death Roads: All Stars. It plays differently than it's digital counterpart, but gameplay is familiar and great in it's own unique way.

Death Roads: Tournaments is a fresh take on the rogue-like deck-builder. it's not strictly a deck-builder, but it has a strong essence of the genre. I highly recommend it.

I revisited Dune: Spice Wars because it came out of Early Access this year. In case you don't know, Shiro Games (of Northgard fame) acquired the license to develop a new Strategy game set in the Dune universe. Though it's important to note one thing - you may think Dune and Strategy and instantly conclude that it will be like the classics Dune 2 or Emperor: Battle for Dune. It isn't. It's a slower paced strategy that includes other elements and offers multiple victory conditions. I'd argue that Dune: Spice Wars sits more within the theme of Dune than the Westwood Studios games did, but perhaps that is more of a generation thing.

dune spice wars

Dune: Spice Wars V1.0 release delivered an extremely engaging single player campaign mode, which is where I have spent most of my time. This mode is perfect if you are not wanting to commit all of your free time for gaming to just one match, but rather build gradually on an ever evolving game which sees you conquering sectors of the northern hemisphere of Dune while engaging in combat scenarios akin to skirmishes and multiplayer games.

Staying with Dune, Dune Imperium was released later on in the year from Dire Wolf. Dune Imperium is a digital version of the card and board game that was released alongside the Dune 2020 film release. It's a deck builder and yet it isn't - it's a very situational card game where your strategy has to adapt constantly to how your opponents are playing and how the cards are drawn. It's difficult and fairly competitive, but it is extremely engaging and will slurp your free time up like cat to warm milk (please don't feed cats milk, it makes them unwell).

Dune Imperium is well presented and appears to have a fairly active multiplayer community. If you don't want to do multiplayer, no worries - aside from skirmishes, it also has a vast range of challenges and regular special events. Another game very much on my highly recommended list from 2023.

dune imperium

Now here is something different that I've snuck a good 30 hours into this year - Cyberpunk 2077. If you know me, you'll know that first persons don't always go down well with me. I've done my time with CoD in my twenties. Though now and again, a title will emerge that makes me think "you know, that might well be worth a punt". The last one that did that for me was Wolfenstein: The New Order. That was an amazing game.

I'm happy to say that I've really enjoyed my time with Cyberpunk 2077. I recall the release didn't go down well, but it was heavily discounted and I had heard many bugs had been fixed. I've certainly not had any issues with it. The storyline is well written and you find yourself getting emotionally attached to the characters (the key to success for a story driven piece of creative work). On a technical level it is a masterpiece, and the world looks absolutely glorious, even on my MSI Creator Z16 laptop.

One downside, and this is more me than the game itself, is the endless amount of missions it gives you on a frequent basis. This is why I never finished a Bethesda game - I can't deal with so many missions. I always feel like I'm never making any progress. Again, that is just me - for those who relish in that, this is definitely the game for you.

Staying with First Persons, Shadows of Doubt blipped on my radar and after discussing the game with Mr Twister (an awesome online friend and one of the earliest PlanetRask Community members, cheers T!), I bought it. Shadows of Doubt is an interesting game - a procedurally generated detective game where you play a freelance detective investigating mostly murders, but also taking on smaller missions such as taking pictures or ruining somebodies life by embarrassing them in public. Complete missions, get money, but new apartments, buy new furniture. The aim is to get a high enough social score to escape this life and live in paradise.

Shadows of Doubt is presented in a pixelated art fashion which oddly works well. It is still in Early Access and I'd love to see a little more variety in the character engagements (they all end up telling you the same thing after a while), and a slightly wider variety of missions that require extensive interviewing, stalking and breaking into property to get the clues you need.

Back to strategy games, I have found great enjoyment in Regiments from MicroProse. I love the Eugen Systems games, but the community is awful and you have to invest a lot of time to get the most out of those as they are more multiplayer focused titles. Regiments takes the core concept of the Wargame / Steel Division / WARNO series, strips out the crap community and multiplayer aspects, and gives you a solid, single player Real Time Strategy game.


MattyRaskers Game of the Year 2023

While I have loved living in the world of Dune, Death Roads: Tournament ticks a lot of boxes for me. Car Combat? Rogue Like? Deck Builder? Kick-ass soundtrack? Awesome developers? Death Roads: Tournaments has it all, and for that reason it is most definitely my Game of the Year.

death roads

Looking Ahead to 2024

So another year ends and another one begins in a few days. I'm very excited about Manor Lords - the demo was glorious and I cannot wait to see what that game will have to offer when it finally arrives next year. I'm also hoping for good things from Dune: Awakening, which is an Open World Survival set in the Dune universe. I mean, I clearly haven't spent enough time yet on Arrakis, so why not? So long as it doesn't end up being a money sink, I'm happy.

Wishing you all the best for the New Year. Stay Happy, Stay Productive.

Much love,


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