Welcome to my 2022 list of games that I loved.
2022 has been another wild ride but I probably will give it the credit of being a little less cataclysmic than last year. Is this because I left Twitter? Maybe.
Welcome to my 2022 list of games that I loved. 2022 has been another wild ride but I probably will give it the credit of being a little less cataclysmic than last year. Is this because I left Twitter? Maybe.
Some supplemental awards first.
‘Oh, thank my stars co-op arrived’ award:
§ Halo Infinite
‘Please stop releasing your games in December’ 2021 awards:
§ The Gunk
§ Tunnel of Doom
‘You are a compelling game, but my word, your politics suck’ award:
§ Police Simulator: Patrol officers
10. As Dusk Falls XBO, XSX/S
As Dusk Falls is pitched as having meaningful stories and heartfelt performances brought to life by motion comics. The game follows multiple people across different threads involving a heist gone wrong, telling the story from the robbers’ and victims’ perspective. As Dusk Falls’ other big pitch is that it can be played online with up to 8 friends, and each time a choice must be made each player places a vote with the ability to override all votes. As all my friends are complete misfits, this means that instead of anything being accomplished, characters in As Dusk Falls will spend most of their time doing the worst things. To its credit, the game does a great job of keeping things on track. I am pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to laugh this much, but As Dusk Falls certainly brings it when played with chaotic pals.
9. Broken Pieces PC, XBO, XSX/S, PS4/5
Broken Pieces is pretty great. A 3D adventure with a focus on puzzling and some minor combat. Set in a remote French Village that seems to exist in a post-event world where it’s not entirely clear what that event was. The localization is all over the place and adds to the unnerving nature of the game. Broken Pieces’s peers are Deadly Premonition and Syberia. If either of those names make your ears prick up, then you have to try this game.
8. The Quarry PC, XBO, XSX/S, PS4/5 Review here
Supermassive consistently release titles that hit my top ten. Never in the top 5, but I still look forward to playing them. The Quarry is no exception. Larger and a bit longer than its Dark Pictures compatriots, it starts slower but ends up being rewarding by leaning into a goofier horror story. One of the things I’m enjoying is that the writing team started to become aware of its own tropes and then learning how to subvert them. For example, they’ve loved giving the players a ‘Drew Barrymore’ character for the tutorial — someone that shows up briefly to get murdered or sidelined. Not this time, and it’s great to see the writing being experimental and finding new ways to spin the story. However, it’s the multiplayer that keeps things entertaining as the hot-seat means that I could not predict the story twists.
Below is a heavily spoilered example:
Later in the story, after The Quarry had set up two characters and framed them as the protagonists, things turn to a pitched battle with a murderous family, everything slowed down for a second and required one of my friends to make a pivotal shot… And he missed. Both the protagonists die. The story continued without them.
What a great game.
- Tunic – PC, XBO, PS4/5, XSX/S, Switch
I was unimpressed by Tunic’s demo, outside of the very nice, squidgy pastel-colored models that made everything look like it was made out of opaque jelly sweets. What I played of the demo felt like someone was just retreading Legend of Zelda. That’s not to say the full game of Tunic surprised me and didn’t ape Link’s adventures, but it’s doing so much more. The element of ‘aha!’ when a level circles around on itself made me appreciate how clever each layout was, and the unlocking of each piece of the in-game instruction manual leading to even more ‘aha!’ moments is inspired. Then, when I realized what the liner notes meant… Well, it was the first time I fully appreciated what made Fez so appealing to players. Finally, when I hit a pretty nasty bug right at the end that meant that the final boss was much harder than it needed to be, Tunic just didn’t give a shit that I made myself invincible and beat the boss without trying. The journey and the exploration was more important.
6. Windjammers 2 – PC, PS4/5, XBO, XSX/S, Switch, Stadia Review here
Windjammers is a unique game in many ways, I played it in the arcades back in the ’90s and then again on emulators in the 2000s. The back and forth of throwing a disc in a sort of air hockey/Frisbee hybrid is so simple, but the tactics and mind games that emerge contain so much depth. All I had craved for the last couple of decades was a decent port on my preferred console, but DotEmu (a company that is very much on a roll after Streets of Rage 4) went one better. Not only did they manage to make Windjammers 2 bigger with more varied abilities, trickshots and techniques, but also better. Although the skill ceiling is higher, it doesn’t detract from the crazy amount of simple fun able to be had. It also helps that the online multiplayer is rock-solid too.
