Year in Review

2023 in Gaming

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While the industry is battling crunch and layoffs on a massive scale, the amount of quality video games released this year is nearly unmatched.

Therefore instead of a Top 5 we proudly present our editors’ Top 10 games released in 2023. It wasn’t easy to get all these great games in order and to keep it to ten titles. 2024 is almost here and Our podcast “MiXT BAG” in which we take a look at each month’s game releases beforehand will return next month.

Your Top 5 (XTgamer Awards 2023)

5. Super Mario Bros. Wonder (0%) (Review)
4. Street Fighter 6 (5,6%) (Video)
2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (22,2%)
2. Alan Wake II (22,2%) (Review)
1. Baldur’s Gate 3 (50%)


10. Sons Of The Forest
9. Starship Troopers: Extermination (Video)
8. Terra Nil (Review)
7. Dune: Spice Wars
6. No One Survived
5. LEGO 2K Drive (Review)
4. Cities: Skylines II (Review)
3. System Shock (2023) (Review)
2. Starfield
1. Hogwarts Legacy


10. Sonic Superstars
9. Dead Space (2023)
8. Hogwarts Legacy
7. Honkai: Star Rail
6. Mortal Kombat 1
5. Street Fighter 6
4. Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
3. Hi-Fi Rush (Sub Watch)
2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
1. Baldur’s Gate 3


As with many years, I ended up missing a lot of the big hitters of 2023 — Baldur’s Gate 3, Street Fighter 6, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 to name a few. But it was also a great year for catching up on existing games, or playing through one of many live service titles that I still keep up with.

When it comes to 2023 titles that I did play, it was still a pretty strong year for me. Lots of great games from both large and small development teams, including some pleasant surprises.

10 – Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Another solid release by Team Ninja, Wo Long offers more tough gameplay across multiple well-structured levels. This game goes for more of an emphasis on parries in a similar vein to Fromsoft’s Sekiro.

Of course, there’s still plenty of loot to sort through and multiple difficulty levels to challenge. It even got some extra DLC levels that I’d like to give a try some time in 2024.

9 – Cassette Beasts

I followed Cassette Beasts every now and then on social media, but I never expected it to be as good as it ended up. A monster collecting game with lots of charm and some fun spins on the genre.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the fusion and elements systems. Fusing has been a big part of Pokemon fan games in recent years, and it offers a lot of new build possibilities in Cassette Beasts. Elements also end up being more than the usual boring “Fire beats Grass”, letting you combine certain moves to gain new effects.

8 – Final Fantasy XVI

While not exactly a short turnaround period, Final Fantasy XVI was still announced and released without any major hiccups (I’m looking at you, XV). It’s a game of very high highs, and some low lows.

I’d still say this is a pretty memorable title in a number of ways, even if the Eikon battles are easily the star of the show. It just needed a little more going on in the world, or some extra nuance to battles, to really elevate it over some of its predecessors.

7 – Lies of P

It was a soulslike filled year, and Lies of P easily comes out on top on the more traditional side of things. Leaning into Bloodborne’s aggression rewarding combat, but with its own inventive setting, Lies of P is just a really fun time (outside of a couple of dud areas in the midgame).

6 – Lunacid

I had known of Lunacid since its early access debut in 2022, but didn’t start closely following it until a few months before launch. It’s a more accessible take on Fromsoft’s old King’s Field series, offering first person exploration through dangerous environments with little in the way of direction.

Despite often not knowing where to go or getting ganked by a powerful enemy in a secret room, exploration is always enjoyable. There’s always something new to find, and the weapon levelling system means that seemingly weak weapons could eventually become the most powerful tool in your arsenal.

5 – Resident Evil 4 (2023)

Remakes always follow a tough balance of changing things for newer audiences while trying to retain what made the original game so good. I’d say the Resident Evil 4 remake succeeded in this, becoming my favourite way to play now.

The original game’s big setpieces are still intact, weaker sections have been improved, and it doesn’t feel as if anything is missing (unlike the remake of Resident Evil 2). The addition of Mercenaries and Seperate Ways via free and paid DLC only adds to the overall strong package.

