2023 Community Game of the Year

Mixolyde wrote:
steinkrug wrote:

Time to stop buying meat games I guess?

But Extreme Meatpunks Forever was so good!

Better than Meatle Gear: Solid?

Meat Hazard?

Meat Saber.

Oh wait, that was my Star Wars fanfic.

My favorite is still Meat Rock Galactic. Also Star Meat II.

Meatroid Prime?

You're all making Super Meat Boy very very sad.

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Meat.

I quite enjoyed the butcher delivery sim Need for Speed: Meat.

So one more week to post GotY lists. Anybody got one?

If you insist.

Looking back, it seems like I played a lot of games this year. Hmm.

Anyway here are the things: some of the things are difficult to rank and some of the things could have ranked higher but this was a very strong year (even without Baldur’s Gate 3)

Just the list:

1. Elden Ring
2. Outer Wilds
3. Dave the Diver
4. Xcom 2
5. Diablo 4
6. Far Cry 5
7. Deaths Door
8. Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection
9. Guardians of the Galaxy.
10. Death Stranding

The list with the talky bits (such as they are)

1. Elden Ring
What hasn’t been said about Elden Ring? My first real Souls-like so now I maybe know what a souls-like is supposed to be like. And I like it. A lot. Except for the multi player stuff which I noped out of very early on. 155 hours, several of those spent just gazing at the scenery. I am objectively terrible at this so I didn’t beat the final boss(es) and I had to look up most of the quest lines because they are very difficult to follow otherwise. I could easily spend more time here but you have to move on eventually.

2. Outer Wilds
What hasn’t been said about Outer Wilds? (No I’m not doing that for every entry). What a unique and spectacular thing this is in just about every way. I’m not smart enough to play this but I found a thing that gives you hints and gentle nudges, a standard walkthrough would have destroyed it.

3. Dave the Diver
Most unexpected thing for me, but here we have an unassuming hero who works hard during the day then works more at night making food for people, and is always being asked to help someone out - I definitely identify with Dave

4. Xcom 2
Might have parked this one a little too long. It’s just so very good. Need to go back and play with the expansion.

5. Diablo 4
It’s this far up on the list because I had a few good co-op sessions and it’s very well made, but this has not grabbed my attention and time the way Diablos used to.

6. Far Cry 5
Another year, another Far Cry.
This one swapped the mountains for some smaller mountains, and cults and USA. The story is ludicrous and the game has nothing to say about any of its Very Important Themes. But I had a great time and my favourite game ending for a long time.

7. Deaths Door
Another unique and interesting thing. Loved the story and gameplay and world and characters but don’t mention the final boss fight thing.

8. Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection
Played the original trilogy last year, this year it was the last(?) two. Someone please just keep making these short cinematic explory-shooty things please and I will keep playing them (eventually).

9. Guardians of the Galaxy
Hey if you just got this free on the Epic store, go and play it. I loved the constant chatter and banter between the characters. The combat wasn’t spectacular though.

10. Death Stranding
Late entry that I did not expect to play or like. Still not sure if I do like it. The weirdest game world and characters and bizarre gameplay. But there’s something strangely compelling about making another delivery.

Didn’t quite make the list:

Fun little exploration game with a graphical look that just didn’t work for me.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Fun for a little while but has many problems and is just not as good as anything above.

Some replays:

Portal 2
Better than I remember it, I think I remembered the mechanics more than the story and characters, which were awesome.

Baldur’s gate 2
still one of the great RPGs. Some of the people here said it’s too old and annoying to play now.

Ori and the two things
Flew through both Ori games again and they are still awesome. After playing a lot of Hollow Knight I think I am a lot better at these.

Flew through both Guacamelee games again and they are still awesome. After playing a lot of Hollow Knight and Ori I think I am a lot better at these.

Prince of Persia (2008)
Don’t know why, I like this more than any of the 3D Princes of Persia.

Prince of Persia (1989)
This was one of the first games I played on my first PC, still love it. Found a PC port that has quick save and controller support, and optional time limit - which all made it even better.

Played this a while back, played it again. It’s still the only rogue-like that works for me (and wow does it work).

Command & Conquer
Currently playing the remaster, the mission structure and controls have long been superseded by newer RTS games but it’s fun to look back. I’m still a mechanical man 30 years later (just a bit rusted in places).

I thought I probably missed the deadline, so I'm glad to see the polls are still open. I think I played more games that came out in the current year than I have in prior GOTY polls. I

1. Baldur’s Gate 3
2. Spellforce: Conquest of Eo
3. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
4. Dead Space 2023
5. Against the Storm
6. Spirit Island
7. Forza Motorsport
8. Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles
9. Fights in Tight Spaces
10. Darkest Dungeon 2

Baldur’s Gate 3
I’ve kinda fallen out of love with sprawling party-based tactical RPGs. There is usually just too much - too many battles, too much loot, too much repetition. Even though BG3 was a huge game, it managed to trim out most of the repetitive battles. I felt each one usually had something different to offer. The characters were great. Maybe not quite up there at the top with some of my favorites, but close. I wasn’t going to play it due to not being very fond of the Divinity Original Sin games, but I’m glad I did.

Spellforce: Conquest of Eo
Snappy tactical battles and some novel combination of features of a 4X and RPG made this a surprise hit for me. It can be a bit of a slog to wrap up a game, but most of the ride is fun getting there.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
This felt like a pared-down Dark Souls / Nioh game and it worked very well. It could have used more enemy variety and the levels weren’t very intricate, but it managed to be more fun than the sum of it’s parts.

Dead Space 2023
Just solid all around with good shooty bits and atmosphere.

