Drop Rate
Episode
12

SIFTER's 2023 Games of the Year - ALAN WAKE 2, BALDUR'S GATE 3, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TEARS OF THE KINGDOM & more

We gathered the whole SIFTER team together for a huge GOTY episode collecting our favourite games from the year. So many great games.

It's been a massive year for video games, with some of the very best games ever made packed into 2023. In our annual special we've collected the entire SIFTER team like Pokémon into one massive end of year episode.

We've got biggest games and some smaller indies plus our honourable mentions.

What ever you choose to play next from this list you'll have a great time.

What is your favourite game released this year?

Let us know by leaving us a review on your favourite podcast player and we'll give you a shout out when we return in 2024.

You can support SIFTER's independent gaming journalism by
☕ Tipping us on KoFi https://www.ko-fi.com/sifterHQ
👕 Wearing our merch https://sifter.store/
💬 Talking to us on the SIFTER Discord https://www.sifter.com.au/discord

SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Courtney Borrett, Daniel Ang, Adam Christou and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer. Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER.

HI-FI RUSH by Tango Gameworks

Mitchel Loh

HI-FI RUSH is the demon love child of a smash-em up and and Guitar Hero.

The game's rhythm based action oozes out of every object and character and you'll be hard pressed not to fall in love with at least one of Chai and 808s colourful entourage as they fight the power and stumble their way through this melodic adventure.

The beauty of this game is actually in its simplicity. I made it through by using mostly basic moves.

However when combining combos you can achieve some fantastic results.

HI-FI RUSH's biggest sin? Leaving you wanting more.

You get a glimpse into such a vibrant world that you can't help but wonder if there is more out there. Looking forward to where Tango Gameworks takes us next.

Honourable Mentions: LEGO 2K DRIVE

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TEARS OF THE KINGDOM by Nintendo

Fiona Bartholomaeus

TEARS OF THE KINGDOM builds on the already massive open-world Hyrule.

The sheer scale of this game is incredible, with the addition of sky islands, surface caves, and a depths (which is the same size of the original map).There is plenty to explore and heaps of side-quests to achieve.

Plus the new abilities are so creative! You can build machines, hover crafts or enemy depth traps, and you can pass through solid objects to appear on top (an ability I used a lot when I got lost in caves).

The team have really developed the characters introduced in BREATH OF THE WILD and the storylines in the game are just as heartfelt and heartbreaking.

For hours of fun exploring the terrifying depths or completing all the side-quests, this is definitely worth a play, even if you haven’t played the first game it’s definitely worth picking this one up.

Honourable Mentions: MARVEL'S SPIDER-MAN 2

Kyle Pauletto

TEARS OF THE KINGDOM surpassed expectations and redefined what a sequel can achieve.

Building upon the foundation laid by its predecessor, it nailed the balance between the comfortable familiarity of the things I loved about BREATH OF THE WILD, while enticing me to eagerly explore Hyrule one again.

The game's expanded environment, the new tools we are gifted to explore it with, and the enhanced enemy and mission diversity, keeps the gameplay continuously engaging.

It’s been a phenomenal year for gaming, particularly single player titles and while it had some hot competition, TOTK had me wrapped around it's finger all year.

Honourable Mentions: COCOON, GHOSTRUNNER II

BALDUR'S GATE 3 by Larian Studios

Adam Christou

BALDUR'S GATE 3 is sexy and hot.  

Kiss a vampire.

Kiss a bear.

Kiss a big brawny lady on fire.

Roll dice to solve problems like ‘who should I kiss and romance’ as you solve the greatest crisis to hit Faerun yet - whether or not you should bang a mindflayer.

Honourable Mentions: ALAN WAKE 2, OCTOPATH TRAVELER 2, MARVEL'S SPIDER-MAN 2, LIES OF P

FINAL FANTASY XVI by Square Enix

Courtney Borrett

In the 16th installment of Square Enix’s mainline JRPG series, Final Fantasy, we’re transported to the world of Valisthea, where Clive Rosfield and his family reside.

As his kingdom is destroyed and war breaks out, Clive finds out that he’s a Dominant – a person with the power to summon an Eikon.

