Well well well, here we are again. We made it to the end of the year, folks. Time to relax, unwind, and reflect. It’s been a weird one, hasn’t it?
Giant Bomb’s Game of the Year lists serve to celebrate what we enjoyed the most this year, to talk about the moments that’ll stick with us, the soundtracks we added to our playlists, the games that truly left a mark.
People made those games.
2023 will go down in history for having some of the best games ever made released in quick succession, but also for being relentlessly cruel to the people who make and cover them. Another day, another studio closure, or downsizing, or project cancellation. Opening up Twitter or LinkedIn every morning to see bad news impacting those who simply do not deserve it, while those who made the decisions get off scot free.
So before I jump into the games I loved the most from 2023, I wanted to just acknowledge the shit that everyone’s been through this year, and to say thank you to those working in the space. I don’t know what the future holds, but I sincerely hope it’s better for everyone. If you’re reading this, chances are you know exactly how special gaming is, and the way it can bring people together like no other. I hope we can all remember that as we go into the next year.
Be kind, have fun, and enjoy your gaming.
Now, onto my list.
I’ve always credited my dad with being the one to get me into video games from an early age. Not only would we play absolutely age-appropriate computer games like Quake, DOOM, and Tomb Raider together, but when he upgraded his rig, he kindly donated the old one to me so I could game in my bedroom when I would visit. The caveat being that it wasn’t connected to the internet and I could only play certain games that we had on disc.
Basically what I’m saying here is that as a kid with too much time on her hands, I played a fuck tonne of Lemmings.
Humanity scratches the Lemmings itch that I never knew I had, but improves on the gameplay in ways that I, now an impatient adult, greatly appreciate.
I love setting up pathways for my brainless little humans, but now I don’t have to deal with accidentally sending them to their deaths and potentially failing the levels. The music and art style are chill vibes distilled into an experience that kept me coming back again and again (glass of wine optional).
Also, you play as a cute dog. Humanity’s great, I loved it.
Close this list tab and go buy Venba right now.
Beautiful story, gorgeous artwork, tears basically guaranteed, and you can finish it in a couple of hours. One of my favourite gaming experiences of the year, and I hope you like it!
I do not know nor care if it’s an indie game, but Dave the Diver has such a wonderful gameplay loop that it kept me occupied for multiple plane journeys this year. Dive into the Blue Hole (oi oi), and catch as many sea creatures as possible, exploring the depths and all the mysteries it has to offer. Then take those fish to your sushi restaurant and enjoy a management sim mini game! Slowly and incrementally improving your diving equipment and your restaurant until you’re a master diver and restaurateur is immensely satisfying, and the game does it with panache too.
One of the best games of all time got even better, somehow. I loved my time with Resident Evil 4 Remake.
Shout out to David Spain who recommended the game to me when we were back at school all those years ago.
Wow, remake city over here.
I loved RE4 Remake, but Dead Space pipped it to my number 6 this year purely on audio design alone. My PS5 headset has never seen so much action than when I was aboard the Ishimura, fighting for my life against wave after wave of skinless freaks.
Go on, treat yourself. Play Dead Space Remake with a headset on today.
I bloody love a puzzle game. I do the NYT Crossword, Connections, and Wordle daily (line up, fellas), Puzzmo, Case of the Golden Idol, Obra Dinn, you puzzle it, I’ll solve it (maybe). I love Chants of Sennaar because it’s a beautiful puzzle game that makes me feel clever. And sometimes, that little pat on the head is all you need.
I am a Cyberpunk 2077 defender.
I thought it was great when it came out (admittedly, I was playing a PS4 copy on a PS5 so I didn’t have many bugs as PC and previous gen players), but boy is it even better now. The 2.0 update changed more than I could have ever imagined, and the Phantom Liberty expansion was just the cherry on top. Spy thriller! Noir! A big party scene! I love this shit, and I loved playing this game again.
I know I said Dave the Diver had a satisfying gameplay loop but Dredge has a better one!! Take your little tugboat around the mysterious archipelago, reel in some fucked up fish, chat to the Dark Soulsian weirdos who live in the local towns, and don’t get got by whatever creature lurks in the darkness. Beautiful, no notes.
2. Alan Wake II
I cannot believe this game exists, to be honest. Meta narrative on meta narrative, a musical sequence that no other developer would have the balls to do, and now a new game plus mode that’s going to make me replay all the RCU games again. No one does it like Remedy, and long may they continue.
I’m an Astarion girlie and I will be taking no questions at this time.