May 18, 2024

Game Informer’s Top 10 Games of 2023

From beginning to end, 2023 was a standout year for games. Every month brought a new selection of games that impressed with creativity, technical sophistication, artistic depth, and design brilliance. Tiny indie teams competed with massive triple-A projects for the gaming public’s attention. The result was one of the most enjoyable years of new games in a long time.

As we come to the end of this year, we’re celebrating the very best of those games that crossed our screens over the last year. Read below to discover the projects we felt rose above the fray, earning our highest praise.

10

Street Fighter 6

Street Fighter 6 practically overcorrects on Street Fighter V’s mistakes. Instead of a bare-bones launch, it packs a ton of cool features from the get-go. The biggest is World Tour, a goofy and enjoyable single-player campaign letting us hang out with the main cast and fight bizarre strangers in a surprisingly large sandbox.

Of course, the one-on-one fighting is the franchise’s bread and butter, and it’s as fun and polished as ever. Thanks to the new Drive System, we loved playing new twists on old favorites like Ryu, Chun-Li, and Guile while falling in love with newcomers such as Kimberly, Manon, and Jamie. Best of all, every Shoryuken, Flash Kick, and Hundred Hand Slap looks fantastic, thanks to the game’s fluid animations and colorfully vibrant graffiti paint effects.

Superb onboarding features such as simple yet robust tutorials ensure even rookies can catch up to veterans in no time. And even if they don’t, the streamlined inputs of the new Modern control scheme flatten the playing field, allowing newcomers to hold their own while letting experienced players go all out. Testing those skills in the online battle hub recaptures the old-school thrill of creating arcade rivalries with friends and strangers alike. Street Fighter 6 is the year’s best fighter and one of the finest in the genre’s history.


Street Fighter 6


Platform:
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date:
June 2, 2023

9

Sea of Stars

Sea of Stars follows the journey of two fated warriors and their childhood friend as they fight the forces of destiny to defeat immortal quarreling beings. The story is as large as the adventure, and it wears its Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG (among other games) inspirations on its sleeves, crafting a consistently joyful throwback experience. The fantastic art style and excellent music (featuring work from famed Square Enix composer Yasunori Mitsuda) make Sea of Stars feel like that fantastic RPG from your childhood that you never got around to playing.

But even with all the inherent nostalgia, it feels like a contemporary RPG with excellent modern combat, fun movement, and a thrilling pace. This isn’t an RPG where you need to spend time grinding just to see what happens next, but you can take a break to go fishing if you want.

The indie scene is full of games playing in the sandbox of your childhood video game memories. Sea of Stars isn’t unique in that way, but the reason it makes our top 10 is how well developer Sabotage executed delivering an RPG experience even better than what we remember while still feeling like it was born of another era. Even if you have no nostalgia for the RPGs that inspired Sea of Stars, it’s still worth spending time with Solstice Warriors Valere and Zale and their friend Garl.


Sea of Stars


Platform:
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Release Date:
August 29, 2023

8

Jusant

Jusant succeeds by being wholly singular. From the jump, you have one goal: climb up. Everything else is in service to that one objective.

Perhaps an obvious statement, but this is most apparent – and most interesting – in the game’s mechanics. Developer Donʼt Nod put serious thought into translating the act of mountain climbing onto a video game controller; you control each hand individually, when you climb up, where to create anchor points, and so on. It asks you to think about each movement you make and consider your path forward. In that way, it’s a puzzle game, but one that neatly mimics the physicality of the sport it borrows from.

Not unlike Death Stranding did for hiking in 2019, Jusant is all about the labor of movement and the careful consideration of navigating natural terrain. That’s a unique position for a game to be in. A lot of games want movement to feel effortless; it helps create the fun. But Jusant’s fun lies in its arduousness, in completing complex challenges that take time and careful consideration. And it does so with shocking success.

