That’s a wrap on 2023, everyone! This list is coming out much later than I would have liked, primarily because 2023 decided to hit me with a nasty cold in the last few days of the year. So it took a few more days of battling the chest congestion demon and my cold meds before I was able to finish the overall rankings. Of course, it didn’t help that I played so many games this year.
2023 was a bountiful year for games, and it showed the longer and longer this list became when I was tallying everything up. Being honest, I liked most of the games this year — well into the 70s on this list, in fact, my feelings go lukewarm at worst. A lot of this list is going to be one big ol’ disgusting lovefest, which is going to make it all the more obvious when we get to the games I really don’t like.
Just to be clear, I didn’t finish every game on this list, but I feel that I at least had enough of an impression of them to put here. Sadly, that means that I didn’t get to every game that came out — in fact, the list of games I didn’t play is as long as this one. Here are some games that, sadly, I either didn’t play or didn’t play enough of to make the list:
- WarioWare: Move It!
- Mineko’s Night Market
- El Paso, Elsewhere
- Honkai Star Rail
- Have a Nice Death
- Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Remake
- Chants of Senaar
- Hellboy: Web of Wyrd
- Skull Island: Rise of Kong
- Pizza Tower
- Horizon: Call of the Mountain
- Planet of Lana
Also, here are a few Honorable Mentions:
- Slime Rancher 2, Shadows of Doubt — Still in early access, so neither count, unfortunately
- Paleo Pines — This game was very sweet, but it unfortunately got a bit lost in the 2023 shuffle
- Exoprimal, Payday 3 — I played a tiny bit of both, but not enough that I’m comfortable ranking them
- Lethal Company — Been watching y’all play it, and that’s just delightful
Without further ado, here’s my year-end ranking for all of my games in 2023. Just as a reminder, I’ve already published my Top 10 games of the year, so this list will start with No. 11 and go down from there. See you all in 2024!
Games 11-25: We ate well this year
Usually when I attempt to describe my thalassophobia, at least to a fellow gamer, the best example I can give is Subnautica (a game I can’t play or even watch others play). But Subnautica is not intentionally scary, or at least not all the time, so it’s not a perfect example. But now that Dredge is out, it’s the perfect game to point to and say, “That. That is what having a deep and abiding fear of the sea is like.” Dredge is somehow both unsettling and absorbing, with just the right edge of eldritch horror.
12. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned story about a super-hero saving the day. Spider-Man 2 is not any more complex than that (for all it might imagine it is), and it doesn’t need to be. I had more fun swinging around New York than with any other traversal mechanic in a game this year, and the actors put their hearts into the performances. That’s all I need from a Spider-Man game.
13. Pikman 4
Full disclosure: I’ve never actually played a Pikmin game before. But I’m glad that I finally got the chance, and that Pikmin 4 is so wonderful, because it’s a great introduction to the series. It’s got great art and puzzle design, which helped keep me hooked, and I enjoyed the variety of Pikmin at my disposal. Also, I need a Oatchi stuffie for my birthday.
14. Lies of P
You know me — I’m not a Soulslike person. I have to steel myself to play them, if only because I’m so bad at them that I have to remind myself not to get frustrated. Sometimes this makes a bad experience worse (as you’ll see further down this list). However, sometimes I’m happily surprised by a Soulslike. That was the case with Lies of P, which hooked me with its dark fairy tale aesthetic and kept me coming back with its interesting art design and combat.
15. Dave the Diver
What is it with 2023 and sea-based games? And why did I keep playing them and enjoying them? Dave the Diver is a weird game in all the right ways, blending several different kinds of gameplay while telling a story about an eclectic group of characters. It’s fun, a little silly and has fantastic pixel art. And yes, I somehow managed to play it through my thalassophobia — if that’s not recommendation, I don’t know what is.
