Baldurs Gate 3
Baldur's Gate 3 (Larian Studios)
Stories & Ideas

Tue 12 Dec 2023

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Your museum of screen culture

Our resident gamers pick their favourite videogames of 2023.

Baldur’s Gate 3

Larian Studios

As an awkward man-child who still loves tabletop role-playing, Baldur's Gate 3 feels like a game I've been waiting for my entire life. Nostalgic memories of playing Baldur’s Gate 2 in high school set high expectations, and Baldur's Gate 3 not only met but surpassed them, incorporating over two decades of RPG video game learnings into a meticulously crafted, visually stunning world.

Baldur's Gate 3 encourages out-of-the-box approaches to its challenges, embracing the "Yes, and then?" philosophy of player-led roleplaying, seamlessly integrating the flexibility inherent in Dungeons & Dragons. The game emphasises the substantial impact that player choices have on the overarching narrative; this marks the one of the first times I’ve felt ethical choices had impact on the narrative beyond a mere text box saying, "Brian liked that!"

A diverse cast of companions enriches the narrative, offering unique and compelling story arcs, and party customisation. The engaging gameplay is enhanced by an enthralling campaign spanning three acts, marked by significant shifts in location and tone.

The dynamic world Larian Studios has created, shaped by varied quests and a deep story, creates a memorable and exciting experience, solidifying its place in the videogame hall of fame. It may not replace sitting around a table trash talking your mates but as the people in my life get older, have more responsibilities and harder to pin down for a game, it’s a very close analogue.

Thomas Doman, Technical Services Manager

Stray Gods

Summerfall Studios

The first release from Summerfall Studios, the Australian studio established by international writing heavyweight David Gaider (Dragon Age), Stray Gods is a unique and ambitious achievement, billing itself as a ‘role-playing musical’.

You play as Grace who is thrust into a world of gods and intrigue, as she is tasked with investigating the murder of the muse Calliope after she herself is framed for the crime. The key to the game is your ability to control the dialogue and lyrics of the many musical numbers that are the central feature of the game. The soundtrack is composed by Austin Wintory (Journey), and features some of the best and most recognisable voice talent currently working in the industry. Stray Gods is a highly enjoyable adventure that pushes the boundaries on how we currently tell stories within the medium of videogames.

Arieh Offman, Producer, Public Programs

Alan Wake 2

Remedy Entertainment

I avoid horror at all costs (I’m a sensitive soul...), so how I’ve found myself completely engrossed in survival-horror Alan Wake 2 beats me.

Although I enjoyed its predecessor, so much of the first game bordered on the comical that it was hard to be frightened by anything it threw at me. AW2 is a different prospect; tiptoeing through its various creep show locations (including an alternate reality literally called ‘The Dark Place’...) filled with possessed people, shadowy spirits and masked cult members often made me nervous about progressing further.

Yet I continued, because it's a beautifully realised game; a visually stunning and trippy meta-narrative that references narratives like Twin Peaks, Se7en, the works of Stephen King and the genres of supernatural-horror, psychological thriller and film-noir – so, imagine all that, but in a videogame.

– Garry Westmore, Senior Producer, School Programs


Black Salt Games

Developed by New Zealand studio Black Salt Games, Dredge is an eldritch fishing game that allows you to steer your play experience towards either of those elements to your heart’s desire.

A continuation of the ever-evolving walking simulator gaming boom of the early 2010s, it rewards players’ curiosity through a fully open map and incredibly polished fishing game mechanics that evolve through gameplay; it will have you constantly wanting to go back out and fill up your nets.

Callan Webster, Visitor Services Officer

Goodbye Volcano High


It’s the final year of high school for Fang and their group of anthropomorphic dinosaur friends. Big changes are on the way – and not just because of the impending meteorite hanging in the sky...

Goodbye Volcano High is a moving and heartfelt narrative drama that combines elements of visual novel and rhythm game to tell a story about a group of characters that you cannot help but grow to love over its eight-hour runtime. It explores what it means to accept change within your life, even if it means taking you away from those who you are closest to. The writing is honest and often quite witty, with plenty of humorous moments sprinkled in between the tear-jerkers that culminate in a genuinely joyful queer teen romance.

– Arieh Offman, Producer, Public Programs

Super Mario Bros. Wonder


There is comfort in playing a game that feels so familiar, yet (as the name states) fills you with wonder. Playing with my partner in an inner-city apartment a somewhat similar game that I played years ago with my brothers on a small TV in a crowded living room somewhere in a regional town made me feel old, but thankful that punching a few buttons allowed me to bond with loved ones and escape the realities of everyday life.

