Our 101 most anticipated games of 2023
Our personal picks for the year ahead
Happy New Year, folks! Crikey, there are a lot of games coming out this year, aren't there? When I first asked the team to put together their most anticipated games for 2023, I was thinking we'd have a reasonably sensible number of things we were all looking forward to, you know, somewhere in the region of the 43 games we highlighted at the start of 2022. Very quickly, though, it became apparent that, actually, there are simply loads of games the RPS Treehouse is personally excited about this year, and cor, it would be rude not to include every last one of them. I'll be upfront: there are a fair number of TBA games on here that probably aren't going to come out in 2023, but as ever, we remain hopeful and optimistic all the same. So let's dive in.
Why so many games this year? Well, when you consider over half of our most anticipated list from 2022 ended up getting delayed into 2023, that extra surplus of indies and blockbusters alike already puts us in a pretty strong position for 'cool games coming out' over the next 12 months. Indeed, the first three months of the year alone are already looking pretty stacked at the moment, and with big 'uns such as Starfield also aiming to arrive before the end of June, I have a feeling that 2023 is going to be a pretty bumper year compared to the last couple.
And these are just the games we know about right now, too. Some of our favourite games of 2022 didn't even exist when we put together our most anticipated list back in January, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what else 2023 has in store us. It's going to be a pretty great year for video games, I suspect, so let's get stuck in with what we're most excited about right now.
A Space For The Unbound
Katharine: At long last, A Space For The Unbound has a release date, and it's real soon! Coming out in just a couple of weeks on January 19th, my excitement levels for this slice-of-life, coming of age tale are absolutely through the roof at this point, the game having been delayed multiple times ever since I first clapped eyes on it right at the start of 2020. That's, like, a lifetime ago in pandemic years, and I'm so pleased it's almost here - especially after speaking to director Dimas Novan last year. Its pixel art rendition of rural Indonesia is absolutely stunning, and its story of a high school romance with just a smidge of supernatural weirdness to it has big Makoto "Your Name" Shinkai energy to it. It also has dozens of cats you can pet and name around town. Honestly, what's not to love? Get it in my veins this instant.
Rachel:Very excited about this Indonesian adventure from Mojiken. I want to pet all the cute cats, and A Space For The Unbound lets me do exactly that. Also the pixel art looks so good, the clouds in particular look so nice, I want to take a nap in them.
From: Steam, Epic, EA
Liam: Does a game from 2008 need a remake? The jury is still out on that one I guess, but for what it’s worth, I’m glad Dead Space is making a comeback. The original was a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi survival horror that featured a distinct sense of place. The USG Ishimura is a metal sarcophagus that feels believable as a location where people live and work, albeit one where madness was always destined to fester. I have no qualms about revisiting it with fresh eyes, especially seeing as this upcoming retread seems to focus on expanding its admittedly by the numbers story.
Alice0: I am, quite genuinely, only interested if the starting weapon is still overpowered and corpses still get kicked into the air like meaty balloons.
Alice Bee: Quoting the Steam page will save me a lot of time here. It says, "Birth is an adventure puzzle game about constructing a creature from spare bones & organs found around the city in order to quell your loneliness." How are you not looking forward to this game? What are you, a big weirdo?
Hayden: I am a big weirdo, and Birth is one I can’t wait to click buttons on as I murmur, “What the fuck?” under my breath. Also, I’m always on the hunt for cool ideas to feed into my D&D games and/or characters. Collecting bones and organs seems ripe for that, whether I’m coming up with a deadly new villain or a weird quest for the Warlock’s patron to give. Birth, I’m sorry, but I’m going to steal your whole vibe to make my D&D stuff cooler.
Anemoiapolis: Chapter 1Release date: February 2023
Alice0: Explore sprawling unearthly versions of mundane places? Swimming pools and shopping malls and offices and schools stretched out into dreadful empty nightmares? Yes, please, thank you. Honestly I'd be delighted with this as simply a walking simulator but sure, I guess its puzzles and story too could be good too. Mostly I'm here for the dream versions of all-too-familiar generic spaces.
Rebecca: Not to be too much of a self-congratulatory hipster, but I was gearing up in anticipation for this liminal space horror game before everybody and their mum got obsessed with the Backrooms last year. Anemoiapolis: Chapter 1 has been on my radar since it was plain old Anemoiapolis-no-subtitle, and I really hope 2023 is the year I finally get to play 10 minutes of it, get unbelievably freaked out by the atmosphere, and watch the rest on YouTube because I'm really just a big wimp.
Deliver Us Mars
From: Steam, Epic Games Store
Katharine: I played a small nubbin of Deliver Us Mars toward the end of last year and was absolutely taken with its mysterious sci-fi tale and athletic, Tomb Raider-style third-person action platforming. You play as Kathy, who's on a mission to recover some lost, planet-saving tech from the titular red planet, and maybe also find out exactly what happened to her lost astronaut dad along the way. As in the prequel, Deliver Us The Moon, you're accompanied by your handy robo friend Ayla throughout your journey, and together you'll be solving puzzles, climbing up the twisted innards of crashed ships and using all manner of gadgets and tools to explore the depths of Mars' Arc space stations. I cannot wait. Sci-fi games are definitely going to be a theme this year (thanks, Starfield), and based on what I've seen so far, Deliver Us Mars looks like it's going to be the perfect way to ease ourselves in to 2023's big space adventures.
From: Steam, Epic Games Store, EA
Liam: In a manner fitting to the series it’s attempting to emulate, Wild Hearts is preparing to take down a monster. Monster Hunter, to be precise. Capcom’s raptor battering simulator has stood unchallenged for a long time now, but it seems like this joint project by Dynasty Warriors developer Omega Force and that small indie outfit EA could be the game that finally fells the humongous beast once and for all. Or, at the very least, slices off its tail before making itself a very fetching hat. With its focus on tools and gadgets, Wild Hearts seems very promising indeed.
Ed: BIG PIG.
The Settlers: New Allies
From: Epic Games Store, Ubisoft
Liam: The Settlers has had a bit of a rough ride over the last decade or so. Following the success of the first few entries the series has failed to recapture those early highs. It was perhaps a promising sign, then, when Ubisoft quietly delayed this upcoming entry to polish it further based on underwhelming fan feedback to the game’s closed beta. To be honest, I quite liked the game as it was during the beta (Katharine had equally positive things to say when she previewed it this time last year), finding it provided a fun take on the classic Settlers formula. Sure, I could probably do without the combat to be honest but growing your little settlement slowly over time was as satisfying as you’d expect it to be. I’m cautiously optimistic about this one.
Release date: February 21st 2023
James: Every time I look at Atomic Heart – and I mean literally every single screenshot or trailer clip – I see something that fascinates me. Sometimes it’s the general 'Soviet mad science' aesthetic. Sometimes it’s specific situations, like a children’s playpark being overtaken by plastic skeletons or your first-person shootyman getting choked out by a moustachioed android. Sometimes it’s just an old woman with a ladle. Why is she here? God knows, but I’m intrigued to bits to find out. The combat looks like a riot too. The two-handed gun/superpower setup naturally invites comparisons to the later BioShock instalments, but BioShock was never this fast. Atomic Heart wants you to levitate robots and fry drones and hit fleshy tendril mutants with a stick until they somehow freeze solid, sure, but it looks like you’ll be weaponizing your legs as well, with well-timed dodges and charges. And even if it’s not an out-and-out movement shooter, I do enjoy a shooter with good movement.
Like A Dragon: IshinRelease date: February 21st 2023
Ed: A remake of the 2014 Yakuza spin-off set in feudal Japan which features an all-star cast of characters from Yakuza's one through seven - that's rad. I am beyond excited to see old friends and foes dressed in their samurai best, with brooding melodrama that will no doubt culminate in countless streaks of red splattered on tatami. I also can't wait to pair these emotional pangs with some delightful minigames: chicken racing, karaoke, traditional dancing, what looks to be carefully chopping radishes to a beat?? All of which I will invest more time into than the story itself. I'm also itching to explore Ishin's Edo-period town, which will no doubt be a beautiful space given the visual garnish RGG Studio have slathered on their past cities. Yakuza 6's seaside town of Onomichi was a lovely reprieve from the bustle of Kamurocho, so I'm hoping that Ishin's streets will be a nice mixture of the two.
Company Of Heroes 3
Katharine: Space games might be an overriding theme for 2023, but by the time you've reached the end of this list, I think you'll agree that real-time strategy games are also in for a bit of a banner year in 2023, starting with none other than Company Of Heroes 3. After suffering an unexpected delay at the end of last year, this WW2 RTS is now set to launch at the end of February, bringing not one, but two chunky campaigns to the table. There's the colourful, dynamic and open-ended Italian theatre, and the more linear, mission-based North African operation to sink your teeth into, and based on what I played of them both last year, there's going to be a heck of a lot to chew over. Its release will also mark ten years since the launch of Company Of Heroes 2, making this a much anticipated return to Relic's excellent RTS series.
