DualShockers Game Of The Year 2023: Editor Picks

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2023 has been a remarkable year for video game releases. The cadence of great titles has been staggering, as it’s been relatively non-stop since the start of the year. Most years, I feel pretty good about the new games I’ve managed to play — I love to stay on top of the newest, shiniest releases that review well or that simply catch my eye. 2023 is the first year in a long time where due to the sheer volume of incredible releases, I’ve had to pick and choose between amazing games multiple times throughout the year, leaving some reported excellent titles for my backlog. As the year comes to a close, I’m still scrambling to play as many 2023 titles as I can, but some sacrifices had to be made along the way.


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Despite some unfortunate absences, I still struggled to rank this list due to just how incredible a year it’s been for games I did play. Missed titles aside, this has easily been the most stacked year of video games that I’m personally super into…ever. Sure, 1998 and 2007 were hugely impactful years for gaming, but for the sheer quality of the types of games I love, nothing compares to 2023. Shout-out to some incredible games that didn’t quite make the cut: Blasphemous 2, Resident Evil 4 Remake, Remnant 2, Cocoon, Hi-Fi Rush — these games offered incredible gaming experiences that just couldn’t quite stand up against some of the year’s other stand-outs. Without further ado, here are the best games I’ve played in 2023.


10 Armored Core 6

A Mech Lover’s Dream Game

It’s crazy to me that Armored Core 6 is only sitting at 10th place on my list, but that shouldn’t diminish just what an incredible game this is. I adore FromSoftware’s Soulsborne games (the Soulslike genre is one of my absolute favorites), but I had no experience with any of the past Armored Core games — or mech games in general. Despite that lack of mecha experience, the design similarities between AC6 and FromSoftware’s other titles are crystal clear — complex build variety, laser focus on challenging combat, incredible boss fights — but Armored Core 6’s mission-based format was such a strong departure from the interconnected worlds of Bloodborne, Sekiro, or Elden Ring.

Armored Core 6 is only sitting at 10th place on my list, but that shouldn’t diminish just what an incredible game this is.

The inherently segmented structure of the game didn’t click with me the same way, and while I can see and appreciate the design choices that make Armore Core 6 its own thing, I can’t say I fell in love with the game. There’s so much to love here, and it’s easy to see how this could be someone’s best game of the year; its combat is top-tier, and the many mech design options are visually and mechanically awesome — but the game frustrated me more often than it invigorated me, keeping AC6 from rising against, admitted, a ferociously competitive year of video game releases.

9 Final Fantasy 16

Puts The ‘Epic’ In Epic Fantasy

I’ve long seen Final Fantasy games come and go, always watching from the outside in awe at this seemingly impenetrable franchise. I got swept up in the hype for Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and I couldn’t help but enjoy its charming mix of cheesy, heartfelt action. Heading into June of this year, I just had to be there for the newest Final Fantasy game. I know Final Fantasy 16 doesn’t offer the typical Final Fantasy experience, being much more strongly a narrative action game than a turn-based adventure (with some even debating if it was a ‘real’ Final Fantasy game to begin with), but I loved every minute of it. The combat was flashy and epic, the music was inspiring throughout, and the narrative and acting were top tier.

The raw spectacle this game delivers without a hint of performance issues is nothing short of remarkable. Clive Rosfield in particular, voiced by the talented Ben Starr, was a stand-out in a cast of incredible performances, delivering so much passion and personality into every line — even the throw-away lines in the often forgettable side quests. While I’m still hesitant to commit myself to being a full-on Final Fantasy fan, I can safely say that I’m eagerly keeping my eyes open for the next Final Fantasy adventure headed my way.

8 Season: A Letter To The Future

The Power Of Memory

This charming indie was released way back in January. It easily could have been washed away in the tidal wave of incredible releases that came out since, but Season: A Letter to the Future continues to endure in my heart long after I rolled credits. The game offers a supremely contemplative experience, urging you to reflect on the world around you and the experiences of the people and locations you encounter.

The game offers a supremely contemplative experience, urging you to reflect on the world around you and the experiences of the people and locations you encounter.

Sort of an exploration walking sim with photography and scrapbooking as your main interactions with the world, Season invited me on a quiet, melancholic journey through an enchanting valley filled with shrines to ancient gods, ruins of the old world, and the remnants of communities that have long since moved on. Touches of the supernatural color your journey, making for a magical experience — both literally and figuratively. It’s hard to stand up against the titans that release this year, but I’ll continue championing this heartfelt indie any chance I get.