Pacey side-scrolling still fills me with that feeling of uncertainty – have I missed something crucial? A swift run in the other direction and it’s reset – yay for the return of side-scrolling! But what makes Super Mario Bros. Wonder special is the surprise when you suddenly turn into an elephant (my favourite animal!) and the soundtrack starts blasting fantastical tunes and the pace quickens as you are sticking your Elephant Mario (or Elephant Peach who seems to be wearing an adult diaper) through another tight warp pipe and blasted into a psychedelic world saturated in red, greens and blues. Amidst flowers, seeds, evil Bowser and bubba Bowser wreaking havoc, the Flower Kingdom requires salvation. The storyline unfolds predictably in this 2D realm and teamwork ensures that no plumber is left behind.

Awarded Best Family Game of the Year, it's frankly a good ol’ side scroll nostalgic snorter of a time.

Jessica Lehmann, Program Manager

Knuckle Sandwich

Andy Brophy

Created by solo Melbourne developer Andy Brophy, Knuckle Sandwich is a charming and mightily inventive love letter to 16-bit RPGs in the vein of the Mother series (Earthbound to us over here in the west) and more recently Undertale.

Combat is turn-based, as is traditional for the genre, however the game is jam-packed with fresh WarioWare-style minigames that are sprinkled throughout the encounters. The narrative and world itself is utterly wild and very funny – I frequently laughed out loud throughout my time with the game.

Also worth a mention are the often gorgeous and lovingly crafted sprites that form a cast of colourful and memorable characters.

Arieh Offman, Producer, Public Programs

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom


The adage “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” certainly resonates with Tears of the Kingdom, the latest instalment of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda franchise and a direct sequel to 2017's Breath of the Wild. Tears of the Kingdom visually and mechanically borrows heavily from its predecessor; set in the same expansive world, but all polished up. Its dungeons are far more visually distinct, and the criticisms of the durability system are addressed with the new fuse ability.

Princess Zelda has disappeared, the world has broken apart with islands rising into the sky, and Ganondorf, a fan-favourite franchise villain, has returned. Link finds themselves injured and alone on an island in the sky in the land of the mysterious Zonai people. Using their technology, Link gains the ability to combine objects together and utilise a variety of Zonai machines to create fantastic vehicles and contraptions that can accomplish almost anything. This new ability, coupled with the game engine's applauded 'chemistry' system, transforms Tears of the Kingdom into a near-perfect sandbox with an immersive sim-like ability to accomplish tasks in myriad ways.

Tears of the Kingdom takes everything that was amazing about Breath of the Wild and turns it into one of the most creative, beautiful games of 2023, brimming with heartfelt moments and unexpected, hilarious ones as well.

Ruby Quail, Creative Technologist


Studio Folly

Ah, Gubbins. Like the lovechild of Cuphead, Richard Scarry and Sesame Street, or like Wordle’s more chilled out cousin, Studio Folly’s delightful word game combines charming animations, a relaxing soundtrack and an overall retro vibe to create a calming experience you can play anywhere, anytime.

The premise is simple: make words from tiles. The longer the word, the higher your score. But hold up! This game world is inhabited by cute and colourful creatures made from inanimate objects or elements, called Gubbins (also a really fun word to say), who either aid you (some pluralise or add ‘ing’ to your words) or hinder you (some zap or mix your words up). Gotta unlock 'em all!

Whether you're on the tram or on the couch, playing Gubbins is a welcome reprieve from the relentless wave of… everything.

– Dilan Gunawardana, Digital Editor


Bethesda Game Studios

Starfield, the cosmic playground where even black holes can’t escape Bethesda’s bugs. Warp speed meets lag speed in this darkly comedic dance of glitches. Your spaceship might defy gravity, but the game's logic certainly doesn’t. NPCs navigate like lost comets, crashing into each other with a gravitational pull stronger than any celestial body. Forget about exploring the final frontier; you’ll spend most of your time navigating the final frontier of game development quirks.

Yet, in this chaotic constellation of programming missteps, there’s a bizarre charm. It’s a comedy of errors that somehow adds to the interstellar adventure. So, buckle up and prepare for a journey where even the most serious moments might leave you chuckling as your ship contorts in ways physics never intended.

–Travis Geldard, AV Technical Manager

The Best Videogames of 2023 – as chosen by ACMI Members

We asked our loyal members to choose their favourite games that came out this year. Here are the top 10 selections:

  1. Baldur's Gate 3
  2. Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kindgom
  3. Starfield
  4. Stray Gods
  5. Assassin's Creed: Mirage
  6. Gubbins
  7. Hogwarts Legacy
  8. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
  9. Alan Wake 2
  10. Amnesia: The Bunker

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