BY Harry Loizides
When it comes to games, 2023 has been STACKED. Scores of major Nintendo tentpoles, bombastic open-world experiences, and powerfully evocative indie games have been showcased nonstop over the past 12 months. Regardless of what series, genres, or art styles you prefer, there’s surely a game that came out this year that attached to you. So what does a dangerous princess, angsty dinosaurs, and cassette have in common? They’re all part of my Top 10 Video Games of 2023!
10. Thronefall (GrizzlyGames)
Thronefall is an engaging tower-defense game that rewards maximizing your strategy through precision and base-building mechanics. Its approachability is welcomed in this genre, and the game offers vibrant colors and distinguishing characteristics to further help players. Though the game is in early access, the foundation of the game is solid and can only improve in future updates. (PC, macOS)
9. SEASON: A Letter to the Future (Scavengers Studio)
SEASON: A Letter to the Future is an amazing game that will immediately hook you. In this story, you leave home for the first time to collect memories before a mysterious cataclysm washes everything away. Whether it’s the stunning visuals, subtle score, lived-in world, or compelling characters, there’s more than enough fantastic characteristics to propel you through this 6-10 hour adventure. (PlayStation, Steam)
8. Slay the Princess (Black Tabby Games)
In Slay the Princess, you’re here to, well, slay the princess. However, in this narrative choice-driven story, there’s much more than just what lies on the surface. This visual novel is a masterclass in choice-based decisions, following through with those choices, in creative and non-traditional ways. Plus, the hand-drawn aesthetic really differentiates it from other games on this list, further demonstrating the powerful success gained by Black Tabby Games. (Linux, macOS, PC)
7. Goodbye Volcano High (KO_OP)
Goodbye Volcano High is a fantastic narrative that provides themes and stories that are relatable to players of all ages and experiences. The team at KO_OP balances the teenage angst with meaningful storytelling, fantastic songs, and animations that few games can match. Goodbye Volcano High forced me to look within and see how I approached scenarios as a know-it-all 18-year-old versus how I would respond some 15+ years later. This six-hour adventure is required playing for those that appreciate a powerful coming-of-age story that is presented in a new and unique way. (PlayStation, Steam)
6. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 (Insomniac Games)
In the follow-up to amazing games from 2018 and 2020, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 pushes all aspects of the previous games to the next level. While playing as Peter Parker and Miles Morales, you’re free to swing across New York City, help out your local neighborhoods, and fight some Big Bads along the way. My favorite interactions were the smaller stories within the game that really honed in on why several versions of Spider-Man work; the personal touches to make their neighborhoods and fellow New Yorkers safer really resonated within several of the side missions. Plus, it goes without saying that this game has some of the best traversals of any game, making me wish I could swing around the city with ease. (PlayStation)
5. Planet of Lana (Wishfully)
Planet of Lana is a gorgeous cinematic puzzle-adventure within a sci-fi saga that is a visual feast for your eyes. You play as a young girl who finds a spunky little companion in search of her lost loved ones. Paired with an incredible score and sound design, Planet of Lana is a must-play for those seeking a focused, wordless, but powerful story. (Xbox, Steam)
4. Cassette Beasts (Bytten Studio)
You wake up in a mysterious world where there are mysterious beasts all around, and somehow you’re able to transform into them yourself with the help of a… cassette? In this creature-capture game, you play through this world to figure out how you were transported there, what’s happening with all these creatures, and the identity of the mysterious dark force orchestrating it all. This game is a true love song to classic Pokemon games, but with added depth in battle mechanics and storytelling. Perfect for those older Pokemon fans who want a bit more from those adventures. (Nintendo, Xbox, Steam)
3. Pikmin 4 (Nintendo)
In what is undoubtedly the best game in its series, Pikmin 4 shined through the summer sun to create the perfect adventure on this mysterious planet. As part of the Rescue Corp, you’re charged to find Captain Olimar, the main character of the series, while also exploring various new areas in this real-time strategy game. Elevating every aspect of the series to date, Pikmin 4 is the most easy-to-jump-into Pikmin yet. With its gameplay loop as satisfying as ever, with surprises around every corner, and with wonderfully in-depth post-game content, this is a great entry point for newcomers. Plus, there’s plenty of challenges for those veterans who really want to flaunt their skills. (Nintendo)
2. Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania (Motion Twin/ Evil Empire)
Dead Cells, originally released in 2018, is already a masterful rogue-like game with precision gameplay, visuals, and music, but Return to Castlevania not only highlights these fantastic features but elevates everything with the addition of the Castlevania franchise. The 6-8 hour quest is an absolute delight from start to finish, and just like the original Dead Cells, the loop draws you in to continually improve, experiment with different combinations, and see if you can defeat the Big Bad in the coming run. (Nintendo, PlayStation, Steam)
1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Nintendo)
I mean, this can’t be too much of a surprise. The absolute wealth of game within a measly 16 gigabyte cartridge is staggering. Insane game mechanics that have not been seen before are not only transformative, but just simply…work (not a common thread with many AAA games these days). The art style, cinematics, score, character arcs, traversal, creativity, [any other awesome adjectives], and more continue to bring me back to this game. I’m constantly thinking about Tears of the Kingdom, and whenever I start it back up again, I get lost in this world, but remain excited to see what new adventures will arise. (Nintendo)
Did we forget your favorite video games of 2023? Drop them in the comments!
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