It’s time for our annual countdown to award the very best games this year had to offer. Over the next ten days, we’ll count down our top ten games of 2023.
As always, the votes of each Press Start team member, weighted from #10 through to #1, were collated to compile our collective very best for the year that was. Games worthy of one’s top spot would be awarded the maximum of 10 points and the values would descend down to their tenth selection, which would receive a single point.
A round of rapid polls were utilised to settle dead heats and finalise the top ten.
When you consider the reception to Final Fantasy VII’s remake, and how regularly brilliant the expansions for XIV have been, it’s not as though we can say the franchise has been in peril. On the contrary, it might be healthier than ever, especially thanks to the bold, gritty direction for its latest mainline entry, Final Fantasy XVI.
It’s a specular, epic tale that takes what we expect from a Final Fantasy and houses it within a corrupt, hopeless world of refugees and deliciously dark, medieval fantasy. Within the story are incredible character arcs, big and small, and even better performances, especially that of the award-nominated Ben Starr.
With its beautiful environments and curated cinematic shots, the game also serves as a jaw-dropping technical showcase for the PlayStation 5 and it’s one that’s only getting better with a recent expansion drop, and the promise of more to come.
“Final Fantasy XVI is an epic in every sense of the word. Consistently sharp writing, a captivating cast of characters, exhilarating combat, and a timeless soundtrack coalesce into an experience that showcases what the PlayStation 5 is capable of at the highest level. It constantly finds ways to top its own scale in remarkable fashion, but never loses sight of the intimate journey it’s built around.”
“No other game in 2023 got close to the grandiosity of Final Fantasy XVI’s set pieces. The climactic boss fights with their stellar soundtrack and incredible art direction left a last impression. Eikon battles punctuated the dramatic character-driven plot, the game escalating in epicness with every successive fight.
Although pacing suffered with rather mundane fetch quests between these gargantuan story beats, the highs of Final Fantasy XVI greatly outnumbered the lows.”
“Despite being a proper main entry in the long running series, Square took a massive risk by shaking up the expected formula with Final Fantasy XVI, taking a real time action approach to role playing while still embodying the primary tenants of the franchise with stunning visuals, an epic story, massive larger than life creatures and captivating music.
Stepping away from the modern sci-fi aesthetic for a return to a fantasy based world felt fresh and the entire world of Valisthea felt rich with history and characters with vivid stories to tell. Clive, his friends and his antagonists are all brought to life with fantastic performances, each given the time to transform over the journey.”
At the time of publishing, Final Fantasy XVI stands at an 87 on Metacritic.