Best Games of 2023

2023 will be remembered as an odd year when it comes to gaming: while those working in the industry suffered through all kinds of layoffs and closures, from a player’s perspective the year has a solid argument for being perhaps the greatest year of all time. So what did Gaming Age staff like the most? Here’s how we voted.

Honourable Mentions/Also receiving votes: Arizona Sunshine 2, Christmas Massacre, Diablo IV, Disney Illusion Island, Ebenezer and the Invisible World, Fortnite, Forza Motorsport, Hi-Fi Rush, Horizon: Call of the Mountain, Humanity, Immortals of Aveum, Jackbox Party Pack 10, Marvel Snap, Metroid Prime Remastered, Prison City, Sea of Stars, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, Sonic Origins Plus, Sonic Superstars, Walkabout Mini Golf, WarioWare: Move It!

25. Return to Grace

So-called “Walking Simulators” may be well past their glory days, but Return to Grace shows that if you look hard enough, you can find games from the genre that capture everything that made them so enjoyable in the first place: a good story that doesn’t overstay its welcome, gorgeous environments that are fun to explore, and voice actors that bring their characters to life. Return to Grace may not kickstart the genre’s revival, but if you’re a fan (as I am), it’s nice to know these games still exist. (MP)

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24. Gunbrella

A shorter title whose titular mechanic makes a difference. The world is bleak and unforgiving, but traversing it with the gunbrella is oddly fun. (SY)

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23. The Invincible

The Invincible was my sleeper hit of the year, and easily my favorite Indie game. It captures everything I love about “Walking simulators” and places it into a retro-futuristic sci-fi world that is wholly engaging from start to finish. This is an exceptional game and one that I find myself looking back on constantly as the year wraps up. (TN)

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22. Killer Frequency

It’s rare that I sit down and finish a game in one sitting, so the fact that I played Killer Frequency that way should tell you something (while also speaking to the fact it’s not that long). As long as you can look past the anachronism at the heart of the story — seriously, why did so many people in a random small town have cell phones in the ’80s?! — this is one heck of a fun murder mystery that puts the fate of all the townsfolk in your hands. (MP)

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21. Cookie Cutter

What a surprise hit for the end of 2023. This is an amazing Metroidvania that gives me a variety of inspirational vibes. The 2D drawn art is incredible and looks like Skull Girls, meets a Mature AstroBoy, with all the best parts of a Metroid game. It’s a Bloody good time and if it came out sooner, it may be higher for me. (BR)

20. RoboCop: Rogue City

You can’t keep a good cop down and finally the future of law enforcement has gotten a good game to his name. This one definitely has served the public trust. (SY)

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19. Air Twister

It all works so well together that you can lose yourself in the gameplay and want to keep playing for hours at a time. (CD)

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18. Cocoon

A short but fantastic puzzle/adventure experience that won’t eat up much of your time, but the unique gameplay gimmicks will definitely stick with you after you put the controller down. It was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, and my go to suggestion for anyone that might have grown tired of AAA release after release in 2023. (DC)

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17. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man who Erased his Name

Look I only wanted to include 1 RGG studio in the list proper, so I opted for the one that would hit harder with fans of the franchise. Yes, It took nearly a decade to get Ishin to western shores, but Gaiden’s story just hits so hard it felt wrong to exclude it. Long time fans of the franchise definitely should not skip this side story! (SY)

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16. Viewfinder

In an alternate world where 2023 didn’t see a deluge of AAA heavy-hitters, it’s easy to imagine a puzzle game like Viewfinder capturing the public imagination with its mind-bending puzzles and gorgeous environments. Unfortunately, it got lost in the shuffle, which just means it’s one of the best games you probably didn’t play this year. Remedy that now, before in a couple of years everyone suddenly realizes that they overlooked this gem. (MP)

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15. Armored Core VI

This return to the long dormant Armored Core series is another grand slam for From Software. The company that sits firmly atop my “Greatest of All Time” list has returned to prove that they aren’t just the “SoulsBorne” studio, and they did so in grand fashion. ACVI is a return to what makes this series so great, but it is done in a way that really allows for and embraces new players. It absolutely will not hold your hand, but all the tools needed to win are right there at your disposal. The combat is what this game is built on, and that shows through in every facet. (TN)