Jusant is unlike much else, and it’s sure to be one of the hidden gems of 2023 – and maybe one of the hidden gems of Donʼt Nod’s catalog, which is mostly known for its narrative adventure games like Life Is Strange. But if you’re itching for a different experience, you’d be remiss not to take this climb.


Jusant


Platform:
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Release Date:
October 31, 2023

7

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

If there was an award for the most aptly named video game of 2023, it would go to Super Mario Bros. Wonder. With this latest entry in one of the most iconic franchises in gaming, Nintendo successfully instilled an unrivaled sense of wonder and excitement around every corner. Even as players move through 2D platforming stages in the most well-worn convention in video games, Super Mario Bros. Wonder brims with creativity and surprises.

The core platforming feels as good as Mario ever has, but Wonder is perhaps most notable for the deviations it makes from the base franchise formula. Whether it’s the gameplay-modifying Badge system or the all-new power-ups like the Elephant Fruit, Super Mario Bros. Wonder takes the long-running series in exciting new directions.

However, the stars of the game are the eponymous Wonder Effects, which transform the stage (and sometimes our heroes) in zany and novel ways. Perhaps the most impressive part is that these Wonder Effects happen in every single mainline level. These absurdly creative transformations kept us on our toes as we eagerly anticipated what awaited us in future levels.

Those Wonder Effects combine with the expectedly stellar level design that has kept the Mario franchise the genre leader for nearly four decades. The result is one of the best games in one of the most beloved series, easily earning a spot among the greatest releases of 2023.


Super Mario Bros. Wonder


Platform:
Switch
Release Date:
October 20, 2023

6

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

In many ways, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the Empire Strikes Back of Respawn’s single-player Star Wars series. The story is darker and more mature, the setpieces are bigger and more impressive, and it expands on its predecessor in virtually every way. Though some games reset their protagonist’s abilities between entries, Cal Kestis starts with most of his upgrades right off the bat, and feeling his toolset of combat and traversal abilities somehow expand even further is satisfying. Lightsabers feel better than the first game, allowing you to switch between multiple stances on the fly. It helps that there’s a generous level of enemy variety to pit your skills against.

The worlds are gorgeous but also much bigger, giving the game an open-world quality while retaining its focused, linear storytelling. And that narrative stands out as one of the best of the year. It all culminates in a breakneck ending sequence that’s not only some of the most thrilling gameplay of 2023, but also some of the best Star Wars content of the last decade. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a story about looking for hope, struggling to find it, and learning how to come out on the other side. Enhanced by striking performances from Cameron Monaghan, Debra Wilson, and Noshir Dalal and a moving, series-authentic soundtrack, we’ll be thinking about this take on a galaxy far, far away for a long, long time.


Star Wars Jedi: Survivor


Platform:
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date:
April 28, 2023 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC), 
TBA (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

5

Alan Wake 2

Alan Wake 2 shouldn’t exist. It’s a big-budget survival horror with a “2” in its title that’s a sequel to a 13-year-old game. It lacks the straightforwardness, linear storytelling, and deluge of bombastic action we’ve come to expect from the triple-A space, instead delivering a gorgeously claustrophobic and strange True Detective-inspired mystery about art and what words and pictures on a page do for reality.

Like a sleeve on a new book, the subdued restlessness of Alan Wake 2 wraps itself around the rest of the experience, which itself is an intense third-person shooter. Every encounter feels taut, be it a well-designed level of stress built into its mechanics through limited ammo and sturdy enemies, the uncomfortable sight of its monsters, or the game’s use of flashlights. The result is a unique survival horror experience set in a moody Pacific Northwest and Neo-noir-drenched New York City.

Narratively, Alan Wake 2 succeeds as a well-made closure to the titular author’s story that started in 2010 and is satisfying for even series newcomers. It’s a feat only developer Remedy Entertainment could pull off, and even then, only after a 13-year departure from the Alan Wake series to explore the weird and occult in games like Quantum Break and Control. And we’re glad Remedy did, because Alan Wake 2 is one of the year’s most impressive titles with some of 2023’s best moments, too.


