FullCleared’s Favorite Games of 2023


Favorite Games

By: Jason Siu



8 min read

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FullCleared's Favorite Games of 2023

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In mid-2023, I published an article stating the first half of 2023 is the best six months of gaming I’ve ever experienced. It wasn’t even a hyperbole at the time, with so many great games coming out in the month of June alone. The rest of the year continued to impress with titles like with Baldur’s Gate 3, Pikmin 4, Remnant II, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon, Sea of Stars, Starfield, Alan Wake 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder, to name a few. I believe 2023 is the best year of gaming yet, thanks to its diversity in game genres and innovative titles. There are excellent games to play from every genre, but more importantly, several titles introduced players to new genres.

Compiling a list of the “best” games of 2023 is no easy task. Instead, we opted to debate over our personal favorite games of the year. A favorite game doesn’t necessarily mean it’s flawless; even games with issues can be great fun, especially in cooperative play. With that being said, here’s the list of FullCleared’s Favorite Games of 2023.

Update: Yes, Alan Wake 2 is noticeably missing from this list and that’s because I haven’t had a chance to play it yet.

10. Halls of Torment

Halls of Torment is a fantastic "survivors-like" game

At first, I half-joked that I was having more fun with Halls of Torment (first impressions) than I did with Diablo IV, but that actually turned out to be the truth. I spent significantly more hours playing Halls of Torment and I wasn’t the only one here at FullCleared. While it draws heavy inspiration from Vampire Survivors, I loved its retro-style graphics and the itemization adds surprising depth. Each character’s distinct playstyle, paired with the game’s extensive content, offers great value, especially at its $4.99 price point.For owners of handheld systems like the Steam Deck, ASUS ROG Ally, or Lenovo Legion Go, Halls of Torment is a must-have for your game library.

9. Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is a truly unique experience, but it comes with a catch

I very much had a love-hate relationship with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. At launch, certain parts of Armored Core VI were pure gaming bliss, showing why FromSoftware is one of the best in the industry. In other aspects of the game, the experience was frustratingly narrow, often forcing players into specific builds to counter bosses. As noted in my review, I understand much of the game is a skill check, but subsequent patches have confirmed the game was unbalanced at launch. I haven’t had the chance to revisit it due to the packed gaming schedule of the latter half of 2023, but I bet Armored Core VI is a much better experience following the updates from FromSoftware. Despite these issues, many of us here at FullCleared really enjoyed our time with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon.

8. Remnant II

It wouldn't surprise me if Remnant II is some people's Game of the Year

As a group, we unanimously chose Remnant II (review) as our favorite co-op game of the year. The gameplay in Remnant II is exceptionally well-crafted, offering one of the most engaging loops we’ve experienced as a three-person team. We loved the fact that each of our campaign playthroughs were different, which meant helping one another was meaningful and rewarding. At launch, the game offered an abundance of post-game content, but, admittedly, it was somewhat grind-heavy. What solidifies Remnant II’s place on this list, is one of its boos fights. We found it to be one of the most creative we’ve ever seen in a video game, and it’s especially better since it’s in a co-op, third-person shooter.

7. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 Review, FullCleared

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 might be the most disappointing fun game I’ve ever played. It’s actually a sound argument to say there’s nothing really wrong with the game—except for a few bugs—but Insomniac Games seemed to play it really safe for such a highly anticipated sequel. In my review, I mentioned how it feels like this is Sony’s modus operandi moving forward when it comes to sequels. Its first-party developers are taking what it knows works, adding a layer of polish, sprinkling in a few minor, non-game-changing mechanics, and shipping it. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially given how many gamers always say, “Just give me more of that,” but I really hoped Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 would be better. Nonetheless, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 earns its place on this list for excelling in what it does right. Arguably, no other game matches its fun in open-world traversal, and the minor improvements to the combat system are notable enhancements.

6. Street Fighter 6

Street Fighter 6

Growing up, I spent countless hours playing Street Fighter II and its variants on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I came back to the series with Street Fighter IV, but took a break until Street Fighter 6‘s release earlier this year. The days of spending hours mastering a fighting game are now behind me, so what really appealed to me was Street Fighter 6’s World Tour Mode. The idea of creating a unique character and being able to mix and match skills from the roster really opens up the game to an entirely new group of players. In my review, I likened Street Fighter 6 to the Monster Hunter World of its series, in that newcomers are finally seeing what makes this franchise a staple in the gaming industry.

5. Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Super Mario Bros. Wonder Review, FullCleared

In a year filled with sequels to so many beloved franchises, it’s remarkable we also got one of the best 2D Super Mario Bros. game yet. Super Mario Bros. Wonder (review) feels like the culmination of decades of creativity from Nintendo, taking all its learnings on what makes 2D platformers great and taking it to new heights. However, the feature I enjoyed most in Super Mario Bros. Wonder was an unexpected one. Its ingenious approach to “co-op” for solo players was particularly innovative, something I’m eager to see evolved in future titles. It’s remarkable how, even after decades, the 2D Super Mario Bros. series continues to innovate and change its formula.

4. Cocoon

Cocoon Review Gallery, FullCleared

Cocoon (review) emerged as my biggest gaming surprise of the year. As a long-time puzzle game enthusiast, I’ve felt the genre had grown somewhat stagnant over the years. Created by Jeppe Carlsen, the lead gameplay designer of Limbo and Inside, Cocoon offers a truly unique and memorable experience. The game’s well-designed puzzles gently introduce players to its mechanics, gradually increasing in complexity. It’s one of the few games where you feel satisfied and even proud of yourself once you figure out some of the more complicated puzzles. The combination of a fitting soundtrack, stunning aesthetics, and intricate puzzles makes Cocoon a standout title. My only real complaint is that it’s short, but it’s a very satisfying experience.

3. Final Fantasy XVI

Final Fantasy XVI

Final Fantasy XVI‘s (review) major flaws, particularly its pacing, are undeniable. However, my extensive playtime with Final Fantasy XIV made these flaws more tolerable. This rollercoaster-style storytelling, prominent in the MMORPG’s latest expansion, Endwalker, is similarly adopted in Final Fantasy XVI. Given my regard for Final Fantasy XIV as one of the best games I’ve ever played, my expectations for Final Fantasy XVI were exceptionally high. Although it never fully met these expectations, it remains one of my favorites this year due to its memorable set pieces. However, its slower sequences and tedious side quests are equally unforgettable for less favorable reasons. For all its faults however, I believe Final Fantasy XVI is one of the better entries in the franchise. I sincerely hope Creative Business Unit III gets another opportunity at a mainline, single-player title.

2. Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 Review Gallery

Named Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2023, Baldur’s Gate 3 (review) is a phenomenal game and will certainly influence future games for years to come. It will be interesting to see how developers draw inspiration from its success, especially since CRPGs were once viewed as niche until Baldur’s Gate 3 attracted millions of players. However, I hesitate to place it at the top of my list due to its PC launch being riddled with numerous, sometimes immersion-breaking bugs. Among the most egregious issues was the glitch preventing completion of Shadowheart’s romance storyline, despite the game acting otherwise. Additionally, poor performance in the third act, particularly jarring given my PC’s specs, significantly hurt the experience. My biggest complaint was how abrupt my ending felt, with very little closure with the companions I’d spent over 70 hours with.

I wasn’t alone, as one of our contributors and his entire group had to take a break until some of the issues in the final act were patched. I know that since launch, Larian Studios has continually worked on improving the game’s performance and the latest patch even adds a fitting epilogue. My next playthrough will undoubtedly be a much better experience, but we just can’t overlook the issues Baldur’s Gate 3 had at launch.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review by FullCleared

Honestly, it was a surprise to find The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom emerging as my favorite game of the year. I’m not usually drawn to massive open-world games and I value a strong narrative, and I think it’s fair to say most people don’t play a Zelda game for its story. Although it presents a better plot and character development than its predecessors, it’s not particularly groundbreaking or memorable. Yet, Tears of the Kingdom compensates for these aspects with its sheer creativity, making me reconsider what a video game can be. What impressed me the most about the game was its sheer scope. This game was much more than just Breath of the Wild expanded.

There are very few moments in gaming that will be as memorable as the moment Link first dives from the sky above to the land of Hyrule below. That is, until you realize that there’s an entire other map awaiting you underground. It’s a game where you can spend dozens of hours doing things that aren’t even relevant to the main storyline. The creations you can make using the tools in the game are astounding, and not something you would expect from an aging console.

Ultimately, my reason for choosing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom as my favorite game of the year boils down to one factor. It was the only title where I didn’t feel any urgency to finish the game and the only reason why I did was to clear the schedule for all the releases in June. When I wrote my Tears of the Kingdom review, I ended it by saying it might be the most fun I’ve had in a video game in the last decade. Nothing has changed my mind since.

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With over 20 years of online publishing experience, Jason Siu is currently the Content Director at VerticalScope and used to spend most of his time writing about cars. His work can be seen on websites such as AutoGuide, EV Pulse, FlatSixes, Tire Authority, and more. As the former co-founder of Tunerzine.com and West Coast Editor of Modified Magazine, he has also authored two books for CarTech Books. In his spare time, he founded FullCleared to indulge in his passion for writing about games. Although Jason is a variety gamer, he generally prefers RPGs.

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