Kerbal Space Program 2Release date: February 24th 2023
From: Steam, Epic Games Store
Ollie: I'll admit, I haven't played much at all of the original Kerbal Space Program. It's pretty much right at the top of the list of games I'd love to get into, but the couple of times I've tried, I just haven't had the time, energy or patience to learn what needs learning. What makes me very excited for Kerbal Space Program 2 – aside from it expanding on the original in just about every way - is that apparently a lot of effort has gone into making the whole onboarding process much more intuitive and less overwhelming for new players. Which is great, because while I may not have played much of the original, I've spent a great many hours watching KSP Let's Plays on YouTube, and I know that if I can just get past that onboarding process, it's the kind of game I could lose hundreds of hours of my life to.
Octopath Traveler II
Katharine: The first Octopath Traveler may be one of those JRPGs that I love and hate in equal measure, but the thought of getting another one, with another stellar Yasunori Nishiki soundtrack to savour? Absolutely sign me up. I did, for the most part, utterly adore the first Octopath - it was just its terrible end-game boss structure that absolutely did for me in the end, and I ended up having to hold my hands up and say, "Sorry, but I'm done here." There's every chance that this second game will do exactly the same thing, of course, but hey, a girl can hope, right? Besides, even if it does, it's Octopath's killer soundtr- err… turn-based battle system that I'm really here for, as it riffs on the same boosting and break rhythms of Square Enix's equally enthralling Bravely Default series, which also came to PC last year. After mourning the loss of Octopath's prequel, Champions Of The Continent, getting resigned to Japanese-only smartphones, this full-bodied sequel is looking to be just the ticket for some more Octo action.
From: Steam, GOG, Epic Games Store
Katharine: Admission time. I've never played the original System Shock. I lasted all of two minutes trying to wrap my head around Nightdive's Enhanced edition of System Shock, which they released back in 2015, and when I knew this full-blown remake was on the cards, I thought, "You know, I'll wait." That might be blasphemous, but hey, I'm all about convenience these days.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Ed: Where Nioh is Team Ninja's dense Soulslike series, all skill trees, loot pools, and difficulty spikes, Wo Long looks to streamline things. While complexity remains in builds and such, the game's more focused on fights being a bloody ballet of parries and swipes where you're positively fuelled by aggression and punished for skittering away like a scaredy cat. From what I played of it last year, it strikes me as an action-RPG that'll morph you into an untouchable ronin by its conclusion. Sekiro fans, you may want to keep an eye on this one. Oh, and you can summon a massive turtle with a watery mini gun, so that's pretty neat.
Ollie:Huh? Wait, where am I? All I know is that Ed said "Sekiro fans", and suddenly I was pulled through an interdimensional wormhole and found myself here.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Alice Bee: I am a complex creature, in that I may compulsively spit on the floor whenever someone mentions the Disney Industrial Complex, yet also feel a childish swoop in my tummy when Star Wars stuff happens (this is not hypocrisy, it's a whole other thing). My Star Wars glee is entirely game-related, though, because while the recent films were confused and increasingly rubbish, the video games had a higher-than-average absolute banger count. And Fallen Order was decent! It was a saber-swinging good time, and there was a little best friend robot along with some good Respawn parkour and level design. What's not to like when a sequel is announced?
Ollie: I played through Fallen Order three times. The first was for guides, the others because the game made me feel more like a Jedi than any Star Wars game before it. It wasn’t without its flaws – I thought some of the parkour/traversal bits were rather uncharacteristically clunky for a Respawn game – and I’d sure love to see them explore more Force options with this second game. But mostly I’m just looking forward to another compelling Star Wars story about a Jedi on the run.
Hayden: I ranked Jedi: Fallen Order as my favourite best Star Wars game last year, so this was an obvious pick for me. Lightsabers make everything better, and the challenging Soulslike combat was thrilling enough for me to forgive the occasional tedium of bumbling back through the same old planets while trying to find new paths. Fortunately, Survivor seems set to improve exploration, with mounts hopefully making traversal feel faster and more exciting. Of all the big AAA bonanzas coming out this year, Jedi: Survivor is my most anticipated.
Alice Bee: This is one of those games that's been kicking around in Steam showcases for what seems like my entire life. When Storyteller is mentioned I'm like, "Oh, I thought that came out already?" But no, gentle reader, it didn't! It's finally out this year, and I'm stoked, because it's such a simple-on-the-face-of-it premise for a puzzle game: you are presented with some empty storyboard squares to fill with a given set of characters and objects, with the aim of creating a cohesive story. But you can change that story depending on where you put everything. Maybe the damsel in distress becomes the vampire. Maybe the evil king accidentally poisons himself. And so something that seemed simple becomes delightfully complex.
Resident Evil 4
Liam: Easily the game I’m most excited to play in 2023, Resident Evil 4 is the latest game in the series to receive a modern glow-up. Retaining the more action focused combat featured in the original 2005 release, this remake promises a faithful yet refreshed version of Leon’s holiday to the Spanish countryside. I played a bit of it last year and it was like slipping on a brand-new pair of shoes only to realise they’re as comfortable as the Converse you used to wear as a teenager. As Rock Paper Shotgun’s resident (hah!) Resi Liker, I’m desperate to see what Capcom have in store for us when the game launches in March.
Ed: I'm terrible with older games, so I bounced off the original Resi 4 hard. I hope to redeem myself by playing this shinier, swankier version and seeing what all the fuss is about. Also, I believe that Liam and I's friendship may be terminated if I don't play it and/or like it much. The stakes are high.
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened
Rebecca: The fact that Frogwares' remake of their 2007 adventure game has been retrofitted to act as a direct sequel to Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is just one of many reasons that this is far more of a reimagining than a simple remaster. Expect a younger Holmes and Watson who are still getting used to their dynamic as one of fiction's greatest duos, as they prepare to go toe-to-toe with Cthulhu for the first time once again. Or maybe not: the original did a solid job of keeping the extent of its supernatural occurrences vague enough that you could almost reconcile them with the rational world Holmes usually occupies. From the looks of the trailers, the remake leans a bit more heavily into the paranormal, apparently taking inspiration from Frogwares' most recent non-Holmesian game, 2019's Lovecraftian open-world mystery The Sinking City. Count me in.
Suffer The Night
From: Steam, itch.io
Alice0: This first-person horror game is built of two very familiar concepts: a spoOoky cursed video game, and a terrible monster coming to jumpscare you to death. Yet it feels so fresh and clever for Suffer The Night to combine the two. There you are, alone in your isolated home on a dark and stormy night, when a Babadookian stranger comes calling. Do not let him in. But… maybe do play the cursed texture adventure he delivers? While you play through that, you'll also have to make sure the creeper doesn't creep in, completing tasks around your home and checking he isn't coming to jumpscare you. You can even right-click to look behind you while sitting at your in-game computer. While most elements of Suffer The Night in isolation are not just familiar but tired, I am excited to see all the ways it's putting them together into something new.
Tiny LifeRelease date: Q1 2023
From: Steam, Itch.io
Rebecca: With both Paralives and The Sims 5 potentially still years away, and The Sims 4 nearing a decade in age, Tiny Life has emerged as a surprise candidate to scratch that new-Sims-game itch in 2023. Looking like a pixel art remake of 2000's original The Sims but incorporating numerous quality of life improvements introduced later in that series, Tiny Life is, well, a lifeline to those of us who frequently wish to replay older Sims games but find the demands of getting the originals working on contemporary hardware a chore. Tiny Life might not suit every fan of EA's blockbuster life sim, but if you're like me and treat The Sims as a sort of pretty spreadsheet - fiddling with the inputs (needs, skills, money, etc.) in order to make the numbers (career level, relationships, life goals) go up in a satisfying fashion - you'll be in your nostalgic element with this delightful little indie.
Mask Of The Rose
From: Steam, GOG
Alice Bee: You wouldn't think that Failbetter Games' Fallen London setting is a natural one for a dating sim. It's a sunken version of Victorian London that was disappeared into a big underground cavern and consequently became both well gothic and well eldritch. There are rats, bats, and demons alongside urchins and police constables. So in other words, it is a perfect setting for a dating sim. In a classic Failbetterian twist, Mask Of The Rose has more going on than straightforward dates with probably-a-vampires and life coaching living statues. There are complex storybuilding sections where you can weave your own tales in real time. You can get hold of different clothes, allowing you to dress appropriately – or inappropriately - for conversations with characters. Mask Of The Rose gives you the option of dalliances or friendships, alongside a bit of murder (which all the best romances have, of course).
Dead Island 2
From: Epic Games Store
Alice Bee: Dead Island was notable for having a cool trailer that made everyone excited for the concept. The game itself was a mess, of course, but Dead Island 2 looks like it could stick the landing. 'Dead Rising but in L.A.' is a nice elevator pitch, and the variety of zombs – and ways to kill them – that we've seen in gameplay presentations so far is encouraging. If they can restrain themselves from giving away bloody titty torso statues this time, I'll be cautiously on board. I'm still deciding which side of the love/hate divide I fall re: the pun 'Hell.A', though.
