Best Games of 2023: Gadgets 360’s Favourite PC, PlayStation, Mobile, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch Games
2023 was an incredible year for games, with each month grabbing our attention with a defining entry — be
2023 was an incredible year for games, with each month grabbing our attention with a defining entry — be it sequels, remakes, or highly-anticipated blockbusters. Since the Holiday season is here, we asked the folks at Gadgets 360 what their highlights were, only to be met with some truly compelling takes. One of them is an award hoarder pushing the role-playing medium forward and alarming the larger AAA gaming industry, while the other is an indie game about fishing, whose deep waters hide some Lovecraftian horrors. Then there’s a nightmarish twist on Pinocchio’s Tale, new escapades from Marvel’s web crawlers, and Link’s journey back in time to save Hyrule.
With that, here are Gadgets 360’s favourite games of the year, available across PC, Android, iOS, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X. (In no particular order)
Baldur’s Gate III
A triumphant distillation of complex Dungeons & Dragons mechanics, it’s actually unreal how Larian Studios managed to immerse us into the Forgotten Realms and make fraternising with devils, deities, and the supernatural feel like the best thing ever. If you’re still whining about its tabletop origins governed by a turn-based combat style, maybe the awards haul will convince you to at least give it a fair shot. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a staggering achievement in player agency, where every decision contorts the world around you, be it landmark events, absurd dialogue options, or romantic flings with its wonderful cast of companions. Befriend a squirrel or punt it into a slobbering mash of blood and flesh, side with the goblins to lead a genocide, or woo a vampire spawn to learn about his torturous and submissive past at the behest of a manipulative master.
The top-notch voice acting and performances make it impossible to not care about your party mates’ plights — an assassin hellbent on proving herself worthy, an amnesiac cleric on a suicide mission, and a Tiefling with an engine for a heart — revealed through sprawling sub-quests and strengthening bonds, in moments that feel personal. The notion that every activity is dependent on the roll of polyhedral dice is certainly intimidating, but that’s the charm of DnD, where every step you take is equally anxiety-inducing as is rewarding. Anything could happen at any given second but that rule also applies to NPCs. Unorthodox tactics such as pushing enemies off cliffs or stabbing them from the back are as viable as facing them head-on with carefully planned attacks and spell loadouts. There’s limitless freedom in how you want to approach a situation — smooth talk your way out of fights, have sex with a bear, turn yourself into a literal wheel of cheese, or pledge allegiance with a squid-faced entity to harness godly powers.
Apologies for endlessly gushing about this game, but it’s just that good! The technical merits are one thing, but the memories I created in these gorgeous lands picking the wildest options and leading my group to comical deaths, while the soothing voice of the dungeon master graphically describes them, is something I’ll cherish for a long time. I must also commend Larian Studios for its unending post-launch support and honest communication with the community to account for pretty much every feedback. The team just went, “Oh, you want to change your character’s appearance in-game? Fine, We’ll add the feature in a future patch.” I can’t recall the last time a developer rewrote an ending just because the fans were unsatisfied, and that’s saying something! — Rahul Chettiyar
Buy: Baldur’s Gate III
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Insomniac Games have just about perfected the art of churning out high-production value blockbuster games that also clear a certain bar of quality when it comes to storytelling. Spider-Man 2 is no different. It pins down the soul of a Spider-Man story while maintaining an incredibly high level of polish. It takes all the good things from the previous two Spider-Man games from Insomniac and makes them just a little better. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 does not rewrite the playbook. In many ways, it is an iterative sequel that also sticks to tried and tested open-world game design, but it attempts to curate the experience in a way that it never feels like an interminable checklist of chores.
Insomniac clearly put the emphasis on the journeys of both Peter and Miles and the people around the two Spider-Men. The web-swinging duo are the stars of the show, but side characters like MJ, Rio Morales, and Mr. Negative are portrayed with care and attention. Spider-Man 2’s villains, Lizard, Kraven, and Venom, feel fleshed out and imposing. And the expanded New York City map remains a detailed and visually stunning playground to swing around in. I found myself launching the game, even after I’d Platinumed it, just to web-swing and glide around the beautiful map.
