Staff Picks: Camille’s Top 5 Games of 2023 – Quaint, Existential & Nostalgic

Staff Picks: Camille’s Top 5 Games of 2023 – Quaint, Existential & Nostalgic

2023 has indeed been one hell of a year for video games, so chock-full of amazing releases that it’s hard to believe all of this has happened in one year. It has truly been a delight to see a medium I adore continue to thrive and develop, and it has brought me even more joy to be able to share this experience with more and more people. So, thank you to everyone reading or watching Noisy Pixel’s content for being part of this adventure!

This year has been filled with surprises and unforgettable moments, leaving me impatient to see what next year will bring. But in the meantime, let’s look back at five games that made my year.

5. Cassette Beasts

Cassette Beasts 5

Like many others, I grew up dreaming of embarking on an adventure, traveling the world with a team of companions by my side, and testing my skills. And like most, that is not exactly what life had in store for me, but I still love games that let me return to this fantasy, and Cassette Beasts does this perfectly. Heavily inspired by Pokémon, it scratches that nostalgic itch and offers its own take on the successful creature-collecting formula.

As the title suggests, Cassette Beasts is music-themed, and so it offers an absolutely fantastic soundtrack while letting you explore its charming world. While it has everything fans of the genre would want, from battles against NPCs to cool beasts and evolutions and challenging bosses to test your skills against, it also offers unique twists with a fusion mechanic and a surprisingly complex type advantage system. Should you feel nostalgic like me, please check out Cassette Beasts!

4. Dredge

dredge screenshot 1 dec 09

Take a fishing game, and make it… spooky? At first glance, I was not sure how to feel about Dredge. On the one hand, I love a good fishing minigame, but I would not necessarily call myself a fan of pure fishing games. On the other hand, I associate fishing with being calm and relaxing, so introducing eldritch horror into the genre seemed ambitious. But Dredge does this beautifully.

The atmosphere is eerie, and the world the developers crafted is small but beautiful in its own haunting way. I was deeply invested in finding out more about the characters I met and learning about the protagonist’s mysterious past. I was on the edge of my seat, fishing for my life until the very last second. If you want a fresh take on eldritch horror that relies on its chilling atmosphere rather than jumpscares or gore, please check out Dredge!

3. Melatonin

melatonin screenshot 7

I’m fascinated by people who are good at rhythm games – there is something hypnotic about watching them chain together flawless combos following patterns I am too slow to even perceive. Unfortunately, I am far too slow and uncoordinated to manage such a feat, so finding a rhythm game that gripped me was a pleasant surprise this year.

Melatonin’s graphic style is unique, with its pastel colours and hand-drawn art, and I found it utterly charming. And don’t even get me started on the soundtrack, because else I will be forced to admit how many times I bumped into my desk jamming to the catchy OST. If you want a short game that will bring you joy and leave you looping its tunes months after finishing it, check out Melatonin!

2. The Talos Principle 2

The Talos Principle 2 1

As one of my most anticipated sequels this year, The Talos Principle 2 did not disappoint. I love games that make you think, and it does this in more than one way. Its story gained so much depth after the first entry, touching on fascinating topics. What does it mean to be human? How does one find purpose in life?

While those questions left me somewhat at a loss, solving the clever and creative puzzles of The Talos Principle 2 had me feeling like a genius. I really hope fans of philosophical storylines and/or puzzlers will give this a chance, as it was one of my highlights this year!

1. Coffee Talk: Episode 2 – Hibiscus & Butterfly

Coffee Talk Episode 2 Hibiscus Butterfly 4

Speaking of good sequels, I can’t not mention Coffee Talk 2! The first entry left me thinking about its characters and wondering what comes next in their story for months after I finished it, so I tackled its sequel with high expectations. Coffee Talk 2 saw many familiar characters return, expanding their storylines and deepening their relationships while introducing a handful of new, charming patrons for you to interact with.

The gameplay is simple. Its visual novel-type storytelling is sometimes interspersed with coffee making or scrolling through fictional social media, giving you more insights into the characters’ lives. Still, most of my time was spent reading – and crying tears of joy. If you like getting overly invested in fictional characters’ lives and need a serotonin boost, Coffee Talk 2 feels like a warm hug on a cold winter day.

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