Scene from »Baldur's Gate 3«: One of our highlights of the year
Photo: Larian Studios
2023 is one of those years that will stay in the memory of gaming fans for a long time. Simply because there were several weeks in which one interesting novelty followed the next – a luxury problem that was anything but the norm in previous years.
When compiling our top list, we also noticed once again how many top-class artists have appeared since January. To do justice to this, we have split our list into indie games and blockbusters. For us, the latter term stands for relatively expensive and elaborate productions as well as generally works from the environment of large companies.
Here are our ten favorite games from this part of the gaming world:
»Hi-Fi Rush« appeared out of nowhere at the beginning of the year: The work of the Japanese Microsoft studio Tango Gameworks was released right on the day it was announced. Thanks to interesting mechanics, the game itself was also a pleasant surprise. It's an action-rhythm fighting game where players move to the beat of the music. The better they do this, the better they will exert attacks. In combination with the excellent soundtrack, this concept spurs on immensely. »Hi-Fi Rush« is a welcome change, especially as a game for in between.
Particularly interesting for: Fans of wacky game ideas for whom the focus is on the fun of the game
»Hi-Fi Rush« by Tango Gameworks for Xbox Series S/X and PC. USK from 12 years. Playing time about 15 hours.
Many games that are the subject of controversy disappear into oblivion after they have subsided. Hogwarts Legacy is a different story. Because the game has enough substance to be remembered regardless of the debate, which revolved around statements made by the "Harry Potter" creator Joanne K. Rowling. The game has a gigantic and detailed open world, including many ways to explore it. It's the most fun on the broom. Fans of the series will find a number of characters, locations or spells - rarely has a game had so much charm. For everyone else, it's a really good action RPG.
Particularly interesting for: Fans of the »Harry Potter« series and players who want to explore an open world
»Hogwarts Legacy« by Avalanche Games for Playstation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch and PC. USK from 12 years. Playing time around 30 hours.
»Resident Evil 4 (Remake)«
A reinterpretation of a classic has to be very good to be one of the best games of the year. The remake of »Resident Evil 4« exceeds this requirement. In a grandiose way, it dances on the narrow path between fidelity to the original and the necessary modernization that makes the game accessible to younger gamers. Controls, camera work, graphics, inventory: all of this has been refreshed and is now state-of-the-art. At the same time, even 18 years after its release, the foundation of the original game is still so strong that the remake, although it takes some liberties in terms of content, can still stand on it.
Particularly interesting for: Fans of action horror games and gamers who already liked the original
»Resident Evil 4 (Remake)« by Capcom for Playstation 4 and 5, Xbox Series and PC. USK from 18 years. Playing time around 20 hours.
»The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom«
How can you make a near-perfect game even better? Nintendo faced this difficult task with »The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom«, the sequel to »Breath of the Wild«, which received a lot of praise from critics and game fans alike. The Japanese coped with them with flying colors. On the one hand, the game is a typical sequel with more of the same: an even larger game world, more dungeons, more enemies – all of that. On the other hand, the new game is characterized by elaborate building mechanics. For example, you have to build new weapons by combining different items or build a vehicle with which you can remove obstacles that were previously thought insurmountable. These mechanics are simple enough to understand directly. And so complex that they provide many hours of trial and error.
Particularly interesting for: Fans of the »Zelda« series and people who like to master the mechanics of a game down to the smallest detail
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom from Nintendo for Nintendo Switch. USK from 12 years. Playing time around 60 hours.
»Street Fighter 6«
When it comes to the question of what the fighting game genre has been missing, the inclusion of an open world may not be the first answer. Nevertheless, »Street Fighter 6« did just that – and the developers' bet paid off. Basically, the sixth part works the same way as its predecessors: Players choose a character whose movement set they memorize and then face a number of duels - online or offline, against humans or against computer opponents. In the so-called World Tour mode, you have to create your own character and take part in street fights in a freely accessible city in order to level up. A new, very fun experience.