Release date: Spring 2023
James: We broke the planet, folks. That’s the premise of After Us, a wistful action-adventure that tasks Gaia herself with re-seeding life on Earth and recovering the souls of innocent animals that died for our hubris. While the environmental message is squarely on the nose (the only remaining humanoids are oil-soaked abominations), After Us does seem more concerned with finding the beauty in life than wallowing amidst death. The animal spirits Gaia rescues exist on a scale from majestic to cute (ghost dachshund!), and lush green grass sprouts from her very footsteps. There’s also an enticing surrealness to this particular post-apocalypse, with skyscraper graveyards and floating trains in the sky. Man, we really did a number on ol’ Earthy, didn’t we?
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & ButterflyRelease date: Spring 2023
Katharine: When the first Coffee Talk came out in 2020, I was absolutely smitten. It's a visual novel with some light drinks serving elements, all wrapped up in a cosy, lo-fi soundtrack that's just… is there a barista equivalent of a chef kiss.gif? Point is, I loved it, and more Coffee Talk is exactly the order of the day I was hoping for. While Episode 2 features some familiar visitors from the first game, it looks to be mainly focused on a new cast of supernatural characters in this alternate, present-day version of Seattle, with banshees (not from Inisherin) rubbing shoulders with satyrs and more. Will it also explain the first game's unexpected cliffhanger twist? Spring can't come soon enough.
Rachel: The coffee making mini-game in the first Coffee Talk was so gooood. I just want more of that, plus more laid-back chats. Sometimes people just want a stranger’s ear to bend as they contemplate their lives and sip their green tea latte, and I’m hoping for more of that sweet sentiment in Hibiscus & Butterfly.
Street Fighter 6Release date: June 2nd 2023
Katharine: Mashing buttons in Street Fighter II Turbo on our family SNES is one of my earliest gaming memories. I've only dabbled in Street Fighter games since, mostly because I've never quite had the time or energy to fully learn the series' complex combos. But thanks to SF6's revolutionary new modern control scheme, this is exactly the kind of Street Fighter I can get behind. Finally, a fighting game that I can play and actually look vaguely cool doing it. Capcom have truly knocked it out the park with this one.
Goodbye Volcano High
Rebecca: This visual novel sits a little to the side of my usual preferences: it's a dinosaur romance game, and I will kindly remind you that I'm a monsterfucker, not a scalie. (No need to comment below to tell me that dinosaurs probably had feathers, by the way.) In all seriousness, there's plenty to recommend this game to someone with my interests. Set in a dinosaur high school just weeks before both senior prom and an anticipated extinction-level event, Goodbye Volcano High looks like a cretaceous Life Is Strange: a bittersweet coming-of-age story about young adults finding joy in the moment despite grappling with the prospect of unimaginable loss. And it stars Lachlan Watson, them off of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina!
From: Steam, Epic Games Store
Katharine: An enormous space game due out in the first half of 2023, you say? Why, it could only be... Nope, not the game directly below this one. It's Homeworld 3! Indeed, Blackbird Interactive's tactical RTS is looking better than ever judging by its recent trailers, and cor, I just want to hurry on up and explode some cool spaceships. Fingers crossed Gearbox have the good sense to publish this with a little distance from Starfield, but hey, two big space games in six months! What a treat.
Ed: When Skyrim first launched way back when, I remember opening my Xbox 360's friends list to find it awash with statuses that just read "Skyrim". It was the talk of the lockers and breaktimes and after school gaming sessions, everyone was on that Skyrim hotness. Starfield may not be much like Skyrim or "Skyrim in space", but I'd like to think it'll have a similarly massive impact. So, it's not that I'm itching to get my hands on it, it's more that I'm itching to be a part of the conversation when it lands sometime in the first half of this year. Will it be an interplanetary masterstroke? Will it shit the bed? Can one even shit the bed in zero gravity? One thing's for sure: there will be plenty of crash zooms on bloated faces. I both anticipate and dread the takes.
Ollie: I’m finding it a little tricky to divorce my genuine excitement to play Starfield with my work-brain's traffic-fuelled excitement for a big juicy game to write a hundred guides on over the course of a month. But that ship creator looked hella good in the trailer. And who doesn’t love a great big sci-fi open world to get lost in for a while?
Liam: There’s a small part of me that has always romanticised the idea of the lone traveler drifting silently throughout the stars. I’m unsure what Starfield will look like as a whole, but if there’s one thing Bethesda gets right it’s making those long stretches of time travelling between map markers feel like a meaningful journey. There’s a sense of sadness within these quiet periods of isolation that’s uniquely Bethesda. Perfect for a game set in the cold expanse of space.
Alice0: I'm excited to once again see what modders can do to make something interesting out of yet another boring and hollow Bethesda RPG.
Baldur's Gate 3
Katharine: At long last, the full version of Larian's RPG epic, Baldur's Gate 3, comes out in August. Maybe. They're "fairly confident" about it, at least, so I'll be crossing all fingers and toes it actually happens. I've played through the opening hours of Baldur's Gate 3 a couple of times now, and enjoyed every second of it - aside from the fact I've had to start a new save file every time I end up doing it, of course. In truth, I've been deliberately holding off for exactly this moment, as this is very much the kind of RPG I want to just luxuriate and invest silly amounts of time in, rather than constantly having my progress yanked away from me.
Ed: My friends and I finished up a co-op playthrough of the brilliant Divinity: Original Sin II and we're all itching to jump into another enormous RPG that lets us make more awful decisions with lasting repercussions. And set everything on fire. So much fire.
Hayden: Oh wait no, I take it back. I’m pretty excited for Jedi: Survivor, but I’m fucking elated at the prospect of finally, finally playing Baldur’s Gate 3. I think about it like a giddy kid tucking themselves into bed on Christmas Eve. As you can probably tell, I'm a bit of a D&D nerd, and Baldur’s Gate 3 is essentially a hand-crafted campaign for me to run through without pressuring myself or a friend to DM a session. Hell, we can all play together in co-op! And you can sure as hell bet I’ll be bringing my tabletop character, the Wizard Gnome known as Stumbleduck, into the game with me. He’s a cheeky little gremlin, and I can’t wait to see what chaos we’ll cook up in the Forgotten Realms.
Disclosure: Former RPS deputy editor Adam Smith (RPS in peace) is now lead writer on Baldur's Gate 3.
Alice0: Return to my home planet after 200 years in cryo sleep on a spaceship to discover post-apocalyptic ruins overrun with big robots and big baddies? I am already hooked by the premise of this side-scrolling explore-o-shooter. The violence looks slick, with good dodges and blasting, and the game looks dead pretty too.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart Of Chornobyl
From: Steam, GOG, Epic Games Store, Game Pass
Katharine: There's still a lot we don't know about this much anticipated sequel to GSC Game World's post-apocalyptic, horror-filled immersive sim series, but we do know we'll be returning to the Chornobyl exclusion zone for another round with its deadly mutants and anomalies. GSC Game World have said they're aiming for a non-linear story this time round, but based on the trailers we've seen so far, this is still very much STALKER through and through. Which is excellent. After, quite understandably, being delayed to the end of 2023 due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, where the developers are based, we'll be crossing all fingers and toes this makes it to release in December. Godspeed, GSC.
Liam: Anger Foot is a game about kicking weird dog men in the head. And shooting lizards wearing sports coats with an Uzi. You are a weird mutant bloke with really muscular legs who’s sole purpose in life is to do terrible things to horrible creatures that live in grungy apartments that seemingly stretch on forever. You smack your sole into a bunch of throats until you beat the level, pausing only to pick up a gun to commit a different, worse kind of murder. Its limited demo was maybe one of the best things I played last year, so I can only assume that the full release will be a guaranteed good time.
Another Crab’s Treasure
Rachel: I loved Going Under so I’m super excited for Aggro Crab's 2023 release Another Crab’s Treasure (seems their living up to their namesake). The best thing about Going Under was its witty satire and I Another Crab’s Treasure seems to be scuttling in its footsteps. For one, it’s a brutal souls-like but you play as an adorable crab called Krill and as armour to protect yourself from enemies, you literally use garbage that you find on the sea floor. I’m also a sucker for underwater worlds and the trailer’s deep-sea trenches, colourful coral reefs, and sandcastle cities look incredible. Very much looking forward to this one.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage
From: Epic Games Store, Ubisoft
Hayden: Mirage is a return to the old style of Assassin’s Creed that defined my childhood. There were far fewer Origins/Odyssey/Valhalla-style expansive countrysides and sweeping deserts to explore back then. It was all about scurrying across rooftops and scaling big, cracked walls to infiltrate castles, and I much preferred those dense, urban environments. Mirage seems to have refocused back on the series’ stealth roots, and will have you slinking through the shadows or darting across rooftops to find, hunt, and kill your target without being detected. That sounds much more assassin-y than anything we’ve had in recent years, so colour me excited. There’s plenty of other stuff to note, with lots of juicy AC lore about the founding of the brotherhood and ties to Valhalla (where protagonist Basim first appeared), but I’m here for cool stealth action, baby. Gimme creative ways to kill rich fucks while looking like a badass and I’ll be happy.
Katharine: Basim is the kind of smug punk you love to hate, but even I’m excited to return to his roots and get back to a smaller kind of Assassin’s Creed game.
