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Sorrel’s Side Quests: My 2023 game of the year is…

The game-of-the-year conversation is tired at this point.

Geoff Keighley’s disastrous Game Awards came and went in December with a few comments from developers, no mention of the year’s industry-wide mass layoff problem and a couple of grueling hours of advertisements. Outside of the Keighley-Sphere, just about everyone has picked a favorite title of their own. Generally speaking, it’s one of the three big ones: Alan Wake 2, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom or Baldur’s Gate 3.

I, on the other hand, remain undecided. I usually have my game of the year locked in by early December — 2022’s Card Shark cemented itself as an all-timer as early as June. For some reason, 2023 just feels different.

Make no mistake, I played plenty of brilliant games this year. Alan Wake 2’s deliciously moody metanarrative is as good as everyone says and Tears of the Kingdom is a marked improvement over its predecessor. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 managed to avoid the more reactionary tendencies of its 2018 counterpart while improving on just about everything mechanically. 

Super Mario Bros. Wonder delivered everything I’ve wanted out of a 2D Mario game for the last decade, and my beloved Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon offered up bombastic and hyper-customizable mech action. Even Final Fantasy XVI, for all of its many faults, brought with it some of the most thrilling boss fights I’ve ever encountered in an action game.

On the smaller side of things, 2023 brought with it two brilliant visual novels in TRON: Identity and Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo. Paranormasight and Final Fantasy XVI’s publisher, Square Enix, also dropped one of my favorite rhythm games ever, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line.

The bizarre alien puzzles in Cocoon made me feel like I was peering into the minds of its creators and fishing out solutions. Another puzzle-ish game, Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew, left me stunned by just how many solutions there really were.

That’s not even mentioning the games that I started but couldn’t make time to finish. I’m absolutely in love with the “Pinocchio”-inspired Soulslike Lies of P and the slick action-platformer Gunbrella, and I can’t wait to see them through to the end. The layered mystery of Void Stranger is too much for my tiny brain to handle right now, but as soon as I dig into it, I’m sure it will consume me.

And what about everything I missed? I haven’t even touched the actual winner of Game of the Year at the Game Awards, Baldur’s Gate 3. I haven’t yet found time for Pizza Tower, Slay the Princess, Bomb Rush Cyberfunk or any number of other indies that seem made for me.

How do I deal with this absolute abundance of excellence? How do I name a Game of the Year with so many serious contenders waiting in the backlog? Every year presents an overwhelming number of games, but usually, something sticks out as particularly special. This year, I’ve got nothing. Or rather, I’ve got too much.

So this year, my Game of the Year is everything. Is that a cop-out? Yes, obviously. Is it an absurd protest vote from someone whose personal favorite game of the year is, frankly, unimportant and unanticipated? Of course, it is.

I truly believe that 2023 was too good for a Game of the Year, though. I played so many incredible games that picking just one would be even more arbitrary and absurd than it usually is. So, everything it is.

If I really had to pick, though, it would probably be Alan Wake 2.

Sorrel Kerr-Jung is a junior studying virtual reality game development at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Sorrel by tweeting her at @sorrelquest.

Sorrel Kerr-Jung

Opinion Writer

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