From Super Mario Bros. Wonder to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, this is ABC Gamer’s Top 5 releases of 2023

From Super Mario Bros. Wonder to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, this is ABC Gamer’s Top 5 releases of 2023
  • PublishedDecember 20, 2023

The end of the year is almost upon us, so it’s Game of the Year time!

At ABC Gamer we believe that Game of the Year is a rung, not a single title. With so many great games to choose from in 2023 it was tough to whittle our list down to just five — so we’ve gone through the trouble of making the case for each game.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the classic 2-D, side-scrolling Mario game we know and love, with a variety of twists added. Wonder Flowers trigger events throughout the game, the map holds many secrets, badges give you heaps of special moves: it’s packed. 

Mario Wonder is also the perfect multiplayer game. It encourages working together: from being able to resurrect your friends from ghosts to finish the harder levels in the game, to the search party levels that are easier to complete with a gang of mates.

Strong couch co-op bonds have been formed in my household as we screamed at the TV over boss fights and power-ups and just missing the end of the timed levels.   

I came for the adorable new Daisy and Prince Florian character designs, and stayed for the thrilling gameplay.

Mario Wonder is so replayable, by anyone, with anyone and is easily, hands down, my pick for Game of the Year. I would recommend this to everyone I know, from my baby cousins to my nan.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Since the birth of superhero comics, fans like me have always craved seeing comic book characters on screen. And sure, we do have that in spades now — but Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve ever seen.  

It’s a game that excels in grounding the alter-egos of the superheroes in reality. Sure, you can stick to walls and swing through buildings, but there are still those moments of just being Peter Parker or Miles Morales: helping friends and family; throwing out old takeaway containers; exploring Coney Island.  

From the very first cutscene, every hallmark of Spider-Man was there. A crappy apartment, bills overdue, pictures of Aunt May and Uncle Ben, a bunch of science-y tech stuff, the Daily Bugle and, of course, the incredible hero shot of Spider-Man jumping out of a window and into trouble.  

It throws you straight into the action, skipping over everything we already know (we get it, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider in high school; we don’t need a rehashing of that origin story).

It nails everything it means to be Spider-Man. 

— Sam McEwen

As a fan of the original Alan Wake, I thought I knew what was in store. But I wasn’t ready for this.

Alan Wake II didn’t just do a bit more of the same and expand on the first game’s rulebook. No, it hurled the rulebook into an alternate dimension, almost literally. 

Its new, more open, world design feels like a real place we’re visiting — one that is filled with just enough wonderful extras and puzzles to hunt down. (Although those puzzles that made me do maths can go away. What is this, year 10?!)

I loved its ability to stitch together so many influences.

It’s equal parts Steven King novel, mashed with episodes of The Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, X-Files, The Killing and Hannibal, and yet it still feels like its own unique beast.  

Alan Wake II is just a phenomenal experience. It’s a brilliantly terrifying horror game, and an exceptionally clever, deftly-directed and mature story that stands as a prime example of what storytelling in games can be.

It’s the kind of unique gaming experience that is going to stick with me forever. 

— Joe Reardon

Baldur’s Gate 3

PlayStation 5, Windows, macOS, Xbox SeriesX/S

Baldur’s Gate 3. Those three words can spark a forest fire of conversation, or elicit the biggest groan in history — because you’ve either been forced to listen to it before, or you just haven’t embraced the joy, the wonder, the glory of Larian’s dating sim disguised as an action RPG.

Well, darlings, I’m here to start another forest fire, because Baldur’s Gate 3 is my game of the year.  

It’s full-on Dungeons and Dragons fantasy shenanigans without the need to drag your 20kg bag of shiny math rocks around. Never played DnD? Doesn’t matter. You don’t need to have an in-depth knowledge of it to enjoy Baldur’s Gate 3. I certainly didn’t when I first started. 

Baldur’s Gate 3 is the first RPG I’ve played in years where I truly feel I can be anyone. I can be the loveable rogue, the brooding wizard, the distrusting ranger or the naive warlock.  

The game has taught me how to be a better player and, beyond that, how to embrace change, experiment, make mistakes, learn from them, have difficult conversations, take in the beautiful moments and live in the now.

What a wonderful thing for a game to be able to do.

— Gemma Driscoll   

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Nintendo Switch

Of all the games that came out in 2023, Tears of The Kingdom (TOTK) straight-up tore through the video game burnout that I’d been feeling, and reminded me why games are so silly and fun.  

Breath of the Wild allowed you to climb, glide and travel by mount; this isn’t groundbreaking on its own, but that game filled the world with points of interest that make all of those traversal options fun. 

Then TOTK comes along and is like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, what if we did all that but then added in… experimentation?” 

It’s a game that gives you enough space to tackle the same puzzles and problems with different solutions.

The story in TOTK is something you discover piece-by-piece and there are a tonne of options to unfold it. It felt like a chatterbox way of telling a story — where even though there is a set story, the way you go about it is up to you. 

Open-world games are plagued with choice paralysis and fatigue, but TOTK finds a way to pack something into every nook and cranny, and then also gives you the option to go buck wild.

To me, the game of the year can’t just be an excellent game. It’s gotta be one that you will continue to talk about for years. 


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