Something something game of the year post for 2022.
#10 - Pokémon Legends: Arceus
I’ll start by saying when this launched back in January I did not think it would be anywhere near my GOTY list. Pokémon is…difficult for me to get into. I didn’t grow up playing the games or watching the show. In fact - my first real time spending any time with the franchise was Pokémon X and Y on the 3DS and Pokémon Sword and Shield (I’m going to choose not to count Pokémon since it’s not really a traditional Pokémon game, but that was technically my first entry). Combine this with the fact the game launched with a generous amount of technical issues, and it wasn’t looking great. That being in December when I looked back at all the games I played in 2022, I was surprised this one was pretty up there.
Arceus is an interesting departure in that it takes place back in time long before Pokémon were living alongside humans (note: does having us fight them in tiny balls count as living? I don’t know). It’s also a first in that its an open-world game that you can explore freely and see Pokémon out in the wild. Once I unlocked some of the Pokémons that you can ride to travel around the world - it really opened up the game for me. Because all the townspeople are still scared of these monsters out in the wild, it actually helped me a lot because to me these creatures are in most ways still as unknown to me as they are to these townspeople. I know this isn’t everyones favorite entry in the series, and to be honest I’m not even sure I’m now going to be playing all of the future Pokémon that come out. But for me this was a really fun entry.
#9 - Neon White
I would highly recommend watching a video of this game in action before you jump to any conclusions on it. Truthfully I didn’t care much for the art style, and I most certainly did not care for the story (I skipped every single piece of dialogue I could). But the gameplay is fun. The idea is that each level is scattered in weapon cards - these act as weapons or navigational abilities depending on how you use them. You want to get through each level as fast as you can, while killing everything on there.
The thing is you’re not going to play these levels once or twice, you’re going to play them a ot. On one hand, you want to ace the level so that the game will give you the medal for the game. But the true competitive motivation comes in when you realize there are leaderboards where you can compare your time to your friends. The speed at which you complete these levels feels great, and even while you’re still on a current run you’ll be spotting places where you can improve your time.
#8 - F1 22
I’ve been on an F1 kick the last few years (in part thanks to the sport blowing up here in the US). There have been F1 games for a while but I haven’t paid much attention to them. Two things made me particularly interested in F1 22: the new Miami track (since it’s my hometown), and the new F1 cars this season handling very differently from previous years. Additionally not only are there a lot of difficulty and assist options but there’s a new adaptive AI mode that makes the whole experience a lot of fun.
Something I didn’t expect when I bought this game is that although it looks fantastic on my PC with all the fancy RTX ray tracing stuff, the place I would play the game the most is on my Steam Deck. One of the features in the game is the ability to use your microphone to speak to your racing engineer - you can ask about things like your car/tire status, race status, weather information, etc. You can also say “box box” to signal you’re coming into the pit stops for a fresh set of tires. I assumed one of the trade-offs I would have to make by playing it on the Steam Deck would be not being able to use this feature. Friends - I was wrong. So you’ll now oftentimes find me in bed with a Steam Deck yelling “box box!”.
#7 - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022)
Putting Call of Duty on a game of the year list feels like cheating at this point. It’s a CoD game, it’s not like it changes much from year to year. The first (reboot?) of the Modern Warfare series in 2019 felt like a welcome change - it just felt like a great multiplayer game with good gun customization. It only had one good map at launch in my opinion (hello, Shoothouse) but it was still great. After that came Cold War in 2020, which was also a ton of fun and brought us a great Zombies mode. But then….2021 brought us Vanguard. Friends, Vanguard was not a fun or good game. So I sat around waiting to hear what the next game would be - and was delighted when I heard it would be Modern Warfare II.
It’s much like the 2019 reboot of the series but with more and bigger maps and an even more complex weapon customization system. When the game was first released the only two things I was missing were the ‘Shipment’ map and the ‘Shoothouse’ map. As of writing this, both of those maps have been added to the game and I’m happy as a clam. That may sound boring, but let’s be honest here. It is a Call of Duty game. I’m not looking for it to reinvent the wheel, I just want to have a fun shooter to play with all of my friends. MWII does that well, which is why it got into my GOTY list.
#6 - Rollerdrome
The first time I saw this game is when Polygon described it as “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater with guns”. That may seem like it’s not telling you a lot about the game, but it tells you everything you need to know about this game. You go dual wielding pistols to a shotgun, or even a grenade launcher. The more flashy tricks you pull off the more you get to boost your score and unlock new locations to play in. I also have a soft spot for the art style which looks great whether you’re playing it on a larger monitor, or on the go on your Steam Deck. I haven’t beaten the entire game yet (listen, I said I liked it not that I was good at it) but I can’t wait to go back and play more.
#5 - Marvel Snap
It’s almost impossible not to have heard about this game if you’re at all online. As it turns out, those folks can make a good card game. It’s designed to be a mobile game first - that means the decks are small, the games are short, and you’re meant to go in and out quickly. This isn’t a negative thing though, in fact, it just makes me want to play even more. The core of the game is you have three locations you can play cards in over six turns. The locations are randomized and have different effects, which adds another element you need to consider aside from the effect of the cards on your deck. Your deck only has 12 cards and you must win two of the three locations to win the game.
It’s a Marvel game so it’s got a huge roster of characters and locations - but the wild part is that it’s got a pretty generous F2P model. You can play this game and not put any money into this game. Even if you do put money into it, you (mostly) can’t just “buy” cards or make them more powerful. All that you are doing when you upgrade your card is you are making the art on your card look better (animated, 3D, etc.). You can also buy a variant of the same card that has different artwork for that particular character. My total playtime has gone down since its release but I’m still putting in a few minutes a day into this on my phone.
