February 23, 2024

You have most likely already seen Eurogamer’s prime 50 video games of 2023, however we did not depart our finish of 12 months ideas there. Huge lists can generally really feel impersonal, and as you recognize, particular person tastes in video games are something however. So, we needed to cobble collectively our collected ideas on the video games we felt formed 2023.

This transient collection of articles will, then, gather the highest fives of a handful of various Eurogamer writers every day, and run for 4 days. The highest fives aren’t ordered as a result of ordering shouldn’t be what’s vital right here – it is seeing which video games have been particular to folks this 12 months, and listening to about why. And please, be at liberty to share yours.

Jessica

Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur’s Gate 3. | Picture credit score: Larian Studios

Baldur’s Gate 3 is a phenomenon, and my nerdy RPG-loving coronary heart is all of the extra fuller after I see simply how passionately different folks have taken to it – and the way may they not? It looks like so many video games have promised us deep alternative penalties over time, however then inevitably trick us with the phantasm of alternative, whereas Baldur’s Gate 3 is alternative – it is D&D. Romance, story, playstyle, character, seems to be, morality – it is all as much as you. It is also extremely humorous and charming, and only a full delight to immerse your self in. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a perpetually recreation.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty

A screenshot from Cyberpunk 2077's Phantom Liberty expansion showing the player racing through the city streets on a red motorcycle while an armoured vehicle opens fire up ahead.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty. | Picture credit score: CD Projekt

I performed Cyberpunk 2077 when it initially launched and favored it regardless of the various technical points making an attempt their greatest to cease me. Nevertheless, my greatest challenge has at all times been its angle. All the pieces appeared designed round this fake scale of ‘cool’, and boy did I hate V. Phantom Liberty is one thing fully completely different. Billed as a spy-thriller, it really delivers on this Bond-like promise whereas telling a narrative with out that ‘cool’ angle ruining every little thing. Turning the main focus to new characters – Songbird, Reed, and Alex – acts as a reset button, and though the story might be bleak at instances, it is one which slowly grows on you and may simply be one in all my favourites now. Ending Phantom Liberty was bittersweet, however I am now very excited for the way forward for Cyberpunk.

Cocoon

Screenshot from Cocoon showing a new boss rising above a green orb as the insectoid protagonist looks on

Cocoon. | Picture credit score: Geometric

Cocoon’s remarkably intelligent design means a number of the most mind-bending options in gaming might be described as simply fixing puzzles by utilizing orbs to journey between worlds. It is so easy to play, however whenever you cease to consider how far you’ve got come for the reason that starting, and what number of worlds inside worlds you’ve got travelled to, you start to see simply how intricate Cocoon actually is. Regardless of how trippy a number of the puzzles are, options by no means really feel out-of-reach, and the actual fact you simply be taught every little thing naturally by yourself with no tutorials reveals simply how sneakily sensible Cocoon actually is.

Honkai: Star Rail

splash art of dr ratio character, who is a short blue haired man resembling an ancient greek man, wearing a loose white top resembling a toga and blue trousers

Honkai: Star Rail. | Picture credit score: HoYoverse

At first, Honkai: Star Rail appeared like a smaller scale sci-fi model of Genshin Impression with a mercifully simplified option to farm for gear and character supplies. That might have been simply high quality, however Star Rail excels by differentiating itself from Genshin in plenty of little methods. And in a single huge manner: it is goofy. It is aware of that its lore is difficult and foolish so it performs on it, and it additionally sprinkles within the strangest interactions that also shock me, even in any case this time. Why in fact I am going to assist that depressed robot-mushroom, and sure I’ll search each bin in Belobog as a result of my character has an obsession with garbage. It additionally occurs to have among the finest trendy turn-based fight techniques on the market. Eight months after launch and I nonetheless play Star Rail every day. It is fairly good.

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical

Grace makes dialogue choices with Freddie in Stray Gods

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical. | Picture credit score: Summerfall Studios

Its promise of roleplaying is just a little deceptive, however Stray Gods is definitely a musical, and goes one step additional by letting you form the tone of its soundtrack. Relying on what choice you choose throughout key moments of a track – charming, kickass, or intelligent – you get a very completely different efficiency, and infrequently a distinct story final result too. There is a murder-mystery to unravel, gods to romance, and an enthralling environment held collectively by its unimaginable voice forged: Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Janina Gavankar, Anthony Rapp, Ashley Johnson, and extra! Though Stray Gods’ particular person songs may not be standalone hits, its complete package deal is a commendable try at merging the worlds of video video games, theatre, and Greek mythology.

