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 assistant editor Robert Ramsey.
The Trails games have become a staple of my gaming diet over the last few years, and while I don't think Trails into Reverie quite measures up to the series' best instalments, it's still a fantastic way to round off a saga that's ten titles in the making. It isn't necessarily Reverie's character-driven, epilogue-like story that won me over, though. What I really love about this RPG is its gameplay depth, allowing you to build countless teams out of its absolutely massive roster of playable heroes. I must have ran through the game's procedural Reverie Corridor dungeon a thousand times, and I enjoyed every minute of the grind.
Fate/Samurai Remnant was the surprise hit of 2023 for me. I knew I'd enjoy it based on gameplay previews and the like, but then I reviewed it, and the action RPG resonated with me in ways I never anticipated. It was the storytelling that was key; the twists and turns of Miyamoto Iori's unlikely tale are genuinely gripping, and I ended up rooting for the lead like no other protagonist this year. I think it's also worth highlighting the game's superb sense of progression, as Iori's swordsmanship slowly but surely blossoms over the course of his adventures — the kind of growth that very few games manage to properly portray, both in and out of gameplay.
I think truly great games are made of memorable moments. And although Final Fantasy 16 certainly has its flaws — some of those side quests are woeful — its biggest, craziest moments will always hold a place in my heart. Without going into specific spoilers, the Titan fight might just be one of the most impressively insane boss battles I've ever experienced. When Final Fantasy 16 is at its absolute best, it's a masterclass in cinematic action. So again, not the best game I played this year, but it's packed with such incredible spectacle that it simply has to be near the top of the pile.
I'm cheating a bit here since Phantom Liberty is an expansion and not a game, but that didn't stop it from being a more impactful experience than every full release I played in 2023 (barring one, obviously). Cyberpunk 2077 enjoyed a massive revival this year with its outstanding Update 2.0, but it was this DLC that solidified the game as one of my all-time favourites. As is often the case with top tier expansions, Phantom Liberty feels like a refinement of the ideas and concepts that were forged in the base campaign. Immaculate storytelling, intense characters, and standout quest design make this a masterful excursion.
What more is there to say about Baldur's Gate 3? Everyone's been ranting about Larian's masterpiece for months, and the praise is 100% deserved. For me, this is a generational release — that exceedingly rare kind of game that just seems to obliterate all expectations and take the gaming world by storm. The writing, the characters, the combat — it's a ridiculously good RPG. And 'RPG' is the key term here; this is pretty much the epitome of what an RPG should be, in a traditional sense. The degree of player freedom is honestly mind-blowing at times, to the point where you could rock through multiple runs of this 100+ hour adventure and still discover new ways to alter the story. The sheer amount of effort that's been poured into Baldur's Gate 3 is awe-inspiring from a structural perspective, and it'll rightfully be remembered as a landmark RPG for years to come.
What do you think of Robert's personal Game of the Year picks? Feel free to agree wholeheartedly, or berate relentlessly in the comments section below.