This year has been chock full with some absolute bangers! I couldn’t list all the games I played or missed but I managed to whittle it down to 12 (which was very hard to do!) So here’s my top 12 games of 2023, in no particular order
The Criteria of my list
- No Early Access
- Must have released in 2023 in 1.0 state
- Must be feature complete (no missing content)
- Can’t be DLC
1. A Space for the Unbound
An adventure/narrative game set in an Indonesian village circa 1990s. The games focuses on the characters Atma and Raya as they deal with their senior year of high school and all of the mysterious happenings in their school and town. Pixel art style, tone and mechanics had me invested from start to finish. It pushed me out of my cozy comfort zone and I loved it. It took me around 10 hours to finish so a nice little weekend romp if you are interested. Bring tissues because it is a roller coaster of emotions
2. My Time at Sandrock
You are a builder tasked to bring telesis (or progress) to the bare lands of Sandrock. In this very cheerful post apocalyptic game (which is also a sequel to the 2018 game, My Time At Portia) you build, craft and grow things that improve the lives on the citizens of Sandrock. This game has so much to do and see. From the crafting systems, skill trees, relationships, holidays, relic diving, dungeons and exploration, this will keep you busy for a long time. Settle in for a long game here.
3. Dave the Diver
This game earned its spot in the first 2 hours in. The concept of a diving exploration/restaurant management sim was just too appealing to me. I enjoy the randomized nature of each dive. The pixel based animations for each cut scene are just incredible. I’m legit thinking about playing this as I am typing the paragraph. Such a great game!
4: Fae Farm
Joy. Absolute Joy! A game dripping with magic. Tools with magical abilities, check! Your very own fairy wings, check. Produce that also have magical variants, check! I like the customization options (although the hairs are a bit on the lacking side) but overall I like what is offered. The multiplayer mode is just absolutely great and crossplay! More games need to do crossplay!
5. Bilkins’ Folly
Percy and his very good dog are on a journey to find his mom and grandfather. This game feels like a love letter to the old Lucasarts Monkey Island games. You solve puzzles, read maps and run errands for those who have to the tools you need in order to continue your journey. Stellar writing and whimsical characters makes this game a must play and a game you can’t miss out on!
6: Stranded: Alien Dawn
Not an ordinary base building game! Each save different from the last. Plus with different scenarios, you can play as a crew of castaways, a research team, etc. Choose different teammates for a perfect group or switch it up and randomize it. Each member has different skills, quirks or shortcomings. For instance, one member can be afraid of blood, while another be the best builder in the game. If you like Rimworld, I would say check this out!
7. Roots of Pacha
Picture Stardew Valley meets Flintstones and that’s Roots of Pacha. This farming sim truly turns the formula on its head with the caveman aesthetic. Grow produce, fall in love, craft things, all well and good but with a twist. You see this game has currency in the form of contribution points. You see you are not just making money for yourself, you are making the village better. As you play the village improves: new sundial, better seeds, improved fishing, and etc. Rarely have I played a farming sim, that improves not only myself but the place in which I live. Also no combat, which is something I appreciate and 4 player multiplayer out of the box!
Oh look another Jusant mention! Yall read the article. I can’t say no more than that! TL:DR, get it!
9. Sea of Stars
I can not tell you how much fun I had with Sea of Stars. I can not truly say in words how charming the characters, the world and the art style is. The mechanics were just flawless. I would feel regret whenever I played anything else. I can only say this would be my GOTY if I could. It is so good, and stands head and shoulders above the rest. I am glad this game is getting its flowers because those flowers are DESERVED!!
10. SteamWorld Build
Set in the ever expanding SteamWorld universe, Build is a citybuilder that tasks you to build a town to help your metal multitudes to leave this planet for planets unknown. You do that by splitting your focus from above (city) to below (mining operation). You use the resources to expand both levels. It has elements of the Anno game series which is awesome (because I’m not really down to play Anno these days, IYKYK). Seeing the ferrous folk (see what I did there) hustling and bustling down the street is also as much fun to watch as well as play.
11. Against The Storm
Three words: Roguelite city builder. Now that I have your attention! You are tasked as Viceroy to the Scorched Queen to expand her borders by building settlements for her subjects. You start with a random selection of buildings and only so much time to build. As you build, storms gets worse, Queenie gets more impatient and you discover a lot of bad things that could affect your run. I found this game to be a joy and I have already sunk like 100 hours into it.
Venba is like playing a graphic novel in all the best possible ways. Venba is a love letter to Indian cuisine and made me hungry from the moment I started it. The game is set in 80s Toronto as an Indian couple make a new life for them and their son. I love the way that food tells a story and how through cooking you learn about yourself and the culture of others. Highly recommend, a bit on the short side but can’t be missed!
A Quick Honorable Mentions list
I feel like it would be remiss of me not to at least mention some games that didn’t make the list.
- Fall of Porcupine
- Darkest Dungeon II
- For the King II
- Mineko Night Market
- Lakeburg Legacies
- Anvil Saga
- Time Wasters
- While the Iron’s Hot
This list was a tough one to make because I played a lot of quality games this year. I can’t wait to see what 2024 brings when it comes to games. Let’s just hope that my 2024’s list comes out a bit earlier, lol.