We don't know about you, but we think 2023 has been an amazing year for PlayStation gaming thus far. We've had highly rated blockbusters, we've had smaller hits, and perhaps most importantly, we had a lot of variety.
Of course, the year is far from over — and the second half of 2023 has serious potential as well — but now that we're in July, we wanted to offer a look back at the last six months or so. We've gathered together the editorial team to list their favourite PS5 and PS4 games of 2023 so far, and we'd love to hear about your own picks once you're done reading.
Miasma Chronicles is a really exciting next step for developer The Bearded Ladies and shows how far the studio has come since Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, which is a shame as it seems to have come and gone rather quietly. It tells another compelling sci-fi tale in a post-post-apocalyptic world and smartly evolves the fusion of narrative, stealth, exploration, and turn-based combat while introducing a whole new cast of weird and wonderful characters. I'm still holding out hope for DLC, as this is one world I'd like an excuse to return to.
Diablo 4 is an endless black hole of content that corrects my biggest issues with Diablo 3 and, I think, sets a new benchmark for service games moving forward. The combat is incredible, and it just offers so much variety in terms of playstyle, builds, theory-crafting, and lore. More than any of that, though, it finally feels like a service game that's for me. I've bounced off virtually every other game to bear that moniker (with Destiny 2 getting the most consistent attention), and Diablo 4 finally feels like something worth keeping on a slow burn. I'm looking forward to the expansions already and have so much left to do in the base game, which is a rare and happy gaming situation for me to be in.
I only just got done with the review for this one, so recency bias could be a factor here, but counterpoint; I can't stop playing Aliens: Dark Descent. Playing on Nightmare now for the Platinum, each mission really starts to feel like a true survival horror experience, where every shot counts and every chance encounter could be your last. Dark Descent manages that despite being a real-time tactical strategy game played from an isometric viewpoint; traditionally not the scariest perspective. The story is no slouch either and tells a tale that sits comfortably amongst the best told in the wider Alien universe. It's unique, faithful, incredibly compelling, and low-key might be in the lead for my own personal GOTY.
Capcom's latest remake is my favourite game of 2023 so far, and it's going to take a lot to top it. Faithfully bringing back the classic PS2 experience and then expanding upon it with new content and vastly upgraded graphics, Resident Evil 4 can be considered a masterpiece all over again. It's an outstanding experience packed with improved combat and set pieces, coupled with great audio and optimal PS5 DualSense controller support. Single player games in 2023 don't get much better than this.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was one of the best games of 2019, so it only makes sense its bigger and even better sequel is also in the running for 2023. I love a game with a good hub area that houses characters you can repeatedly return for new dialogue and quests, and Rambler's Reach provides that. When you're not at home, though, much grander planets house vast stretches of land ripe for exploration and a fun story worth seeing through to the end. Along with more in-depth combat and lightsaber stances, it's easily one of the most enjoyable experiences on PS5 to date.
I don't think Horizon Forbidden West is anywhere near as good as its Metacritic average suggests, so its PS5 DLC Burning Shores came as a very pleasant surprise. With a more condensed map and story, the expansion got to the point in a much brisker fashion, and it allows Burning Shores to remain engaging throughout. I loved the addition of sidekick Seyka, and the lush grounds of Los Angeles were great to explore, with more interesting side quests to follow and optional activities to find. Of course, the third instalment will return to the vast open world of another famous USA city, but Burning Shores proves the concept can work just as well on a smaller scale.
Japanese games have dominated my 2023 so far, and they don't get much more Japanese than Like a Dragon: Ishin!. I had lost hope in this samurai spin-off ever coming West, and so actually playing it (and reviewing it) back in February almost felt surreal. It's a great game — if a bit grindy at times — with an engrossing setting and some superb story moments. After so many years of praying for a localisation, I dare say the wait was worth it.
