GOTY 2023: Chris Hyde

by on December 27, 2023

Wow, what a year 2023 was, and now I have to try and pull together a GOTY List! Whilst it seems every year we declare it’s been a good year for games, 2023 will certainly go down in history as one of the greats. Undeniable banger after undeniable banger has made this year’s list a little tougher than usual but for the best possible reason. With so many games to choose from, wheedling it down to a top ten (with a few extras thrown in for good measure) and then ranking them was tricky, but also an immensely positive exercise. So many games to celebrate, and so little time. So let’s jump straight into it.

GOTY 2023 Honorable mentions

Cookie Cutter review

Street Fighter 6 is the absolute epitome for me of the “in any other year” game. Street Fighter 6 bounced back from the disappointing Street Fighter 5, and then some with a complete package that not only made me fall in love with the series again, but World Tour mode let me smack up grannies in the street, Yakuza style

Alan Wake 2 does so much right, superbly in fact, that it’s no surprise to see Alan Wake 2 top of so many GOTY awards this year. It’s a superb achievement from Remedy in terms of visuals, storytelling atmosphere, and memorable moments. The combat and bugs were the only things keeping it from breaking into my top 10.

It’s outrageous that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 doesn’t make my top 10 for GOTY 2023, falling victim in a similar way to Street Fighter 6. The only thing going against it is its familiarity because from a combat, traversal, and entertainment perspective, this game ticks all the boxes and then some.,

It’s great to see Koei Tecmo do something different with the Monster Hunter formula. With its pastel shades and nods to Feudal Japan, the world of Wild Hearts was interesting and engaging. The Karakuri mechanics elevated the gameplay and made monster encounters enjoyable, tactical, and energetic at all times.

A game coming right at the end of the year, Cookie Cutter is not to be missed. A wonderfully hand-drawn visual style that’s not afraid to ruffle feathers and be crude, but executes it with a humorous panache that I can’t help but love. The fast-paced Metroidvania action is a joy too, and you always feel in control of Cherry’s gory brand of delicious violence.

10. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor


Having missed Fallen Order, I approached Survivor with a little bit of uncertainty. But what I found through the well-trained hands of Cal Kestis, was a thoroughly enjoyable adventure with a combat system, and upgrade trees that genuinely allowed me to feel in control of things and like a badass Jedi. With an engaging story, and worlds teeming with secrets in between the pacey combat, I was hooked and loved my time with Cal and BD-1.

9. Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew


I write this with a heavy heart knowing I won’t experience another outing from MiMiMi Games, but bloody hell, what a high to go out on. Shadow Gambit feels like the pinnacle of the real-time tactics genre. Throw in a bat-shit crazy cast all with unique charm and abilities, and you realise what a feat has been pulled off here. Every mission can be completed in so many ways with different crew members. An absolute masterclass of design and execution that kept me hooked for tens of hours.

GOTY 2023: 8. Resident Evil 4 Remake


Remake one of the best games of all time you say? Tick. Somehow make it even better? Tick. Wait, how? Fair play to Capcom for pulling off the unthinkable. They know what made the original Resi 4 so beloved, and enhanced where they needed to, to tweak and perfect the experience whilst modernising the experience for today’s audience. Equal parts unnerving and energetically cathartic, Resident Evil 4 Remake is a superb title.

GOTY 2023: 7. Final Fantasy XVI


From the get-go, Final Fantasy XVI feels grand, epic, and deep. And it retains that feeling from start to finish. The world feels real, and its machinations and manipulations are considered and important, clearly inspired by Game of Thrones and the like. Gentle nods to this complexity from the excellent Active Time Lore give further detail to those who desire it. Add to that some engaging, energetic, customisable combat and some truly spectacular standout moments and boss fights, and Final Fantasy XVI really is an incredible package to dive into.