Spider-Man 2’s combat remains elastic and fun and flexible, but it shies away from experimentation and complexity. I wish Insomniac added more depth to the fighting, instead of just throwing in a parry mechanic. Spider-Man 2’s story, too, takes the easy way out, avoiding a bolder approach and instead opting for a predictable final act. But most of the gripes are swept away by the sheer quality of the overall package. Insomniac’s Spidey sequel is visually stunning at all times, it tells a fun and engaging story, and it delivers on kinetic set-piece action moments. It’s like rewatching a good Marvel movie, where familiarity is part of the reason why you can pick it up again any time. — Manas Mitul
Buy: Spider-Man 2
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
In a year packed with excellent, genre-defining games, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom defies categorisation. It annihilates genres to mulch and forms something entirely new from the rubble. On the surface, it’s an open-world action-adventure title with an intense focus on exploration and freedom. But when you dive into its depths, quite literally, you find it to be so much more. Tears of the Kingdom packs experiences that aren’t found in video games at all, all while being one of the greatest video games ever made.
To begin with, it throws out all the mechanical tools from Breath of the Wild right out of the window from the get-go. At first, it’s a little disorienting. But soon, the game introduces new ways to play at a measured pace, revealing new powers at Link’s disposal. When you first begin to test out the new Ultrahand ability, which lets you pick up objects in the game world and join them together to build machines, the game is careful to not overwhelm you. Your initial constructions are simple but effective. They help you cross a lake and ride a rail to reach destinations that initially seemed out of bounds. With time, Ultrahand grants you the freedom to build anything you want — a virtual Lego with unlimited blocks and unlimited imagination. You only need to go to r/HyruleEngineering to see some of the incredibly complex constructions players came up with to completely change the nature of the gameplay. From fire-spitting mechs to flying saucers, machines you build in Tears of the Kingdom are the ultimate sandbox you can experience in the medium.
No other game has surprised me as much as TotK. No other game has come even close to providing the kind of variety and freedom as TotK has. And no other game matches TotK in its commitment to creative gameplay. It’s almost as if the game hands over total control to the player, like it was a test build meant for the developers’ eyes only. Tears of the Kingdom provided me game-breaking tools and allowed me to go crazy with them. And it’s a testament to its robustness that it did not buckle under the weight of intense experimentation. And it’s not just its mechanical wonders that make it an all-time great video game. It’s the evocative music, it’s the stunning vistas and beautiful visuals, it’s the layered game world that lets you explore the skies and dive the depths, and it’s the emotional earnestness of it all that could teleport players to the first time they picked up a toy. — Manas Mitul
Lies of P
Haters might call this a knockoff, but I think Lies of P carves its own identity in this vast pool of Soulsborne-inspired games. Sure, there are stark similarities to Bloodborne by way of the gothic atmosphere — punctuated by cobblestone streets soaked with blood and oil, fancy lamps, and piles of corpses — but it incorporates some unique mechanics to bolster its hack-and-slash gameplay. Much of this is tied to the lore, which puts you in control of the infamous lying puppet boy Pinocchio, who must unravel the secrets behind a pestilence that’s turning all machinations into frenzied monsters. Dodge-rolling through the interconnected routes of Krat and discovering shortcuts brought flashbacks from the first time I played Dark Souls Remastered — my mouth wide open in immersion as I soaked in the winding level design that tied all key locations together.
Add to that a cast of eccentric NPCs — drawn from Carlo Collodi’s works — spewing tales of a rebellious uprising, where undervalued puppets fight back against their creators, and I was sold on this dark reimagining of a children’s classic. But for most, the highlight of a good souls-like is the punishing boss battles, and oh boy, Lies of P delivers in spades by forcing you to perfect parries to the dot and memorise patterns for what feels like eternity. Understandably, this could be frustrating for newcomers and as such, the game lets you summon spirits outside the arena, in addition to adding a slew of funnily creative weaponry; from stabbing foes with an umbrella to a giant pipe wrench for some heavy damage. Regardless of what build you choose, nothing beats the dopamine hit you get upon painstakingly beating a boss — a FromSoftware staple that developer Neowiz has managed to replicate nicely.
There are some quality-of-life tweaks as well, such as any lost souls from death can be placed outside the boss arena, the ability to regenerate healing items by exerting damage, and special icons that guide you to the next step in an NPC questline. Another thing I adore about Lies of P is how almost every character serves c-nt with their stylish 19th-century France-inspired garments; some of them emanating a strong steampunkish aura that you can’t resist dressing your Pinocchio in. Unlike most RPGs, there are no stats — or shall I say ‘strings’ — attached to clothing, so you can parade around in outlandish donkey masks, top hats, to reindeer antlers, and pair them up with some formal attire without fear of being underpowered. It feels casual in all the right places.
