As always, keep in mind that I've gone to great lengths to also play every single other game released in 2023 to spare you the trouble of telling me I forgot something.
10. Marvel's Spider-Man 2 (Insomniac Games, PlayStation 5)
9. System Shock (Nightdive Studios, PC)
infamously drawn-out FPS development cycle. Thankfully System Shock's long-awaited return fares much better than Duke's, opting to go for a mostly-faithful take on the original with some modernization of its clunkier aspects. To that end, it features a more streamlined control setup and UI, fewer (but upgradable) weapons and some added features from the second game like having vending machines and upgradable weapons, as well as redone voiceover (with Terri Brosius reprising her role as SHODAN; I'd accept no less). Being a faithful translation it also retains many of the annoying aspects of the original game - the convoluted levels, spongey enemies (particularly in the final gauntlet) and puzzles that require you to comb basically every inch of every floor and pay meticulous attention to audio logs and subtle clues are all still very much present in this version.
8. Sea of Stars (Sabotage Studio, Playstation 4/Playstation 5/XBox One/XBox Series/PC)
7. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (Capcom, PC/PS4/Switch/XBox One)
6. Super Mario RPG (ArtePiazza, Switch)
5. Super Mario Bros. Wonder (Nintendo, Switch)
4. Hi-Fi Rush (Tango Gameworks, XBox Series/PC)
3. Final Fantasy XVI (Square Enix, Playstation 5)
The latest entry in the long-running Final Fantasy franchise is once again a divisive one (say what?!), this time for shedding most of its RPG trappings in favor of a straight-up stylish action title reminiscent of Devil May Cry; which is no coincidence as its combat designer also worked on games like Devil May Cry 5, Monster Hunter and Dragon's Dogma. There's still a few of those usual RPG trappings, mind - you upgrade your swords and accessories, earn experience points and AP from battles and gradually unlock new skills with the latter, but it's not a game you can simply power through by grinding for a while. Levels and equipment only give you a small edge; you'll still need to master attacking, parrying, dodging and smart use of your powers and items to make your way through the game. It's also the first M-rated game in the series, which makes it quite a bit darker in tone and content than the series norm, but its strongly written cast and story make it a worthy journey to undertake. This was the game that finally sold me on getting a Playstation 5.
2. Baldur's Gate III (Larian Studios, Playstation 5/XBox Series/PC)
1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Nintendo/Monolith Soft, Switch)