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Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has a Metroidvania sequel in big year for Christmas games

The nice and naughty of 2023’s holiday-themed games

Ebenezer Scrooge battles a flying ghost surrounded by skulls in a library setting in a screenshot from Ebenezer and the Invisible World Image: Orbit Studio/Play On Worlds
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Whether 2023 is one of the best years for video games is up for debate. But it is certainly one of the best years for Christmas video games, thanks to a surprising number of festive, holiday-themed releases. That includes a video game sequel to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring Ebenezer Scrooge and made in the Metroidvania style.

While many live service games will drench themselves in Christmas and Hanukkah-themed cosmetics and map makeovers this month, not since Sega’s Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams... has there been such an eclectic mix of festive fare. Some are naughty, and some are nice. And at least one, a gory slasher that will appeal to fans of Rockstar Games’ murderous Manhunt, is definitely not for kids.

Here’s a look at 2023’s Christmas games.

Ebenezer and the Invisible World

Set after the events of Ebenezer Scrooge’s encounter with Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, Ebenezer and the Invisible World sees the once-miserly grump setting off on a new adventure. Invigorated by Christmas cheer, Ebenezer is enlisted by another ghost to help alter the destiny of evil industrialist and population-principle-believer Caspar Malthus. Aiding Ebenezer in his mission are many more ghosts — which are basically summonable familiars and power-ups that are heavily inspired by Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. (Ebenezer even has Alucard’s back dash.)

Ebenezer and the Invisible World is an enjoyable action-adventure game with greater depth than you might think. The game’s hand-drawn graphics and wide array of characters and quests keep the whole thing moving along pleasantly; plus it’s just fun to see old Ebenezer wielding a giant ax or spinning a flaming spear. He’s very spry for his age!

Ebenezer and the Invisible World is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

Lake: Seasons Greetings

The video game Lake is a cozy, narrative adventure set in the sleepy village of Providence Oaks, Oregon. Set in the year 1986, players stepped into the shoes of Meredith Weiss, a metropolitan, career-driven woman who returns home to temporarily take over her father’s postal route. Lake: Season’s Greetings delivers similar smalltown vibes, but this time, players tour the town as Thomas Weiss, Meredith’s father, as Christmastime approaches.

Lake: Season’s Greetings is a prequel to the original Lake, available as DLC for that game. These cozy, wintry vibes are available on PS4, PS5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

Christmas Massacre

Make it a silent night, make it a deadly night with the stealth-slasher Christmas Massacre, which made its debut on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 in November. (It’s been on PC since 2021.) Inspired by snuff game Manhunt, top-down shoot-’em-up Hotline Miami, and PlayStation 1-era aesthetics, Christmas Massacre lets you slay as Larry, a man who is clearly not well, because his Christmas tree is commanding him to kill.

Obviously, Christmas Massacre is probably not something you should play with the whole family, but if over-the-top violence and gore done super lo-fi is your thing, it’s a fun romp, as murder rampages go. You will be flamethrowing roomfuls of children and nuns, just as a heads up.

Christmas Massacre is available on PS4, PS5, and Windows PC via Steam.

The Grinch: Christmas Adventures

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch stars in a 2D side-scrolling platform adventure game that may or may not be any good — I haven’t played it! But The Grinch: Christmas Adventures gives players control of The Grinch himself (and his dog Max, in two-player local co-op) on another Christmas-ruining mission. Like Ebenezer and the Invisible World, this is a one-year-later sequel to the original source material. And like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Grinch’s Christmas Adventures promise to teach him a “valuable lesson about the true spirit of the holiday.” Hopefully he learns for good this time!!

The Grinch: Christmas Adventures is out now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

Final Fantasy 7 Ever Crisis: The Holy Flame’s Gift

Tifa wearing a Christmas-themed costume in Final Fantasy 7 Ever Crisis Image: Square Enix

Square Enix’s mobile remake of the expanded Final Fantasy 7 franchise has a new holiday event, which isn’t a stand-alone game, but a new story that features two important elements.

One is a Christmasy new Tifa costume that is currently riling up Tifa fans worldwide. You can see that above.

The other is that the chief antagonist of Final Fantasy 7 Ever Crisis’ new holiday-themed story is a gingerbread Cactuar. Amazing!

Final Fantasy 7 Ever Crisis is currently available on Android and iOS devices, and is coming to PC via Steam on Dec. 7, Square Enix just announced. The game’s The Holy Flame’s Gift story is available now.

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