In many ways, 2023 was the perfect storm for anyone who enjoys video games. Delayed development and release timelines combined with titles that had always been planned for the year, and ended up cramming the calendar full of an endless deluge of incredible titles demanding the attention of the masses. Over the course of the last twelve months, we’ve played some of the best games not only in recent memory, but of all time, to that point that it’s already abundantly clear that 2023 is going to go down as one of gaming’s best years.
Given the embarrassment of riches we’ve been spoiled with throughout the year, it’s by no means easy to pick out a group of games that stand as the best of the best, because any such group is unavoidably going to have to leave out others that do deserve your attention. We have, however, attempted to do that here, so join us as we count down our favourite 30 games of 2023, culminating with our game of the year.
NOTE: All entries and rankings were decided by an internal vote held among the entire GamingBolt staff.
#30. SONS OF THE FOREST
Available on: PC | Developer: Endnight Games | Read Our Review
Fans of the survival genre are well aware of what Endnight Games is capable of, and the studio proved its credentials yet again with the early access launch of Sons of the Forest this year, a game that builds on the foundations of its already excellent predecessor in some exciting ways. Horrifying, immersive, addictive, and dense, even in its early access form, Sons of the Forest is one of the genre’s highlights, and we can’t wait to see how it grows going forward.
#29. DIABLO 4
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: Blizzard Entertainment | Read Our Review
Any praise that Diablo 4 gets probably comes with caveats, not least because of the way Blizzard Entertainment has fumbled its post-launch activities, but there are nonetheless plenty of things to praise. Whether that’s the game’s massive and dense open world, its unsurprisingly addictive combat and progression loop, or its surprisingly compelling story, Diablo 4 does do enough to show just how deeply the series’ formula can still get its hooks into you, even with its issues.
#28. LIKE A DRAGON: ISHIN!
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio | Read Our Review
The Like a Dragon franchise – or Yakuza, as it was called until recently – has been on an absolute roll for several years running now, and in 2023, it delivered yet another standout experience in the form of Like a Dragon: Ishin! Not only is it an excellent remake of a game that had previously never been available in the West, it’s also a surprisingly effective blend of the Yakuza formula and fascinating period Japanese setting. That is manages to stand toe-to-toe even with some of the series’ mainline outings is testament to just how much effort Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio put into the game.
#27. LORDS OF THE FALLEN
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Hexworks | Read Our Review
The wait for a second Lords of the Fallen game was a long one, but Hexworks and CI Games’ Soulslike action RPG turned out to be worth that wait, for the most part. Though not without its rough edges in some areas, for genre purists, this is still an incredibly easy game to recommend. Rewarding exploration, stunning art design, heavy and challenging combat, a well-implemented dual world mechanic, and some truly spectacular boss fights are just a few of the game’s biggest strengths.
#26. SEASON: A LETTER TO THE FUTURE
Available on: PS5, PS4, PC | Developer: Scavengers Studio | Read Our Review
SEASON: A Letter to the Future’s deliberately slow pacing and introspective tendencies lead to some of its dullest moments, but at the same time, it’s exactly those elements that also make for some of its most memorable ones. It’s a melancholic yet gorgeous game that juxtaposes the inevitable death of its world with the bountiful natural beauty it still boasts as it stumbles to its demise, and capturing that beauty as a memoir serves as a surprisingly affecting journey.
Available on: PS5, PC | Developer: Sad Owl Studios
First person puzzles aren’t exactly a rarity, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one with a central hook as creative as mind-bendingly unique as the one in Viewfinder. Your goal is simple: to take pictures and then manipulate them as 3D objects to fill in gaps in the environment so you can continue making progress. That one “gimmick”, so to speak, pervades ever second of the experience, and somehow, it never loses its charm. First experiencing how effortlessly the game executes such a different idea was easily one of our favourite gaming moments of the year.
=#23. ROBOCOP: ROGUE CITY
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Teyon | Read Our Review
With Terminator: Resistance, Teyon had already proved that it was more than capable of developing a solid game based on a classic sci-fi film franchise, and this year, the developer did that again with RoboCop: Rogue City, a game that captures the RoboCop vibe so well it’s hard not to be impressed if you have even a passing interest in the property. Though it’s lacking in the sheen of a AAA blockbuster, Rogue City is nonetheless simultaneously a great RoboCop game and an absolute blast of a first person shooter.