16. Octopath Traveler II
It really was a year of fantastic RPGs. While it’s been a little while since I touched Octopath Traveler II, it still managed to stick in my brain for being a beautiful and rich adventure that was well worth playing even in this crowded year. The art, music and gameplay are all stunning, and the turn-based combat was balanced and rewarding. I also liked this cast of characters for their varied stories and histories, and how much fun they were to play.
17. Dead Space Remake
Dead Space is a classic for a reason, and just as with Resident Evil 4, I was dubious on the prospect of remaking a game that’s already pretty great to begin with. And, as with Resident Evil 4, the developers of the Dead Space Remake proved to me that they knew what they were doing — both with regards to the areas they could expand and what didn’t need fixing. The new version of the game feels like a (literally) darker and more horrific adventure, and if nothing else it’s nice to hear Gunner Wright return to give Isaac a voice.
18. Asgard’s Wrath 2
Out of all the games on this list, Asgard’s Wrath 2 was the biggest and most wonderful surprise. I hadn’t heard of the game at all until very late this year, then when I played it, it was a blast! I’m working on a more extensive write-up of it soon, but I wanted to make sure it was included in this list, because it deserves the recognition, and for everyone with a VR headset to try it.
19. Street Fighter 6
I don’t play fighting games often, but I like ones that give me an easy way to learn each character and their moves. Street Fighter 6 does just that — in fact, a central part of the single-player story is learning about moves from the characters themselves. I was impressed by just how big and bright Street Fighter 6 was, and well-designed each stage and character were. It’s a fun experience even if you’re a complete scrub like myself.
20. Remnant II
Remnant II was so good, I actually enjoyed a Soulslike! But speaking seriously, Remnant II is a fun action title with excellent co-op gameplay and boss fights. It’s certainly the game on this list I would most recommend to play with friends.
I played Cocoon much later than I should have, simply because I thought I’d seen it all when it came to indie puzzlers. Nope, nope, I had not seen it all. Cocoon is one of the most beautiful, challenging games I played this year, and it manages to do the most with simple controls and understandable mechanics. I also appreciate when a game doesn’t try to bury me in story, but allows one to emerge organically through my interactions with the world … or worlds, in this case.
22. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
It would take a lot for me to dislike a Star Wars game, and Jedi: Survivor still gave me enough of the series’ signature intrigue to keep me hooked. I also like Star Wars best when it goes back to its Western influences, and Survivor felt more Western-coded than other games in the series. I wasn’t in love with some of the story elements, but it didn’t bother me enough to draw me out of the game (especially once the performance issues finally stopped being an issue).
23. Metroid Prime Remastered
Metroid Prime 2023 is a gorgeous remaster that doesn’t tinker with what works. I hope like I’ve never hoped for anything else that this game and Metroid Dread are a sign of positive things to come for Samus Aran.
Like I said in my mini-review, Jusant is a good example of a game that only needs to do one thing correctly and well. The climbing mechanic works exactly as it needs to, and the world and story have been built entirely around the need to climb in order to facilitate it. I also appreciate how pretty the cliff faces are and how adventuresome the main character feels. Despite the apocalyptic setting, this feels like a happy world and I enjoy that.
This game made me so damned hungry. That’s it, that’s the review.
26. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name
While RGG Studios is generally moving towards the turn-based combat that made Yakuza: Like a Dragon so refreshing, it’s nice to see Gaiden return to the street-based action brawler it started out as. It’s also fun to return to the role of Kazuma Kiryu, who here is more vulnerable and human than he’s ever been, and several games of familiarity with him pay off as his story starts to come to a deeply emotional close.
Okay, I know Starfield turned out to not be everyone’s cup of tea. The emptiness of space and the rather spartan approach to story is everyone’s idea of a good game. But I liked it, darn it! I like how empty and atmospheric the environment of Starfield is, and the world and art design are right up my alley. If you didn’t love Starfield, I understand, but I still had a great time playing it.
