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Top 19 Video Games of 2023 (Thus Far) – A Must-See Selection

Top 19 Video Games of 2023 (Thus Far) - A Must-See Selection

Excited for 2023’s video games? Busy with Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom? Esquire’s Gamer Zone has been active with this year’s crazy lineup.

The remake engine keeps going, and we’re not complaining. Dead Space got a gnarly update. Frog-based games like Time on Frog Island, Shoulders of Giants, and A Frog’s Tale are popping up. (Let me play as a frog and take my money.) We’re also hooked on Metroid Prime: Remastered, Fire Emblem: Engage, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, sacrificing sleep. But we found the best skill tree paths to share our favorite games (so far). Enjoy, gamers.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Platform: Nintendo Switch

It has arrived. The most expansive and mind-bending iteration of a Zelda game has been unveiled. Can you believe it? You can now soar through the skies, manipulate time, and even affix mushrooms to your sword. Nintendo has truly surpassed itself, elevating its signature quirkiness to unprecedented heights. Tears of the Kingdom have forever altered our perception of Zelda. Check out Esquire’s review for more details.

Star Wars Jedi

Survivor Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox Series S|X

Hope endures, in a way. Despite the Jedi order’s complete destruction, Cal Kestis and his resilient group of space rebels continue their noble battle. Survivor enhances the Fallen Order foundation and elevates nearly every element from the first game, delivering the long-awaited lightsaber combat experience of our fantasies. However, one question lingers: Will Cal meet his demise? How much longer can EA keep producing these games?

Dredge

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox Series S|X, Nintendo Switch

At last, a fishing game infused with eldritch terror, blending the essence of Animal Crossing with The Lighthouse. It turns out, this is exactly what we’ve been yearning for. Dredge stands out as one of the most unsettling video games in recent memory. It takes an unexpected dive (pun intended) into the depths, fully aware of the genre’s typically serene and soothing nature. By subverting these expectations, the terror becomes even more spine-chilling. I might think twice before venturing into the ocean again.

Laya’s Horizon

Platforms: iOS, Android

Take flight on your phone! Remember the thrilling aerial moments from Skyward Sword? The creators of the popular mobile game Alto’s Odyssey (which you should definitely try) are back, thanks to Netflix Games. Laya’s Horizon offers a stunning and immersive third-person flying adventure that seamlessly captures the vibrant essence of Skyward Sword’s ancient world. It’s a mobile gaming experience that comes close to perfection. The best part? It’s free to play with a Netflix subscription!

Resident Evil 4 Remake

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox Series S|X

The original Resident Evil 4 was already a remarkable game. How does one remake something that remains so impressive? The answer lies in refinement. Capcom meticulously polished the Resident Evil 4 experience, creating a timeless masterpiece in the horror genre with this remake. The controls are more precise, the traversal is smoother, and the entire experience feels contemporary. Finally, we have a current-gen, Leon Kennedy!

Tchia

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox Series S|X

Our list unintentionally became Zelda-focused, thanks to the abundance of Zelda tributes and sequels in 2023. Tchia proudly wears its Breath of the Wild influence, granting players the freedom to explore anywhere, climb anything, and even transform into rodents. Set in the lush region of New Caledonia, this game is a delightful expression of joy. Regardless of its debt to Zelda, it stands as one of the most captivating experiences on gaming consoles in 2023.

Dead Space

Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Steam

Remakes and remasters are all the rage in gaming. For a stunning 4K restoration of your beloved 2000s-era video games, look no further than this gruesome space thriller from EA. This isn’t just a superficial facelift; the return to the USG Kellion has been meticulously revitalized. The result is a visually impressive and horrifying journey.

Fire Emblem: Engage

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Fire Emblem games have consistently delivered outstanding tactical role-playing experiences since the franchise’s inception in the early ’90s. The previous entry, Three Houses, claimed an astonishing amount of my time, rivaling my childhood spent nurturing little Chao in Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. Engage brings back classic battle mechanics and charming ways to foster support among fellow warriors, offering yet another satisfying strategy game. For those seeking an additional challenge, a “maddening” difficulty awaits, demanding more time spent navigating upgrade menus than I ever did.

Hi-Fi Rush

Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PC, Steam

Imagine a video game inspired by Baby Driver and visually resembling a Scott Pilgrim comic book. Hi-Fi Rush effortlessly taps into nostalgia, tempting me to grow out emo bangs and dust off my iPod Nano. It flawlessly blends beat-em-up and rhythm game elements, ensuring this title will likely find its place near the top of my year-end games list for 2023.