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Don’t Nod | Read Our Review
Don’t Nod is usually associated with a very particular kind of game, but though Jusant is very much not that kind of game, it still probably ranks as one of the best the studio has ever put out. Climbing a single, dauntingly large mountain is the puzzle-platformer’s north star from beginning to end, and it gets the absolute most out of that simple yet effective premise. It’s simultaneously zen and mechanically engaging, it looks gorgeous, and it tells a surprisingly compelling story. Without a doubt, it’s one of 2023’s best surprises.
#22. DEAD ISLAND 2
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Dambuster Studios | Read Our Review
After a development cycle as long and turbulent as the one it had, Dead Island 2 was fully expected by many to be something of a dumpster fire, so the fact that it turned out as well as it did is nothing short of a mini-miracle. No, it didn’t set the world on fire by any means, but though there’s nothing particularly extraordinary about it, it’s still a solid, riotously enjoyable zombie slasher. With brutal and gleefully gory combat, stunning visuals, and a well-realized setting that’s full of personality, Dead Island 2 is much better than most had expected it would be.
#21. EVERSPACE 2
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Rockfish Games | Read Our Review
Having been out in early access as long as it was, there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that Everspace 2 was going to be a really good game, and when upon its 1.0 launch in 2023, that’s exactly what it turned out to be. On top of building on the arcade dogfighting combat of its predecessor, Everspace 2 also delivers a large open world that’s consistently fun to explore, as well as genuinely engaging loot-driven progression mechanics. The packed nature of 2023 has seen Everspace 2 slipping under the radar for many, but it’s well worth a look.
#20. WILD HEARTS
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Omega Force | Read Our Review
Wild Hearts doesn’t come close to topping Monster Hunter off its thrown, but in its own rights, it’s still a damn good experience that puts some interesting twists on Capcom’s monster hunting formula. Obviously, it excels in the areas that matter most in a game such as this, those being incredible enemy design, thrilling boss fights, and slick combat, but on top of that, it also carves out its own identity with its crafting mechanics and the on-the-fly building that defines so much of the experience.
#19. PIKMIN 4
Available on: Nintendo Switch | Developer: Nintendo | Read Our Review
Nintendo sure took its sweet time getting Pikmin 4 out the door, but boy oh boy was it absolutely worth the wait. The series’ bizarre take on real-time strategy gameplay formula has always had a hold on its audiences, but Pikmin 4 refines and improves it to take it to completely new heights. Whether through its bevy of smaller improvements that come together to elevate the core formula in excellent ways, or through significant new additions (chief among them being Oatchi), Pikmin 4 easily stands as the ultimate realization of the beloved Pikmin formula.
=#17. HORIZON FORBIDDEN WEST: BURNING SHORES
Available on: PS5 | Developer: Guerrilla Games | Read Our Review
Horizon went full Hollywood with its Burning Shores expansion in 2023, in more ways than one. Taking Aloy to what remains of Los Angeles in the series’ post-post-apocalyptic world, the expansion is yet another stunning outing for Guerrilla’s action RPG franchise. A new open world location, more gorgeous sights to behold, and more incredible battles against machines would have been enough to make Burning Shores worthy of your attention, and with an excellent new character Seyka and one of the most astounding set pieces we’ve experienced in a game in quite some time, it becomes even more unmissable.
=#17. FORZA MOTORSPORT
Available on: Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Turn 10 Studios | Read Our Review
The wait for Forza Motorsport’s eighth mainline entry was a surprisingly long one, and though the jury is still out on whether the 2023 instalment was as successful of a series reinvention as many had hoped it would be, there’s no doubting that, on its own merits, it’s a hell of a racing sim. It boasts all the high production values, stunning technical advancements, and obsession emphasis on realism and authenticity that you expect to see in a Forza Motorsport game. Yes, poor execution of some of its bigger new ideas does hamper the experience, but there’s a solid foundation here for Turn 10 Studios to build on.
#16. LIES OF P
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: Neowiz Games, Round8 Studio | Read Our Review
The explosion in popularity the Soulslike genre has enjoyed over the last decade has resulted in a bevy of imitators that have attempted to capture the biggest strengths of FromSoftware’s works, but none of them have done so as effectively as Lies of P does. The premise of a Soulslike set in a Pinocchio world with Bloodborne’s gothic aesthetic is a fascinating one in and of itself, and Lies of P realizes that vision incredibly well. Add to that excellent level design, engaging exploration, and deeply challenging and satisfying combat, and you get an unmissable gem for all Soulslike fans.