Geoffrey

Thirsty Suitors

Screenshot from Thirsty Suitors, showing a fight between Jala and a random suitor.

Thirsty Suitors. | Picture credit score: Annapurna Interactive/Eurogamer.

Because the well-known meme goes: If I had a nickel for each time a recreation ostensibly about cooking south-Asian meals made me cry in 2023, I might have two nickels. Which is not so much, however it’s bizarre that it occurred twice. A cool, relatable, and heartbreaking elucidation of cultural, familial, and relationship-driven trauma, Thirsty Suitors had me salivating over the meals it let me prepare dinner and weeping over how nicely it captures the complexities of human relationships. As somebody with little interest in rhythm video games (he says, with three video games that incorporate rhythm components on this listing) or skateboarding, to wrap these in a brief, sharp RPG that completely captures the enjoyment and trauma of neighborhood and retains me engaged is great. Additionally, you may skateboard because the canine.

Dredge

A screenshot from Dredge's The Pale Reach expansion showing a fishing boat approaching a ramshackle jetty and hut built on the edge of an iceberg.

Dredge. | Picture credit score: Black Salt Video games/Team17

I do not relate to many online game characters. But, in Dredge’s lighthouse keeper – who thinks perhaps we should not poke the preternatural sea or the monsters that lurk therein – Dredge offers me a personality to which I can solely aspire. Paired with a dreary but stunning fishing simulator laced with cosmic horror that’s equal components Lovecraft (the few good components) and the few good components of Moby Dick (plus the grid stock from Resident Evil 4 that is simply as enjoyable because the precise recreation), Dredge – weighing in at round 9 hours – is a reminder {that a} recreation would not must be huge to be enjoyable.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Link crouches on a glider in the sky in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. | Picture credit score: Nintendo

That stated, Tears of the Kingdom is huge. So huge I am going to by no means end it – not really end it, anyway; its scope is simply too grand. That is okay, although. As somebody who has spent years feeling responsible over the video games I am not enjoying, to the purpose of affecting how I really feel about these I do, Tears of the Kingdom’s a number of definitions of completion taught me the worth that may be present in what we depart unfinished (sorry Persona 3). Within the course of, it modified my relationship with my backlog perpetually. It is a outstanding recreation for therefore many causes, however in a 12 months replete with superb video games I am going to by no means play, it grew to become for me extra of a public service.

Tchia

Tchia smiling on diving challenge near Mwaken Village

Tchia. | Picture credit score: Awaceb/Kepler Interactive

“Ö ngo eka? / Me tuneka? / Tro’ni a tro Tuneka?” John Robert Matz’s outstanding soundscape has lived in my head all 12 months. A musical type so patently Tchia’s and but spectacularly evocative of the New Caledonia Awaceb creates within the recreation. Tchia might owe a lot to Breath of the Wild – although, that is not a foul template to comply with in any respect – however its stunning rendition of childhood journey wrapped in a narrative that makes me wish to be taught extra about New Caledonia, and in a uncommon manageable open world (albeit with wickedly onerous rhythm sections), was a much-needed reminder of how enjoyable video games are presupposed to be.

A Highland Track

A Highland Song screenshot showing Moira chasing a deer to musical jump prompts

A Highland Track. | Picture credit score: Inkle / Eurogamer.

I’ve shallow roots owing to a have to preserve shifting, one thing drastically mitigated by a incapacity that retains me inert. Maybe that is why video games that evoke a powerful sense of place have been so vital to me in 2023. I wrote earlier within the 12 months how Season: A Letter to the Future evoked a visceral reminiscence of biking, however A Highland Track jogs my memory what it was wish to hike – another love misplaced to incapacity. In its stunning, undemanding meditation on Scotland, because the participant climbs, runs, and jumps throughout mountains, A Highland Track supplied some a lot wanted late-year solace in a 2023 through which we misplaced a lot. I am a easy man although, so A Highland Track would have been on the listing only for being about strolling and together with Talisk in its soundtrack.

Victoria

Tremendous Mario Surprise

super mario wonder key art

Tremendous Mario Bros. Surprise. | Picture credit score: Nintendo

I performed Surprise with my two kids, and oh what a hoot we had! Actually, the decibel ranges will need to have been off the charts. Once we all became elephants, my kids cheered. When a Surprise Seed brought about our world to activate its head in any myriad of how, they have been principally rolling on the ground with full, uncontrollable, stomach laughs. This recreation introduced us all a lot delight time and time once more. It’s chaotic, it’s eclectic and it’s, fairly actually, a marvel.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Miles Morales as Spider-Man in Marvel's Spider-Man 2 using his aerial combat skills to take down one of Kraven's hunters

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. | Picture credit score: Insomniac

It isn’t typically that I full a recreation in a single weekend, however I did that with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Whereas I do not really feel the sport did something notably revolutionary, I simply had a lot rattling enjoyable enjoying it.

