2023 has proved to be one of the best years for gaming in recent memory, and that doesn’t seem likely to end as we approach its last few months. Here at Inverse, we have already given out seven retains all that goofiness, but transports it to the historical setting of the Bakumatsu period of Japan (roughly 1853). The dramatic Samurai-fueled story of Ishin gives way to a host of ridiculous sidequests and minigames that are almost universally a blast to engage with. It’s a perfect encapsulation of what has made Yakuza so great all these years.
17. Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp
The long-awaited remake of the first two Advance Wars games was worth the wait. For fans of the strategy genre, it is a can’t-miss package that delivers the cleanest and best-feeling version of two of the most important games in the genre. Walking the line of feeling both nostalgic and fresh, is actually the twelfth mainline entry in NetherRealm’s fighting franchise. The “1” refers to this being a reboot for the series, one that seeks to clean the slate and start fresh, narratively and mechanically. Mortal Kombat 1 uses this new beginning to learn from every success and failure from the franchise’s past and delivers a near-flawless title.
11. Resident Evil 4
The progenitor of all modern third-person action games is back. The string of Resident Evil remakes from Capcom finally reached Resident Evil 4, and the result is glorious. If you were worried that a remake would not do much for one of the most modern entries in the series, then worry no more. Resident Evil 4 remake is the best Capcom has to offer, making everything about the original more beautiful while also fixing some of the narrative and mechanical problems of the original in the process.
10. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Jedi: Survivor is, simply put, the best Star Wars game since Knights of the Old Republic. It revisits Cal a few years after Fallen Order and quickly catches players up with what has been going on. As any good sequel does, Survivor streamlines what was messy in its predecessor and opens up the world with more planets to visit and more powers to play with. It also leans into the fun lore of the Old Republic, a beloved part of the franchise.
9. Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
If you told someone in 2020 that Cyberpunk 2077 would be one of the best games of 2023, they would have a hard time believing you. But Phantom Liberty delivers on every promise that went undelivered in the base game’s release. The 2.0 update makes the overall experience of Cyberpunk 2077 finally feel flawless, and Phantom Liberty’s tight spy-thriller story is the best use of the genre in years.
8. Final Fantasy XVI
Final Fantasy XVI marks a huge moment of change for the franchise, brining in a more mature tone and a drastic shift to action RPG. Even though it draws huge inspiration from the likes of Game of Thrones and God of War, the game manages to translate all that into something that still feels uniquely Final Fantasy. While the combat system and complex characters are highs in their own right, the real star of Final Fantasy XVI are the Eikon battles, which hit a nearly-unmatched level of ambition and scope.
7. He F—d the Girl Out of Me
He Fucked the Girl Out of Me is an unabashedly queer story that functions as a visual novel but in actuality feels more like a semi-autobiographical memoir, and it’s one of the year’s most unforgettable experiences. It’s a short experience that only runs roughly 40 minutes, but packed into that time is a deeply personal experience that isn’t afraid to talk about sex, loneliness, and the process of healing. It’s a shining example of what art through the medium of video games can be.
6. Hi-Fi Rush
Playing Hi-Fi Rush evokes the same feeling as listening to a perfect album in its entirety without interruption. Tango Gameworks, known for horror games like The Evil Within, dropped the biggest surprise hit on gamers this year with no warning, which makes how joyous Hi-Fi Rush’s rhythm action and platforming all the more fun. It is dripping with style in its design, sound, and feel and is perfect for anybody looking to recapture that PS2-era magic.
5. Street Fighter 6
Seven years after the middling reception to Street Fighter V, the sixth entry in the series recaptures the utter magic of the king of the fighting game genre. Street Fighter 6 is the platonic ideal of a fighting game, offering a finely tuned system perfect for veterans and newcomers alike. The addition of an RPG-like story is just the cherry on top of one of the most stylish and well-executed fighting games ever made.
4. Dead Space
The corridors and inner workings of the USG Ishimura feel brand new again thanks to the 2023 remake of 2008’s Dead Space. In a year highlighted by the rebirth of horror classics (see number six again) Dead Space stands as a testament to the power of a remake. It recaptures the wonder and terror of the original as you imagine it, which means in reality that everything is better than it ever was in 2008. This is horror at its finest.
3. Baldur’s Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a revelatory role-playing game. Built upon the ever-popular Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game, Baldur’s Gate 3 masterfully translates the experience of improvising with a great Dungeon Master through a detailed fantasy adventure. At every corner, the game wows the player with how reactive it is to anything you do (including constantly shoving even the biggest bosses off a cliff). Beyond the joy of mechanical freedom, this new adventure in the Forgotten Realms is filled with endearing characters and their emotional stories (and the potential for romance should you want it).
2. Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon
Since 2009’s Demon Souls, FromSoftware has quickly become one of the most well-respected developers in the industry thanks to the Souls-like genre it pioneered. With sword-wielding protagonists and tough-as-nails gameplay, the studio has delivered hit after hit (such as Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice). Just one year after Elden Ring, the studio released Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. The return to the studio’s mech-setting is a high-speed industrial action title that bears little resemblance to the Souls-like genre but is just as groundbreaking.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Tears of the Kingdom improves upon the masterwork that is Breath of the Wild in almost every way. Hyrule is bigger and better than ever with the addition of Sky Islands and the Depths to explore in addition to the main map, while mechanics are more inventive thanks to the endless potential of Ultrahand and Fuse. Zelda as a franchise rarely does direct sequels, but Tears of the Kingdom justifies itself so competently that you can’t help but want this era of Zelda to be a trilogy.