When it comes to the best video games of 2023, it was all about revisiting familiar realms. Whether it was through sequels, returning franchises, or long-awaited remakes, the pleasure was finding new things to enjoy in old games. Larian Studios created a breakout hit based on one of the most iconic role-playing franchises in the world; Nintendo let players return to the land of Hyrule for one more go at saving the world. We went to Hell, and then New York, and we liked it.
Alan Wake II
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Remedy Entertainment’s long-awaited sequel is https://www.serbagadget.id/ a fantastic mix of horror, a little detective work, and a lot of camp. The game sees the return of its titular hero after a long imprisonment in an alternate dimension, freshly escaped and fighting the supernatural elements alongside a new hero, FBI agent Saga Anderson. Players swap between the two, whose stories intertwine as Saga investigates ritualistic murders in a small town. Although Alan Wake can be deliciously scary to play sometimes, the game balances it out with surreal live-action sequences and the kind of weirdo charm you can only get when the writer, Sam Lake, makes sure to put his own likeness in the game as Saga’s fellow agent.
Baldur’s Gate 3
Platforms: PS5, PC
There’s a lot to love about Larian Studios’ D&D-inspired role-playing game, Baldur’s Gate 3, which we called “not only a throwback to a style of role-playing design enjoyed by those already won over by past games, but a fresh argument for its approach to RPGs.” The game’s choice and customization options are vast, with a dozen classes and more than two dozen sub-races to choose from, and its combat at its best is thrilling, making you feel at times like a master tactician. But it’s Baldur’s Gate 3’s story and characters that really make it shine, with a cast as lovable as they are horny. Characters like the sharp tongued (and toothed) Astarion and the more reserved Shadowheart offer rewarding journeys if you stick with building their relationships; the latter especially so, as choices made through the game can change her drastically.
Dave the Diver
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC/Mac
When we saw the first trailer for Dave the Diver we knew we were in for something special, and when the game finally came out, it did not disappoint. It’s amusing how what looks like a simple game with two broad sets of mechanics (dive and collect stuff, then serve said stuff in your sushi restaurant) can be surprisingly complex and deep. It’s the perfect game to pick up and put down when you only have a few minutes to, say, go diving, and a few more later to serve sushi, and then again later when you have some time to do extra quests and missions. Beyond that, it’s an incredible game that proves yet again that realism and “historical accuracy” always take a backseat to humor, fun, and refusing to take yourself too seriously.
Platforms: PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
With Diablo, you know what you’re getting: class-driven combat, a hellish story, sidequests, loot—but that fails to capture Diablo IV’s spark. There’s something devilishly satisfying about the game’s addictive combat and its occasionally very grotesque yet undeniably fun method of destruction that makes it hard to put down. Or, as we put it in our review: “Lilith, also known as the Daughter of Hatred, has a simple pitch for the residents of Diablo’s world of Sanctuary: Violence is fun. You should try it.” Maybe she’s onto something.
Final Fantasy XVI
Platform: PlayStation 5
We’re thoroughly convinced Final Fantasy XVI’s biggest problem is a branding issue. The game’s creators promised fans Game of Thrones. Instead, they delivered something no one expected: WWE, in the best way possible. Final Fantasy XVI’s strength is not its bloody, gritty, “fuck”-filled world; its story (a forgettable mix of medieval-inspired tropes, fictional world jargon, and a very gruff guy in leather); or its characters (a cherubic little brother, a pollyanna perfect best friend, a very gruff guy in leather). Instead, it’s the game’s combat system and its larger-than-life boss fights.