What were EdEN’s best PlayStation games of 2023? Come check out his list!
If you missed the previous post for our best games of the year, you can review them right now!
It’s been a great year for PlayStation 5 owners, and with so many awesome retail and indie games, it’s hard to narrow things down to only one or two games at most, which is why, along with my Game of the Year, I’ll also list some additional honorable mentions that barely missed out reaching the coveted top slot. I played a LOT of PlayStation 5 games this year, which made narrowing things down to only a few very, very hard… so be sure to check out the honorable mentions that also deserve your attention.
My PlayStation 5 Game of the Year: The Making of Karateka
For 2022, my PlayStation 5 Game of the Year was the excellent anthology Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration from Digital Eclipse and Atari, which celebrates five decades of the company’s video game history. That compilation has just received a holiday content update that added 12 additional games, making it the perfect time to dive back in or to check it out for the first time.
But since it’s now 2023, that means there’s also a new PlayStation 5 Game of the Year game to consider, and that game is The Making of Karateka. Digital Eclipse used its experience from working on Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration to bring us an interactive documentary that details the creation of this classic masterpiece.
Jordan Mechner, who you might know as the creator of the original Prince of Persia and its sequel, first got its start with Karateka. He programmed the game and released it way back in 1984 for the Apple II alongside publisher Broadband in North America and publisher Ariolsoft in Europe. But he didn’t just dive into Prince of Persi as his first project! Before that came Deathbounce, an arcade-style shooter he had envisioned during his teenage years. As a fun fact, his father, Franchis Mechner, created the soundtrack for not only Karateka but also Prince of Persia!
The Making of Karateka is a comprehensive tale that allows us to learn how Jordan Mechner became a video game developer, including the different game projects that he worked on before finally being able to give us the masterpiece that is Karateka. This also includes playing different versions of Karateka between development prototypes, the versions for different consoles, and even a remastered take of Karateka that reintroduces content that was left on the cutting floor back in the day.
The Making of Karateka is much more than a look at how a video game masterpiece was made. It offers a glimpse into a big chunk of Mechner’s career in the video game industry while also allowing us to play games his other games that were never released – those would be Asteroid Blaster and Deathbounce – along with several versions of Karateka, along with a remastered edition. The Making of Karateka is a must-play experience that shines on Sony’s current-gen console.
My PlayStation 5 Honorable Mentions
The Talos Principle 2 is one you should definitely check out on PlayStation 5. It takes everything that made its prequel a great existential puzzle experience, and it improves on the experience by adding new gameplay elements while also presenting us with a story premise and some clever plot twists along the way that will keep you coming back for more until the credits roll – that is if you don’t chicken out! Saying anything more would end up spoiling this game for you, and it’s certainly an experience you should go into with as little knowledge of the twists and turns as possible.
The game tells the story of Elvis Ashlee, a young man who was brought to Sedentary – a mining town – when he was just a baby. His mother left him – for mysterious reasons – in the care of a robotic older brother named Diggs. Elvis has been given a mysterious glove that can somehow allow him to control Miasma, which is rather peculiar since it’s Miasma that has sent the world into turmoil. You’ll be joining the brothers on this journey through a quest that will take them to explore the post-apocalyptic wasteland as they search for answers… any answers, really. Your adventure will begin 140 years after the collapse of the Great Stability, as Elvis tries to control the glove that is connected to his brainwaves in order to break a large Miasma wall. It turns out he’s been trying to do this more than 30 times already without that much success.
Layers of Fear reworks both Layers of Fear and Layers of Fear 2 in the Unreal 5 engine while also including all previously released DLC, along with the new The Final Note, which will give you a new perspective on the series. Because of this, the lore for Layers of Fear as a whole has now been expanded. Sure, you’ll get to play as the Painter and the Painter’s Daughter in a retelling of the original Layers of Fear and its Inheritance DLC, but there have been some changes introduced here and there that help to make those segments feel fresh. The Actor’s journey from the sequel Layers of Fear 2 is more faithfully reproduced in this new release, wrinkles and all. Taking cues from an unseen director as a production is being filmed aboard a ship where the supernatural rears its ugly head is just the usual for the Actor, right?
The game takes place in Los Angeles – now dubbed Hell-A. During the intro cutscene, you’ll get to meet the main characters that you can play as. They’ve all had to do something out of the ordinary to get a spot on the flight that was set to evacuate the city, but, as expected, things didn’t go as planned. Someone got on the plane after already being infected – seems like he was a movie star – and bites one of the passengers. It’s been a long wait, but Dead Island 2 certainly delivers. If you enjoyed the previous two first-person action games in the series, then you’re going to love this sequel since it’s bigger and better. Hell-A makes for a great setting, and it’s one that many of you out there will be familiar with.
For this new journey, the legendary Kazuma Kiryu has faked his own death and has had to let go of his name, now living under the codename Joryu. Why has the great Kiryu had to do this? Because it was needed in order to protect his foster children. He’s signed a with the Daidoji faction to become their disciple, which has led to him now operating as one of their secret agents – hence the Joryu codename.
Combat will have you switching between the Yakuza and Agent fighting styles to make the most of Kyryu’s abilities. If you’re familiar with the series, then you know what to expect from the Yakuza fighting style. Kyryu will rush into action while unleashing powerful attacks that will strike fear into your opponents. The Agent style brings Kiryu’s new role as Joryu into action by giving you access to flashier, faster attacks that will make good use of the different gadgets at his disposal.
