Jason Dean's 2023 favorite Game of the Year

Our editor chooses the video games he loves the most from an incredible year of games.

Jason Dean's 2023 favorite Game of the Year

2023 was one of the best years for games I can remember in my life. It seems there was a new banger coming out weekly that could easily be considered a top game of the year. While Baldur's Gate 3 was easily the top game in our official Game of the Year voting, every game after was basically a toss-up.

With all the big releases, it was impossible to play every game. I never had a chance to play a few notable ones, including Pikmin 4, Spider-Man 2 and Street Fighter 6. Still, I played most of the biggest games. Here are my personal favorite games of 2023.

Honorable Mention: Baldur's Gate 3 and Cocoon

Cocoon is a beautiful and fun puzzle game where you play as a beetle who can hop between worlds. It’s hard to keep this game out of my top 10, but the breadth of great games in 2023 means Cocoon falls just short.

I really thought Baldur's Gate 3 would be a contender for my GOTY. However, it landed so poorly with me that when I tried to force myself to play more of it for review, I instead chose to work on projects I had been putting off for months. Let’s be clear, this game is made for fans of Dungeons & Dragons. If you are not one, or do not know the nomenclature of the game, you might find yourself in the same boat I was in. It does so many things well, it will eventually get a second chance from me.

10: Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The last Zelda game fell flat for me, and I was a little worried Tears of the Kingdom would do the same. Add in building mechanics which is not my jam, and it’s surprising this game makes my top 10 list. The key is that Tears of the Kingdom does it all so well that even a skeptic like me can fall in love with it. 

9: Hi-Fi Rush

This rhythm game came out of nowhere with a fun premise, fantastic graphics and a great soundtrack. It’s one of those games I wish I was better at, but I still loved my time with it nonetheless. 

8: Starfield

I love a good space adventure game, and Starfield scratches that itch. One of the biggest criticisms I've heard about Starfield is that it “feels like a Bethesda game set in space.” As someone who loves their games, this is not a bad thing. The story is somewhat weak, but I enjoyed the rest of this gem. 

7: Hogwarts Legacy

Hogwarts Legacy was the top-selling game of 2023 for many reasons. The designers created a fun world based in a wizardly realm set years before the books. Exploring the magic and mystery of this world is an absolute blast. 

6: Super Mario Wonder

A new Mario game that combines the side-scrolling joy of the original games with news ideas, including elephant Mario and the Wonder Flower. Great to play multiplayer couch co-op. 

5: Diablo IV

The long-awaited Diablo sequel finally arrived, throwing players into a dark, open world filled with evil and demons. Judging from initial reaction to Diablo III, Blizzard tried to make IV “grittier” and monotone. This is unfortunate, but the story makes up for the lack of color in the game.

4: Resident Evil 4 Remake

I could never get the original RE4 to play well on PC with a controller, so I only played a small portion of the game. However, the remake works great, and looks incredible. Early on, I thought this was likely to be my Game of the Year, but 2023 had other ideas. 

3: Final Fantasy XVI

It has been a long time since a mainline Final Fantasy game grabbed me the way XVI did this year. Fantastic story and visuals mixed with fun gameplay. More story-driven than open world, which might turn some people off, but was exactly what I wanted from a FF game. 

2: Dave the Diver

I continually flip my second and third game in my list. Whereas Final Fantasy XVI is a story-heavy gem, Dave the Diver is more of a farming game, where players dive for or grow the items they need to run a sushi restaurant. Dive multiple times per day to get the fish you need to serve that night. In the evenings, help serve the food. Dave the Diver continually builds on the story and what you can do, keeping it fresh and interesting throughout. 

1: Alan Wake 2

The continuation of the story of Alan Wake, a writer who went missing in 2010, is spooky, dark and delightful. A story that tops FInal Fantasy XVI, great gameplay mechanics and multiple twists that range from scary to hilarious make this an easy choice for my Game of the Year. 

Check out The Games Letter's official Games of the Year.