14. Hogwarts Legacy

It’s easy to imagine a scenario where Hogwarts Legacy was a complete disaster: a spin-off of a series that’s beloved (and hotly debated) by millions and millions of people that promised you could experience life as a Hogwarts student, being developed by a studio whose previous releases included games like Disney Infinity and game tie-ins for Cars 2 and Bolt. Yet, somehow, Avalanche Software delivered on that promise, with a game that’s sure to bewitch anyone who ever wished that they had received a bit of owl post on their tenth birthday. The world of Hogwarts — and all its accompanying secrets and treasures — is yours to discover. (MP)

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13. Octopath Traveler II

What can I say that hasn’t already been said better, by smarter? Octopath Traveler 2 is a modern day relic of a time long past. The Octopath Series continues to be one of the only games that actually transports me back to my childhood, and shows me the games I played in the way I REMEMBER playing them. It recaptures that feeling of awe and wonder that I had as a kid playing the original Final Fantasy games, but it does so in such a rich and meaningful way that it doesn’t ever feel cheap. I love this game so much and wish more people would check it out. One of the best of the year, and quite frankly one of the best of all time. (TN)

12. Baldur’s Gate 3

Some games peter out after 15-20 hours of content; in Baldur’s Gate 3, you could easily spend 15-20 hours just on creating your character. This is an absolutely massive game in every sense of the world, and all the praise it’s received from literally everywhere is totally well-deserved. (PB)

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11. Dead Space

Are you afraid of the dark? Yes, yes I am. And Dead Space shows that I’m right, because the dark is where terrifying monsters live, and all you have to defend yourself is some wimpy engineering tools and a flashligt. Absolutely terrifying, in the best way possible. (MP)

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10. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

This was a bold and surprising choice for me as many of my peers, also big Zelda fans, did not care for this one. For me, 130-plus hours and completing the experience made it a memorable journey. I may not love what the series has become, but once I’m in the game, the feeling goes away. (BR)

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9. Final Fantasy XVI

Final Fantasy XVI is the perfect blend of story, action, and heart. A true Final Fantasy game, despite what naysayers may have you believe. At over 100 hours and counting, I find myself drawn again and again into the world of Valisthea. As a lifelong fan of this franchise, it is nearly inconceivable that the sixteenth mainline entry, not counting the hundred or so subentries, would turn out to be my very favorite, but it has managed to do so. I love this game, and will probably spend the rest of my life singing its praises. (TN)

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8. Mortal Kombat

This may not be the first reboot the Mortal Kombat franchise has seen, but it may be the best one. It revitalizes the series in a way that many people probaby didn’t even realize it needed, and it delivers as much in terms of story as it does it terms of stomach-churning fatalities. (PB)

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7. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

I think it says a lot about Star Wars Jedi: Survivor (and Fallen Order before it) that even someone like me, who hasn’t watched a Star Wars movie in decades (if I’ve ever seen any), still is drawn to it. Maybe it’s the fantastic characters, maybe it’s the vast world, maybe it’s the stellar story, or maybe it’s the fun combat: whatever it is, this game is a must-play. (MP)

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6. Lies of P

Lies of P is the first Souls-like to come from a non From Software studio that truly feels like it was built by them. All of the SoulBorne games have some of the From Software DNA present, but each and every one of them feel like they are lacking that one extra thing, that one special spark. Lies of P does not feel like that at all, and feels like they took that DNA and evolved it, ran with it, and put out a game that feels entirely faithful to the formula while carving out an identity all its own. I love this game, and I look forward to seeing what this team does next! (TN)

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5. Street Fighter 6

Tackling a post-M. Bison world, this sixth iteration of this premiere fighting franchise took chances and it mostly pays off (I’m willing to see how Ken’s story plays out…cause Capcom did him dirty this time…worst than giving him banana hair in V). As players uncover and refine techniques I’m sure we’ll be seeing many exciting bouts in the years to come. (SY)

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4. Resident Evil 4

Part of me doesn’t feel it should be included due to it not being a new game, but I will say, the hours put in and the experience felt new and it is easily the best game I’ve played this year. This is how a Remake should be done. With love, care, and respect for the original in almost every way. (BR)

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3. Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Not since Super Mario World for the SNES has a 2D side-scrolling Mario title felt this fresh and new! (PR)

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2. Alan Wake II

In a remarkably busy year of amazing games, Alan Wake 2 still managed to stand out as an exceptional experience. A culmination of sorts for Remedy’s pocket game universe, the story, gameplay, and just general creepy vibe of Alan Wake 2 hits every high note it aims for. If you haven’t given it a chance yet, then I sincerely feel like you’re missing out on one of the best games (if not THE best game) of 2023. (DC)

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1. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Great story, amazing visuals and well-balanced and paced open world gameplay. Just a fun and satisfying superhero adventure from start to finish. (JC)

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