Last year’s wrap-up was the first to include a numeric list of my favorite games of the past year. Before that, I didn’t specifically put numbers to the games I liked. Instead, I highlighted genres or a few games in no particular order. This year, I had around two dozen games I considered featuring, and making a Top 10 was pretty easy. The only challenge was deciding on their order. But, after much consideration, here are my 10 favorite games of 2023.
Honorable Mention: Suika Game
I missed out on the original Suika Game hype when it first came out in Japan in 2022. But with the game’s North American launch, and all the buzz it was getting again, I picked it up and can hardly put it down. It’s such a simple matching game but it’s so easy to play that I just love it. I’ve only managed to get past 3000 points a few times, so I don’t know how others have managed to get such high scores. I’m happy I don’t play this on mobile because I’d probably play it everywhere I go.
10. Dead Space Remake
Wait a second, don’t I work at Electronic Arts, why is there an EA game on your Top 10 list? Yes, I am an employee of EA, but I wasn’t when Dead Space launched earlier in 2023. Having no connection to the game when it was both announced and released, I felt it was fine to include it on this list.
For me, this is a fantastic remake that got overshadowed by so many other solid remakes in 2023. I didn’t get around to playing Resident Evil 4’s remake, so perhaps it would have featured on this list in place of Dead Space. But in the case of Dead Space, this is a massive improvement over the already great original game. They’ve made some really smart quality-of-life changes that feel right. I have a greater connection to Issac Clarke than I did in the first game.
Even if you’re not big on horror games (I’m not much of a fan outside of this and the Resident Evil franchise), it’s an easy recommendation. Heck, EA often has discounts and this is already available if you have EA Play or Xbox Game Pass. There is no reason for people to not play this if they can.
9. Super Mario Bros. Wonder
I haven’t quite unlocked everything in Super Mario Bros. Wonder but I’ve gotten to the point where I’m confident with my assessment of the game. As someone who wants an enjoyable single-player platform experience, this hits all the marks. There are plenty of challenges, multiple ways to attempt levels and a ton to discover. I’ve always preferred the 2D Mario games over the 3D ones, so this was an easy addition to my list.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
I’m still barely scratching the surface, having just completed my first Temple and around 25 shrines. But in the 20+ hours with the game, I’ve done so much and I still have much to discover. Just recently, I accidentally discovered the underground portion of the game. This only happened when I came across a well that led me below the surface.
Like Breath of the Wild, which I finished earlier this year, Tears of the Kingdom will probably take me a couple of years to complete. I’ll come back every once in a while and slowly chip away at the story and see its conclusion.
7. Alan Wake 2
I’m still playing through Alan Wake 2, having put in about 7+ hours and just past the point where you can freely switch between Saga Anderson and Alan Wake. There are a lot of moments that don’t make a lot of sense but I’m hoping that they get explained as you progress through the game. I remember playing and enjoying Alan Wake 10+ years ago, but I wasn’t keen on playing the follow-up until I heard all the positive buzz. I hope to find the time in 2024 to finish this up.
6. Chants of Sennaar
Chants of Sennaar was my before-bed game for a few days as I played through its story. Unfortunately for me, that typically meant I was going to bed a few hours later than I should have. This is a puzzle game where you progress by deciphering a foreign language. Broken up into multiple sections, each focusing on a different group of people, I was enthralled by the challenges it put in front of me.
For some people, solving the word puzzles might be really easy. While others might get too frustrated at a lot of the guesswork. There is a lot of trial and error and you’ll probably want to keep a pad close by to track things on your own, but I need more puzzle games like this.
This is one of those games that initially didn’t interest me until I heard people share their positive thoughts on it. A game focused on climbing might not seem like much but this took me for quite a ride. It’s not a very long game, taking about 3-5 hours, but the adventuring and the things you learn as you venture through the different environments will keep you going. The climbing mechanics work well. Sometimes, finding a glitch or discovering a different way of progressing adds to that adventure. If you’re looking for a quick game to play when you need something a bit different, this is an easy recommendation.
4. F-Zero 99
This game took me by absolute surprise and I still return to it from time to time. I’m nowhere near as good as the other players, having never won a race. But that doesn’t matter. Every race is a blast and they’ve done a really good job of adding additional content since the game’s launch a few months ago. I still need to unlock all the courses, the remaining being the final races of each of the available Grand Prix. It’s tough to reach the fifth race in each of the Grand Prix, so I commend those who can. I can’t wait to see how Nintendo supports the game in 2024.
3. Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
Here is another game that I spent a ton of the year playing. I finished the base game over the summer in preparation for the expansion. Then, instead of just continuing that game with the Phantom Liberty content, I started a new playthrough and played until I could access Dogtown. Once I entered that part of Night City, I was hooked and could not stop playing.
I loved the expansion. It doesn’t feel too long, I think it took me about 10-12 hours to reach the credits. But I was moving from mission to mission to see how V’s connection with Songbird would turn out. Although I didn’t see any of the new endings to the main campaign that are created based on the actions of Phantom Liberty, I am looking forward to doing that at some point soon.
2. Octopath Traveller II
When Nintendo sent out their Year in Review a few weeks back, I knew that I spent a lot of time playing Octopath Traveller II. However, I had no idea I spent over 100 hours playing. My game time says around 80 hours, but I did mess up a few times, so the total makes sense. Also, I played the game on Steamdeck, when I wasn’t entirely sure which platform I’d play it on, so I’ve put plenty of time into this.
I loved the story. All eight of the characters were a joy to play and mixing up the different jobs and formations to see what I could do in my attacks was so enjoyable. I’m hoping we’ll get a third game because there are so many more ways to approach this type of RPG. Ideally, I’d love to see them going with a modern-day or near-future timeframe because it feels like the logical next step for the game’s structure to go.
1. Super Mario RPG Remake
Until November, I was certain my favorite game of 2023 was going to be Octopath Traveller II. But when I launched Super Mario RPG, I could not put it down. I’ve already shared a lot of my feelings about the game, but it’s the kind of game I’d love to return to in a year or two and go through it all again. It was the perfect length for an RPG. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and it doesn’t feel overly bloated.
So that’s my list. This was a lot of fun to think about. Until the posting of this blog, I was still moving some games around the higher end of the list, trying to determine their placements. In 2023, I played 145 different games, and still didn’t have the time to play everything that caught my eye (I never got around to trying Baldur’s Gate III or Resident Evil 4 Remake), or formulate enough of an opinion on (only playing about 30 minutes of Final Fantasy XVI and Pikmin 4) to consider for this list.
I’m currently considering a project for 2024 that I’ll share the details of in a future blog if I go through with it. It’s something I’m keen on attempting, especially as someone who spent all of 2023 tracking their daily gaming. In any case, I continue to enjoy posting blogs on the semi-regular and I thank everyone who visits the site, regardless of how long you stick around.