- Pick Pack Pup – PlayDate
Not only does this entry give me an opportunity to brag about getting a PlayDate earlier this year, it is also a way to celebrate my favourite entry of the first season of curated games. Pick Pack Pup manages to find a new spin on the ‘match three’ genre with the character having to connect items first to package them, then they dispatch the packages, the more dispatched at the same time, the better the bonus. The game finds new ways to change up the format as the story progresses with different objectives, and the challenge modes add extra incentive to return. The story itself is a criticism of Amazon (and capitalism at large). Entertainingly, the protagonist steals a rocket and goes to Mars. For me, the most charming part of Pick Pack Pup was that it was a compulsive 3-4 hour game, perfect for a plane or car journey, and it fit perfectly into the PlayDate’s weekly offering. For those who get a chance to try the diminutive crank handheld, make a beeline for this one.
- Elden Ring PC – PS4/5, XBO, XSX/S Review here
I mean, I am sure it isn’t much of a shock that Elden Ring is on this list. It’s a phenomenal achievement by From Software to pack so much into this game and still make it feel like it had a personality. It is also by far the most accessible in the franchise, with a ton of neat elements that made it so I could finally talk to some of my friends about the experience. There is something in there, though, that weirdly rubs me the wrong way — like, I am resentful that the game is basically Assassin’s Creed, only with its excel spreadsheet checklist of side missions hidden from the player. When I realized that I was ticking off a series of boxes (during a fire giant fight) it soured a game I think I otherwise might have considered perfect. Still, I have high hopes that From Software will go from strength to strength after Elden Ring’s performance
and that leaves me with hope that I’ll finally get another Armored Core game. Never mind, Armored Core VI got announced this a great end of year for me. Get me a mech!
- Gunfire: Reborn Switch – PC, PS4, XBO, XSX/S, Android, iOS
With one of the most forgettable names ever (frequently referred to as ‘Ghostmaster: Remix’ or ‘Gunblast: Remaster’ in this household) Gunfire: Reborn is a fantastic co-op, first-person shooter with roguelite elements. Each run allows the player to pick a class, accrue levelling-up points, better weapons, and scrolls that can buff/debuff, and the developer seems to delight in allowing the player to create utterly broken builds that allow players to go on rampages. The four player co-op elements (once players are higher level) allows for people to see the great range of different builds like the dual-wielding dog and the glass-canon bunny rabbit, while mixing and matching different styles. It’s on Game Pass right now, and even if you don’t have friends you should be playing it.
- Roguebook Switch – PC, Mac, XBO, XSX/S, PS4/5, Stadia Review here
“A top ten and I only have one roguelite on here” I saym as I realize I haven’t written about Roguebook. Every year I find a game that hits me like meth – hitting me with wide-eyed nights of hours slipping by in some sort of fugue state as I play ‘one more game’. What Roguebook improves for the Darkest-Slay-the-Monster-Train-Dungeon formula is that it lets the player feel like they have more agency in their path towards the bosses, and there feels like there’s an ability to course-correct a half-failing run with the two hero system. The most roguelite addicted have complained that there is not enough variation in deck discovery, but that wasn’t something that bothered me as I climbed through the ranks while unlocking more cards. Charming, and a fantastic entry point for people curious about deckbuilding roguelites.
1. Severed Steel – Switch, PC, XBO, XSX/S, PS4/5
I booted up Severed Steel before writing this to check if I was really going to make it my game of the year and got into a new game+ playthrough. Played in first-person, perspective this is a game that muses on what it would be like if Max Payne was just an endless stream of slow-motion violence set to a propulsive beat. Every level requires jumping, sliding, wall running and shooting – it’s like Cliff Bleszinski made good on his comment about how worried he was we hadn’t seen the gunplay in Mirror’s Edge and then built a game that had flawless gunplay/parkour. It’s just a cacophony of good times.
Most Disappointing of the year: Plague Tale: Requiem
I am still enjoying Plague Tale, and I will likely finish it, but the disappointment I feel is that it seems that the developers and I have very different ideas of what we wanted from this game. Plague Tale: Innocence was a surprise — a gorgeous title on a budget that squeezed just enough gameplay into its cutscene heavy adventure that kept me engrossed. This first entry offered up a range of tools for stealthing and killing, but rarely had big enough areas to explore the possibilities with them.
What I had hoped for the sequel was that Requiem would build on this solid foundation and provide more open areas to fully realize the promising stealthy/fighting dichotomy. Instead, Requiem is about a lot of walking and talking and ‘push forward to win the game’ setpieces. These are impressive, they just indicate that, given a bigger budget, there will be even fewer interesting things to do in the next game and more emphasis on bombast. I hope that is not the case, because I love the world.
- AJ’s Top 10 of 2022 - March 11, 2023
- The Witcher 3: Next-Gen Update - February 21, 2023
- Dolmen (Xbox X/S) Review - July 12, 2022