6. Super Mario Wonder


I thought Metroid Dread was Nintendo peaking with naming their games, but blimey, they outdid themselves with Super Mario Wonder. From start to finish, this game is a joy to play, from the bright, colourful setting, to the musical touches everywhere, to the outstanding surprises offered in every level by the Wonder Flowers. The game never takes its foot off the pedal or its finger off the pulse, and delivers easily the best 2D Mario adventure since Super Mario World.

GOTY 2023: 5. Remnant 2


What a weird name for a game given that there wasn’t a first Remnant game? Odd naming aside, Remnant 2 is such a quirky, moreish discoverfest, that I had so much fun playing as a group. We’d each discover secrets and share them and then discover more together. Throw in some incredibly tight gunplay, an excellent variety of weapons, and some truly unique worlds, each with different missions to see (and miss) and there’s a package here that demands to be replayed over and over, and I never tired of it.

4. Octopath Traveler 2

Octopath Traveler II review

Octopath Traveler 2 was such a pleasant game to play. Eight different, but lovable characters, each with their own stories that went in a variety of (often dark) directions made progressing each a desire, not a trawl. Throw in some absolutely gorgeous visuals, a stunning soundtrack, and amazing voice acting it’s a pleasure to experience. The combat is also superb, adding to the original and making it more comprehensive and customisable than before. A triumph of a sequel that deserves your attention.

3. Metroid Prime: Remastered

Metroid Prime Remastered review

A shadow-dropped remaster of one of your favourite games of all time Chris? Turns out 2023 wasn’t special enough, but my GOTY list is even better for it. The very fact we got this Metroid Prime Remastered this year still brings a smile to my face. The fact its had a visual and audio uplift and you can customsie your controls to what now feels right makes it even better. The original Metroid Prime still stands up today as one of the greats, but with this remaster, no one has any excuse to not experience this landmark title.

GOTY 2023: 2. Sea of Stars


I can’t deny that I was looking forward to Sea of Stars. It looked lovely, and I’d enjoyed Chained Echoes last year. I was ready for another go. But what I didn’t expect was such a finely crafted experience from start to finish. A game that not only is tightly designed from the combat encounters to the levels you traverse, but also one that doesn’t pad or bloat at any point. Everything is necessary and enjoyable, and the pacing and difficulty curve never feel out of place.

It’s also a masterclass of storytelling, character building, and emotional beats to bring tears to the eye. Moments that resonate and stay with you after the credits roll and beyond. A game made for gamers, by gamers, meant in the purest sense. It’s respectful, enjoyable, and expertly packaged. It sets its own high standard for 2D RPGs. Good luck following this, everyone else.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom


Speaking of following, how the heck do you top Breath of the Wild? After 6 long years since the launch of the Switch we finally got the answer in Tears of the Kingdom. What I love most about this game is that it seemed entirely comfortable to address the issues people had with its predecessor. Weapons break? Fuse them to give them additional power and make them more durable than every before. Worried you’ve seen the world before? Not only will we mix things up in Hyrule, but now you can also explore the sky and the Depths too for even more world space. Worried exploring will take too long? Build a hoverbike and go wherever you like.

Breath of the Wild became synonymous with clever ways to achieve certain things with the few starting powers you obtained. Tears of the Kingdom dials it up to 11 with being able to craft whatever you can think of, almost challenging you to think outside the box, and constantly rewards you for doing so. This is of course on top of a very engaging and polished Zelda world, teeming with life, both friendly and otherwise. On top is a story, that is the most emotional, surprising, and engaging that there has ever been in a Zelda game, and a true feeling of camaraderie from other characters rarely seen in a game that has traditionally been about a lone hero.

I didn’t think Nintendo could do this, I didn’t think Breath of the Wild would be beaten. But they did, and in fact, they went further. Breath of the Wild is almost obsolete now. Tears of the Kingdom has more, and embraces what made the original so great in much more meaningful ways. Truly your only limit to how you want to play this game is your imagination, and that’s a lovely thought. So quintessentially Nintendo, at the top of its game, my GOTY 2023 with a bullet.