Against the Storm
I’m not sure how I forgot this since it’s the game I’m currently playing. It somehow wasn’t in my spreadsheet. It’s a good combination of learning new systems, adapting to the map and random draw of buildings. I get bored with most city builders, but I must have played 10+ games recently and still having fun. I’m early on in the difficulty progression so there is lots of room to grow the challenge if I’m up for it.

Spirit Island
A really good port of the board game. Playing on the computer feels a lot simpler.

Forza Motorsport
A part of me doesn’t like including a racing game because, well, it seems like I’ve played the game before 1000 times. But I truly had a ton of fun for the few weeks I play the crap out of it before I suddenly get tired of it and stop. The highlight is competing with many of the racers here at Qt3, some who I can never manage to stay ahead of on the leaderboard, but I have a lot of fun trying.

Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles
A deck builder with dice instead of cards. Just a nice variety of classes to play.

Fights in Tight Spaces
I think it was mostly the novel setting that made me enjoy it so much. That and the combination of deck building and small tactical battles.

Darkest Dungeon 2
This was a surprise because while I liked aspects of Darkest Dungeon, I found it to be too much of a slog. DD2 managed to stay fun the entire time.

More solid games of 2023, but not top-tier stuff
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor - This felt more bloated than the first, but the elements were still mostly fun. It could have been trimmed down a bit.
Super Mega Baseball 4
Lies of P
Railway Empires 2
Tiny Civilization
Steamworld Build
En Garde
Station to Station

These were…OK
Age of Wonders 4 Premium
Hogwarts Legacy
Diablo IV
Terra Nil

Didn’t like these much
Desktop Dungeons: Rewind
Chants of Sennaar

I liked these but didn’t play enough to really feel like I got a full impression.
Slay the Princess

Games I own but didn’t play yet that could of had a shot
Lords of the Fallen
Aliens: Dark Descent
Deepest Chamber: Resurrection
Dune: Imperium
Cobalt Core
Old World - Pharaohs of the Nile

Baldur's Meat...

...ok ew let's stop this.

What a beast of a year in gaming, eh?

My list:

  1. Death Stranding
  2. Starfield
  3. Super Mario Bros: Wonder
  4. The Talos Principle 2
  5. Baldur's Gate 3
  6. Hogwarts Legacy
  7. Alan Wake 2
  8. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  9. Astalon: Tears of the Earth

Tied for #11, alphabetically:

  • Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon
  • Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout
  • Black Skylands
  • Can of Wormholes
  • Chained Echoes
  • Cosmic Star Heroine
  • Deliver Us the Moon
  • Drop - System Breach
  • Haiku, The Robot
  • Kerbal Space Program 2
  • Lies of P
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Outpath
  • Taiji
  • Void Stranger
  • ZeroRanger

I just edited my list a couple posts above because I forgot Against the Storm. Since those votes weren't tallied yet, it was Ok to edit the list, right? If not let me know and I'll make a separate post.

Budo wrote:

Baldur's Meat...

...ok ew let's stop this.

Baldur's meaty tentacles...

I got the thread back on track. Stop trying to make meat jokes happen.





Anyone excited for Meat Girls: The Musical this year?

Time for my annual community post! I did not game so much this year, and most of my gaming time was on Magic Arena. I'm having a love/hate relationship with Magic... but I did 60+ Wilds Of Eldraine drafts... whew!

1. Dave The Diver (Switch)
2. F-Zero 99 (Switch)
3. Super Mario Bros. Wonder (Switch)
4. Diablo IV (Xbox One)
5. What Remains of Edith Finch (Switch)
6. Triangle Strategy (Switch)
7. Monster Hunter Now (Android)

Like I said, not a lot of new game time this year. "Dave The Diver" was a surprise. It really scratches the "guided exploration" genre itch that love. "F-Zero 99" is way more fun than the simple premise suggests. "Wonder" is just more high quality Mario; it's never a bad thing. "Diablo" was so-so. I actually really liked the story, and since I don't game much, I didn't know that it was apparently very derivative until I'd finished it. I feel like the loot porn detracted from the game quite a bit though. "What Remains..." was good but the narrative genre just isn't for me. Triangle Strategy was sooo disappointing. Overly heavy on narrative, surprisingly little strategy in a game where "Strategy" is in the title.

Thanks, staygold!

2023 was a “quality over quantity” year for me, dominated by the Big Three — Elden Ring in the first few months of the year; then Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom from May onwards; and then Jagged Alliance 3 from July to November. Any of them could have been GOTY.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Switch, 2023) — The beautiful, ambitious successor to one of my favourite games of all time. It didn’t disappoint; according to Nintendo’s Year in Review, I have 170 hours in this game! It offered:
- Spectacular set-pieces such as the Lightning Temple;
- Moment-to-moment wonder and delight, such as exploring the Depths, peacefully resting on a sky island, outwitting would-be Yiga ambushers, or riding a dragon;
- A satisfying worldbuilding follow-up to BOTW, as we got to see how Hyrule and its inhabitants had moved on and rebuilt.

2. Jagged Alliance 3 (PC, 2023) — Finally, a worthy sequel to one of the classics of the 1990s. JA3 combined great turn-based tactics, a cast of lovable rogues, and surprisingly good (and often laugh-out-loud funny) writing & worldbuilding. I picked it up on launch day and the risk paid off.

3. Elden Ring (Xbox Series X, 2022) — This took the Souls games’ traditional strengths (combat, “tough but fair” challenge, localisation, drop-in multiplayer) and added a vast, often beautiful, and occasionally horrifying open world to discover and explore. Rather stressful to play, but worth every minute!

4. Age of Wonders 4 (PC, 2023) — My favourite AoW game. It sells the illusion of being a wizard (or in my case, a dragon lord), discovering and taming a beautiful, intriguing, and dangerous world. The aesthetics and production values help sell the experience. A final bonus is that the game plays very well on a Steam Deck.