As he continues to go around the continent saving people, Clive eventually learns that he is the only person capable of hosting multiple Eikons.

The combat is extremely satisfying, with real time action battles, as well as cinematic boss fights that show the scale and grandeur of the game, but the real draw for me was the story and the characters.

The story is great by itself, but it’s the characters that really bring the game to life.

The relationships Clive shares with the people he meets are deep and emotional.

Paired with the game’s beautiful art style and music, it’s a truly compelling experience.

Honourable Mentions: HONKAI: STAR RAIL, ONE PIECE ODYSSEY

DREDGE by Black Salt Games

GIanni Di Giovanni

There is a deep and abiding terror that surrounds you when you sail the waves in DREDGE.

This surprisingly fishing game, combines the best of inventory management, an almost Cookie Clicker like upgrade path and Cthulu mythos for a game that delivers exactly what it promised.

I was hooked the second I started playing this game, if you'll pardon the pun, but each voyage felt like a perfect encapsulation of risk versus reward.

The only thing you have to fear is fear itself, and gosh this game gets under your skin quickly.

As you progress the horrors don't seem nearly as troublesome as in those first early voyages, but that comes with pushing things just a little bit further and more out of your comfort zone.

DREDGE is so unlike many other games I've played and I'll always remember how this game made me feel... deeply unsettled but still driven forward. That is spooky magic and I love it.

Honourable Mentions: HI-FI RUSH, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TEARS OF THE KINGDOM, SLAY THE PRINCESS

ALAN WAKE 2 by Remedy Entertainment

Chris Button

2023 was the year I faced my long-standing fear of horror games. After playing and thoroughly enjoying the RESIDENT EVIL 4 remake, I thought I was ready to take on the psychological horror stylings of ALAN WAKE 2. It turns out that psychological horror is a whole different beast to survival-action horror. Faced with a barrage of close-up deranged faces screaming at me, I nearly bailed midway through. Jump scares are absolutely not my thing.

Boy, was I glad I persisted.

A masterful display of meta-narrative storytelling, ALAN WAKE 2 cleverly weaves seemingly disparate plot points from the wider Remedy-verse to tell one hell of a story. Remedy Entertainment reached deeply into the game development toolkit to make this brilliant game. From its immaculate art direction to the sound design, and even live-action scenes, everything hit its mark. Full kudos must be given to the cast of actors who superbly brought the script pages to life, in more ways than one.

It’s gripping. It’s occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. It’s constantly terrifying. Above all else, ALAN WAKE 2 is deeply weird, in a way that imbues character and invites interpretation of its twisted events. As someone who writes for a living, ALAN WAKE 2 is a deeply relatable tome. It’s ultimately about a man whose past success haunts him, but it’s his inability to write a way forward that proves most devastating.

It’s for these reasons and plenty more I’m ironically incapable of articulating that ALAN WAKE 2 is my game of 2023. Any game that features a narratively-important 20-minute rock opera interlude is a winner in my books.

Honourable Mentions: BALDUR'S GATE 3, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TEARS OF THE KINGDOM, VENBA, MARVEL'S SPIDER-MAN 2
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Alan Wake 2

XBOX SERIES X|S
PlayStation 5
PC
Developer:
Remedy Entertainment
Publisher:
Epic Games Publishing
Release Date:
October 27, 2023

Dredge

PC
PlayStation 5
XBOX SERIES X|S
SWITCH
Developer:
Black Salt Games
Publisher:
Team17
Release Date:
March 30, 2023

Baldur's Gate 3

PC
PlayStation 5
Developer:
Larian Studios
Publisher:
Larian Studios
Release Date:

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

SWITCH
Developer:
Nintendo
Publisher:
Nintendo
Release Date:
May 12, 2023

Final Fantasy XVI

PlayStation 5
Developer:
Square Enix
Publisher:
Square Enix LTD
Release Date:
June 21, 2023

Hi-Fi Rush

PC
XBOX SERIES X|S
PlayStation 5
Developer:
Tango Gameworks
Publisher:
Bethesda Softworks
Release Date:
January 26, 2023
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