If you make a purchase after following a link on our site, we may earn a small commission. Learn more.

The 15 Best Games of 2023: GameSpew Edition

GameSpew Game of the Year 2023

2023 has been quite the year for games. For consumers, it’s been mostly excellent, with so many fantastic titles releasing that curating this list of 15 best games of the year has been very difficult. But for people in the industry, it’s been a difficult one. We’ve never seen so many layoffs across almost all areas of the gaming industry, fuelled in part by the general economic crisis we currently find ourselves in. To those affected and who have lost their jobs, our hearts go out to you. Thank you for all your hard work in creating fantastic games for us, and we hope that 2024 has great things in store for you.

We’re here to celebrate the best games of the year, and narrowing them down hasn’t been easy. Here at GameSpew, we celebrate both AAA and indie games in equal measure, and we’ve tried to ensure our list of the best games of 2023 reflect that. We’ve reviewed over 300 games this year and written about hundreds more, so there’s been a lot to sift through.

How have we chosen our best games of 2023?

We tried to be scientific in our methodology of deciding GameSpew’s games of the year 2023. Each member of the team – that’s editors Kim and Richard, and weekend editor Chris – ranked their top 20 games of the year, scoring them 1-20 accordingly (i.e. a game ranked at the top of the list scored 20 points, while the game at the bottom scored 1). We then amalgamated all three lists, adding up the scores and coming up with our ultimate top 15.

There was one major problem with this methodology: aside from a few key titles, we’ve all predominantly played different games this year, and so chose largely different titles. It was bound to happen: being such a small team, it’s natural that we have to play different games from one another to ensure a wide spread of coverage on the site. So while we’ve largely stuck to the scored rankings, we’ve made one or two necessary shuffles to ensure all of our top choices have been reflected accordingly.

We’re happy with our final 15, and while there are dozens of other games that didn’t quite make the cut, we think that the games below reflect the best of the best that 2023 had to offer, across the spectrum of AAA to indie.

15. Coral Island

Coral Island
  • Release date: 14th November
  • Developed by: Stairway Games
  • Published by: Humble Games
  • Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC

Kim: 2023 has had more than its fair share of cosy farming/life simulation games, and I’ve had my fill of most of them. Aside from Disney Dreamlight Valley, one other truly captured my attention, and that’s Coral Island. In our review, we called it “one of the most satisfying games in the [farming sim] space”, and that’s a sentiment I stand by. Yes, it has the same-old trope of inheriting a farm from an old relative – yawn – but beyond that, Coral Island takes the genre and truly makes it its own. Not only does it look absolutely incredible, its world is deeply rich with things to do, people to meet, friendships to form and places to explore.

Want to go spelunking in the mines? Go for it. Perhaps fishing or catching bugs is more your pace. Fine. You can even go deep-sea diving here, clearing the oceans of pollutants while you’re at it. And of course, at the centre of all of this is your large farmland, waiting to be cultivated and shaped by you. If you want to, of course. We love that Coral Island gives you plenty of quests to follow if you want some structure, but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t follow them. Simply enjoying existing on this beautiful island is enough.

Read our review of Coral Island

14. The Last Faith

The Last Faith Review 3 (1)
  • Release date: 15th November
  • Developed by: Kumi Souls Games
  • Published by: Playstack
  • Available on: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC

Richard: A lot of Metroidvanias have been released in 2023. None of them have captured our attention quite like Kumi Souls Games’ The Last Faith, however. Part Castlevania and part Bloodborne, with a little sprinkling of Blasphemous for good measure, The Last Faith is a dark action RPG that genuinely wants you to explore its varied and hostile world.

Playing as Eryk, a man stricken with a curse, your fate is in your hands as you do battle with foul enemies and uncover the secrets of a world where not everything is as it seems. It’s up to you how you develop your character, choosing whether to focus on melee weapons, guns or even magic. And while the game does have some issues, once it’s got its hooks in you it’s hard to drag yourself away as you vie to uncover its multiple endings and overcome its toughest bosses.

