If you are looking for the best games of 2023, look no further! 2023 was a great year for gaming, and there are so many great contenders for game of the year. This post reveals our top picks of the best games of 2023 and some honorable mentions as well!
1. Cross Tails
Cross Tails is a retro-inspired tactical RPG similar to the original Final Fantasy Tactics. This game went under the radar for a lot of people and I almost missed it, but it ended up being one of the best games of 2023 for RPG lovers.
In Cross Tails you will play as a hero from either one of two warring kingdoms. There is a dog kingdom and a cat kingdom that has been at war for ages. One element that adds replay value to the game is that you can play through the entire game from either character’s and kingdom’s perspective.
Combat also feels like classic tactical RPGs in that you gain an advantage based on the direction you face as well as height advantage. For example, your attacks will be more effective if you are attacking anywhere besides below an enemy or head-on. This adds another layer of strategy to the combat beyond just placing your team members on the map.
Character progression allows you to both level up your character and the character’s class. These classes have active abilities to use in combat but also passive abilities that can be equipped. The beauty of this system is that you can mix and match your abilities and skills to form your preferred character build.
Once your characters reach a high enough class level you can start to unlock additional unique classes. This is fun to see what you can unlock and the new skill trees you’ll reveal with each new class.
If you like classic tactical RPGs and enjoyed the RPG Final Fantasy Tactics, Cross Tails is a must-play. It has quickly become one of my favorite tactical RPGs and was one of the best games of 2023.
2. Gal Guardians: Demon Purge
Gal Guardians: Demon Purge is a 2D action platformer that is heavily inspired by titles from the Castlevania series. You play as two high school-aged sisters who are also demon hunters as they try and save their friends. Their high school has been turned into a demon-filled castle and you need to stop the demon responsible and restore the school to save your friends.
The game is more linear and you need to fight your way through challenging platforming stages filled with enemies and take on demon bosses at the end of each level. You’ll play as both sisters each with unique play styles and abilities.
One sister focuses on ranged attacks and uses machine guns, and the other manifests melee weapons made from origami. The melee sister is stronger but has less health, but you can swap between either character at any time. You’ll need to balance the powers of each sister effectively to survive.
While the game isn’t quite a Metroidvania, it does have some light Metroidvania elements. You can find a few hidden secrets throughout the levels that will permanently boost your character’s health and that can power up their special abilities.
The controls are responsive and it has a really cool pixel art style. If you enjoy action platformers, this is one of the best games of 2023.
3. Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider
Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is a fast-paced retro-inspired action platformer. It reminded me of a combination of classic Mega Man X titles mixed with Ninja Gaiden.
The game is set in a dystopian future where an evil oppressive government has taken over and uses cybernetic robots to keep the remaining population in check. You’ll play as one of these cyborgs that rejects its programming and turns on the corrupt government in hopes of saving humanity.
The game features a great pixel art style and also takes it to the limits with some unique level designs beyond your standard action platforming. One level for example is riding through a futuristic city on a motorbike with guns.
Another Mega Man like element is that the game has a stage select option and when bosses are defeated you acquire a new ability from them. They didn’t feel like the rock-paper-scissors mechanic where certain bosses have specific weaknesses, but these new powers do significant damage compared to your standard attacks.
The game is very challenging, but not very long, it only took about 6 hours to beat the game on the first try. There is a ranking system though for each level which could lead to you trying levels over multiple times to get the best rank. The levels also have several hidden secrets to power up your character which can add some extra playtime if you strive to find them all.
If you like retro-inspired action platformers and classics like Mega Man and Ninja Gaiden, then Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is one of the best games of 2023.
4. Fire Emblem Engage
Fire Emblem Engage is one of the latest entries in the long-running tactical RPG series. There was a big shift in the overall feel of the series in the previous game Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but Fire Emblem Engage returns to its combat-heavy roots.
The hub world and social simulator aspects have been greatly reduced in this Fire Emblem entry focusing more on the RPG mechanics and combat.
One new feature that is a great addition for long-time Fire Emblem fans is the Engage mechanic. This allows you to combine the story’s character’s powers with Fire Emblem Heroes from the past.
This can lead to some unique abilities and a more powerful hybrid character for a limited time in battle. You’ll need to use these powers to aid you in your quest and to clear challenging missions.
The story places you in the role of the Divine Dragon who has returned after being asleep for 1000 years. A new threat of the Fell Dragon is terrorizing the land and you must stop them. The story is a bit more over the top compared to some past entries and you’ll be fighting your enemies for control over powerful rings that can summon heroes from the past Fire Emblem games.
As a fan of the Fire Emblem series, it’s cool to see these returning heroes, but it doesn’t take away from the game if you haven’t played other entries. This RPG can be quite a challenge as it does feature permadeath. However, there are some accessibility features where you can turn that off and access a rewind feature to make the game easier if you choose.
