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The Best Games Of May 2023, According To Metacritic

We're less than halfway through 2023, and we already have a number of Game of the Year contenders on our hands. The first few months of the year brought undisputed wins in the form of "Resident Evil 4" and "Horizon Forbidden West," but now it feels like even those incredible games were just marking time until the real main event.

Yes, "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" finally arrived in May, dominating much of the conversation among gamers. It's so omnipresent that it's almost easy to forget that several other fantastic games were released in the same month. Lucky for us, Metacritic tracks the best-reviewed games of each month, which allows us to look back at anything that might have otherwise squeaked past us. May 2023 was basically an embarrassment of riches, so let's check out the best-rated games of the month.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" needs zero introduction at this point. The long-awaited sequel to "Breath of the Wild" has finally arrived, expanding on its groundbreaking predecessor in every way. The new game adds a number of fantastic abilities to Link's arsenal, allowing him to manipulate time and creates as many bonkers contraptions as his heart desires. 

Critics and audiences have been in awe of the game's expansive open world and new mechanics. This is the kind of game that may take years to fully explore. As IGN's Tom Marks put it, "I beat Tears' main questline around the 82-hour mark, but this time I feel like I have barely done half of all the things I still want to." In "Tears of the Kingdom," the only real limit is the player's imagination. What more could you want from a franchise that's been running for nearly 40 years?

  • Release Date: May 12, 2023
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch
  • Genre: Action Adventure, Open World
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 96
  • Zaaz's Review

Planet of Lana

Described by its developers as a "cinematic puzzle adventure," "Planet of Lana" tells the story of a young girl and her adorable companion setting off on a journey through a hostile alien world. The title's gorgeous cel-shaded graphics and cleverly designed biomes offer plenty of challenges for Lana and Mui as they try to rescue her loved ones from a mechanical army. 

However, as engaging as the platforming and problem-solving may be, it's the quieter side of the title that will leave a greater impression when all is said and done. Players may find themselves unexpectedly affected on an emotional level upon completing "Planet of Lana." XboxEra's reviewer writes, "As the credits rolled, I found myself reflecting on companionship and what shared experiences mean to me personally. How many games can do that to a player?"

"Planet of Lana" can be completed in under five hours, so players with Xbox Game Pass owe it to themselves to check out this indie marvel from Wishfully.

  • Release Date: May 23, 2023
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Genre: Action Adventure, Puzzle
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 82 (PC), 84 (Series X|S)

Humanity

One of the most unique puzzlers in recent memory, "Humanity" puts you in charge of a glowing shiba inu who must guide a growing number of faceless people through a series of platforms and towards an exit. Issuing commands by way of adorable little barks and special tiles, you have to make sure these folks all get where they need to be. 

Despite looking fairly simple on the surface, "Humanity" is anything but. The game continues to up the ante in terms of puzzle complexity and the poignancy of its storytelling with each of its 90 stages. As noted in GamingBolt's rave review, "The pace at which 'Humanity' introduces new mechanics, or new challenges, or new twists on old ideas ensures that it never feels like the game is coming even close to resting on its laurels." Come for the quirky puzzles and the exceptional soundtrack, stay for the immaculate vibes and surprising ingenuity.

  • Release Date: May 16, 2023
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
  • Genre: Puzzle, Strategy
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 85 (PS5)

Age of Wonders 4

Triumph Studios' "Age of Wonders 4" is another game that blew critics away this May. The 4X turn-based strategy game lets players control a faction and conquer a fantasy realm — or die trying. Critics and gamers agree that this newest entry in the beloved series ticks all the boxes necessary for a great strategy game.

In fact, PCGamesN's Ian Boudreau wrote that "Age of Wonders 4" is "undoubtedly the best 4X game I've played in years, delivering top-notch exploration, combat, and diplomacy alongside a rewarding and dynamic customization system." Boudreau and other critics have commended the ways in which "Age of Wonders 4" improves upon the previous games' tried and true gameplay loop while also adding a healthy amount of new content. The title allows for more customization than ever before, and players can build impressive armies around magical abilities or old-fashioned military might.

This results in a highly replayable game that can easily suck gamers in for hundreds of hours — per playthrough. Additionally, on top of pleasing long-time fans, it has also been applauded for being accessible to new players. There's really no excuse not to dive head-first into the complex (but fun) world of 4X strategy games with "Age of Wonders 4."

  • Release Date: May 2, 2023
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
  • Genre: Strategy, Turn-Based
  • Game modes: Single-Player, Online Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 83 (PC)

Darkest Dungeon 2

The first "Darkest Dungeon" was something of a revelation for gamers upon its release in 2016. The roguelike title not only offered a great deal of challenge, but embraced its horror elements by adding a stress mechanic to the gameplay. Characters could be psychologically impacted by their circumstances, which increased immersion for players.

That mechanic makes a triumphant return in "Darkest Dungeon 2," where it's joined by a host of other exciting additions. Red Hook Studios used this game's early access period to the fullest, crafting a title that lives up to the first installment. Make no mistake; this is not a game for the faint of heart, and it's unbelievably challenging in parts.

Those who brave the depths of the titular dungeons, however, will discover a world teeming with terrifying lore and strong character development. With each turn-based battle, the struggle to keep your team's Hope alive becomes more and more taxing. It's up to your ragtag band to save the world from an all-consuming darkness, all while maintaining a strong bond with one another.

That's easier said than done, of course, so it's a good thing that the game is constructed so well. As Attack of the Fanboy's review put it, "The game takes everything that worked well in the original and improves upon the flaws, resulting in an addictive and engaging game you'll enjoy playing, even if your heroes die and your expedition fails multiple times."

  • Release Date: May 8, 2023
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: RPG, Roguelike
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 82

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