The Five Best Video Games Of 2023

2023 was an absolutely incredible year for game releases. In your average year, you might get a handful of games that are agreed upon by the consensus that everyone needs to play. This year, it felt like there were three or four of those per month. So when it came time to decide what the best games were from the past year, this lone selector was suddenly overcome with guilt. Games like Alan Wake 2, Mario Wonder, Sea of Stars, and Final Fantasy 16 all just missed the cut. Any of these could be a Game of the Year contender in your average year, but unfortunately in 2023, they are among the many that did not make the final list. These are, in this lone selector’s opinion, the five best games of 2023, starting with out Game of the Year pick.

GOTY: Street Fighter 6

Deciding the GOTY every year is hard, but this year in particular was difficult with so many worthwhile contenders. With so many games having such a great case it really came down to one factor that separated Street Fighter 6 ahead of everyone else. No game that came out this year has a greater respect for not only its hardcore audience but its casual one as well. There are so many different ways you can play Street Fighter 6 from the Battle Hub, full of arcade machines and created player characters, to the Fighting Ground where those looking to become the best of the best sink the majority of their hours.

The best mode though has to be the World Tour where players undergo a grand quest with their own original Street Fighter character. This mode is a blast. Not only does it let you create an extremely powerful character that is unique to you, but the option to get into a street fight with quite literally any random passerby is a total delight. Hot dog vendor? They want to throw hands. Random old lady on the street? You best know they want the smoke. Not only does this encourage players to fight anyone they see, but it’s a really fun way to grind out the mechanics of the game and get better at Street Fighter 6 naturally. Of course, you can always just force your way through everything, learn nothing about fighting games, and watch credits with a smile on your face.

Street Fighter 6 invites the player to go deeper into its mechanics by choice, not by necessity, and that decision is leading to many players diving deep into a fighting game like they never have before. It’s a wonderful thing, and it’s this decision that allows Street Fighter 6 to earn the title of Game of the Year. See you in the fighting grounds.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Marvel’s Spider-Man was great. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales was more of the same in a good way. So with the sequel there was one big question: How are they going to top or match what they did previously? For Insomniac that was simple — take what worked before, polish it even further, and add in more fun ways to be Spider-Man. There was nothing extremely innovative about Spider-Man this year. Nothing about it felt revolutionary or that it was changing the way we felt about video games, and that’s fine because it didn’t need to be that. Instead, it just gave fans of the first game more of what they wanted with some small improvements here and there.

The glide suit? An incredible addition. The ability to switch between Miles and Peter seamlessly to fulfill quests or use their different powers? Extremely cool and a feature that really only works as well as it does on modern hardware consoles like the PlayStation 5. The plot is another well done superhero tale, and while it doesn’t quite punch you in the gut the way the first two did it leaves you feeling excited for the future of not only this franchise but the future of this universe as a whole. There is so much to build off of here and it’s going to be fun to see what direction Insomniac takes it next.

Baldur’s Gate 3

Ever since the early days of video games, developers have been chasing how to make a game that responds to player decisions the way a Dungeon Master does in Dungeons & Dragons. The idea of a game that looks at the decision a player makes and responds to that decision organically is an exciting one and while Baldur’s Gate 3 doesn’t do exactly that, it does get close. No game this year gives players the same level of freedom to come up with their own solutions to problems the way Baldur’s Gate 3 does. No other game this year lets the player kill off one of the main plot-relevant characters because they feel that’s what their character would do in the moment, and then reward them for it instead of punishing them. If you can think of it, then Baldur’s Gate 3 will probably let you do it.

It’s that freedom that makes this one of the must-play experiences of the year. Even if you’re not into Dungeons & Dragons, the way everything is formatted creates very little learning curve for the average player so they can spend less time trying to figure out the world’s rules and more time playing around in it. There is a structure for the player to follow, but you’re never required to play entirely within it. If you haven’t yet, be sure to give this one a try and experience the freedom that few games are willing to give.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Ig you need to understand how stacked 2023 was, the sequel to one of the most beloved Zelda games ever came out this year and it is not a runaway for Game of the Year, despite being a very good game. Like Spider-Man, Teard of the Kingdom is another case of a developer seeing what worked and choosing to improve on it instead of breaking it. All the elements from Breath of the Wild are back. There’s an even bigger map to explore, more crafting to complete, and more puzzles that need creative solutions. As far as a sequel to Breath of the Wild, it did what needed to be done.

Where Tears of the Kingdom improved on Breath of the Wild was in its story beats. One of the biggest complaints of the previous game was how its four “primary” dungeons all felt sparse in puzzles compared to the large bombastic dungeons of previous games. While Tears of the Kingdom didn’t necessarily bring back those old dungeons, it did add a little more flare to these story beats and the dungeons that do exist feel unique and interesting. It might not be enough for Zelda fans who want the original 3D formula back, but for those of us who love the new direction the franchise is going in it’s more of the same, but better. This is a great sequel and would probably be GOTY in any other year.

Resident Evil 4

When Resident Evil 4 Remake was announced it was honestly kinda hard to not poke fun at. The first three Resident Evil games all received remakes cause their gameplay styles were an antiquated design that was surpassed and improved upon in later titles. The game that all those later titles used as their base? Resident Evil 4. So if all the previous remakes were to make them more like Resident Evil 4, then what’s the point of a remake in that same style? Oh, just one of the best playing horror games ever made.

Resident Evil 4 is exactly what made the first game revolutionary, but cranked up to 11. It plays like a dream, every cutscene is just oozing with polish, and it is still a horrifying experience. They even managed to add in some new content that they had originally wanted to put in the first go around. The best change though might be the parry. Long gone are the days of wildly slashing at enemies, as now the player can use the knife as a parrying device to get the edge on enemies in hand-to-hand combat. Why waste bullets when you can simply roundhouse kick them to the face? Resident Evil 4 is one of the best remakes ever made and is now the definitive version for anyone who’s never played it before. If you’re looking for a fun but terrifying experience, you can’t do much better than this.