Season: A Letter to the Future

Developer(s)
Scavengers Studio

7 Dead Space Remake

Sci-fi Horror Masterpiece

Early 2009, I had my first brush with Dead Space, which had come out the year before. I remember booting it up and playing it in a dark room with some friends watching over my shoulders, celebrating with every jumpscare (and adding a number of their own during particularly tense moments). I wasn’t too into horror at the time, and while it was clearly an excellent game, I just couldn’t bring myself to get much further than an hour or two before I had to call it quits. Fast-forward to 2023, and I’ve grown to appreciate — even love — some great survival horror experiences like Resident Evil 2 Remake and Alien: Isolation. Was I anxious to step foot back on the USG Ishimura? Of course. Did the game solidify itself as one of my favorite survival horror experiences? Absolutely.

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Because of my limited exposure to the original game, my experience with this one is almost entirely gauged by the standards of 2023, and this remake delivered above and beyond my expectations of a brand-new gaming experience. The atmosphere is claustrophobic and chilling. The combat felt responsive and visceral. The monstrosities are grotesque, and dispatching them limb by limb is satisfying in the most twisted way. I adored the haunting isolation of the experience, allowing me to fully immerse myself in the dark of my living room, the jumpscares and heart-pounding moments just as intense as I remembered them back in 2009. Dead Space Remake is an incredible video game that sets the benchmark for what I want out of this kind of combat-focused survival horror experience.

Dead Space Remake

$54 $70 Save $16

Released
January 27, 2023

6 Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

My Favorite Star Wars Game

As the follow-up to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor had a lot to live up to. And for the most part, it delivered. The narrative wasn’t as tightly focused as Fallen Order’s, but Survivor made up for that with much stronger character work, fleshing out the cast of characters (and widening it quite a bit) to make for a much more lived-in Star Wars adventure. The game also greatly expanded upon the explorable environments and customization options.

The combat is visceral and kinetic, bringing new lightsaber forms for a greater variety of ways to dispatch your enemies, offering an excellent on-ramp for Soulslike newbies.

Gone are the days of dozens of multicolor ponchos (though you can, of course, still rock the hot pink poncho if you’re feeling stylish enough). The combat is visceral and kinetic, bringing new lightsaber forms for a greater variety of ways to dispatch your enemies, offering an excellent on-ramp for Soulslike newbies. Survivor did launch with a number of technical issues, felt to varying degrees depending on your platform of choice, but ultimately, Survivor delivered the most fun I’ve had in a Star Wars game to date, earning it an 8.9/10 in my review — despite the assorted bugs encountered.

5 Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Spectacular Superhero Experience

In any other year, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 might be a shoo-in for the best game of the year. Instead, in a year as packed as 2023, it just squeaks into my top 5. This doesn’t speak toward any shortcomings on Spider-Man 2’s end — the game offers an extremely polished and engaging superhero experience. From the thrilling traversal elements to the heartfelt story beats, Spider-Man 2 is an excellent follow-up to Marvel’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

I can’t say the narrative gripped me nearly as much as the first Spider-Man game, never quite hitting the emotional highs of the first game (for me), but it more than made up for it with its seamless combat additions and mechanical improvements (the web wings in particular are incredible). I can’t wait to see what Insomniac Games brings to the inevitable Spider-Man sequel — and with the highly anticipated Wolverine game they’ve been working on.

4 Lies Of P

New High Bar For Soulslikes

Ever since this game was first revealed, I’d been intrigued by Lies of P. The footage and gameplay looked right up my alley, playing into my deep obsession with Soulslikes, and the Pinocchio-inspired retelling sounded so bizarre. I was wary, though, since so many Soulslikes, while good, often miss the high benchmark that FromSoftware’s Soulsborne titles have set for the genre. Lies of P not only surprised me with how polished it ultimately was, but it also wowed with its presentation, lore, and weaponry.

Lies of P not only surprised me with how polished it ultimately was, but it also wowed with its presentation, lore, and weaponry.

I can’t say Lies of P really pushed the genre further, but I don’t really need that from every Soulslike I come across. What it did do, though, was deliver an extremely polished and addicting Soulslike experience, one with all the enigmatic lore, twisting level design, and challenging encounters that I crave — not to mention some great weapon variety and customization elements as well. The ending tease (minor spoilers) of working on a Wizard of Oz-inspired sequel has me beyond excited.

Lies of P

$50 $60 Save $10

Developer(s)
Neowiz Games , Round8 Studio

Released
September 19, 2023

3 Alan Wake 2

There’s Nothing Else Quite Like This Game

My top 3 entries here are the absolute cream of the crop. For me, they represent the pinnacle in their respective genres, as they’re my absolute favorite games from said genres. I honestly hate to rank them against each other, but in the interest of seeing this list through to the end, it’s time to celebrate the narrative triumph, Alan Wake 2. As a somewhat casual Alan Wake fan — but a massive fan of Control — I was so excited about this sequel. Horror generally isn’t my genre of choice, but in the wake of Control, I’d grown a bit ravenous for the next bizarre narrative adventure that Remedy would take me on.

