From Pixels to Perfection: A Gamer's Odyssey in the Best of 2023

As the gaming industry delivered a plethora of heavy hitters in 2023 like Spider-Man 2, Tears of The Kingdom, Alan Wake II, and Sea of Stars, my gaming journey through 2023 was nothing short of exhilarating. While these mega hit titles were undeniably exceptional, a select few managed to outshine the rest for me. It's important to note that the following list is entirely subjective, representing my individual gaming preferences... So please do not come for me! As I reflect on the past year and reminisce about the games that brought me the most joy, especially those enjoyed with friends, I present a detailed exploration of my top 10 games of 2023. Surprisingly, or maybe not if you know me, this list predominantly features indie games, cozy titles, and noteworthy Canadian creations, providing a diverse and enriching gaming experience.

  1. Baldur's Gate 3: A D&D Dream Come True

No surprises here. Like millions of others, I was utterly captivated by Baldur's Gate 3, making it my most played game with nearly 100 hours invested. The seamless integration of the D&D world, charismatic characters, and robust character customization by Larian Studios resonated deeply with my avid D&D enthusiasm. Not only is Baldur's Gate 3 a dream come true for fans of the tabletop RPG, but it also serves as an exceptional gateway for introducing friends to the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Plus... Halsin. I love me some Halsin.

Review: Sun Haven - A Star Within Its Field | GameLuster
Sun Haven
  1. Sun Haven: A Fantastical Farming Adventure

With approximately 80 hours of gameplay, Sun Haven by Pixel Sprout Studios emerged as a standout experience in the fantasy farming simulation genre. A multiplayer venture featuring dragons, magic, a compelling main questline, and RPG-style skill progression, Sun Haven caters to fans of games like Stardew Valley. Its unique twist with magic adds an extra layer of charm, creating a musically delightful gaming experience perfect for cozy gamers. This charming game has all the farming sim and romancing that a cozy gamer could want.

  1. Assassin's Creed Mirage: A Journey to 9th-century Baghdad

Following my extensive 100+ hours in Valhalla, the last creed game, immersion into Assassin's Creed Mirage was an anticipated adventure. Made with the help of Ubisoft Montreal and set in 9th-century Baghdad during the Islamic Golden Age, the game follows Basim Ibn Ishaq, a character introduced in Valhalla. While the game's campaign may not have won awards for its uniqueness, the final hours of gameplay, filled with unexpected twists, left me craving more. Ubisoft's signature beauty and charm are again on display, making this Creed adventure memorable.

  1. Lethal Company: Scrap Collection with Friends

Late to the scene but rising in popularity, indie game Lethal Company by Zeekerss offers a unique indie experience where players collect scrap from industrialized moons. The game's simplicity is its strength, consistently providing hilariously tense moments when played with friends. Whether working together to progress or sabotaging each other for amusement, the lower-poly graphics contribute to the atmospheric charm, enhancing the overall fun clunkiness of the experience.

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Spells & Secrets
  1. Spells & Secrets: A Kickstarter-backed Wizard Academy Adventure

As a proud Kickstarter backer, Spells & Secrets by Rokaplay delivers a rogue-lite adventure set in a wizard academy. Experiencing a strange incident on the first day, players must save the ever-changing castle and rescue lost schoolmates. While rogue-lite games are not usually my preference, Spells & Secrets manages to evoke all the magical vibes of Hogwarts without supporting controversial figures like the Harry Potter author. This game is a must-try for those seeking a wizardly adventure in a lower-pressure arena.

  1. Fae Farm: Cozy Farming in the Enchanting Realm of Azoria

Fae Farm is a delightful tribute to cozy farm sim games set in the enchanting realm of Azoria, and another Canadian made feature by studio Phoenix Labs! Players can fulfill their fairytale dreams by tending crops, capturing creatures, raising animals, and crafting unique items to personalize their homes and characters. Azoria exudes warmth with its charming characters, picturesque environments, and adorable creatures. Players can even form connections and pursue romance and marriage, which is always a plus for cozy gamers worldwide. As a cozy gamer, I quite enjoyed Fae Farms take on the classic fam simulation game genre. It's graphics and atmosphere were 10/10 and I highly recommend it.

  1. TFT Remix Rumble: A Musical Twist to Auto Chess

Being a reformed League of Legends player to someone who exclusively plays Teamfight Tactics by Riot Games, the highlight of this year's TFT experience for me was the Remix Rumble theme for Set 10. This significant addition focused on music featuring multiple diverse genres, including contributions from Steve Aoki. TFT's Auto Chess mechanics appeal to both competitive and casual players, so very easy for anyone to jump in at any time. Notably in set 10, my favorite virtual music groups, KDA and HEARTSTEEL, add a super fun touch to the gaming experience. Overall, TFT Set 10 offers engaging gameplay and a unique musical journey, making it a highly recommended experience for those seeking a blend of strategy and immersive entertainment.

Ravenlok | Xbox
Ravenlok
  1. Ravenlok: A Mystical Fairytale Adventure

More Canadian-grown talent! Ravenlok, a massive success on XBOX, is a fairytale reimagining a kingdom troubled by a corrupted Queen and a young girl's destiny to fulfill a dangerous prophecy. Developed by Canadian studio Cococucumber, the award-winning game Echo Generation creator, Ravenlok is the epic finale of the studio's Voxel Trilogy. The world of Ravenlok is mystical, fantastic, and whimsical beyond belief. The music, the art style, everything is a treat for the eyes and a joy to play.

  1. Super Mario Wonder: A Classic Mario Adventure

What can be more classic than a Mario game? In 2023, we were lucky enough to have more than one Mario game launch, and while I haven't yet played Mario RPG, Super Mario Bros. Wonder by Nintendo was a fantastic play! The player controls Mario, Luigi, and their friends as they attempt to stop Bowser, who plots to take over a new land known as the Flower Kingdom after using the magical Wonder Flower to fuse himself with the kingdom's castle. The joy I had playing this game came from the fact that I could play with my husband and, if I wanted, go "easy mode" and play Yoshi. Nintendo games rarely disappoint, and this game is fun for family and friend nights.

  1. Avatar Frontiers of Pandora: A Breathtaking Exploration

Perhaps recency bias is at play here because it's my last played game, but I love LOOKING at this game. While its gameplay is fairly simple and straightforward, the atmosphere of this game is a feast for your eyes. For fans of Ubisoft's open-world formula, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora doesn't reinvent the wheel, and that's perfectly fine. The allure of Pandora, coupled with epic sets, an engaging story, and diverse side content, makes this game a quintessential open-world adventure. The performance remains impressive on PC, delivering a polished and captivating experience.

In conclusion, the gaming landscape of 2023 offered a rich tapestry of experiences, ranging from the captivating realms of high-profile titles like Baldur's Gate 3 and Assassin's Creed Mirage to the charming simplicity of indie gems like Fae Farm and Lethal Company. Each game, with its distinctive features and narratives, contributed to a diverse and memorable gaming journey. Whether exploring mystical worlds, tending virtual farms, or engaging in strategic battles, the year unfolded as a testament to the industry's ability to cater to a broad spectrum of tastes. As I eagerly anticipate the evolving landscape of gaming in 2024, the echoes of these unique adventures will undoubtedly resonate, leaving an indelible mark on my gaming memories.