The gameplay is really fun and addicting and if you like tactical RPGs this is one of the best games of 2023.
5. Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons
Double Dragon originally came out in the arcades back in 1987 and Double Dragon Gaiden is one of the newest entries in the series. In this entry, you’ll experience some classic beat ’em up action combined with some roguelike elements. This combination creates a fun and addicting game that leaves you coming back for more.
The plot of Double Dragon Gaiden centers around your band of heroes taking on multiple gangs that have overrun the city. You’ll start by choosing two heroes each with unique abilities and playstyle. Throughout each stage, you can tag your heroes in and out allowing the other to recover. This tag team element adds another layer of strategy to the game as you need to know when to switch characters to survive.
The game also features a stage select option where you can choose which order you want to take on each gang. Another interesting game mechanic with this feature is that each progressive level gets a bit harder and more expansive. This means you’ll need to play through the game several times to experience it all.
The other area the roguelike elements come into play is in powerups that you can buy after each level. You can choose to select powerups or you can press your luck and save your money for a future level.
Another option to buy is coins that you can use to purchase unlockables like new characters, soundtracks, and more. You can even play the game locally with a friend!
If you like classic beat ’em ups with some roguelike enhancements, you’ll enjoy Double Dragon Gaiden. It was one of our favorites and makes our list of the best games of 2023.
6. Dragon Quest Treasures
Dragon Quest Treasures is an action RPG for Nintendo Switch. The plot takes place as almost a prequel while also in an alternate universe of sorts to Dragon Quest XI. You’ll play as Erik and his sister Mia as they go on a treasure-hunting adventure on a mysterious land Draconia in search of legendary Dragonstones.
One thing to note is that Dragon Quest Treasures is aimed toward more of a younger audience compared to other Dragon Quest entries. This means the level of challenge may not be as high as you are used to for mainline games, but it is still a lot of fun.
You’ll spend your time hunting for treasures and enlisting the help of various classic monsters from the Dragon Quest series. Not only will these monsters aid you in battle, but they can also add unique abilities to your character. Almost like Metroidvania elements in that some can help you access new treasures and areas of the map previously out of your reach.
Another fun element is that while hunting for treasure you’ll get picture clues as snapshots of looking at the treasure location from your monster’s perspective. This can help you unravel where the treasure is hidden if you are having a hard time finding it.
The game isn’t as long as a standard Dragon Quest game, but if you are looking for a more light-hearted RPG featuring classic Dragon Quest characters this is a must-play and one of the best games of 2023.
7. Street Fighter 6
Fighting games were always one of my favorite genres growing up and the Street Fighter series has remained one of the best. However, there hasn’t been a fighting game in a long time that came close to capturing the fun of the arcade or that incorporated a decent story adventure.
The good news is that Street Fighter 6 does both of these feats making it one of the best games of 2023. For starters, there are a lot of great modes in the game such as the Battle Hub which is almost like an online old-school arcade where you can challenge people from around the world in online matches.
Another mode is the World Tour mode, which is almost like an open-world RPG meets fighting game. You’ll start this mode by creating your own custom character, and then you can train from Street Fighter masters from around the world.
You can level your character up increasing your stats while also unlocking new moves and a branching skill tree. There are plenty of items and equipment to find and you can challenge almost every person you meet to a fight which really brings the “Street Fighter” name to life.
There’s even a Fighting Ground, which is more of your traditional at-home arcade-style fighting game experience. The game features a huge cast of characters to play as from the Street Fighter universe. Plus, with the addition of making your own custom character, and the World Tour mode Street Fighter 6 is definitely one of the best games of 2023.
8. Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless
Disgaea 7 Vows of the Virtueless is one of the latest entries in the Disgaea series and incorporates many of the latest enhancements to the series while also returning to its roots.
The story focuses on a group of rag-tag heroes who go on a quest to restore peace to their slice of the netherworld and to stop an evil shogun. They will need to band together to find 7 powerful founding weapons and unite their powers if they hope to defeat the corrupt shogun. As usual for the Disgaea series, the story is over-the-top and will keep you laughing the whole way.
A staple for the Disgaea series is massive leveling and the ability to level up your characters, skills, items, accessories, weapons, and more. For example, your level cap is 9999 and you can reincarnate your characters again and again back to level 1 with improved stats and abilities. This is an incredibly addicting game loop and Disgaea adds the feature of reincarnating your items as well.
Disgaea 7 brings back a lot of the great features from Disgaea 6 but eliminates some of the features that made that game less fun. For example, the AI features have been limited to only stages you have beaten before and cannot be used in the item world.
Disgaea 7 is worth a play if you like tactical RPGs and is another one of the best games of 2023.
