In terms of games, 2022 has gotten off to a great start with plenty of top games released. It’s a good time to check-in and have a look at some of the games of the year so far, and I’d love to hear from you in terms of your best games of the year so far too.
Vampire Survivors is a bullet hell-like shooter and then throws in roguelike mechanics to create a surprising and very satisfying game, one that will likely bring you back time and time again.
The objective of the game is to survive, and there’s an increasing number of enemies coming your way trying to kill you, and it gets quite frantic quickly. It starts out with only a few enemies, but it the screen fills up pretty quickly and soon hundreds of enemies are circling you trying to eliminate you. The game is played from a top-down perspective and the map appears to go on and on, so you can choose to run away if you wish… but there’s only so far to run before you have to get stuck into battle.
Vampire Survivors is currently in early access. It shows a LOT of promise early on. If the team gets it right and listens to the feedback from the community then this one could hit the heights of another very successful game from early access called Hades. It’s fairly unique in that it blends bullet-hell and roguelike mechanics, and the core gameplay loop is great fun. There are a few issues with the starting and later moments of runs, but there is this Goldilocks zone in the middle where the game feels amazing. If the team can tap into that and expand upon it, they could be a winner.
Sifu is a stylish, kung fu action game from SloClap. This one reminds me of my Double Dragon days, but instead of a side-scroller this is in full 3D and has all the bells and whistles of a next-generation game. It’s also pretty tough and had deep fighting mechanics.
Sifu is fairly straightforward in terms of backstory for the game. Bad guys have killed your family during your childhood and left you for dead. We then cut to about 10 years later where we’re 20 years old and we embark on a journey of revenge by killing a series of bosses. It sounds straightforward, but it’s anything but that… and it’s very likely your going to be going through the levels over and over. Sifu uses repetition as a tool to teach, so you are going to be getting to know the levels very well.
Sifu is a great game that is going to punish, frustrate and delight in equal measures. I’d say if you are a fan of the fighting game genre or a fan of Kung Fu movies, then this is the game for you. If you don’t have much patience, or you want to casually play Sifu, then it may not be the game you are looking for, as making meaningful progress in the game takes time, practise, and mastery. For me, this is one of the best games I have played in 2022 so far, and I’m looking forward to going back in and finding all the secrets.
Norco is a Southern Gothic narrative adventure that immerses the player in the sinking suburbs and verdant industrial swamps of a distorted South Louisiana. Your brother Blake has gone missing in the aftermath of your mother’s death. In the hopes of finding him, you must follow a fugitive security cyborg through the refineries, strip malls, and drainage ditches of suburban New Orleans.
Norco probably won’t be for everybody. This is a very talky game, rather than a doey game… there’s a lot of reading, character building and development. For me, it’s a demonstration of some of the best writing in video games in 2022, and as a fan of point-and-click adventure games, I’m really pleased to see a game like this get the headlines and column inches.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the latest outing for our spherical pink friend, and it’s his first outing in 3D. The game is developed by HAL Laboratory, and they’ve done a wonderful job converting Kirby to the 3D environment, providing some excellent combat, great platforming and overall a very wholesome and fun experience on Nintendo Switch.
I’m happy to say I haven’t been let down by Kirby, as this is a great game worthy of your attention if you own a Nintendo Switch. When we first saw Kirby and the Forgotten Lands we were hoping it would be like Super Mario Odyssey, however it turns out to be much more similar to Super Mario 3D World, the game that was successfully re-released on Nintendo Switch in 2021 alongside Bowser’s Fury. For example, the levels are contained, and as Kirby, you have a bunch of enemies to defeat, platforms to traverse and bosses to battle. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a classic Nintendo design, the levels are tight, they are packed full of neat little ideas and there’s an overwhelming sense of fun albeit in a confined space.