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk
Rachel: Please let Bomb Rush Cyberfunk come out this year. Every time I watch the trailer, the small, feral part of me that can’t wait to play it gets bigger and bigger, and soon I will lose control (currently, it’s the size of a grapefruit). The skating! The rollerblading! The tricks and grinds and cool outfits and music that absolutely slaps. If the actual OST is anything like this concept soundtrack, my god, I’m going to lose it. The game also sounds completely bananas story-wise, like when I chatted to Team Reptile for a [redacted Sony console magazine] and asked about the main dude’s funky headgear, they told me that apparently, it’s just an empty helmet and that the character is on an important mission searching for his missing head. Like what??
Bramble: The Mountain KingRelease date: 2023
Rebecca: Even though games with lengthy run-and-hide sections often set off my anxiety something dreadful, I just can't resist the pull of Bramble: The Mountain King. I'm leaning heavily on the old "X meets Y" formula to describe a lot of the games I'm excited for this year, but seriously, I can't imagine a better or more enticing elevator pitch for this one than "Little Nightmares meets Grounded". You play as Olle, a tiny Borrower-esque humanoid who sets off through a Nordic fairytale landscape to find his missing sister. Except these are, you know, the original fairytales, so things get real dark, real fast. But despite its heavy flavour of horror, Bramble: The Mountain King is also intensely pretty to look at. Fans of lush water physics will be delighted, and they won't be the only ones: many of the demo's scariest moments take place in dreamily morning-lit forests that really showed off the loving animation of every wildflower and blade of grass.
Cassette BeastsRelease date: 2023
Katharine: As a recovering Pokémon addict, Cassette Beasts has been on my radar for a while now, and everything I've seen and played of Bytten Studio's miniature open world monster catcher so far looks 100% up my alley. As well as being a throwback to the top-down Poké adventures of yore, it also has an intriguing emphasis on building relationships. You're not just bonding with the monsters you catch, after all (and I mean literally bonding with them in this case, as you physically transform into them at the start of every battle). You've also got human companions to befriend as well, and strengthening those relationships means you'll be able to pull off even more powerful fusion moves when your respective beasts combine Power Ranger style into bigger, meatier creatures. There's a lot of cool stuff going on underneath the hood (deck?) of Cassette Beasts, in other words, and I'm excited to discover what's what when it comes out later this year.
Ed: From the smidge I played of it last year, I'm also fully on board with its lovely aesthetic and mashing of cutesy creatures. I'm most intrigued by its dark undercurrent, though, which suggests there's a lot more lurking beneath all the whimsy.
Katharine: Forget Starfield. The surprise unveiling of Cocoon was by far the most interesting and exciting thing to come out of Microsoft's notE3 conference last year, and its reveal trailer left me utterly transfixed. With Zelda and Portal cited as key inspirations (always a good combo), this puzzle adventure looks absolutely stunning, from its enigmatic architecture to its world within worlds, orbs within orbs, and cosmic mysteries within mysteries. It's got some interesting names behind it, too, including Limbo and Inside's lead gameplay designer Jeppe Carlsen, and former Playdead composer and programmer Jakob Schmid. If I had to be stuck inside a dark, warm(?) insect coffin with one game this year, this would definitely be it.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
Ed: Yeah, yeah, Cyberpunk 2077 has a great many flaws and couldn't possibly live up to the hype. Yawn. I reckon it's time to move on from what's become a tired statement and onto something far more exciting: more Cyberpunk 2077 and more Night City. Specifically, a new district which seems to house a spy-thriller starring Idris Elba and a returning Keanu Reeves. Not that it's the celebrities I care about in Phantom Liberty. Nope! It's the prospect of shouldering the burdens of a chromed-out head-in-a-jar by hacking some chooms as strobe lights cut a sticky dance floor into pieces. The most interesting characters are ordinary borgs just trying to get by in a Night City that has far more to give. I can't wait to jack back in.
Alice0: I might wait for a sale, but I'm certainly up for another sightseeing holiday in this pretty dystopian megacity with my old pals.
Rebecca: Demonschool was my top pick when we discussed our favourite games of Not-E3 last summer. Style and presentation-wise, I described it as an intoxicating mix of Monster Prom, Danganronpa and Hades, rendering it an insta-wishlist for me even though I know comparatively little about turn-based tactical RPGs, which is what Demonschool actually is at its core. But it looks like the perfect excuse to dip a toe into new waters, since often the main barrier I hit when I'm trying to get into a new genre is that I can't get invested in the story. Knowing that this game is about four eccentric buddies trying to navigate an ordinary-ish college life, but that said college is located on a mysterious island plagued by demons, already got me over that hurdle, it's safe to say. Now I just want to know if my characters can actually date the demons, or each other, or whatever. That'd make it pretty much perfect.
Rachel: I loved the Demonschool demo that I played at PAX West. I am so down for a supernatural teen adventure with scooby-doo shenanigans. My favourite part of the demo was when I got the brawl a giant skeleton head - it was glorious. It’s very Persona, but character-wise it’s less annoying. I particularly like sass-pot red head Faye whose solution for every problem is to kick everyone. Vibe on, girl.
Hayden: Dordogne was on my list last year, and on the list it remains. This watercolour adventure plops you in the serene scenes of Dordogne, a gorgeous region in the south of France. You play as Mimi during two periods of her life, clearing out her recently passed grandmother’s house in the present, while exploring fond memories of time spent here in her youth. Young Mimi chronicles those memories in her journal by taking pictures, recording sounds, and noting words as she explores. It seems like a calm, grounding experience that focuses on taking in your surroundings rather than rushing to an objective, and that sounds like a lovely break from what’s set to be a year rammed with unfathomably huge games.
Alice0: It is very pretty, isn't it.
Rachel: I want to live inside this game.
From: Steam, Epic Games Store
Liam: I am properly excited to play Dreamsettler. Giddy, even. I watch its announcement trailer every other week like an actual child. I hum the sax solo from it to myself while I’m peeling carrots. Is that normal behaviour? Probably not. But listen: I really loved Hypnospace Outlaw, so forgive me for being pleased it’s receiving a sequel. Set a few years after the original in the early 2000s, the Dreamsettler introduces a brand-new sleep time service that will grant you access to yet another alternate reality version of the world wide web. Presumably one stuffed full of warped music, bizarre brands and relatable, lovable people. You know. Like Hypnospace.
Oh, and I can’t talk about Dreamsettler without a cursory nod towards Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer, a retro-inspired FPS based on a character from Hypnospace that’s also due out at some point this year. If you haven’t played the demo for that yet, I would really recommend you give it a try. It’s properly daft in all the right ways.
DredgeRelease date: 2023
Katharine: At first glance, Dredge looks like a chill, little fishing sim, but after playing its Steam Next Fest demo at the end of last year, I'm telling you now, there are horrors lurking beneath those idyllic waves - and it's your job to haul them to the surface, sell your catches, upgrade your ship and generally, you know, survive long enough to pay off your debt to a village full of shifty seadogs. Just don't do it at night, because that's when things get real gnarly. The eldritch eye will find you if you stay out too long after dark, throwing hull-breaking rocks and chomping underwater terrors into your path, putting both your boat and your life at risk. It's absolutely drenched in foreboding melancholy, but cor, if it also isn't moreish and tantalizing at the same time. I'm hooked.
Alice0: I am fascinated by this series of cyberpunk psychological horror games, this being the third after The Enigma Machina and Mothered (a game I couldn't quite wedge into the RPS advent calendar countdown, though it was one of my favourites). Unsettling, thoughtful, and compassionate as they explore AI, identity, simulation, and other such cyberthings. I'm very excited to learn what Echostasis brings to this, though I am trying to avoid seeing much of it until I can play myself. These games look and sound so striking too, the good retro analogue stuff.
Elation For The Wonder Box 6000
Alice0: This first-person claymation adventure game caught my eye a few times over on Screenshot Saturday Mondays, and I'm excited to see more of it. You're some weird guy in some weird land on the hunt for some weird video game console? Don't tell me anything more; I want to be surprised.
Katharine: A survival game set above the clouds, Forever Skies had me firmly in its grip when I played its Steam Next Fest demo last year, and I'm excited to see more of its rusted, dilapidated rooftops when it releases into early access later this year. After building your ship to seek out what's left of human civilization on a ruined Earth, you'll be scavenging for materials to help you survive, maintaining the machines on your new airborne home, and hopefully finding a cure for the deadly diseases now ravaging your home planet. What I'm most keen to see, though, is how developers Far From Home are going to thread its overarching story into its moment-to-moment bouts of survival, and how easy (or difficult) that breadcrumb trail will be to follow across its toxic cloud sea. Will it be a 'wait until it's finished' game? Or can it keep the momentum going over its proposed year of early access? Either way, I'm itching to find out.
