I’ve written briefly about the contenders for this years’ Game of the Year and honestly, it hasn’t been as cut-and-dry as some might expect.
2023 has been an absolute belter of a year for gaming, and whilst my contenders are but a small sample of what’s been out there. They’re certainly some of the best, critically and commercially.
Critical and commercial success has nothing to do with Game of the Year. Hell, as I often point out, my Game of the Year doesn’t have to have even been released this year
This one was, though.
Game of the Year
I suspect this will come as no surprise to many. Seeing it as a guaranteed lock-in even before release.
That’s not the case, though. I’ve wrestled with this way more than anticipated. But, I know it’s the right choice.
Most hours spent, arguably most fun I’ve had consistently all year and just the most engaged I’ve been with a game. Similar to last year’s Elden Ring.
Here, I’ve chased armour sets, weapons, hidden caves, quests and everything else.
A massive world to explore, topping its predecessor at every single turn.
This is not only my Game of the Year, it’s now in my top three of all-time games.
Yep, of course the winner is…..
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
How do you talk about Tears of the Kingdom without talking about Breath of the Wild?
Where Breath of the Wild re-defined what a Zelda game could be. Nay, what a Nintendo game could be. Tears of the Kingdom re-defined what that entire formula could be.
New mechanics, massively expanded game world, more depth, more story, more detail.
Our Game of the Year 2023 took what I considered to be a perfect game and improved upon it in practically every way
Ganondorf, the depths, wing suits. The perfect tone. Blending darkness, innocence and the calm of rural life.
The music, the visual style, the humour and the heart.
Looking back at the contenders. The common thread has been how much fun and enjoyment I’ve derived from them.
Game of the Year can’t be solely measured by time spent or any similar black and white metric. It’s fun, it’s engagement and it’s sitting in awe at cool twists, turns, mechanics, art and so on.
I genuinely think it’s based on the intangible. The way you feel whilst playing. The way you think about them when you’re not playing them, and the way you look back at them after finishing them.
Baldur’s Gate 3 has been winning similar plaudits all over the place, and I can see why. But i haven’t finished it, how can I look back on it when I’ve not been compelled to crack on and stay with it?
Dave the Diver took me on a gaming journey I never anticipated, with style and charm.
NBA 2k23 re-ignited a long-forgotten love for basketball, and I still play it most days.
The Phantom Liberty was incredible, truly. I loved every moment. But I don’t look back at it thinking about the things I have left to do.
See? Game of the Year is earned by combining all of the above and mixing-in awe and wonder. Much like Elden Ring did. When I wasn’t playing Tears of the Kingdom, I was thinking about it. Planning my next adventures.
I’ll be honest, as it stands, I’m not really sure what’s coming out next year. But, I do have a growing list of the gaming tasks I’d like to achieve!
No promises of not buying games, only completing back-catalogue etc.
Just a list, and a will to achieve at least 50% of it.
Maybe my Game of the Year for 2024 will come from there? Maybe it’ll come from a sick new release I’ve not currently got on my radar.
I don’t know if 2024 can follow from 2023 to be honest. Maybe it’ll be a quieter year for games?
I can’t wait, regardless!
Go play Tears of the Kingdom……