Lies of P is a challenging Soulslike that brings us a twist on the story of Pinnochio. You play as the puppet we all know and love, except that instead of being made of wood, you’re more of an animatronic variety. Sure, you’re still a puppet, but you’re way more human-looking than the other puppets that roam the city of Krat. That is actually the current predicament at hand and why you have been awakened from your slumber.
You see, the city of Krat was to be the city of tomorrow today. Thanks to the many puppets that were put to good use at a variety of different locations to handle many chores, such as controlling traffic, serving as butlers at mansions, or making sure that everyone remained in a peaceful state of mind. Unfortunately, when the puppets start to go a bit cuckoo and attack all humans, that’s when Pinocchio is awakened. You’re summoned to Hotel Krat by a special human who asks that you go searching for Geppetto to be able to fix things before it’s too late.
SteamWorld Build is the latest entry in the long-running series, now going for a bit of a city building/dungeon exploration experience. You’ll start your quest as Jack Clutchsprocket and his daughter, Astrid Clutchsprocket. Jack found a huge glowing robotic eye – known as the Core – that tells them about how long ago a great hoard of ancient technology was buried deep, deep below the earth. Your task will be to enter the mineshaft to find the resources needed to build a city so that you can research and upgrade your technology to reach for the stars. The planet is falling apart, and building a rocket is the only way you can survive.
Viewfinder is a mind-bending first-person puzzle experience. For this single-player journey you’ll be making the most of a peculiar instant camera that will allow you to use the pictures you take to redefine how you solve the puzzles that the game will throw at you. On top of the pictures that you can take and use, you’ll also be bringing to life paintings, sketches, postcards, and more, as you learn the secrets of the world of Viewfinder. While Superliminal played with perspective as you explored the Pierce Institute, Viewfinder takes things in a different direction by allowing you to use pictures to bring them to life so that you can solve the many puzzles that you’ll run into as you complete each chapter. It also offers bite-sized levels compared to Superliminal’s more interconnected world.
You’ll be taking on the role of Lumina, a young Teslamancer whom we first got to meet during Rain Games World to the West. Lumina ends up stranded in Wyrmheim, a remote and treacherous land to the North. Her airship crashes in the area, and she eventually ends up inside a peculiar tower overseeing the fjord side valley. The sequel takes the gameplay from Teslagrad and flips things a bit by adding more action and fast-paced platforming to the equation. You’ll be facing Vikings, monsters inspired by Nordic mythology, and bosses that will stop at nothing to try and destroy you.
As was the case for Teslagrad, for this sequel, you’ll be searching for some collectibles that will give you access to illustrated cards that tell the story of Teslagrad 2. There are many for you to find, with a total of 81 pieces, so this one certainly has a lot for you to do. There’s a lot of backtracking in your future since you won’t be able to collect all of them right away. Late in the game, you’ll gain access to a mighty axe, which is the last ability you’ll need to be able to explore every nook and cranny.
After building an army of super soldiers as weapons of war, one of them turns to the side of the oppressed. The ninja warrior known as Moonrider had been created for evil, but it has now rejected its purpose and has set out on a quest of vengeance against its creators and the other supersoldiers that are still part of the regime. The game pays homage to the classics of the 16-bit era, in particular to what the Sega Genesis/MegaDrive could do back in the day. The developers have used pixel art with a limited color palette, using traditional audio recording techniques of the 1990s to bring us a game that faithfully pays homage to the games of ages past. Add tight gameplay mechanics and a pounding soundtrack, and you have a game that is easy to understand but hard to master.
AEW: Fight Forever brings us a packed wrestling game from the experts at YUKE’s that brings to life the recent All Elite Wrestling universe on PlayStation 5. There’s a ton of content to enjoy in this one, with several game modes, many customization options, daily and weekly challenges to complete, mini-games, and more. If you’re new to All Elite Wrestling, it’s a professional wrestling promotion that is now the second largest wrestling promotion, only behind World Wrestling Entertainment – formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation back in the day until the name had to be changed since the WWF acronym trademark was disputed in a lawsuit by the World Wildlife Fund. You know, so that those who wanted to learn more about the NGO founded in 1961 would not be confused about all the wrestling going on in the name of the conservation of thousands of environments and their wildlife.
This is an adventure game that takes place after the events of prequel OXENFREE, which needs to be mentioned since that’s not always the case. You’ll take on the role of Riley Poverly, who returns to her hometown, the small coastal town of Camena, to investigate the unnaturally occurring electromagnetic waves that are affecting everything. Planes can’t use radar. Radio stations can’t broadcast through all of the static. All electronic equipment is having an issue. While the game is a direct sequel to OXENFREE, you don’t need to play that game to be able to enjoy OXENFREE II: Lost Signals – but playing it before this one certainly wouldn’t hurt! Since this is an adventure game, that means that the choices you make along the way will matter. There are three different endings for you to reach, so the dialogue choices and interactions you have will send you down specific story branching paths. You can use your walkie-talkie to strike up a conversation with your contacts. This is not mandatory, so you can ignore some requests or not interact with some characters, but don’t forget this could lock you out of some future interactions – or trophies! Yes, yes, more on trophies in a bit.
And that’s it!
What were YOUR best PlayStation games this year?