Alan Wake 2


Platform:
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Release Date:
October 27, 2023

4

Resident Evil 4 (Remake)

The Resident Evil 4 remake had the unenviable task of living up to its namesake’s legacy: one of the most important – not to mention best – games of all time.

Against all odds, it pulled it off.

Resident Evil 4 is a masterclass in action game design; from the opening to the credits, it’s paced down to the millisecond to be scary, exciting, action-packed, and even a little funny. This is no easy feat, considering just how much stuff happens in the RE4 campaign; it’d be easy to make a bloated mess. And yet, developer-publisher Capcom not only lived up to the original game’s legacy but made an action game leagues better than most of its competition.

Under no circumstance is the Resident Evil 4 remake remotely as important or impactful as the original game – it’s likely not even close to the most important game of this year – but it does offer a unique perspective the originator can’t: that of hindsight. As we wrote in our review of the game, it allows us to see “decades of lessons learned throughout the game industry about how to make a third-person action game thrilling, fun, and mechanically effective reapplied to the source material.” It also invites new players to see why Resident Evil 4 is so special. For that, it’s a game you can’t miss. That it’s more fun than a remake has any right to be is just the cherry on top.


Resident Evil 4 (Remake)


Platform:
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation VR2, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, iOS
Release Date:
March 24, 2023 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PC), 
December 20, 2023 (Mac, iOS), 
December 8, 2023 (PlayStation VR2)

3

Marvel’s Spider-man 2

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a powerful exclamation point to Insomniac’s trilogy of web-swinging epics. In MCU-like fashion, spending two games building up Peter and Miles as individuals before bringing them together pays off with two well-developed heroes out of the box tackling a pair of menacing threats in the forms of Kraven and Venom.

Insomniac made its already great web-swinging several times more fun thanks to the addition of web wings. Gliding between swings is thrilling; it may be the most entertaining set of traversal mechanics we’ve ever experienced. An expanded New York City features more meaningful sidequests that plant tantalizing seeds for future stories and villains. Tack on improved combat thanks to a bevy of new Symbiote and Venom attacks for Peter and Miles, respectively, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 rivals Batmanʼs Arkham Games for the best comic book action.

While perhaps the weakest narrative in the series, the story still packs an intense and, at times, emotional wallop. Watching Peter and Harry Osborn’s believable friendship get tested by the symbiote’s presence gripped us, but seeing Miles come into his own steals the show. The young hero continues to be an inspiring force for good in his community while serving as an endearing emotional rock to Peter, earning his keep as the Spider-Man. Regardless of whose mask we’re wearing, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is superhero nirvana.


Marvel’s Spider-Man 2


Platform:
PlayStation 5
Release Date:
October 20, 2023

2

Baldur’s Gate 3

Dungeons & Dragons has been around for decades, but thanks to the release of its fifth edition in 2014, a film adaptation, and other appearances in pop culture, the game’s had a massive resurgence in the last 10 years. It’s only natural – and perhaps, inevitable – that a proper video game adaptation of D&D’s new core rules would be produced, but for a game based on human imagination and unpredictability, that’s no easy task. And yet, miraculously, Baldur’s Gate 3 from Larian Studios is a triumph.

True to the tabletop game that inspired it, BG3 offers unprecedented freedom of choice, not just allowing for a variety of outcomes, but anticipating them with a staggering 174 hours of cinematics, most of which will not be seen in a single playthrough. The narrative branches according to the player’s success and failures, often in surprising ways that pay off dozens of hours later. That depth of storytelling is most evident in the cast of companions that deliver performances of a lifetime, each with uniquely compelling stories and romantic arcs, should you choose to pursue them. The world itself is one of the most densely designed in all of gaming; with side quests and treasure buried around every corner, exploration is consistently deeply rewarding. Larian’s latest is a turning point in the history of RPGs, and its influence will be felt for years. Put simply, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a critical success.


