Game Awards 2023 Best Narrative Winner: Alan Wake 2
This was a year dominated by great stories in games, but only one can take home the coveted Best Narrative trophy from the Game Awards 2023. Each game in contention this year was lauded for its storytelling — on top of being some of the most popular games of 2023 overall — so there was no clear frontrunner before the show. From the open-ended narrative of Baldur’s Gate 3 to the gripping occult mystery of Alan Wake 2, the nominees represent not only some of the best stories of the year, but the many different ways games have of telling them.
While every game on the list made a strong case for itself this year, only one can come out ahead. With the show underway, Alan Wake 2 has now been crowned the winner of Best Narrative at the 2023 Game Awards.
Alan Wake 2 actually tells two stories — one of the titular Alan Wake who remains trapped after the events of the first game and one of newcomer Saga Anderson. What makes Alan Wake 2’s story so spectacular is how it weaves the two together, with the surreal journey of Alan’s attempt to escape the Dark Place spilling out to influence Saga’s investigation.
On top of that, its story was told in an extremely compelling way, with a mix of gameplay, cutscenes, and live video, all intertwined with plenty of fourth-wall breaking elements to elevate it to another level.
As our 10/10 review of Alan Wake 2 puts it:
Alan Wake 2 is a game brimming with personality and imagination, offering an experience unlike anything in video game history. More importantly, it challenges the very nature of what an interactive narrative experience can be. It’s Remedy’s crowning jewel, a game that learns from everything the studio has done over the last three decades, and that will likely be talked about for a decade to come.
Alan Wake 2 beat out the likes of Baldur’s Gate 3, Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, Final Fantasy XVI, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, all of which had plenty to offer themselves.
Phantom Liberty’s nomination was seen as a sign that Cyberpunk 2077 is finally living up to the game players hoped it would be at launch, with a stirring performance by Idris Elba also nominated at the Game Awards. Spider-Man 2 was lauded for its surprisingly emotional story, which goes far beyond a simple superhero narrative and puts a satisfying conclusion on the saga that started in Spider-Man in 2018. While Final Fantasy XVI was something of a dark horse candidate, its mature, convention-breaking take on the series also won it plenty of praise.
Despite the merits of the other contenders, Baldur’s Gate 3 felt like the biggest competition for Alan Wake 2.
Baldur’s Gate 3 tells an epic fantasy tale of a threat that could engage all of the Forgotten Realms, the legendary setting of Dungeons & Dragons. What first looks like an invasion from the brain-sucking Illithids turns out to be some much deeper, leading players on a journey to rival the best fantasy stories ever.
What really brings Baldur’s Gate 3 to life, though, are its memorable characters, vivid world, and a high degree of player choice. You ultimately have a lot of freedom to decide the fate of the world in Baldur’s Gate 3 — whether you choose to liberate it or rule over it with an iron fist. The world is populated with characters who have their own stories to tell, particularly in the sprawling city of Baldur’s Gate. And along the way, some of the most charismatic companions ever in an RPG accompany you, making your quest to hell and back even better.
Each of the Best Narrative contenders was also nominated in Best Performance, showing the strength of all of their writing. While Alan Wake 2 took home the trophy tonight, every game on the list has a story worth experiencing.