My Favorite Games of 2023

 Another year almost in the book. While many may choose to say it's a great year for games, it's also tinged with a little sadness. 


The wider industry that facilitated those successes has seen the loss of far too many jobs in the games industry. So even if I can't resist talking about my favorite game experiences of the year as I usually do, I also can only hope we see some significant change in the industry as we move forward and studios and publishers alike start taking some longer range decisions with sustainability in mind.

So what did I like this year? 

Super Mario Bros Wonder

It's Mario on fine Mario form. Awesome level design and a constant delivery on the wonder promised in the title. This one continually delights and I guarantee will illicit frequent smiles as you work through the various stages. 


One of those games that is better approached knowing as little as possible. On the surface an elegant environmental puzzle game (great game dev lessons in the opening levels, which manage to be immediate and approachable without a single tutorial prompt) that will challenge both your reflexes and the grey matter as you proceed.

Deceive Inc

This one was a surprise for me, as I had missed it's early access period. It's a fun extraction shooter with a great Spy vs Spy aesthetic. The level design is clever throughout and the 'hide as an npc' mechanic that I loved way back in Spy Party sees a welcome return in an FPS setting.

Diablo 4

I am torn on my relationship with Diablo. I love the level up and story experience, while the end game just doesn't suit my preferred play style. So I thoroughly enjoyed the new story and the wonderful work of the Blizzard teams that continue the legacy of Sanctuary.



Weird in the ways I love weird. A little bit of cosmic horror mixed with inventory management and fishing? Not a combination I'd have put money down as being one of the essential plays of the year, but here we are. A nice style that leans into the Lovecraftian as you progress.

Hi-Fi Rush

The year started off strong with the sudden appearance of this one unannounced. Another odd combo of mechanics spun together to magical effect. In this case old school beat em up action fused with a rhythm game. Throw in some fun and engaging characters, a ton of meta commentary about game development, and you have a genuinely amusing and fun game that forges it's own path.

Jedi Survivor

I'm a sucker for a good lightsaber game! This is a good one. Building upon the first installment we pick up with Kal Kestis as a much more competent Jedi. A solid campaign (even if the final act 'twist' is a little obvious) and some rewarding open world exploration. I'm still not sure I needed the parts of the formula borrowed from the souls games. I unapologetically played this one on the story setting.


The mechanics in this one are excellent. This is probably the first time that climbing in a video game has felt rewarding and challenging in and of itself. That's a good thing, since the whole game revolves around climbing.  A lovely art style and the obvious inspirations of Journey before it combine to create a memorable experience as you claw your way upwards.

The Finals

A late addition to this list, Embark's debut is a compact and fun competitive shooter.  An interesting tournament format from the start. The game has an elegant rule-set and meaningful tools for players that all impact play (and the play space thanks to the excellent environmental destruction). All of those elements combine to good effect in this one. A high skill ceiling while being immediately approachable if competitive shooters are your thing.



My favorite indie title of the year by some margin. Another best approached knowing as little as possible. Even if the runtime is short on a through run (five hours-ish) it will live long in the memory due to just how inventive the mechanics are.

Phantom Liberty

Yes, yes, I know. Another year with the same game on this list. In this case, the release of the Phantom Liberty expansion genuinely earns its place on year end lists. CD Projekt Red have truly realized a vision of Night City and its denizens that is compelling and engaging. Brilliant performances and well told stories that take cinematic style storytelling in games up a notch. Sets a high bar for others to be judged by in the future.

Baldur's Gate 3
Easily my game of the year. No contest. Usually I enjoy everything on a list like this relatively evenly. Not this year. Baldur's Gate 3 is possibly my game of the decade. It's a perfect game for me. Open ended mechanics and systems that present so much fun choice for the player, are fused with some of the most memorable characters in games in recent years.  It is a winning combination. 

Yes, I know that to the non-RPG fan the game is probably a little unapproachable, but as an RPG die hard, this one was almost engineered to be amongst my favorite games of all time.
Honorable Mentions
Some other games I thought about having on this list, in no particular order:

Street Fighter 6, Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Dave the Diver, Marvel Snap, Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew, Aliens: Dark Descent.
That is a wrap...
So that is it for another year.Looking back this indeed a strong year for games. Hopefully we have more ahead of us and the industry can heal some and learn the lessons so we can avoid the best games of the future coming at the costs of so many jobs in the industry.