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Game of the Year
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While previous years have been close, 2023 potentially topped them all with an incredibly close run vote among the RPGamer staff. Incredibly strong cases can be made for each of our top three, and each is memorable in its own distinct way. But in end Octopath Traveler II emerged on top by one of the thinnest margins going. The moment one boots up the game, there’s clearly something special there. Each of the protagonists has a memorable story filled with drama, tragedy, and even hope. With the game’s larger-than-life bosses, every battle feels epic and otherworldly. Coupled with the game’s beautiful visuals and its melodic soundtrack composed by Yasunori Nishiki, Octopath Traveler II truly makes the player feel as though they have been transported into a very distinctive and flawed world.
There is so much to love about Octopath Traveler II, and while its quest is lengthy, the journey is absolutely worth taking, especially if you are a lover of deep, emotional storytelling and strategic turn-based combat. It captivates players from the outset with its engrossing character stories, and the different protagonist abilities offer so many different ways to interact with the world. While Game of the Year could deservedly go to any of this trio, Octopath Traveler II just manages to steal it.
Unsurprisingly, Baldur’s Gate III was an incredibly strong contender for 2023’s best game. From its expertly voice-acted 100-hour narrative, to its strong sense of player freedom and profound combat systems, Larian Studios accomplished a technical feat that will be difficult to overcome. While it didn’t quite nab the top spot on our list, it certainly nabbed the hearts and minds of quite a few of our staff, who have collectively accumulated over a thousand hours of playtime since its early access release. Baldur’s Gate III is an excellent and thoroughly engaging RPG spectacle that every RPG fan should try out at least once.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom did something very special; it made a wonderful game like Breath of the Wild feel like a prototype. The game includes everything players loved from the first game and improved upon its success while adding new layers to the game, figuratively and literally. The world might seem familiar, but the new underground and sky maps provided hours of exploration for those up for the challenge. The ability to fuse items together and create new tools and vehicles are other fun additions to the game that add more possibilities to battles and exploration. Another added bonus is the story, which is bolstered by collecting Dragon Tears scattered around the map. There is a lot to love about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, some easy to find while others take a deeper dive to discover, but the rewards for exploring Hyrule have never been more fulfilling.
by Sam Wachter, Andron Smith, and Ryan Radcliff