The GOTY thread (not-time sensitive edition)

As someone who plays regularly and tries to finish the games I decide to start, something I've been noticing for a while now is that my favorite games over the course of the year are generally not aligned with the release calendar of said year.

Speaking strictly of 2023, the game that hands down I've enjoyed the most was Fear & Hunger, which happens to be a 2018 release (same release year as Among Us, lol). There are of course many strictly 2023 released games that I have enjoyed, such as [Armored Core 6](https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/2775-armored-core-6-rantin-and-raven/124), [Orbo's Odyssey](https://store.steampowered.com/app/2539960/Orbos_Odyssey/) or [Pseudoregalia](https://store.steampowered.com/app/2365810/Pseudoregalia/), but one realization I've had is that my weird nerd tastes don't necessarily align with whatever is going on at the time.

So I figured, is this just me, or do folks around here feel the same way? Of all the places I could think of these forums feel like the place with the best chances to offer some understanding with this particular feeling. So here's the idea: let's have a thread about the games you find yourselves enjoying the most during the course of the year, which happen to have NOT been released during said specific year.

I'll kick off the convo saying that other than Fear & Hunger, some games I've found myself enjoying a whole lot were Outer Wilds, Sunset Overdrive and [Shadow Man](https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/2287-the-thread-in-which-we-discuss-the-videogames-we-are-playing-in-the-year-2023/932).

So!!! What do you guys have?

As for this year, the game I enjoyed the most is a very short and experimental one, which is loneliness. Very brief, available on itch.io, and well, if you know me you know a minimalistic game that is willing to go that concept is my particular weakness.

The other one has been Katamari Damacy, which I tried and it was really fun. Controls feel a little bit tanky, but I think this is one of the games that can get away with it because is what enables a quirky, fun experience that enhance its ridiculousness.

And, apart of that: GOD HAND, Lost Judgment, Zone of the Enders: the 2nd runner.


I got a MiSTer in January, so 2023 has been the year of the MiSTer for me. This has mostly meant a lot of Batrider, but also whatever comes up as people develop for it. Tiger LCD games, Irem M92 games, Saturn and N64 games as they become a little more ready for primetime. As exciting and improbable as the extremely rapid progress on the N64 has been, for me it‘s really been all about the Saturn. The Saturn has always felt a bit weird to emulate for me on PC because so many of the best games for it are arcade ports you could emulate directly without the middleman, but with the MiSTer most of those arcade games don’t have cores yet, and so I‘ve finally been experiencing the arcade ports that exist on the Saturn as a library for the first time which has been neat. The big ones for me have been, predictably, the Psikyo and Taito games, with Elevator Action Returns and Tengai in particular rising several notches in my vague mental GOAT list. They certainly would be GOTY 2023 contenders if they weren’t nearing 30 years old.


Yeah I definitely struggle with these year-end lists, especially as i get a little older and am less in touch with whats going on. I feel the same way about music. My friends and I used to send each other top ten or twenty album lists when we were younger, but the past couple years Ive opted for doing “phases” lists instead (last year there was jungle phase, the album control by janet jackson phase, hank williams phase, the song Wichita lineman over and over phase. Etc.)

Ive found it to be much more honest and more fun.

I dont think ive actually completed a single game that has come out this year, but ive played a whole bunch of classics for the first time that may turn into all-timers for me:

Silent hill, crusader of centy, yakuza 0, dragon quest v and jumping flash 2 have all been top top top tier experiences. Maybe ill come here at the end of the year to make A full top ten. Good idea!

>

@“Updog”#p136615 the album control by janet jackson phase

Very good phase that phase

@“TracyDMcGrath”#p136617 yeah that one really floored me. One of those “how have i never heard this before” moments

When the thread for discussing GOTY lists came up last year, I mentioned:

>

@“rejj”#p90975 I have come to realise the only criterion I care for (when coming up with my own list) is: did I play the game this year?

Which seems aligned with what’s being suggested here. So no, you are not alone!