A variety of my pleasure got here from the sport’s traversal. Hovering by way of New York as each Spider-Males felt so slick, and even after I had the choice to quick journey to locations, I nonetheless selected to get there by way of a mix of net slinging and gliding. This world grew to become my playground. I might flip and spin my manner by way of Brooklyn, grinning away like a small youngster. I actually felt like I used to be Spider-Man in these moments. It was easy and easy. Whereas in actuality I’m fairly liable to tripping, in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 I used to be an agile superhero, and I actually could not have requested for a greater option to discover New York Metropolis.

Alan Wake 2

Sam Lake in Alan Wake 2, wearing a suit and tie while pulling funny faces at the camera

Alan Wake 2. | Picture credit score: Treatment/Eurogamer

I at all times knew I used to be going to get pleasure from Alan Wake 2, having been a Treatment fan for the reason that unique recreation. However what really elevated the sequel above different video games this 12 months for me was its musical quantity, Herald of Darkness. This second was fully surprising and in contrast to something I had ever skilled in a online game earlier than. “I did not see that coming,” the titular Alan Wake remarks at one level. Nor did I, Alan. Nor did I.

The way in which the music merged flawlessly with gameplay; the way in which the actors gave the impression to be having the time of their lives (regardless of the shadowy entities coming for me) – it left me with a smile plastered throughout my face. Even after I might accomplished the part, I turned to YouTube so I may watch it once more.

What actually topped this part off for me, although, was the small smile actor Ilkka Villi gave as Alan Wake proper on the finish of the track. Simply earlier than taking a sip of espresso and collapsing onto the couch, Wake seems to be again in the direction of the singing and dancing and, in a barely bemused manner, smiles. He could be going by way of hell within the Darkish Place, however there’s a glimmer of pleasure each the participant and our fictional author. It is great.

Cocoon

Screenshot from Cocoon showing the game's architecture which is both powerful yet delicate

Cocoon. | Picture credit score: Geometric/Eurogamer

“There’s this stunning pressure between the pure rock after which the substitute involvement of the human hand.” This quote from Cocoon’s artwork director Erwin Kho has stayed with me ever since I spoke with him earlier within the 12 months. He’s speaking about Petra in Jordan, and the way this construction influenced the world he created for Cocoon.

Cocoon’s world marries collectively an natural and nearly visceral surroundings with high-tech ideas. This synthesising of two opposing concepts works so nicely collectively, and makes for an enchanting world to puzzle your manner by way of. Cocoon as a complete is so meticulously executed, with no filler or unnecessary padding to bulk it up. However it’s Cocoon’s world that actually made the sport stand out for me this 12 months.

Venba

Venba combs her hair in the mirror looking content in Venba

Venba. | Picture credit score: Visai Video games, Valve

This night, I sat with my daughter as we appeared by way of a Christmas cookbook. She desires to make peppermint lotions with me so she may give them to her mates. I did not let on to her however this request introduced tears to my eyes. Why? As a result of after I was youthful, I used to make peppermint lotions with my mom. It introduced again some very joyful recollections.

Cooking and the recollections made within the kitchen – be it the smells, sounds or style – have at all times been extremely vital to me. Many dishes I make in the present day inform a narrative from completely different factors in my life. Once I was unwell in my early twenties, I might typically learn cookery books for consolation and, after I felt as much as it, I might make treats for my now husband. I’ll always remember his face after I acquired up the power to provide him a jar of selfmade lemon curd. Now, each time I make lemon curd, I do not forget that smile.

After which there are the recipes and books which have been left to me by these now not with us. Notes from my grandmother lay scribbled within the margins of an outdated Be-Ro Flour recipe ebook that’s held along with outdated bits of thread. I’ve added a few of my very own notes as nicely, and my newer books additionally function quite a lot of amendments scattered right here and there. For me, meals is extra than simply sustenance. It’s a manner I can present these I like how a lot I care about them.

