15 Best Linear Games Of 2023

With this feature, we take a look back at 15 of the best linear games of 2023 that feature excellent pacing and compelling mechanics.

Posted By | On 05th, Jan. 2024

15 Best Linear Games Of 2023

While there’s a ton of fun to be had in expansive open-worlds and choice-driven RPGs, sometimes players just don’t want to be subjected to intense choice paralysis and instead be taken on thrilling rollercoaster rides that don’t really deviate from a set path. The best linear games aim to do just that, and with this feature – we will be taking a look at 15 of the best linear games that you should definitely check out.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Created by the same team that brought us the Ace Attorney series, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is all about uncovering the mystery of your own death as a ghostly version of yourself. Phantom. The gameplay revolves around exploring the curious case in complete depth and then reaching a conclusion – which really makes you feel like a detective making important decisions. It’s all accompanied by some smart writing that never fails to keep you guessing, which makes it such an endearing experience.

Fatal Frame / Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse

Fatal Frame Mask of the Lunar Eclipse

Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse released in 2008 to some great critical and commercial reception, and Koei Tecmo has been trying to bring the series back into the limelight with HD remasters for these game. The remaster of Mask of the Lunar Eclipse released earlier this year, and it does a really good job of souping up the visuals and smoothing out certain jagged edges to make the experience a lot more palatable for modern audiences. Of course, it isn’t perfect by any means – but it’s a great horror game nevertheless.

Cocoon

cocoon 1

Cocoon is a wonderful puzzle game that’s entirely built around the concept of worlds existing within worlds, and players can combine and manipulate these worlds through the use of certain orbs to solve puzzles and proceed with the story. Cocoon comes from the lead designer for INSIDE and Limbo, so you can be confident that it’s a solid game with a minimalist control scheme and an emotional story that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

Hi-Fi Rush

Hi Fi Rush Arcade Challenge Update

Tango Gameworks delivered an excellent rhythmic adventure with Hi-Fi Rush, which has quickly gone on to become one of the biggest surprise hits of this year. Hi-Fi Rush features a world where everything taps to a beat, and you must time your actions and attacks to that beat to be able to dish out damage to your opponents. It’s a wonderfully imaginative game that’s executed with great attention to detail, and should be experienced by more fans.

Season: A Letter to the Future

Season: A Letter to the Future is a game that talks about the nature of change. As the protagonist, your job is to capture the sights and sounds and take them to the next Season – a time when everyone will be unaware of what happened in the last Season. It’s a simple and laid back game with a strong focus on exploration and engaging in conversations, but the many themes that it manages to effectively convey through its story is what makes it so beautiful.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Wo Long Fallen Dynasty - Battle of Zhongyuan_02

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a Soulslike with a complex web of action and progression mechanics that beautifully flow into one another, and what we get is a game that’s surprisingly fun and approachable despite the many mechanics and systems at play. There are a few erratic difficulty spikes here and there, but Wo Long is a largely fun experience where you must overcome brutal but fair challenges ranging from petty enemies to large bosses with multiple health bars and much more.

Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon

Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon

Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is FromSoftware’s attempt at modernizing its long-running mech adventure series, and it’s fair to say that the team has largely succeeded in its objective of providing a modern experience for audiences. Armored Core 6 features a fast and frenetic combat lop that’s just a joy to engage with, and the bevy of customization options makes it all so much more compelling.

Deliver Us Mars

Deliver Us Mars

Deliver Us Mars is a spiritual successor to Deliver Us The Moon, and the many merits of the 2018 release shine brightly in Deliver Us Mars as well. The story revolves around a space crew embarking on Mars in the hopes of retrieving some stolen spaceships from a mysterious race of aliens called the Outward. It’s all written and performed well, and while the gameplay doesn’t have too many action elements – it does a good job of keeping you engaged through the compelling plot and a wide variety of gameplay options like exploration, puzzle solving, and much more.

Fort Solis

fort solis

Developer Fallen Leaf’s latest Fort Solis also sends players to explore the furthest depths of the planet Mars, as our protagonist Jack Leary embarks on a search mission for his missing crew. Fort Solis boasts a star cast with the likes of Roger Clark (the voice behind Arthur Morgan) and Troy Baker (the voice behind Joel from The Last of Us) coming to play important characters in this well-written story. Between this and a strong visual presentation powered by Unreal Engine 5, Fort Solis is a solid game that should be experienced by a lot more people.

Jusant

Jusant_03

Jusant comes from the guys at Dontnod, the studio best known for its work on the Life is Strange series. Jusant is all about reaching the top of a tall tower while overcoming the many obstacles that lie in your way. It beautifully combines mechanical challenge with immersive storytelling to create something that’s just hard to put down – once you get the hang of it.

Risk of Rain Returns

The original Risk of Rain was an excellent roguelike that featured some amazing combat and compelling progression mechanics, and Risk of Rain Returns is a remaster that knows how to package that experience in a way that feels worthwhile for veterans and newcomers alike. In addition to the base content, Risk of Rain also features enhanced multiplayer options and new build types to experiment with on your repeat playthroughs.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe

Originally released in 2011 for the Nintendo Wii, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land now has a Deluxe Edition that comes with updated graphics and smoothed-out gameplay designed for the Nintendo Switch. Much like every other Kirby game, Return to Dream Land is a simple yet fun adventure where you make your way through a wide variety of levels while consuming your enemies to get their powers and become even stronger.

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider

JoyMasher’s Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider feels like a glorious throwback to 16-bit games, thanks to some incredible art direction and smooth-flowing gameplay that remains interesting for the entire duration of the experience. Of course, there are some elements and mechanics in place to make the gameplay feel more palatable for modern audiences which makes it feel like you are reliving the glory days of SNES complete with rose-tinted glasses.

Horizon Call of the Mountain

Horizon Call of the Mountain_08

Horizon: Call of the Mountain was one of the first games to be released for PSVR2, and it’s an excellent adaptation of the full-fat Horizon experience in VR format. Sure, the open-world aspect has been swapped out for a more linear game where you make your way through carefully curated combat challenges and platforming runs – but it all works surprisingly well within the context of the game. And then of course, getting to experience the post-post-apocalyptic world of Horizon from up close is also a really distinct kind of joy in and of itself.

Planet of Lana

Planet of Lana_3

Planet of Lana puts players in the teeny tiny shoes of Lana as she kickstarts a grand adventure through fantastical realms inhabited by all sorts of robotic and humanoid creatures. Created by developer Wishfully, Planet of Lana takes players on a joyous ride through a wonderfully well-realized world and tells a heartwarming story that hits just the right notes at every moment. Add to that some amazing visuals and cinematic gameplay, and Planet of Lana becomes a thrill ride like no other.


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