I mentioned before that my GOTY is Junk, which was released in 2017 but has been recieving updates recently… So my real GOTY is Eigengrau, which is one of the most creative shooting games I‘ve ever seen. It’s a good thing Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is releasing in December so it can‘t take the spot – December is pretty much 2024, right?? A lot of really great games came out this year, but all for people who aren’t me. I‘ve got no interest in those Baldur's Gates and especially not these new-school Zeldas… I respect Street Fighter but could never manage to stay invested in a fighting game… My relationship with Void Stranger wound up accidentally getting a whole thread attached to it… So, Eigengrau it is. Even aside from Dragon Quest Monsters’ year-end release, it'll be a better game on PC anyways. The PC port will probably be my GOTY for whenever it comes out!

Because no proper Immersive simulation FPS games came out this year, I have to give it to Redfall. Plus, it’s 60 FPS on my Series S now!

I think what’s fascinating about Redfall is that I view it within the context of weird OG Xbox-exclusive FPS games. Chicago Enforcer, Breakdown, and the Unreal Championship games for example. More interesting are the multiplatform games that feel more Xbox’y because the OG almost always had the best version, as seen in games like Darkwatch and Urban Chaos: Riot Response (The best RoboCop game before this new RoboCop game imo.) Little known to many, Remedy Entertainment released a two-part single-player campaign for free-to-play-shooter CrossfireX. It was super weird and pretty good! Unfortunately, the publisher took it down permanently. That doesn’t make me all too concerned for Redfall since that’s also always online, as Bethesda has demonstrated that it will support its multiplayer games. Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 76 both launched in disaster states and were turned around.

This was a long tangent but I’m only promoting Redfall now to drum up excitement for Wolfenstein 3, which will undoubtedly be another wacky Xbox-exclusive FPS. Also, check out Youngblood! It’s a co-op expansion pack-style game that continues the story of The New Colossus. The levels were designed by Arkane Studios!

@“JCP”#p136633 I hope you're right (I want no games taken down, basically) but with concurrent player numbers dropping into the single digits(!) I think Redfall might be in worse shape by orders of magnitude than Fallout 76 or ESO ever were.

@“christoffing”#p136635 I agree. Arkane talked about the potential for an offline mode so there’s always that. Back 4 Blood received an offline mode and I know the latest Hitman games have had trouble with offline support but are playable for the most part. Even Youngblood had an offline component. It’s a mixed bag really, as different publishers have different priorities. That said, I do think Redfall is here to stay.

I think this is a good idea for a thread if for no other reason (</s>* *KLAXON BLARES* *<e> CURMUDGEONLY HATER OPINION INCOMING </s>* *KLAXON BLARES* *<e> ) that the practice of even semi-seriously awarding GOTY recognition to games that came out in previous years was cute and novel in, like, 2018, but truly it defeats the whole purpose of even semi-pseudo ironic appreciation of games that released within a certain year.

So, in a way, I think this thread is the more useful and honest form of the question of when it comes to even using "GOTY" to refer to "games I, personally, played this year, which I thought were the best." Like, to me, **GOD HAND** is retroactively my GOTY for 2008 (a statement objective enough it could be true either until the end of time or until I play a better game from 2008 (but because it's **GOD HAND,** the best action game yet made, that's unlikely to change)), and it was also one of the best games I first played in, uuuuh, 2021 I think (which is a statement largely relevant to me as an individual, and at least a bit relevant to my dear fellow comrades in videogame appreciation). I don't want to even pretend there is meaningful overlap there, I want to keep those things entirely separated, even in my own mind. **GOD HAND** could have been the best game I'd played any year, that I played it in 2021 was entirely irrelevant to how good it is (the only tiny shred of relevance I can ascribe here is that it's remarkable that the game is still that good even about a decade and a half later).