28. Amnesia: The Bunker
You know what I didn’t play much of this year? Actual horror games. Not horror-adventure or action-horror, but proper horror games. There was only one — and there only needed to be one. Amnesia: The Bunker filled my horror quota for the year and then some, echoing both the other games in the series and Alien: Isolation. It may — may — have made me actually yelp a few times.
29. Dead Island 2
I knew this game was going to slip from everyone’s collective memory after everything else that came out this year. And while it’s not perfect, Dead Island 2 definitely made me laugh a few times with its irreverent attitude and the bouncy zombie-killing gameplay felt better than a lot of other games I’ve played this year. I also cared enough about the story to see it through to the end, which is also something I can’t say about every other game on this list.
30. Forza Motorsport
I’m not a racing game girlie, so I’m not particularly critical when it comes to these titles. As long as I get to drive fast in fun settings, that’s all I need. And Forza Motorsport delivered on that simple promise. I’ve been told it’s going to need some more post-launch fine-tuning to stand alongside the other games in the franchise, but I got what I needed to out of it and had a good time.
31. Mortal Kombat 1
Hard to believe Mortal Kombat has been around as long as I have and it’s still making efforts to reinvigorate its formula. I found the Kameo system to be a bit hit-or-miss, but I liked the new multiverse approach to its story. Mortal Kombat 1 was a big, bloody popcorn movie of a video game, but at least I got to see it try a different story on for size.
32. Sonic Superstars
Sonic may not be my nostalgic game character of choice, but I can still appreciate when a Sonic game offers a nostalgic experience. Superstars occasionally feels odd to play — particularly the shop feature, which I was barely even aware of — but when it gets going it’s fun and silly, as a Sonic game should be.
33. The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood
I’m not even sure how to describe Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood, because it feels like it’s part-visual novel, part-deck builder with some eldritch horror elements and social mechanics. It doesn’t feel like it should work, but it does, following a story about an exiled witch trying to win her way back while hiding a big secret. It’s got a kind of spooky atmosphere unlike anything I played this year, and the art design is especially on point.
34. Bramble: The Mountain King
An adventure game inspired by Scandinavian myth? It’s a little slow-paced at times, but the core concept of Bramble is solid and enjoyable.
35. The Crew: Motorfest
Again, I’m not a racing game person, per se. So The Crew: Motorfest does what it needs to do by just letting me drive around picturesque Oahu to my heart’s content. The planes and boats may not feel quite as fun, but at least gameplay had a bit of variety to it.
36. Thirsty Suitors
I appreciate how many games this year allowed me to experience cultures and lives unlike my own, and Thirsty Suitors did so by letting me live the life of a complicated heartbreaker. It’s this year’s most colorful and visually appealing game for me, by far, and I would love to play a little bit more of it. And it also made me hungry while I was playing it — what is with games and food this year?
37. House Flipper 2
A late entry on the list, House Flipper 2 improves on the original just by giving you some fun, interesting houses to flip/clean/redecorate in the campaign. Is it a perfect game? No, but I put an embarrassing amount of time into it compared with some of the ostensibly better games on this list, and that deserves acknowledgement if nothing else.
38. Harmony: The Fall of Reverie
Wow, I played a lot of visual novel-style games this year, didn’t I? Harmony is unique among games this year in that it shows you directly how your choices affect the outcome of the story. As a player, you either vibe with this or you don’t, and I did — well, at least until the choices started becoming more complex and my decision fatigue kicked in. Still, Harmony is one of the prettiest and most interesting games that came out this year, particularly if you’re into visual novels and want something different.
39. Goodbye Volcano High
Wow, I played a lot of visual novel-style games this year, didn’t I? Goodbye Volcano High is “that dinosaur visual novel” in which prehistoric high schoolers grappling with the end of their current life phases as an asteroid hurtling towards them marks certain destruction. It’s a quaint coming-of-age story, and I give it points for its original art design.
