There are only so many ways you can say 2023 was a great year for game releases without sounding like a broken record. So, instead, we’ve decided to collect all of our best-reviewed games from this past year in one place. We’re talking about our Editor’s Choice recipients, the games that have received either a nine or a 10 on our illustrious 10-point scale.
34 games and two DLC made it onto our round-up of best-reviewed games of the year. But look a little closer and you’ll find that of those games, only five received a perfect 10 from IGN. The bulk of our best-reviewed games this year received a 9, falling just short of making it into the uppermost echelons of our review score top tier, but still an amazing game by any standard.
Every Best Reviewed Game of 2023
Speaking broadly, 19% of games IGN reviewed this year received a nine or 10, which is a bit higher than normal according to IGN’s senior reviews editor, Tom Marks. But if we only look at our best reviewed games, 87% of our best-reviewed games list is made up of titles that received a 9, highlighting how exclusive our list of games that scored a 10 is.
Several of the games we reviewed and gave a 9 ended up getting nominated for our Best Game of the Year Award, including Alan Wake 2, Cocoon, Dave the Diver, Dead Space Remake, Final Fantasy 16, Hi-Fi Rush, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Street Fighter 6, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder. I don’t have to tell you twice why each of these games deserved such high marks. For that, you can check out our list of Best Game 2023 Award nominees on IGN.
However, there were big games that ultimately didn’t make the final shortlist despite their obvious quality. Blizzard released its long-awaited sequel, Diablo 4, to widespread acclaim. But, one of the downsides of live-service games is that the experience can change as the seasons continue and the stellar launch has since hit some turbulent times among fans who aren’t as pleased with the ongoing experience as they were with the initial drop.
IGN’s Best of 2023 – Every IGN Award Winner
Another big title from this year that we gave a 9 to was Hogwarts Legacy, which realized the dream of attending everyone’s favorite wizarding school. For fans of open-world games and Harry Potter, Hogwarts Legacy is a match made in heaven, with players able to live out what it would be like if they were an actual student in Hogwarts, complete with getting sorted into a House and learning different spells.
Looking over our reviews, a few patterns begin to emerge, which you might not have noticed amid the mad flurry of great games. For example, you might be surprised to learn just how good a year Nintendo had in 2023. Although speculation over the Switch successor is reaching a fever pitch as we head into 2024, Nintendo is still delivering great games for the current Switch. And I’m not just talking about games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Beyond the obvious suspects, Nintendo’s hybrid system received a bevy of exclusives that have earned 9s, not including Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Games like Platinum’s Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, Fire Emblem Engage, and Pikmin 4 all wowed our reviewers, and filled out an entire year of excellent Nintendo titles.
While no other developer was delivering a steady stream of great games like Nintendo, one overlooked genre also had a surprisingly great year. As it turns out, 2023 was very good for sports and racing games. Titles like EA Sports UFC 5, Gran Turismo 7 VR, and MLB: The Show 23 all received 9s in our reviews, highlighting how sports game developers are still pushing the envelope in new and exciting ways.
But there are still so many games that deserve your attention, and with such a jam-packed year there were a lot of small games that may have fallen through the cracks. While we’ve celebrated indie darlings like Cocoon already, small studios were responsible for some of our favorite games this year, from mind-bending games like Humanity – a new puzzle title from the developer of Tetris Effect – to Ghostrunner 2 from Polish indie dev team One More Level. Our resident action lover and reviewer Mitchell Saltzman praised the cyberpunk sequel as one “that builds upon everything that made the first game great.”
There were also two standout indie platformers this year. The first is Pizza Tower whose ridiculous name belies a Mad-Cap homage to Wario Land 4, but combined with the expressionistic art style of classic LucasArts games. And Laika: Aged Through Blood which combines excellent 2D shooting with a Trials-like motorcycle experience.