5. Rule the Waves 3 (PC, 2023) — A “more of a good thing” sequel. This is one of the few series that looks at defence from a policy and force structure perspective (given my country’s geography, objectives, and budget, what is the appropriate navy for my circumstances?). RTW3 extends the timeline to 1890-1970, allowing more time with pre-dreadnoughts in the early game and adding missiles to the late game. Good enough to distract me from Zelda!

6. Octopath Traveller II (Switch, 2023) — A tribute to classic SNES JRPGs, with beautiful pixel art, good music, and some pretty decent turn-based battles. Unfortunately, in some ways it was too faithful to its inspirations — I could have done without random battles in 2023.

7. Dwarf Fortress (PC, 2023 for the Steam version) — My first time with the legendary — and legendarily intricate — colony management game. Much more approachable than its reputation suggested. I think it’s also ruined similar titles such as Rimworld for me — I prefer DF’s simulationism and greater focus on building.

8. Cobalt Core (PC, 2023) — A charming deck-builder that’s my go-to game when I need something short, or when I’m tired and I just want to relax. Love the colourful characters!

9. Bayonetta Origins: Cereza & the Lost Demon (Switch, 2023) — A beautiful fairy-tale experience, seemingly inspired by Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Cheshire the soft toy turned demon is an adorable co-protagonist. Slightly repetitive.

Honourable mentions

Venba (Game Pass, Xbox Series X, 2023) — A clever game with a unique premise: using cooking minigames to tell the story of an immigrant family. Unfortunately, that story being rather cliched held it back.

Previous lists
The 2010s

2023 was a rough year. In fact, every subsequent year since at least 2020 has been rougher than the prior one, so I'm looking forward to 2024 hopefully breaking that streak.

Similar to last year, I went back and finally beat several longstanding pile games. It was a heady mixture of very long, and very short experiences, and starting in late summer, I played very little, and beat even less for a good two months because some tough times sapped all of my energy and will to do so. What I didn't expect, is that a re-release of an old game I had little respect for would help bring me out of that headspace.

This year I finished 35 games (43 if you count individual episodes and short bonus DLC), breaking my streak of a year-on-year upwards trend (last year 52). It doesn't matter, because what I did play was very good.

And away-ay we go!

Short list of the top 10 games that were new, or mostly new to me in 2023 (bold denotes beaten):
1. Hades (2020)
2. God of War (2018)
3. Saints Row IV (2013, Re-Elected edition)
4. Guacameelee! (2014, Super Turbo Championship Edition)
5. Sable (2021)
6. Tell Me Why (2020)
7. Kenshi (2013)
8. Five Dates (2020)
9. The Expanse: A Telltale Series (2023) (+ Archangel DLC)
10.Yoku's Island Express (2018)

All other "new" games ranked:


11. Catherine: Full Body (2019)
12. Metroid Prime (Remastered) (2002/2023)
13. Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak (2016)
14. Battlefield V (2018)
15. Quake II Remastered: Call of the Machine (2023)
16. Sam & Max Hit the Road (1993)
17. Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra (2006)
18. Late Shift (2017)
19. Axiom Verge (2015)
20. Svoboda 1945: Liberation (2021)
21. Quake II 64 (1998 / 2023 on PC)
22. River City Girls (2019)
23. Paperbark (2018)
24. The Complex (2020)
25. The Gardens Between (2018)
26. Dark Arms: Beast Buster (1999)
27. Condemned: Criminal Origins (2005)

Detailed Top 10:
(Warning: some videos are NSFW, a few contain spoilers)


1. Hades

I don't do roguelikes. FTL never did it for me. I have yet to get past the Trapper in Act 1 of Inscryption and don't see the appeal.
And yet....Hades - which I played early in 2023 - is my best gaming experience of the year.

Never would I have expected to voluntarily fail nearly four dozen runs through the same levels before succeeding just once. But the combat, dialog, and little successes of just getting a tiny bit farther than last time kept me coming back.
Also, I have so much more nectar and ambrosia to gift.

I've escaped twice so far, but just like the underworld, Hades pulls me back in over and over. Every bit of praise people in previous GOTY heaped upon the game is completely true.

2. God of War (2018)

Reimagining Kratos as a father figure in snowy Scandinavia rather than the rampaging anger-beast in ancient Greece was a bold move for the franchise, and it totally paid off. Amazing visuals, brutal combat, jaw-dropping moments and set-pieces, and a heartfelt story of Kratos trying to relate to his son (and often failing) made for an incredible adventure. The story, coincidentally, hit too close to home as a similar personal tragedy struck while I was playing and I had to stop for several months. Once I finally picked it back up, I didn't put it down until I had done most of what the story and open-world had to offer.
Really looking forward to Ragnarök, but first I have to free the remaining valkyries!

3. Saints Row IV: Re-Elected

Contrary to the above trailer, Saints Row is not a series known for emotional depth. No, it's all about glorious, irreverant mayhem, and while there was a neverending supply of it in Saints Row the Third, somehow Volition managed to pack even MORE of it into Saints Row IV. You start out with Superpowers, fer chrissakes! The movement across the city with super-speed and super-jump feels spectacular, and there are so many incredible moments (see awards section below) that SR IV was simply a glorious good time. I wouldn't mind returning to it one day.

4. Guacameelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

My biggest regret regarding Guacameelee is that it languished on my pile for so long. This was an amazingly fun experience! It's the best of several Metroidvanias I've played this year, and really scores points for the fantastic feel of traversal, top-notch musical score, unique setting and premise, light/dark world switching and ample humor. The combat wasn't quite top-tier, but perhaps the sequel fixed that.
Anybody who has this unplayed on their pile needs to rectify that. Now!