Baldur’s Gate 3


Platform:
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Release Date:
August 3, 2023 (PC), 
September 6, 2023 (PlayStation 5), 
December 7, 2023 (Xbox Series X/S)

1

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The lead-up to the release of Tears of the Kingdom was an exciting but sparse affair. Nintendo shared surprisingly little about the game before launch, so most went into the game with unsure expectations. Would Tears of Kingdom feel like a Breath of Wild expansion? Will weapons still break? What is Ultrahand? The overt secrecy paid off, though, as Nintendo managed to craft a revelatory follow-up to arguably one of the best video games it ever made with an experience that managed to both maintain what worked about the first game and make you reimagine everything you thought you knew about this instance of Hyrule. The number of excellent games released this year often felt impossible to rank in our debates, but Tears of the Kingdom still managed to come out on top, despite the difficult competition.

From the typical Zelda perspective, everything feels right in Tears of the Kingdom. Hyrule is familiar but filled with new secrets. Every dungeon and shrine has creative puzzles with interesting solutions. Leaping into the air with the paraglider is better than ever. All of those elements are great on their own, but the introduction of Ultrahand was the revelation none of us predicted. Somehow, Nintendo crafted an interactive tool that lets you do whatever you want in a setting that encourages players to bend the game to their will. Using Ultrahand is a creative exercise in cheating but without the nagging guilt of doing something wrong. And the most incredible part of Ultrahand is everyone uses it differently. No solution is incorrect, and everyone is a genius.

Ultrahand is the kind of mechanic that comes along rarely and changes how you perceive all subsequent video games. Alongside it (with a collection of other fun tools like Ascend, Recall, and Fuse) is an adventure with an engaging narrative and one of the best conclusions the Zelda franchise has ever received. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom surprised us, made us feel smart and creative, and inspired thousands to become virtual engineers with incredible creations of their own. For all those reasons, it earns Game Informer’s 2023 game of the year. 


The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom


Platform:
Switch
Release Date:
May 12, 2023

This article originally appeared in Issue 362 of Game Informer.

From beginning to end, 2023 was a standout year for games. Every month brought a new selection of games that impressed with creativity, technical sophistication, artistic depth, and design brilliance. Tiny indie teams competed with massive triple-A projects for the gaming public’s attention. The result was one of the most enjoyable years of new games in a long time.

As we come to the end of this year, we’re celebrating the very best of those games that crossed our screens over the last year. Read below to discover the projects we felt rose above the fray, earning our highest praise.

10

Street Fighter 6

Street Fighter 6 practically overcorrects on Street Fighter V’s mistakes. Instead of a bare-bones launch, it packs a ton of cool features from the get-go. The biggest is World Tour, a goofy and enjoyable single-player campaign letting us hang out with the main cast and fight bizarre strangers in a surprisingly large sandbox.

Of course, the one-on-one fighting is the franchise’s bread and butter, and it’s as fun and polished as ever. Thanks to the new Drive System, we loved playing new twists on old favorites like Ryu, Chun-Li, and Guile while falling in love with newcomers such as Kimberly, Manon, and Jamie. Best of all, every Shoryuken, Flash Kick, and Hundred Hand Slap looks fantastic, thanks to the game’s fluid animations and colorfully vibrant graffiti paint effects.

Superb onboarding features such as simple yet robust tutorials ensure even rookies can catch up to veterans in no time. And even if they don’t, the streamlined inputs of the new Modern control scheme flatten the playing field, allowing newcomers to hold their own while letting experienced players go all out. Testing those skills in the online battle hub recaptures the old-school thrill of creating arcade rivalries with friends and strangers alike. Street Fighter 6 is the year’s best fighter and one of the finest in the genre’s history.

Street Fighter 6

Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PC

Release Date:

June 2, 2023

Purchase

More Info

9

Sea of Stars

Sea of Stars follows the journey of two fated warriors and their childhood friend as they fight the forces of destiny to defeat immortal quarreling beings. The story is as large as the adventure, and it wears its Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG (among other games) inspirations on its sleeves, crafting a consistently joyful throwback experience. The fantastic art style and excellent music (featuring work from famed Square Enix composer Yasunori Mitsuda) make Sea of Stars feel like that fantastic RPG from your childhood that you never got around to playing.

