11 video games you should have played in 2023

The sheer amount of fantastic video games that came out in 2023 is an impressive feat. Most gamers I know have a backlog of games on their list solely because this year was so stacked with release after release. It felt like there was a new game released almost every other week.

It’s the best kind of problem to have.

As is our tradition here at Culturess, here is our list of eleven video games you should have played in 2023 in absolutely no particular order.

Resident Evil 4 Remake

Fans had clamored for this remake for years, wanting to see a new and shiny Leon Kennedy in the (virtual) flesh. And Resident Evil 4 Remake did not disappoint. There’s something just so satisfying about watching Leon Roundhouse kick someone to finish them off.

Honestly, it’s nice to see the updated graphics and gameplay for a game so beloved. Ashley feels less like a burden in this upgraded version, too, which is much less frustrating. The weapons feel snappier, the combat much more fluid and everything is satisfying.

Even if you’re new to the Resident Evil franchise and playing for the first time, it’s a solid survival horror game that would make any gamer happy to play.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Who wasn’t playing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom this year? This hotly anticipated sequel to 2017’s Breath of the Wild was everything that fans wanted.

And the trailers misled all of us. Didn’t we all expect to be traversing our way through the skies a little like Skyward Sword? Instead, a large portion of Tears of the Kingdom takes place on Hyrule—or below it in The Depths, the biggest thing Nintendo didn’t show anywhere beforehand.

And the building. The sheer amount of vehicles and monstrosities you can make! The sages to save! Princess Zelda! The koroks! That twist of a story! If you wanted more Breath of the Wild in your life, you’ve got to play Tears of the Kingdom.

Dave the Diver

What’s Dave the Diver about? Oh, just an overweight scuba diver catching fish for a local sushi restaurant and also combating global warming and saving an undiscovered species of sea people, no big deal.

There is something satisfying about harpooning a shark that just won’t stop attacking you. Or those dang squids that squirt the screen black. And the restaurant simulator where you learn new recipes (and drink options!) gets pretty intense. You have to make sure your customers don’t wait too long and get angry, leaving a bad review. It helps when you can hire some staff to help out.

This game has some serious depth (pun intended), and while it gets a little carried away with adding in one too many elements toward the end game, it should still be on your must-play list.

Sea of Stars

This was a game that came to fruition via Kickstarter, and it is a wonderful throwback to the RPGs of the early Nineties in the best possible ways.

Plus it had my husband looking up music from Chrono Trigger, the music was so on point.

There’s a good reason that it won the best indie game at The Game Awards this year. It’s a beautifully crafted RPG that looks like it’s straight out of the Nineties but plays like a modern game, which is the perfect tribute to all its predecessors.

It’s character-driven and takes about 30 hours to beat. You’ll fall in love with Valere (a lunar monk), Zale (a blade dancer with fire magic), Garl (their human BFF), and the additional party members you find along the journey. Just get used to only using three characters during combat (I was anticipating four), but the good news is that swapping out for a different character doesn’t use up a turn!

Alan Wake II

I could write this entire article and say all eleven games should be Alan Wake II. This is my winner for Game of the Year and I was happy to see it be nominated for GOTY and so happy that it won Best Narrative at The Game Awards because it’s a master class in storytelling.

This game from Remedy pushes the boundaries of what a video game can do. You honestly don’t even need to play the first Alan Wake to dive right in (I’d suggest Control if you want background). You have dual POVs—one side is Alan Wake stuck in The Dark Place, which is full of psychological horror, and Saga Anderson, an FBI agent in Bright Falls looking into a murderous cult, which gives you the action procedural side of the game.

Alan Wake II is more experienced than anything else. And I don’t just mean that twenty-ish-minute sequence that rivals the Ashtray Maze from Control.

With a new game plus recently launched and upcoming DLC, keep Alan Wake II on your “must-be played.”

Cyberpunk: Phantom Liberty DLC

Cyberpunk 2077 is finally what it should have been when it was released back in 2020. And with the release of the Phantom Liberty DLC, which introduces Idris Elba as Solomon Reed (he absolutely eats this role up), it gives players a brand-new location to explore: Dogtown.

The launch of Phantom Liberty also gave the game some much-needed quality-of-life upgrades—and some big ones at that. That includes a completely revamped skill tree, better driving, better visuals, and the ability to keep your cool outfits without compensating your armor.

If you’ve been hesitant to check out Cyberpunk 2077 because of its disheartening launch, now is the perfect time to dive right in.


Everyone expected so much of Starfield and while it may not have lived up to the hype, it’s still a solid game from Bethesda.

There is an incredible amount of world-building in Starfield, and once you figure out which side is which, this sci-fi adventure opens up. There’s plenty of political intrigue, too, and of course plenty of customization with regards to your spaceship.

You can head in pretty much any direction once you’re handed the keys to your first spaceship, and that can be a bit overwhelming with all the lore and exposition the game gives as well. But if you muddle through those first dozen hours or so, you’ll find that you can’t stop playing. It’s got you hooked.


Who knew fishing in a Lovecraftian setting could be so cathartic and creepy? There’s a reason this was nominated for Indie Game of the Year.

Dredge is the perfect blend of fishing simulator and haunting, creepy mystery. Only taking about ten to twelve hours to complete, you sail around five different biomes searching for new fish and chasing a mystery of what horrors lie beneath the sea and plague this little community.

Again, it’s not a long game (there is a cheap DLC that just released that adds another 1-2 hours and a new biome!), but Dredge will have you hooked.

Baldur’s Gate 3

This won Game of the Year, and even if you’re not a Dungeons and Dragons person, you’ve heard of and/or seen the memes around Baldur’s Gate 3. Because it is that big of a deal.

This is everything you want in an RPG. Character-driven, with a thousand different directions to go, and beautiful cinematics. And that’s not even touching on how well-written the story is or how complex these characters are. Your choices hold weight (my sister-in-law voluntarily lost 30 hours of gameplay because she hated the outcome and the choice had been made that far back)) and it makes it feel like everything you do matters. Because it does.

Baldur’s Gate 3 truly took the gaming world by storm, and it deserves that GOTY win.

Spider-Man 2

Insomniac’s follow-up to Spider-Man: Miles Morales welcomes you back into Peter Parker and Miles Morales’s New York City with open arms, bigger baddies, and a story that won’t disappoint any comic book fan.

The combat is familiar and welcome but has an unexpected crunch to it that feels a little more satisfying. And there’s more enemy variety, which is great. While the story is very comic book-y, it still has some heavy-hitting moments like the two prior games that will leave you with tears in your eyes. Honestly, we don’t want to say much else without giving away any spoilers, but if you enjoyed the first two games, you’ll fall in love with this one, too.

And in the end, Spider-Man 2 delivers on making you feel like Spider-Man.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

It feels like Jedi: Survivor got lost in the shuffle this year, but it just came out in the first half! That’s it! It still made a huge splash!

In the follow-up to Jedi: Fallen Order, we continue to follow Kal Kestis’s story as he’s parted ways with Cere Junda, Greez Dritus, and Merrin. This game is bigger and bolder than its predecessor and feels a lot like Andor in its tone (that’s a good thing!). You get more combat options, more open maps, plenty more abilities, and even more collectibles. It’s everything you hoped the sequel would be.

And it’s waiting for you to help take down the Empire.

What video games did you play in 2023 that we missed on our list? Let us know in the comments!


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