40. Diablo IV
It took a while for me to like Diablo IV, admittedly. It felt like just about every other game from the first half of the year was more captivating. But once I got into it, it was an alright RPG that harkened to earlier games in the series. Not a fantastic game considering how long many players waited for it, but a good one all the same.
Games 41-55: Good games, good memories
I feel like this indie flew completely under the radar. I’ve had my eye on Dordogne for some time, a gorgeous indie with painted watercolor environments and a sweet coming-of-age story. It’s not a long or complex game, but it successfully conveys the feeling of fond memories softened by age and nostalgia for a simpler time of life.
42. Like a Dragon: Ishin!
You know it’s a good year when you get not one, but two opportunities to play a Like a Dragon game. Ishin feels like the more gimmicky of the two, lacking the emotional weight of Gaiden, but it’s also got this fun, stageplay-ish energy to it. I almost wish the whole sidequest about Ryoma building his house and farm up could have been spun off into its own cozy game.
43. Wild Hearts
It was Monster Hunter in a year without a new Monster Hunter. I’ll take it.
44. Fae Farm
2023 felt like the year of the cozy game, and Fae Farm was one of the coziest, offering a fantastical life sim experience with some Rune Factory-style mechanics. It’s definitely one of the prettier games I’ve played, and wish I could wrap myself in it like a warm hug. The in-game characters aren’t the best, especially compared with other games on this list, but I still enjoyed being in the world.
45. Disney Illusion Island
If you’re into Disney, especially the history of Disney, then Illusion Island will likely be your kind of game. It’s not the most difficult platformer on the list, but it sells itself on its art design and aesthetic, as well as its famous characters. It’s hard not to like it, honestly — it’s not the most impactful experience on this list, but I can see myself sitting down to play it with hypothetical kids.
46. The Talos Principle II
This is something you’re gonna hear me say about more than one game, but I think I would have liked Talos Principle II more if it had come out at any other time of the year. It’s an excellent puzzle game and I enjoyed what I played of it, even if I was too mentally burnt out to fully appreciate what it had to offer. I look forward to playing more of it and seeing if it could get theoretically bumped up this list.
47. A Space for the Unbound
This is another indie title where the developers threw in as many ideas as they could. At times it’s hard to follow what’s happening in A Space for the Unbound, but it’s a charming little adventure with a well-told story and I loved the art and character design.
48. Super Mario RPG
I never played the original Super Mario RPG, so I got to go into the remake fresh. And I’m glad I did, because it’s a blast to play. It’s not the best Mario experience I got this year, but I think I can see why the original was so important for so many people.
49. Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical
I like weird games, and a musical visual novel about the Greek gods in the modern era chasing a muse accused of murder who must clear her name is about as weird as it gets. It strikes a delicate, sometimes uneven balance between being a game and being a spectacle, and sometimes it really feels like Stray Gods doesn’t need me here, but when it engages, it’s a delight.
50. Fire Emblem Engage
I can’t believe I played Fire Emblem Engage this year — did all this really happen in 2023? Fire Emblem Engage is not a bad game, or even a bad Fire Emblem game. In fact, mechanically it’s one of the most interesting entries in the series, and I loved what the Emblem rings brought to the combat. Sure, everything outside of combat and strategy felt a bit shallow, but I suppose not every Fire Emblem needs to be quite so dramatic.
51. Coral Island
Many cozy games that have launched after Stardew Valley can fit under the umbrella of “like Stardew but [X].” In Coral Island’s case, it’s “like Stardew but eco-friendly.” The game’s goal of fixing the local oceanic environment is fairly gentle, and the characters in the game are likeable, if a bit shallow. I wish it’d waited just a bit longer before leaving early access, as it still doesn’t feel like a complete game. Still, if you want an attractive NPC to romance, then Coral Island has you covered (Rafael, the correct answer is Rafael).
I like any indie game that wears its heart on its screen, and Tchia is brimming with affection for its cultural roots. While I didn’t finish it, I give it credit for being such a fantastic kid’s game.
53. Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Remake
I have nothing but respect for Frogwares, the Ukrainian developer behind the Sherlock Holmes games. I’ve played both versions of Awakened, and the remake is a winning mix of the Victorian detective story of Holmes and the eldritch horror of Lovecraft. The new art style and graphical upgrades make Holmes’s descent into madness feel messier and more thrilling than the original, even if his Necronomicon-induced hallucinations can be frustrating to play.
54. Slay the Princess
The only reason this horror visual novel is not ranked higher is because I simply didn’t have time, as the year wound down, to put too much energy into it. Slay the Princess is a surreal adventure that requires more emotional input and patience than I possessed in late October, especially since its the sort of game that has multiple endings and requires to you play through very similar scenarios multiple times in order to suss out the true story. I love how it plays with genre convention and player assumptions, though, and it’s definitely worth trying if you’re a fan of horror games and/or visual novels.
55. Assassin’s Creed Mirage
It’s always so bizarre to return to the world of Assassin’s Creed and realize that I don’t miss it as much as I thought. The series’ return to the Middle East feels like it should be a trip back to its roots — that’s how it was selling itself anyway. But it still can’t shake some of the more frivolous elements the series has accrued over time, like the pointless gear system. The game’s story is decent, though, and features good work from the actors. The art design is also gorgeous. All of that counts for something.
Games 56-70: Well, I had an alright time
56. This Bed We Made
Here’s a game that snuck under my radar until the very last moment. I discovered this game via a livestream on TikTok of all things and had to check it out. An indie adventure game set in the 1950s about solving a murder as a maid in a ritzy hotel? Sign me up, please! While This Bed We Made is a little bit rough around the edges — the edges being the art design, movement mechanics and slightly anachronistic dialogue — the central mechanics of investigation are solid. The cast of characters all come with their own secrets that main character Sophie must discover in order to uncover the truth.
57. Lords of the Fallen (2023)
I sincerely hope the new Lords of the Fallen’s performance issues get sorted out, because there’s so much potential in the combat and world-building. I liked the setup of two different realities to swap between and the game’s art design, but I found the combat to be a bit lacking — a death knell for a Soulslike, even for me.
58. The Game Maker: A Carol Reed Adventure
Like always, I feel the need to bring attention to the Carol Reed series. It’s always the first game I play every year since each new entry drops on January 1. The Game Maker is the 18th game in the series and follows Carol as a missing persons case gets complicated by the discovery of a crudely made video game accusing the missing person of murder. The minigames are a bit of a slog, and the only reason I rate The Game Maker lower compared with last year’s Amos Green is because this year had more games in total that pushed it further down the list.
59. Season: A Letter to the Future
This isn’t what I’d call a cozy game, necessarily, but Season: A Letter to the Future was a very relaxing game. Your character, Estelle, is essentially documenting life and beauty leading up to the end of the world, and yet at times the slow pace feels like it gets too slow. The central mechanic is basically scrapbooking and Season doesn’t really do much beyond that, and sometimes the urge to explore doesn’t feel properly rewarded, but it’s still a very pretty and sweet adventure.
60. Ghostrunner 2
The sequel didn’t quite give me the heady feeling that the first one did, if only because it feels slightly less focused. It had a lot of new ideas for me, and not all of them were good ones — those motorcycle sequences gave me the itch. But it’s still as fun and cool to look at as the original, and that counts for something.
61. The 7th Guest VR
A very niche experience, this reimagining of a puzzler classic in VR offers a fun experience, even if it’s not the most interesting title you’ll play this year. The VR medium makes The 7th Guest feel bigger and more interesting than it otherwise would, and the volumetric capture of the actors makes for some fun performances. It’s not top of my list for VR this year, but if you have a Quest headset, no reason you shouldn’t at least give it a try.