The current juggernaut in mobile gaming, MiHoYo, also released its newest title after taking over the world with Genshin Impact. Honkai: Star Rail is the Shanghai-based studio’s sci-fi offering compared to Genshin’s fantasy setting, and ditches the latter’s action in favor of a turn-based combat system. The result was one of our favorite mobile games of the year, and MiHoYo is already getting ready to release its next game in 2024, Zenless Zone Zero.
There were so many great games in 2023 beyond just the ones we’ve spent all year obsessing over, too. Other games that received a 9 from IGN this year include the tactical RPG Jagged Alliance 3 which adds another feather to this year’s cap of great computer RPGs. There’s also the Making of Karateka, which is both a classic game collection and insightful making-of documentary in one package. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 – the cartoon studio’s take on Super Smash Bros. but with iconic animated characters – also impressed this year, as did the shooter soulslike Remnant 2. Finally, there was the ghost pirate strategy game Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew, yet another masterfully remade classic, System Shock, and Square Enix’s winning rhythm game sequel Theatrhythm Final Bar Line.
But what about the cream of the crop? The best-reviewed games of the year? As I said before, despite the huge flood of amazing games this year, the perfect scoring masterpieces remain few and exclusive.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, IGN’s Best Game of 2023, is a no-brainer. Its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, also received a perfect score from us in 2017 and the sequel improves upon it in every way. In our review, we said The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom “is an unfathomable follow-up to one of the greatest games ever made, somehow improving upon it in nearly every way — be that with simple quality-of-life improvements, a genuinely exciting story, or wildly creative new building mechanics that make you rethink what is possible.”
Tears of the Kingdom’s closest competitor for our Best Game Award, Baldur’s Gate 3, also received a perfect score from IGN, and it’s looking very likely that Baldur’s Gate 3 will have as big an impact on CRPGs as Zelda has had on open-world adventure games. Our reviewer called Larian Studio’s monumental RPG “a landmark moment in the [CRPG] genre, and if I had to point to one paragon that I would like everyone else making these to take inspiration from, this is absolutely it.”
It’s not like Larian Studios is even finished with Baldur’s Gate 3 either. The RPG finally made its way onto Xbox Series X and S consoles, and the studio recently released an Epilogue update that adds thousands of more words of dialogue to this already jam-packed game.
Elsewhere, 2023 was an amazing year for stellar remakes and we got two perfect 10s this year. Resident Evil 4 Remake set the new bar for Capcom’s remake library with our review claiming the reimagining’s “improvements over the original are too numerous to list, from simple quality of life changes to completely overhauled boss fight mechanics.” Capcom has already confirmed even more remakes are on the way too, and if they’re anything as good as what we’ve already seen, I cannot wait.
But another remake that received an IGN 10 was Nintendo’s Metroid Prime, which made a surprise appearance on the Switch. With newly improved graphics and performance, one of Nintendo’s all-time great games is better than ever. IGN’s resident Metroid aficionado Sam Claiborn said, “21 years later, in 2023, Metroid Prime Remastered had to do so little beyond modernizing the controls and updating the graphics to become one of the best games you can buy once again.”
The only VR game to score a perfect 10 this year is Asgard’s Wrath 2, a fully-fledged open-world RPG completely in VR. It has four unique characters and stories, fantastic and satisfying combat, intricate and rewarding RPG systems, and a great story, and even after more than 90 hours throwing squids at gloriously shredded lizards and whipping across gaps, it still has plenty more to give.
Finally, a special shout-out to the DLC that made it onto our best-reviewed games list. The first is CD Projekt Red’s near-perfect expansion, Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, which delivers on the initial promise of the ambitious base game. The second is Dead Cells’ Konami collaboration, Return to Castlevania, which brings the Metroidvania series’ iconic monsters to the roguelike world of Dead Cells. This received a perfect score from IGN.
These are our best-reviewed games of 2023. Let us know which of these were your favorites in the comments.
Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s Senior Features Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.