Friends Vs Friends
Rachel: I strive for complete chaos in multiplier games which is why Friends Vs Friends was one of my favourite games from my PAX West visit. Both myself and vid bud Liam only needed to play one match to agree that it was a highlight of the entire event. Friends Vs Friends is a frantic online PVP shooter and deck builder where players have a fist full of cards they can play with devastating effects. One card might make your opponent's head super big, another will make yourself invisible, one might place a high-powered turret aimed at your enemy, or (the best card) there's one that just decimates the entire arena. That’s one way to rage quit with style.
From: Steam, GOG, Epic Games Store
Ollie: I adore Frostpunk. I still return to it every so often just to let its deliciously menacing atmosphere percolate through me so when Frostpunk 2's co-director Jakub Stokalski said that they're aiming to deliver "an experience that goes vastly beyond that of the original Frostpunk", and focus more on "the conflict between humands and their nature," I was estatic. What I'm hoping this means is that the game gets harder. The original wasn't easy, but I'd love to be really properly tested by my people this time round. I want the threat of a game over screen, and to look back and realise that, of course, the citizens would react as they did to my policies. It's human nature, isn't it? I want that Rimworld-esque feel of things spiralling out of your control with each new event or decision. I'm hoping that might be the case here, and I'm very eager to try it out.
Rachel: I also adore Frostpunk (and 11 bit Studios’ previous game This War Of Mine) so I was hyped when they announced a sequel set 30 years after the first game. If the age of steam is over and Earth is still royally fucked, what’s next? It seems 11 bit are keeping their cards close to their chest with what horrors humanity will face in Frostpunk 2, but I’ve leant the harsh lessons taught in the first game. My heart is completely encased in ice, so I’m ready for whatever it is.
Alice0: One obvious comparison point for this FPS is GoldenEye 007. The other is maybe WarioWare? There you are, shooting baddies and then, when oops! Out of bullets! Time to reload! So up pops a window where a noodly representation of your arm flops about as you pull the old magazine out the gun, drag a fresh mag in, then pull the bolt to chamber a round. Or if you're eating snacks, you'll need to drag them into a picture of your mouth, then drag the wrappers into the bin afterwards. I've been following Gossamer Matrix through Screenshot Saturdays for a while, and I'm delighted by it.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink
Ed: I popped this on our most anticipated games of 2022 list and... it went radio silent... then got delayed. Still! I believe this could be the year we finally see this JRPG launch, especially as developers Cygames have said it'll be playable at Granblue Fantasy Fes 2023 (the series' annual event in Japan) later this month. Great news, considering its lengthy seven years in development land and PlatinumGame's departure from the project in 2019, with Cygames taking over full dev duties thereafter. Still!! The snippets of gameplay I've seen hint at a beautiful world with typically over the top combat bursting with sword slashes, flashy tag-team maneuvers, and copious yells of "hyaaah!"
Rachel: It’s a GUNBRELLA. That alone is enough to make it onto this list. It fires bullets, the handle acts as a zip-wire grabber, it lets you glide gracefully, and on top of all that it stops you from getting wet - who doesn’t love a multi-purpose gizmo? Aside from my clear love of the shooty shooty brolly, Gunbrella has some pretty tight platforming too, and together with its muddy brown smudge of a world filled with crime, cults, and corruption, I’m very much looking forward to this gritty action-platformer.
From: Steam, Epic
Ollie: I contend that there is no other game on this list that's so utterly guaranteed to be fantastic than Hades II, Supergiant Games's first ever sequel. The original Hades is one of my favourite games ever, and I've poured more time into it than any other roguelite. Supergiant have proven time and again to have a real gift for telling compelling stories in ways that elevate the framework of their chosen genre to new heights. This time, the story shifts from the comfort of Prince Zagreus's snarky feuding with his father, and tells a more baleful, higher-stakes story about Princess Melinoë and her (suitably unending) struggle against Chronos, the Titan of Time, and father of Hades. What's strange is that of all Supergiant's games, Hades II will almost certainly be the least imaginative, simply because it's a sequel. We all know exactly what we're getting into here: more Hades, but bigger and better, with new weapons and Godly powers and - most importantly - new stories to tell. But that's more than enough to get me very excited indeed.
Himbo Harem HomicideRelease date: TBA
Rebecca: Dream Daddy meets Cluedo in this romantic indie whodunnit, which is not a dating sim, but rather takes place after the credits have rolled on one. Himbo Harem Homicide sees you in a happy domestic set-up alongside your ten lovable roommates-slash-boyfriends. That is, until one hunk suffers a secret change of heart re: monogamy, and starts killing off his "rivals" for your affections. The victim(s) and perpetrator are randomised every time, as are the circumstances surrounding the murders, leading to a high degree of replayability potential as you scramble to identify the killer before he can off any more members of your once-harmonious polycule. Not gonna lie, every single colleague I've showed it this to has said: "Yup, this is definitely a Rebecca game!"
InescapableRelease date: 2023
Rebecca: Inescapable is so heavily inspired by Danganronpa that it's literally being marketed first and foremost as a spiritual successor to Danganronpa. This transparent ploy is absolutely going to work on me because I bloody love Danganronpa. Details are scarce right now - the only thing I've really gleaned about Inescapable's USP is that it's more explicitly focused on a comparison to modern reality TV and influencer culture than the series that inspired it, but nevertheless, if you like deadly-game-show-locked-room-murder-mystery-visual-novels with young adult protagonists, this is definitely one to keep an eye out for.
Katharine: Cor, I'm also getting big Zero Escape vibes from this, and all I can say is yes please and thank you.
Alice0: With camera in hand, Interior Worlds explores spooky mundane spaces: a cinema, a petrol station, a motel, a car park, and such. I often enjoy virtual photography, and I do like a chunky camera. And having often wandered through strange and lonely and magical places, I'm also here for the Internet's burgeoning love of 'liminal spaces'. Push a little harder into unreality, and remove the fear of bumping into strangers who, unlike me, are definitely weird murderers to be here, alone, this late. Lovely.
Katharine: Jumplight Odyssey had me at its 70s anime visuals, but this new roguelite colony sim from the makers of Armello has so much more going on beneath the surface. When I saw a sneak peek of it last year, its blend of starship management, roguelite world-hopping and emergent storytelling was instantly intriguing, and the devs described it to me as FTL meets Rimworld with a dash of Theme Hospital in the mix. It's only launching into early access this year, with a full release likely to follow sometime in 2024, but I'm still super keen to get my hands on it and try my luck at escaping its fleet of deadly Zutopans. Mostly, though, I just want to find Ham the pig, because what space game isn't automatically improved by having farm animals trotting about the place?
Knuckle SandwichRelease date: TBA
Ed: With a magnificent demo on Steam, Knuckle Sandwich is something I've anticipated for literally like, seven years at this point. It's a colourful turn-based RPG where you play a dude who rocks up in Bright City, wide-eyed and ready to make an honest living. Little do you know that its sunny shores harbor a terrible secret and a fanatical cult. The game takes cues from the likes of Undertale, with glee expressed through wobbly text, funky chiptune music, funkier characters, and this constant sense of surprise. Perhaps my favourite thing is its battles which hit you with minigames unique to the baddie you're facing. They're a bit Warioware meets Undertale, where you've got to think fast and do things like swivel your torch to vaporise waves of ghosts or catch scoops of icecream with your elastic arm. I'm all in.
Katharine: I can also vouch for the absolutely magnificent Steam demo. As Ed says, this quirky RPG has big WarioWare energy, and as such went straight on my wishlist.
Liam: You both had me at WarioWare. This looks fantastic, and is now at the top of my list as well.
Layers Of Fears
Rebecca: Layers Of Fears may have a name that's impossible to pronounce, but it is attempting to do something I'm pretty intrigued by. It promises to remake the 2.5 games already released in the Layers Of Fear series; but, allegedly, this won't be your average spit-shined remaster bundled for the convenience of new-gen console owners. There's also going to be a "reimagining" of the stories so that they form a single narrative, alongside a brand-new gaiden chapter that retells the original game from the viewpoint of the main character's wife. Now, even most fans of the series probably didn't realise that the sequel was in any way tied in to the original. Heck, I'm a detail-obsessed theory-crafting lore nerd and flatter myself that I worked a lot of it out, but even I'm not sure how the two main plotlines can be reshuffled into a single cohesive narrative while still being recognisably the same games. But I sure am keen to find out.
Lies Of PRelease date: 2023
From: Steam, Game Pass
Ollie: Soulslikes in general are very much my kind of game, and Lies Of P turned my head from the first trailer with its Bloodborne-esque nightmare cityscapes and its intriguing source material. I'll just come out and say it - all I know about Pinnochio comes from Shrek. So everything I've seen so far of Neowiz's upcoming action-RPG has made me very excited to learn a darker take on the story than I know. I'm cautiously optimistic that when it releases hopefully later this year, it may end up being the best non-FromSoft Soulslike game I've played.
Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name
Ed: After the events of Yakuza 6, Kiryu decides to dip for a bit. I – and practically everyone else - thought that it was his last swing of the bicycle. But no! He's confirmed to return in the upcoming teaser for 2024's Yakuza (now "Like A Dragon") 8, where he sports a fresh trim and stands alongside main protag Ichiban. What makes Erased (as I'll refer to it from now on because it's a very silly and long name) a special treat is its intermediary nature: the game wedges itself between Yakuza 7 and 8, helping us catch up on Kiryu's movements over the last few years. Presumably he's been racing Scalextric cars in a competitive league and has seen the film John Wick on a rare break from his grueling schedule. Erased is also meant to be half the size of your average Yakuza game, which should make for a nice change of pace too. I'm all up for – in Yakuza terms, anyway - a nippy reunion with my favourite beefcake.
Little Kitty, Big City
Rebecca: After Stray stood outside the doors of my heart yowling and generally making a terrible racket until I admitted it as my personal GOTY of 2022, I am naturally on the lookout for more games where you get to play as a cat. Despite the lack of a firm release date, we optimistically included mischievous sandbox adventure Little Kitty, Big City on our most-anticipated list this time last year, but sadly haven't heard much more about it since. Still, I remain hopeful that following Stray's success, the market is now more receptive to cat games than ever before. And since the devs behind Little Kitty, Big City have been making optimistic rumblings on social media lately, I've got a good feeling that I may yet be able to step into the paws of a lovable fuzzball protagonist once again before the end of 2023.
Alice0: I do like a megastructure, and I do like an abandoned megastructure, and I really like freely exploring an abandoned megastructure. We'll adventure through a giant mysterious place, leaping and sliding and climbing anywhere we please using our two climbing axes. The freedom to climb anything still feels slightly magical to me, so I'm very excited for that in a sci-fi setting like this. I don't know if it will come in 2023, but I'm more than happy to wait if not.
Mars First LogisticsRelease date: 2023
Ollie: Mars First Logistics is a delivery simulator on Mars, and when I tried the demo during last year's Next Fest, I ended up playing through it three times. You're tasked with ferrying random items (ranging from buckets of oranges to massive steel beams and observatory parts) from point A to point B across the Martian surface, but your cargo doesn't just plop into an imaginary inventory. It's a physical thing in the world that must be grabbed, lifted, and carried to its location, and from the moment I pieced together my first drone using the game's powerful and intuitive editor, I was instantly transported back to easy childhood days spent designing robots for Robot Wars. If you haven't already, try the demo on Steam right now. It's wonderful.
Men Of War 2Release date: 2023
Katharine: Another casualty of the great 2022 delayening, Men Of War 2 will now report for duty later this year. Like Company Of Heroes 3, it's been an absolute age since the last time Men went to War, and I'm keen to see how Best Way's take on the modern WW2 RTS stacks up to its Relic rival. Like COH3, you'll have two campaigns to pick from here, but in Men Of War 2 you'll be playing as the Allies and the Soviets on the Western and Eastern fronts. No colourful Italian coastal villages here, no sir. We still don't have an exact date for when it's going to deploy just yet, but one thing is certain: the battle for the best WW2 RTS this year is well and truly underway.
Ed: Minecraft Legends is an action RPG spin-off of Mojang's blocky builder, combining real-time strategy with snappy cube stacking. And that suits me fine, as I'm less into building worlds and more into toppling fortresses with an army of critters. As for the Minecraft spin? You rifle through hotbars of encampments and moss golems that conveniently snap themselves together when you press the go button. I'm excited to see if it's the twist on Minecraft that will finally hook me in.
Mythwrecked: Ambrosia Island
Katharine: The next game from Roki developers Polygon Treehouse, Mythwrecked swaps Norse mythology for holidaying Greek gods. Or rather, lost holidaying Greek gods, as they clearly all filled their group water canisters from the underworld's river Lethe before they left and have subsequently forgotten everything about themselves. It's up to you, then, adventurer Alex, to both befriend these wayward deities and restore their memories back to normal by finding mementos dotted around the island. The devs promise a non-linear adventure that's more of a "friend 'em up" than a traditional point and click, but I'm intrigued to see it nonetheless.
Disclosure: occasional RPS contributor Malindy Hetfeld is the writer on Mythwrecked.
Alice0: Naiad is a pretty and gentle game about a water spirit travelling down a river. Along the way, you might solve optional puzzles, befriend wildlife, and discover beautiful secret spots, but mostly you're here for a pleasant experience. It is pleasant. I really enjoyed the Steam Next Fest demo and am keen to see more of these waters. It's about damn time that someone made a video game about my life.
From: Steam, Epic
Ollie: Sorry, Starfield. Nightingale is absolutely the game I'm most excited to play this year. A gorgeous-looking survival crafting game set in the mystical Fae Realms, players hail from a neighbouring Victorian-era Gaslamp fantasy world which they've had to flee after the collapse of the arcane portal network that links the various worlds. What sets Nightingale apart from most games in the genre is that you primarily use flintlock firearms in combat rather than melee weapons or spells, and you can also influence the nature of the next realm you visit by crafting special cards. Mostly though, I'm just looking forward to exploring its dazzling world. I mean... It's the Fae Realms. You couldn't ask for more freedom to go crazy with the monster designs, and from what we've seen so far, Nightingale won't disappoint in this regard. The art direction looks incredible, and I tip my top hat to all those who had a hand in designing these weird and wonderful creatures.
OPUS: Prism Peak
Katharine: Announced literal hours before going to press with this, OPUS: Prism Peak is the next game in Sigono's excellent narrative adventure series. I absolutely adored OPUS: Echo Of Starsong when it came out a couple of years ago, and when the developers told me Prism Peak would be something like "a cross between The Remains Of Edith Finch and Makoto Shinkai films", my heart actually skipped a beat. No joke. There couldn't possibly be a better combination of words to make my eyes light up with excitement in my book, and while there's no firm release date yet, I'm desperate to see more of this nostalgic adventure where you play as a photographer lost in a mysterious realm trying to find your way home.
Alice0: Honestly, the main thing I know about this puzzle game is that it's very pretty. The world is made of paper, and you fold it to solve puzzles? ALSO, it's very pretty.
Katharine: I managed to play a very early demo of this at EGX 2021 when it appeared as part of the Leftfield Collection, and yep, this origami puzzler is super smart. Using the front and back of your little paper squares to move around the map is pure genius, and it looks stunning, too – as you’d expect from the dev who previously made the equally lovely Hue. If you liked Carto, this is definitely one to watch.
Alice0: Payday 2 had an awkward journey, bumping through business models of varying pleasantness, but at heart the first-person sneak-o-shooter had some cracking cooperative capers. Four players working together to calm crowds, deactivate alarms, drill locks, and escape with the booty is a joy when it goes smoothly, and it can be just as fun to gun through waves of cops, Heat-style, when it goes wrong. It became increasingly silly over the years to, going from robbing small banks to (genuinely) stealing signed blank Presidential pardons for themselves from the White House. Payday 3 has already gone through a mighty bumpy journey, with its makers almost closing down, but they do say the gang will return this year and I'm excited to resume my crimeing.
Pepper GrinderRelease date: 2023
Katharine: It took precisely five seconds for Pepper Grinder to get an instant yes from me when I saw its reveal trailer at the end of last year. While some have (very understandably) taken to calling it a spiritual successor to the likes of Drill Dozer, the thing that immediately burst through the soft, dazzled surface of my old noggin a whole game of the excellent burrow sections from Ori And The Will Of The Wisps. That's a pretty excellent premise already, as far as I'm concerned, let alone its additional giant mechs, bigger bosses, great big honking machine guns, and neat-looking puzzle elements. I also just love that you're called Pepper and your drill's called Grinder. The perfect touch.
Rachel: Go to the dev’s twitter profile and look at the gifs for this gem. *chef’s kiss*
Planet Of Lana
Ollie: I remember writing about Planet Of Lana for our 2022 list of most anticipated games. Since then, a couple more delightfully crafted trailers have dropped, and my excitement has only grown. Planet Of Lana is a gorgeous 2D puzzle platformer which I cannot help but compare to Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee (probably my favourite ever platformer). Ever since Abe's Oddysee's release back at the beginning of my life, there's been a dreadful lack of good 2D platformers which focus on creative puzzle-solving rather than fighting. That's why Planet Of Lana is so exciting. It's not about fighting. It's about carefully surveying situations and using your brain to avoid the dangers before you, in what looks like very similar ways to the early Oddworld games.
Alice Bee: I'm pleased with all the co-op games that I'm mentally earmarking as Left4DeadButs – as in, Left 4 Dead but with cards, Left 4 Dead but a spaceship, and so on. Redfall is Left 4 Dead but vampires, and it's made by Arkane, which means I am honour-bound to be excited for it. You play as a team of survivors with technica/magical/otherwise sort of eldritch powers, and also guns, in the titular town. Redfall has been isolated from the world by a group of vamps, and they've done a Monty Burns block-out-the-sun deal to boot. Players have to fight not only the boss-mode vampires, but also cultists who have gone the if you can't beat em route. I'm excited to see how a game like this plays out on a map that is larger and more open-worldy than the narrow level design that I'm used to in a L4Dbut.