62. Bomb Rush Cyberfunk
I went into Bomb Rush Cyberfunk thinking I was getting a cute Jet Set Radio spiritual successor and then the player character gets decapitated five minutes into the game. Luckily, this isn’t one of those games where death has dire consequences — the other characters stick a robot head on the body and he’s back to grinding rails five minutes later — but it does mean the tone feels all over the place. It was fun, but it still felt like I could have waited for the new Jet Set Radio game Sega is working on.
63. The Expanse: A Telltale Series
I’m happy to see Telltale again, and the signature decision-based story outcomes are present and accounted for in The Expanse. However, the game doesn’t have much else going for it. Each episode feels brief (and heck, the need for episodes in the first place feels dated) and the combat is not even worth mentioning. However, I think there’s lots of potential for the studio to get more creative in the future.
64. Persona 5 Tactica
This really was a decent game, I promise! I don’t know exactly how Persona 5 Tactica got pushed so far down my list — except maybe I’m just a bit tired of Persona 5 at this point.
65. Robocop: Rogue City
Again, another good game that just got pushed down the list because it came out in such a strong year that there simply wasn’t enough room in my “Mind Place” for it to leave a big impression. But Robocop: Rogue City is still a delightful love letter to the original film, and that was all I wanted it to be when I booted it up. It’s a bit slow-paced and sometimes doesn’t do very much for me, but hearing Peter Weller’s voice was enough to make me smile.
66. Master Detective Archives: Rain Code
I write this brief review with the help of my husband, Michael Pyatt, who played more of this game than I did. More or less, this title doesn’t feel like the same kind of chaotic fun that Danganronpa was — it came out okay at best, and bland and unmemorable despite its world setup and the thriller-mystery content.
67. Cities: Skylines II
I’m not typically a city-building person, and it’s a good thing too, because Cities: Skylines II is not where I’d recommend anyone start. The game’s performance issues at launch made the experience, which is already supposed to be fairly fiddly, feel that much more tedious. I look forward to revisiting this game in a year or so when all the patches and content updates have shined it up.
68. Hogwarts Legacy
It pains me to have to be the one to say this, especially about an IP that was once near and dear to my heart but … Hogwarts Legacy came out kinda mid. And in a year as stacked as this, “mid” simply isn’t good enough. Maybe I’ve aged too far out of the Harry Potter franchise, but I quickly got bored of the gameplay and nothing about the game’s brand of magic drew me back.
69. Samba de Amigo: Party Central
Eh, for a rhythm game it didn’t really fill me with the urge to get up and dance. The motion controls felt a bit hit-or-miss (more miss than hit, if I’m being honest). Still, I had a good time with it for a while, and it’s definitely not a bad way to kill a few hours.
70. Sticky Business
I spotted this title during a Steam sale, and it’s definitely my most unusual cozy game of 2023. I spent a few hours imagining I was making my own little Etsy sticker shop, and then Sticky Business kind of ran out of steam. It felt like I saw everything the game had to offer within a short amount of time. It’s not a bad little sim title, especially for an indie, but it also didn’t leave much of an impression.
Games 71-85: Okay, maybe I wasn’t so fond of these
71. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Boy, did my opinion on this one shift in the months since I started playing it. When I posted my mini-review, I’d put a few hours into Wo Long and was working on refining my combat technique. However, after I posted that, I kept playing it and hit a difficulty spike with certain bosses that felt way too brutal for where I was at in the game. And yet the rest of the game felt easy compared with other Soulslikes! I was so confused.
72. Detective Pikachu Returns
It’s still got most of the charms of the original Detective Pikachu, but Detective Pikachu Returns doesn’t feel like a true sequel, in the sense that there’s no true upgrade. I know it’s a kids’ game, but a kids’ game doesn’t need to feel or look quite as drab and lifeless as this game does sometimes.
73. Atomic Heart
I wanted to like this one so much — the art design and the first-person combat looked good. However, I just can’t get past how unpleasant the main character is. He made a bad first impression and never really seemed to get better.
