Skip to main content

The best games of 2023 so far: Tears of the Kingdom, Resident Evil 4, and more

If 2023 were to end today, it would still be remembered as a historic year for video games. That’s how good it’s been.

After a few mixed years filled with COVID-induced delays, the first half of 2023 has given players a non-stop avalanche of hits, keeping their backlogs eternally filled. We’ve gotten major entries in beloved franchises like Zelda and Final Fantasy, seen some bar-raising remakes for some of gaming’s best horror games, and been treated to some truly original projects from both indie developers and larger studios given a freedom we rarely see nowadays. And it’s only been six months.

With an equally loaded six months to come, you might want to use this slower summer to catch up on the must-play games of 2023’s first half. To help build (or ruin) your backlog, we’ve put together a list of 10 of our favorites we’ve already played this year. It’s a list that you can expect to see radically change when we make our official game of the year list this December, as heavy hitters like Starfield, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and Alan Wake 2 are still on the horizon. Make sure to check these out before you find yourself buried this fall.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Link fights a giant golem in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Creating a sequel to one of the best games of all time is a daunting task, but leave it to the Zelda team to rise to that challenge. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is an extraordinary follow-up to 2017’s Breath of the Wild, turning Hyrule into an even stronger open-world sandbox. The secret to its incredible success is its wildly powerful Ultrahand tool, which lets players create anything from mechs to Korok torture devices. In just a few short months, we’ve seen players push the limits of what’s possible in the game – and it still feels like the community is just getting started. It’ll be a hard game to beat come game-of-the-year deliberations, but there are some serious contenders lying in wait this fall.

Street Fighter 6

Kimberly and Luke use drive impacts on each other in Street Fighter 6.

Street Fighter 6 is an astounding achievement for fighting games. While the genre is incredibly popular with competitive players, modern fighters have become a bit intimidating in the online era. A lot of fighting games have a very high skill ceiling and don’t necessarily do a great job of teaching players how to reach it. Street Fighter 6 solves that problem with a genius single-player mode, World Tour, that acts as the most practical fighting game tutorial ever developed. The effective solo campaign goes to great lengths to teach players the ins and outs of one of the genre’s best and most stylish titles to date. That alone makes it one of 2023’s most memorable titles, and we’ve yet to see how far the competitive scene takes it. The sky’s the limit.

Resident Evil 4

Leon parries a chainsaw villager in Resident Evil 4.

We’ve seen several great remakes this year, from Dead Space to System Shock, but none are as expertly done as Resident Evil 4. The 2005 action-horror classic got a makeover this year, but Capcom didn’t simply touch up the original’s visuals and call it a day. Rather, it’s a full reimagining of one of gaming’s best games, one that reexamines it through the lens of the 20 years’ worth of games it’s inspired since its release. That makes for a remake that feels like a true evolution that stands on its own apart from the original, trading in its campy tone and dated mechanics for a more fluid, blockbuster action game that’s once again showing the gaming world exactly how it’s done.

Hi-Fi Rush

Chai slashes a robot in Hi-Fi Rush.

These days, we don’t get many surprises in the video game world. We’re inundated with obvious sequels that are marketed years ahead of their release. That’s part of what made Hi-Fi Rush so special when it got a surprise announcement and release at an Xbox showcase earlier this year. Tango Gameworks’ excellent rhythm-action game is unlike anything we’ve seen from a major game studio in recent years, mashing up the frenetic action of Devil May Cry with Guitar Hero. Miraculously, that pairing ends up being a perfect match, making for a stylish rock and roll anime with some of 2023’s most satisfying combat.


Humans shoot at a rival group of humans in Humanity.

While PS5’s biggest game is still to come this fall, PlayStation currently has one of this year’s best exclusives — and I’m not talking about Final Fantasy XVI. Humanity is a visually mesmerizing puzzler that has players directing rows of wandering humans by strategically placing tiles down. What begins as a simple puzzle game about organizing crowds soon becomes more complicated when those humans gain the ability to fight, almost morphing Humanity into a dark tactics game. It’s one of those games that you need to experience for yourself. And if you’re going to do that, I’d recommend trying it out with PlayStation VR2 if you’re able to, as it’s currently the platform’s best game by a mile.


A boat sails through a passage in Dredge.

