Here we are yet again, the end of another year of gaming. And what a year this was! 2023 had a lot of highly anticipated games and some surprise hits as well……not to mention a few high-profile stinkers that broke records of their own. But we’re not here for that, we’re here to discuss our personal Games of the Year for 2023. Plenty of options to choose from this year, so join us in Gaming Respawn’s Game of the Year 2023 and check out our personal picks.
Insomniac’s first Spider-Man game earned the spot as my personal GOTY of 2018 over other big games like God of War and Red Dead Redemption II (though I STILL haven’t played the latter, believe it or not). So, it’s only appropriate that the (mostly) even better sequel, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, would be my Game of the Year of 2023. Honestly though, it had less competition this year since the only other game I played was Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which was quite good but wasn’t going to beat Spider-Man 2 as my GOTY. The only other game that looked like it could compete as my GOTY was Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon, but I never got the chance to play it (hopefully next year). Spider-Man 2 improved upon the first game in pretty much every respect: more fun combat, a more dramatic story, superior graphics, more engaging missions, etc. Although the early hours were kind of slow, things picked up afterwards and remained entertaining. Playing as both Spider-Men, Peter Parker and Miles Morales, added an extra bit of fun and variety to the gameplay.
There was one particular mission in Spider-Man 2 that was so damn enjoyable and memorable that it could very nearly make the game worth buying all on its own. I am, of course, talking about (possible spoilers ahead) the mission where you get to play as Venom and absolutely mess up an army of enemies in brutally satisfying fashion. That mission was one of the best examples of fan service in video gaming I’ve ever seen, right up there along with the Metal Gear REX v.s. Metal Gear RAY boss fight in Metal Gear Solid 4. I have to thank Insomniac for providing me with another awesome Spider-Man game.
Similarly to 2022, I’ve yet to play the most critically acclaimed releases of this calendar year; otherwise, Spider-Man 2 or Star Wars Jedi: Survivor would be feasible inclusions (I’ll be getting around to those games ASAP). At this moment in time, however, Hogwarts Legacy stands out.
As a huge Harry Potter fan, it’s a dream come true being able to explore Hogwarts virtually, alongside the Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade too! What’s better is exploration in the winter, with snow covering the landscapes.
While the player character could be improved, it’s exciting being able to enter the Wizarding World with your destiny in your own hands. Choosing one of four houses – each with its own unique quests – has its charms, to say the least!
Other areas of Hogwarts Legacy that I can’t praise enough are the fascinating secrets one can uncover and the variety of vibrant spells on offer, as well a collection of brand-new characters to invest my time with.
Hogwarts Legacy is nearly everything I want in a Wizarding World game. Does it feel like your typical fetch-questing game at times? Yes, but the world being so immaculately built helps to distract from this truth.
Two things will make me sit up and take notice of a game. The first is if it has a story that is so gripping, it stays with you while you are playing and long after you have finished. The second thing is if the game remembers that games are supposed to suspend that will of disbelief and be fun. In the world today with all its stresses and strains, gaming is supposed to be an escape for us from all of that, and making me laugh is high on the list of priorities that a modern-day game needs.
With that said, two games I’ve played this year fit both categories for me, and it has been a nightmare to choose between the two as my Game of the Year.
My first nomination is the debut release on console from a small Irish studio called Bellular Studios, with their game being The Pale Beyond. Admittedly, I have a nerdy interest in the subject matter of polar exploration, but this game blew me away with its fantastic narrative, original gameplay mechanics, and setting, alongside a choice system that had me doubting myself over and over again with the decisions I had to make to get through the game. Add to this the awesome soundtrack and I was enthralled with this game from the start to the surprising yet rewarding finish.
However, one game not only had a great story but was also oodles of fun to play. This game made me both laugh out loud and cry like a baby at various points! That game is Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
When a game has me saying sentences such as, “You have to dress as a chicken man to win this fight” or “I still have three more girls to chat up before I complete their missions”, or “I’m trying to upgrade my jet shoes so that I can fly through a group of thugs”, then you know you are playing a game that is batshit crazy and fun.
For me, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name had it all: gripping drama, superb story, crazy missions, tonnes of side content, moments that genuinely made me laugh out loud, but most shockingly of all, moments that made me sob my heart out until my daughter came to check on me and see that I was okay.
I enjoyed this game so much that even when I completed the story, I still kept playing to get all the trophies straightaway until I got the platinum trophy.
This game unashamedly has no qualms about being brash, brutal, and brilliant. The formula hasn’t changed much at all, but this game feels like the pinnacle of the series. Yeah, there might be bigger games this year, like Baldur’s Gate 3, Alan Wake II, or Spider-Man 2, but none of them will be as much fun as or make you laugh as much as Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
My Game of the Year? Could it be anything else other than Alan Wake II? Not a chance. As a fan of the acclaimed original, I was excited for the sequel, and by God, Remedy delivered. What we got is a psychological rollercoaster ride through one of most bizarre yet intriguing stories ever done in recent years. It surprised us by starting the game as FBI agent Saga Anderson rather than the titular man himself, but the reason for this becomes apparent as we find Wake is actually stuck in a darker realm being hunted by a dark force called Scratch. It’s not just the story that blew me away though, the graphics are stunning, and I couldn’t help but get chills as the late, great James McCaffery voices Alex Casey, who is modelled by the one and only Sam Lake! Oh man, my Max Payne itches were well and truly scratched. Then, there’s the now-famous musical level. This part of the game needs to be experienced by every gamer. The mix of action whilst running through a maze of large screens with the actual actors performing a musical number that will stick in your head is nothing short of astonishing. Someone definitely pitched this and got laughed at, but oh, how they are getting the last laugh. This game is fantastic, and with the recent addition of New Game Plus, complete with a new ending, there’s no other game I’d rather be playing.
While there have been some incredible new releases this year, I am going for the Dead Space Remake that was released at the beginning of 2023. What the team at Motive have done is nothing short of exceptional. Not only is the remake one of the best-looking games to run on a PS5, but the gameplay is buttery smooth, and every shot of the Plasma Cutter feels punchy and impactful. The original was able to build a world and an atmosphere that I thought just couldn’t be replicated, but the remake made me feel the same sense of dread and anxiety as I had when I played the original for the first time. The other major part that the remake got right was changing certain set-pieces in the story that didn’t work in the original, and the most notable one is the ADS cannons. Trying to control them in the original was hard and just boring. In the remake, however, they completely changed up the set-piece, and it works brilliantly. Hopefully, the success of this remake will tempt the chiefs at EA to greenlight the Dead Space 2 Remake, which, for sure, will be my GOTY when that eventually comes out.
That concludes Gaming Respawn’s Game of the Year 2023. Do you agree with our choices? Which games would you have added into this list? Let us know in the comments below.