Game of the Year 2023 - Biggest Surprise

Admittedly, not all surprises are good. No one enjoys having a car breakdown with no notice, for example. However, there are plenty of times a surprise is a welcome thing, and when a video surprises us for all of the right reasons, it’s something to celebrate. Maybe you stumble onto a gem you never heard of but can’t put down. Perhaps you went into a game with low or moderate expectations, and it surpassed all of them. That’s what we’re talking about here – those pleasant surprises.


Fate/Samurai Remnant

This one was a surprise on several fronts. For one, I wasn’t even aware this was releasing. Secondly, while I’ve been pretty caught up on Fate/ games and anime in the past, this setting was a new one for me as well. Then when it came to the game itself, I found the improvements across the board a major improvement over the prior two titles in the series.


Sea of Stars

Earlier this year, I spied a neat indie RPG game that had all the makings of something I would enjoy reviewing. I wasn’t wrong. Sea of Stars grabbed me by my hand and took me on an epic journey. This brilliant game has excellent writing, combat, decent pacing, and a useful fishing mechanic! Unlike other games where you can hold all the potions and all the consumables to heal, Sea of Stars forces you to make critical choices in every fight. It even has a neat little mini game that I found myself oddly addicted to. Needless to say, I enjoyed absolutely everything about the game (except the somewhat slow beginning), and it was a pleasant surprise. Thus, here it sits in my list of 2023.

Cyberpunk: Phantom Liberty

The second entry to our category of the biggest surprise is none other than Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty. From the ashes came a phoenix in this DLC, which not only made people realize how good the game ACTUALLY IS, but it revitalized the company that dropped the ball so very hard on launch back in 2020. With the continuous updates, bug fixes, and complete overhaul of many features of the game (including the tech tree), CDPR knocked this one out of the park. (They also won best ongoing game at The Game Awards which is interesting because they canned the idea of multiplayer a while back - but I digress.) Recently, patch 2.1 dropped which included a ton of bug fixes, additional challenge to races and gigs, and some key features like ongoing romances, it’s safe to say that I’m 100% invested. Phantom Liberty itself added new characters, villains, a new area to explore, additional gigs, and tons more! It helps that the introductory quest to Dogtown keeps you at the edge of your seat. Not only keeping it interesting for experienced players, but hooking new players as well. I would almost have it competing with GOTY, but suffice it to say, the improvements that have been made to CP77 on EVERY level have pleasantly surprised me. I loved the game to begin with, but now I’m fully invested in a world that I had already dumped about 300 hours into. It is the definition of biggest surprise, in my opinion. 



For Biggest surprise, I'm going to have to go with Ripout. While technically still in early access, and with a few bugs to iron out at the time of writing this, Ripout was an interesting title I wasn't really sure I'd enjoy the first time I picked it up. Luckily for me, and anyone else who snagged a copy of Ripout, I was pleasantly surprised. A weird sort of combination between horror, first-person shooter, and roguelite, Ripout was a fun trek through mutant filled space stations, with a lot of spooks, a few jumps, and a lot of bullets.


The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The latest entry into The Legend of Zelda series is always a big thing for me. Having grown up exploring Hyrule, there has always been an excitement whenever a new one is announced but this one came with a bit of doubt.

Direct sequels are a bit rare in this series and come with a big question. How do you honour the previous entry while not doing the same thing? This was my biggest concern as Breath of the Wild was the first open world experience for this series and I didn't want to do more of the exact same for a sequel. 

Well, taking a week off of work for the launch, sinking over 70 hours, I was pleasantly surprised that the two couldn't have been more different from the three planes of sky, ground and underground alongside the building mechanics with their intense physics. While contradictions are a plenty with it's predecessor, it was still loads of fun with plenty to do!




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