But even with all the inherent nostalgia, it feels like a contemporary RPG with excellent modern combat, fun movement, and a thrilling pace. This isn’t an RPG where you need to spend time grinding just to see what happens next, but you can take a break to go fishing if you want.

The indie scene is full of games playing in the sandbox of your childhood video game memories. Sea of Stars isn’t unique in that way, but the reason it makes our top 10 is how well developer Sabotage executed delivering an RPG experience even better than what we remember while still feeling like it was born of another era. Even if you have no nostalgia for the RPGs that inspired Sea of Stars, it’s still worth spending time with Solstice Warriors Valere and Zale and their friend Garl.

Sea of Stars

Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

August 29, 2023

Purchase

More Info

8

Jusant

Jusant succeeds by being wholly singular. From the jump, you have one goal: climb up. Everything else is in service to that one objective.

Perhaps an obvious statement, but this is most apparent – and most interesting – in the game’s mechanics. Developer Donʼt Nod put serious thought into translating the act of mountain climbing onto a video game controller; you control each hand individually, when you climb up, where to create anchor points, and so on. It asks you to think about each movement you make and consider your path forward. In that way, it’s a puzzle game, but one that neatly mimics the physicality of the sport it borrows from.

Not unlike Death Stranding did for hiking in 2019, Jusant is all about the labor of movement and the careful consideration of navigating natural terrain. That’s a unique position for a game to be in. A lot of games want movement to feel effortless; it helps create the fun. But Jusant’s fun lies in its arduousness, in completing complex challenges that take time and careful consideration. And it does so with shocking success.

Jusant is unlike much else, and it’s sure to be one of the hidden gems of 2023 – and maybe one of the hidden gems of Donʼt Nod’s catalog, which is mostly known for its narrative adventure games like Life Is Strange. But if you’re itching for a different experience, you’d be remiss not to take this climb.

Jusant

Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Release Date:

October 31, 2023

Purchase

More Info

7

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

If there was an award for the most aptly named video game of 2023, it would go to Super Mario Bros. Wonder. With this latest entry in one of the most iconic franchises in gaming, Nintendo successfully instilled an unrivaled sense of wonder and excitement around every corner. Even as players move through 2D platforming stages in the most well-worn convention in video games, Super Mario Bros. Wonder brims with creativity and surprises.

The core platforming feels as good as Mario ever has, but Wonder is perhaps most notable for the deviations it makes from the base franchise formula. Whether it’s the gameplay-modifying Badge system or the all-new power-ups like the Elephant Fruit, Super Mario Bros. Wonder takes the long-running series in exciting new directions.

However, the stars of the game are the eponymous Wonder Effects, which transform the stage (and sometimes our heroes) in zany and novel ways. Perhaps the most impressive part is that these Wonder Effects happen in every single mainline level. These absurdly creative transformations kept us on our toes as we eagerly anticipated what awaited us in future levels.

Those Wonder Effects combine with the expectedly stellar level design that has kept the Mario franchise the genre leader for nearly four decades. The result is one of the best games in one of the most beloved series, easily earning a spot among the greatest releases of 2023.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Platform:

Switch

Release Date:

October 20, 2023

Purchase

More Info

6

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

In many ways, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the Empire Strikes Back of Respawn’s single-player Star Wars series. The story is darker and more mature, the setpieces are bigger and more impressive, and it expands on its predecessor in virtually every way. Though some games reset their protagonist’s abilities between entries, Cal Kestis starts with most of his upgrades right off the bat, and feeling his toolset of combat and traversal abilities somehow expand even further is satisfying. Lightsabers feel better than the first game, allowing you to switch between multiple stances on the fly. It helps that there’s a generous level of enemy variety to pit your skills against.