5. Sable

If you had told me that Sable would be in my top 5 or even 10 of the year when I was only 2-3 hours into the game, I would have asked what you were smoking. I wasn't feeling the game at all until I left the starting area, a vast and utterly alien open world greeted me, and my need to see explore took over.
This absolutely gorgeous coming of age story was a fascinating experience that I wrung nearly every last grain of sand out of. The final career choice ended up being pretty difficult for me because of all I had seen and done, but eventually the fact that there were still mysteries to be solved became the deciding factor. There are some bugs, but none game-breaking. Overall it's an amazing first title for a new studio.

6. Tell Me Why

A very good 3-part episodic story by the Life is Strange people, set in gorgeous southeastern Alaska.
Early on, I thought I knew which direction the plot would take, but then the game made me assume a different path, only to go in yet another direction by the end. I was ready to let my prejudices be confirmed, but that didn't really happen. The story was slightly undermined by a few bits that made less than complete sense to me, but was otherwise fantastic. All in all I was very pleasantly surprised, and to say more would be far too spoilery.
I absolutely recommend checking it out.

7. Kenshi

In Kenshi, everything hates you and wants you dead or at least enslaved and/or crippled. You will be doing monotonous tasks for long periods of time in order to even just survive. Then, just when the future starts looking brighter, disaster will strike. So you adapt to your new awful situation: you pick up the pieces and continue as best you can.
Visually, the game is rough, but simultaneously oddly beautiful. So much in Kenshi is obtuse, but you also have freedom to be and do almost anything in this open world. The only question is, can you achieve the goals you've set? I have played dozens of hours and have achieved little; it's totally not a game I would consider "my bag", and yet....and yet it has me writing sprawling after action reports, which is not something I've done in many years. That's gotta count for a whole lot.
I haven't played it in several months, but if there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that Horseweed's tale is not over just yet.

8. Five Dates

So here we have a FMV game about online dating during a pandemic. That's a new one for me. Surprisingly, it's also really good, with everybody, especially your best buddy, being very well acted. Everybody feels like real people you are getting to know - some you will gel with and some you won't. When after the initial meeting sessions the game forces you to narrow your field to three women, I picked the one I was very interested in, the one I was sort of interested in, and one of the others just to fill the 3-person requirement.
Then I got to know them better over several more sessions, and had to make another cut. Gone was my second choice. I chatted with the remaining two several more times, and something unexpected happened - I was really, REALLY connecting with my third choice while increasingly disagreeing with my first pick. Eventually, she was eliminated and I was arranging an "offline" meeting with someone I initially had no interest in. And that outcome felt "right" to me, the player.
What a great experience!

9. The Expanse: A Telltale Series (including Archangel DLC)

The first teaser trailer for Telltale's Expanse, featuring Camina Drummer left me with goosebumps and guaranteed a day 1 purchase. Aside from episode 1, I waited to play this until the entire had released though, and then I just plowed through it! The atmosphere of the TV show is captured extremely well, and the mystery that the crew has to solve in this prequel to the TV series is quite interesting. Some sections were truly creepy and I even liked the zero G navigation! The DLC featuring Chrisjen Avasaralla was decently well done as well and fit very well into the established TV story.
What I didn't really like, was that the rare puzzles were insultingly easy, at least one QTE section was so fast that it was impossible to win withouth memorization, and that all episodes were far too short - the longest were around 90 minutes if you took your time; episode 5 barely scratched 30 minutes. I'm all for eliminating bloat, but Telltale's Expanse really needed more content.
The question I keep asking myself though, is if I would feel nearly as positively about the game were it a unique IP that I wasn't already a massive fan of.

10. Yoku's Island Express

A charming no-fail Metroidvania with pinball mechanics, Yoku's is certainly a unique game. Wonderfully relaxing way to spend a few hours. I only got 72% completion by the end, but I'm fine with that.

Numbers 11-20:


11. Catherine: Full Body

I dabbled a bit in the original version of Catherine, but then something else distracted me. When I saw there was a rerelease with more content, I picked it up without much thought. It's actually quite impressive how seamlessly the new, third, potential love interest feels like she was always part of the story, which has several surprises in store for players.
I enjoyed the frantic horror puzzle game mixed with ...a relationship sim? Not sure if that's the best way to describe the sections where you hang out at the restaurant interacting with friends and patrons. I made an effort to talk to people as much as I could, but unfortunately, time passes, and thus...some people stopped showing up.
In terms of relationship choice, I went with the loyal option, which might be the boring one, but I was happy with the ending I got. Glad to have finally fully experienced this weird but wonderful title.

The new content of the full body edition involves societal issues that more people are currently aware of than 10 years ago. As a white CIS guy, I can't speak for how well it was adressed, but to me it seemed respectful overall. Several in-depth articles have been written about it by people much more knowledgeable than me, and they basically come to the conclusion of "it's complicated".

12. Metroid Prime (Remastered)

When Metroid Prime was new on Gamecube, I was enraptured by the title theme. I played through the opening section and I landed on the planet. I quit shortly thereafter. The reason was the controls; I couldn't deal with how awkward they felt.
So I bought Metroid Prime Trilogy for Wii and nope'd out of the Wiimote controls in even less time.
...and now I bought the game a third time, but in this remastered version, they FIXED the controls, and I ended up really enjoying Metroid Prime. Finally!
The remaster also gives the game a huge graphical boost, and it makes exploring all the more fascinating. The only thing I still wish they had done was add fast travel, as running from one end of the world to the other began being really tedious near the end of the game.
Now I'm looking forward to experiencing Prime 2 and 3 the way they were meant to be played when those remasters release. They are coming, right?

13. Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

Deserts of Kharak is the first Homeworld game I've played any significant amount of, but it captures the feel of desperation in the prior spacebourne games - as I remember it - incredibly well. It took me most of the game to really get comfortable with the camera controls, but the story, visuals and the intense combat kept me hooked nonetheless. I especially loved scrambling all aircraft to do mass airborne attacks on enemy carriers.
Also: boy do those nukes hit hard.

