Best of 2022

Note to the Reader: Very similar to last year’s post, I started writing this post much earlier (off and on between December 2022 and February 2023), with the intention of posting it in early 2023, but that didn’t happen. Notes from my future self are noted in italics.

I played more games in 2022 than I had played in years prior, and on top of that, more new games than I generally do in any given year. I tend to avoid the zeitgeist and play games after they go on sale, but with Xbox Game Pass getting so many day-one releases, it’s easy to play many of the newest games for less than you’d pay for a rental.

Aside from Game Pass, the other thing that got me into playing a lot of games was handheld gaming on the Switch and Steam Deck. I have a gaming PC with an Nvidia RTX 3060 in it, but I spend my entire day sitting at the computer for work, so when I want to detach, I tend to want to get out of this room (which is also the reason I take forever to write these because I also don’t want to do it sitting in the same room I work in all day). It’s not uncommon for us to spend our evenings lounging on the couch, where I’m playing something in handheld mode, and the wife is watching TV next to me.

Just like I did with the post for 2021, the green checkmark denotes games that I finished and thumbs up for games I also recommend.

Games Played in 2022

  • Bugsnax (2021, PC/Xbox/Steam Deck) ✅ – This game told a great story with an interesting hook, and just enough of a catch-em-all quest that knew where to end. By the time I was ready for it to be over, even taking the time to get 100% in the bugapedia, it was ready to wrap up. Some kind of messed up stuff can happen to your townsfolk depending on how you play the game, which is juxtaposed with the game’s cheery framing in a way that gives the whole game a slightly unsettling vibe as the story starts to unravel. Really neat, but I had no desire to go back to the DLC.
  • Elden Ring (2022, PC/Steam Deck) – Oh no. This is gonna be a problem, isn’t it? I just got this game shortly before I started writing this, and I already put nearly 15 hours into it. (Note from the Future: At time of publishing, that number ended up much, much higher.).
  • Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster (2022, Steam Deck) ✅👍 – I finished this in probably five sittings. They really sanded off all the rough edges from this, which took off all the tough and grindy parts. Still fun, still a classic.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade (2021, Steam Deck) – I wholly intend on finishing this, but I go through spurts with it. I get kinda tired of it after a while and have to put it down.
  • Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (2018, Steam Deck) – Oh weird, a recurring theme. I started playing this back in 2018 when it was released on the PC, and I come back to it every now and then to make a little more progress. The Steam Deck reinvigorated this one for a while, but again I got tired of it.
  • God of War (2018, PC) – Gonna come back to this one at some point too, just wasn’t feeling it.
  • Nobody Saves the World (2022, PC/Xbox/Steam Deck) ✅👍 – Fun little roguelike action game with a neat gameplay hook involving combining powers from different job sets. Good for 6-8 hours if I recall correctly.
  • Peglin (2022, Steam Deck) – I think I’m going to come back to this after it leaves early access. I miss Peggle, and want something to fill that pachinko-shaped space in my heart, but this wasn’t it yet.
  • Secret of Mana (2018, Steam Deck) – I wanted to play an RPG but not a classic turn-based RPG, as I had just picked this up after finishing the FF Pixel Remaster. The menu system is largely incomprehensible and makes playing this game an absolute chore. I don’t think I’m going to go back and finish this.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge (2022, PC) ✅👍 – A new TMNT beat-em-up that plays like the old TMNT beat-em-ups. Takes the classic framework and modernizes it, with online coop.
  • Tinykin (2022, Steam Deck) – I wanted to play this on my Deck but it was only on Game Pass and I was having weird streaming issues so I never finished it before it left GP.

Top Games of 2022

5. Rogue Legacy 2 (2022, Steam Deck) ✅👍

Man, I love a good roguelike game, especially in the more modern “rogue-lite” variations. I enjoyed the original Rogue Legacy, which tied its roguelike elements into the ongoing generations of your adventurer and wrapped them up in a wonderful retro art style. The sequel is more of the same, and it expands on the systems in a lot of great ways. There are a ton of new classes, each with a variant, and the world is even bigger and more interesting to explore. I wanted a good 2D platformer on my Steam Deck right after I bought it, and this scratched that itch perfectly. 

4. Loop Hero (2021, Switch) ✅👍

Man, I love a good roguelike game. This one sees you walking in the titular loop as you work to regain your memory, rebuild the world, and defeat the evil that is consuming it. There’s not a lot of actual “playing” going on, it’s like a cross between a clicker and a roguelike game. When you go back to your town and optimize your build, you have to do some playing, but the rest of the time you’re mostly doing inventory management while your character hopefully wrecks shit. It’s the perfect game to play while doing something else, like watching TV or listening to someone tell a boring story. Great stuff.

3. Tunic (2022, PC/Xbox/Steam Deck) ✅👍

Man, I love a good roguelike game, and this one is also a Zelda-like. The look of this game is really beautiful, and one of the selling points of the game. Beyond that, it has some excellent Zelda-inspired puzzles, as well as some unique ones that make use of the world’s level of depth in some very fun ways. Oh, also, there’s no tutorial, no instructions, and you can’t read the menus. As you progress through the game, you uncover pages of the manual, which help you to progress and access new powers (maybe not even new). It’s an excellent hook that makes a game, which seems very one-note on paper, very deep. They do an excellent job telling the story in a low-polygon world despite the fact that you can’t read anything. It does not overstay its welcome either. As both a throwback and a game with new ideas, this was an enjoyable game that I made sure to tell everyone I could about. 

2. Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022, Switch) ✅👍

I haven’t played a Pokémon game in years. The last one I played was Pokémon Diamond on the 3DS, and even that one got boring to me. The games all seemed like they were doing the same shit over and over again, even when they moved to newer systems, and I had long since lost interest in them. However, once I saw the previews for PL:A, and saw that it was in an open world, I was intrigued. A world full of free-roaming Pokémon and a new approach to battling was exactly what I needed to get back into this world. I ended up sinking over 100 hours into this game and taking the time to complete every challenge and fill the Pokédex, even all the obnoxious different Unowns. If they use the “Legends” subtitle for new riffs on the Pokémon series like this, I could see myself checking out a future one as well, even if the main series is still trash.

1. Vampire Survivors (2022, PC/Steam Deck/Xbox/Mobile) ✅✅✅✅✅👍

Man, I love a good roguelike game. This one, however, does something different for me. With its 30-minute levels promoting short bursts of game time (down to 15 minutes once you unlock faster modes), alongside gameplay that requires enough brainpower to be active, but not so much that it can distract you from the world around you, wrapped in numbers that just keep going up, Vampire Survivors is the perfect game to consume my entire psyche. Although, from a distance, it might be tough to decipher what is going on in this game at any given moment, when you’re in it, and in the zone, it all makes perfect sense. It’s like entering a video game flow state where you just watch it all happen around you. It’s the most pure distillation of video games – the most crystalline blue meth of games.

I bought this game while it was a couple of bucks in early access, finished 100% of the achievements, and then went back and made sure I did it again every time they added more. Even after the game hit its 1.0 release, they continued adding more. It’s such a gem of a game and it taps into the lizard part of my brain that is in love with the chaos happening on the screen. It is well worth the hundred-plus hours I put into it this year, and all the hours I will put into it in the years to come.