Read our review of The Last Faith

13. Season: A Letter to the Future

Season: A Letter to the Future review
  • Release date: 31st January
  • Developed and published by: Scavengers Studio
  • Available on: PS4, PS5 and PC

Kim: It seems bittersweet that we include Season: A Letter to the Future in our best games of 2023 round-up. This incredible personal journey really struck a chord with me; its tale reminds us all of the importance of memory keeping and remembering the things we love. But it was deemed unsuccessful by its developer, Scavengers Studio, and earlier this year saw mass layoffs as the studio downsized. It’s a real shame, because Season truly is a beautiful, remarkable game. And while we weren’t the only outlet to shower praise on it, sometimes it’s just not enough to attract the attention of the masses.

Season: A Letter to the Future is a very human tale, although it’s set in a lightly sci-fi world. You see, in the game’s world, a ‘Season’ represents a brand new start to the world. And while it’s never explicitly said, it’s implied that if people are still alive, they simply won’t remember what came before. It’s your job, equipped with a camera, a scrapbook and a bicycle, to explore the world around you, leaving your small town for the first time, to document the changing of the season, so that a record will remain of the previous season – and perhaps people might remember the things that were once important to them. It’s poignant, moving, and looks absolutely stunning.

Read our review of Season: A Letter to the Future

12. The Talos Principle 2

Talos Principle 2 review
  • Release date: 2nd November
  • Developed by: Croteam
  • Published by: Devolver Digital
  • Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC

Richard: 2014’s The Talos Principle was notable for a few things. It looked great for one, which made completing its brilliant puzzles even more fun. It also had a thoroughly engaging story – a philosophical yarn that asked us: what makes us human? All this, and it’s from the developer that also brought us Serious Sam. Seriously.

Honestly, we never expected a sequel to The Talos Principle, but it appears that Croteam wanted to treat us in 2023, nearly ten years after the launch of the original game. Continuing the story of its predecessor, The Talos Principle 2 instead asks: what makes a civilisation? It’s something you’ll ponder as you explore the megastructure that’s suddenly appeared near New Jerusalem, a place where 1,000 robots, or should that be humans, attempt to build a utopia by learning from the past mistakes of humanity. Ultimately, though, it’s The Talos Principle 2’s fantastic puzzles, many of which include new gameplay elements, that will win you over. In fact, this may well be the 2023 Game of the Year for thinkers.

Read our review of The Talos Principle 2

11. Slay the Princess

Slay the Princess
  • Release date: 23rd October
  • Developed and published by: Black Tabby Games
  • Available on: PC

Chris: As the title suggests, Slay the Princess tasks you with slaying a princess whose continued existence will end the world. Or will it? The mind-bending Slay the Princess takes the award for most questionable narrator, as they attempt to hold you to your task. Again, and again, and again.

Meanwhile, your (sometimes fatal) interactions with the princess and her various incarnations raise some unsettling questions about her and your nature. This gorgeous, gloomy visual novel is unlike anything we’ve ever played and it deserves to be experienced, even if you break your brain in the process.

Read more about Slay the Princess

10. Dredge

Dredge review
  • Release date: 30th March
  • Developed by: Black Salt Games
  • Published by: Team17
  • Available on: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC

Kim: Ah, Dredge. “A fishing game” doesn’t sound all too exciting, evoking images of boring, pseudo-realistic fishing simulators. And, no offence to those who love the likes of Bassmaster Fishing and its ilk, but Dredge couldn’t be more different. But, well, it still sort-of is a fishing game. But it’s a fishing game set in a Lovecraftian world that’s as mesmerising as it is inviting. And despite its dark undertones – and occasional scary moment when you’re being chased through the night by a giant sea-monster – it still somehow manages to be cosy.

So many elements add up in Dredge to make this one of the best games of the year. The exploration of its fascinating world is just a part of it. The actual act of fishing – which you’ll need to invest in different rods and tools for – is more engaging than it has any right to be, too, as is the old-fashioned inventory management system that’ll see you rotating and reorganising fish to cram in as many items as you can. There’s a narrative running through Dredge too, which is just enough to keep you hooked – but it’s simply the act of playing that we love the most.

