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The Gamerheads Podcast's Top-reviewed Games of 2023: A Year of Outstanding and Unique Experiences



Rather than selecting a game of the year, we have highlighted the games that received a rating of A- or higher in our reviews throughout the past year. Therefore, we present our list of top-reviewed games of 2023, arranged chronologically based on when we reviewed them.




Sail Forth


Final grade: A-

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Also on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam


The fact that this game combines chill mechanics like fishing and taking pictures with intense pirate battles makes for a unique experience. The story is compelling, but what makes this game fun is how you’ll find yourself retelling your family and friends the adventure you just went on.





A Space for the Unbound


Final grade: A

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Also on: PlayStation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 5, Steam


A Space for the Unbound is a perfect example of a well-told story set in an adventure-style game. A few games have tried to revive this classic genre, but they have yet to do it as well as A Space for the Unbound. Whether you're new to the genre or a veteran, you’ll find plenty to love in this beautifully created game.





Gal Guardians: Demon Purge (aka Grim Guardians: Demon Purge)


Final grade: A

Reviewed on: Xbox Series X/S

Also on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, PlayStation 5


Grim Guardians: Demon Purge is a fantastic game. It’s got challenging gameplay, gorgeous 2D pixel animation, and memorable characters. Controls are tight, the game isn’t overly difficult (unless you choose it to be), and it’s got a lot of personality. Characters are lively and well-voiced, and you are constantly forced to choose the right character for the situation and switch on the fly. The game itself is pretty short, with only seven levels, but it extends this by encouraging players to go back to each level and find the missing schoolmates.  Those of you expecting a true Metroidvania may be let down, but honestly – give it a chance. Sure, it’s not what you were hoping for, but you’ll be plenty satisfied with what you’ll get.





Dredge


Final grade: A

Reviewed on: Xbox Series X/S

Also on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam


Dredge packs together so many elements and emotions – the calm of being in an open area, the desolation and loneliness that comes with it, the anxiousness of the unfamiliar, and the fear that slowly builds to outright terror – and blends it all perfectly. The gameplay has the potential to get stale, but the engaging story and challenging side-quests are enough to keep your interest and want to keep going. We put in about 10 hours for the full story and hadn’t completed all the quests nor the fishing encyclopedia, so there are 20+ hours in Dredge if you’re a completionist. 





Pirates Outlaws


Final grade: A+

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Also on: PlayStation 4, Android, Xbox One, Steam, iOS


Pirates Outlaws is one of the best deck builders. It’s not overly complicated, yet challenging enough for veterans of the genre. Each run feels meaningful, as you’ll earn experience and repute to unlock new cards, characters, and levels. This game has plenty to do, and each run feels a bit different than the last. If you’ve never played a deck builder, you need to give Pirates Outlaws a go; you may find that you’re a fan of the genre after all.





OTXO


Final grade: A+

Reviewed on: Steam


OTXO’s story is a bit dark and mysterious. The opening scene has you and your girlfriend sitting on a train. A man in front of you gets up, and as he exits the train, he drops a mask. Your character picks it up and puts it on. Next thing you know, you’re on a beach. As you search your surroundings, you find a mansion. The groundskeeper tells you you’re now the new OTXO and must fight through the estate to save your girlfriend.


The game is top-down and black and white. Your character and the enemies you fight don’t have detailed faces. The only other color in the game is the red blood left behind in your wake of vengeance.


We love OTXO - it’s a fast-paced, twin-stick roguelike that does everything right. The mysterious story will keep you intrigued, but even without the narrative, the gameplay is so tight and polished that we found ourselves playing this game way late into the night.





Rogue Ascent


Final grade: A+

Reviewed on: Meta Quest 2


Do yourself a favor; get Rogue Ascent if you have a Meta Quest 2. It’s a unique experience, and playing Rogue Ascent feels like playing VR for the first time again. The game is deep, and each run will feel different outside of some standard checkpoint areas like mini-bosses and final bosses. In addition, there is Twitch integration, which has the chat native in the game - it’s not something we tried during our review of the game, but for those of you who like to stream, you can do so by just using the Meta Quest 2. Your Twitch followers can also help or hinder you during your run.





Garlic


Final grade: A-

Reviewed on: Xbox Series X/S

Also on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, PlayStation 5


There are few games out there quite like Garlic. It's a brutal game, and there are plenty of times that you'll make it to the end of a level and have no idea how you got there. The difficulty ramps up pretty nicely, but by the tenth level, the game becomes damn near impossible. If that challenge turns you off, this game might not be for you. But if you have a strong sense of “stickwithitness,” you'll get a ton of enjoyment from this strange little fellow. 





Frank and Drake


Final grade: A+

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Also on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 5


Frank and Drake is a must-own if you enjoy visual novels. The story between the two characters is riveting, as the mystery they are trying to solve pulls you in straight from the beginning. The artwork is a masterpiece, and the rotoscoping technique for the animation brings Frank and Drake to life. Considering this game has several different endings, you’ll finish the game and want to jump back in for another round.