Like, I don't want to come off like I am secretly Geoff Keighly (I can't even spell the man's name for goodness' sake) but I think the idea of recognizing a GOTY should be about recognizing achievements from a certain studio or individual or team of individuals, and about keeping track of videogames as an artistic medium and form of entertainment, along a continuum of overall progression and change. Like, I think it's cool as hell that a studio like From Software have been getting such widespread acclaim from critics and non-critics alike. It feels like the idea of some kind of AAA trash getting GOTY recognition just based on volume of resources and production values--whether those things were put to a meaningful purpose or not--is almost a bit gauche now, even to the people who have the most to benefit from the practice of doing so. It's almost like they figured out that _we_ figured out that when _they_ (they being the amorphous totality of gaming as an industry infiltrated by some of the most scumfuck corporate vampires out there) were giving out GOTYs in the past, it was largely a technocratic or even economically motivated affair. In some ways, it might as well have been The Annual Award For The Game That Was Made With The Most Amount Of Money And Our Corporate Sponsors (Who We Are So Proud To Be Sponsored By) Would Like It To Get A Q4 Sales Boost.

From Software proved you can take what is surely a big fat pile of money, and make something with an uncompromising and even confronting creative purpose behind it, and so long as it is _also_ really fucking fun to play, it can be universally recognized as significant and excellent, even in comparison with games that, you know, were made with a bigger pile of money (even if it's still surely a bigger pile of money than any of us would even need to make our own Artistically Significant game). Like.... I dunno! I think the institution of a critical GOTY, as much as it's a little funny soundbite and a self deprecating meme, is becoming something of an interesting question again, in the sense that there is _some_ credibility behind the concept again even within the mainstream. Perhaps a scrap of integrity has endured within the zeitgeist.


----

Uh, anyway, I should really keep an honest to goodness diary or log of what I play throughout a year, I mean, I know we all say this but I always tend to blank on what games I played during an entire year. 2023 kind went by in a blur a lot of the time too. But I like this thread idea and I will try my best.

## _Final Fantasy XVI_

_Final Fantasy XVI_ continues to fade from my memory a little bit every day, but, it would simply be just basely dishonest to say I didn't enjoy the hell out of it while I was playing it. I said it before and, if I still have integrity, I'll say it again--there were sequences and moments and grand spectacles within it that I wish I could wipe from my memory and experience for the first time again.

_Final Fantasy XVI:_ it still came to mind, and while that's not a ringing endorsement, it is not untrue...

## _Inscryption_

I didn't post about it but I played _Inscryption_ more recently. The less said about it the better, but it is excellent. Maybe overstays its welcome just a touch, but overall I loved the sense of breadth it gives to itself. Plus, it's just a well designed card game with an excellent feeling rogue-lite loop to it all, where mastery over the mechanics of the game feel well rewarded in subsequent runs. I would compare it favorably to something like _Slay the Spire_ which I think can feel more frustrating in how it gives too much weight to a run going poorly just because of bad luck, like when you get a synergy or deck strategy going early but then are limited down the line by just not being able to get the cards you need to round it out because they are just not made available due to RNG. _Inscryption_ somehow feels more generous than _Slay the Spire_ in how you can build decks, but still more demanding in how intricate the whole game ends up being.

## _Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon_

It's not unlikely that the best game I'll play in 2023 will also be my pick for GOTY 2023, because _Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon_ even surprised me with how much I ended up enjoying playing it. As someone who has bounced off older games in the series before, and checked out pretty much entirely at a certain point, it simultaneously felt like something both new and fresh, but that also nourished some long parched need for an _Armored Core_ game I could really sink my teeth into. I almost want to recognize it as a GOTY for the sole reason that I _don't_ think _Armored Core 6_ will be recognized as a GOTY by the zeitgeist, and that's actually totally okay. It was a bit more of a niche product with some downright antiquated game design, and I loved it like that but I could also see it being somewhat off putting or unengaging to the mainstream.

Basically, it was "just" an _Armored Core_ game, but that is still a compliment in most meaningful senses, and a glowing one in at least a few meaningful senses. Just that sense of movement when you boost in the opposite direction that you're currently moving... ah, it _never_ gets old. I can hear the boost sound effect in my head clear as day.