Neowiz completely knocked it out of the park with this release, and I’m already headed to New Game+ to scratch that never-ending Bloodborne itch! — Rahul Chettiyar
Buy: Lies of P
On the surface, Dredge is a simple game about fishing. But dive a little deeper and this little indie gem from Black Salt Games shows up to be a profound adventure about isolation, existence, and the devils that dwell in dark waters. The game starts with you, a fisherman, reaching a small coastal town in a remote archipelago. The locals help you fix up your boat and hand you a list of fish to catch in the sea. The game follows a day-night cycle, with most of the fishing done during the daytime. Nights, on the other hand, are a different affair altogether. While it’s advisable to fish during the day, some special fish only show up at night. Out in the sea, when the sun goes down, strange creatures show up and attack you. As your panic rises in the open sea, you start hallucinating and take on nightmares head on.
As you keep finding rarer fish, you sell your catch to buy upgrades for your boat that make it faster and sturdier. You also slowly get better fishing gear to catch different kinds of fish. You must also manage resources well as your boat has limited space for upgrades and equipment. Aside from your fishing adventures, you can also take up requests and side quests from people living in coastal towns. Your adventures lead you through mysteries of the sea — ghostly ships and lost messages in bottles — as you slowly piece together bits of information to unravel the story.
Low on action and heavy on atmosphere, Dredge became my go to game to play on the Nintendo Switch in bed just before sleeping. There’s a calming quality to its quiet horror and I was drawn towards its mysteries, loading up my boat night after night and heading out to sea to fish. You don’t really know what strange phenomena you may encounter on each trip. But the best part is slowly sailing back to shore after your adventure — your boat loaded with your catch for the day, your lamp flickering in the sea breeze, and the lighthouse guiding you home. — Manas Mitul
Dave the Diver
Getting ultra-addicted to a roguelite about ocean exploration and fishing wasn’t on my bingo card this year, but here we are. Dave the Diver largely revolves around spearfishing during the day to catch the freshest bounty and managing a local sushi restaurant by night, all of which is presented in a cutesy pixelated art style that you’ll struggle to break free of. Knowing that the gameplay loop could get tiring super fast, developer Mintrocket slowly evolves the game like a Jenga tower by adding new mechanics and character arcs without making it overwhelming. In just a few weeks into your new gig as a fisherman, you’ll have run into a full-blown otaku who helps with weapon crafting, an archaeologist studying underwater mysteries, a biology research student, and an Ash Ketchum cosplayer looking to gather digital cards based on what sealife you caught. Yep, that’s a play on obsessive Pokémon card collectors.
By gradually upgrading my suit and equipment, I got strong enough to make encounters with sharks and other perilous creatures. But back on the surface, I had veered into an even greater challenge — running multiple branches of Bancho’s sushi shop and dealing with a group of relentless dolphin poachers. So, if I wasn’t hastily running around the restaurant serving dishes and pouring matcha tea for impatient customers, I was busy hiring staff and harvesting produce and rice at a nearby farm. Things started to get really intense, so I would chill out by feeding the local cat Momo every once in a while, only to soon discover that he’s got a family in the backyard. As you’d guess, I took them in.
A lot of such smaller interactions in Dave the Diver grow into entire sidequests — be it celebrity chefs challenging Bancho, talking to some mysterious sea people, or even basic fetch missions. I never got bored throughout my playthrough and was always willing to jump back in for that one extra day of fish-hunting by even setting an alarm early in the morning before work. Safe to say, I was OBSESSED… but then Baldur’s Gate 3 launched (welp). — Rahul Chettiyar
Buy: Dave the Diver
Genshin Impact is one of the most popular free-to-play, cross-platform RPG games available today. The game grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic — it was launched by publisher miHoYo in 2020 — and has since been updated with several new features, regions, characters, and enemies to the game. This year, gamers were treated to a new region on the map of Teyvat — Fontaine, while regions like Sumeru and the adjoining desert were also expanded with new bosses and domains.
Earlier this year, miHoYo added a new region in the desert that is influenced by Persia with the Gavireh Lajavard update. Gamers also gained more insight into Sumeru’s Dendro Archon, and the map was opened up even further leading to another area to the north of the desert — the new region of Fontaine.
Right off the bat, you can tell that Fontaine is heavily inspired by France, from the names of characters to locations on the map. With a new steampunk aesthetic, Genshin Impact players will have to adapt gameplay to take advantage of new features and explore new regions in the game. The game also introduced Furina, the Archon in charge of the Hydro nation.
