Game Of The Year Editor’s Pick, 2023

While I haven’t played many games over the last twelve months, I played enough to compile a list that feels balanced between high-stakes and cozy genres. Who doesn’t love a good story, after all, especially when you’re in control of the narrative? I’m optimistic with games, so if you don’t like my picks: good for you! You don’t have to play them (though I would highly encourage you to).


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10. Scene Investigators

Scene Investigators kitchen in case 2

For fans of escape rooms and true crime, Scene Investigators puts you into the simulation of various crimes to see if you can sleuth your way out. Getting to find various clues and piece them together to answer a series of questions about what occurred made me giddy.

It’ll take a bit of effort to complete, but it’s a thriller if you like playing detective. Get ready to use your deducting reasoning to figure out who committed the crimes and what their motives were. I felt like a real detective (though admittedly, not the best one).

9. Assassin’s Creed Mirage

basim using his sword in assassin's creed mirage
via Ubisoft

I was skeptical, that’s for sure, but I was not disappointed. We can all agree that the last few Assassin’s Creed games haven’t felt very… assassin like, but this is a breath of fresh air that pays homage to the earliest entries of the series.

If you’ve been waiting for a game that feels more like Assassin’s Creed again, this is the one. While not perfect, it picks up where we metaphorically left off with the gameplay we know and love from the Ezio days where parkour and stealth were at the series’ core. Sneaking actually pays off again.

8. Fae Farm

Date 5 with Nhamashal Fae Farm

This cute little cozy game stole my heart the moment I saw it. Adorable aesthetic aside, the simplicity of it all is what drove me. The crops are the same year-round and the story is precious. You’re shipwrecked initially and go on to help heal the island (this will be a theme for this list).

With diverse and engaging romance options, the colorful and whimsical world of the fae has something for everyone. Did I mention you get your own fairy wings? I’ve become a menace to the town now, bouncing across rooftops.

7. Starfield

Andreja at a desk in Starfield

I’m not one for space, but Starfield drew me into its orbit. Initially, I was hesitant, but the overall story and the huge sandbox aspect of building outposts or finding new creatures won me over (though I wish there were dogs somewhere).

With so much to do, it’s very much a Bethesda game, bugs and all. But you can build your own spaceship, so what’s not to love? Also, the Adoring Fan makes a comeback and I couldn’t be happier to see his impish face again.

6. My Time At Sandrock

Food and Drinks with Owen in My Time At Sandrock

Ah the Wild West, perfectly captured in My Time at Sandrock. Complete with cowboys, train heists, and a town that needs a little love, Sandrock feels like a complete adventure. The days pass by quickly while you get to know your neighbors and fulfill jobs to improve the town.

Did I mention there are romances? Unlike traditional cozy games where you have different heart events, Sandrock lets you go on actual dates where you can play minigames and chat with each other. This adds a whole new layer to the slice of life mechanics, and I couldn’t be happier.

5. Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora

Avatar Frontiers of Pandora Na'vi character

I’ve always loved the aesthetic appeal of Pandora, and getting to run through the biomes myself is a dream come true. The music is spot on and the breath of new life is abundant… until the RDA shows up and ruins it all.

Getting to be fully immersed in the world of Pandora and the Na’vi is exhilarating, especially as you have free range across the continent to explore floating islands and dense jungles. From hunting and gathering to soaring across the skies on the back of your ikran, you won’t want to pass this up.

4. Coral Island

At the docks with Ling in Coral Island

Despite the somewhat slow beginnings of learning how to get by on your farm (and the fact that inflation is everywhere) there is so much to do and see in the base game. From delving into the mines to exploring the ocean floor, the days fly past.

Taking a bit from all its predecessors, Coral Island has a shining future as one of the best cozy games ever made, especially with the addition of merfolk and giants. Getting to become a mermaid has been a highlight of the year for me.

3. Disney Dreamlight Valley

Selfie in Belle's Office in Disney Dreamlight Valley

With the perfect combination of creativity and nostalgia, what’s not to love? With the full release on December 5, the first arc is complete and the game is officially live. The seasonal events draw me in for exclusive items based on my favorite Disney movies, and getting to garden with Beast is an absolute pleasure since we’re both introverts.

While the villains are still villains, I love humoring them and causing a bit of chaos in the village. There’s so much coming to Dreamlight Valley, and the bright future ahead makes this a title I’m eager to support and follow.

2. Final Fantasy 16

Clive Rosefield in his usual attire with a sword mounted on his back in Final Fantasy 16

As an avid Final Fantasy fan, I’m thrilled to have returned to an age where Final Fantasy was a legitimate fantasy, complete with a fleshed out magic system in a world very different from our own. My heart was torn out and stomped on so early that I played with a strange mix of eager dread in the pit of my stomach, and it did not disappoint.

If that’s not enough to sway you, the boss fights are epic. The gargantuan style of the Eikons and the smooth combat feel more like a cinematic movie you get to be part of, and every moment will build the anticipation.

1. Baldur’s Gate 3

GOTY 2023 Editor's Pic Baldur's Gate 3

So much has been said about Baldur’s Gate 3, and honestly, I couldn’t agree more with all of it. Except the bad parts. Obviously. From the soulful characters that grow on you to the rich world of storytelling that grips your core, you won’t find a better or more meaningful adventure than the one you craft yourself.

No matter how many times I escape the Nautiloid, there’s something new awaiting me in the Sword Coast. I’m intent on finding it and using Speak With Animals on every furry friend I find. Yes, I mean all of them.

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