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2023 has been, arguably, one of the biggest years in gaming. From AAA blockbusters to indie titles that left you in awe, it seemed as though there was something for everyone to enjoy. Quite a few have featured cute critters that helped you along the way, and we’re looking back at 2023’s best pets and animals in video games.
We’ve listed 12 lovable creatures from games released this year. Yes, most are cats (because we all know that cats are awesome). Still, we’ve added several others that made the whole experience more memorable. Oh, and be forewarned that some of these entries do contains minor spoilers.
The dog (or wolf) in Resident Evil 4
Is it a dog or a wolf? Perhaps it’s both? What we do know is that you encounter this wounded animal near the village elder’s home in Resident Evil 4. Naturally, you should free it, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because he’ll reappear later when you need him most. This occurs some time later once you face the El Gigante boss.
El Gigante is a lumbering monstrosity who can crush you if you’re not careful. But just as things start to look bleak, the dog (or wolf) shows up to distract the ogre, causing it to run headlong into a cliff wall. This gives you ample time to land a few well-placed shots and knife slashes to take it out.
Torgal from Final Fantasy XVI
Final Fantasy XVI isn’t just about the bond between brothers Clive and Joshua, or among friends, as we’ve noted in our review. It’s also about the bond between man and his best friend: dogs. I was tempted to say “chocobos” since we’re talking about Final Fantasy, but you know how it is.
I digress. Point is, Clive has a dog named Torgal, his most loyal companion since he was a teenager. As Clive matures, so too does Torgal, who then acts as a party member of sorts. He’s able to attack opponents and juggle foes, leading to more combo hits. Don’t forget to thank him by petting him. Do so five times and you’ll even unlock an achievement.
The Handler’s dog in Remnant 2
The Handler is just one of many archetypes or classes in Remnant 2. It also happens to be a solo-friendly option since it has a dog companion that can heal, taunt, and attack enemies. Perhaps the most crucial aspect is that the dog can also revive you if you’re downed. Due to the game’s difficulty, you definitely need all the help you can get just to survive.
Mayor Setter in Alan Wake 2
“Ambitious,” “immersive,” and “extremely meta” are just a few words to describe Alan Wake 2, as you may have seen in our review. From terrifying landscapes to mind-bending sequences, you’ll be at the edge of your seat as Remedy Entertainment delivers an unrivaled survival horror offering.
Still, Alan Wake 2 does have a few silly and outlandish moments (the “We Sing” chapter comes to mind). Another example involves Mayor Setter, who has several campaign placards scattered all over town.
Based on those, you naturally expect Mayor Setter to be a politician campaigning for the upcoming election. Then, upon finding all the placards, you have the opportunity to meet Mayor Setter–and discover he is actually a dog. You should definitely seek him out, as doing so rewards you with a charm that reveals other collectibles and points of interest.
When I was playing the game, I thought Mayor Setter was a politician campaigning for the upcoming elections. Then, upon finding all the placards, I realized that Mayor Setter was actually a dog. You should definitely seek him out, as doing so rewards you with a charm that reveals other collectibles and points of interest.
The developers’ cats in The Talos Principle 2
My wife and I love cats. Losing some of our friendly felines over the years has been tough. It’s also why The Talos Principle 2 brought a tear to my eye.
In a world where humanity has perished and sentient robots build a foundation for their future, the developers at Croteam managed to include a means of immortalizing their pets. There are cats roaming around in various areas, a Photo Mode option to include a furry feline, and even a Cat Memorial in New Jerusalem. The concept also adds to The Talos Principle 2’s central theme: Can machines truly become human?
Spring the Cat in Lies of P
Speaking of machines pondering the meaning of life, how about a puppet who wants to become a real boy? That’s certainly what you can expect in Lies of P, a Sous-like game loosely based on the story of Pinocchio.
