As we bid adieu to 2023, the video game landscape stands as a testament to both triumphs and transformations. A year marked by post-pandemic contractions, industry acquisitions, and consolidations, it has not been without its challenges.
However, the resilience of the gaming community shines through, with thousands of designers contributing to a year of outstanding releases. Let’s delve into the top 10 games that have left an indelible mark on the gaming world in 2023.
10. Diablo IV: A Modern Refinement of a Classic Formula
The legendary dungeon-crawler franchise, Diablo, returns with its fourth installment, and it doesn’t disappoint. Diablo IV retains the essence of its predecessors while introducing modern refinements. The combat system is deeper than ever, encouraging experimentation and rewarding players for their strategic choices. The joy of Diablo IV is amplified in a shared experience, as it is an always-online game best enjoyed with friends. With new content consistently added, Diablo IV promises a gaming journey that extends well into the future.
9. Hi-Fi Rush: A Pleasant Surprise That Set the Tone
Hi-Fi Rush made waves by being a rare gem—a game announced and released on the same day. This rhythm-action game stands out with its unique gameplay, where actions sync with a pulsating soundtrack. Despite a fairly limited setlist, Hi-Fi Rush’s combat mechanics and forgiving gameplay make it accessible and enjoyable. It set the tone for a year packed with pleasant surprises and was a refreshing addition to Game Pass.
8. Final Fantasy XVI: A Compelling Action RPG
Square Enix takes a bold step with Final Fantasy XVI by enlisting the combat director of Devil May Cry and embracing a single-character action combat system. Despite initial skepticism, the game’s combat proves compelling and highly customizable.
The vast game world, divided into numerous kingdoms, and an intricate story told through the “Active Time Lore” make Final Fantasy XVI a standout in the series. While not a traditional turn-based RPG, it captivates with its action-focused gameplay and ambitious narrative.
7. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor – A Special Treat for Star Wars Fans
Respawn’s Jedi: Survivor impresses not just Star Wars enthusiasts but gamers in general. With enhanced lightsaber combat, larger levels, and a hub world encouraging exploration, it stands as a versatile action game. The narrative, set in the Star Wars universe, delivers one of the best stories in the franchise. Jedi: Survivor successfully captures the essence of the galaxy far, far away, making it a special treat for Star Wars fans.
6. Dave the Diver: A Delightfully Silly and Addictive Game
Dave the Diver takes a seemingly simple concept—catch fish, sell sushi—and transforms it into a delightfully silly and addictive game. Packed with unforgettable characters, excellent music, and charming art, Dave the Diver goes beyond its core gameplay. From developing weapon technology to participating in reality TV cooking competitions, the game seamlessly integrates various activities, creating a fun and engaging experience.
5. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2: A Persuasive Advertisement for PS5’s Power
Insomniac continues its success with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, delivering an improvement on its predecessors in almost every aspect. The game grabs players from the start with classic set pieces and keeps them hooked through a 20-hour campaign.
Spider-Man 2 showcases the power of the PS5 with web wings that control like a dream, offering a best-in-class traversal system. From explosive moments to intimate scenes, the game successfully brings the Spider-Man experience to life.
4. Super Mario Bros. Wonder: Making Mario Weird(er) and Wonderful
Nintendo takes a bold approach with Super Mario Bros. Wonder, injecting fresh vitality into two-dimensional Mario. By letting Mario transform into quirky forms and introducing psychedelic Wonder Flowers, the game embraces absurdity that sticks. Wonder proves to be consistently silly, endlessly inventive, and remarkably replayable, proving that Mario’s non-3D adventures still have plenty of life.
3. Alan Wake 2: A Triumph of Storytelling and Unsettling Atmosphere
Alan Wake 2 ventures into the horror genre, providing a deeply unsettling and disorienting experience. The game’s storytelling is a triumph, with live-action footage blending seamlessly with in-game action, creating a captivating narrative. Set in the same universe as previous Remedy titles, Alan Wake 2 is part of the Connected Universe, offering an intricate and engaging storyline that unfolds in unexpected ways.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – A Worthy Successor
Tears of the Kingdom had the gaming world captivated, nearly securing the top spot. As a sequel to the widely revered Breath of the Wild, it builds on the series’ foundations, offering a longer, larger, and more refined experience.
The game introduces new abilities and devices, providing innovation while maintaining the high standard set by its predecessor. Despite falling short of the number one spot, Tears of the Kingdom is a testament to the enduring excellence of The Legend of Zelda series.
1. Baldur’s Gate 3: Setting a New Standard in Role-Playing Games
In an unexpected twist, Baldur’s Gate 3 claims the title of Game of the Year for 2023. Developed by Larian Studios, Baldur’s Gate 3 sets a new standard for role-playing games. The game demands players leave preconceptions behind and immerse themselves in a meticulously crafted world where every action has consequences.
Unprecedented freedom, well-crafted characters, and a narrative shaped by player choices make Baldur’s Gate 3 a nearly flawless game. It not only exceeds expectations but also brings Dungeons & Dragons out of the basement and into the living room, making it a cultural phenomenon.
As we reflect on the best of 2023, these games have not only entertained but also pushed the boundaries of what gaming can achieve. Each title on this list contributes to a year that will be remembered as a pinnacle in the ever-evolving world of video games.