Unlike other regions in the game, the waters of Fontaine will not let you drown when you run out of stamina. In fact, you can actually swim underwater indefinitely when you are in Fontaine — your stamina bar appears blue instead of yellow. You can also “borrow” some underwater capabilities from aquatic animals, as your character’s skills do not work while swimming.
Among the more interesting areas added to the game is the Fortress of Meropide, which is a vast prison that can be explored with primary and secondary quests. The game has also added Neuvillette, Furina, Navia, Charlotte, Freminet, and Chevreuse — new characters from Fontaine that you can acquire through the game’s gacha system. — David Delima
Download: Genshin Impact
Stasis: Bone Totem
Dragging the revolting themes of a David Cronenberg film thousands of feet down to the ocean floor is a frightening affair for many. But for the grieving sea-faring couple Charlie and Mac, a discovery of such horrid proportions is like striking a goldmine, with the all-consuming darkness of a secret laboratory inviting them with questions and the festering stench of rotting carcasses. As a huge fan of the literary RPG Disco Elysium, I always have a soft spot for isometric games that rely on exploration and environmental storytelling to paint the larger picture. It also helps that I’ve gotten tired of the action-heavy Dead Space-esque route most sci-fi horror games take, where fear is generated from the anticipation of a jumpscare and dim lighting. While the latter is still true for Stasis: Bone Totem, the ability to see a whole room from above urges me to explore every corner and appreciate this gory universe.
One moment I’m learning about a brain implant that uploads memories to a digital afterlife upon death, and then a few hours later, I’m literally knee-deep in a pool of blood, listening to horrifying ritualistic chants from the next room. The art style is stunningly creepy, which is amplified by pulsating effects on living pieces of flesh and particulate matter floating around in the air. The meat of this game, however, is the elaborate puzzles — almost fashioned after a metroidvania wherein you’ll often revisit locations and run around in circles to slot in the new pieces. What’s more interesting is that the lead characters — Charlie, Mac, and an animatronic bear Moses — leverage their skills in breaking objects, repairs, and hacking to work together on convoluted solutions. A lot of this can feel like trial-and-error, but it always felt safe knowing that when I’m stuck, I can simply move the items over to the next character and mess about to see what happens.
Scattered around the underwater facility are datapads, yielding unique side stories about the crude experiments and other bizarre acts committed by scientists before your arrival. All of it is detailed in a neat order — almost like a diary — so it’s easy to decipher the spine-chilling events and connect the dots to the larger tragedy at hand. That said, I do wish that logs were narrated (one robotic voice) so I could just continue playing the game as I listened to them. Besides that, Stasis: Bone Totem is a fantastic indie gem that I simply can’t stop recommending to my friends! — Rahul Chettiyar
Buy: Stasis: Bone Totem
Final Fantasy XVI
I had never experienced a Final Fantasy game before Final Fantasy XVI, so I dived into the franchise with a blank slate, not really knowing what to expect aside from some of the recurring themes the series is known for. What I got was a sweeping adventure with deep and engaging lore, an emotional story with betrayal and revenge at its heart, and one of the best combat systems in video games all year. FFXVI falters where most modern RPGs excel — it has lacklustre exploration; it has underwhelming loot and character customisation; and it barely offers any meaningful choices. But it puts all its eggs in the basket of its incredibly polished and fun combat. FFXVI boss fights are some of the most epic in video games this year.
FFXVI has an interesting story to tell, too. I found myself wrapped up in the intricacies and politics of Valisthea, the palace intrigue that interjected the action, and shifting loyalties of the land’s kingdoms. As you take on Clive’s journey, you meet friends and foes and form your own group of companions. Clive, who has been on a path of revenge, takes on a higher cause and becomes a leader of the oppressed. The sprawling story, which takes cues from Game of Thrones, spans decades and involves a host of different players at different points. The information overload could easily become overwhelming, but the Active Time Lore system, which brings up contextual information and character bios in real-time with the press of a button, keeps things palatable.
If you’ve never played a Final Fantasy title, FFXVI is an ideal and accessible starting point. Each Final Fantasy game resets the setting and characters, so you can dive in without worrying about previous titles. FFXVI doesn’t quite match up to the diverse offerings of modern RPGs, but the game’s fascinating setting, its excellent combat and monolithic Eikon battles, and its evocative musical score make it one of the best narrative-action titles released this year. — Manas Mitul
Buy: Final Fantasy XVI