Particularly interesting for: Fighting game fans who like it competitive
»Street Fighter 6« by Capcom for Playstation 4 and 5, Xbox Series S/X and PC. USK from 12 years. Playing time about 20 hours for the story mode.
»Baldur's Gate 3«
This year's big high-flyer is »Baldur's Gate 3«. Hardly anyone would have expected the outstanding ratings for the game and its great commercial success – even the developers were surprised. But actually, all the ingredients are obvious. »Baldur's Gate 3« is a gigantic work that gives players a lot of freedom. They can decide for themselves which paths they take, how they shape their character. The game is based on the rules of »Dungeons & Dragons«, in which dice play a major role. Despite its classic mechanics in this respect, Larian Studios has created a very fresh-looking game that will probably be on all »Game of the Year« lists.
Particularly interesting for: Fans of role-playing games who like to put many hours into their character
»Baldur's Gate 3« by Larian Studios for Playstation 5, Xbox Series S/X and PC. USK from 18 years. Playing time about 70 hours.
»Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon«
»Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon« is a really tricky game – albeit different from the »Souls« games from From Software. Here, the focus is on mechs who fight against all kinds of metal behemoths. This requires extremely fast reactions and, depending on the opponent, different tactics. At least as important, however, is the equipment of the mechs. Which weapon systems they carry, how fast the propulsion is, or what damage the armor can deter has a decisive influence on whether the fight is successful or not. This mix of tactics and speed creates an entertaining and challenging gaming experience.
Particularly interesting for: Fans of mech games who can also handle a repetitive game over
»Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon« by From Software for Playstation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X and PC. USK from 12 years. Playing time about 20 hours.
»Super Mario Bros. Wonder«
It had been a while since Nintendo had last released a completely new installment in its 2D Super Mario series. The company has used the time to bring a breath of fresh air into the matter. The new Super Mario Bros. Wonder is now one of the best 2D platformers ever. It features challenging levels, beautifully drawn backgrounds, a catchy soundtrack. Above all, however, it's the new game mechanics that make the game stand out from the crowd. For example, the eponymous miracle flowers will make exciting things happen in each level as soon as they have been collected. Suddenly, for example, tubes come to life, a horde of enemies appears, or the perspective changes.
Particularly interesting for: Fans of well-made jumping games who want to perform as well as possible in every level
Super Mario Bros. Wonder from Nintendo for Nintendo Switch. USK from 6 years. Playing time about 10 hours.
»Marvel's Spider-Man 2«
»Marvel's Spider-Man 2« is a typical sequel. The story continues, with new villains to defeat. There are new suits, more abilities, and the open world is even more expansive than before. In the end, the game doesn't offer many innovations. But all this happens at such a high level that good entertainment is still guaranteed. Once again, the freedom that Insomniac Games gives you when moving through the game world is particularly noteworthy. Swinging, climbing, floating – it's just a lot of fun.
Particularly suitable for: Superhero fans who want to experience the rush of speed while swinging
»Marvel's Spider-Man 2« by Insomniac Games for Playstation 5. Playing time about 16 hours.
»Alan Wake 2«
The many numbers in this article make it clear: 2023 saw a lot of sequels again. »Alan Wake 2« is no exception. However, this game actually does everything better than its predecessor. This time, players control two protagonists: missing writer Alan Wake, trapped in a dark place, and FBI agent Saga Anderson, who sets out to find him. Above all, the way of telling the story is convincing. The changes of perspective, uncertainties and jumps make the game an extremely impressive experience, the likes of which the medium of video games does not often produce.
Particularly interesting for: Fans of mystery stories with horror elements who like to think outside the box, er, want to play
»Alan Wake 2« by Remedy Entertainment for Playstation 5, Xbox Series S/X and PC. USK from 18. Playing time about 20 hours.
Our list of the ten best indie games of 2023 is expected to be released this coming weekend.