The best video game remakes of 2023

2023 was an especially great year for remakes of games from yesteryear, including 'Metroid Prime' and 'Resident Evil 4.'

The best video game remakes of 2023
Samus in Metroid Prime Remastered

What's old is new again, always.

But even in an industry that has become gluttonous for remakes and remasters, 2023 stood out as a particularly strong and noteworthy year for video game remakes. They came in all shapes and sizes: Straight up recreations of the originals with new visuals, entirely new games built on the bones of what came before, and often somewhere in between. The most important part is that many of them were extremely good.

Here were the best video game remakes of 2023.

Metroid Prime Remastered

Parasite Queen boss fight in Metroid Prime Remastered
Looking good, queen. Credit: Nintendo

The first remake we'll discuss is also the simplest to understand. Metroid Prime Remastered dropped by surprise near the beginning of the year after many years of speculation about Nintendo bringing Samus Aran's beloved 3D adventures to Switch. Most (myself included) expected little more than a port, but instead, Nintendo just made Metroid Prime again with new, very pretty visuals.

Oh, and traditional dual-analog controls, something the original GameCube version lacked. While the option to use the old controls still exists, Prime Remastered made navigating the 2002 masterpiece's chilling alien planet much more palatable to modern audiences. And while the original game still holds up very well visually, the remake's new look was extremely welcome, too.

Dead Space

Dead Space remake screenshot
Remember, headshots don't matter here. Credit: EA/Steam

Dead Space is another instance where the company that made it (EA, in this case) could've just polished up the original a bit, sold it for $40, and called it a day. While that would've been totally fine, the remake we got in January is really the ideal version of the 2008 sci-fi horror classic.

The Dead Space remake fits into that weird middle ground I mentioned earlier where it's not quite the original game, but it's not really new, either. There are a couple of major changes (the protagonist talks now, for one), but slowly trudging your way through hellish space environs is still beat-for-beat very similar to what was present in 2008. A handful of smaller adjustments like new shortcuts to eliminate backtracking and one particularly obnoxious sequence being redesigned entirely helped make the Dead Space remake an excellent way to experience one of my favorite horror games.

Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 remake screenshot
That opening village will never not be iconic. Credit: Capcom/Steam

Capcom's well received Resident Evil 4 remake is probably the most extreme example on this list of how different a remake can be while maintaining the spirit of the original.

Where Dead Space felt like a director's cut, Resident Evil 4 feels like a remake-ass remake. It's basically a new game with the same premise and a lot of the same beats as the original. This time, players can move and shoot at the same time, to go along with a new defensive parry move to give them a leg up in combat. There are new enemies, redesigned levels, and even new side content to explore.

Between all of that and a new, darker aesthetic, Resident Evil 4 is easily the most transformative remake on this list. And some could argue the best, too.

Star Ocean: The Second Story R

Star Ocean Second Story R screenshot
Those HD2D visuals are delightful. Credit: Square Enix/Steam

Star Ocean: The Second Story R has a wordy title to go along with its lofty legacy. The 1998 PlayStation original is often held up as one of the best RPGs of its day, and none of the several subsequent Star Ocean sequels have come close to making fans as happy as the original version of this game did.

I actually never played the original until this remake dropped in November, but I'm glad I waited. Second Story R is a beautiful reimagining with brand new visuals and updated combat that both manage to stay spiritually faithful to what was there before. This sci-fi RPG that's full of literally dozens of different crafting systems (each allowing you to break the game in myriad ways) benefits a lot from a modern UI and quality-of-life updates, too.

But Square Enix was also smart enough to keep the old parts that still work, too. Its smart party system (in which you can recruit a handful of people out of a much larger pool of candidates) gives way to managing character relationships, which then gives way to literally more than 100 possible endings. I'm sorry for using "literally" twice, but this game earned it.

Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Like a Dragon Ishin screenshot
That's totally not Kiryu, guys. Credit: Sega/Steam

The final remake from 2023 that we'll discuss also dropped early enough in the year that it's easy to forget it came out at all. Like a Dragon: Ishin! had an arduous path to the United States, initially launching in Japan in 2014, well before the Yakuza series reached the level of mainstream acceptance it has in the west now. Rather than simply localizing it and porting it, Ryo Ga Gotoku Studio rebuilt it in a new engine, added some new combat mechanics, and finally gave western Yakuza fans (read: me) a chance to play a truly odd game.

And by odd, I mean odd. While most of the rest of the series takes place in modern-day Japan, Ishin! drops the franchise's cast of colorful characters into the 1860s, recasting them as real historical figures. Rather than playing as longtime protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, you play as real Japanese political figure Sakamoto Ryoma, who in this case looks exactly like Kazuma Kiryu. It's strange, and the story veers a little too close to nationalism at points, but it's compelling nonetheless.

I'm just glad it's here now.

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