Naughty Dog’s Favorite Games of 2023
 December 11, 2023

Naughty Dog’s Favorite Games of 2023

A celebration of some of the games that thrilled and delighted us this year

Developers across the industry delivered an incredible lineup of games in 2023. From the thrilling web-slinging action of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, to sailing dangerous waters in Dredge, to the deep worldbuilding of Baldur’s Gate 3’s Dungeons & Dragons-inspired adventures, to so many more adventures than we could name, this year wowed us with memorable and varied gaming experiences. To celebrate 2023’s impressive lineup, we asked some of our developers which games they couldn’t pull themselves away from, and here are a few of the titles that captivated them most.

Alan Wake II

    Ashley Jane Morrow, Producer

    Alan Wake II is my favorite game of 2023 because of its groundbreaking approach to survival horror and its immersive storytelling that expands the narrative universe into other Remedy games. Seamlessly blending horror and comedy, Alan Wake II crafts an experience that keeps players engaged while also incorporating various media forms in an innovative way. The dynamic environments add a unique layer to its gameplay, which allows players to manipulate their surroundings to gain strategic advantages. It’s so good! A round of applause for Remedy!

      Baldur’s Gate 3

      Patrick Goss, Director of Quality Assurance

      As an old school D&D player, the Forgotten Realms games have always been as close as I felt I could get to replicating the experience of sitting down with friends and using pen and paper. But with apologies to an all-time favorite in Neverwinter Nights, it took Baldur’s Gate 3 to really get the 20-sided dice rolling… literally! The freedom Baldur’s Gate 3 gave me to choose what kind of character I wanted to play and how to react both tactically and narratively to situations is second to none. From character creation, to replaying events with a wildly different cast, to epic and challenging boss fights, it hits every note for people like me that love to sink neck deep into a state-of-the-art RPG. It’s a super polished game, and I’m a massive fan both personally and professionally of what Larian Studios accomplished.

      Melanie Jorgensen, Operations Specialist

        Baldur's Gate 3 is absolutely my favorite game of 2023! I’ll start with its stunningly beautiful graphics. Each act is packed full of gorgeous fantasy details. I love the little things - the different outfits, backgrounds, and character art. I've spent hours customizing my characters, adding all those little details that make them unique.

        I've lost count of the hours I've spent getting to know my companions, each with their own distinct personalities. It's hilarious and heartwarming at the same time. I can really appreciate the immense work and love put into this game by the developers. I mean, I've clocked nearly 190 hours on a single solo campaign! Playing Baldur's Gate 3 inspired me to play real D&D with my husband. We’ve now run three exciting campaigns with friends! Overall, Baldur’s Gate 3 was a remarkable experience.

          Bramble: The Mountain King

          Mariah Morris, Associate Producer

          Bramble: The Mountain King is a witch’s house made of gingerbread: I ate the entire door, and then it threw me into an oven. It’s a masterclass in folk horror that makes the most of the simplest game mechanics: run, hide, and DON’T be seen!

          The stealth sequences are tense and unsettling, the monsters are behemoth and deadly. You'll be holding your breath praying the gods are hearing your pleas for mercy. Every set piece and environment in-between are grimly beautiful, whimsical, yet completely full of nightmares, from quiet moments to screaming crescendos, you'll feel as if a child-gobbling troll is swinging you by the ankle. By the end of it, I felt I had truly overcome Olle’s childlike fears and learned to be brave in the face of what goes bump in the night. One zillion gold stars for Dimfrost Studios!

          Chants of Sennaar

          Matthew Gallant, Game Director

          Chants of Sennaar is a beautiful game about deciphering a foreign language through observation while climbing the Tower of Babel. This may sound daunting, but the game is smartly designed to gradually unfold in complexity. The real magic trick is recognizing that language and culture are deeply connected, so the narrative world-building and the vocabulary puzzle-solving reinforce each other. Sennaar creates these wonderful lightbulb moments when you recognize how two similar glyphs are related, or understand how one glyph modifies another, or finally piece together the meaning behind some inscrutable symbol.


            Evan Wells, Co-Head of Studio

            2023 has been packed full of amazing games so it's really hard to pick a favorite, but if I only get to highlight one, I'll have to choose Cocoon. The puzzle design is mind blowing! So many times, when I thought I was completely stumped, that “aha” moment would come and the solution became clear. I don’t know how the developers at Geometric Interactive so consistently pulled that off. And of course, the art direction was equally beautiful. It was an amazing experience the whole way through.


            Sebastian Gromann, Art Director

            My favorite game of 2023 is Dredge. Unlike a lot of other brilliant-looking games this year, this one wasn’t initially on my (sonar) radar. I love Dredge's moments of immense relief. As a down-on-their-luck fisherman, I’m far out on the sea as the sun sets. I haul in the latest catch. It’s a Blacktip Reef Shark - finally! Reeling it in takes longer than I thought. It’s pitch black now and the music intensifies as a Lovecraftian sea monster starts chasing me. Trying to avoid colliding with boulders, while occasionally checking my map for the nearest inhabited island, I just baaarely make it into the safety of a harbor. I dock, breathe, sleep, sell my fish, upgrade my vessel - and I’m ready to try my luck again. I wonder what's to the east of where I was yesterday? Dredge was almost impossible for me to put down.