Fishing is usually presented as a cozy activity in video games, but that’s not the case in Dredge. The psychological horror game has players guiding a commercial fishing boat through an ocean filled with Lovecraftian horrors. Rather than relying on cheap jump scares, though, Dredge is all about building an uneasy atmosphere, as players slowly uncover the secrets of an eerie archipelago while fighting off madness. It’s a unique experience that’s both unsettling and relaxing at once, creating a fishing game that’s unlike anything you’ve ever played before.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Cal wielding his blue lightsaber and walking with BD-1 in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor key art.

Though it launched with some unfortunate bugs, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor still deserves its flowers. The sequel to 2019’s standout Fallen Order builds on its predecessor in all the right ways. From slicker lightsaber combat to more rewarding exploration, Respawn Entertainment really nails down its formula here to create one of the best Star Wars games of all time. Though what stands out most of all is an emotionally resonant story that explores what it really means to survive in times of intense political turmoil. That story leads to a surprising conclusion that’s stuck with us more than any game this year.


The player sails to a far off island in Tchia.
Kepler Interactive

If you’re done with Tears of the Kingdom but want more of that Zelda formula, you don’t want to miss Tchia. Inspired by New Caledonia, the indie open-world game is a sunny, joyful experience that has players transforming into animals, playing the ukulele, and gliding around a gorgeous island. It’s a rare glimpse into another culture that we’ve never seen in video games before, presented with the same freeform exploration hooks that made Breath of the Wild such a lasting success in 2017.


Mimi and Nora sit in a forest in Dordogne.
Focus Interactive

Dordogne is the kind of game I’m confident I don’t need to say a word about to convince you to play it; one look at its beautiful watercolor art style should do the trick. But in case you need convincing: Dordogne is an emotional indie about a woman trying to recover her repressed memories associated with the summers she spent in the French countryside. It’s a reflective coming-of-age story about a girl finding freedom for the first time as she explores a picaresque Dordogne with her grandmother. It’s a touching tale that unlocked some long-lost childhood memories of my own.

Season: A Letter to the Future

The main character of Season: A Letter to the Future walks through a town.
Scavengers Studio

If our civilization were to crumble tomorrow, what would we save for explorers to find centuries from now? That’s a question at the heart of Season: A Letter to the Future, a meditative indie about preserving memories. Set in a world where on the brink of a potentially apocalyptic change, players bike through the countryside and fill up a notebook with as many sights and sounds as possible before a new era begins. Despite the high stakes, Season is a Zen experience that encourages players to simply stop and listen rather than rush to the ending. It’s all about soaking in the natural beauty of the world while you still have time with it and preserving that as best as possible so others may know what it was like later.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
Everything announced at Capcom Spotlight: Resident Evil 4 demo, Exoprimal, and more
A group of players fights a T-Rex in Exoprimal.

If you're a Capcom fan, you're about to have a very good 2023. The publisher currently has some major plans for the first half of the year, with tentpole releases like Resident Evil 4 and Street Fighter 6 on the horizon. With so much in the works, it only makes sense that the company would want to hold its own Nintendo Direct-style livestream earlier than its typical June spot this year.

Capcom Spotlight | 3.9.2023 | US-English

Read more
The best video games of January 2023: Hi-Fi Rush, Dead Space, and more
Chai points a finger gun at a robot in Hi-Fi Rush.