4 – Hi-Fi Rush

Few games can successfully pull off a surprise release, but Hi-Fi Rush managed it. Announced and released on the same day, it combines action combat with rhythm-based timing to great effect.

It’s just a fun game to play, even if its protagonist can be a little annoying early on (he definitely grew on me by the end). If that wasn’t enough, Hi-Fi Rush also features some of the nicest visuals of any game released during 2023. It’s crazy to see that cel-shading, something that already managed to make older games age gracefully, is still managing to improve even now.

3 – Remnant II (Video)

Remnant II is the first game, but better in literally every way. More events, more variety, more builds. If you didn’t like the first one then this likely isn’t going to change anything, but for everyone else this is the perfect sequel.

You can easily put 50-100 hours into this while still finding plenty of stuff to do, with that number growing further thanks to current and future DLC expansions.

2 – Chained Echoes

While not a game released in 2023, Chained Echoes makes my list due to passing the cutoff for the XTgamer Game of the Year Awards 2022 and being nominated this year for Best RPG. It also ended up being a massive surprise for me, accomplishing what a lot of indie titles have tried and failed to do over the years.

Many indie games say that they want to go back to the “good old days” of JRPGs (or something to that effect). While what this actually means seems to differ between developers, most seem to attempt to emulate the SNES-era titles — mainly Final Fantasy or other Square developed games.

However, Chained Echoes actually succeeds in making an “classic” style RPG that is actually a full package. Its story is engaging (despite the need for an editing pass at times), battles are strategic without being completely bogged down by needless systems, and the world has plenty to discover.

1 – Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the Mario game I’ve been hoping would happen for a very long time. While the 3D side of things often took time to experiment, 2D Mario had been stuck with the bland “New” titles for the longest time.

Wonder finally injected some of the creativity found in 64 and Galaxy, offering an ever-changing set of levels, themes, and ideas that have been sorely missing until now. The only real part that seems to have fallen by the wayside is the boss fights, which feel very safe in comparison.

Regardless, the rest of Super Mario Bros. Wonder is exactly what I want from 2D Mario, especially going forward. Even if it ends up like Galaxy 2, offering a solid sequel before moving onto something new again, I’ll be more than happy.


Honorable Mentions

  • Jusant (Sub Watch)
    + Pretty low-poly visuals with stylish lighting, nice music, interesting climbing game mechanics
    – Little variety in gameplay and visuals, climbing too hectic towards the end
  • Mr Saitou (Download Thursday)
    + Humorous, heartfelt spin-off from Rakuen, the second best musical number in a game this year
    – Partly illogical puzzles, fiddly controls at times, very short play time
  • The Light in the Darkness
    + Shows the horrors of the Holocaust and deals with the topic in a sensitive way, downloadable for free
    – Technically not outstanding, very short play time
  • Thirsty Suitors (Sub Watch)
    + Competent turn-based combat system, unusual setting, funny dialogues, great voice acting
    – Lame skateboard sequences, small game world with little scope for exploration
  • Venba (Sub Watch)
    + Nice art style, emotional story, lots of dishes to cook
    – Hardly any variety in gameplay, very short play time

After the Fact

  • A Plague Tale: Requiem

After playing the predecessor, A Plague Tale: Innocence, closer to release in 2019, I took longer breaks from the much longer sequel and so didn’t complete it in 2022. Nevertheless, the PC performance was still poor and only playable with many optimizations. One of the most beautiful and terrifying games of the year – in a good sense. I’m looking forward to part three.

  • A Way Out

I really liked It Takes Two and its unofficial predecessor is an exciting prison break thriller. The beautifully staged setpieces, which can be played by both players at the same time, are particularly good. As fan of 24, I liked the sometimes creative use of the split screen. Despite the short play time, the game still has some lengths, for example in the junkyard, and leaves little room for meaningful emotional moments. The ending felt rushed.

Chicory tells an emotional story, has almost no lengths and I ended up coloring in the entire base map – enough said. Once you get used to the unusual game mechanics, you’ll be happy about every new screen and every new color palette. It’d have been nice to unlock the latter a little quicker so that I didn’t feel the need to paint over everything.