14. Battlefield V

Similar to Battlefield 1, the campaign of Battlefield V focuses on stories of individuals, and I think the semi-historical Battlefield campaigns are better for it. V doesn't return you to the World War II theaters everybody knows; gone are the beaches of Normandy, Wake Island, or Stalingrad. Now we learn about lesser known events such as the story of British undercover ops in North Africa, the unheralded Tirailleur fighting for France, and the Norwegian resistance trying to stop the Germans from developing a WMD. The campaign even ends with the daring choice to feature a German tank crew fighting a hopeless battle in the final days of the war.
I'm not sure if the latter campaign was fully successful in not glorifying some of those clearly on the wrong side of history, but I did not finish that campaign feeling I had to shower, so I'll consider it a pretty good effort.
The gameplay was intense, visuals astounding, and the historical tidbits I learned were interesting. Unfortunately there were a surprising number of bugs as well.
I didn't touch the multiplayer, but the campaign was spectacular enough for me to get my money's worth. Another story or three being told, even as DLC, would have been welcome, in fact.

15. Quake II Remastered: Call of the Machine

To celebrate 25 years of Quake II, not only was the game remastered, but an entirely new campaign encompassing 6 massive episodes and a final battle was added. The levels features highly advanced geometry not seen in the original game, a big difficulty spike, and often upwards of a hundred enemies to mow down. Each episode also includes a hidden level on top of everything else, and there's a return of a familiar ugly face that will make your hair stands on its end (because of static). Very cool!

16. Sam & Max Hit the Road

I played a bit of this in the late 90's - enough to remember the World's Largest Ball of Twine and meeting Woody Allen, but I didn't get much farther. Although I always intended to do a real playthrough, it took a quarter century for me to put that plan into practice. Overall, it was a surprisingly short experience (thanks to using a walkthrough the few times I actually got stuck), but also a very funny one. Most of the jokes still land, though I suppose many younger people likely wouldn't get them.
Return to Monkey Island gives me hope that we've not seen the last of the trench-coat-wearing dog and crazed rabbit duo.

17. Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra
(Spoiler-heavy fan made trailer)

Xenosaga Episode I floored me when I played it 20 years ago. Episode II - although receiving a huge graphical upgrade - was a disappointment, and it took me a long time after playing that to feel ready for Episode III. Luckily, it's a marked improvement over II, though still falls short of my memory of the original.
For those unfamiliar, the Xenosaga series all about grand, largely nonsensical space opera, seasoned with badass characters, many of which are robots, cyborgs, or lab grown humans. Sprinkle in some philosophical mumbo-jumbo, lots of German and Hebrew terms and names, and biblical references that increase with each episode. Also, you will watch cut scenes almost as much as you actually play the game.
In terms of story, episode III goes so far off the rails, it's hard to remember there were ever rails to begin with, but somehow it's still a great ride with a fantastic soundtrack. The main character, Shion Uzuki still has an unhealthy fixation on the robot(?) KOS-MOS. KOS-MOS is still an incredible fighting machine. Allen is still pathetic. And sexy robots are still all over this universe.

I'm shocked this series has lain dormant for so long - sure most of it wraps up at the end, but there is lots more potential here. I'd love to see Xenosaga-universe games on modern hardware that are A) less cringey, and B) feature more of the mech A.M.W.S combat, which was becoming really fun in the late game, just in time for the game to stop giving you mechanized sections.

18. Late Shift

The better of the two Wales Interactive "choose your own adventure" movies I played, in Late Shift you are a parking attendant working the...uh...late shift, when you are forced at gunpoint to become the getaway driver for a criminal gang in London. How you deal with that situation and the aftermath is up to you.
I really enjoyed my one playthrough. Although I planned to do a second, it hasn't happened yet. My only real complaint is that the love story seemed unrealistic; everything else was a pretty intense FMV experience I can only recommend.

19. Axiom Verge

Axiom Verge is a Metroidvania that initially looks like it could run on an NES before it goes some unexpected places. Typical to the genre, there is a large map with lots to explore, many weapons to find (though you won't really use the majority of them), and numerous (and crazy) powerups. Garnish with a great soundtrack and abilities that make you feel like you are breaking the game.
Oh, and the game, including all art and music, were made by a single person. That's an astounding feat!
The big downer is that the game doesn't really respect the player's time, as there is no fast travel, and some of the optional codes (puzzles) are so obtuse that I still don't know how anybody is supposed to figure them out on their own.

20. Svoboda 1945: Liberation

There are lots of games about major events such as World War II. Very few explore what happens after them. Svoboda 1945 is a sequel to Attentat 1942, which was on my list last year. Taking place in a small Czech village in the Sudetenland, you question witnesses and their descendants of all sides of events of the final days of the war and the years after, in order to determine if the local schoolhouse deserves historical protection before it's torn down. The full-motion-video questioning is interrupted by small game segments intended to help you understand events of the time better. This would have been interesting as a documentary, but the well-made interactive experience that it is, is just so much more effective at teaching history.
Coincidentally, my GOTY writeup took so long because we just got back from a short vacation in the region the game takes place in. I found myself thinking a lot about Svoboda during the past few days, especially as we visited the childhood home of a close family friend who was forced to leave during the purges of the Sudentendeutsche following the war, trying to imagine what his days were like living there 80ish years ago.

Numbers 21-27:


21. Quake II 64

Quake II remastered also brings Quake II 64 to PC for the first time ever. Levels are simplified, reshuffled, and some cut entirely, but more colored lighting was added. It's actually amazing they got this to run on the Nintendo64 at all. A fun, though limited version of the original.