#15. CYBERPUNK 2077: PHANTOM LIBERTY
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: CD Projekt RED | Read Our Review
Cyberpunk 2077 made a remarkable comeback in 2023, and the incredible Phantom Liberty had a huge role to play on that. Powered by many gameplay overhauls of Update 2.0 and benefiting from the many coats of post-launch polish that CD Projekt RED has applied to the game over the last couple of years, the expansion delivers what might even be some of the best content the studio has ever put out. From the first second to its last, Phantom Liberty is a gripping, captivating spy thriller story that truly showcases the potential that this IP has when handled properly.
#14. FINAL FANTASY 16
Available on: PS5 | Developer: Square Enix | Read Our Review
Like pretty much every new mainline Final Fantasy game in the last couple of decades, Final Fantasy 16 is certainly a divisive game, but here at GamingBolt, we’ve got a lot of love for the action game. And yes, it very much is an action game, not an RPG, something that, combined with the game’s mature tone and gritty setting, gives it a very distinct identity that sets it apart from the rest of the series. Thrilling combat, exhilarating boss fights, stunning visuals, and an engaging story come together in Square Enix’s epic in ways that we’ll be thinking about for a long time to come.
#13. RESIDENT EVIL 4
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PC | Developer: Capcom | Read Our Review
Given the gargantuan legacy of the original Resident Evil 4, remaking it in comprehensive fashion was also going to be a risky task, but as Capcom has proven multiple times, it’s capable of shouldering all of that responsibility with the utmost confidence. The RE4 remake is, somehow, an even better version of what’s already one of the greatest games ever made, combining tight level design and top-tier combat with the kind of incredible production values and technical polish that the survival horror series has come to be associated with.
#12. STREET FIGHTER 6
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PC | Developer: Capcom | Read Our Review
Given the rich vein of form Capcom has been in for the last half decade or so, expectations from Street Fighter 6 were monumentally high, but of course, Capcom being Capcom, the game delivers on those expectations, and then some. Unsurprisingly, the game boasts immaculately balanced fighting mechanics that evolve the series’ core mechanical strengths in truly meaningful ways, while on a more zoomed out level, it also delivers a smattering of addictive, varied, well-produced content that can keep you occupied for endless hours. The only reason we haven’t placed Street Fighter 6 higher on our list is because of the several questionable monetization decisions Capcom has made in the wake of its launch. Sadly, that’s something that the fighting genre seems incapable of disassociating itself with.
#11. STAR WARS JEDI: SURVIVOR
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Respawn Entertainment | Read Our Review
After Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, looking back, Fallen Order almost feels like a rough proof of concept- which is surprising, given how well-received the first game was. But that’s just how good the sequel is. Not only does it go bigger and better in every way possible, more importantly, it does so smartly- showing restraint where it’s necessary, and going all-out where it should. From the significant improvements made to the core combat and traversal mechanics to the much more rewarding exploration, driven by better Metroidvania level design and a greater emphasis on larger, semi-open world spaces, Jedi: Survivor meaningfully builds on its predecessor’s foundations in several areas, while also telling one of the most gripping Star Wars stories we’ve seen across all media in quite some time. If it hadn’t been plagued by technical issues at launch (and for several months afterward), it undoubtedly would have enjoyed even more widespread acclaim.
=#9. HOGWARTS LEGACY
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC | Developer: Avalanche Software | Read Our Review
In delivering an open world RPG adventure where you get to live out your fantasies as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Hogwarts Legacy is, simply put, the stuff of dreams for literally millions. Structurally, it approaches its open world in pretty by-the-numbers fashion, while it also does perhaps put more of an emphasis on the areas outside of Hogwarts than it should, but even so, it’s a thoroughly impressive experience. Iconic locations from the Harry Potter universe are brought to life with incredible detail, and the game does an excellent job of completely immersing you in those locations, just the way many of us dreamed about as children and adolescents.