This is the reason Venba is my recreation of the 12 months. Once I performed Venba, I cried a number of instances over. I cried for the household making an attempt to slot in, I cried for the mom wanting to attach along with her youngster, I cried for the family members gone too quickly. After which, I cried once more, due to the way in which the meals in Venba’s family may bridge the hole between generations and relationships. When her youngster is sick, Venba makes him soup. When her husband wants to depart for work, she packs him a lunch. When she is anticipating a go to from somebody particular, she prepares a feast. There’s a lot love and that means behind every meal, and that could be a actually stunning factor.

Kaan

Hello-Fi Rush

Hi-Fi RUSH, Chai is dressed as a shark and is standing on the raised walkway in track four

Hello-Fi Rush. | Picture credit score: Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks

Hello-Fi Rush is like an ear-worm in online game type. An excellent track, performed in a pair of headphones that drowns out principally every little thing, at all times makes me subconsciously transfer to the music, forcing me to step on the beat or unironically ponder my life. Hello-Fi Rush takes that primary human intuition and injects it into an ultra-stylish motion recreation the place every little thing (every little thing!) strikes to the beat – a manufacturing facility’s equipment, your character’s footsteps, each single assault. Even the seemingly unimportant particulars crescendo right into a recreation that teaches you the way to transfer musically, after which brags about how joyful and trendy doing so might be.

A Area For The Unbound

A Space for the Unbound review - Atma and Reya sit next to each other in the movie theatre and awkwardly touch hands

A Area for the Unbound. | Picture credit score: Mojiken

On the floor, A Area For The Unbound is a basic journey recreation bursting with lush skyscapes, coming-of-age teenagers, pet-able pixel cats, and a summery Indonesian village. However similar to the Shinkai movies that impressed it, the sport’s dreamy coating hides some large emotional intestine punches.

A Area For The Unbound follows a teen couple, Atma and Raya, of their final 12 months of highschool, when supernaturally funky stuff begins threatening actuality. The sky cracks, cinema-goers act like cat folks, and the neighborhood seemingly cannot see any of the unusual shenanigans. That is when our teenagers get Psychonauts-like powers to dive into folks’s minds, resulting in surreal puzzles and delicate tales the place, finally, fixing the world begins with fixing these closest to you.

Sandtrix (initially launched as Setris)

Tetris has been the sport of the 12 months yearly for the reason that evergreen puzzler’s debut, partly as a result of wrangling shapes till it turns into muscle reminiscence is simply that entrancing, however primarily as a result of there’ve been so many (almost-as-great) Tetris remixes during the last 40 years.

2023’s most unusual and enjoyable rejig is Sandtrix – aka Tetris with sand – a free browser-based recreation through which you information acquainted, colored blocks in pursuit of ever-increasing excessive scores. Sandtrix’s endlessly moreish twist is that the blocks dissolve into colored sand when hitting the grid’s ground, forcing you to assume extra diagonally because the terrain types kaleidoscopic peaks, hills, and crevices. (Hazard forward for procrastinators.)

Thirsty Suitors

Screenshot from Thirsty Suitors of a graphic introducing Irfan.

Thirsty Suitors. | Picture credit score: Annapurna Interactive/Eurogamer.

I already talked about how I loved this unapologetically chaotic mixture of skateboarding, turn-based fight, and sexually emotionally tense reconciliations with ex-lovers after I reviewed Thirsty Suitors at launch. Having sat with Attractive Persona for a couple of months, I am now in love.

Thirsty Suitors sees protagonist Jala return to her hometown – determined to repair relationships along with her messy, hard-not-to-love household and the sport’s titular, much more messy suitors, – following an abrupt departure that left damaged hearts in her wake. The top outcome reveals that, ideally, self-healing comes from therapeutic hyperlinks to your neighborhood – out of your actively aggressive nan to the bear cult hiding out within the native skating park.

Jusant

Our young hero hangs, one-handed above a drop on a high section of wall in Jusant. Up ahead the cliff has horizontal ridges set into it.

Jusant. | Picture credit score: Do not Nod

Video video games from the Huge Huge Studios in 2023 have all of the subtlety of a bulldozer ramming by way of deserted concrete. That makes Jusant – the contemplative climbing recreation from the studio behind Life is Unusual – a roaring blast of recent air.

Jusant has you scale up a towering pure construction that actually stretches into the clouds and in addition occurs to accommodate the ruins of a previous/handed civilisation. The central rocky pillar is an superior sight, and each pull, swing, and leap up its sides offers option to tactile drawback fixing. However my favorite factor about Jusant is the way it inspired me to take a seat within the second and admire what’s been left behind. The rock crabs, empty huts, jagged terrain, and the silence.


freshericscakes.co.uk