Games of the Year

RPGFan Games of the Year 2023: Best Sleeper Hit

GOTY 2023 Best Sleeper Hit Dave the Diver

Winner: Dave the Diver

Dave the Diver is a fishing roguelike, a business management sim, a bullet heck shmup (not brutal enough to qualify for “bullet hell”), and completely addictive and charming. The gameplay loop of exploring the ever-changing lagoon as Dave and running a restaurant with your mysterious sushi chef buddy Bancho is hugely entertaining, supported by Dave the Diver‘s lovable cast of weirdos. But beyond those gameplay basics, Dave the Diver adds layers with every new chapter.

First, you learn to forge new guns and upgrade your equipment. Next, you hire staff for your restaurant and then unlock a vegetable farm and fishing ponds. Then, you find an underwater city of merpeople with a third farm, seahorse races, and quest boards. There are also pirates and eco-terrorists! And that’s before you’re halfway through! Dave the Diver never stops expanding its scope and depth, becoming more captivating with every new shotgun, shark, and sashimi. And did anyone see it coming?

by Michael Sollosi

Runner-Up: Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince

Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is an excellent monster-collecting RPG and a fantastic retelling of the classic Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen. Together with the kind-hearted elf Rose and the plucky human magical researcher Toilen, you take on the role of the half-human, half-monster Psaro as he builds a veritable monster army to get revenge against his father, Randolfo the Tyrant. Beyond scouting and recruiting DQ series monsters by traversing various ever-changing realms, you can use synthesis to create powerful creatures to aid you in polished, traditional turn-based party combat. The Dark Prince contains a wealth of post-game content, too!

by Audra Bowling

Readers’ Choice: Best Sleeper Hit of 2023

Winner: Dave the Diver (24.7% of votes)

Runner-Up: Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince (20.7% of votes)

Michael Sollosi

Michael Sollosi

Sollosi joined RPGFan in 2014 as part of the music section but switched lanes to podcasting a year later, eventually becoming showrunner of the Retro Encounter podcast. Outside of RPGFan, Sollosi works in a government engineering office, enjoys visiting local parks and petting local dogs, and dreams of a second Ys vs Trails fighting game.