=#9. HI-FI RUSH
Available on: Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Tango Gameworks | Read Our Review
Hi-Fi Rush really just came out of nowhere, and not just because it was announced and released on the same day back in January. Just as surprising was the fact that it came from Tango Gameworks, a studio that had been known until then exclusively for its horror or horror-adjacent outings. And yet, Hi-Fi Rush is crafted with such ingenuity and love, it feels like this is the kind of game Tango has always been making. It’s a charming, vibrant, gorgeous game that’s as much of a blast to play as it is a joy to look at and listen to. It’s a really a one-of-a-kind experience, and without a shadow of doubt, one of the best and brightest wins Xbox has enjoyed in years.
#8. DEAD SPACE
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Motive Studio | Read Our Review
Thanks to the resurgence of survival horror, genre fans have been treated to several unforgettable games in recent years, but very few of them cand hold a candle to the excellent of 2023’s Dead Space remake. Simultaneously fresh and familiar, the remake is the best version of a game that, even in its original form, was one of the greatest survival horror games of all time. It makes just the right amount of changes and tweaks to the gameplay and design side of things, while significantly uplifting the audio-visual and narrative elements of the experience, all of which comes together in glorious fashion to create an instant horror classic.
#7. SUPER MARIO BROS. WONDER
Available on: Nintendo Switch | Developer: Nintendo | Read Our Review
The disparity between the quality and pedigree of Super Mario’s line of 2D and 3D platformers had grown quite stark over the years, with the New Super Mario Bros. series becoming almost synonymous with stagnancy. In 2023, however, Nintendo injected the 2D line with a jolt of lightning, courtesy of Super Mario Bros. Wonder, which has instantly gained recognition as one of the best 2D platformers we’ve ever played. Every inch of the game is bursting with boundless creativity, imagination, and a heartening desire to be weird, and as a whole, the package truly earns the “Wonder” in its title. To be able to play a new 2D Mario platformer in 2023 that can legitimately stand toe-to-toe with its 3D counterparts is nothing short of a blessing, and a most unexpected one at that.
#6. ARMORED CORE 6: FIRES OF RUBICON
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: FromSoftware | Read Our Review
FromSoftware has firmly established itself as the undisputed king of Soulslikes over the years, but this year, the legendary developer decided to take a trip down memory lane with Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon, in the process injecting new life into the cult classic mech action franchise. Explosive, bombastic mech battles, stellar boss fights of the kind that only FromSoft can craft, a startling level of freedom and complexity in its customization mechanics, and an approach to difficulty that feels simultaneously crushing and rewarding- Armored Core 6 manages to excel in all the ways that an Armored Core game should, in all the ways that a FromSoftware game should, and then some.
#5. THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TEARS OF THE KINGDOM
Available on: Nintendo Switch | Developer: Nintendo | Read Our Review
Not just any developer can thoroughly outdo one of the greatest games of all time with its direct sequel with the kind of ease that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom does, but Nintendo, of course, is not just any developer, something it proves for the umpteenth time with its latest open world behemoth. Breath of the Wild revolutionized open world design when it first came out, and Tears of the Kingdom builds on them in such spectacular ways that even the revelation that its 2017 predecessor was feels quaint in comparison.
The star of the show here is obviously the new set of abilities that Link has access to, with Ultrahand in particular turning out to be an absolute game-changer that enables spectacular mechanical complexity and variety of the kind that the franchise has never been able to accomplish before. On top of that, not only does Tears of the Kingdom build on the bones of Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule open world, it also expands it by a ridiculous degree with the addition of the Sky Islands and, of course, The Depths, which is an entire, new open world map with its own set of mechanics, content, systems, and its own unique aesthetic. Add to that an incredible soundtrack, significantly improved dungeons, a glut of spectacularly designed and ridiculously engaging content, and a much more involved story, and you get what’s easily one of the greatest games ever made.
#4. BALDUR’S GATE 3
The Baldur’s Gate franchise has always had a special place in the hearts of gaming audiences, with BioWare’s original duology being widely considered to be defining pillars of the CRPG genre. Not a lot of developers would have been deemed good enough to be equal to the task of bringing the franchise back from its slumber, but Larian Studios proved more than equal to the task- to the extent that with Baldur’s Gate 3, the Belgian developer has ended up delivering not only one of the greatest CRPGs of all time, but one of the greatest games ever made, period.
The thoroughness of Baldur’s Gate 3’s achievements is staggering, made even more so by the immense scale at which it applies them, and the perfect consistency with which it does so. Capturing the feeling of endless freedom and agency of a true DnD campaign isn’t something that games, by their very nature as programmed and finite experiences, are conducive to, but Baldur’s Gate 3 somehow manages to break free of those limitations. A gripping story, an extreme emphasis on player choice (followed by actual, weighty consequences), immense mechanical depth, a bevy of content- with all of this and more, Larian’s masterpiece has instantly become a shining example of what the gaming medium is capable of accomplishing when it is at its very best.