9. Octopath Traveler 2
The original Octopath Traveler was one of the best Switch RPGs and Octopath Traveler 2 follows in its footsteps as one of the best games of 2023. Similar to the original you’ll pick from one of 8 starting characters each with their own storyline and motivations. There will be characters like a thief trying to win her freedom from her thief guild, to a scholar on a quest for revenge against the man who murdered his family, and more.
The story and voice acting are a real treat in this game and will keep you progressing. You also have a lot of freedom to explore the world as you choose and to recruit your team of heroes from the 8 choices in any order you choose.
Each character will have a base job class such as a cleric, warrior, merchant, thief, and more. These job classes will have a unique set of abilities both in battle and outside of battle. Outside of battle, you may be able to do things like guide villagers to new locations, steal items, knock people out, and more. These skills can help you reach new areas and discover hidden secrets.
On top of that, your characters can unlock secondary job classes to create a unique set of abilities and skills. This adds another cool layer of strategy as you try and build your ultimate team.
Another stand-out feature of the Octopath Traveler series is its unique 2D meets 3D art style. It combines a retro pixel art style for your characters with great 3D backdrops.
Octopath Traveler 2 is one of the best turn-based RPGs on the Nintendo Switch and was one of the best games of 2023.
10. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
This is the latest entry in The Legend of Zelda series and takes the format and story of The Breath of The Wild and expands upon it. The story picks up a few years after the events of Breath of The Wild and a new threat is facing Hyrule Kingdom. An evil gloom is expanding across the land poisoning the world and preventing the people from rebuilding. On top of that, you’ll go on a quest to stop the evil demon king from returning and destroying the world.
The story is one of the best parts of the game and is worth playing the game for that alone, but on top of that, the gameplay is super fun and addicting. Similar to Breath of the Wild you’ll have a new batch of shrines to take on. Each one of these shrines is a mini-dungeon with puzzles to solve.
A cool aspect of this game is that you can fuse items to aid you with the puzzles and exploration. There isn’t just one solution to each puzzle and you can spend hours figuring out different creative ways to clear each challenge.
On top of that, the game also features a massive underworld in addition to the huge overworld map. It feels almost like two games in one with how massive each world is. It’s so easy to get caught up in this game for hours always taking on the next challenge you discover as you explore.
If you are looking for a great action-adventure game The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom is one of the best games of 2023 worth playing.
11. Sea of Stars
A new RPG entry that also stood out as one of the games of the year for 2023 was Sea of Stars. If you are a fan of classic Super Nintendo RPGs you’ll be in for a real treat.
The plot of Sea of Stars has you take on the role of the Solstic Warriors as they try and stop the evil Fleshmancer from destroying all of time and space. The cool pixel art style really brings this world to life.
You’ll have a vast world to explore with some light dungeon crawling and puzzle elements thrown in. The overworld and dungeon exploring feel a bit like the classic RPG Chrono Trigger, mixed with some early Legend of Zelda puzzle-solving.
The combat is quite engaging where enemies will have weakness types based on weapon types and different elemental types. You’ll have the option of breaking these enemies to deal additional damage and to give your team the advantage.
Another one of my favorite elements of turn-based combat of timed attacks makes its way into this game as well. This applies to both attacks and defences giving you the chance to improve your success in combat.
As you level up you’ll get the choice of extra stat increases to choose from to improve things like your HP, MP, attack, and more. The great story, engaging combat, and addictive gameplay make Sea of Stars one of the best games of 2023.
12. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Following in the footsteps of the hugely successful Spider-Man and Miles Morales open-world action games Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is another one of the best games of the year for 2023. It follows the same format of open-world exploration with plenty of action-based challenges, and combat elements to stop crime from new threats facing New York.
You’ll get the great storytelling of the Spider-Man universe as you take on classic villains from the series like Venom, Kraven the Hunter, and more. This game also switches back and forth between playing as Peter Parker’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales Spider-Man.
Gameplay is incredibly addicting and the graphics take another great leap over the original Spider-Man that came out on PS4. Now the game isn’t maybe as long as some other open-world games, and past entries in the series, but if you are going for all the unlockables it will likely take you around 20-30 hours to do everything.
Spider-Man 2 is packed full of excitement from start to finish and once you pick up the controller for the first time, it’s going to be hard to put it down until you beat it. If you like open-world games with some action RPG elements, and a great story set in the Spider-Man universe, then Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 should be an instant pickup for your collection and is one of the best games of 2023.
13. Hogwarts Legacy
Hogwarts Legacy has been on my radar as soon as it was announced and lives up as one of the best games of 2023. This game places you into the Wizarding World a few hundred years before the events of the Harry Potter series.
You’ll play as a new 5th-year student at Hogwarts as they try and complete their year of school and unravel the mystery surrounded by ancient magic they have a connection to. There are a lot of twists and turns and the story will keep you guessing and playing to find out what happens next.