2023 is already off to a strong start in terms of game releases. PS5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch all received notable new exclusives, while multiplatform AA games and indies helped add even more depth and flavor to January’s game lineup. From rhythm-based action games to engaging strategy RPGs to highly polished retro throwbacks, the best games of this month were extremely varied in the experiences they offered too.
Unexpectedly, this has been one of the best months for video game releases in a while. As such, there are already a lot of great games to keep track of. If you’re wondering which brand-new games you should check out, Digital Trends recommends the following eight games from January 2023.
Hi-Fi Rush
Hi-Fi RUSH | Official Launch Trailer
Hi-Fi Rush is January’s biggest shocker because it launched immediately after being announced at Xbox’s January 25 Developer Direct show. While it’s from Tango Gameworks, the developer behind horror games like The Evil Within and GhostWire Tokyo, Hi-Fi Rush couldn’t be further from being a scary game. Instead, it’s a stylish rhythm action game where everything from the player’s attacks to idle environmental animations moves to the beat of whatever song is playing.
Rhythm-game genre mashups aren’t a new concept. Still, Hi-Fi Rush manages to be one of the more approachable games of its kind because of some useful accessibility options and great tutorials that will have players fighting to the beat in no time. On top of that, Hi-Fi Rush features a gorgeous visual aesthetic, with graphics and character animations that make you feel like you’re watching an excellent animated TV show. "Hi-Fi Rush rockets to the top of the rhythm-action genre thanks to a stellar combat system that goes far beyond simple beat-matching," Giovanni Colantonio wrote in a four-and-a-half-star review of the game.
There’s always been a rhythmic sense to action games like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. Hi-Fi Rush makes that rhythm an active part of the action, and it looks great while doing it. Hopefully, this is the start of an exciting 2023 for Xbox players. Hi-Fi Rush is available now for PC and Xbox Series X/S and is available as part of the Xbox Game Pass subscription.
Fire Emblem Engage
Fire Emblem Engage - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Direct 9.13.2022
Intelligent Systems and Nintendo’s long-running strategy game series Fire Emblem has returned with a new console game that takes the best ideas from the successful mobile title Fire Emblem Heroes. Fire Emblem Engage is a fantastic celebration of the series, as players can call upon past Fire Emblem game protagonists to aid them in the series’ trademark deep strategy battles.
“Fire Emblem Engage delivers another strong tactics experience made just a bit better thanks to smart, mobile-adjacent hooks,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in a four-star review of Fire Emblem Engage. “Its story isn’t as engrossing as some recent installments and its side activities can get tedious, but memorable characters and colorful art direction make for another easy victory in a long line of them.”
It takes a slightly different approach than its predecessor, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but this game is still a treat for fans of strategy games. It also marks the start of a busy 2023 for Nintendo, which will finally release games like Pikmin 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom this year. Fire Emblem Engage is available now exclusively for Nintendo Switch.
Dead Space
10 Minutes of Dead Space Remake Gameplay
Dead Space finds itself in a similar situation to The Last of Us Part I: it might not be the most necessary remake, but it’s still an excellent game. This is the iconic sci-fi horror game for 2009 set on a scary space station that you remember, only with better graphics, more accessibility, and more detailed animations as you hack away at the limbs and flesh of necromorphs.
“For anyone who’s yet to play one of gaming’s horror greats, the new take on Dead Space is a fairly definitive version of the experience,” Giovanni Colantonio’s four-star Dead Space review explains. “Its limb-carving combat and claustrophobic atmosphere still outclass its peers 15 years later, and that fact is only emphasized with some smart adjustments.”
If you enjoyed playing through the original Dead Space, you’ll almost certainly have just as much of a good time with this remake. That said, this remake should also serve as a fantastic jumping-on point for players that are new to the series. Dead Space is available now for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X.
Season: A Letter to the Future
Season: A Letter to the Future - Release Date Reveal Trailer | PS5 & PS4 Games
Season: A Letter to the Future is a game about a young girl traveling the world before an apocalyptic event wipes away every. That sounds daunting and scary, but in practice, this game can be laid back as atmospheric as players travel the world, choosing what to keep records of and taking in the visuals.
“Season: A Letter to the Future is a meditative indie adventure that rewards players who are willing to slow down and take it all in,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in a four-star review of this game. “Even when its written story wanders, its vibrant world and detailed sound design always speaks for itself.”
Likely one of the first true indie darlings of the year, this game should be on your radar. Season: A letter to the Future is available now for PC, PS4, and PS5.
One Piece Odyssey
ONE PIECE ODYSSEY | Launch Trailer
Anime fans, this one is for you. One Piece Odyssey received a massive Dragon Quest-style JRPG this month. While it gets off to a slow start, it’s still a surprisingly approachable JRPG that will fully immerse you in the world of this long-running anime and manga.
“It sets out to be a journey that anyone can enjoy, and achieves it by embracing well-established formulas while adding its own flavor into the mix,” De’Angelo Epps writes in a four-star review of One Piece Odyssey. “While there are a few bad winds pushing the ship away from the harbor of being a perfect experience, this is an excellent addition to the JRPG genre and one that I think you should try out whether you’re a big One Piece fan or just an appreciator of JRPGs.”
You probably already know if One Piece Odyssey is for you, but because anime game adaptations can be so hit or miss, it’s good to get a massive JRPG for one that’s this good. One Piece Odyssey is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake | Meet the Bikini Bottomites Trailer
A follow-up to SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated, this simple 3D platformer is a faithful SpongeBob experience filled with humor, pretty visuals, and surprisingly solid level theming and design. It’s not pushing the boundaries of what 3D platformers can do, but as far as licensed games based on kids’ TV shows go, it’s one of the best in recent memory.
“Especially on platforms like PS4 and Xbox One, where kid-friendly platformers like Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Super Mario Odyssey aren’t as common, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a fun platformer for your kids,” I wrote in a three-and-a-half star review of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake. “Even if you’ll notice some of its presentation flaws and lack of gameplay ambition as an adult, it’ll still be delightful if you’ve ever had a bit of love for SpongeBob’s misadventures.”
If you’re planning to pick up one game on this list for your kid, I’d recommend SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake. This game is available now for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider
Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider - Release Date Reveal Trailer
If you’re looking for a fun new indie title to add to your game library this month, we recommend Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider. Taking inspiration from the likes of Shinobi and Mega Man, this retro-style platform nails both the aesthetic and gameplay feeling of games on the Sega Genesis. It’s a simple retro-inspired indie title but achieves precisely what it sets out to do quite well.
“Because retro throwback games are so common, new ones need to go above and beyond with their presentation to stand out,” I wrote of the game earlier this month. “Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider does so, just as Blazing Chrome successfully did. In terms of gameplay, it also feels like JoyMasher and The Arcade Crew pulled it right out of the 16-bit era, with a couple of refinements.”
It’s a short and sweet game, too, only clocking in at about 2 to the 3 hours for most players. That should make Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider a great palette cleanser between this month’s AAA heavy hitters. Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and Amazon Luna.
Forspoken Deep Dive | Exploring Athia
Forspoken game follows a girl named Frey who is transported to the magical world of Athia and must save it from an annihilation wave called the Break. Although the story isn’t great, running around its open world and fighting enemies is enjoyable, thanks to Frey’s magical abilities. Few games incorporate magic as deeply into their game design as Forspoken does.
“I would recommend Forspoken to action and RPG fans, but I wish I could give them one of my save files with total open-world freedom and most of the traversal and combat spells unlocked from the jump,” my three-and-a-half star Forspoken review states. “The adventure is at its weakest when it’s forcing players to wade through lots of poor narrative content that takes too long to pay off. Its best beats aren’t paced or delivered well and serve as a weighty vambrace holding back this game’s real magic: a dazzling open-world game that truly does feel next-gen.”
If you can navigate your way through the divisive discourse surrounding this game’s writing and get through its weaker narrative sections, you’ll find that Forspoken is actually quite fun at its core. Forspoken is available now for PC and PS5.

