As the gaming world stops for another year, ESTNN looks back at our Game of the Year 2023, plus a few honourable mentions.
So, for the list. We had our team submit their own personal Top 10 lists, with points assigned to each game. Ultimately, we think it gave us a really interesting list of games, with a few surprises. At the end, we'll have one or two honorable mentions that just missed out. Note that not our entire staff submitted lists (just 6 in total), and not everyone submitted a full list of 10 games (just three people did). While it's been an amazing year for games, it's also been a busy year. I myself had a child and barely played 10 games this year, I mean, I almost included Football Manager 2024 to my list, and no one wants that.
The rules of our list and what games are included:
- Only games out in 2023 before December 1st
- Titles after will go into next year's list
- No console/PC rereleases of a game
- No remakes/remasters
- No DLC
- Expansions could be included, though none made the list
Game of the Year 2023
10 – Cacoon
Here is what Joseph (who put Cacoon as his Game of the Year) had to say about Cacoon:
“Cacoon is a reminder that video games haven’t hit the end of the line when it comes to creativity. Geometric Interactive’s debut game did only blow other indie games out of the water, but helped elevate the quality and variety of games released this year.”
9 – Spider-Man 2
The PS5 got its big exclusive towards the end of the year, and in a sea of massive game releases, it got a little lost. While it sold plenty, and PlayStation fans regard it as a masterful game, it probably failed to make the ripples in the wider gaming industry. That said, a number of folks on our team loved it, though it was no one persons Game of the Year.
8 – Honkai: Star Rail
A surprise entry on the least maybe, but Honkai: Star Rail was a breakout hit in 2023, and became a foundation game here at ESTNN. A number of our staff put it high on their list, hence its inclusion here. Honkai continues to grow and expand, and it's likely that 2024 will be another massive year for the title.
7 – Hogwarts Legacy
One of the games that got lost in the overall Game of the Year chatter, Hogwarts Legacy was still one of the top releases of the year, making it high on the list of a number of our staff. Little is known about what the future holds of Hogwarts Legacy, but it certainly sold well, so it's likely we'll see more from the series in future.
6 – Hi-Fi Rush
Here is what our writer, Timo had to say about Hi-Fi Rush:
“For many of us older gamers, Hi-Fi Rush felt like a time capsule back to the early days of 3D platformers and action adventures, back when everything was vibrant and full of energy. But it went far beyond that. Its rhythm-based combat and dedication to having a good time goes beyond even the titles it aims to imitate. Just look at it. What more could you ask for?”
5 – The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
A sequel that went above and beyond what the first game did. Tears of the Kingdom was a massive hit for Nintendo, and undoubtedly Game of the Year for many. What it did prove, was that Nintendo's eye for quality isn't showing signs of waning over the years. The game also showed the power of the Nintendo Switch, and while fans continue to look for its inevitable sequel, Zelda shows how much potential that little machine holds.
4 – Final Fantasy 16
A return to form for the Final Fantasy franchise, as it continues to shift and adapt with every mainline entry. It's a testament to the franchise, that FF 1, FF 10, and now FF 16 are like different series' of games, rather than sequels in the same franchise. With FF 16 the game saw another major shift, as the critically acclaimed team behind the FF 14 MMO took the driving seat and delivered a memorable experience.
3 – Alan Wake 2
Here is what our writer, Timo had to say about Alan Wake 2:
“What is there to say about Alan Wake 2 that hasn't already been said? It wears its Twin Peaks and Steven King influences on its sleeve and managed to create one of the most interesting mix-media experiences ever. Remedy has created what is an almost flawless all-timer of a video game by pushing the technology and capabilities of the medium forward like no one else. And for that, we salute them.”
2 – Diablo 4
Its entry might surprise some, but Diablo 4 was undoubtedly a return to form for the series. That said, as with all “live-service” titles these days, it's probably taken the game a few patches (or seasons in this case) to really fully live up to the name on the box. But, it's a solid entry in the series, and with an expansion dropping in late 2024, the long road of support for the title is clear to see.
1 – Space RPG
That's right! Baldur's Gate 3 is our Game of the Year. I couldn't think of a better way to describe it to avoid spoilers, so Space RPG felt fitting as you start the game in a sort of spaceship.
Joking aside, Baldur's Gate 3 has received universal praise from across the industry, and, on time of publishing has secured over 70 Game of the Year awards. It's a game that has not only highlighted what a good RPG can be, but it's shone a light on the CRPG genre at large. With a number of huge patches already, an extensive mod community and more content likely in future, Baldur's Gate 3 is a worthy winner of our 2023 Game of the Year.
Check out our 2022 Game of the Year to relive what our team thought of the previous year in video games.