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered (Review) & Miles Morales

I put off the Marvel’s Spider-Man series for a long time because I couldn’t get into the first game on PlayStation 4. Since Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was released this year, I caught up on the predecessor and the spin-off and haven’t regretted it. Both games offer great story moments and interesting gimmicks like hacking with Peter in the first game and sneakily taking down enemies with Miles. However, the sudden increases in difficulty in combat let my DualSense suffer and made me even lower the difficulty level at times (a trend that would only increase in the sequel). The Batman Arkham-style combat system is expanded upon in a meaningful way, but I found it quite challenging to keep track of everything going on and Spider-Man can hardly take any damage at all. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered probably paved the way for all subsequent PlayStation 5 games offering 60 frames per second with ray tracing effects – an impressive accomplishment event taken one step further in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 with increased ray tracing effects and a 40 fps quality mode.

  • Shin chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation -The Endless Seven-Day Journey-

The anime conversion with the long name doesn’t offer the iconic German localization and dubbing or an Oscar-worthy story, but it is entertaining, beautifully drawn and good for a few surprises. If you can ignore the long walking distances and the somewhat repetitive gameplay, you can spend a few fun hours with Shin chan.

Blockbuster titles I stopped playing

  • Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp

The remake of the GBA games has had a difficult release history and I wasn’t able to get my hands on the game until the fall. Then all the games mentioned below came along and so I was only able to play the competent turn-based strategy game briefly. One day I will hopefully be able to test out the additions such as the editor.

  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage

There is probably no part of the series that I have played longer than Assassin’s Creeed Mirage. Despite the shorter play time compared to its predecessors Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla, the repetitive game mechanics got to me. I enjoyed the lively Baghdad, the authentic-sounding Arabic dubbing, the great visuals and the fun combat, but the all-seeing artificial intelligence often left me frustrated. Next year I’ll give Basim another chance.

  • Dead Space (2023)

Just like the original, I abandoned the remake of Dead Space relatively quickly and in both cases the PC performance was largely to blame. While I didn’t have a top-of-the-line computer in 2008, the remake has major problems with constant stuttering, regardless of your hardware configuration, for example when entering a new or already visited area or when certain animations are played. There is little hope for improvement as the updates appear to have stopped. Sooner or later I’ll give this highly praised horror game another chance.

  • Pikmin 4

Pikmin 4 was my first introduction to the Lemmings-like Nintendo series. I liked the easy-to-use controls, the creative level design and the engaging dungeons, but the short days combined with prolonged “story” scenes, the barren overworld and the loading times took a toll on me on the visibly aging Nintendo Switch. Again, I’d like to continue playing this one as soon as I find the time.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The Breath of the Wild successor is another highlight on the Nintendo Switch – alongside Metroid Prime Remastered and Super Mario RPG, by the way – which I’ve only played fairly briefly. Although I wasn’t particularly impressed by the overly long opening, similar to Starfield, I liked the return to Hyrule with the additional layers on top and at the bottom. I’ve invested some time in creating vehicles, but I haven’t unlocked enough parts and mechanics. The game world seemed obscenely large even compared to its predecessor and the many uninspired dialogue sequences kept me away from continuing to play.

Top 10

To keep it brief, I’ll not go into each title individually. My Top 10 consists of a mix of racing games, platformers and action games. While I probably spent the most time with the Top 5 games and had some of the best video game experiences with the Top 3, I’d like to highlight indie hits such as Oxenfree II: Lost Signals (absurdly twisted and engaging story), Cocoon (mind-bending Inception-style puzzles), A Highland Song (great narrative platformer from the 80 Days team with fantastic Scottish music) and Planet of Lana (a playable Studio Ghibli film). Alan Wake II turned out to be completely different than I expected, and it’s by no means perfect (such as the bugs upon release and the unnecessarily large game world), but exactly the Twin Peaks: The Return game I didn’t know I needed.

10. F1 23 (Videos)
9. Oxenfree II: Lost Signals
8. Cocoon
7. LEGO 2K Drive (Videos)
6. A Highland Song
5. Planet of Lana (Sub Watch)
4. Dead Island 2 (Review)
3. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
2. Super Mario Bros. Wonder
1. Alan Wake II