Powerhouse Museum Curator Chloe Appleby shares her Best Games of 2023

Freeplay board member and Powerhouse Museum curator Chloe Appleby shares her top five games of 2023.
Best of 2023 Chloe Appleby

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.

Chloe Appleby is a games curator, researcher, and a board member of the Freeplay Independent Games Festival. She currently works at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia where she recently curated the successful Powerhouse Late x Gaming events, Queer Man Peering into a Rockpool.jpg in the Absolutely Queer Exhibition, and co-curated the queer games exhibition, Pride at Play. Here, she shares the five games that resonated with her the most in 2023.

Baldur’s Gate 3 

This is potentially my favourite game of all time. It’s not just because of my constant pining for the ethereal elven vampire with questionable morals in every playthrough**, but the overall polish of the game is very apparent.

baldur's gate 3 dlc expansion
Image: Larian Studios

Larian Studios has thoughtfully created a role-playing game that I have been constantly revisiting to explore as many characters, areas, and stories as humanly possible. You can see why there are 17,000 possible endings.

Turn-based combat is a major contribution to my enjoyment of the game, which lets me play at my own pace and slowly watch as my demise approaches when fighting the Orthon at the Gauntlet of Shar (that battle took me hours and I ended up resorting to scum tactics). The score by Borislav Slavov and vocals by Mariya Anastasova are *chefs kiss* and transcend me into another reality.

In such a short amount of time, this game has created so many memories for me in multiplayer and created an unbreakable bond with besties on a PAX Aus panel. Just for friendship alone, this is the game of the year!

**Note: it is a big factor though! I proudly own one of the Astarion ‘Girl Dinner’ shirts.


I cannot express the joy that Gubbins by Studio Folly has not only given me, but to the wider community with their innovative word game featuring lil guys doing silly things. Seeing the game develop from beta testing to its release weeks ago – with Hank Green supporting the release – has been a highlight for me this year. The psychedelic art style is delightful and inviting, with its warm colour palette and charming character designs. I need more broccoli Gubbins in my life!

The best part of the game for me by far is how Studio Folly stepped up the word game genre by allowing players to create postcards using words they made within their game. I love creating these postcards – my fiancé and I now only communicate in Gubbins postcards. Seeing the impact the game has had online is phenomenal! It shows how supportive the Australian community is of each other and how terrible we all are as people with creating heinous phrases to outdo each other.

In my opinion, it is one of the best Australian games to be released!

Hello Kitty Island Adventure 

This unexpected light of my life combines Sanrio, Animal Crossing and Breath of the Wild. It has me in a chokehold, seeking validation and friendship from a virtual frog.

There is nothing better than running around the islands and swimming in the ocean. The game has it all: fish jokes, risqué egg poses, baking, fishing, and heavy metal. I love how the quests don’t feel tedious and how cute everything is!

hello kitty island adventure gameplay
Image: Sunblink

Pokémon TCG 

Nothing has a stronger hold on me than Pokémon. I am like Gollum and the One Ring when it comes to this franchise. The video games, the apps, and the merchandise plague my mind, home, and bank account. However, for me, the Pokémon Trading Card Game holds the highest esteem of all, both playing and collecting.

Starting my competitive journey properly this year, my main goal was to get enough points at competitive events to receive an invitation to play at the World Championships. It has been a wonderful experience learning; how to build a deck, how each card can hinder or aid in play, and new formats with the recent release of the expansion set Scarlet and Violet: Paradox Rift. While travelling to events around Sydney, the local community has been the highlight of playing for me. Their generosity and friendliness has led to close friendships with amazing people.

Another big reason I am drawn to Pokémon cards is the thoughtful art. Artists carefully consider poses and backdrops for each card to ensure that it is well represented. Yuka Morii’s clay models of Pokémon in real-life settings are nothing but joyous, especially Sandyghast on a beach from Rebel Clash.

Also, nothing beats the dopamine rush of a cheeky cracky packy. 

If the Hue Fits

Art. Puns. Plants. Zombies. If The Hue Fits by Georgia Athanasopoulos, Emily Kinder, Jesica Nikolovska, Charles Pearse, Donna Tanner and Naomi Little is a free, student-made game that takes all these elements and blends them together to create one of the most unique and fun concepts for a game.

Hitting ‘huemans’ likened to famous artists with a paintbrush to cure them, and then growing seeds to make more paint is so much fun! I never knew I needed to see Vincent Van Gough and Frida Kahlo running at me until now. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since the University of Technology student showcase, as it was such a unique concept.

Seeing not only this game at the showcase, but a predominantly women-led creative force behind it, makes me so excited for the future of Sydney (and wider Australian) games!

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