#4 - Cult of the Lamb
Maybe it’s my upbringing that makes this game funny to me, but something about a cartoon-style rogue-lite game about animals forming a cult is hilarious to me. You play as a lamb brought back to life by a demon(?) and start building a cult out in the woods. You grow crops, cook meals, and clean up a lot of poop for your followers. But you also go around giving sermons, blessing your followers, and sacrificing them in hilariously graphic ways. Part of spreading your cult also involves rescuing followers you find on your runs and sending out missionaries into the world - you get the idea.
As for the combat itself - it’s pretty simple and there isn’t a lot to say. Each of the four Old Gods has its area you can unlock, and you’ll need to complete a run in that area a few times before you can face the god of the area itself. The runs are randomized levels and are way shorter than other roguelike games (my main point of comparison right now is Hades because I’ve been playing so much). And similarly, the combat is very watered down and simple - but that’s what makes it feel fun. At a certain point, I started caring more about having the perfect design for my base, but I do intend to go back and finish the last God.
#3 - Satisfactory
This one is technically cheating since the game has been in early access since 2020 - but the first I heard of this game was this year through the ‘Stand with Ukraine’ Humble Bundle. But I have to include it on here because I’m not sure any other game on this list has consumed me as much as this one has - I was in my sleep planning out what else I was going to be doing on my world. My friends pitched Satisfactory to me as Factorio but in 3D. That’s not 100% accurate but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s wrong either.
You land on a planet and the first thing you do is take apart your escape pod to get supplies for starting your base. But from there you begin to discover the planet has different metal ores, which let you build new things. You can perform research and unlock new buildings, new ways to create power, etc. It starts off very manual but you begin automating these tasks more and more and building a giant base (or many factories to handle specific tasks). You can connect these buildings through cars, trucks, or even a train. And then automate those too so you don’t have to worry about it. The whole planet becomes a canvas to paint and a place for you to explore and keep wondering “what if I built this?”, “what if I optimize this?”. And that’s before you even realize you can have a completely different save that is a multiplayer world to build and engineer with your friends. I genuinely could not stop playing this game - and even when I had to, I would just be planning out the next steps in my mind.
#2 - Vampire Survivors
This $3 indie game almost became my game of the year - but here we are. The best way I can describe this game is the ultimate comfort food. I’ve been playing a ton of this on the Steam Deck and it’s still one of the games I play at least a few times a week. This game is deceivingly simple at first, but the amount of content that just explodes out of it is bunkers. The more you play and experiment with new builds, the more you’ll find different combinations of items you can evolve to turn them into more powerful forms. Even when I’m on a run with a completely broken build that kills everything I’m still having just as much fun.
#1 - God of War Ragnarök
God of War (2018) was my game of the year in 2018. At the time I wasn’t really sure what I wanted out of the sequel, all I knew is I wanted more of this. Luckily that is exactly what Ragnarök did - it is truly an expansion of the 2018 game that just makes everything better. I never thought a God of War game would have me crying - but that’s something that often happened during this game. Even moreso than in the last GoW game, you get to explore more of the Norse realms and meet the gods that inhabit them. The casting of these characters is fantastic. Spoilers for the first ~30 minutes of the game: the way Odin is written and portrayed is so sleezy and goddamm perfect in my opinion. The side quests don’t feel like generic cookie cutter quests - instead they are also packed with a lot of character development and even more insight into this world. This is one of the few games that I’ve beat but I’m still going back and playing trying to achieve 100%. I urge you to go play God of War (2018) and then Ragnarök.
Quick bonus section for some of my most anticipated games for next year. For the sake of keeping it short I’m sticking to only games that have already been confirmed for 2023 and not any wishful thinking (like maybe Valve making a game again or Nintendo printing money by re-releasing those Wii U Zelda games on the Switch).
Dead Space (Remake)
Luckily for me I won’t have to wait for long on this one since it releases at the end of this month as I write this. This is a full on remake of the original 2008 game by EA Motive running on the Frostbite engine. I was already pretty excited for this but after Calisto Protocol didn’t do so hot…..it’s safe to say I’m even more excited for this.
The Wolf Among Us 2
A part of me still doesn’t really believe that this game will come out - especially after Telltale closed down in 2018. But Bigby is coming back after all. That’s about all I know since I’m going full media blackout on this one, but I’m excited for whenever it does come out.
We don’t know much about this game yet other than it’s the sequel to Insomniac’s 2018 game and it will feature both Peter Parker and Miles Morales. Venom will also be joining the roster of the team and voiced by none other than freakin Tony Todd himself. That’s all I need to know to be excited about this.
Hades 2 (Early Access)
I’ve mentioned my love for Supergiant and Hades before. Hades is a game that I’ve gotten hooked up and I still play more often than I ever anticipated. So when Hades 2 was announced at The Game Awards you can already imagine how I lost my mind. This is another game we don’t know much about this game yet other than we’ll be playing as Zagreus’s sister, Melinoë. She’s been described as “an immortal witch and sorceress with powerful magical abilities.” I don’t know if the final version of this game will come out in 2023, but it seems the early access version of the game will be out at some point in the year. I’m still torn on whether I’ll play the early access version or wait for the final product, but I’m very hyped for this.
I’ve mentioned before how much I love playing Diablo. I have a silly amount of time spent on Diablo 3 and odds are I will keep adding to this total before Diablo 4 is out. There will be five classes (Barbarian, Sorceress, Druid, Rogue, and Necromancer) and what looks like a significantly larger and different skill tree. June 6th can’t arrive soon enough.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Admitedly - ‘Breath of the Wild’ is the only Zelda game I’ve played. That being said I played the hell out of that game since it came out (having beat the main story twice and probably a third time by the time the sequel is out). Nintendo hasn’t shown too much of Tears of the Kingdom, but so far what we’ve seen looks very exciting.