The Indiependent’s Top 10 Games of 2023

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A selection of characters from The Indiependent's games of the year, including Alan Wake, Clive Rosfield, Venom, Zelda, Leon Kennedy, Astarion and more
© Insomniac Studios, Remedy Entertainment, Nintendo, Larian Studios, Lorenzo Redaelli, Round8 Studio, Capcom, Sabotage

2023 will likely become one of the best years of gaming we have seen in a long time. From indie studios just starting, to blockbuster titles bringing innovations and showing us where gaming can, and will, go moving forward has been a joy to behold.

Narrowing the incredible list of games in 2023 was a tough job but we’ve managed it (just) so here are The Indiependent’s picks for 2023 Game of the Year. Honourable mentions go to Dead Space, Blasphemous 2, Street Fighter 6, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Star Wars: Jedi: Survivor and Deliver Us Mars.


10. Pikmin 4

©Nintendo

It’s impossible not to love Pikmin. They’re just helpful little guys that are willing to go above and beyond to help you recover all the broken parts to your broken down ship – and Pikmin 4 is no exception. In it’s latest entry on the Nintendo Switch, Pikmin 4 is something of a soft-reboot for the series, adding a degree of character customisation into a brand new narrative. Perhaps the biggest additions are that of Oatchi, the player’s canine companion who (who along with Torgal from Final Fantasy XVI may be a contender for this year’s best boy) and the night missions.

Any ardent Pikmin fan will no that staying out after dark is a terrifying prospect and can often lead to your Pikmin hordes being devoured by a swarm of Bulborbs. But Pikmin 4 introduces these missions as a new mode that finally allows you to fight back, and take on some of the most powerful enemies in the game. This could easily be someone’s first Pikmin title, and one of the best we’ve seen this year.


9. Lies of P

©NeoWiz Games/Round 8 Studio

A steampunk Souls-like with Pinocchio as the main character might not be the most interesting premise for a game to some people, but it’s certainly enough to start with. From the moment you arrive in Krat, Lies of P wastes no time in putting you under attack from corrupted puppets who have run amok.

Lies of P doesn’t go easy, but the reward is worth it. The story is captivating and grows as you explore more of the city and uncover more of what is going on. The ability to lie being so important is an interesting direction to take this character while also being a useful tool, something I hope pops up again in future.

If you have a Souls-like itch to scratch, then this is perfect. If you want an intriguing story and a brutal yet beautiful city to explore, this is also perfect for that too. – MR


8. Mediterranea Inferno

©Santa Ragione

Mediterranea Inferno has to be one of the most stylistically beautiful games released this year, awash with stunning colour and surreal imagery that helps convey the themes of horror, longing, queerness and reclaiming a lost youth. Set in a post-Covid backdrop, Mediterranea Inferno is a visual novel; that explores the friendship of Claudio, Andrea and Mida, three friends who were at the top of their game before the pandemic altered the trajectory of their relationship – something they are hoping to re-establish with a holiday at an Italian villa. However, in doing so, they embark on Mirages that plunge the depths of their greatest ambitions and darkest fears in sequences as beautiful as they are brutal.

What makes Mediterranea Inferno stand out against other visual novels of its kind is its insatiable replayability. Every choice you make, and every minute detail will alter how this group perceives one another. Despite its sensual scenery, Mediterranea Inferno is a queer horror game at its core, depicting in an exaggerated fashion what it means to be LGBTQ+ in a heteronormative society, the prevalence of social media and how we, as gay people, define ourselves through the use of the mirages that test the resolve of the characters and prey on their deepest insecurities. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is a game that moved me profoundly and I’ve not stopped talking about since it released. – JR


7. Sea of Stars

©Sabotage Studio

In a year filled with blockbuster AAA titles, Sea of Stars is a beautiful action RPG harking back to the classic JRPGs of the Super Nintendo era.

Following Valere and Zale, Solstice Warriors who wield a power known as ‘Eclipse Magic’, Sea of Stars is a mix of turn-based combat, puzzle solving and platforming all wrapped up in a beautiful art style and intriguing story as the duo embrace their powers and grow as warriors, and as people.

The world of Sea of Stars hits the sweet spot between nostalgic and cheesy, the dialogue is fun and the relationship between the protagonists is endearing and believable. There’s also the incredibly lovable Garl, who joins the party early on and can keep everything nicely grounded in this world of magic and monsters.

Cute and challenging, ideal to pick up and play for those wanting a dash of throwback style to their action adventure. – MR


6. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

©Nintendo

In any other year, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom would probably have dominated awards season, but in 2023, it’s fought off some heavy competition and remains in our top 10. Building on the foundations of Breath of the Wild and still feeling fresh was always going to be a Herculean feat, but it’s one that Tears of the Kingdom has pulled off. By introducing new mechanics and allowing us to explore the lofty heights of Hyrule, it serves as a fitting conclusion to this cycle of the Zelda timeline.

