2023 is almost over, so it’s time for an epic question: What were our best games this year?
All week long, we’ll have a post from our writers detailing the best games we played this year on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch. Please keep in mind that we didn’t play all of this year’s releases!
After you’re done reading this list, please be sure to tell us about your best games for this year in the comments below!
On a personal level, my thoughts were, “What a year for Square-Enix.” With Octopath Traveler II early this year, then the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters, Final Fantasy XVI – which I look forward to playing soon – Theatrhythm: Final Bar Line and Star Ocean: The Second Story R, us JRPG fans had our hands full!
My Game of the Year: Octopath Traveler II
(PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch)
Octopath Traveler II is an amazing JRPG from Square-Enix. I loved the perfectly balanced turn-based battle system, the eye-popping HD-2D art style, and the amazing soundtrack. This game is also lengthy, and exploring everything should take you at least 70 hours. If I had something negative to say about this title, it would be that the actual storylines felt meaningless in the grander scheme of things, and I secretly hoped all the characters would converge to the same goal at the end of the game, but it wasn’t the case. You do not need to have played the first Octopath Traveler game to enjoy this one since, while both games have a similar structure, the actual storylines are separated.
Honorable Mention: A Space for the Unbound
(PS4/PS5, and Nintendo Switch)
I played and reviewed A Space for the Unbound back in January and I already knew that it would be mentioned in my “Best of” list. This is a slice-of-life game set in rural Indonesia in the late 1990s and features one of the strongest narratives I’ve experienced in recent years. You’ll be following Atma as he gets a red book with mysterious powers.
Do keep in mind that this game has a slow start. So slow, in fact, that in the first hour, I had a hard time getting into the adventure. That was until I reached the second hour of the game, where the story suddenly picked up, and I was properly wowed.
This is one of these rare games where the story was so well written that it actually shocked me, and I sincerely hope you’ll live it yourself by going in blindly without even checking how long the game is or how many chapters to keep the experience genuinely fresh.
Honorable Mention: Sea of Stars
(PS4/PS5, and Nintendo Switch)
Sea of Stars is a gorgeous RPG from Sabotage Studio that has been inspired by classics such as Paper Mario, Super Mario RPG, and the most-excellent Chrono Trigger. After a successful Kickstarter campaign – with over CA$ 1,600,000 pledged by more than 25,000 backers – it’s a game that gives you the perfect excuse to subscribe to PlayStation Plus Extra, since it’s one of the game’s you can play with your subscription.
Promising the Sabotage touch in every system, Sea of Stars aims to modernize the classic RPG in terms of turn-based combat, storytelling, exploration and interactions with the environment, while still offering a hearty slice of nostalgia and good old, simple fun.
Honorable Mention: Star Ocean: The Second Story R
(PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch)
Star Ocean: The Second Story R is an HD-2D remake of Star Ocean: The Second Story which released in June 1999 on the PlayStation 1 console, and was re-released in January 2009 on the PSP. I played the PSP version back then and had a lot of fun with it.
This new version greatly boosts the visuals and keeps every core mechanic as-is with the original release, making it the best version of this journey. The gameplay is fun, and the active battle system is perfectly balanced. The game’s graphics are great to look at – even if Octopath Traveler 2 is still a superior one – and the soundtrack is also great. The game is almost fully voiced, and the voice acting it top notch. There’s not much to complain about this one!
Honorable Mention: Salamander County Public Television
(PS4/PS5 Cross-Buy, and Nintendo Switch)
This is by far the wackiest game I’ve played in a while. It’s a mini-game-driven experience – think WarioWare – with a silly back story in the form of an office Slack channel. The mini-games are eccentric and fun, and some actually made me smile. What I thought was a random backstory ended up delivering much more, and it surprised me enough to get a spot on this list.
Stay tuned for our upcoming post for the best PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch games later this week!
What were YOUR best games this year?