The worlds are gorgeous but also much bigger, giving the game an open-world quality while retaining its focused, linear storytelling. And that narrative stands out as one of the best of the year. It all culminates in a breakneck ending sequence that’s not only some of the most thrilling gameplay of 2023, but also some of the best Star Wars content of the last decade. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a story about looking for hope, struggling to find it, and learning how to come out on the other side. Enhanced by striking performances from Cameron Monaghan, Debra Wilson, and Noshir Dalal and a moving, series-authentic soundtrack, we’ll be thinking about this take on a galaxy far, far away for a long, long time.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Release Date:

April 28, 2023 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC), TBA (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Purchase

More Info

5

Alan Wake 2

Alan Wake 2 shouldn’t exist. It’s a big-budget survival horror with a “2” in its title that’s a sequel to a 13-year-old game. It lacks the straightforwardness, linear storytelling, and deluge of bombastic action we’ve come to expect from the triple-A space, instead delivering a gorgeously claustrophobic and strange True Detective-inspired mystery about art and what words and pictures on a page do for reality.

Like a sleeve on a new book, the subdued restlessness of Alan Wake 2 wraps itself around the rest of the experience, which itself is an intense third-person shooter. Every encounter feels taut, be it a well-designed level of stress built into its mechanics through limited ammo and sturdy enemies, the uncomfortable sight of its monsters, or the game’s use of flashlights. The result is a unique survival horror experience set in a moody Pacific Northwest and Neo-noir-drenched New York City.

Narratively, Alan Wake 2 succeeds as a well-made closure to the titular author’s story that started in 2010 and is satisfying for even series newcomers. It’s a feat only developer Remedy Entertainment could pull off, and even then, only after a 13-year departure from the Alan Wake series to explore the weird and occult in games like Quantum Break and Control. And we’re glad Remedy did, because Alan Wake 2 is one of the year’s most impressive titles with some of 2023’s best moments, too.

Alan Wake 2

Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Release Date:

October 27, 2023

Purchase

More Info

4

Resident Evil 4 (Remake)

The Resident Evil 4 remake had the unenviable task of living up to its namesake’s legacy: one of the most important – not to mention best – games of all time.

Against all odds, it pulled it off.

Resident Evil 4 is a masterclass in action game design; from the opening to the credits, it’s paced down to the millisecond to be scary, exciting, action-packed, and even a little funny. This is no easy feat, considering just how much stuff happens in the RE4 campaign; it’d be easy to make a bloated mess. And yet, developer-publisher Capcom not only lived up to the original game’s legacy but made an action game leagues better than most of its competition.

Under no circumstance is the Resident Evil 4 remake remotely as important or impactful as the original game – it’s likely not even close to the most important game of this year – but it does offer a unique perspective the originator can’t: that of hindsight. As we wrote in our review of the game, it allows us to see “decades of lessons learned throughout the game industry about how to make a third-person action game thrilling, fun, and mechanically effective reapplied to the source material.” It also invites new players to see why Resident Evil 4 is so special. For that, it’s a game you can’t miss. That it’s more fun than a remake has any right to be is just the cherry on top.

Resident Evil 4 (Remake)

Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation VR2, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, iOS

Release Date:

March 24, 2023 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PC), December 20, 2023 (Mac, iOS), December 8, 2023 (PlayStation VR2)

Purchase

More Info

3

Marvel’s Spider-man 2

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a powerful exclamation point to Insomniac’s trilogy of web-swinging epics. In MCU-like fashion, spending two games building up Peter and Miles as individuals before bringing them together pays off with two well-developed heroes out of the box tackling a pair of menacing threats in the forms of Kraven and Venom.

Insomniac made its already great web-swinging several times more fun thanks to the addition of web wings. Gliding between swings is thrilling; it may be the most entertaining set of traversal mechanics we’ve ever experienced. An expanded New York City features more meaningful sidequests that plant tantalizing seeds for future stories and villains. Tack on improved combat thanks to a bevy of new Symbiote and Venom attacks for Peter and Miles, respectively, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 rivals Batmanʼs Arkham Games for the best comic book action.

