2023 was a great year for gaming but nothing made me scream “yes, all of this, in my face, now now now!” Lots of good games but no absolute clear-cut front runners like in years past; no Forbidden Wests or Life is Stranges (Lives are Strange?) It actually felt a little weird trying to rank things this year because it wasn’t as if anything on this list was vastly superior / inferior to games above and below them, but I’ve been managing to do so for almost two decades and I ain’t stopping now.

The usual rule / caveat: a game on this list does not have to be a 2023 release, but I have to have played it for the first time or really gotten into it for the first time this year. There were some cuts that surprised me, but having stared at this list for long enough, it feels right. Without further ado…



Ostensibly a survival horror game, Signalis goes beyond that. It has many trappings and tropes of early Silent Hill and Resident Evil games, but the story about identity, love and what it means to exist (all seen through the eyes of an android) really tugged at my heartstrings while I was paradoxically terrified of what the next big gross thing to jump out at me would be. A YouTube comment I remember called it “Silent Hill meets Ghost in the Shell,” and if you mix in a dose of Neon Genesis Evangelion, I couldn’t think of a more perfect description.

9) The Medium


The Medium is a good mix of puzzling and frustrating. It’s creepy, unnerving and very atmospheric, and as one of the first PS5 games I played the visuals knocked me out. I was rooting for Marianne all the way through her quest to solve the mystery of her family while using two versions of herself to solve puzzles and then running from all sorts of evil things. I’m glad I played this.

8) Gotham Knights


Also known as “Batgirl: Arkham City” during most of my playthrough, GK is a blast if you’re in the right mood. The idea is solid AF: if Batman dies, what happens to Gotham and who picks up the slack? Sadly the premise never quite meshes with the actual gameplay. The game is quite a bit shallower than the Arkham series; the combat is kiddie-pool deep compared to Arkham and the RPG elements don’t ever quite seem to fit in or know what they’re doing there. However, chasing and beating up gang members, solving crimes, leaping off of and flying from tall buildings, fighting and pummeling supervillains and seeing the Bat Family grow into their own selves makes for a pretty fun game that I still had a grand old time with. Plus, NO FREAKING RIDDLER TROPHIES.

7) The Callisto Protocol


When I heard about how broken and horrible and ‘how dare they release this’ The Callisto Protocol was, my expectations were nice and lowered, so it was doubly perplexing when I played it and kept thinking to myself “what game did everyone else play?” because this is actually a pretty great game. The dodging takes getting used to but is very effective, the guns feel punchy, the jumpscares work and the atmosphere feels appropriately gross and dreadful. The Callisto Protocol doesn’t do anything new but it does everything right, and it’s worth a shot.

6) Resident Evil 4


As the remake of Resident Evil 4 approached I felt more and more that the original didn’t need to be remade. After a couple of stubborn false starts, re-experiencing Leon and Ashley’s adventure with my current eyes was actually a great deal of fun. Did I enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the original in 2005? No. You can’t go home again, especially after the remakes of 2 and 3. But after how much I loved RE2make & RE3make and after how much those two games greatly benefitted from new technology, RE4make holds its own very well. They kept what still works, they altered and adapted what doesn’t and I look forward to playing it umpteen more times for 100% completion.

5) Horizon Forbidden West: The Burning Shores


I was more than happy to pour another 50+ hours into playing the PS5 version of Forbidden West this year so I could get to some of the best DLC I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. The Burning Shores is crammed full of things to do and major set pieces that really push Horizon to its limit (it becomes very obvious very quickly why this DLC couldn’t be squeezed into the PS4 version). The new area feels appropriately vast and dreadful, the new characters and storyline fit well into the established world and the fact that Aloy finally allows herself to be human and feel something on a personal level for someone else really made Burning Shores a must-play to me.

4) Dead Space


Oh Dead Space, how I love you so. 14 years ago your predecessor was also *that close* to being my game of the year, but that just goes to show how strong the initial concept & original game was if its new, shinier version still has such an impact today. Keeping the core of what worked in 2008 and expanding around with a bigger & more-connected map and several more things to do is still a formula that works beautifully. It was a real joy to play a refined version of one of my favourite games of yesteryear. The scares still scare, the characters are still the heroes and jerks I remember and giving Isaac the voice he would have in DS2 and 3 works wonders. Oh, and THANK YOU, devs, for correcting that massive “how the hell does that work” plot hole at the end. 😅😆