Spring the Cat initially distrusts your character, P, even hissing and arching his back as you approach. What makes the interactions memorable, however, is that Spring will slowly find comfort in P based on the decisions you make throughout the campaign. As P gains more “humanity,” Spring will be nicer to you, even allowing you to pet and carry him.
Homer and Cat Familiars in Forspoken
Forspoken offers an open-world adventure where you cast devastating magic spells. Funnily enough, it’s also a cat game. The main character, Frey, is a tough New Yorker just trying to make ends meet so she can take care of her cat, Homer. Events transpire that take her on an odyssey through distant lands. Throughout it all, she’ll make remarks about how she just needs to return to Homer.
Thankfully, the fantasy world of Athia has a lot of cute fuzzballs to keep her company. For instance, you can roam the streets of Cipal to chase cats. There are also magical beings known as Cat Familiars. They usually lounge around near shrines, and you have to approach them carefully if you want to catch them. You’ll then find them relaxing cozily in your safehouse.
The talking cats in Baldur’s Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate 3 is nothing short of a marvel, a role-playing game that offers “too much freedom” that it can “become frightening,” as noted in our review. Naturally, freedom entails the opportunity to talk to cats or even turn into one through the use of certain spells.
You can create cat illusions to distract foes, or Wildshape into one to get past obstacles. Likewise, there’s the Speak With Animals spell, which gives you a glimpse into what cats really think of you. Hint: They’re all aloof, and some of them are straight-up murderous.
Scratch and the Owlbear Cub in Baldur’s Gate 3
Wait, two entries for Baldur’s Gate 3? Well, of course! No list about 2023’s best video game pets and animals would be complete without Scratch and the Owlbear Cub. You’ll encounter both of them during Act 1 and, as you advance further in the campaign, you’ll see how they bond with one another in your camp. You can pet them and even play fetch.
The relationship between your two pets is further seen in a recent patch, which adds an epilogue to cap off your adventure. In it, the Owlbear Cub refers to Scratch as his “big brother.”
My favorite moment, though, happens during the finale. Depending on the decisions that you make, it’s possible for the Owlbear Cub to turn into a humongous armored unit that can help you against enemy forces. You can learn more about this in our Gather Your Allies guide.
Boglings and Spamels in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
There are still cute critters even in a galaxy that’s far, far away in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Known as Boglings, you’ll notice these fluffy marsupials in various locations on the planet of Koboh.
While Koboh itself has its own share of peculiar fauna, another world known as Jedha has the native Spamel species. These towering beasts also serve as unlockable mounts, allowing you to cross vast deserts while marveling at the majestic landscapes. These also have moments that show the budding romance between Cal and Merrin.
The dragons in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
No, the dragons in The Legend of the Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom certainly aren’t “pets” in any sense of the word. Initially, you’ll see them flying high in the sky, perhaps causing you to think that they’re just there as part of the backdrop. Then, you’ll realize that Tears of the Kingdom doesn’t just have sky islands, but also the Depths, an underground world that mirrors what you see on Hyrule.
What makes the whole concept even grander is that the dragons all fly along paths that take them from the heavens down to the Depths. The idea is to glide from a sky island and land on a dragon’s back so you can farm certain materials for quests. Riding on a dragon’s back also offers a great vantage point when marveling at your surroundings. Who knows? You might even spot the Light Dragon from afar. Do your best to reach it, as it has its own special reward.
Charlie from Marvel’s Midnight Suns
Marvel’s Midnight Suns makes the cut here due to launching in December 2022, after GameSpot’s Best Of 2022 deliberations took place. The game is quite enjoyable, and it warrants mention here because it’s got Charlie. “Who’s a good Charlie girl? That’s right, you’re a good Charlie girl!”
Charlie is a hellhound, a loyal companion of the Hunter. It’s important to pet her every day not just to unlock an Achievement, but to also increase your bond. Coincidentally, that also empowers Charlie’s capabilities in certain challenge battles. More importantly, there’s the Summon Charlie legendary card, which lets you spawn your pet in regular fights against supervillains and their henchmen.