Meredith Hall of Summerfall Studios shares her Best Games of 2023

The Stray Gods bizdev and marketing director shares the defining games of her year.
Best of 2023 Meredith Hall

As part of GamesHub’s Best of 2023 celebrations, we asked a number of developers and friends of the site to share some thoughts about the games that defined their year, impressed them the most, or were simply the ones they spent the most time with.

Meredith Hall is the Business Development and Marketing Director at Summerfall Studios (Stray Gods), and previously worked on Holovista, as well as for VicScreen as a games manager. A mainstay in GamesHub’s Best of the Year celebrations, she joins us once more to share her favourite new games of the year.

This year was an absolute masterclass in fantastic releases, and as is tradition, I have played barely any of them. I suspect if I had the time and had gotten to Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood, or Venba, or Goodbye Volcano High, or Viewfinder, or Slay the Princess, or Season, or – the list goes on – prior to writing this, I might have some different titles here, but they’re all firmly booked for my holiday break.

Granted, I was knee-deep in the release of Summerfall’s own game, Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical (Grammy-nominated, btw, ?!?!) which didn’t leave much brain time for other titles – especially my favourite kinds, which are usually deeply emotional and very narrative driven. However, there are quite a few I’ll recall fondly when I think about 2023 in the future.

Super Mario Wonder

As a classic millennial, Super Mario is one of the first games I remember ever playing. We had friends who lived across the road who had a SNES with Mario and Duck Hunt. I vividly remember sharing the controller and learning how to move – it gave me some of my first experiences with the language of video games, and I was hooked on platformers. I played a huge amount of Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and other 3D platformers in my youth. 

Weirdly, I’ve never played a 3D Mario (sacrilege, I know!) other than occasionally picking up a controller at a friend’s house. I found it never gave me the same crunchy, delicious satisfaction as any of the side-scrolling versions, so I just didn’t really touch them. However, every single 2D Mario release has led to me sinking HOURS into the experience, usually finishing the game entirely, and Super Mario Wonder has been no exception to that rule.

Super Mario Wonder is a masterclass – it takes the classic Mario experience and adds little nuggets of pure, unadulterated joy. It’s rare that a game makes me entirely laugh out loud, but the second level with the Piranha Plant Parade made me pause and RUN to my partner to show him. It’s filled every short gap in my day I’ve had, and my Nintendo Switch has had more use than it has in literal years (sorry Zelda fans!).

The total willingness to take all of the conventions of Mario and throw them out the window to turn you into a Goomba, or a rock, or flip the perspective – things that must have taken a considerable amount of work, all for one to three minutes of gameplay, is so delightful, and pays off drastically. Simultaneously, each jump or run or simply the UI, is dripping with that classic charm, beefed up but familiar sounds, and a stunning colour palette.

It’s a privilege and a blessing to be able to make those decisions in game dev – to commit so wholly to little moments of delight, and I’m grateful that Nintendo is still able to do it all these years past young me picking up that little rectangular controller. 

Baldur’s Gate 3

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of my favourite games of all time. Lohse’s story, the world – I sunk 90 hours into it without blinking ,and realised quickly that maybe I like cRPGs. So when the release date of Baldur’s Gate 3 was announced, I knew I’d have a good time. I’ve learned from my mistakes in doing first run-throughs with other people (coordinating schedules, accidentally getting us into an inn-wide fight, getting robbed by a propositioning lizard, you get the drift) that this time I’d be taking on a solo playthrough.

baldur's gate 3 dlc expansion
Image: Larian Studios

BG3 did exactly what DOS2 did. It took the tendrils of my brain (heh) and wrapped them up into a Faerun only space, where my characters and relationships and story was all I could think about. I picked up Astarion for an origin character playthrough and I’m so glad I did. The beautiful thing about a game like BG3 is you have to project so much lore and storytelling onto a character. I started out with my snarky, cheeky rogue and some context of his backstory – and gave him a soft spot for children and animals.

I lost all his party banter, but I gained a huge, overwhelming control over his narrative of redemption, forgiveness, and loss. I initially partnered him with Shadowheart, then realised he and Gale are essentially mirror images of the same story – believing you are beyond saving, beyond love, beyond a future. I ached for them both as they moved through those feelings, first alone and eventually together. I made playlists. I sketched my first fan art in literal years. It moved me to my own versions of creation.

I have a canon now, that exists only in my mind, for these versions of these characters that have never and will never truly exist. I have worlds and joy and moments that are all mine. As a fangirl at heart, the worlds we can create around our characters are some of my favourite spaces. Those stories stay with me, and Larian have uniquely built worlds that let each of our stories be so far from other people’s – yet share the same kind of DNA. I could speak to the systems designs, or the world building, or any other piece already dissected by review after review, but BG3 matters because it lets us see and be seen – and choose what happens next.


A rare treat of game development is getting to watch your friends’ creations from inception, through to release. Making games is hard and takes forever, so seeing games come out by people you care about really does feel like a little ray of sunshine in a week (Play Knuckle Sandwich!!! It just came out!!). I was lucky enough to see Gubbins come into VicScreen many many moons ago and even play it a couple of times along the way.

The magical, strange thing about that job was getting to meet so many great people making such incredible stuff, right at the beginning – when they’re still wondering if they should even attempt to make the incredible stuff. Game development is scary, and each particular game is uncharted territory. It takes a massive leap of faith, a lot of creativity, and a hell of a lot of hope. It feels like last week that I saw Gubbins for the first time, heard the idea explained and was excited by the concept.

It’s been so incredible to see that the world embrace Gubbins the way it deserves – including Hank Green! However, the way in which it has CONSUMED MY LIFE since its release has surprised even me, someone who had already loved it, had been excited by it, had been playing it, and was keen to see it hit the world. Every spare moment in my day is now potential Gubbins time. 

It’s a psychedelic, more-ish, warm cup of tea, rousing anthem to what a game can be and what it can do. It forces me to breathe out and forget my day and focus on what I can achieve.

Sharing it with my Dad and sending postcards back and forth, trying to come up with longer and longer words, realising my imagination is often more limited than my vocabulary – it’s funny and charming and this wonderfully whole experience. No stone is left unturned, no Gubbin left ungubbed. I find myself telling my partner ‘just one more game’ before bed most nights and I am frequently told off when he realises that the ‘one more game’ has become ‘three more games’. It deserves all the love it gets, and I look forward to pretending my high score is way higher than it actually is for years to come. 

Catch up on the rest of GamesHub’s Best of 2023 coverage, including more guests posts and our Top 10 games of the year.