It’s that time of year again. It’s been a busy year for games, with many big AAA releases, and some surprise indie hits too. 2022 has been a memorable year of gaming, plus we’ve had our fair share of delays too, making 2023 a mouthwatering prospect. But that’s next year, this is all about here and now, so let’s dive into my Game of the Year 2022.
Signalis is an excellent horror survival game, inspired by Resident Evil and Silent Hill. In Signalis you play as an android called Elster. You wake up in a run-down facility and quickly find out all the other androids have been killed, plus some of their corpes are reaminating and trying to attack you. It’s a game about isloation, with a pinch of Alice through the looking glass, occasionally crawling through holes into the ground to reveal new playspaces. This is survival horror with a pixel art look and feel from a semi top-down view. At first it may seem simple, puzzles to solve and leads to follow, but I’d recommend sticking with it until the end. This is about facing your fears and standing up for yourself in the face of terror. Of all the games that came out this year, I often go back to how Signalis made me feel. Plus it’s available on Xbox Game Pass.
Pokemon Scarlet (9)
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet is the 9th generation of Pokemon games, and finally we have our true open-world we have wanted for years. Unfortunately we also have some of the biggest technical problems we’ve seen in a Pokemon game, perhaps ever. For some this hasn’t diminished their fun, for others it’s a step too far from Gamefreak, The Pokemon Company and Nintendo. Buried under the technical mess is one of the best Pokemon experiences I’ve ever had, so today let’s dive into my review of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.
Underneath all of the performance issues is one of the best Pokemon games I’ve played in more than ten years. I fell in love with the original Gameboy game, when it first came out. I’ve played Shield, Brilliant Diamond, Legends Arceus, and they are all fine, but Scarlet’s gameplay and adventures are definitely much more fun and engaging. This makes the performance issues even more sad.
Overall, if you are a Pokemon fan then you’re going to get a lot out of this game. The open-world is a major step forward for the franchise, and this is the closest we’ve got to the Pokemon game fans have been clamoring for since the reveal of Sword/Shield. Legends Arceus was an iteration in the right direction, and Scarlet/Violet is another. But Gamefreak, god damn, you have to take more time on these games. There’s no need to release two Pokemon games in the same year, it clearly isn’t working for you, as both of them suffered with major technical issues. The game is fun, and I’ll keep playing past the end game, but the performance is rubbish, and as paying customers we shouldn’t accept this kind of behavior. Even though it’s broken in so many ways, I loved my time playing it, and I still go back to it weeks after it’s release.
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.
Tunic is another game I thought about a lot while not playing it in 2022 which is normally a good sign. My first love in video games is the Legend of Zelda series, and this comes very close to reliving that type of game, plus deciphering the instruction manual is great fun.
Kirby and The Forgotten Land (7)
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.
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.
Kirby has surprised many in 2022, probably being Nintendo’s most successful title of the year. Pokemon takes that title just by sales alone, but Kirby was bigger than many peoples expectations, plus I think it’s going to be in the conversation of many outlets for GOTY 2022.
OlliOlli World (6)
OlliOlli World is a brand skating game from Roll7. Rather than your Tony Hawk or Skate type of Skateboarding game, this is a 2D sidescroller that is very easy to pick up and play. It’s a great game for long trick sessions, or if you want to fill in a gap in your schedule. OlliOlli World has great gameplay, the game grabs you immediately, and much like games like Celeste or Super Meat Boy, you’ll die a bunch, but you’re being taught along the way.
OlliOlli World wasn’t really on my radar at all. I saw it in Nintendo Directs but I didn’t really think it was for me. After a few hours with the game, I can honestly say I can see OlliOlli World entering my regular rotation of games. It’s quick and easy to pick up, plus it’s a very relaxing game to chill to. The animation and music back up the excellent gameplay, and whether you are playing solo or against friends, there’s something here for all players.
