2023’s Best Video Game Hidden Gems

The best games you probably missed this year.
Planet of Lana Overlook at Mechanical Beasts
Image via Wishfully.

2023 was a colossal year for games, both AAA and indie. You had games like Baldur’s Gate 3 and Resident Evil 4 Remake prove a lot for their respective audiences, and games like Sea of Stars and Dredge showed that indie devs can truly stand toe to toe with larger budgets. With all that being said, the massive influx of games has left a lot of games unnoticed yet still well deserving of attention. Here are 2023’s best video game hidden gems, in no particular order.

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The Best Hidden Gem Games in 2023

Deliver Us Mars

Deliver Us the Moon brought an enjoyable sci-fi thriller that equaled in both stakes and heart and was a beloved indie gem when I first played it. As such, Deliver Us Mars followed up on that excellently with a game designed for fans and newcomers alike. With a properly voiced protagonist, the new setting of Mars, and even better visuals, this was generally considered a nice upgrade over the first game. It was even free on the Epic Games Store previously if you managed to catch it.

Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S.

Everspace 2

I tried Everspace 2 way back when it was released in early access years ago, and even then it set a gold standard for space combat flight games like it. If it weren’t for getting caught up in a handful of other games this year, I probably would’ve checked it out again already. If you’re a big fan of beautiful space exploration and some stellar, in-depth combat systems, you’d be doing yourself a favor by giving it a look.

Available On: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S.

Viewfinder

Are you a big fan of puzzle games that center around a unique mechanic not seen in other games (think Subliminal or Cocoon)? Then Viewfinder should be right up your alley. This game is all about taking and manipulating photos to drop them into reality, using their unique terrain and contents to solve increasingly complex puzzles. It’s as much a visual treat as it is easy enjoyment.

Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5.

Venba

While games are mostly centered around farming as much fun for the player as possible, games like Venba instead teleport you into another culture that, while offering fun, is more focused on its unique story and background. Venba does just that, but looks through the lens of a family of Indian immigrants as they live in and adjust to a new place across the perspective of numerous traditional meals. It’s very short, but its impact is felt well beyond the credits.

Available On: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch.

30XX

Were you a big fan of the classic Mega Man games, or simply like 2D action platformers? Then 30XX and its prequel 20XX will be right up your alley. This action roguelike sees you (and possibly a friend) explore wacky mechanical locations in a power suit that eerily feels like it’s asking for a lawsuit. That aside, the game is very fun and has everything you could ask for from a Mega Man spiritual successor.

Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch.

Under the Waves

While not developed by them, Under the Waves has a unique perspective in that the people behind games like Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human helped publish the game. The game tells the story of a man struggling with loss on an extended deep sea dive, who begins to experience unexplainable phenomena. It’s a solid mystery, and one many have said is worth exploring.

Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S.

El Paso, Elsewhere

A motel, endless supernatural monstrosities, and one man with the goal to stop the end of the world. That’s really all the context I can give for the story without spoiling the surprise inside. Where El Paso, Elsewhere lacks in consistently fresh combat encounters (albeit wearing its influences on its sleeve), it thrives in telling a unique story that almost no other game has dared to explore. As someone who’s experienced a few instances of it with far less dramatization, it was surprising and a little hard to watch at times.

Available On: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S.

Planet of Lana

While this list is made with no hidden gem standing tall above the rest, Planet of Lana is my personal largest GOTY snuff. It has everything a great adventure game should have, with plenty of heartfelt moments, absolutely gorgeous art, great music, and some solid puzzle design to boot. As the first game from its indie studio Wishfully, it’s an artistic achievement that I truly hope more people play.

Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch.

SteamWorld Build

Are you interested in city builders but always find them a touch too complex for your tastes? Well if the demo for SteamWorld Build is anything to go off of, it seems like it has complexity, but never enough to feel too overwhelming. I’ve never adored the genre myself, and this is one that I seriously want to get into when I have the patience for longer games again (that longer RPG fatigue’s been getting to me lately). It even has some gorgeous art, so you shouldn’t be left disappointed.

Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch.

Blood West

Last but certainly not least is a game I’m doing a playthrough of while writing this article. This indie stealth gem left Early Access a few weeks ago, and the amount of care and love put into its stealth systems is a true treat. Not just through its rewarding stealth (and even loud) combat, but through its impeccable atmosphere as well. The sound design is truly next level, and up there with some of the greats. It’s even got Stephen Russell voicing the main protagonist, who you may know from the earlier Thief games and as Corvo in Dishonored 2.

Available On: PC

While we’re on the topic of some great games, check out our article on Diablo 4’s Duriel giving more unique drops than usual.

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Author
Shawn Robinson
Shawn is a freelance gaming journalist who's been with Prima Games for a year, writing mainly about FPS games and RPGs. He even brings several years of experience at other sites like The Nerd Stash to the table. While he doesn't bring a fancy degree to the table, he brings immense attention to detail with his guides, reviews, and news, leveraging his decade and a half of gaming knowledge. If he isn't writing about games, he's likely getting zero kills in his favorite FPS or yelling at the game when it was 100% his fault that he died.