It is becoming increasingly difficult to define an adventure game, because doesn’t every game take you on an adventure? Even if you are not traversing a fantastic wilderness or flying into the depths of space, you can go on an emotional adventure with your protagonist, or just have your own moment by playing a game. In a way, then, I guess this list could just be a top 5 games of the year, but that defeats the point.
No, an adventure game is something different. It gives a player a unique sense of freedom. That may be because of the world, the things you can do, the escapism it offers, but without shoving Baldur’s Gate III down your throat again, I’ve compiled a list of the best adventure games to watch in 2023.
Coming from Awaceb, a relatively small development team from New Caledonia, Tchia is a beautiful, passionate tribute to that homeland. It’s packed with lush forests and shimmering oceans to explore, in addition to lots of delicious food to feast on and fun songs to sing. It’s more of a sandbox, but it does give you a story that runs through its core, a story that could certainly be described as an adventure.
Tchia’s journey to save her father and her fellow islanders from an evil creature that eats children feels like the kind of story your parents told you as a child before you went to sleep. It’s not the most nuanced story, nor is it our absolute favorite adventure game of the year, but if you want chill vibes, beautiful visuals and a world full of life, check it out.
4. Oxenfree II: Lost signals
This is definitely a jump from Tchia, but that’s simply because adventure is such a broad term that it really encompasses many different games. Oxenfree II: Lost Signals begins a few years after the first game and is a story-oriented adventure in which you slip into the role of Riley as she is tasked with investigating strange signals coming to the town of Camena.
Without giving anything away, the plot takes you on a wild ride of twists and turns as you discover the mysteries behind these lost signals. Your choices matter, and not just in the way many games these days say they do. It may not have quite met our expectations, but it’s still a narrative adventure worth checking out if you’re in the mood for a good mystery.
In a year full of big, high-profile releases, Don’t Nod’s Jusant has remained a bit under the radar. In any other year, it could have been in the running for a Game of the Year nod, even, that’s how good this puzzle/adventure game is. As you and a watery companion climb a massive tower, you’ll also watch an incredible story unfold.
Again, we’ve made a bit of a leap between genres here, and you’ll see even bigger leaps in the other items on this list, but if the best adventure games give us a chance to tell you about some of the best puzzle and exploration games out there from this year, we’ll cover as many other subgenres as needed. Jusant is not only beautiful to look at, it is a wonderful fantasy adventure that should not be missed, even if it was not the game that shined brightest this year.
2. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Recency bias is incredibly difficult to overcome. It’s a bit of a difficult task to remember the experience of Hogwarts Legacy, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor or even Final Fantasy XVI when the second half of 2023 has been so strong, but if we’re talking about adventure games, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor should come into the discussion. Cal Kestis’ second outing certainly fits into the action/adventure genre and builds on the first in every way, giving us more great combat options, larger worlds to explore and breathtaking visuals at every turn.
Star Wars fans may not have the best content to choose from right now when it comes to TV and movies, but if Respawn handles the IP so well with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor that there is still some hope for a galaxy far, far away. It may not have been able to win at The Game Awards, but it’s a winner as good as the best Star Wars game in recent memory.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
I said no Baldur’s Gate III, so instead you’ll have to suffer through me praising my previous GOTY choice. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom had a huge task to surpass Breath of the Wild, but in my opinion it did that and more. Yes, we still travel through Hyrule, but the changes to the biomes, sky and underground map add so much that it feels like I can’t go back to the 2017 version of Hyrule.
With a much better story this time around, a world that feels much more lived in and countless hours waiting to be spent creating the ultimate death robot with the new powers, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom led us on an adventure we won’t soon forget.