Read our review of Dredge

9. Disney Dreamlight Valley

Disney Dreamlight Valley The Magic in Everything
  • Release date: 5th December (out of Early Access)
  • Developed and published by: Gameloft
  • Available on: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC

Kim: I’m secretly smug that I get to include Disney Dreamlight Valley in GameSpew’s 2023 Games of the Year. Technically it released last year, but this December has seen it come out of Early Access and finally into general release. It only feels right it’s on our GOTY list, since – Diablo 4 aside – I’ve poured far more time into Dreamlight Valley than anything else. Not only has it been a source of a significant amount of content for the site, but it’s also been a source of personal joy. Right from its Early Access launch, it hooked me in with its ultimate cosy gaming; the perfect way to relax and unwind from the stresses of real life. The fact it’s filled with Disney characters? Just a bonus.

Gameloft deserves major credit for the sheer amount of updates and content that has been poured into Disney Dreamlight Valley over the last year. They’ve landed like clockwork, bringing new characters, new worlds, new quests and new mechanics to the game on a regular basis. And, more recently, the huge A Rift in Time expansion – the first paid DLC – has practically doubled the size of the game, adding a whole new island. Sure, some of its missions have occasionally been a little grindy, but few other games have provided such a calming, relaxing space in an otherwise unsettled year. And for that, Disney Dreamlight Valley, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Read our review of Disney Dreamlight Valley

8. Dead Space

Dead Space
  • Release date: 27th January
  • Developed by: Motive Studio
  • Published by: Electronic Arts
  • Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC

Richard: It’s not only Capcom remaking its horror classics – EA is at it now, too. But when it comes to Dead Space, you won’t find us complaining. A series that famously went off the rails with each release, we were very excited to jump back into Dead Space again, albeit when updated visuals, additional content and enhanced mechanics.

EA Motive did a hell of a good job remaking this fright-fest as well – like all good remakes, it feels like playing Dead Space for the first time. Aside from the spookily atmospheric visuals, the biggest improvement here is being able to explore the USG Ishimura more freely. This remake packs in a great New Game Plus mode, too. We just hope that EA plans to remake the second and third games, or create new sequels.

Read our review of Dead Space

7. Dead Island 2

Dead Island 2 block
  • Release date: 21st April
  • Developed by: Dambuster Studios
  • Published by: Deep Silver
  • Available on: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC

Richard: We’d all but given up hope of Dead Island 2 seeing the light of day. But a miracle happened in 2023: not only did Dead Island 2 get released, but it was actually very good.

A story-driven gorefest, Dambuster Studios avoided the lure of going completely open world for Dead Island 2, instead opting for multiple smaller smale environments. It’s safe to say that it paid off, with the game being a surprisingly focused and polished adventure, playable alone or in co-op. Aside from each of its playable characters being fairly unique, the real standout feature of Dead Island 2 is its gore system, which accurately recreates the effects of your onslaughts. Mixed with a fun weapon modification system, it leads to some grizzly, yet entertaining, encounters.

6. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Star Wars Jedi Survivor review BD-1 and Cal
  • Release date: 28th April
  • Developed by: Respawn Entertainment
  • Published by: Electronic Arts
  • Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC

Richard: Being a Star Wars fan, I was overjoyed when EA released Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – and it proved to be one of the best Star Wars games ever made. This year we were treated to its sequel, and somehow, it’s even better.

Sure, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor had some teething problems – those sensitive to framerate fluctuations will have struggled to play it at launch – but since then it’s been improved considerably. And underneath those technical hiccups was a confident sequel that took the continued story in interesting directions while also giving Cal Kestis a range of new skills to play with. For Star Wars fans, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is an absolute treat, allowing them to use the force to overcome a wide variety of enemies and solve puzzles. There are even some open world elements to reward those who like to explore. Now I just can’t wait to find out what happens to Cal Kestis and his friends next.

Read our Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review

5. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 remake
  • Release date: 24th March
  • Developed and published by: Capcom
  • Available on: PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC

Richard: Not all of us here at GameSpew hold the original Resident Evil 4 in such high regard. When it comes to this year’s remake, however, what’s there not to like?

