2023 was one of the best years for video games releases ever. Seemingly every month, another great game was released to the delight of critics and fans.
We asked our subscribers to choose the best games of 2023. Here are the results.
Best Virtual Reality Game
VR is still a niche in the gaming space, and that was obvious with our small and varied nominees. Assassin's Creed VR, Peglin, The 7th Guest VR and Gorilla Tag were all nominated. However, no games received the required number of votes to advance, so no award will be presented for this category.
With a plethora of big-name games this year, it’s easy to overlook independent games, or games without the huge marketing budget. Unsurprisingly, there were some smaller games that could easily be included in an individual’s top game list. Nominees included Sea of Stars, Double Dragon Gaiden, Dredge, Super Intern Story and Star Ocean the Second Story R. While there were many great nominees, one title floated to the top.
WINNER: Dave the Diver
The story of a diving enthusiast who helps a friend start a sushi restaurant is a beautiful and enjoyable experience. A simple game that increases in complexity the deeper you get.
Favorite Gaming Media (book, television, album, etc.)
Gaming is more than visuals on a screen. It’s the stories, adaptations and the music that individuals take with them after they’ve completed the game. It’s the tales of the developers and the game art transposed to a portable version. It’s the show that brings a new generation into an older game, and it’s the corners of the internet devoted to the medium we love. Some of the nominees included The Super Mario Bros. Movie, The Last of Us Television show and John Romero’s book Doom Guy: Life in First Person.
WINNER: The Games Letter (!?)
This was not even considered an option when we created this category, but our little site appeared on so many of your ballots, it would feel insulting not to honor your choice. We are blown away, and all we can say is thank you!
Best Tabletop Role-Playing Game
The world of tabletop RPGs has grown in recent years, thanks to Stranger Things and new technology that allows people to play together without being in the same room. Old favorites such as Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder received nominations, as did newer games like Lancer. But let’s all toast to this year’s winner.
WINNER: Barkeep on the Borderlands
It’s the fantasy world’s equivalent of Mardi Gras,and as an adventurer, you can’t let this opportunity go to waste. It is time to take on the quest of bar hopping through twenty locations. Why just start your adventure in a tavern when your whole adventure can be in them?
Best Board Games
We asked subscribers for their top three in this category. Here are the top games, as chosen by our readers.
3: (Tie) Cosmoctopus and Votes for Women
In Cosmoctopus, you are a cultist, trying to gain the favor of the Great Inky One, a giant space octopus. In this engine-building game, your goal is to collect the most tentacles before your opponents to gain favor and bring the deity into the world.
In Votes for Women you are attempting to gain votes to ratify the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. Play cooperatively or competitively to attempt to pass (or reject if you’re a monster) the amendment.
Based on the video game of the same name, players work together laying hexagonal tiles with a goal of creating a beautiful landscape and fulfilling the requests of the population. Dorfromantik was the 2023 Spiel des Jahres winner for best game.
WINNER: Consumption: Food and Choices
A surprise hit of Gen Con 2023. In Consumption, players make choices about what they put in their body. Food, alcohol, bacon and water all factor into a score. Cooking can give bonuses, and exercise can remove some of the items you’ve ingested. Fantastic mechanics make this game loads of fun.
Best Video Games
In a year filled with huge releases, this category was packed with a multitude of responses. We asked our subscribers for their top five, and here are the top games based on their votes.
Honorable Mention: Super Mario Bros. Wonder and Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
Just missing the cut were Super Mario Bros. Wonder and Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty. The latest Mario game and the expansion for Cyberpunk 2077 both received multiple votes, and were worth mentioning.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
The latest Zelda game was the most anticipated game for the past two years, following up on the extremely popular Breath of the Wild. TOTK builds on previous games, adding advanced crafting that allows players to solve problems in a variety of ways.
4: Dave the Diver
Apart from being our top Sleeper/Indie Darling, Dave the Diver finished fourth for overall Game of the Year. A remarkable accomplishment for a game many had never heard of at the beginning of the year.
3: Alan Wake 2
The long-awaited sequel to the 2010 classic finally arrived and scared the heck out of gamers. Despite a digital-only release and a lack of presence on Steam, creative storytelling and controls helped propel this game to a top 3 finish.
2. Diablo IV
Millions of gamers were excited to slay demons in 2023, evident by the 12 million players of Diablo IV. A grittier and more open world game than its predecessor, Diablo IV finished second in our voting.
The Games Letter 2023 Game of The Year: Baldur's Gate 3
Like many other GOTY lists, Baldur's Gate 3 takes home the top prize. What is surprising is how thoroughly BG3 dominated our voting, receiving over twice the points as Diablo IV and collecting first place votes on half the ballots. Props to Larian Studios on creating an incredible game that is loved by so many.
Congratulations to all the 2023 winners. And thank you to all The Games Letter subscribers who voted. We look forward to seeing what you play and love in 2024.