I’m sure some of you might be surprised this game isn’t further down the list, but I give Forspoken the credit that I at least see the vision. I see what they were trying to do. I think the game’s problem was in its execution. The game’s locomotion mechanics and even some of its support systems are interesting (having Frey paint designs on her nails to hone her powers is actually a cool idea). The adventures of Frey and Cuff are marred by undercooked worldbuilding, questionable art design and some awful spoken dialogue. I’m not really mad at Forspoken, just disappointed.
75. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
Just as a small update of my not-quite-review, I finally got Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora into something resembling working shape. Does it change my opinion? Not a whit. It still feels like an overall boneless experience, another Ubisoft open-world with a handful of ultimately unfulfilling minigames and a story that’s nothing to write home about. It sure is pretty, though!
76. The Last Case of Benedict Fox
This was another game I really wanted to like, because the combination of 2D puzzle-platforming and eldritch horror was right up my street. However, some of the gameplay elements didn’t hang together well — combat felt clumsy and the movement controls weren’t as solid as they could have been. The puzzles felt like they were arbitrarily difficult, and one was actually unsolvable because I couldn’t see the solution. Not my favorite few hours on Game Pass this year.
77. Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life
I’m so sorry, Story of Seasons, but any game called A Wonderful Life should make me feel like I’m living a wonderful life. Instead I felt like I was living a fairly humdrum existence, and I didn’t appreciate being rushed to the altar like I was.
78. Immortals of Aveum
I bet you forgot this game came out this year, didn’t you? Because … I sure did. For what’s supposed to be an epic game of magic and battle, Immortals of Aveum sure slid out of my mind in a hurry.
79. Murder on the Orient Express (2023)
I feel like this is an adventure game I would have enjoyed in 2006 or so — mainly because that was the last time a game based on Christie’s classic released. The animations and graphics on the 2023 Murder on the Orient Express are dated and the art design appears to be caught between the 1930s setting of the original story and 2023, when it’s supposed to be set. It’s also a little too hand-holdy for what’s supposed to be a mystery game, and the mind map mechanic feels better suited to Sherlock Holmes than Hercule Poirot.
80. The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria
If the restoration of Khazad-dûm is up to me, then the dwarves are in trouble. I feel that a gamer who’s into the survival genre will get more out of Return to Moria than I did. To me it felt too restrictive and “meh,” and no amount of Tolkien lore references could get me over that hump.
81. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (campaign)
I was more invested in the story of the new Modern Warfare trilogy than I thought I would be — so to see it end so ignominiously breaks my heart. Modern Warfare 3 felt rushed and unloved, like the creators were trying to get it over with rather than deliver a true, meaningful end to the story.
82. Crime Boss: Rockay City
You know it’s a bad sign when a game is more interested in talking about its cast in the pre-release marketing than its gameplay. I didn’t even know what kind of a game Rockay City was until after it launched. Turns out it’s a Payday-esque heist-em-up with a roguelike single player mode that is somehow unfun to play and was difficult to play with all of its bugs. Oh, and the voice cast? They sound like they’re doing their work under extreme duress.
83. Scars Above
In a word: Basic. There’s nothing fun or rewarding about this third-person shooter, and the scientist lead, who shows glimmers of potential, ends up being another generic character in a bland, dissatisfying adventure.
You know why you’re here, kid. If Redfall improves thanks to Arkane’s continued support (as Phil Spencer implied was the goal in an interview with Kinda Funny), I’d be happy to revisit this rating.
85. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
What a year to be the Lord of the Rings IP. I wanted to cut Gollum some slack because I’ve heard how difficult development was behind the scenes. Unfortunately, you can see all of those problems on the screen, with the final result being a drab, boring and muddled mess that is about as memorably bad as a game can be this year.
And that’s all, folks! See you in a year for the 2024 ranking!
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