Breath of the Wild, for many, was a once-in-a-generation game, and Tears of the Kingdom continues on an equally epic scale in both story and scale. With several small tweaks and an intriguing narrative that finally lets us explore new depths of the series’ villain, Ganondorf, there’s so much to dive into and players can expect to find themselves sinking hundreds of hours into the game. – JR


5. Baldur’s Gate 3

©Larian Studios

Well, here it is. The game that has taken over the world (or at least, the internet). Of course, Baldur’s Gate 3 was going to be here. It has one of the most replayable stories ever created for a video game, a cast of diverse characters and a character creation suite that players have spent hours in.

Whether playing as one of the Origin characters, or your own creation, this is a game to really get stuck into how you want. Explore every last inch of Faerun and loot everything? Fine. Blitz through the main questline and save the day? Go ahead. Cause havoc with an elven vampire or hang out at camp with a dog and an owlbear? Have at it.

Even after a few minutes of playing, it’s easy to see how people have ended up with dozens of saves and thousands of hours logged – it’s just that good. Baldur’s Gate 3 has also given us an unexpected delight thanks to the playthroughs being undertaken by various members of the cast and creative teams, well worth a watch if you have some spare time. – MR


4. Resident Evil 4

©Capcom

In a year where accolades being given to remakes has been a hot topic of discussion, Resident Evil 4 is more than a simple redo. Like the earlier remakes before it, RE4 is more of a rebuild than a remake. The combat is crisper, the enemies are smarter, and Ashley is, thankfully, less annoying.

The richness of Valdelobos makes it even more unsettling to be in for both Leon and the player, especially when a certain chainsaw wielder appears. The combat and weapon use are more focused, with players thankfully given the option to choose between “old” and “new” styles. Updated characters bring some welcome relief to the escort missions while keeping hold of what made the original so popular.

Previous Resident Evil remakes meant the anticipation was high for this time around, and it didn’t disappoint. Long-time fans will still have their familiar sights, sounds and humour while newer fans get to see exactly why this title is so beloved without having to compromise on quality. – MR


3. Final Fantasy XVI

©Square Enix

One of the most anticipated releases of the year and it did not disappoint. From the epic scale of the opening battles to the tender moments around a campfire, Final Fantasy XVI is a rollercoaster ride through a world of royalty, Eikons, Dominants and Bearers.

The game’s setting of Valisthea is beautifully crafted down to the tiniest details and is full of lore, which has given rise to one of the greatest game additions in my opinion – Active Time Lore – to help keep track. With the amount of information, story twists, character changes and even a couple of time jumps, the ATL is such a useful tool for keeping track of where players are both in their story and in the wider world. The combat is some of the most action-filled in the series to date and the voice cast is outstanding, with many plaudits rightfully given to Ben Starr as Clive Rosfield. The atmosphere of the game also owes a lot to the fantastic work of composer Masayoshi Soken and his amazing score.

A fantastic addition to the franchise, with an ending which is both uncertain and certainly evocative. – MR


2. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

©Insomniac Games/Marvel

What’s better than Spider-Man? Two Spider-Men, and that’s exactly what we get in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Following on from the success of the 2018 Marvel’s Spider-Man and 2020’s Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales, the long awaited sequel finally lets players face off against some of the most iconic villains in the Spider-Man rogue’s gallery, including Kraven the Hunter, Lizard, Venom (of course) and so many more that you’ll meet through out the story. Even in the quieter moments when you’re not taking down villains or embroiled in a car chase, swinging around the city in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 never feels boring and is still as exciting as it’s predecessors.

Splitting your time between Miles and Peter may feel like it’s going to divide the story too much, but on the contrary, both characters get their time to shine and experience some particularly poignant moments, as Miles grapples with balancing life outside of Spider-Man, while Peter grapples with the trauma he experienced in the previous entry. Regardless, the characters are what make this game shine, and they’re the reason players come back in droves to see what becomes of them. – JR


1. Alan Wake 2

©Remedy Entertainment

And now for the game taking our top spot: Alan Wake 2. As sequel’s go, this one is 13 years in the making and at time felt like it would never see the light of day. However, it did, and it was absolutely worth the wait. Taking on a Lynchian approach, Alan Wake 2 is filled with disturbing motifs, surreal sequences, musical numbers and a hell of a lot of coffee and takes a narrative approach that is far from linear. As players control both Saga Anderson in Bright Falls and Alan Wake in The Dark Place, the two stories collide in spectacular fashion, leading to one of the most grandiose conclusions you’ll see this year.

The beauty of Alan Wake 2 is in its ambition. A tour deforce that is unafraid to push the boundaries of what can be done in a video game and, at times, blurs the lines between cinematic and gaming conventions. As the game deepens, from its cold opening with a dead man walking to the final confrontations in The Dark Place, there’s plenty of scares to be had, and plenty of mysteries to unravel. – JR


Words by Jack Roberts & Megan Roxburgh


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