It’s safe to say that Hogwarts Legacy, my current game of the year, is likely to remain my favourite for the remainder of 2023. For years I’ve wanted a game set in the Harry Potter universe where I can freely explore Hogwarts and its grounds, and Hogwarts Legacy boldly achieves that and then some. I can acknowledge that it’s not a perfect game by any stretch, which leaves its crown vulnerable for other games to swoop in and topple it from the top spot.
At time of writing, after the lacklustre PlayStation State of Play but before the upcoming Xbox Showcases, there are three games I believe to be capable of inching ahead of the competition and becoming my favourite game of 2023. This week I’m going to take a look at those games.
Final Fantasy XVI
It took me a while to become interested in this game, but once it got its hooks into me I was fully invested. I’ve always liked the look of the world and loose story details we have been drip fed so far, but the first few glimpses we had of gameplay left me underwhelmed. That is, until we were treated to the dedicated footage showing combat with Final Fantasy XVI’s incarnation of summons, the Eikons.
Summons have always been one of my favourite mechanics from Final Fantasy games, and it’s great to see them being truly flexed for the next main numbered entry. As the gameplay is being spearheaded by the team behind Devil May Cry 5 it’s in very safe hands, and with the game releasing in just a few short weeks, this is set to be a game I could sink dozens of hours into throughout the summer.
The (eventual) gameplay reveal, in what was the only part of the recent State of Play that I enjoyed, is the first trailer in years which has excited me enough to cheer at the screen while watching it. The game looks varied and breathtaking, and while I didn’t have a great time with the original game on PlayStation 4, I adored the Miles Morales stand-alone on PS5.
I am looking forward to seeing more integration of Venom in future gameplay videos, and I sincerely hope the game releases on time in its currently expected window this autumn. I have no notes on what we have seen so far as it all looked excellent. My hype crept up another notch the week after the presentation when I learned what we watched wasn’t even the final build for the game, so yet more improvements will be baked in between now and launch. A strong game of the year contender? Absolutely yes!
I have already played a large chunk of Dead Space, giving it a glowing score in my review here, so you may be wondering why I’m still undecided if it beats Hogwarts Legacy or not. In truth, I never finished Dead Space because my TV packed in while I was playing it, with the main fault being instead of a dark, black screen where the game wanted it to, my TV would bloom bright nothing instead, wrecking any immersion.
I have since upgraded to an OLED TV, as well as purchased the official PlayStation 5 Pulse 3D headset. With everything I need for the ultimate Dead Space experience, I am planning on restarting the game in October, because spooky season is the best for scary games. I’m very excited to give Dead Space the opportunity it has already proved it deserves to impress me, and climb my top ten ranking of this year’s games. Watch this (Dead) space.
I want to also give an honourable mention to Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which was the game I was most excited for this year in January. Sadly, the game has been released unfinished as part of a baffling current trend, so it looks absolutely horrendous on my Xbox Series X. Constant frame rate plummets and ugly, grainy textures in all environments make my eyes hate playing this game, but I will definitely go back to it once these issues are addressed. The launch condition of this game was unacceptable and insulting to consumers, and has made me think twice about pre-ordering again in the future, as if any further reason was required.
Hopefully the condition of releasing games will improve later in the year, but time will tell on that front. In the meantime thanks for reading and I’ll catch you again next time.
Written and edited by Alexx.