Checkpoint Gaming’s Game of the Year 2023 – Our top 10 games

Posted on December 14, 2023

2023 was an almost exhaustingly good year for video game releases. So many big and incredible games set the world alight this year. Right from the get-go, we were bombarded by Game of the Year-worthy titles and at no point did things slow down. As such, it was a big challenge to narrow down a selection to just 10 games. However, with the entire Checkpoint Gaming team nominating their faves and voting, we ended up landing on a great list of praise-worthy releases. So let’s get stuck in!

You can also listen to our top 10 countdown via the plugin below!


#10 – Starfield

It was always going to be a big ask for Bethesda to develop one of their signature, open-world RPGs and make it feel modern and polished. The landscape of gaming had shifted so much and expectations were sky high. What seemed like an impossible ask was somehow met when Starfield was unleashed upon us gamers. Taking the concept of vast space and the human need for discovery and mixing them beautifully with role-playing busywork, Starfield became that intergalactic dream many of us had wished for.

Perhaps the game’s biggest success was its narrative. Despite taking a little bit of time to truly take off, the game’s story rocketed into new territories that really affirmed Bethesda’s goal of creating something nuanced, intriguing, and endlessly captivating. With many many systems backing up that exploration and storytelling, the game really does feel like a universe at your fingertips. Starfield will hopefully we the kind of game that’s supported and embraced by its player base for years to come, because there’s something truly special about this release.

– Elliot

#9 – Resident Evil 4 Remake

I couldn’t believe I was playing a game designed almost twenty years ago during my time with Resident Evil 4 Remake. Everything about this experience feels fantastic – the environments are vivid and engaging, the gameplay is tight and rewarding, and watching Leon pout his way through a world infested with all manner of horrors never gets old. I was delighted by how camp and ridiculous the story was.

Capcom has done a remarkable job with this remake, making some really smart decisions to freshen up the experience and reinvigorate it for a modern audience. It really highlights the brilliant structure of the original game, taking you from barely surviving in a small village to blasting Lovecraftian horrors with a rocket launcher. It all just feels good. This is a game that I’m certain I will be revisiting for another playthrough – even if it means listening to the merchant again, and again, and again, and again…

– Douglas

#8 – Dredge

Seeing Dredge surface in our Game of the Year nominations is a testament to Black Salt Games’ work on this eclectic mariner nightmare. Much of the game is left to the player as you navigate the waves looting wrecks and catching an increasingly horrifying bounty of ocean creatures. I’m in awe of how the game weaves narrative into its mechanics in such a subtle and approachable way. The game masterfully incorporates roleplaying and simulation/management mechanics into a beautiful package of atmospheric horrors. You just can’t knock the creativity and perfection of the audiovisuals.

There’s a special moment when playing Dredge where suddenly the player learns everything is not as it seems – that there is a Lovecraftian heart beating strong under its waves. With an icy new DLC and even a crossover with Dave the Diver… there’s no telling what content might wash ashore next! 

– Alex

#7 – Final Fantasy XVI

Final Fantasy XVI isn’t afraid to push boundaries and make changes to the traditional formula to tell a great story. Touching on the themes of freedom, destiny, and life are constantly felt throughout the game, putting together a cohesive story. The story tugs at your heartstrings, unafraid to showcase the darker aspects of tropes you might take for granted with previous titles. You never stop wondering what happens next, assisted by gorgeous visuals and a great soundtrack.

Real-time combat keeps you engaged as you can’t look away. For anyone who thought about dodging a physical attack or spell in previous titles, Final Fantasy XVI puts your money where your mouth is. Thanks to the varieties of Eikons, you can choose your favourite playstyle and experiment against powerful enemies. Some of the boss fights are visually impressive and are hard to forget. It’s difficult to find a game like Final Fantasy XVI that combines the best of everything without missing a step.

– Victor

#6 – The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is perhaps the most delicate and unique game out of the list that is a secret must-play of the year. Following the journey of a witch named Fortuna who is exiled to an asteroid hurtling through space for simply predicting the downfall of her coven with her tarot deck… it’s a hell of a premise. Better yet is that you get to eventually create your own shiny new tarot deck and get to meet some of these members of your ex-coven. Here, you’ll get access to a rewarding creative suite for this very deck, able to craft curious scenes with gorgeous sprites that tell their stories in their own right. In its roughly seven-hour story, The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood shares profound messages that will stick with you long after. covering the gambit and intricately exploring many complex themes in some of the best game writing of the year.

We here at Checkpoint Gaming also love when a game artfully finds a way to implement well-written, diverse characters, of which there are plenty here. In this universe, being a witch can take many different forms, and in meeting all of these characters, we become acquaintances and then close friends with some of the sweetest sweethearts you’ll ever meet. Telling an emotional whirlwind of a story that will have you weeping, smiling, laughing and jumping for joy, this is an especially personable game from 2023 that is not to be missed.

– Charlie

#5 – Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

After 2018’s sublime Spider-Man and mini sequel Spider-Man Miles Morales, Insomniac has set the standard for superhero video games once again with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. This time it features both Peter Parker and Miles as dual protagonists and the ability to seamlessly transition between the two.