I started my Trails journey with Trails of Cold Steel, but I was always aware that the preceding Crossbell games — Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure — were extremely highly rated amongst fans of the series. Thankfully, NIS America saw fit to localise both titles, and Azure in particular blew me away. It's an RPG sequel that pulls out all the stops, delivering on every plot point and character moment that Zero expertly sets up. Azure has to be one of my favourite Trails games, and that's incredibly high praise.
Final Fantasy as a series helped shape my taste in games when I was a kid, and honestly, I just wanted Final Fantasy 16 to be memorable for the right reasons. The last mainline game I truly enjoyed was Final Fantasy 12, but 16 managed to rekindle my passion for Square's franchise. While in many ways it is a drastic departure, the adventures of Clive Rosfield really resonated with me in terms of storytelling, world building, and combat design. It ended up having a lot of what I look for in a Final Fantasy game, evoking that unmistakable aura of the classics.
I’m cheating because it’s technically not out on PS5 yet, but I’ve already poured an absurd number of hours into Honkai: Star Rail on mobile. HoYoverse already has one gigantic live service hit under its belt with Genshin Impact, but I think in time the bitesized nature of this turn-based RPG will make it an even bigger success. The writing is overwrought and the sheer number of overlapping systems mean you really need to embed yourself in it to understand how to get the most out of it, but there’s already so much content in this graphically gorgeous gacha – and it’s barely had chance to blossom yet.
Yeah, I’m cheating again – sorry, Rob! I know there are very legitimate criticisms regarding PSVR2’s upcoming slate of software, and I echo many of them. That said, I don’t think we should overlook what a tremendous upgrade this new piece of hardware is compared to its predecessor. While my use of the headset has slowed quite a lot over the past few months for a variety of reasons, I had an outstanding time immersing myself in Horizon: Call of the Mountain’s idyllic world, and I’ve generally enjoyed faffing around with the upgraded ports, like Beat Saber and Pistol Whip. I know the jury’s still out to some degree, but I’d still say playing through PSVR2’s launch lineup has been one of the highlights of my gaming year so far.
I would consider myself a casual fighting game player at best, but I’m a relatively engaged one. I’ve never missed a Street Fighter, for example, and I’m generally up to date with my Mortal Kombat and Tekken, too. Street Fighter 6, which was one of my most anticipated games of the year, has utterly blown me away, however. After the dour launch of Street Fighter 5, publisher Capcom has course corrected in the best possible way: this game is absolutely bursting with things to do, and I’ve enjoyed exploring the zany single player RPG campaign just as much as the one-on-one online brawling. I do get frustrated when I lose, but you need those lows to appreciate the supreme highs when you win.
I've tried and failed to get onboard with Final Fantasy many times, but this entry really resonated with me. The wonderful real-time combat feels fantastic. The boss battles are amazing set pieces, especially the spectacular Eikon fights that give God of War a real run for its money. Even the story and characters have won me over. Final Fantasy 16 has its flaws, but all told, I'm hard pushed to think of a more memorable, satisfying experience I've had with a game this year.
In a year bursting with big budget titles soaking up all the limelight, Humanity deserves to be remembered. Enhance Games quietly released this brilliant puzzle game in May, riffing on Lemmings-like gameplay with a modern, surreal twist. The deceptively challenging puzzles, ingeniously simple gameplay, and visual absurdity onscreen amass into something really wonderful. It feels quintessentially PlayStation, too — an unusual, experimental, timeless game that feels like a long lost sibling of LocoRoco, Patapon, and echochrome.
I keep coming back to PowerWash Simulator. It arrived back at the very end of January on PS5 and PS4, and since then, I've dipped in and out between bigger games. There's just something really soothing about it that's hard to put my finger on. All you do is blast pressurised water at filthy buildings, but it's inexplicably relaxing and rewarding. The thing is, objectively, I don't think this is anywhere near the best PS5 games of 2023, but for me, I can't seem to resist its low key charm. It's so peaceful.
Now that we've had our say, it's your turn. What are your favourite PS5 and PS4 games of 2023 so far? Cast some votes in our poll, and then gush about your picks in the comments section below.