Capcom has continued its streak of faithfully remaking its Resident Evil titles with aplomb. 2023’s Resident Evil 4 captures the very essence of the original game but makes tweaks here and there, dramatically improving the gameplay and also allowing the story to feel fresh. While some outlandish aspects of Resident Evil 4 have been toned down a little to better fit the series in general, this is still the most action-focused entry yet. Add in excellent post-launch support, including what is quite possibly the best paid expansion we’ve played all year, and you have a classic renewed for a new generation.

Read our Resident Evil 4 review

4. Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 PS5 2 (1)
  • Release date: 3rd August (PC), 6th September (PS5), 8th December (Xbox)
  • Developed and published by: Larian Studios
  • Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC

Chris: Where to start with Baldur’s Gate 3? This is one of the most engaging RPGs you’re ever likely to play, with superbly-crafted characters, top-notch acting (narrator included) and a rich tale, dripping in lore and side-stories that’ll have you absolutely hooked. There was absolutely no way this wasn’t going in our list of best games of 2023.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is a mile deep and a mile wide – yet doesn’t ever try to tie you down. Want to do something that’s innovative, ridiculous or both? Chances are Baldur’s Gate 3 will let you get away with it. This is as close as you can get to ‘real’ Dungeons and Dragons without an actual human dungeon-master, but even if you’ve never touched DnD, you’re likely to find something you love here.

Read our review of Baldur’s Gate 3

3. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Marvel's Spider-Man 2
  • Release date: 20th October
  • Developed by: Insomniac Games
  • Published by: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Available on: PS5

Richard: It’s safe to say that Sony got an absolute bargain when it acquired Insomniac. In the three years that the PS5 has been available, how many other studios have delivered three brilliant games as well as an accomplished remaster?

For us, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 has been one of 2023’s real highlights. The original Marvel’s Spider-Man was brilliant, but this sequel takes everything Insomniac learned from that title, as well as its stand-alone expansion Miles Morales, and then adds even more features and content. The result is not only the best Spider-Man game ever made, but also quite possibly the best superhero game ever made. With its epic set-pieces, varied side-content and new wingsuit that allows you to cover the map faster than ever before, this is a must-play for anyone with a PS5.

Read our review of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

2. Alan Wake 2

Alan Wake 2
  • Release date: 27th October
  • Developed by: Remedy Entertainment
  • Published by: Epic Games
  • Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X and PC

Richard: We waited over 10 long years for Alan Wake 2. And in the end, it was well and truly worth it. Remedy Entertainment has once again proved itself to be the master of third-person, narrative-driven, action-adventure titles – and we’re confident in calling Alan Wake 2 nothing short of a masterpiece.

Reuniting players with Alan Wake, it also adds another protagonist onto the mix, FBI Agent Saga Anderson. The result is a multi-layered affair that’s riveting from the get-go. While Alan’s side of the game very much veers into survival-horror territory, playing as Saga reinvigorates the core gameplay thanks to her investigation skills and penchant for visiting her Mind Place. Mix in phenomenal visuals and some truly stand-out scenes, and we have to say, this was very close to being GameSpew’s Game of the Year.

Read our review of Alan Wake 2

1. Diablo 4

Diablo 4
  • Release date: 5th June
  • Developed and published by: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Available on: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Kim: It felt inevitable that Diablo 4 would top our Games of the Year list when it released. And after a long, eleven-year wait, 2023 has finally been that year. Was Diablo 4 worth the wait? Absolutely. Over the last more-than-a-decade, Rich and I undoubtedly put thousands of hours into Diablo 3, and before that, Rich poured likely even more into Diablo 2. Somehow managing to take the best bits of Diablo 2 and 3 while still being something completely new, we absolutely love Diablo 4. Only six months into its life, we’ve already clocked in a couple of hundred hours each.

Is it completely perfect? No: there are changes we’d like to see Blizzard make in the months and years to come. But we’ve no doubt it will. Diablo games have historically evolved drastically over their lifetime, and we’re certain that Diablo 4 in a few years will be very different to today’s starting point. But even if it remained exactly as it is now, we’d be beyond happy, continuing to pour more time into developing our characters, gathering that sweet loot and battling our way through endless thousands of demons. It’s pretty much everything we hoped Diablo 4 would be – and more.

Read our review of Diablo 4