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The best video games of the year 2023

Dungeons, dragons and divers in what is one the greatest-ever years for gaming...

The best video games of the year 2023
26 December 2023

2023 was packed with great games. But it hasn't been so great for the people who make them. Thousands of people have lost their jobs, and entire studios have been closed down. Beyond the game store shelves, this year has been a bit of a gaming downer.

But it would also be wrong not to celebrate the work of the ludicrously talented people who make the games we play. There’s no question 2023 has given us more fantastic games than any other year in recent memory.

From towering AAA epics we've happily given months of our time to, to the focused palate-cleansing indies, there has never been so much high quality interactive entertainment competing for our attention.

The Xbox Series X and PS5 are finally coming into their own from a technological standpoint too. And while the Switch is on its way out, Nintendo has given its phenomenally successful hybrid console one hell of a swansong year if that is to be the case.

2023 has also been a year in which we’ve seen a number of new gaming handhelds enter the market, making it possible to take games previously too demanding for portable hardware anywhere you like.

If you like playing video games, 2023 has been an absolute all-timer of a year. Here are our 10 favourite games from the last 12 months. Be sure to vote for your top pick.

Best games of 2023

Best games of 2023

1. Baldur’s Gate 3 

Buy now from the PlayStation Store

To sit down and play a tabletop game of Dungeons & Dragons is to accept you’re thrillingly at the mercy of a dice and your DM, and that anything can happen. Larian Studios’ Baldur’s Gate 3 manages to take that feeling of endless possibility and put it into video game form, so even at the 100-hour mark, the game’s open-endedness and ability to respond to the strangest of strategies keeps your jaw firmly on the floor. It’s an RPG in the truest sense. Your character can be anything you want them to be, and any decision (no matter how ill-advised) is facilitated by the code. Baldur’s Gate 3 is also elevated by its supporting characters and some of the best writing we’ve come across in a game. If you’ve ever been curious about D&D but don’t have a group to play with, play this video game.

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Best games of 2023

2. Resident Evil 4 

Buy now from Amazon

Did Resident Evil 4 need a remake? While it’s hard to return to the PS1-era Resi games, the fourth entry is a stone cold classic that still plays brilliantly today. But 2023’s Resident Evil 4 remake isn’t trying to replace the genre-defining original. Rather, it respectfully rebuilds it for the modern day with stunning graphics, smoother controls and countless quality of life tweaks. At its heart this is still the same relentlessly entertaining, perfectly paced and wonderfully cheesy survival horror game we loved in 2005, enhanced in all the right ways by modern technology.

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Best games of 2023

3. Pikmin 4 

Buy now from Amazon

While it has never quite garnered the same attention as some of Nintendo’s other mega-franchises, people who love the Pikmin series really love it. Pikmin 4 manages to be both a game for the hardcore fans, and the perfect jumping on point for newcomers. The best new addition is Oatchi, a space dog you ride around Pikmin 4’s colourful interpretation of what appears to be a post-apocalyptic Earth on, as you order an ever-growing army of Pikmin (tiny half-plant aliens) to collect all manner of familiar treasures while searching for your ship’s lost squad. There’s less of a focus on countdown timers than in previous entries, resulting in a more chilled out game overall.

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Best games of 2023

4. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Buy now from Amazon

A direct sequel to what many would call the greatest game of this century, if not all time, was always going to be a tricky assignment. Nintendo pulled it off and then some in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. It takes everything you loved about Breath of the Wild - the exploration, the freedom, and yes, the cooking - and adds to it incredibly versatile crafting systems, a subterranean Hyrule to uncover, and a vast network of islands in the sky. Oh, and Link can swim through rocks now, too. Weird, but awesome. Tears of the Kingdom is so good that we now can’t go back to its 10/10 predecessor.

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Alan Wake 2 is the ultimate rebuttal to any accusation video game sequels play it safe. Developer Remedy Entertainment has always been creatively daring, but Alan Wake 2 - the long-awaited sequel to a cult Xbox 360 game from 2010 - is the culmination of everything the studio has been experimenting with for more than two decades. Expect seamless live action elements, mind-bendingly inventive exploration and some jump scares that would make the scariest Resident Evil games blush. While some of the gameplay is a bit rough around the edges, it’s invigorating to play a game as uncompromising and singular in its vision as Alan Wake 2.

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Best games of 2023

6. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 

Buy now from Amazon

Debates will rage about whether the best superhero game of all time stars Spider-Man or Batman, but there’s no doubt Marvel’s Spider-Man 2is the ultimate webslinger simulator. The ability to play as both Peter Parker and Miles Morales was the obvious next step for the series, but (most of the time) Insomniac smartly lets you switch between the two at will. Both Spider-Men offer slightly different play styles, while the new wingsuit lets you fly, as well as swing, around an expanded version of New York. It feels fantastic. And we haven’t even mentioned the excellent story, and its much better take on the iconic character of Venom than the recent movies.

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Best games of 2023

7. Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Buy now from Amazon

Mario’s 3D outings are as much of an event as a new Star Wars film, but for all its historical importance, the 2D side of the series had arguably lost some of its sparkle. Fortunately, Super Mario Bros. Wonder changes that. This is the most replayable and deliriously inventive 2D Mario game since Super Mario World. Nintendo’s big innovation in this entry is the Wonder Flower, a new power-up that triggers an effect or transformation in each level — you never quite know what to expect. Whether Mario’s surfing a stampede, being serenaded by Piranha Plants or turning into a Goomba, you’ll never stop grinning.

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Best games of 2023

8. Dave the Diver 

Buy now from Nintendo

Dave, you won’t be surprised to learn, is a diver. But he also both serves food at, and single-handedly manages, a sushi restaurant. And fights pirates. And befriends dolphins. And runs errands for everyone from picky food critics to mermaids from an underwater society. And you get involved in all of these things (and so much more) in Dave the Diver, a game that almost never stops layering new ideas on top of its core loop of fishing during the day and working in the restaurant when night falls. Yet, somehow, it never becomes unmanageable. Charming, surprising and a delight to look at, Dave the Diver is the best game about a man named Dave ever made.

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2023 has been a year of incredible and intimidatingly time-consuming AAA fare. It has also been a fantastic year for indie games that you can experience in full in under six hours. Cocoon is one of the very best of them. Directed by Jeppe Carlsen, who previously headed up gameplay design on Playdead’s masterpieces, Limbo and Inside, Cocoon is a top-down puzzle adventure game in which you play as a beetle that uses orbs to travel between worlds. Each orb also acts as a unique special ability. The game’s satisfyingly taxing puzzles usually stop just short of completely frying your brain, but the genius of how Cocoon’s varied worlds fit together most definitely will.

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Lots of video games feature climbing, but it usually amounts to little more than holding a button down. There’s rarely much thought required. Jusant is a climbing game for climbers, then, where each trigger on your controller becomes one of your hands as you scale a cloud-piercing tower filled with the echoes of a lost civilisation. As a game that trades on chill vibes, you can’t die in Jusant, but it still manages to feel like a challenge, gradually introducing new mechanics like magical blooming flowers and moving handholds that test your skills. It has a melancholic story to tell through notes you pick up and read as you ascend, but how much you engage with it is left up to you. Jusant is a meditative gem of a game that doesn’t outstay its welcome.

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