22. River City Girls

This River City Ransom spinoff has you rescuing the protagonists of the main series in classic "beat the crap out of everyone and then go shopping" style. Lots of moves to learn, thugs to beat up, and things to buy. Too many perhaps, as it really started to overstay its welcome once grinding for xp and cash began to seem less and less optional in order to progress. Likely the game would be easier (and even more fun) in multiplayer, but I never got a chance to play it that way.
Story is presented in game, through animated cut scenes, as well as voiced comic panels. I enjoyed the humor and lots and lots of hidden references/cameos to other beat-em/fighting games throughout.

23. Paperbark

A nice little story about a day or two in a wombat's life in the Australian outback. A bit of danger, lots of cuteness, and a gorgeous art style keep your attention for the hour or so it takes to play through if you can ignore the mediocre narration and occasional pathfinding annoyance.

24. The Complex

The first "choose your own adventure" FMV game I played this year. In fact, I played through it twice even though it was the weakest of the bunch. The premise - Biolab accident threatens humanity - is an interesting one. Unfortunately, there were minor issues with how some scenes didn't completely reflect prior choices. It was just enough to break the immersion slightly, but there are certainly worse ways to spend 90 minutes than a playthrough of this. It has a very B-movie quality to it. Pick it up on sale and give it a shot if it sounds at all interesting to you.

25. The Gardens Between

An interesting, relatively short puzzle game about two kids reliving shared memories together before saying goodbye. Both kids walk through each memory (stage) together. Walking forward moves time forward, backwards reverses time, and this must be used to solve each puzzle. Not bad and may tug at a heartstring or two.

26. Dark Arms: Beast Buster
(There are no trailers for this, so here's a retro review)

You've entered a pact with the Grim Reaper to destroy monsters in a sort of underworld. You collect their souls, combine them with "oum"s to create and upgrade various weapons, so that you can destroy more monsters. Rinse and repeat. Also, ol' Grimmy may not be entirely trustworthy. Surprise.
The gameplay loop is simple, but satisfying enough...for a while. If trying to collect every different type of monster soul and weapon type isn't enough to keep your attention, things will become repetetive quickly. Perhaps it could have been more interesting on more powerful hardware, but that's just speculation. A decent way to spend a few hours on the Neo Geo Pocket Color - nothing more, nothing less.

27. Condemned: Criminal Origins

The kindest thing I can say about Condemned is that I probably would have felt more positively toward it had I played it near its 2005 release. In 2023, once I finally got it working correctly after 2 hours, the massively deformed character models, floor plans that don't make sense in ANY universe, sorely undercooked investigative sections, and a scare factor that was nearly nonexistant after the first two stages did not leave a positive impression. I did enjoy the department store stages at least.

"Old" games I played a significant amount of in 2023:


Assassin's Creed Odyssey (2018, PS4) - the Atlantis DLC is really outstanding, and I debated including it in my rankings. Ultimately, the gameplay just wasn't different enough compared to the main game though.
For anybody who didn't know, more free DLC encompassing the island of Korfu was released in a crossover effort with AC: Valhalla, and its a nice way to spend a few more hours in Odyssey's world.

Silent Hill 2: Born from a Wish (2001, XBox) - a short but interesting bonus scenario to Silent Hill 2, which explores Maria's character in the hours/days prior to meeting James in the main game.

Quake Champions (2017, PC) - watching the 2023 Quakecon finals live really motivated me to try to get even better at this game. Watching and studying the old pro rapha, humble Raisy, all-business vengeurR, the unorthodox yet very entertaining Strongsage and many others all go at it with DJ Wheat and others on commentary was awesome. There were some tremendous matches and insane moments, thrilling combacks and real nailbiters, and I found myself playing significantly more QC than I usually do for several weeks after.

Quake II Remastered (1998, PC) - When Quake II was released in 1998, it was one of my biggest, most bitter gaming disappointments ever. I reviled the multiplayer experience it offered, though I did see some potential in the campaign. It would take me another 13 years to play through it, however. 12 years after that, the remaster releases just when I was going through the tragedy I mentioned at the start of this post. The brainless late 90's boomer-shooter experience turned out to be exactly the type of gaming I needed at that time, and it was one of the things that helped me through those tough months.

For that, I unexpectedly have to say "thank you".

Wordle (2022, Browser) - Finally "officially" got my 100-win streak. I'm starting to play it daily out of habit rather than desire though, so I may take a break soon.

Final Fantasy VII (1997, Switch) - I loved this game, playing on PC in 1998...until I reached the open world. I petered out once I reached the submarine, and then never loaded it up again. The same thing nearly happened 20+ years later, playing on the Switch. This time, however, I was determined, and used walkthroughs to power through, speeding up the game via the modern QOL improvements, and ignored most of the half-baked (or quarter-baked) side activities. It still offers up some high highs, but I also can't recommend playing this anymore without the modern amenities and a walkthrough.

Final Fantasy IX (2000, Switch) - Another one I just quit on several years ago after getting more than 2/3 through the original Playstation 1 version. The JRPG club picking it this year had me debating continuing that old save or starting over on Switch. I eventually took the Switch route and am glad I did. Once again fast-forward is a godsend, though I still can't explain the surprisingly long loading pauses going into battles on Switch. The story still holds up for the most part. Even some characters which I had hated in the past finally grew on me (especially Steiner). Since they were mostly better than in VII, I also did more of the side activities.
Except the card game; that still sucks.

