Here we are, that time of the year once again! 2023 marked the first full year of gaming without supply shortages or delays stemming from the 2020 pandemic, and it did not disappoint. 2023 churned out some amazing releases, and it was hard to pick just a handful. These are my Game of the Year nominations for 2023, in no particular order.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a platforming game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch. Released in October 2023, it’s the first traditional side-scrolling Super Mario game since 2012’s New Super Mario Bros. U. In Super Mario Bros. Wonder, players control Mario or Luigi as they travel through a series of worlds to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. It features a variety of new power-ups including the Wonder Flower, which can transform Mario or Luigi into various objects, such as an elephant, a balloon, or a drill. The game also features new enemies and bosses, as well as a multiplayer mode. It has already sold over 10 million copies worldwide, with critics and fans crediting it for revitalizing and revolutionizing the platforming genre.
Baldur’s Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a role-playing video game developed and published by Larian Studios. It is the third main installment in the Baldur’s Gate series,which is based on the tabletop role-playing system of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s currently available for PlayStation 5 and PC with an Xbox release coming soon. The game has players create and control a custom character who is abducted by mind flayers, creatures from the Astral Sea that implant tadpoles in their brain, giving them psionic abilities. The protagonist and companions are taken to the planet Bolar’s Spire, where they attempt to escape and return to the Forgotten Realms, a popular campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons. From a top-down perspective, players control their characters in real time, while combat uses a turn-based combat system, similar to that used in the previous Baldur’s Gate games. The variety of story, its replayability, visuals, and multiplayer fun make this game an easy nominee.
Alan Wake 2
Alan Wake 2 is a survival horror game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Epic Games Publishing, a sequel to the 2010 psychological horror game Alan Wake. The game was made available for PlayStation 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S on October 27, 2023. Players control the titular character, a writer, who is trapped in an alternate dimension known as the Dark Place. Wake must use his writing abilities to fight off the darkness and escape the Dark Place. It features a variety of new gameplay mechanics, including a combat system that allows Wake to use his flashlight to fight off enemies. With a intensely immersive story full of twists and turns, Alan Wake 2 is a must-play game for psychological horror fans, as its atmosphere, story, and visuals set a new standard for how a horror-rich narrative can play out on modern game platforms.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is an action-adventure game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It is the sequel to 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man and the third installment in the Marvel’s Spider-Man series. The game was released for PlayStation 5 on October 20, 2023. For a more in depth look, check out my full review on Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 here.
There was a lot of hype for this web slinging sequel, and it delivered in all aspects. It broke the debut record weekend sales for a PlayStation Studios game, selling 2.5 million copies on its release date and over 5 million copies after the first weekend of its release. It is the must-play superhero game right at the moment, and possibly the best super hero game released since Batman: Arkham City.
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a third-person, action-adventure game developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts. Released on April 28, 2023 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S, it’s a sequel to the 2019 video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.. The game takes place five years after the events of Fallen Order, having players take control of Cal Kestis, a Jedi Padawan still on the run from the Galactic Empire. Cal must use his newfound skills as a Jedi to fight back and free himself from The Empire.
You aren’t going to see this listed in other publications GOTY nominations. Instead you’ll probably see the Resident Evil 4 remaster. Whether or not remasters should even receive a nomination for GOTY is a subject for a different article, but Star Wars: Jedi Survivor is clearly being slept on. Jedi Survivor accomplishes what every other game listed above does. It’s a great game with impressive visuals, story, mechanics, and was a commercial success with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. It makes my nominations without pity or sympathy, but more astonishment that it didn’t make more lists.
Starfield had a solid marketing scheme and solid sales number, but the game itself feels directed toward a niche gamer. While some reviewers gave this game perfect scores, there are a fair share of publications that felt Starfield was “okay” or “fine.” For more in depth, here is my previous review.
Its deserves an honorable mention for the impact it had, being ones of the most talked about games this year. But if I’m being honest, the game itself didn’t keep the talk going
Robocop: Rogue City
Roll with me on this. Does Robocop deserve the title of GOTY? No, not really. It’s not the same caliber as the previously mentioned titles. However, I feel like it should be given props, because even though it has flaws, the imperfections make it shine like the Robocop film franchise itself…in a good way. You’ll be so immersed in the new Robocop story that you’ll forgive the occasional bugs, glitches, and sometimes weird graphic textures. You’ll forgive it because the imperfections of the film franchise blended in with the film so well that you had fun anyway, same psychology here. I feel as though that needs to be given a nod, and I’m not the only one, as the Robocop: Rogue City was considered a commercial success despite its imperfections. Maybe it will receive an improved sequel, and two years from now Robocop will indeed be a GOTY nomination. Until then, this game was an unsung hero of 2023.
Final Fantasy XVI
I hated putting this in the honorable mentions list. As you can read on in my review of Final Fantasy XVI, this was a very good installment in the popular JRPG franchise. The problem? Better games came out. While it was a clear commercial success for Square Enix, selling over 10 million copies, it did not recover Square Enix financial losses from The Avengers game and Forspoken like the publisher thought it would. While that’s not anything against the game per se, had the game pulled Square Enix out of trouble like Final Fantasy 7 did back in 1997, it would be more qualified for a GOTY nomination. To put it simply: It’s a top five Final Fantasy game, but not a top five game of 2023. In fact, if we could place it, I’d rank it the 6th best.
Agree or Disagree?
I’m sure there are different opinions, but one thing that can’t be disputed is that 2023 helped revitalize gaming, giving us some really great titles. More is on the horizon for 2024, but if we all could, we should, give a huge round of applause to this industry, not just for a great year, but for the great recovery from the world events over the last few years. The industry as we knew it before is back, full throttle, and our patience as gamers paid off. A toast to these games…this year…and the many more coming!