Although, it's a shame about the sluggish and barebones multiplayer experience, though. I do hope that _Armored Core 6_ was in part a test run for revitalizing the franchise in a more meaningful way, because I for one am hungry for more _Armored Core,_ and I think I could maybe even _really_ get into more robust multiplayer game modes. Just imagine _Armored Core_ having something more like _Monster Hunter's_ progression format, with almost like singleplayer and co-op multiplayer tracks that are on one hand cleanly separated, but on another are almost more like running parallel to each other with generous allowances to switch back and forth as you please. It would still work with all of the self contained nature of the missions in _Armored Core,_ cause, I mean, that's more or less how _Monster Hunter_ works too (with arguably even less variety overall than _Armored Core...!),_ and it works really well that way. It's kind of weird how few games seem to ape their whole hybrid singleplayer and multiplayer campaign structure, because it really has something for everybody.

Anyway, the mind reels at the possibilities for _Armored Core_ returning to its historical release format of flagship games and then standalone expansions and pseudo-sequels using the same engine and a whole lot of re-used assets and mechanics. It feels like a business no brainer so hopefully someone will enable it one way or another. Even if it was just another purely singleplayer campaign but with More Stuff or a somewhat different format, and maybe a more involved PvP gameplay mode in general, it'd be a winning formula, because the foundation they have laid for more games like this was quite strong.

## _The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom_

Speaking of games using the same engine, I would like to give special recognition to _The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,_ which is absolutely, 100%, **_NOT_** one of the best games I played this year. ```The HATER KLAXXON remains consuspiciously silent in this moment.```

## _Oἶκοςpiel Book 1 "the dog opera"_

Oἶκοςpiel Book 1 "the dog opera" is easily the best game made by dogs in any and all years, so by default it was also the best game made by dogs that I played this year.


----

Will post further if I remember other games I played this year. I always have the nagging feeling that I'm forgetting something big that I really enjoyed... but that's true every year. If it was good enough, it will come to me, I guess.

this thread reminds me that there are a few games this year that I really wanna play before 2024 hits

before the green moon & wanted: dead are the two big ones

>

@“JCP”#p136633 Because no proper Immersive simulation FPS games came out this year

didn't the _System Shock_ remake come out this year? did people not pay attention to it

>

@“Gaagaagiins”#p136640 Oἶκοςpiel Book 1 “the dog opera” is easily the best game made by dogs in

congrats on having a good old time

The most I‘ve felt tapped into any game this year was playing Fire Emblem Engage. That week+ when I was grinding through it was a really intense experience - I found myself playing 8+ hours a day and the time I spent not playing the game was spent thinking about the game and planning builds and such. Maddening Mode is the best it has ever been, and I’m really impressed that the devs were able to create an RPG that retains its difficulty from start to finish (I can only think of a handful of others that are able to do this). The story is a complete nothingburger, but for how fun those 10 days were, I thought the game deserved a mention.

For games I played this year that weren't released in 2023, I had an amazing time playing through _Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse_. I like it for a lot of the same reasons I liked _FE Engage_ and I dislike it for a lot of the same reasons too. Complete nothingburger stories, but that gameplay is just so so refined and that difficulty curve is perfect

If I looked back at what I contemporaneously thought were my favourite games of each year I would almost certainly change my mind about all of them, even in recent years. Perhaps that's a symptom of my indecisiveness though.

GOTY discussions among friends or in small communities, i.e. here, I find to be a good catch-all prompt for discussing and reflecting on the interesting games that came out in that year rather than pontificating about the prestige AAA stuff. There have been games that I'd never heard of being mentioned here and people talking about them has nudged me into giving them a go. I've had a real good time with them.

This year I've perhaps played the most games within their year of release for a looooong time and this thread has made me reflect already on the new games from this year thar I've played, and would like to play, and I think it's an interesting exercise for myself. I'll save that list for a separate thread though.