Katharine: I will never not be pumped for Replaced. The release got pushed back to 2023 during the middle of last year, but the latest glimpse we got during the Geoff Awards at the end of last year shows it still looks as slick and rad as ever. In this neon-drenched cyberpunk adventure, you play a sentient AI stuck inside a human body against its will. As you investigate the seedy underbelly of Phoenix City, you'll be John Wick-ing its various goons, outlaws and cyber thugs with your knuckles and deadly heel kicks, and hopefully finding out what landed you in this fleshy meat sack in the first place. It looks absolutely stunning, too, and I can't wait to drink in its detailed pixel art later this year.
Rebecca: I became absolutely besotted with Romancelvania after playing the demo at last October's Steam Next Fest, and while there's no confirmed release date for the full game yet, the dev team's social media posts seem quietly confident that they'll have good news for us at some point in 2023. To me, this game feels like a perfect mix of old and new: harking back to the side-scrolling action-platformers of my childhood, while incorporating the kind of monster dating storylines that I've been all about for the past few years. It borrows inspiration from a bunch of different sources, ranging from Castlevania to Love Island, and the resultant tongue-in-cheek humour is never less than perfectly pitched. Hmmm… old, new, borrowed… all it needs is something blue and I think I'll actually set my sights on marrying this game. What colour are the elemental power-up gems again?
SCHiMRelease date: 2023
Rachel: I’ve made it a bit of a habit of stalking SCHiM’s Twitter account just to see if developer Ewoud van der Werf has uploaded any more gorgeous gifs. With a striking, dual colour art style and use of light and shadow, it’s certainly an attention-grabbing game, and together with its novel platforming idea of only being able to jump from shadow to shadow - I mean, what’s not to love about SCHiM? You also play as the cutest lil frog creature, a lost shadow who is on a mission to find its creator. It’s a clever and playful idea and I’m excited to dive right into SCHiM’s unusual hitch-hiking traversal when it releases sometime this year.
Shadows Of Doubt
Alice0: A stealthy detective mystery immersive sim set in an open-world rainy city filled with people living their own lives to their own schedules with their own homes and job? And I get to try hacking or breaking into so many places on my hunt for the truth? And interviewing people and checking CCTV footage and phone call histories? AND I get to pin evidence to a board with red string connecting items? I am very excited by so much of what Shadows Of Doubt is talking about. Here's a combination hyperbolic declaration/sick burn for you: finally, an interesting use for an Elder Scrolls-style world.
Ed: Apparently each citizen has a shoe size, so if you find footprints at a murder scene you'll already have some valuable evidence. Woah. I'm not usually one for detective games, but I'm very excited to pitch up in Rainy City and get amongst the murders.
Silent Hill 2
Rebecca: I'm happy to stick my head above the parapet and voice the minority view that I'm actually pretty down for the Silent Hill 2 remake. At the very least, the remake won't require me to deep clean the dust out of my PS2 in order to play it; so, worst case scenario, if it really sucks, it'll convince me to stop being lazy and do some goddamned housework. The medicine goes down easier since I'm a Bloober Team fan, of course, although I admittedly prefer their walking sim psychological titles to their more recent forays into stealth and combat. Still, I recall the original SH2 well enough to know that the monster fighting was never the highlight anyway: that all lay in the atmosphere, the puzzle solving, the off-kilter characters. And can Bloober Team deliver on those qualities, alongside a slightly janky combat system where I elect never to upgrade from my initial weapon of choice (my beloved wooden-plank-with-nails-driven-through-it)? I think yes.
Alice0: I have zero faith in Bloober Team's clumsy, 'shocking', and obvious style of horror. Even from the few scraps we've seen so far, ugh yes of course they've leaned harder into sexy sexy nurses, swapping flat shoes for strappy heels and raising hemlines higher to showcase suspenders stretched across thighs, because heaven forbid Bloober Team allow the faintest shred of subtlety. I have no interest in this remake but I do I harbour some groundless blind hope that maybe, just maybe, it might somehow lead to Konami re-releasing more classic Silent Hill games on PC. Maybe even pay the modders who've kept them playable.
Silent Hill: Townfall
Alice0: But I'll tell you a Silent Hill game I am interested in: the mysterious new one from No Code, the team behind Stories Untold and Observation. No idea what it's about. No idea when it's coming. Honestly, even the fact that it's coming under the Silent Hill name means little to me; Konami and the Silent Hill brand exhausted all trust and faith long ago. But No Code make good, interesting, and unexpected games, and I'm certainly keen to see what they make next.
Alice0: Few game concepts sound cooler to me than a crystalline demon skateboarding through Hell to swallow the Moon and earn their freedom. What we've seen of Skate Story looks great too, both in terms of being the prettiest dang game and in looking pretty fun. With a skate video-style view, trundle along treacherous passages, pull sikk stunts, and explore a Hell which looks like a dim reflection of the human world. I really like how it has street-level tricks rather than extreme arcade Tony Hawker's Pro Skater stunts, just a regular demon using their skateboard as transport and adding a little personal flair. It looks very human, a great contrast to how otherworldly the rest is. I'm trying to avoid seeing more of Skate Story until it comes out and I can play for myself so okay, bye.
Snufkin: Melody of MoominvalleyRelease date: 2023
Rebecca: If I tell you that something is a bit like the licensed franchise tie-in version of a recent-ish indie darling, you'd usually be right to be suspicious. But hear me out on this one: it's like A Short Hike, but with Moomins! My memories of Moomins are from such an early phase of my childhood that they're not even really memories, just memories of memories. All I know is that Moomins are adorable squishy marshmallow creatures, the very mention of the series makes me intensely nostalgic, and the idea of revisiting Moominvalley in video game form makes me want to have a wistful little cry. That's probably going to be the gameplay loop here, for me: play a bit, weep a bit, call my mum just to tell her I love her, repeat.
Alice0: I love the laughter, and I do love the living.
Rachel: I just wanna make a quick note here that some people think Moomins are creepy. Moomins are NOT CREEPY and whoever says they are will be fed to The Groke.
Sorry We're Closed
Alice0: I don't have buckets of nostalgia for retro survival horror, but combine that with weird vibes, first-person shooting, and striking character designs, and I'm in. Sorry We're Closed plays through a cursed woman's final days, exploring her town, chatting and helping people, and shooting baddies. Silent Hill meets Killer7 meets Paradise Killer? I do not know, and am keen to find out.
Story Of Seasons: A Wonderful LifeRelease date: 2023
Liam: Fun fact: I didn’t even know Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life was getting a remake until I started writing entries for this list. It probably doesn’t help that my brain refuses to accept that Harvest Moon is now called Story of Seasons, and modern Harvest Moon games are actually just hollow husks wearing the rotting flesh suit of the once revered series. Still, A Wonderful Life was always my favourite of the farming sim’s earlier entries. It’s a little more muted. A bit more grounded. Other than, you know. All those elves that help you milk cows and whatnot. I’m unsure how well this holds up in a post Stardew Valley world, but I’m curious to find out.
Sucker For Love: Date To Die ForRelease date: TBA
Rebecca: Sucker For Love: First Date ended up as one of my favourite games of 2022, so I was delighted to learn that it was the start of a planned trilogy. Happily, it looks like we're not in for a long wait, as Sucker For Love: Date To Die For is seemingly on track to release in 2023. It looks like it's going to change up the formula quite a bit, with all-new art and different characters, so we might not get the eldritchly-ever-after for D and Ln'eta that I'd been hoping to see in the sequel. In fact, Date To Die For isn't going to be a horror game at all, according to its Steam page. Instead, our new protagonist gets to enjoy a relaxing time investigating mysterious disappearances in a rural town ruled by cultists, while maybe also growing closer to the series' latest dateable entity: Rhok'zan, The Black Goat of the Woods. Sounds super on-the-level and not at all menacing.
TchiaRelease date: 2023
Rachel: Okay, here’s the best bit about Tchia in a single sentence: you can take control of any animal or object you find and muck around on a lovely tropical island. There’s plenty more going on, obviously, but that’s the very cool bottom line. There’s also the traversal (climbing, gliding, swimming, and sailing) and the wonderful archipelago inspired by New Caledonia. That’s not where the inspiration stops either, as the island’s ecosystem, clothing, food, and characters are all inspired by New Caledonia culture, the homeland of developer Awaceb’s founders. It honestly looks like such a wholesome, laid-back adventure - Breath Of The Wild meets Alba: A Wildlife Adventure.
Terra NilRelease date: 2023
From: Steam, GOG
Liam: I’ve heard folks describe Terra Nil as the “Anti-Sim City” but I'm unsure if I'd describe them as opposites. I think they work better as a duo, actually. Two games that, together, deliver a singular narrative about our collective effect on the planet we call home. Whereas your time with Sim City (or any city builder for that matter) is primarily spent destroying natural landscapes with roads and schools and big statues of llamas or whatever, Terra Nil is about tidying up your mess after you’re done. And by done I mean gone. Like, “Oh shit we ruined the planet and now it’s little more than a desert covered husk” gone. It’s your job in Terra Nil to restore nature, pumping water into vacant riverbeds and cultivating flora until a once barren plain is lush and thriving with life again. Then, it’s time to pack up your things and leave it all behind. After all, haven’t we all done enough damage as it is?