Vay (1994, SegaCD) - Around 1995 I made it all the way to the final boss in Vay, but could never defeat him. It has bothered me a tiny bit ever since. Nearly 30 years later, I restart the game on a whim, but with the ability to fast-forward. Sense a theme here?
Working Design is perhaps most famous for its Lunar games that first came out on SegaCD. This is not Lunar, and was only published by WD. It is ambitious, but undercooked in many ways. It's extremely linear, the endgame becomes incredibly difficult, and parts of its (very good!) translation have aged quite poorly.
On the other hand, it straight up kills a main character years before Final Fantasy VII did, and has a surprising amount of - sometimes truly funny - pop culture references, including Beavis & Butthead.
I can't recommend anybody else play this, but it was a decent enough way to mindlessly pass a few evenings, and satisfying to finally be able to mark it as "done".

Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse (1994, SegaCD) - Another oldie I randomly picked up and finished. The spot-on animation out of Mickey's old films is really impressive for the era. The platforming is good and there is a decent amount of gameplay variety for the type of game it is.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge (2022, Switch) - still a good time in co-op.


Awards time!

Greatest moment:
Hades - On my 45th attempt....my first escape. Hootin' and hollerin' ensued.


Runner-up 1: Saints Row IV - Using the dubstep gun in a snowy 1950's American town while wearing my Christmas sweater and Barack Obama mask, turning around, and watching all the 50's cars bouncing up and down to the tune via hydraulics.
Runner-up 2: Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra - KOS-MOS' battle with Black Testament. I wanted to cheer like a lunatic.
Runner-up 3, 4, 5, ....: Saints Row IV - Climbing a rocket to Aerosmith. Flying through an alien mothership to Haddaway. Suddenly finding yourself in various video game homages/spoofs. ....

Best visuals:
God of War (2018) - Probably some of the best AAA visuals the Playstation 4 could pull off.
Runner-up 1: Sable - A stunning animation-like art style that took a little while to grow on me. I'd never seen anything like it before in gaming, but at least two recent games have copied it since.
Runner-up 2: Battlefield V - With the money behind it, not a surprise that it looks this great.

Best stage:
Battlefield V - All of the scenarios are pretty great, but the heavy water plant in Norway was spectacular after I looked up the location and found out just how closely they had modeled the original.

Best soundtrack:
Guacameelee - the incredible, always fitting Mexican soundtrack just kept pushing me forward.
Runner-up 1: Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak - I'm not sure they could have chosen a better style for this than "modern Battlestar Galactica"-adjacent.
Runner-up 2: Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra - I loved the Xenosaga soundtracks 20 years ago, and I still love them now. Look up the OST on youtube, and you get a playlist with over 100 tracks for just this game!
Runner-up 3: Metroid Prime - The title theme is one of the best ever, but many of the other tracks are pretty good too.

Biggest Surprise:


Saints Row IV - suddenly, I'm playing a Streets of Rage/Double Dragon style beat-em-up! Also, Rowdy Roddy Piper!

Runner-up 1: Five Dates - ending up choosing the woman I wasn't at all interested in at the beginning, and had only picked to fill out my required choice count of three.
Runner-up 2: Catherine: Full Body - the cut-scene nightmare before the Cathedral stage. Holy crap!!!

Most unique:
Sable - Zero-combat coming of age story on an alien world with a stunning art style and tons of exploration options.
Runner-up 1: Svoboda 1945: Liberation - semi-historical exploration of what happened in the Sudentenland immediately following WWII.
Runner-up 2: Five Dates - FMV Dating Site simulation using videochat. Definitely something I'd never seen before.

Best time with kids:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge - two years running.

Most intense experience:
Battlefield V - any number of stages, actually. There is a real feeling of desperation in many of them, since death is always so close. If I had to pick one, I'd have to say the Tirailleur's advance against German positions while being seriously underequipped.
Runner-up 1: Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak - Two carrier ships, blasting the hell out of each other, both sides hoping the other goes up in a mushroom cloud first and trying to stay out of the upcoming blast radius. Those encounters left me all tense.

Biggest time sink:
Final Fantasy IX - It's no secret that it takes a "few" hours to get through this.
Runner-up: Quake Champions - still playing daily.

Oldest New-to-me Game:
Dark Arms: Beast Buster - (1999, Neo Geo Pocket Color)
Runner-up: Quake II 64 - (1998, N64 / 2023,PC) - technically older, but it's Quake II with simplified and reordered stages.
* Sam & Max: Hit the Road - (1993, PC) - technically the oldest, but I had played a little bit 25 years ago.

Longest time in my backlog before being beaten in 2023:
Vay - Stuck on the final boss since about 1995.
Runner-up: Mickey Mania - likely since 1995 as well, but I never got more than halfway (at most) before.
Runner-up: Final Fantasy VII - since 1998

Most difficult:
Kenshi - extremely obtuse and almost everything wants you dead or enslaved.

The "Can't You Stay Longer" award:
The Expanse: A Telltale Series - A very good story overall, but almost criminally short. I would have preferred at least twice the amount of content.

Thank you staygold, Eleima, and everyone working on this behind the scenes, as well as everybody who posted their lists. I've spent many wonderful hours reading every word all of you wrote Wishing everone a great 2024 in life as well as gaming.

Previous lists:

Further proof that we're in a Golden Age for games, I'm 7 days into a new year, and I've already got 6 games as contenders on my running GOTY list for 2024.

To be fair, my GOTY runs mid-December to mid-December (to give time to write it up), but still, that's less than a month into the gaming-year.

In case you're wondering what that 6 games are:


Elden Ring (LTTP but duh)
Cramped Room Of Death (probably won't make the final list, but been super enjoying it)
Moss II (more Quill is always a good thing)
Cobalt Core (new roguelite deckbuilder hotness)
Midnight Suns (superhero flirting is less tedious than I thought)
Portal: Revolution (mod for Portal 2, but hurray more another 40 test chambers)

Missed your spoiler closing tag.

But yeah Citizen Sleeper is already locked into my 2024 top 10.