3) Spider-Man 2


Spider-Man 2 is everything I could’ve wanted out of a sequel. The web-slinging is still as cathartic as ever and the addition of the “web wings” works great. The combat still works with all the new moves, gadgets and powers, with or without the black suit. Switching between Peter and Miles works surprisingly well and it’s always funny when you run into one of them while playing as the other. And the game doesn’t feel as bloated as I’d feared. It IS a big game and DOES have a lot crammed into it, but I never felt bogged down by any of it; it’s all a joy to do. I love spending hours just swinging around looking for items I’ve missed, crimes to foil, character missions to level up with and then maybe considering possibly doing a main mission, if I must. And what a story! No spoilers here, and yeah it IS a superhero game, but for what it’s worth Spider-Man 2 goes places and it isn’t afraid to really mess with canon and expectations, and I’m very happy it does. I’m very happy with everything it does.

2) Saints Row


Saints Row 2022 / 5 / The New One is just plain fun. Yes, it’s a game out of a different time, but everyone knew that Saints Row IV could never be topped so rebooting it made sense, and in my opinion it works extremely well if you go into it with eyes open. Saints Row has some great humour, the game mechanics work perfectly, it has one bajillion sorts of side missions for the completionist nutbars like me and I just love my new Boss; she’s such an unforgiving & unflappable badass. It’s just a shame that it launched so broken because so few people gave this gem a chance when it launched. I didn’t myself and now I’m sad about that, but hey, better late than never. 👌

1) Final Fantasy XVI


This one surprises me, but after so much mental juggling it just feels right in the end.

I’ve always had a nebulous relationship with the Final Fantasy series. What does the term “Final Fantasy'' even mean to most people? To many, recent FF games have strayed from their traditional place, but for me, that never happened. I’ve always been between ankle-deep to waist-deep into the Final Fantasy pool at best, but now that I’ve fully dived in, wow.


I went into Final Fantasy XVI just hoping for a good video game. With low expectations and without watching any trailers until maybe the week before, I just walked into my local GameStop and walked out with my prize. Sixty hours later, having hunted many bounties as given to me by a Moogle, figured out my preferred personal loadout of eikons & spells and wrung every story and side mission out of all the characters I’ve met on Clive Rosfield’s journey, I’d say FF16 very easily meets my low “good video game” bar. 😆

I cannot emphasize enough how much I appreciate the fact that FF16 seems to have been designed for people like me, players who’ve never had enough patience to beat one. I absolutely loved the “cheat rings.” Say what you want about “gitting gud” and the player needing to elevate themselves to beat a hard game, but I’ve put so many games down over the years and never returned because I would get stuck and frustrated. Once I felt comfortable enough to unequip the rings, I was already thirty hours in and had gotten invested in Clive and Jill’s journey to free their fellow Bearers and to free all of humanity from the curse of the Mothercrystals, rather than be stuck at the same boss for ten years because of one thing I couldn’t figure out (looking at you, Tidus and Lightning!)


Even though I’ve never truly connected with the FF series until now, I really wanted to see XVI through to the end. Ultimately (Ultima-tely? 😂) this isn’t a prize for 16 as much as it is a recognition of the place Final Fantasy has had in my life. VII has impacted so many other games I’ve enjoyed. X’s music will always make me stop and listen. And despite the snark and eye-rolls that it gets and the fact that I never beat it, XIII is still my favourite one and it came oh so very close to being my GOTY all those years ago.

To cut to the chase: the ending of XVI continues to haunt and perplex me, the characters and their relationships with each other are great, the combat works without overwhelming me and I feel that a massive check box in my gaming life has finally been ticked off. Clive, Joshua, Jill, Torgal, all of you, congratulations. Final Fantasy XVI is my 2023 Game of the Year. Thank you so much, Square Enix. I get it now.


Posted by T_Prime Fri, 26 Jan 2024 09:51:43 (comments: 3)
Fri, 26 Jan 2024 16:44:13
1. We have a case of another rogue apostrophe. So make me edit to view the post everyone.

2. I think this is a good list. I don't know for sure, as I haven't played a single game on it. However, there are definitely games on here I want to play. So I appreciate the feedback.
Sat, 27 Jan 2024 18:36:38

I'm definitely playing RE4 and Dead Space remakes this year. I'd forgotten about the Callisto Protocol; I may check that out soon.

Sat, 27 Jan 2024 20:28:17

Very nice list, FF16 is a really cool game. Loved SM2 as well.

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