While perhaps the weakest narrative in the series, the story still packs an intense and, at times, emotional wallop. Watching Peter and Harry Osborn’s believable friendship get tested by the symbiote’s presence gripped us, but seeing Miles come into his own steals the show. The young hero continues to be an inspiring force for good in his community while serving as an endearing emotional rock to Peter, earning his keep as the Spider-Man. Regardless of whose mask we’re wearing, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is superhero nirvana.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Platform:

PlayStation 5

Release Date:

October 20, 2023

Purchase

More Info

2

Baldur’s Gate 3

Dungeons & Dragons has been around for decades, but thanks to the release of its fifth edition in 2014, a film adaptation, and other appearances in pop culture, the game’s had a massive resurgence in the last 10 years. It’s only natural – and perhaps, inevitable – that a proper video game adaptation of D&D’s new core rules would be produced, but for a game based on human imagination and unpredictability, that’s no easy task. And yet, miraculously, Baldur’s Gate 3 from Larian Studios is a triumph.

True to the tabletop game that inspired it, BG3 offers unprecedented freedom of choice, not just allowing for a variety of outcomes, but anticipating them with a staggering 174 hours of cinematics, most of which will not be seen in a single playthrough. The narrative branches according to the player’s success and failures, often in surprising ways that pay off dozens of hours later. That depth of storytelling is most evident in the cast of companions that deliver performances of a lifetime, each with uniquely compelling stories and romantic arcs, should you choose to pursue them. The world itself is one of the most densely designed in all of gaming; with side quests and treasure buried around every corner, exploration is consistently deeply rewarding. Larian’s latest is a turning point in the history of RPGs, and its influence will be felt for years. Put simply, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a critical success.

Baldur’s Gate 3

Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Release Date:

August 3, 2023 (PC), September 6, 2023 (PlayStation 5), December 7, 2023 (Xbox Series X/S)

Purchase

More Info

1

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The lead-up to the release of Tears of the Kingdom was an exciting but sparse affair. Nintendo shared surprisingly little about the game before launch, so most went into the game with unsure expectations. Would Tears of Kingdom feel like a Breath of Wild expansion? Will weapons still break? What is Ultrahand? The overt secrecy paid off, though, as Nintendo managed to craft a revelatory follow-up to arguably one of the best video games it ever made with an experience that managed to both maintain what worked about the first game and make you reimagine everything you thought you knew about this instance of Hyrule. The number of excellent games released this year often felt impossible to rank in our debates, but Tears of the Kingdom still managed to come out on top, despite the difficult competition.

From the typical Zelda perspective, everything feels right in Tears of the Kingdom. Hyrule is familiar but filled with new secrets. Every dungeon and shrine has creative puzzles with interesting solutions. Leaping into the air with the paraglider is better than ever. All of those elements are great on their own, but the introduction of Ultrahand was the revelation none of us predicted. Somehow, Nintendo crafted an interactive tool that lets you do whatever you want in a setting that encourages players to bend the game to their will. Using Ultrahand is a creative exercise in cheating but without the nagging guilt of doing something wrong. And the most incredible part of Ultrahand is everyone uses it differently. No solution is incorrect, and everyone is a genius.

Ultrahand is the kind of mechanic that comes along rarely and changes how you perceive all subsequent video games. Alongside it (with a collection of other fun tools like Ascend, Recall, and Fuse) is an adventure with an engaging narrative and one of the best conclusions the Zelda franchise has ever received. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom surprised us, made us feel smart and creative, and inspired thousands to become virtual engineers with incredible creations of their own. For all those reasons, it earns Game Informer’s 2023 game of the year. 

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Platform:

Switch

Release Date:

May 12, 2023

Purchase

More Info

This article originally appeared in Issue 362 of Game Informer.Read MoreGame Informer

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