Here's a quick list just to get it in here:

1. Tears of the Kingdom (Switch)
2. Alan Wake II (PS5)
3. Red Dead Redemption II (PC)
4. GTFO (PC) w/ the nephew
5. Spider Man Miles Morales (PS5)
6. Horizon: Forbidden West (PS5)
7. Horizon: Call of the Mountain (PSVR2)
8. Diablo IV (PC) w/ the nephew
9. Age of Empires IV (PC) w/ the nephew

Edit: I made 1 edit and added some PS5 stuff I forgot about. Pretty sure it won't have been seen yet. Sorry!

AUs_TBirD wrote:

7. Kenshi (2013)

Kenshi? KENSHI?!?!

Hades is so good. I still haven't beaten it, but I have reached the end boss a few times. I need a "people who suck at video games" build plan.

I made 1 edit and added some PS5 stuff I forgot about in my post from 2:04.

Heroes of Meat and Magic.

Okay, done, no more

I played a lot of games last year, so I was tricky to wrangle them into a top 10. A recent release has managed to crash it's way into the top half, so I'm glad I held off posting until now.

As my son got a Switch for Christmas last year, this is the first time I've been able to consider Nintendo games for my list. A few were under consideration, but ultimately only one sneaked on there after a couple of late entries on my usual platform of choice (PC) pushed off the others!

Just the list:


1 Cyberpunk : Phantom Liberty
2 Starfield
3 Marvel's Midnight Suns
4 Against the Storm
5 Elden Ring
6 Control Ultimate Edition
7 Dead Space remake
8 Venba
9 Planet of Lana
10 Mario Kart 8

10 Mario Kart 8 - I've always loved Mario Kart, and with the addition of the expansion pass it's been great to revisit the tracks I remember from back in my DS and Wii days. Sucks that my son is way better than I am though...

9 Planet of Lana - A delightful "Inside-'em-up" with satisfying puzzles and a very cute animal sidekick.

8 Venba - A beautiful narrative experience that has stuck with me well after finishing it, so it had to be in my list.

7 Dead Space remake - I'd never played a Deadspace before, so when this was put onto Gamepass I decided to give it a shot, and was very happy I did. I have no idea how it differs to the original but I really enjoyed the experience. I hope they remaster the 2nd one soon!

6 Control Ultimate Edition - The most fun I've had with a Remedy game since Max Payne 2. Throwing furniture at the Hiss never got old! Almost finished it, just wrapping up the Alan Wake DLC.

5 Elden Ring - This was a rash purchase in last year's winter sales, as I've never clicked with a From game before, but the temptation of an open world was just too great. I'm very glad I played it as that open world meant I could experience the combat how and when I wanted, rather than getting stuck early on like I did in every Dark Souls game. Inevitably I did get stuck eventually but I enjoyed what I played a lot.

4 Against the Storm - The most recent addition to my list. A curious city builder/roguelite hybrid that I'm finding very addictive.

3 Marvel's Midnight Suns - This was number one in my list for quite some time. I've loved Firaxis games for ever so after picking this up last January I played it for 77 hours, interspersed with Elden Ring sessions. Perhaps unusually I had no experience of Marvel stuff before playing this (never seen a film or read a comic) so I came to the characters fresh and loved their interactions (especially Blade's book club!). Yes, it did go on a bit too long, but it makes me sad to think there probably won't be another one.

2 Starfield - Yes, it's flawed in so many ways, but I adore Starfield anyway. I've played for 130ish hours and I've yet to finish, and I'm not tired of playing yet, which is quite astonishing for me.

1 Cyberpunk : Phantom Liberty - I'm glad I can include this expansion despite playing the base game before, as it's easily the best gaming experience I've had in 2023. The new story is great and Night City looks as amazing as ever. I'll quite probably finish the base game all over again as well!

Ok PHEW, I'm finally caught up. Tallied lists for MulderTPC, Brainsmith, Aaron D., SallyNasty, Rykin, Budo, Higgledy, bbk1980, MrDeVil909, LastSurprise, Rat Boy, Bfgp, Sorbicol, Tasty Pudding, Shadout, Maclintok, frabcus, Forbes, SpacePProtean, ComfortZone, Malkroth, mrtomaytohead, steinkrug, Stele, KozmoOchez, jdzappa (YOUR SHORT LIST AND LONG LIST DO NOT MATCH, I'm ditching GTA5 since you put two number 5s), jontra, kazooka, Baron Of Hell, mrlogical, Forlorn Hope, Redherring, robc, merphle, Kyekye, Mind Elemental, AUs_TBirD, tuffalobuffalo, Blackice. Now have 358 games and 77 gamers total.

Also y'all should really be thanking Staygold, because I amy be tallying the votes but back when I ran this thing, polls would already be closed by now.

Eleima wrote:

Ok PHEW, I'm finally caught up. Tallied lists for MulderTPC, Brainsmith, Aaron D., SallyNasty, Rykin, Budo, Higgledy, bbk1980, MrDeVil909, LastSurprise, Rat Boy, Bfgp, Sorbicol, Tasty Pudding, Shadout, Maclintok, frabcus, Forbes, SpacePProtean, ComfortZone, Malkroth, mrtomaytohead, steinkrug, Stele, KozmoOchez, jdzappa (YOUR SHORT LIST AND LONG LIST DO NOT MATCH, I'm ditching GTA5 since you put two number 5s), jontra, kazooka, Baron Of Hell, mrlogical, Forlorn Hope, Redherring, robc, merphle, Kyekye, Mind Elemental, AUs_TBirD, tuffalobuffalo, Blackice. Now have 358 games and 77 gamers total.

Also y'all should really be thanking Staygold, because I amy be tallying the votes but back when I ran this thing, polls would already be closed by now. ;)

Sorry to be a bother, but did you catch my list between Tasty Pudding and Shadout on page 5?