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 John Cal McCormick.
What a treat this game is. From the wonderful music to the heartfelt narrative to the enticing crackling and sizzling each time you cook a traditional Indian dish, this short story about Tamil immigrants trying to find a place in a foreign land nails it at every turn.
The series formally known as Yakuza is a firm favourite of mine, and this feudal-times spin-off does everything I like about the franchise in a fun new setting. As a remake of a PS3 game there's some almost archaic design here, but that kinda adds to its charm for me, and any annoying quirks are handsomely outweighed by the amazing boss fights, thoroughly engaging story, and an opportunity to see my boy Kuze being a rotter in an entirely new time period.
Despite being a massive Final Fantasy fan, I haven't actually loved any of the games in the series — aside from the online Final Fantasy XIV — since the ninth game on the original PlayStation. While I would have been happier with some more traditional RPG mechanics and a more satisfying conclusion, I loved most of my time with Final Fantasy XVI. Excellent characters, a mostly enthralling narrative, and some truly ludicrous boss battles make this the best single-player Final Fantasy since IX for me.
This is almost exactly what I wanted from a Spider-Man sequel. Aside from the mostly crummy side content, it delivers on every front. I think the story builds to a sensational finish after a relatively slow start, and Venom makes for an excellent baddie. The combat is wonderful, the traversal delightful, and I even liked the Adidas Miles Morales suit that everyone hates.
This is a massive pick from the heart. I know there were games that were more innovative, more fresh, more thoughtful, etc. But no game in 2023 had me grinning as wildly as I was during the climactic battle in Like a Dragon Gaiden. No game had my bottom lip wobbling like the ending to this one. It was exactly what I wanted from a bite-sized Yakuza game, and my only hope is that Gaiden becomes its own series of smaller titles filling in gaps in the Like a Dragon timeline. One of these a year forever, please.
What do you think of John's personal Game of the Year picks? Feel free to agree wholeheartedly, or berate relentlessly in the comments section below.