The craziest year of the last decade for video games is coming to an end: we have summarized, as far as possible, the best of 2023
And that’s fine: we had fun with the Game Awards and all, but maybe it would be easier if we just summarized what they were the best video games of 2023. Or maybe not. After all, the outgoing year was simply out of all parameters: such periods have rarely been seen in the history of the medium, except perhaps in 2014. And this is why we are here. To pay homage, without following a specific order (don’t even try: we’ll see you), which titles stood out the most in one of the most extraordinary years in the entire history of gaming. Let’s go!
Pikmin 4 | Best video games 2023
Okay, the writer has only scrutinized the two progenitors of the series, but this does not take away from Pikmin 4 to rightfully enter among the best video games of 2023. We have two explanations to give you: the long one you can read in our review, as it will be for almost the entirety of this ranking. The short explanation is simple: Nintendo, for the great software house that it is, tends to lack ambition, often preferring to avoid losing the audience it has gained. Pikmin 3, even in its Deluxe version on the same console, has expanded the gameplay ideas of the series without however distorting anything. The fourth episode, however, showed what happens when an idea from the Big N really comes into its own. Canine companions, sleepless nights and other reinterpretations of the saga’s canon: reinventing itself by targeting both existing fans and new recruits is never easy for a sequel, but Pikmin 4 made it look like a walk in the park.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 | Best video games 2023
Life is full of irony. For Spider-Man, in the difficult period between the comic book event Civil War and the still detestable story Just Another Day, it was seeing the same hospital save the lives of both Aunt May and her executioner’s lackeys. For us gamers, it means seeing Activision deal with the Spyro trilogy while Insomniac Games gives birth to pearls equal to Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Who would have thought that the proponents of the non-linear platformer in Sony’s style would have exchanged places with the publisher who at the time published another Spider-Man title on PS1? We certainly don’t, and yet here we are admiring a sequel capable of amalgamating and honoring both Peter Parker and Miles Morales, each with their own heavy legacy on their shoulders, both paying homage to their comics origins and weaving an open-world canvas around them so expertly reinterpretative. Chapeau.
Dead Space – Remake | Best video games 2023
“Lots of space tonight”: thus, with the father of all understatements, Geoff Keighley commented at the time on the homogeneity of the titles that aspired to the crown of the original. But when grandfather gets up from his chair, it’s because he has something to say. And the (metaphorical, before you grab torches and pitchforks) grandfather of cosmic survival horror, Dead Space, he returned to the classroom to lecture. In space no one can hear us scream, so the Alien film saga reminds us. Scream in terror? Surely. But it’s also a miracle if so little facelift is enough to keep up with the new talent. Isaac Clarke (or rather, his tormentors) still knows (know) how to give us… space shivers. Almost as if no time had passed since 2008.
Street Fighter 6 | Best video games 2023
The streets where world warriors fight have become those of the entire world. Or rather, an open world. We have never even asked ourselves the question of how to marry this level design, now universal in its videogame ubiquity, to the fighting game genre, but apparently Ryu and company have an answer for this too. The sganassoni of Street Fighter 6 they have evolved the stories that the characters bring with them (for better and, for poor Ken Masters, for worse) and at the same time they have been able to introduce new, charismatic fighters. All without ever losing sight of the purity of a gameplay that has brought together and enchanted legions of enthusiasts. Or rather, generations of fans.
Final Fantasy XVI | Best video games 2023
Of course, every now and then a Super Mario RPG comes along that reminds us that the Kyoto Colossus was Square-Enix’s first real nest, but (let’s face it) the development and publisher team is now almost synonymous with the panorama of Sony titles . Similarly, if it weren’t for the occasional Octopath Traveler II these days it would seem that turn-based battles are a past that Square is trying to put behind them. And iconoclasm is welcome, if the results are like Final Fantasy XV, which was then followed first by Final Fantasy VII Remake and, above all, the latest Final Fantasy XVI. With an Italian dubbing for the first time ever in the over thirty-year saga and a thousand other reasons to love it, it couldn’t be missing from our list.
