It's that time again. We've made it to the end of another year and, as always, I like to take a look back before we move forward. While it's hard to believe this is actually F5 Games 18th year in operation! This is also the 8th year in a row that I have written up an 'end of year' post and I couldn't stand it if I let the tradition die here. So, let's see what 2023 looked like for F5 and then we'll get into a few 'Best Of' awards for the year. Grab a New Year's drink of your choice and let's dive in.
How was 2023 for F5 Games?
2023 has been a great year at F5, it feels like we have really turned a corner and are firing on all cylinders when it comes to development. We were able to release two new games this year, first Block Breakerz and then All-In Texas Hold'em! It is a great feeling to bring a game to the finish line and release it out into the world, and it always takes much more work and time then we expect, but it's definitely worth it. Both Block Breakerz and All-In Texas Hold'em are available on the Infinity Game Table and Infinity Game Board by Arcade 1Up as well as for the iPad and Kindle Fire Tablets. So, if you haven't played either of them yet, head over to the app store on any of those devices and look for the icons below. They are both great party games to share with your family and friends this New Year's Eve!
F5 Game Awards for 2023
Now it's time to take a look at some of the games that made an impact on me in 2023. As always these 'awards' are based on my personal opinion and are determined by what I played this year. Some of these games may or may not have been released this year but this is when they crossed my path so they are fair game. Alright, here we go!
Best Mobile Game that Doesn't Feel Like a Mobile Game - Huntdown
Huntdown is definitely not a 2023 game but if you haven't played it yet, on mobile or otherwise, you should definitely give it a try. This is a neon-soaked, cyberpunk, 80's arcade fever dream of a game that I just couldn't put down. Playing it on mobile was a revelation for me because it points the way to what we could have on our phones if free-to-play timer games hadn't taken over the market
In Hundown you play as one of 3 bounty hunters who are tasked with taking down various gangs around a futuristic cyberpunk city. Each stage is broken up into bit sized chunks where you face off against one of the 'gang bosses' and their parade of henchmen. The controls are tight, the action is fantastic, and the style just oozes out of the screen. If you are a fan of retro arcade games, you can't afford to miss Huntdown.
Best Shooter of 2023 - Warhammer 40K: Boltgun
To say that I am a shooter fan just doesn't do it justice. I love shooters, especially shooters of a certain Boomer variety. I'm still playing Doom 25 years after its release (the new Sigil II episode release by John Romero this year definitely helped with that). I have played a lot of different shooters this year and I can definitely say that none of them have been as fun, or hit me as hard, as Warhammer 40K: Boltgun.
Boltgun was released this year but it feels like a long lost release from 1997. The presentation is retro (with options for limited color palettes and chunky pixels) but more importantly the feel of the game is fast and open, just like a retro shooter should be. The levels are varied and sprawl out in all directions, vertical and horizontal, the movement is weighty, and the guns are oh so glorious! You can even slow down time, target a nearby enemy, and lock on to them for a chainsaw sword dash attack to extend your jumps. It's over the top in all the right ways.
Thankfully, I'm not the only one who loved Boltgun because that means there is a good chance we could get a sequel. I would love to see more enemies from the Warhammer 40K universe brought in for Boltgun 2 (Tyranids and Orks please) and this just feels like a game that could really gel into something even better in a second outing. Bottom line, if you're into shooters you owe it to yourself to give Boltgun a shot.
Best Game Played with My Daughters - Astro's Playroom for PS5
This is another game that came out several years ago but really only became a hit in our home over the last few months. My youngest two daughters absolutely fell in love with Astro's Playroom and it has been a joy watching them play through the levels, and helping out when I can.
While I always saw this game as simply a showcase for the new controller features on PS5 it really is a great platforming game in its own right. I also really loved all the callouts to the history of Playstation in the collectibles and level layouts. It has been a ton of fun to talk to the girls about all the little Playstation parts they find in each level. If you have a PS5 and have overlooked this one, especially if you have kids in the house, I would suggest giving it a try.
Game of the Year for 2023 - The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
This likely isn't a surprise, but it is still a triumph. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the best game I have ever played. It is a masterpiece of design, setting, gameplay, and interlocking systems that, as a developer, is still hard to fathom. For Nintendo to take the biggest and most successful Zelda game ever made in Breath of the Wild and then expand it both up and down is extraordinary. But, for them to do it and still make everything feel so fresh, by introducing new powers that not only let you navigate the world in new ways but allow you to dream up and build almost anything, is just incredible.
Zelda games have always allowed Nintendo to try new things. While the 'Zelda formula' has not shifted that much throughout the years Nintendo loves to use Zelda as canvas to implement new gameplay concepts. From time travel in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, sailing and open world gameplay in Wind Waker, and motion controls in Skyward Sword, Zelda has always wrapped something new in the familiar. With the additions in Tears of the Kingdom that give players the ability to fuse things together, build everything from rafts to robots, and create their own fun, we see that there is no limit to what Nintendo can do with a Zelda game.
Tears of the Kingdom had to follow the most successful Zelda game of all time and somehow meet the expectations of players who had been waiting for years to see what was next. That they were able to not only meet those expectations but exceed them in ways we couldn't even imagine just demonstrates how Nintendo sets the standard for game development in a way that almost no one else can match.
Nintendo, thank you for giving us such a beautiful and astounding game this year with Tears of the Kingdom. I know we will all be enjoying it for years still to come.
Bring on 2024
Stay tuned to our blog and Twitter (I can't call if X) for updates on our upcoming projects. We have some pretty great things lined up for 2024 and we can't wait to show it to you.
To close this out I just want to say how grateful we are for all of you. Thanks to all of you for reading this post, thanks to everyone who has played our games in 2023, and to everyone who will be there with us in 2024. From everyone at F5 Games, we wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year for 2024!