Read more
Resident Evil Village DLC, Exoprimal, and more headline Capcom Showcase
Ethan Winter's daughter Rosemary sits sadly on a bus in Resident Evil Village Shadow of Rose.

Following livestreams from Sony, Microsoft, and Geoff Keighley, Capcom decided to get in on the video game showcase fun. During its June 13 showcase, Capcom revealed the Shadows of Rose DLC for Resident Evil Village and provided some new looks at its other upcoming games like Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak and Exoprimal. 
Capcom Showcase | 6.13.2022
The biggest announcement of the show by far was Resident Evil Village's long-awaited DLC. It stars Ethan Winter's daughter Rosemary, plays out from a third-person perspective, and is fittingly titled Shadows of Rose. It will be released on October 28 alongside the multiplayer Resident Evil Re:Verse and an update for Resident Evil Village that adds new content to Mercenaries mode and a third-person mode to Village's main campaign.
While that was the biggest reveal from the show, we also got a look at plenty of other Capcom games. The showcase started by giving us another look at Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak and revealing a demo for the expansion that launches on June 14. Capcom then reminded players of the release windows for Street Fighter 6, Capcom Fighting Collection, and Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium but didn't reveal much in the way of new info for them. After that, Exoprimal got a brand-new trailer featuring its evil AI, Leviathan. Capcom showed how Exoprimal's PvPvDinosaur matches play out and the Exosuit classes players can choose from, then teased that a Closed Network Test will be held prior to the game's launch. 
We also learned that a 10th anniversary Dragon's Dogma stream will be held on June 16 before getting another look at Resident Evil 4's remake. Capcom showed an extended version of the State of Play trailer before showing some new gameplay featuring improved visuals. It looks much more in line with Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3's graphics. The show concluded by revealing that PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions of those remakes and Resident Evil VII launch today, June 13.
It was an underwhelming showcase overall, but painted an extremely clear picture of what we can expect from this lauded Japanese publisher over the next year. 

Read more