Valerie’s Best Games of 2023

It has been a wild year in my life and a wonderful year for gaming, especially since I got to join the team of writers here at LadiesGamers! Here are some of my Best Games of 2023 that I enjoyed playing.

Cattails: Wildwood Story

Valerie's Best Games of 2023 A cat crouches in a field, preparing to pounce on a bird. Trees, bushes, flowers, a path, and a pond add scenery. The UI shows a slider just above the character, with a prompt in the lower right corner to press right trigger to pounce.
Pounce on this game!

Cattails: Wildwood Story is the sequel I have wanted since playing the first game! We’ve got cat community, cat mining, cat battles, cat dungeons, cat festivals… All in a beautifully executed package, the best things about the original game plus so much more. I had so much fun escaping into this world, and I know I’ll certainly return for replays in the future.
See my review here.

Luck Be a Landlord

Center of screen is dominated by a grid of assorted symbols, such as card suits, cheese, and dogs. Other symbols are to the left and right of the main grid, including various colors of chili peppers, and a coin on a string. UI provides access to options, inventory, the spin action, and a display of coins.
Beautiful chaos.

Few things get my attention quite like a quirky take on the roguelike genre, and this slot machine mechanic absolutely won my heart. Luck Be a Landlord is fantastic on the Steam Deck and is available as an app for your phone. I got both, beat both, and continue to load it up for more! There are a ton of achievements, and updates continue to be provided, including mod support.

Disney Dreamlight Valley

Head and torso of a human woman, wearing glasses and overalls, holding a pickaxe over her shoulder. Evergreen trees are scattered in the land behind her, the sky is blue with puffy white clouds.
I’m a Disney princess!

I picked this one up in the spring, during early access; it has stayed in my rotation through update after update, and it has finally reached official release. With gameplay familiar to Animal Crossing, plus the fun familiar characters and aesthetics of classic and modern Disney movies, it delivers so many facets of interest to me. Working on quests for the characters and collecting outfits are my favorite parts.
See our review here.

Moonstone Island

An alchemist character stands in a small cabin with a man who seems to be made of card talismans and dressed as a wizard. There's clutter, a goldfish in a bowl, and a shattered mirror with just a few pieces in place. A dialogue box shows the "Magic Man" saying "I want to glow like a dentist's nightlight, yes..."
A weird, lovable world.

I was sure I’d like this game, and I liked it even more than I expected! It’s a gorgeous creature-collecting deck-building game with plenty of foraging and exploring. I love levelling up my team, clearing out dungeons and mines, and even occasionally going on dates with my favorite neighbor (Zed, in case you’re wondering). I look forward to trying out a variety of strategies in future playthroughs!
See our review here.

King of the Castle

An assortment of characters in medieval garb, looking a bit surprised and unsettled. A banner by the top of the screen says "Uses for Spiders", and the dialogue box across the bottom narrates "Soon the 'spider-riders' of the East pass into legend. Even Count Chocula is forced to agree that spider husbandry was a fantastic idea, despite his initial misgivings."
The bizarre events are the best part.

One of the highlights of my week is Saturday nights when a group of my buddies make a habit of being available for online multiplayer fun. We have a variety of adventures, and one of my favorite discoveries with them has been this medieval political intrigue sim, King of the Castle. One player leads the kingdom as a monarch, hosting the game, and other players can join in from their phones, voting on how events unfold and attempting uprisings.

Harvest Island

A boy and girl stand in a field of growing vegetables, amid a farm scene with slanting sunbeams. Sheep and goat are visible in their pens nearby. A well and laundry hanging on a line add detail to the scene, and trees provide a border to the area.
A peaceful moment amid the tension.

Horror plus farm sim? Sign me up! I get a sense of SNES nostalgia when I play this one. Since I reviewed Harvest Island at launch, it has received many faithful updates from the dev, improving quality of life and cultivating a better experience of the plot. Seeing feedback get addressed makes me so happy, and I have so much respect for the work done to help this gem shine.
See my review here.

Soul Stalker

A character in the center of the image swings their weapon at a floating tentacle beast, which flashes orange upon being hit. Icons in every corner provide information like health bar, coin total, equipped weapons and their cooldowns, and passive equipment.
The thrill of the fight.

After discovering the joy of Vampire Survivors, I excitedly backed the Kickstarter for Soul Stalker. It provides a similar action auto-battle focus in smaller levels, composing larger runs. It has rough edges here and there and nothing to call a storyline, but it’s a great time-killer with fun adjusting various attributes and stats. Continuing updates keep me coming back.


A diver, all suited up, swims toward an abandoned building full of trash. A creature called a Loddle accompanies them. UI around the corners provide information on status and inventory, and many glowing icons in the building show where there is trash to be cleaned.

Cute creatures & beautiful exploring continue to be themes on my list. The movement, crafting, and, of course, the cleaning all felt engaging in this otherworldly underwater adventure, Loddlenaut. It’s easy to recommend this game to anyone looking to fill some hours; there’s nothing too frustrating to interrupt the joy of tidying up everything you can see (and using the scanner to find what you didn’t see).
See my review here.

Paleo Pines

A character stands in the center of the image, looking at a blue dinosaur who looks back. They stand on a farm, with fencing containing other dinosaurs in the background. Trees crowd the horizon, and a rainbow arches across the sky.
I see skies of blue… blue dinos, too…

Though this wasn’t quite what I was expecting it to be, it is undeniably a grin-inducing blast to ride around on dinosaurs, followed by dinosaurs, befriending dinosaurs. The characters were quickly likeable, the scenery was pleasant, and unlocking new areas felt very rewarding. All of the color and pattern variations of the dinosaur species were a wonderful touch.
See my review here.

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