The gameplay is more of an open-world action RPG set in the Wizarding World. You’ll be able to choose your school house, take classes, master magic spells, take on dark wizards, find magical beasts, and much more.
If you are a fan of the world of Harry Potter and have always wondered what it would be like to go to Hogwarts and get caught up in magical adventures, this game does a great job of giving you that experience.
The graphics are phenomenal and it’s a blast getting to fly around on your broom to explore the world and uncover its many secrets. There are lots of challenges and puzzles to uncover and engaging combat mechanics that are a lot of fun.
Hogwarts Legacy is a must-play and makes our list of the games of the year for 2023.
14. Resident Evil 4 Remake
The original Resident Evil 4 on Gamecube will always be one of my favorite games of all time, but the Resident Evil 4 remake may have replaced it as my favorite version. If you aren’t familiar with the plot you play as Leon Kenedy as he goes on a journey to save the president’s kidnapped daughter Ashley.
You’ll visit a remote village and battle your way through crazed villagers and bio-weapon monsters possessed by ancient parasites. This entry in the series also includes some RPG elements where you’ll earn money as you kill enemies to spend throughout the game to upgrade your weapons.
There are also plenty of hidden secrets and treasures you can find to sell for big money to purchase even more upgrades. The updated graphics really increase the intensity of the game.
This new remake also removes some of the annoying aspects of the original like how useless Ashley was, and some of the timed button presses during cutscenes. They also updated some items making them a bit more balanced such as your knife having a durability attached to it making it a bit more challenging.
On top of that, there is the new Separate Ways DLC featuring the story of Ada Wong and the events of Resident Evil 4 from her perspective. Since I only played the original release on Gamecube I never got to play this aspect of the game and it was cool to experience this as well.
If you like survival horror games Resident Evil 4 is a must-play and it makes our list of games of the year for 2023.
15. Final Fantasy 16 – Our Game of The Year!
Final Fantasy 16 was by far one of the best games of 2023. Now this entry in the long-running Final Fantasy series takes a bit of departure away from the traditional turn-based RPG combat and shifted to an action RPG.
While this shift may have been a disappointment for some, I think this ups the intensity of the game and they did a phenomenal job of making the combat fun and addicting. You’ll be learning several new abilities throughout the game-enhancing your move set with the ability to mix and match what active abilities you want to use in combat. These abilities also can be unlocked and upgraded enhancing the cool-down time, damage, and more.
Other great aspects of Final Fantasy 16 are its amazing graphics and engaging story. There were several times I would enter a new area and stop to look around for a minute or two just to take in all the beautiful scenery.
The story keeps you on your toes and has a lot of twists and turns. You’ll play Clive as he goes on a quest for revenge that quickly turns into something more. The story also centers around Eikons which are huge magical entities that mirror the summons such as Odin, Bahamut, Shiva, Ifrit, and more from past Final Fantasy games.
Final Fantasy 16 is a bit more linear and not quite as long as past entries in the series. In a way, it’s a breath of fresh air to have a game that still has plenty of side quests without the need to overstay its welcome with dozens of extra hours of filler.
This is one of the best Final Fantasy in years and is not only one of the best games of 2023 but also our game of the year!
Best Games of 2023 Honorable Mentions
Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster: FF35th Anniversary Edition is the first honorable mention on our list of games of the year for 2023. While this is a collection of many of my favorite RPGs of all time, it is just that a collection. For a first-time player of these, it is definitely a must-own collection and one of the best games of 2023. However, for someone like me who has played them all several times each including the original versions, you will likely enjoy one of the new games that came out this year more.
The Super Mario RPG remake and Dead Space are two other games in a similar situation. Both of these are amazing games and if you have never played them you should 100% pick them up. However, if you’ve played both on the original versions potentially several times, these are just more polished with superior graphics but not much else has changed.
Sonic Superstars was a new entry in the Sonic franchise returning to its 2D roots. A really cool game if you like 2D Sonic games, but nothing too revolutionary that hasn’t been done before. So it just gets an honorable mention for one of the top games of the year for 2023.
Right and Down is a pretty unique dungeon-crawling puzzle-based RPG experience. It’s a pretty simple game and only a few bucks so it’s by no means a AAA game but the gameplay is really fun and addicting. If you enjoy puzzle games and simple RPGs, Right and Down is another one of the great Nintendo Switch RPGs under $20 that’s worth checking out!
Conclusion – Games of the Year for 2023
Picking the games of the year for 2023 was quite a challenge this year as so many great games came out this year. I’m sure there are even more we missed for the best games of 2023 as there just wasn’t enough to play them all. However, there were so many games to choose from no matter what type of genre you enjoy.
Did your favorite games make our list of the top games of 2023? Let us know and leave us a comment if there are any others we missed that need to get added to our backlog of top games of 2023!