Our individual Game of the Year articles allow our lovely team of writers to share their own personal PS5 and PS4 picks for 2023. Today, it's the turn of reviewer Graham Banas.
Goodbye Volcano High is not a title I’d have expected to be on this list at the start of the year. I was interested in the game, but I didn’t know what to expect, which helped to make the surprise that much sweeter when it turned out to be fantastic. The writing is the real star here, with KO_OP delivering an absolute torrent of memorable characters, as well as an incredible number of touching moments, deftly sliding between humorously charming and emotionally gut-wrenching. The music is no slouch either, delivering a great soundtrack as well as serving as the framework for much of the story.
4. Dead Space
One of my favourite games of all time, as well as one of my single favourite horror experiences, the original Dead Space floored me back in 2008. While it had squandered its potential by the time it reached Dead Space 3, the first two titles never really left my mind. So it was with great excitement that I sat down to play this reinterpretation of Isaac Clarke’s adventure. And it did not disappoint. The art direction and general cohesion of design remain at an all-time great level, and the gameplay feels better than it ever has. Here’s to hoping when it comes time to remake Dead Space 2, it’ll get just as much love and care as Dead Space received.
Until the end of October, PowerWash Simulator was slated to be my #1 pick for the year. It’s just too much fun to play. Sure, it arguably falls under the gimmicky simulation game umbrella, but PowerWash Simulator has something much of its ilk does not: a compelling gameplay loop. The actual act of cleaning everything in the game is not just fun, but immensely satisfying. Hearing that ding after cleaning the detail on a house or a playground is like a full-on injection of serotonin. As the game progresses, you’re tasked with cleaning wackier and more elaborate items, but even when it's regular, mundane stuff, this game is downright addictive.
Frankly, I had given up hope that David Szymanski’s masterpiece of a boomer shooter was ever going to grace a PlayStation console. Announced for PS4 around the same time as for the Switch, the Switch version was released a couple of years ago. But it’s finally here now, and it was worth every second of waiting to play. The game has a great roster of weapons, a brilliantly gruesome art direction with heavy cultic influence, and impeccable sound design. The list goes on and on. It’s a boomer shooter playing at such a high level that it’s practically peerless at the top of the mountain.
1. Alan Wake 2
Alan Wake has been one of my all-time favorites for years and years, so I’ve easily been waiting for this moment for over a decade. And now that it’s here, I can hardly breathe with relief that Remedy absolutely nailed it. The narrative structure, the sheer ambition in scope of the title, the visual fidelity, it’s all just perfect. And that’s to say nothing of incredible new characters like Saga or Mr. Door, or the greatly expanded-upon mythos of the franchise. No one makes games quite like Remedy. No one.
What do you think of Graham's personal Game of the Year picks? Feel free to agree wholeheartedly, or berate relentlessly in the comments section below.