I‘m about 3-3 1/2 years into playing most of the games that interest me during the calendar year it comes out, and it has changed how I see this hobby quite a lot. There’s too many great games that I want to play, so I find it useful to have a meta structure with how I select which game to play (even if its only to sort them into a list at the end of the year). I still find myself playing older games for the first time, but it feels a little like I‘m missing out on ’the conversation' (unless I post about it here I guess). For example, Sea of Stars and Golden Sun released to consoles this year around the same time. Golden Sun might be the more timeless and better game, but Sea of Stars is the more interesting “conversation” to talk and think about in 2023. I can still go back and play Golden Sun in 5 years and “the conversation” around the game will be the same, however in 5 years “the conversation” around Sea of Stars will be less interesting. So I do appreciate that this forum exists so that I can talk about Golden Sun by the time I get around to it.

Release year is definitely not the best way to appreciate games, and the major drawback is that if I'm not in the mood for a particular game at a particular time, it could diminish my first impressions of it. For example I had to indefinitely bounce off of FFXVI. Horizon Forbidden West, and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 despite enjoying all the other games in those series because it wasn't immediately connecting with me. I could have definitely saved money and had a different impression if I didn't feel the need to get them right away and waited until I wanted to play that "type" of game even if it isn't in the year of release. Now I have this weird backlog of big games that I put some significant time into, but still want to give myself a fresh experience with.

And those are the games I expect to enjoy! There's a whole other set of games that I go into thinking its probably mediocre but might do a few interesting things, I might judge those more or less harshly. For example, Starfield and Lamplighter's League are not 'good' games, but I think it was still worth taking a chance to see if their sub-genres resonated with me and as an intellectual exercise. Sure, Morrowind and Xcom are the better games in those sub-genres, but aren't even close to a priority for me in 2023. Playing games that came out in 2023 at least gave me some excuse. It's kind of a lottery too, because I wasn't really that keen on CRPGs until I played Baldur's Gate 3 this year (a game I might have skipped in the past), and that makes me very excited to try other CRPGs.

>

@“yeso”#p136648 didn’t the System Shock remake come out this year?

It did! And it was quite good as well. Although it's one of the more conservative remasters, mostly QOL changes and a graphical upgrade with the same underlying mechanics/areas/overall objective and level design. Not that I'm complaining, the remake very aptly demonstrates that the first System Shocks holds up extremely well by today's standards.

my 2023 GOTYs are

_Fear & Hunger 2: Termina_
_Fading Afternoon_
_Six Ages: Lights Going Out_
_Cyberpunk 2077_ (basically a 2023 release at this point)
_Loretta_

Still haven’t played _Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood_ and _Franz_ will be out in a couple of weeks so those will probably be on my list too

I‘ll have a look at my spreadsheet and restrict this to games I’ve completed in 2023.

  • 1.

    Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 Phantom Liberty (PS5)

    Dove into it with a semi-new save. Game isn‘t as bogged down with inventory management and the perks system has been streamlined. I feel like the narrative has a bit more room to breathe now and it’s great. I finished the expansion content last night - I kind of wish it was better or maybe a bit longer? I felt like the rug was pulled from under me with all the sudden betrayals and tough choices. Either I wasn‘t fully paying attention or the drama was suddenly inserted for the sake of drama. Does suffer a bit from ’please guys just sit down and talk‘ but if they did there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

  • 2.

    Koudelka (PlayStation 1)
    Never heard of this game before until Exodus named dropped it in a thread. Looked into it and it seemed interesting. It's the first "retro" game I finished after rediscovering CRTs. The game is decently paced, the characters and voice performances are pretty stellar and I'm glad I played. I should get into Shadowhearts (I think that's the name) but it's a bit expensive.

  • 3.

    Elden Ring (PS5)
    It's Elden Ring. Downside is that it probably took about 20-25 hours before I really started enjoying it lol.

  • 4.

    The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa (Switch)
    Everything has been said about it in this forum. I mostly played this game in an empty house on a couch freezing my butt of as I moved to regional Victoria earlier this year. Caught a wicked cold because I didn't have a bed or blankets at the time but this game kept me sane.

  • 5.

    Citizen Sleeper (Switch)
    You're a citizen. You sleep. What's not to love.

  • 6.

    SOS: The Final Escape (PS2)
    Haven't played anything like it before. Super neat I want more like it.

  • Also dead space remake came out .... I think I like dead space more than the RE4 remake...