Metroid Prime Remastered

Platform: Nintendo Switch

They’ve finally done it. After years of rumors and leaks, Nintendo has unleashed this magnificent homage to the legendary 3D shooter/platformer from the GameCube era, Prime. And boy, does it deliver. Revisiting Samus’s iconic adventures in shiny boots, the Switch now boasts a 3D Metroid title to complement its fantastic 2D side-scroller, Metroid Dread, which graced us in 2021. Let’s hope the flow of Metroid games continues—perhaps even culminating in Metroid Prime 4 before the Switch’s lifecycle concludes.

Shoulders of Giants

Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PC, Steam

In Shoulders of Giants, you assume the role of a frog perched atop a robot wielding a massive sword, while the frog itself possesses a laser gun. Transitioning from the frog’s over-the-shoulder shooter perspective to the robot’s wide-open hack-and-slash gameplay feels like a novel concept that effortlessly combines brilliance with simplicity. My only dilemma? Both the frog and the robot have become cherished friends, making it impossible to choose a favorite.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe

Platform: Nintendo Switch

There should be a new (or in this case, old) Kirby game released every year. Just like the saying from Twin Peaks, “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present.” Kirby is a gift to humanity, and we all deserve a little Kirby in our lives. Originally introduced on the Nintendo Wii, it’s about time this game gets another chance to shine. And it fits perfectly on the Switch. By the way, I should definitely play more Kirby and the Forgotten Land soon. Perhaps that will be my present for today.

Blanc

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Steam

While some games take weeks or even months to complete, Blanc offers a breathtaking experience in just a few hours. This hand-drawn indie cooperative adventure follows a small fawn and a wolf cub as they navigate the wilderness. It’s simplicity and unique visual style make Blanc an extraordinary and unforgettable journey in the world of video games. Although not the most challenging, the short time it takes to complete is worth every moment, especially when played alongside a friend.

Pizza Tower

Platform: PC

Finally, developers have started creating video games inspired by Wario Land, not Mario. Yes, Wario. Pizza Tower serves as a disturbing and high-voltage tribute to the Wario titles of the past, particularly those from the Game Boy Advance era. It’s a delightful return that hits the right nostalgic notes. Just one small note: it could use a bit more garlic.

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Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

Platform: PC

Why did it take me so long to rediscover the Age of Empires? One reason is my lack of a proper PC setup, and installing Steam on my work laptop always seemed questionable. Another reason—don’t crucify me for this—is my preference for consoles. Gaming while comfortably seated on my couch and playing on my TV is the only way I truly enjoy gaming. Though gathering resources and orchestrating sieges without a mouse and keyboard can be a thousand times more complex, this is the experience I desire. This release, along with the upcoming console release of Age of Empires IV later this year, is a dream come true for me and my fellow console gamers.

Sea of Stars

Platforms: PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PC, macOS, Steam

The impact of Chrono Trigger, which debuted in 1995, continues to resonate nearly three decades later. Sea of Stars pays heartfelt tribute to the Square JRPG, wearing its inspiration proudly on its sleeve. However, what sets it apart is its breathtaking beauty. The exquisite 2D pixel art creates some of the most stunning imagery in the genre in recent years.

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Season: A Letter to the Future

Platforms: PlayStation 5, PC, Steam

Scavenger Studio’s indie title, Season: A Letter to the Future, tells a tragic and poignant story of a world nearing its end through the eyes and camera lens of a young woman on her bicycle. Its art style combines elements of watercolor painting and Into the Spider-Verse, with a hint of The Last of Us’s emphasis on nature reclaiming the Earth’s grandeur. This game is definitely something we’ve been eagerly waiting for.

Horizon Call of the Mountain

Platform: PlayStation VR2

Think of Horizon Call of the Mountain as a screening of an Avatar film. You may not get the best story, and the main character might even become irritating within minutes. But my, oh my, it looks stunning. It’s so visually captivating that you might find yourself drooling or uttering “wow” repeatedly, like Owen Wilson in need of a battery replacement. PlayStation VR2, with its highly anticipated launch title, has certainly delivered a winner. Now, can we please have more games?

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Forspoken

Platforms: PlayStation 5, PC, Steam

While initially met with some criticism, Forspoken deserves recognition for the remarkable ambition showcased by Square Enix in creating such a vast and immersive world. In a landscape dominated by intellectual property-driven content, completely new franchises are a rarity. Even when they do emerge, they often remain overlooked simply because they lack the presence of characters like Luke Skywalker or Tony Stark. Although not flawless, Forspoken deserves appreciation for its merits. And let’s not forget—the combat is seriously enjoyable.

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