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Alan Wake 2 took all the interesting storytelling elements from the first game, tied them deeply into the lore and universe of Control, and overhauled the combat to something that fit the genre perfectly. The shift from thriller/action to pure survival horror felt like the missing piece to really bring it all together. The storytelling and acting is incredible, the tension and gameplay fantastic, and the mix of live-action footage within the gameplay works shockingly well, cementing the surreal nature of the whole insane thing. If this year wasn’t such an incredible year in gaming, I’d be thrilled to say this is my favorite game from 2023. It deserves every bit of praise it has already received, and a lot more than that, even. The next game from Remedy, whether Control 2 or something else entirely, is 100% my most anticipated game now.

2 The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom

Best Open-World Adventure I’ve Played

Coming at my number 2 for 2023 is the immaculate The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Following up a groundbreaking title like Breath of the Wild is a tall order, especially when a huge part of what made the previous title stand out was just how much it revolutionized the Legend of Zelda formula. Yet Tears of the Kingdom not only managed to build upon every single feature present in BotW; it surpassed it in almost every way. It expanded the comparatively lonely experience of traveling Hyrule in BotW with a much more lived-in setting in TotK. Despite using the same base world map, every location felt fresh and new — not just from the locations previously visited in BotW, but in the massive additions with the Sky Islands above and the terrifying Depths below.

Despite using the same base world map, every location felt fresh and new — not just from the locations previously visited in BotW, but in the massive additions with the Sky Islands above and the terrifying Depths below.

Where BotW’s dungeons suffered under the free-form game design, TotK struck the right balance between the traditional Zelda dungeon experience and the new open-ended approach. Where BotW’s story felt at times like an afterthought, Tears of the Kingdom brought the narrative front and center. The true star of TotK, however, are the new powers that replaced BotW’s Sheikah Slate abilities. The Zonai powers, and physics system in general, are nothing short of breathtaking. How the devs were able to create such complicated interacting systems, let alone make it all run (and relatively smoothly) on the Nintendo Switch defies all understanding. Tears of the Kingdom also showcases the coolest sequence of acquiring the Master Sword and the coolest finale/boss fight of the entire franchise, which is an insane accomplishment on its own.

1 Baldur’s Gate 3

A Love Letter To My D&D Roots

Baldur’s Gate 3 is probably my greatest surprise of the year, as I imagine it was for many in the gaming community. Sure, the diehards who have been playing BG3 during its years of early access knew what a gem they were helping refine, but I clearly hadn’t been paying any attention to it. I hadn’t really enjoyed this type of RPG for many years. I grew up playing games like Icewind Dale 2, and gathering around a table with friends for some classic D&D table-top goodness, but I’d since grown away from my CRPG roots into what I view as my favorite types of games — story-drive, third-person action adventure games. I’d even tried Divinity: Original Sin 2 a few years back, and I immediately bounced off of it. I had accepted the fact that I simply didn’t enjoy this type of game anymore.

Whether through traps, dialogue trees, outright combat, or poisoning an enemy’s drinking grog, I was repeatedly amazed at the thoughtfulness that went into so many design decisions.

Then Baldur’s Gate 3 rolled around, and it so immediately hooked me in my first play session, I didn’t even realize I’d been playing for 3 hours straight. That might not seem like too massive of a gaming stretch, but with a one-year-old, sleep had become a precious thing, and with the launch of Baldur’s Gate 3, I started staying up waaaay later than I should for days on end just to sneak in extra play sessions of this game. The gameplay, voice acting, and writing all married together to deliver the perfect D&D experience. In the same way that TotK’s incredible physics systems would regularly leave me saying to myself, “I don’t know how they managed to do this,” Baldur’s Gate 3 constantly surprised me with the vast number of options and approaches available to any given scenario. Whether through traps, dialogue trees, outright combat, or poisoning an enemy’s drinking grog, I was repeatedly amazed at the thoughtfulness that went into so many design decisions. The care and attention to detail, across all aspects of this game, continues to surprise me. In May, I was 100% certain Tears of the Kingdom would be my game of the year, no contest — it’s still one of the best games I’ve ever played. But with the updates and additions that Larian continues to roll out for Baldur’s Gate 3, I couldn’t help but give my number 1 spot to BG3. Extremely well-deserved.

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