As a Kirby fan, there’s plenty of nostalgia in Forgotten Land too. Kirby’s classic copy abilities are present and perhaps the best they have ever been. You can suck in an enemy and take one some of their abilities, plus there’s a load of new features too. Mouthful Mode has been introduced, which left many Kirby fans jaws on the floor during a recent Nintendo Direct with Kirby inhaling a whole car and then having the ability to drive around just like the object he’s holding in his mouth. This mechanic is more than just fun humour, you solve key puzzles in the game by taking on the abilities of the objects in really interesting ways.
Nobody Saves the World
Nobody Saves The World is a new action RPG, which feels similar to old school top-down Legend of Zelda games from days gone by and the game has layers of satisfying progression. It’s early in 2022, but this is a game to get excited about with a combination of satisfying combat, a whole host of characters to embody, to take down the corruption and save the world.
This is a new game from Drinkbox Studios, creators of the Guacamelee series, and other fantastic games. If you’ve played games from Drinkbox then you’ll be familiar with their animation and humour, and Nobody Saves the World has all that and much more. Whereas Guacemelee was a take on the Metroidvania genre, Nobody Saves The World is a much more top-down action RPG, and once again they have demonstrated their understanding of tight controls and very satisfying game mechanics. This game dishes out the dopamine hits at a serious pace, and just when you think it’s time to take a break, you are pulled back in.
Nobody Saves The World has been a big surprise. It’s very good, and it’s so early in the year. We shouldn’t be surprised that Drinkbox comes out with a banger of a title that feels polished, plus could compete with the best of them in the action RPG genre. Drinkbox has proved once again they understand progression mechanics and understand how to dish out the entertainment. The game looks great, it’s smooth, the combat is fun and the progression is exciting. It’s only available on PC and Xbox at the moment, but it’s well worth seeking out, especially if you are a fan of top-down RPGs. This is an early gem in 2022, and definitely one I’d like to recommend.
The tunic is a game that’s been talked about for some time, but finally, it’s been released and it’s well worth the wait. This is an isometric, Zelda-Souls mash-up, with plenty of exploration, puzzles and surprisingly tough boss battles.
One of the big inspirations for the game is The Legend of Zelda series, and in those games, you generally start out or acquire a sword very early in the game. Tunic attempts to flip that a little bit by starting you out with a stick, but don’t worry too much, a sword isn’t far away. This leads you into one of the big features of Tunic, and that’s exploration. The game does a great job in nudging you to explore, plus it makes it very worthwhile and rewarding at the same time. When you first start out, you are boxed in via the bushes and therefore a sword is necessary to cut down the bushes and find your way out of there.
Other elements of the game are a nice blend of Zelda-likes and Souls games too. Exploration is similar, ad then you have the combat and the ‘souls’ of the game. For example, in Elden Ring or Hollow Knight when you die you can go back to your body and pick up the runes or currency. The same is true here in Tunic. The combat feels good. It’s similar to Death’s Door, one of 2021’s best games. Tunic manages to take the best bits of some excellent games like Legend of Zelda, Elden Ring and Death’s Door and pull it all together into its own experience. The timing of the release is very interesting regarding Tunic because a lot of parallels can be seen with Elden Ring. These games don’t hold your hand, they are both combat adventure games and very ‘gamey’ games. There’s not a lot of explanation. That’s another great thing about Tunic. When you boot up the game you get immediately into the action. Hardly any explanation at all, just get up and go and figure it out for yourself. There’s no big tutorial, just get out there and on your adventure.
In Elden Ring, you start out in the Lands Between in a cave, you pick your class, ranging from a Vagabond, Warrior, Mage, Samurai, and many more, run through a short tutorial, and then step out into the beautiful, yet dangerous vast open world. This is a world full of discovery. Unlike other open-world games, you aren’t explicitly directed anywhere, the Lands Between are yours to discover yourself.
The scale of the scope of this game amazes me every time I open up the game for a session. Given the lack of direction you are given, it’s up to you to make your own quest log and define your own experience. For some players, this has meant keeping notes in a pad, or you can keep digital notes, which I would recommend given you can search for keywords, plus the naming convention in Elden Ring means a few similar-sounding names. There’s a good chance you’ll speak to one character, then forget about them as you move to your next location, and there’s no in-game quest log to keep track of all these things. From a discovery point of view, this can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it makes the discovery in the game thrilling, as there are surprises around every corner. While on the other hand if you are someone who gets overwhelmed by choice, this system may well not gel with you.