#3. MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN 2
Available on: PS5 | Developer: Insomniac Games | Read Our Review
Double the fun in nearly every way possible, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is the ultimate realization of the Spider-Man power fantasy, and of Insomniac’s series of webhead games. Peter Parker and Miles Morales step up together as joint protagonists, and the story the game weaves around their joint adventures is one that you can’t help but love if you have even the tiniest bit of investment in the property. From the quieter, personal moments of character development and their relationships with each other to the more bombastic, high-octane set pieces revolving around the likes of Venom, Kraven the Hunter, and the Lizard, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is firing on all cylinders non-stop.
And of course, it makes similar leaps forward where its core gameplay loop is concerned as well. The trifecta of webswinging, combat, and stealth was already excellently realized in the previous two instalments, but Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 polishes it to an absolute sheen with some key additions that make surprisingly drastic improvements to the gameplay experience, from the addition of the Web Wings to the sharp increase in swinging speed enabled by the PS5’s SSD to the added emphasis placed on flashy abilities instead of gadgets. 2023 may have been a light year in terms of first party PlayStation releases, but if Sony was going to release only one major title the entire year, it couldn’t have picked a better one than Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
Available on: Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Bethesda Game Studios | Read Our Review
We’d be foolish not to acknowledge the fact that Starfield has proved to be quite a divisive game, and that for many, it didn’t exactly capture the Bethesda RPG magic that the studio’s past games have been known for. There’s merit to that sentiment for sure, but for our money, though Starfield is perhaps not what many wanted it to be, it’s still an excellent game- one of the best we’ve played all year, in fact.
It’s a vast, limitless experience, offering up a galaxy that’s teeming with a smattering of incredible content to dive into, not only in terms of the optional content – which, of course, is something that Bethesda RPGs have always excelled at – but also with its main story, which hasn’t necessarily been one of the studio’s strong points in the past. Starfield creates a wonderfully realized world with a strong sense of place, and it’s entirely too easy to completely lose yourself in it, its history, its people, and their conflicts.
On the gameplay front, around its core, classic Bethesda RPG experience (which is elevated by layered and rewarding progression mechanic) and surprisingly good combat, Starfield also offers entire game-sized systems that are entirely optional and ridiculously addictive, like being able to build your own ships, or surveying desolate planets, or building and managing your own outposts. With its sheer breadth of the content and the absolute freedom it affords to players, it’s hard not to be impressed by Starfield’s accomplishments.
GAMINGBOLT’S GAME OF THE YEAR 2023 – ALAN WAKE 2
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Remedy Entertainment | Read Our Review
Remedy Entertainment spent thirteen years trying to get Alan Wake 2 off the ground, and after several failed attempts, the studio finally released the long-awaited sequel this year, turning the franchise into a full-blown survival horror experience. And as anyone who’s played it would tell you, it’s easy to see why Remedy had as much belief in confidence in the game and its vision as it did.
It’s fair to say that Remedy is one of the most visionary studios in the industry, and the level of creativity and uniqueness it constantly strives for is something we could stand to see more of from other developers. And no game it has ever made exemplifies that as convincingly and unforgettable as Alan Wake 2 does. It’s a bizarre, singular game, offering something that you are unlikely to find anywhere else in the entire medium- a perfect crossroads of artistic design, technical excellence, gameplay ingenuity, and narrative brilliance.
In everything it does, Alan Wake 2 leaves absolutely no stone unturned, and from its tiniest flourishes to its most grandiose ideas, it never, ever loses sight of its artistic vision. Very rarely have we played games that tell a story this engaging, that tell it so expertly, that look as stunning and different as it does, that craft a survival horror experience as compelling, horrifying, and unsettling as this. Alan Wake 2 is an absolute unabashed masterpiece, there are no two ways about it.
In a year that’s going to go down as one of the best we’ve ever seen in gaming, in a year that’s seen the kind of games we’ve spoken about throughout the course of this feature- even in such a year, Alan Wake 2 stands out as the single most breathtaking and awe-inspiring game we’ve played. That, more than anything else, should tell you just how unbelievably spectacular it is.