            Lies of P

            Trent Tharalson, Associate Recruiter

            Lies of P was by far the biggest surprise of the year for me. It's a retelling of a classic childhood tale in a SoulsBorne shell that rivals the very titles that gave the genre its name. I completely fell in love with every aspect of it, from the interesting bosses to the incredible soundtrack to the world as a whole. My favorite aspect of Lies of P is the combat, specifically the high-risk, high-reward loop of perfecting my parry timing instead of dodging out of the way.

            It's rare for me to take the time to do a new game plus run in any game, let alone multiple runs, but trying new builds, new abilities, and uncovering various secrets exclusive to new game plus runs keep me coming back for more. 60 hours, three playthroughs and a Platinum trophy later I'm already itching to start playthrough number four. In a jam-packed year with countless games to play, I continued to make time for Lies of P again and again.

            Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

            Christina Drake, Recruiter

            I’m a diehard Spidey fan, and I knew Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was going to be good. But I wasn’t prepared to have my mind blown by how truly incredible it is. The opening tutorial is one of the most impressive introductions to a game I have ever seen. Spider-Man is a superhero that both my two-year-old son and I love, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 has action-packed, age-appropriate content that aligns with my partner and I's parenting strategy in terms of content and education about accessibility, disabilities, and diversity. It gives my two-year-old the opportunity to hold the controller and feel equally involved in the story by playing as Miles Morales and to see ASL used by his deaf cousins in action. The narrative is compelling and emotionally complex, and a love letter to Spider-Man fans across generations. The high-caliber cinematics, extensive side quests, and many customization options allow our family to have a shared experience with this beloved franchise!

            Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical

            Brian Sanders, Outsource Artist

            Mixing Greek mythology, urban fantasy, and musicals, Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical takes some of my favorite genres and creates a rare experience that I can’t help but sing about.

            Playing as an interactive mystery, the story of Stray Gods places the player at the heart of a crime: the murder of an Idol, one of the last of the ancient Greek gods. Despite being centered around gods, the core of this story explores a wide breadth of the human experience, dealing with topics of finding yourself, love, trauma, connection, and fate.

            I could sing praise endlessly for both the narrative and top-tier voice cast (including a few that fans of Naughty Dog will recognize), but the amazing roster of songs that drive the heart of this story bring everything about this game to the next level. The lyrics and rhythm shift based on your decisions as a player, propelling the story down branching paths as you uncover more of the overarching mystery.

            A single playthrough gave me seven hours of solid gameplay, and each additional replay has given me vastly different experiences – new dialogue trees, new lyrics, new choices – along with a soundtrack playing on loop in my mind.

            Street Fighter 6

            Wasim Khan, Director of Character Technology

            I’ve had an emotional connection with Street Fighter since I was nine years old. It’s the franchise that inspired me to pursue a career in game development. Street Fighter 6 is a world-class fighting game that drips in style and confidence with fantastic art direction and a cast of characters both old and new. For me it's one of the most impressive fighting games ever created.

              Super Mario Bros. Wonder

              Rochelle Snyder, Director of Communications

              I know I love a game when I wake up earlier than needed to get a turn in. The game that accomplished that this year was Mario Bros. Wonder. Listen, we all know the creative minds behind this franchise are delightfully askew oddballs and they really proved that out with this entry to the canon.

              Yeah, sure, let’s make a game where I’m an elephant wearing overalls keeping time to a beat, jumping my way through the clouds dodging giant Bowser fists, while using my hat as a parachute. Why not.

              Also, I don’t know who designed the Jump!Jump!Jump! level but I hope you’re happy with yourself.

              Anyways…while remaining nostalgically formulaic, the worlds are well thought out, unique and masterfully designed. The new gameplay capabilities and addition of making rhythm central to the experience are fantastic additions that beautifully layer onto the tried-and-true Mario mechanics. This also allows for a pretty sprawling choice of individualized play that’s really cohesively packaged. This game is bubble gum but make it something Willy Wonka would hand you with a smirk.

              The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

              Jeremy Yates, Co-Head of Art

              2023 was a masterful year for gaming, maybe the most complete in recent memory. That said, my favorite game pick has to go to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

              TotK reminded me why we do what we do: To make something that’s genuinely fun to play. Link’s latest adventure is a masterclass in game design, art design, and storytelling. It’s difficult for a sequel not to feel like a mere expansion, but to me the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild stands on its own. Every boss battle feels unique and every encounter feels grounded in the universe that decades of Zelda games worked hard to establish. Thank you, Team Nintendo, for this gift to the games industry and players everywhere.

              As we close the curtain on 2023, we want to thank the endlessly talented developers who created these incredible games. You inspire us daily and motivate us to reach new heights. To our fans, we can’t thank you enough for all the support and passion you share for the studio and our games. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and find some time to play the games you love!

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