One of the most challenging elements I’ve found with the game isn’t the bosses or the enemies, it’s maintaining focus on my goal. The world is full of interesting distractions, things to discover, secrets to find, and getting teleported to hellish locations full of semi-invincible enemies with murder on their minds. The sense of wonder and discovery when you find a new area, scour it from head to toe to find the chests filled with loot, and more often than not Guardians who aren’t going to be pleased you are there. A good example of this is when I made my way over the bridge south from the starting area, I came across a village with Zombie-like creatures. I found a chest guarded by rats, and one HUGE Rat, went back to the village only to be greeted by the former villagers with fire lasers from their eyes.
Lost Ark is a massively multiplayer online action RPG. From a gameplay perspective, the action takes place from an isometric view and you could draw comparisons to Diablo and Path of Exile in terms of what the game looks like. There are loads of classes, subclasses, NPCs to talk to, combat skills to learn and upgrade, plus trade skills to learn and resources to gather. The sheer depth of Lost Ark is staggering, it’s huge, and it’s bound to keep you busy for months.
We have a lot of content on offer in the game. We have all the classes, subclasses, continents,s and activities I have discussed. But this isn’t all. Given the game has been out since 2018 in Korea, there’s loads more content to come. Seasons worth of content we have yet to see, new classes and subclasses that are only available in other regions. Therefore, as well as the current slate of content, we also have a lot to look forward to.
All in all, Lost Ark is fantastic, and certainly lives up to the massive hype. It’s also breaking Steam records left, right, and centre, with over 4.5 million players worldwide, and 1.3 million concurrent players in the first week. It only seems like it’s going to grow, so I’d recommend getting in there on the ground floor early.
Destiny 2 Witch Queen
The latest expansion from Bungie has been released, and it’s a big one, it’s the Witch Queen. Let’s start out at the beginning with the campaign. One of the biggest changes Bungie has implemented here is the introduction of the Legendary Campaign, which increases the difficulty but not to an insane amount. Over the past few years, Bungie has been ramping up the difficulty on the PVE content with Legend and Master Nightfalls, Lost Sectors, and also Grandmaster Nightfalls too. This is the first time we’ve had this treatment for the campaign, and you have to say that this is by far the best campaign Bungie has put together for Destiny 2 and it’s better by a country mile compared to other campaigns.
The legendary campaign mixes things up with difficult-but-not-impossible encounters, plus there are a number of set pieces throughout the campaign with returning classic characters from Destiny 1, nods boss battles from raids-gone-by and the whole thing culminates in an entertaining, and tough boss fight to end the story. We also get a tantalizing peek at what’s next for the Destiny 2 story, in one of the most interesting cutscenes we’ve seen in franchise history. The story throughout, the cutscenes, and character development was fantastic. We have a few new characters introduced, and our perceptions of existing characters are thrown into disarray. The story twists and turns, and in the end, you don’t really know how it’s going to pan out until it does.
Another major update with Witch Queen was Void 3.0. This is a complete overhaul of our Void Subclass to move it into the same subclass type as Stasis. We now have much more freedom to pick and choose the combinations through the Aspects and Fragments. Thankfully, all of these are available to us when we start the campaign and gone are the tedious quests to unlock new ones season over season. I don’t think I ever finished all characters aspects and fragments on my other characters in Beyond Light, and I’d love to see Bungie go back and retrospectively unlock all stasis abilities for us. Void 3.0 is great and this led me to pick a Warlock to start The Witch Queen and I haven’t been let down.
Destiny 2’s The Witch Queen has been a huge success from my point of view. There was a lot of pressure on the team to deliver and I think Bungie has done a great job. Bungie has put out some great expansions in the past including the Taken King in 2015 followed by Forsaken in 2018. However, back then Bungie had the help from Activision, this is Bungie doing it on their own, and they’ve managed to create something pretty special.