With a year as jam-packed with games as 2023, it was far too easy for some games to fly under the radar. Heck! Even some AAA smash hits had to take the back burner as there wasn’t enough time to enjoy every masterpiece from the last year.
That said, some games were just too good to slip through the cracks. While in the thick of what could possibly be the best year for gaming, our writers were able to uncover the best hidden gems in video games in 2023.
Fae Farm – 2023 Hidden Gems
Submitted by Laura Gray, Managing Editor
Fae Farm is definitely my hidden gem of 2023. I am blown away by how beautiful the game is, how much care has gone into its development, and how fun it is to play. I hope it gets oodles of DLC because I want to spend hours in the world discovering new things. Fae Farm is my cozy game of the year, for sure. If you haven’t played it, you should because it is the oxytocin boost everyone needs with how stressful things have been in recent years.
Born of Bread – 2023 Hidden Gems
Submitted by Zackerie Fairfax, Associate Editor
I melted into a puddle when Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door remake was announced. But with an ambiguous 2024 release window, I tempered my expectations as it likely wouldn’t be released until the middle of next year. But I wouldn’t have to wait long for an equally enjoyable experience.
Enter Born of Bread! This traditional RPG perfectly emulates the classic feel of turn-based combat in Mario RPGs. The characters are hilarious, the world is vibrant, and the soundtrack is so audibly delicious. If you want a game to hold you over until Paper Mario, pick up Born of Bread!
Backpack Hero – 2023 Hidden Gems
Submitted by Zack Palm, Senior Staff Writer
A game that came out of nowhere for me in 2023 was Backpack Hero. It’s a game I picked up a few weeks ago, and I haven’t stopped playing it whenever I have free time. It’s a game that’s actively turned inventory management into a fun, interesting mechanic, and the roguelike structure keeps every encounter exciting. What’s even more fun is how the five different characters work, and they each play like they’re from an entirely different game, turning the several mechanics up on their heads. It’s incredible, and I can’t wait to finally reach the end.
Dance of Cards – 2023 Hidden Gems
Submitted by Jamie Moorcraft-Sharp, Staff Writer
I had the absolute pleasure of playing Dance of Cards this year and was blown away by its polish, the rich depth of its gameplay, and the ballsy move it pulls in its finale. The game sees players thrown into a poker-themed battle royale at sea with a murder mystery story playing out around them. Every night, players must choose who to team up with based on their interactions with the passengers to help them win that day’s poker game and keep on living. It’s fairly short but has a lot of replayability in the personal stories there are to uncover and the way it brings the ultimate risk into the final boss fight, where players have their save file deleted and are forced to restart if they don’t win their last poker battle.
The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood – 2023 Hidden Gems
Submitted by Cande Maldonado, Contributing Writer
Any game that includes witches as part of their narrative can take my money, no questions asked. There is something weirdly fascinating about tarot card designs to me, and The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is as close as I’ll get to designing my own deck. But this game is far from being a tarot card designer simulator. Instead, it’s a conversational adventure that’s not just complicated but brilliantly executed. The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood overflows with original ideas seamlessly blended into its design. It’s a masterpiece in plot, presentation, and themes, setting a new standard for interactive dramas.
Jusant – 2023 Hidden Gems
Submitted by Alec Mullins, Contributing Writer
I’m tired of Don’t Nod making me cry. Jusant isn’t an ‘always sick to your stomach’ kind of climbing game like Only Up! or Getting Over It, but it still plucks at the heartstrings. The world around you is crumbling. You see so many elements of the dying environment during your careful trek up an abandoned tower. The gameplay is simplistic, the epistolary storytelling has tremendous depth, and it’s the only game I instantly restarted after the credits rolled this year. I can’t recommend it enough.
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