Hi-Fi Rush | Best video games 2023
You cannot imagine the visceral anger that comes from seeing the niche status to which it has been relegated Hi-Fi Rush. Perhaps it will be the presence of a Japanese game designer at the head of this Bethesda creature, or it will be the foresight of having included two different soundtracks for the needs of streamers. Or maybe it will be for the simple idea of game design, which combines the style of a Bayonetta-style spectacle fighter with the rhythmic intransigence of musical games. Whatever the reason, the conclusion is always the same: the game is, as things currently stand, the reason to have an Xbox console (or even not, given the presence of the title on PC). And we’re tired of pretending that the game isn’t the absolute gem that it is.
Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon | Best video games 2023
After the invasion on stage in the name of Bill Clinton, we can also see an autobiographical side that Hidetaka Miyazaki poured into the mechas of Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. You almost want to pilot one to accept the statuette at the Game Awards. Almost, of course. Partly because of FromSoftware’s typical challenge rate, and partly because we don’t have this technology yet. (And we hope that things stay like this for a long time!) But the desire comes, because like any self-respecting game from the development team it’s all a matter of habit. And once you learn how to ride a bicycle, who ever lets go of the saddle again? Or the cockpit, in this case. We have twenty more metaphors, if you want.
Metroid Prime Remastered | Best video games 2023
Did we mention that Nintendo does things its own way? Because only Nintendo can draw from the hunger of insatiable Metroid fans the brilliant idea of releasing one of the most anticipated immediately after a Direct. Whatever stork brought him here to us, luckily Metroid Prime Remastered has arrived, bringing with it many brand new textures. And cosmic horror sommeliers, the same ones who may not know that Ridley owes its name to Alien director Ridley Scott, would be surprised to discover that putting a first-person viewer on the armor was enough to anticipate Dead Space by a good five years by Samus Aran. Claustrophobic, oppressive, adrenaline-filled: Metroid Prime is this and much more. Welcome, or welcome back, to Tallon IV.
Baldur’s Gate III | Best video games 2023
Our congratulations for having made the game of the year, Larian Studios, from a video game series loved mostly by Dungeons & Dragons fans. But really. Until now, the Baldur’s Gate series enjoyed the loyalty of its niche: passionate, without a doubt, but not exactly among the most nourished. And then, as if nothing had happened, there it was Baldur’s Gate III it overturns both the expectations of gaming critics (not to mention the industry itself, at this point) and those of the developers themselves. But sometimes the secret is simply that: putting your heart into it. Entertainment as a whole, and not just video games, seems to have forgotten about it nowadays. Larian Studios no. This is how you take the statuettes home.
Alan Wake II | Best video games 2023
Not that the other contenders didn’t deserve it, mind you. The hardest part of following the Game Awards, besides the nerve-wracking wait for a new trailer, is seeing five or more moral winners compete for a single statuette. But despite not having succeeded, the newcomer Saga and the eponymous writer of Alan Wake II they managed to give us one of the best approaches to the horror genre that the gaming world can remember. Complementary in being each other’s counterpart, the two deuteragonists succeed in the difficult aim of contributing to a unique identity with two completely different gameplay experiences. Perhaps the real mental trip attributable to the game is precisely this.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder | Best video games 2023
Speaking of moral winners who lost… allow us a little curiosity: The Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s comic, won the World Fantasy Award for best novel. The following year, the category for best comic was established. “It wasn’t like closing the fence after the horse bolted, but like closing it after the horse won the Kentucky Derby,” is how Gaiman put it. It is for this reason that the category for animation at the Oscars exists and, if you grant the writer a pinch of controversy, this is the raison d’être of the “best family game”. But that’s it. If for you the accessibility of a title even for very young people in a video game industry increasingly obsessed with 18+ is not a stigma, Super Mario Bros. Wonder it is “only” the reconfirmation and reinvention at the same time of the genius that makes platformers one of the most fun genres ever. Nothing more and nothing less.
Sea of Stars | Best video games 2023
In terms of remakes, it is clear that some great classics are in the typical “to be broken in case of emergency” glass, because the salivation with which Chrono Trigger fans are waiting for a new version is now overwhelming. But not of saliva, perhaps more of stars. Boasting the same musical talent behind the aforementioned game, Sea of Stars it is yet another reconfirmation of the importance of the indie scene in preserving the most solid game design ideas. Chrono Trigger’s unique approach to turn-based combat lives here with the added bonus of some all-time high pixel art, as seen in other…