Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth's biggest competition as the best-reviewed game of 2024 is the roguelike deck builder darling of Steam Next Fest

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Until the sterling evaluations of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth dropped earlier today, the best-reviewed game of 2024 was Balatro - a deck-building poker roguelike that seemed to take over Steam Next Fest.

Balatro's Steam Next Fest demo proved to be one of the big hits of the event, taking the basic rules of poker and turning it all on its head. The basic idea is that you get dealt cards and you need to build poker hands - a full house, a straight, a pair, and so on. Each hand has a particular payout in points and multipliers, earning you chips that you need to beat certain target scores.

The twist is, of course, that you get special cards you can use to alter your deck, improving your multipliers and giving you special situational bonuses to your score. As in any good roguelike, you'll quickly find yourself working towards a theory of a build and cackling as everything comes together - or despairing when random elements put an end to your perfectly laid plans.

It's a simple concept, easy to grasp, and the lightning quick rounds and upgrade selections make Balatro a breeze to play. It was the perfect formula for Steam Next Fest success, and it looks like the full version is just as engaging. Over on OpenCritic, Balatro has an average score of 92 points. That's game of the year type praise right there, folks.

Up until just this morning, Balatro was the top-rated game of 2024, which is nothing to sneeze at given the praise heaped upon titles like Tekken 8, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, and Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. Now, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth's OpenCritic score has settled in at a 93, just one point ahead of Balatro.

Putting Balatro up against FF7 Rebirth is a bit of an 'apples versus bicycles' comparison - an indie game from a mostly solo, anonymous designer up against a AAA JRPG with nearly three decades of anticipation behind it. But that's just what makes the reception to Balatro so notable. It looks like this is one indie game that's going to be standing above the crowd for some time to come.

Check out our interview exploring Balatro's hype, its ingenious twists on Poker, and its mysterious creator. 

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.