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Jeff & Dylan Bakalar's Top 10 Games of 2023

The Bakalar Boyz are back causin' mass destruction.

*Portions of Jeff Bakalar’s list were outsourced to his next of kin.

**While it didn’t come anywhere close to making my list this year, I just wish to say “Atomic Heart” out loud.

10. Viewfinder

9. Ghostrunner II

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Hey I didn’t play Ghostrunner I, and I can’t even explain to you why I decided to play Ghostrunner II at all. Its demo caught my eye and after I blazed through it, I realized it was doing something for me that I hadn’t experienced in a while. The game performs incredibly well and plays so smoothly, it feels like you’re putting on silk gloves or something. I like being able to play something that makes me believe I’m actually a good gamer™, and I spent hours with Ghostrunner II this year because it made me feel good, and goddamnit, I deserve to feel good every now and then.

8. Lies of P

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Since now I really like FromSoftware games I need to have my itch scratched for these kinds of games every year. And because I’m shallow, I was perfectly happy to let Lies of P fill that void with something that is, in many ways, a From knockoff. Is it weird that I didn’t realize Lies of P was Pinocchio bullshit right away? Whatever, I’m not embarrassed to admit it. Lies of P also captured me with its unsettling presentation and weirdo marionette puppet horror. I spent a surprising amount of time with this one and it found a way to keep its top 10 spot as the year progressed.

7. The Finals

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The most recent game to find a spot on the list is The Finals, which seems like it’s primed to absolutely explode onto the esports circuit, or at the very least, become a streaming goto. Somehow this casino vomit factory doesn’t come off as annoying as it should on paper, and instead is a damn joy to play with friends.

6. Cocoon

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Oh my god, bugs are the absolute worst, but Cocoon, you forced me to look beyond all that. Every year there’s a smart puzzle-y isometric joint that finds its way onto my list. Cocoon is cleverly designed, and demonstrates a personality through that unspoken language. It’s a warm and cozy feeling I get. And for that, Cocoon, I thank you. Still hate bugs though.

5. Super Mario Bros. Wonder

4. Resident Evil 4 Remake

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Best fucking remake I’ve ever played, hands-down. RE4 set the tone for contemporary survival horror, and to see it get to take a victory lap in this fashion all these years after its original release is the perfect way to celebrate such a classic game. And despite having played RE4 on almost literally every platform in existence, it perfectly demonstrates what kind of life a masterful remake can breathe into an older game. This is as close to a perfect remake as you could ever hope for, and with expectations well beyond normal for this one, the whole package is a damn miracle.

3. Marvel's Spider-Man 2

2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

1. Alan Wake II

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Roaring straight from the “very-much-my-shit” department, Alan Wake II is on a very short list of titles I’ve played that just get me. Horror? Heavy metal? Abandoned amusement parks? Weird masks? Fuck me right up, please! Not only is AW2 a triumph in storytelling, it’s also one of the best-looking games to ever exist. It introduced wildly smart ways to tell and reinforce narratives, nailed the balance between FMV and in-engine cinematics, and introduced arguably the best overall cast in a game. I’ll also shoutout– cause I’m a weirdo– some of the best graffiti work and the most accurate depiction of an NYC subway ever seen in a game.

What can I say, I’m a mark for the spooky shit.

Dylan Bakalar's Top 10 Games of 20223

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