Post Arcade’s Top 10 Games of 2023

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I’ve put on eight pounds this year, and I blame it entirely on the video game industry, which supplies me with an abundance of absolutely delightful role-playing games. I’ve spent endless hours on my couch engaged in quests scattered from the mountains of Hyrule to the dunes of Mars, and I’ve got the butt and abs to prove it.

Not that I’m complaining. From sequels to legendary RPG franchises to completely original games meant to be the inaugural entries in brand new series, I’ve never been left wanting for something fun to play in 2023.

And I still have a lot to play for. So let’s get down to business so I can settle back into my tuchus couch cushion.

    Fire Emblem Engage.

Fire Emblem Engage.

10. Fire Emblem Engage

It’s not the best Fire Emblem game ever made, but it’s not far off. Developer Intelligent Systems is tapping into the storied history of the franchise by bringing back a handful of beloved characters — hello Marth, good to see you again, Edelgard! — from previous games as spiritual advisors, able to unlock powerful abilities in each of the new characters who wear their rings. The rest of the game is Fire Emblem by the books, including great chess-like turn-based strategy, perma-death when your favorite characters die in battle, and some delightfully melodramatic dialogue and storytelling. I could (and did) play all day.

    A sea of ​​stars

A sea of ​​stars

9. Sea of ​​Stars (Switch, Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X)

Old school RPG geeks are in for a treat with this one. Quebec City-based Sabotage Studio takes everything RPG fans loved from the early ’90s—turn-based combat, maze-like maps, colorful characters, and pixel art—and uses modern technology and game design techniques to improve. Environments and character models pop with vibrant hues, and battles feature real-time inputs and complex strategy. And the music accompanying our adorable little characters on their life-saving quest for self-discovery will be in your ears long after you’ve put down your controller.

    Diablo IV

Diablo IV

8. Diablo IV (Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X)

It’s far from the most innovative game of the year, but players looking for an exquisitely crafted, subtly tweaked dungeon crawler will be in heaven playing Blizzard’s years-in-the-making fourth entry in its genre-defining fantasy series. The hacking and slicing action is pure zen for fans of that sort of thing, and the icing on the cake is a series of intense and stunning narrative scenes dropped throughout the campaign that made me wish the writers and animators would just make a Diablo movie already.

    Alan Wake 2

Alan Wake 2

7. Alan Wake 2 (Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X)

Remedy’s long-awaited sequel to its 2010 horror hit is without a doubt the most daring original blockbuster game of the year. It tells a complex, self-referential story full of terrifying sequences. My head was spinning more than once. The real treat here, though, is a handful of wildly creative, brilliantly dynamic cutscenes that have you doing things like wandering through an endless heavy metal video that blends live-action film with CGI. If the level design was just a tiny bit less confusing—my disbelief sometimes broke because I couldn’t figure out where to go or what to do next—this would be even higher on the list.

    Pikmin 4

Pikmin 4

6. Pikmin 4 (Switch)

The long-awaited fourth installment in Nintendo’s series about tiny spacemen commanding armies of sentient flora to run around and pick up trash in gardens doesn’t significantly change a formula that’s always been close to perfect. It spruces things up a bit by giving us a big yellow dog that we can ride to get around faster, and adds a few new features like short collection challenges and battles that will test the skills of even veteran Pikmin players. But for the most part, it just relies on the odd but undeniable satisfaction that comes from sending groups of cute little flowers to destroy barriers, hit ladybugs with their petals, and haul treasure back to a delightfully retro rocket ship.

    Marvel's Spider-Man 2

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

5. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 (PlayStation 5)

In my original review, I called this the enjoyable game of the decade, and I stand by that assessment. This is a super fun superhero game full of grid games and acrobatic action. But more than that, it’s a collection of beautifully interwoven progressive, inclusive and optimistic storylines that explore friendship, forgiveness, acceptance and redemption. If your cheeks don’t hurt from smiling after a game, you’re probably a robot.

    Final Fantasy XVI

Final Fantasy XVI

4. Final Fantasy XVI (PlayStation 5, Windows)

Square Enix does a great job combining old and new in this long fantasy RPG. Fans of the series will appreciate the familiar musical refrains and the combat, while real-time rather than turn-based, is full of the huge and memorable bosses the franchise is known for. But the Japanese developer has also embraced a delightfully dark and adult atmosphere, filling the story with complex (sometimes sexual) relationships and rivalries more common in something like Game of Thrones. I ate it. That was the shortest 60 hours I spent playing the game all year.

    Starfield

Starfield

3. Starfield (Windows, Xbox Series S/X)

If I were given a studio full of talented developers hired to do my bidding, the game I’d have them make would probably look very Starfield, a sprawling sci-fi role-playing game that lets you build your own ships and outposts, explore a galaxy full of both hospitable and inhospitable planets, and make your way through a tangle of intriguing storylines that cover everything from aliens to artificial intelligence . It’s far from perfect—it has a lot of bugs and a few too many repetitive battles—but it scratches my space opera itch in a deeply satisfying way.

    Baldur's Gate 3

Baldur’s Gate 3

2. Baldur’s Gate 3 (Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X)

All other games that attempt to replicate the D&D experience in the real world pale in comparison to Larian Studios’ wildly ambitious games Baldur’s Gate 3. They gave us a Dungeon Master-esque narrative, an almost limitless set of options for what you can do in any given situation, and a dynamic story that can change dramatically based on your decisions. It even shows players dice rolls for skill checks instead of hiding them in the game’s code – a great way to raise the tension when trying to intimidate an enemy or crack a tricky lock. If it suffered just a few less bugs and had a slightly more intuitive interface, it might have risen to the very top of this list.

    The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Switch)

That’s all he did The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild one of the best games ever made—brilliant pop-up gameplay, challenging sanctuaries, and a picturesque art style—set on a massive free-to-explore map that goes beyond the surface of Hyrule to stretch into the skies and burrow deep underground . It also adds the ability to build almost anything you want, from searchlights and catapults to hot air balloons and fire-breathing tanks, to solve puzzles, fight tough enemies and reach hard-to-reach places. No two players will have even close to the same experience during the 100+ hours they spend with it. The most deserving game of the year.

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