Featuring a heartfelt story delivered by an excellent cast, the series standard silky smooth web-slinging traversal, combat and frequently stunning rendition of New York City. It’s hard to find a slicker title elsewhere. The open-world distractions and level of polish by Insomniac is proper AAA production done right. Make no mistake, this is the best superhero game ever.

– Kolby

#4 – Hi-Fi Rush

Hi-Fi Rush is one of the coolest games of the year, always oozing with style. This Tango Gameworks developed title takes the hack-and-slash character action format of games like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry and fuses it with music, encouraging players to feel the beat. The world around lead character Chai will pulse to the beat of the current song, encouraging players to button press and pull off combos to this same beat. As someone who adores the games it is inspired by but can never quite find the rhythm, Hi-Fi Rush finds a way to go above and beyond, being the most polished and fun character action game yet.

Featuring not just original music but some classic rock songs and a super good rendition of Wolfgang’s 5th Symphony, the game is filled with awesome needle-drop moments. Complimenting this journey is some of the best animation work I’ve seen in games in a while and an adorable, quirky found family. A superb must-play of 2023.

– Charlie

#3 – Alan Wake 2

Remedy Entertainment is known for marching to the beat of its own drum when it comes to far-out concepts in game design. There is no better example of this than Alan Wake 2, the long-awaited sequel that nobody expected. It’s entirely bonkers in the best way, with dual protagonists attempting to unravel dark mysteries in different universes. This lends itself to some clever puzzle-solving mechanics that have you bouncing between the inner depths of your mind, and changing the story that plays out in front of you – literally.

The dark narrative is complemented by spooky foes and gorgeously detailed environments that are both a pleasure and a nightmare to explore. Its soundtrack is also one of the strongest we’ve heard, with a score that builds tension in the best way, and key music tracks breaking up the terror in a melancholic way that is so satisfying. Perhaps the most compelling part of Alan Wake 2 is its visual DNA, which splices game action with FMV in a masterful mix of multimedia that gives it a truly distinct style. To spoil key special moments in the story would be criminal, but the experience will constantly surprise you with strange detours into madness; the cherry on top of what is a brilliantly paced survival horror game with crunchy combat, twisted locations and terrifying jump scares. Creatively, it is a top-tier developer at the absolute top of their game, let loose to make something truly memorable.

– Luke.

#2 – The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Few games have faced higher expectations than The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, itself a sequel to one of Nintendo’s most highly regarded titles, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Somehow, Tears of the Kingdom surpassed those expectations when it released earlier this year, building on its predecessor’s strong foundation by expanding on everything that made The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild amazing. Hyrule is now a far deeper and varied place to explore, whether riding across the landscape on horseback, spelunking in the depths, or taking to the skies in a makeshift flying machine. I could spend hours tracking down Shrines, collecting upgrade materials and side quests, and still find more new content to discover.

The biggest new feature in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is its innovative and yet remarkably accessible crafting mechanic. Players can now experiment to their heart’s content, combining weapons, items, and landscape objects to create flamethrower swords, skateboards, vehicles of mass destruction, and killer robots. It was a delight to use these features to access new floating islands in the sky, or construct an arsenal of increasingly ridiculous combination weapons to fight the game’s more fearsome foes. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom rewards creativity and exploration in a way that no previous Zelda entry has done, resulting in an immersive and stunning open-world adventure that deserves its spot on Checkpoint Gaming’s top ten list for 2023.

– Tom

#1 – Baldur’s Gate 3

What is there to say about Baldur’s Gate 3 that hasn’t been said already? Originally released in 2020 via Steam’s Early Access program and released in full in 2023. People have been raving about this game and for good reason. The individual storylines of each character are so lovely, helping you form genuine bonds with each and every one. The romances are not only adorable (you can even just ask them for a kiss!), but they also don’t shy away from the spicy side. Being able to not only play as one of the companions, but also your own original character, facilitates fantastic roleplaying depth.

The great thing about BG3 is that it’s brought in so many people who either haven’t played a Baldur’s Gate game or a Dungeons & Dragons game before. It’s also brought a new audience into turn-based and/or isometric games as well as CRPGs. There’s just something so unique, so earnest about BG3 that really just… slaps. The characters are so lovely, and they have their own personalities and abilities that you end up picking your “squad” or change them out for variation.

The game being divided into acts almost feels like individual stories themselves. Because the acts are also just so massive that you can easily sink 20 hours or more in each of them. The love and attention to detail that Larian Studios has infused in the game is great to see. BG3 really does feel like it’s the pinnacle of digital D&D. It’s great to see how much love the fans give to the studio and the voice actors. With the cast also getting into the spirit, as they interact with the fandom on social media. They’ve even played a game of D&D as their characters! It has been such a joy to be alive at the same time as BG3. 2023 has been a great year for Larian, and I am so excited to see where they’ll go in the future.

– Missy

And there you have it, Checkpoint Gaming’s Top 10 games of 2023! Do you agree with our choices? What was your favourite game of the year?