Roll7 had a great year with two great games; OlliOlli World and Rollerdrome. Two very different titles, and personally I like OlliOlli World the best.
Marvel Snap (5)
I’ve never had a mobile game on my personal GOTY list before, so this is a first for me.
Marvel Snap is a mobile card game that has managed to reduce the complexity and distill it into micro-bursts of distilled fun. The game is getting a wide range of praise from all angles, and for good reason too. This is short, sharp, snappy and a load of fun, and today I’m going to run through some of the reasons why you should be checking out Marvel Snap.
I’m normally not a fan of mobile games, I steer well clear of them, and I’ve never really been into digital card games. Despite all these facts, I’m really enjoying Marvel Snap and I find myself playing when I have a few moments throughout the day. The games are short, quick and entertaining, and if you have a commute then this is going to pair perfectly well with that, although it equally fits into relaxing on the couch or a quick game before bed. I’ve gone from knowing nothing about the game to playing it most days per week, plus it’s free to download on iOS and Android, and I’d recommend giving it a try.
Vampire Survivors (4)
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.
Destiny 2 (3)
Destiny 2 had a funny year. It started strong with the release of the Witch Queen, introducing the new legendary camapigns, plus we’ve has 4 seasons since then. Bungie have overhauled the light subclasses, the sandbox and abilities, however, it seems enthusiasm for Destiny 2 within the community is at an all time low. Personally, I am still enjoying it. I like the revamp of the events, currently we’re focused on the Holiday event called The Dawning. Much of the conversation this year has been around overly grindy activities, not respecting players time, PVP being in the worst state the game has seen, and the stale seasonal model. Bungie have said they’ve clocked these issues, but it’s going to take time for the feedback to work through into the content cycle, probably the middle of next year. It’s been a year of ups and downs for Destiny 2, but Lightfall is on the horizon in early 2023, and with that comes a lot of new features and I for one am very excited.
Elden Ring (2)
It was a coin flip for me for Game of the Year. I think objectively Elden Ring is the better game, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did playing through God of War, therefore Ragnarok is my Game of the Year this year.
Elden Ring feels like the next level of open-world RPGs, something that Breath of the Wild did back in 2017, The Witcher III did before that, this is the next step. My main issue with the game is I am terrible at Souls games, which tends to ruin my experience of the game. That is a me problem, and not the game’s problem. Elden Ring was a real moment in 2022, one that will live long in the memory as a game like this only comes around once or twice per generation. There isn’t much more to be said about Elden Ring that hasn’t been said already by better and more qualified writers, so if you haven’t played it, get out there and give it a try.
God of War Ragnarok (1)
It was always going to be tough following up on one of the best games of last generation and God of War Ragnarok has lived up to my high expectations. I played through the original in 2018, then played through it again recently to get ready for Ragnorok. This sequel manages to deliver when it comes to narrative, performance and action. Visually it’s stunning and the audio work is equally good. It’s a big game too, and manages to keep a great pace throughout the game, twisting and turning, taking you from one location to the other rapidly, and mixing up the gameplay like puzzles, exploration, action and boss fights.
Overall, God of War Ragnorok is an excellent sequel. It somehow manages to go above and beyond the original game to give us a great ending to Kratos and Atreus’ Norse adventures. There are so many first class efforts here from Sony Santa Monica including the writing, performances, artwork, character modelling, audio design, combat – the game is a true ten out of ten in every way. I don’t think it’s a perfect video game, it’s similar to 2018’s God of War, albeit turned up to 11. One thing I am certain of is this release is going to cement Sony Santa Monica as one of the best developers in the world, up there with Naughty Dog and the Zelda team from Nintendo. Whatever they do next, sign me up, I’m interested.
Game of the Year 2022
- God of War Ragnarok
- Elden Ring
- Destiny 2
- Vampire Survivors
- Marvel Snap
- OlliOlli World
- Kirby and The Forgotten Land
- Pokemon Scarlet
Let me know what you think.