The 22nd Is Serda. f0a178
From: Steam, Itch.io
Alice0: I've seen screenshots of Serda, read descriptions of Serda, and watched videos of Serda, and absolutely I could not tell you what Serda is. Some sort of surreal first-person RPG, maybe? It reminds me of Ice-Pick Lodge games in some way, which are very good things to be reminded of. I know I keep saying "I'm trying to avoid learning much more until it's out and I can play," and the same is true here, but I suspect I could keep on staring at new screenshots and still not learn much more. Good.
The Great War: Western Front
From: Steam, Epic Games Store
Katharine: Company Of Heroes 3 and Men Of War 2 might have the WW2 RTS sown up this year, but The Great War: Western Front is taking a very different line of attack, shifting its focus to the First World War and its trench warfare. Instead of making sweeping power plays across individual missions, you'll be fighting for control over multiple battlegrounds, revisiting maps over time to wear down the enemy and drive their National Will into the dirt. You'll do this through a mix of real-time battles and moments of strategic planning in its Theatre Commander mode, and having only played a bit of the former so far, I'm intrigued to see how one affects the other. If you're keen to see what the Command & Conquer Remastered devs did next, this is definitely one to watch.
The Milk Lake
Alice0: Another Screenshot Saturday sweetie, The Milk Lake is an action-RPG with big monsters and a tiny little person. I suspect it may not be a 2023 game, given that we've not seen much concrete so far, but what they hey. What I have seen is beautiful and delicate and fretful. Out for revenge against the dragon who killed her family, our hero has dynamic animation which carefully positions her careful self in the world. She winds through obstacles, reaches out to touch trees as she brushes past, wobbles along on her little legs, and oh, I want to protect her. It's a great mood in video clips, and reading the marketing blurb does have me interested in the offer of "Shadow Of The Colossus-esque baddies" and "moral decision-driven character building". Don't know a huge amount it right now; am already so excited by the experience of watching the little bits I can see.
The Pale BeyondRelease date: 2023
Katharine: The Pale Beyond had an enormous demo at the end of last year (it's still available to download right now, if you fancy giving it a go), and its tale of an arctic rescue expedition gone wrong was just intensely gripping. It's essentially Frostpunk at sea, where you're unexpectedly thrust into the captain's chair after your ship gets stuck in the ice and have to keep everyone onboard happy, fed, warm and alive. It has a brilliantly written cast of prickly characters and increasingly knotty relationships to navigate, and I came away from the demo absolutely enthralled by it. If you ever wanted a video game that captured the same kind of tension and paranoia as 2018's The Terror over on your telly box, chart a course for The Pale Beyond this instant.
The Plucky Squire
Katharine: Another surprise star from last year's notE3, The Plucky Squire looks like an absolute darling. Its reveal trailer was a proper rug pull moment for me last June, turning what looked to be a lovely, albeit familiar 2D picture book adventure (the devs also previously worked on The Swords Of Ditto) into a gorgeous 3D action platformer in the blink of an eye. Your plucky protagonist Jot will be jumping into all sorts of household items from the looks of things, solving puzzles, biffing baddies and saving his mates from the evil Humgrump. Humgrump! What a name for a villain! Just perfect. If you enjoyed Tinykin last year, this is definitely one to keep an eye on.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Hayden: I’ve never seen a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, but I really want to play the game. This is part of an unintentional tradition with asymmetrical horrors, as I hadn’t seen a Friday The 13th or Evil Dead until I played the respective games either. I generally find horror games far scarier than movies, so I think this is how I prefer to discover the big franchises. Rather than shouting at the screen, begging chainsaw fodder to run, please run, run far away, I can become the chainsaw fodder. That’s how I like to experience my scares, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre could easily become a favourite for my pals and I to play while screaming over Discord.
The Wolf Among Us 2Release date: 2023
From: Epic Games Store
Hayden: The Wolf Among Us 2 is one of Telltale’s comeback projects, but it’s hard to know what that entails. Sure, it’ll probably have plenty of dialogue options and tense choices throughout the branching adventure, but I’m cautiously excited to see whether this feels like a true sequel after so long, and whether it revisits the original’s infamous cliffhanger between the new mysteries. After all, it’s been almost a decade since we last wolfed out as Bigby, despite Season 2 picking up the story just six months later. Who knows, but I’m ready to find out.
Rachel: A game where I get to beat the crap out of my exes? Sign me the fuck up. Thirsty Suitors is a story-driven RPG where you play as Jala, a young woman who after getting booted out of her ex's house has recently moved back to her hometown hoping to turn over a new leaf and get her shit together. However, her exes (some bitter, others angry, most out for revenge) disagree and seemingly have other plans for Jala. It's a fun idea a la Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, but the one thing that really stuck out from the demo when I played it last year was that Thirsty Suitors has STYLE. The drip is unreal here. The turn-based battles are a plethora of colour and comic-book action, and conversations are stuffed with witty comments, thirst humour, and deadpan sass. It also looks a little bonkers - there’s a bit in the demo’s battle where Jala summons a huge, psychological spectre of her mother who takes out her giant chappal and flattens her ex with it - incredible stuff.
Alice0: A genre I always enjoy: peacefully travelling through somewhere very pretty as an animal. Grounded in Māori mythology, Toroa is about an albatross flying across the Pacific ocean, gliding high on currents and stopping down below to help animals in quests. Those skies are stunning! Please let me into them soon. Fingers crossed for a 2023 release.
Rachel: I need more cooking games in my life, which is why I’ve been watching Venba’s development process as closely as watching a delicious cake rise slowly in an oven. It’s a narrative cooking game where you play as an Indian mum, Venba, who immigrates to Canada with her husband and son in the 1980s. According to the game’s lead designer, Venba’s story is 100% autobiographical and that each recipe you get to cook is an authentic Southern Indian dish. Alongside the cooking, Venba also explores “family, love and loss” and the ways in which food can bring people together while also acting as an important connection to a home left behind. Very excited about this one!
VideoverseRelease date: 2023
Katharine: This Nintendo Miiverse-inspired visual novel is the next game from One Night Stand dev Kinmoku, and cor, this looks extremely my jam - and not just because of the Miiverse connection. As video game-obsessed teen Emmett, you'll be perusing online forums, communities and more on your Kinmoku Shark console, making friends, reporting trolls and shaping the direction of the Videoverse social network. Think Hypnospace Outlaw, but without the corporate mind control (although given its Steam page also mentions potential "corporate conspiracies" to become embroiled in, maybe the Hypnospace comparison is more accurate than it appears!). Either way, I'm all in.
Warhammer 40,000: BoltgunRelease date: 2023
Liam: I’ve always appreciated the grimdark world of Warhammer 40K from afar, worried that if I get too close I’ll end up supergluing my fingers together again like I did when I tried to get into the hobby as a teenager. I love the aesthetics of space Britain, but outside of Relic’s original Dawn of War RTS, I’ve never really gelled with its video game adaptations. Still, despite this, I’m really excited for Boltgun, a retro-inspired FPS that feels like a Warhammer game made for me. The sight of pixelated firearms is enough to get me on board, but pixelated Boltguns? Those are the best guns! Crunchy. Hefty. Viscous. It’s no wonder the whole game is named after one.
Alice0: I hadn't heard of this game before and genuinely thought this was a plea for a good bolter roll to drop in Darktide.
Warhammer 40K: Space Marine 2
Release date: 2023
James: Mea culpa, I included this in last year’s most anticipated games list as well, on the back of nothing but a CGI trailer. Rookie mistake. Twelve months later, this pleasant surprise of a Space Marine sequel has yet to emerge into the Materium, but we now do have word it’s aiming for a 2023 release, as well as some in-game footage. Cheers, Geoff. Once again, then, I would please like to play as the big stompy murder monk. What we’ve seen of Space Marine 2 suggests it already has a strong grasp on the towering sense of scale that 40K thrives on, and with those bigger battles casting the insectoid swarms of the Tyranids as your main foes, there’s the possibility for even more fierce, screen-filling melees than in the original. I can see why horde fight experts Saber Interactive, of the unexpectedly enjoyable World War Z tie-in game, are taking this one. I hope we’re not exclusively stomping out bugs, though. Unlike the first game’s Orks and Chaos troops, Tyranids can’t speak, and it’s less fun to call someone foul xenos scum when they can’t talk back.
WildfrostRelease date: 2023
Hayden: Wildfrost stood out on the EGX floor last year, and it became a personal show highlight. It’s a deckbuilding and card-battling roguelite that feels instantly familiar, but also challenging enough to require the tactical part of my brain. Think Hearthstone, but with creature cards that have their own abilities and effects, and items that you can use to buff or destroy cards to obtain an advantage. That makes your deck feel interactive, as cards combo and pop off in cool synergies that can feel really satisfying to figure out. Oh, and it’s also very cute. The card designs are adorable. There are too many to name, but I always come back to Big Berry. I love them. I want them in my life. I imagine more time spent with Big Berry this year will undoubtedly make me much happier.
Phew! I think we're finally done! Which of these many excellent games are you most looking forward to playing in 2023, dear reader? Tell us what's on your radar in the comments below!