Rain World: Downpour


Final grade: A

Reviewed on: Xbox Series X/S

Also on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Steam


Rain World isn’t like anything we’ve played before. It’s a survival game where part of the narrative is driven by how you approach it. Sneaking by intelligent enemies and harrowing escapes will keep your heart pounding - but it’s these moments that you retell your friends. This isn’t a typical platformer - instead, approach it like you are experimenting and exploring - knowing that it’s you against the elements. You will die a lot, and that’s ok. Part of the game's fun is trial and error and knowing what to do next time.





Antstream Arcade


Final grade: A-

Reviewed on: Xbox Series X/S



Antstream Arcade is a great way to access a cornucopia of classic video games for a very reasonable price. New games are regularly brought in, so there’s never a dull day. If you are a fan of retro gaming, and want to both relive your arcade experience and try some new titles, I wholeheartedly recommend Anstream Arcade.





The Making of Karateka


Final grade: A+

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Also on: PC, Xbox, PlayStation


Digital Eclipse impressed us with how much history they incorporate into their games. Karateka, in particular, stands out. They demonstrate exceptional attention to detail in portraying Jordan Mechner's journey into game development. They extensively utilize video footage and letters exchanged between Jordan and game studios and even incorporate notes from Jordan's journals. This showcases the immense love and research put into creating The Making of Karateka. Furthermore, they take great care to stay true to Jordan's original vision when remaking the game. The Making of Karateka is a prime example of how to approach history and remakes properly.





[I] Doesn't Exist


Final grade: A

Reviewed on: Steam



Play [I] Doesn't Exist if you crave something different and love narrative games that make you think. After playing it, you'll be compelled to talk to others about the game. This is a sign of good art - and [I] Doesn't Exist is a fantastic piece of art.





Dwerve


Final grade: A

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Also on: Steam


Dwerve, a beautiful pixelated RPG, pays homage to the games that came before it, building on the base and creating a fun and thrilling experience. It keeps you on your toes with its action-based tower defense tactics instead of relying on traditional turn-based combat. The epic hero quest story kept us driving forward to see it play out. It was not an easy game; it was punishing at times. However, the game's plenty of checkpoints kept it from becoming frustratingly difficult. If you are a fan of old-school RPGs and looking for something different than your typical turn-based games, Dwerve is the game for you.





Haunted House


Final grade: A-

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Also on: Steam, Xbox X/S, PS4, PS5, Atari VCS, Epic Games on: Nintendo Switch



Haunted House is a perfect example of how a retro game should be reimagined. And it’s one of the best roguelikes I’ve played; the progression of leveling up the characters feels like every run is a worthwhile investment. Those looking for a more challenging roguelike might find this game a bit too easy, but this is perfect for those looking to try a roguelike for the first time. Haunted House is a great Halloween game for players who enjoy a few jump scares but nothing too frightening.





Terra Alia


Final grade: A

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Also on: Steam


We were expecting Terra Alia to be a bit childish; however, Terra Alia is a decent RPG - it’s a reasonably deep RPG and an intriguing enough story to keep me playing. The incorporation of learning a new language is cleverly done. We didn’t expect to be fluent in French (and still aren’t), but we learned a few phrases and words along the way.





Slay the Princess


Final grade: A+

Reviewed on: Steam


Slay the Princess is easily our favorite game in the visual novel genre. Everything comes together perfectly; the story, the acting, the art, and the music all set the stage for an experience that makes you think and question what is real. This is a perfect game to play during the Halloween season as well. Slay the Princess is a masterpiece. 





Phantom Rose 2 Sapphire


Final grade: A+

Reviewed on: Steam


Phantom Rose 2 Sapphire adds features we haven’t seen in deckbuilders yet - the ability to play any card in your hand and an element of strategy. The game feels like a board game, buying new cards with in-game currency and creating a deck that best suits my gameplay style. The action is fast-paced and exciting; no two runs ever felt the same. The art is beautiful and gives some anime vibes. Phantom Rose 2 Sapphire is our favorite deckbuilder to date, and that says a lot in a crowded field.





In Stars and Time


Final grade: A+

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Also on: PlayStation 5,  PlayStation 4, Steam


We love "In Stars and Time" - it appears to be a simple RPG at first glance. The game is all in black and white. There’s nothing flashy about the presentation. The battle system is based on rock, paper, and scissors. But digging into the game, it’s soon apparent that there’s a lot of depth here. The story, the character, and the world-building absolutely won us over. The looping mechanic is interesting and could be a real hindrance to the game if not implemented correctly. But so much love and attention went into this game - everything works perfectly together. "In Stars and Time" is a hidden gem - for those new to RPGs, this is a great game to start with. And seasoned veterans in the genre will appreciate the deep storytelling, looping, and battle mechanics.





Doomsday Paradise


Final grade: A

Reviewed on: Steam


Doomsday Paradise successfully delivers a unique and quirky experience. The outstanding artwork and story are amusing yet well-crafted, and the combination of visual novel mechanics, RPG elements, and deckbuilding sets Doomsday Paradise apart in a crowded field. If you're seeking something different and don't mind a spicy dating sim filled with monsters and demons, Doomsday Paradise should definitely be on your list.



Did you play any of these games? Let us know in the comments below!


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