Games of 2022

Jan 08, 2023

Retrospectives on all the games I played in 2022. I used to post this on my tumblr back in the day, but hey, I've got this spiffy website now. Games listed in roughly chronological order of when I played them; most didn't actually come out this year. I just ramble a bit for each.

  • Inscryption
    I finished this game on New Year's eve, 2021. ...I'm pretty sure the game I started the new year with was my favorite that I played this year. Games can be so beautiful; not the art assets, or the story, nothing like that. Just the mechanics, stripped down to their essentials, can be beautiful. Not that everything else doesn't improve the experience, of course! This is the kind of game that made me think "I should get into Magic the Gathering". Dangerous thoughts, yes? I do wish the middle section of the game was more fleshed out; I had such fun experimenting with all the different mechanics, but it was over far too quickly. But you know a game has succeeded when the only flaw I can think of is that I wish there was more of it.

    This was a game made by someone who loved games. Each of these Scrybes loved games in different ways -- most obviously Leshy for the stories they can tell and P03 for the mastery of mechanics. But also Magnificus and Grimora, for competition and the simple joy of spending time with a friend, at least in my reading. The way I play and think about games has changed tremendously over the years, but the one constant is that I truly do love them.

  • Return of the Obra Dinn
    As good as everyone says it is. Beautiful and satisfying.

  • Before Your Eyes
    I felt more emotions watching Jacob Geller's video essay about this game than actually playing the game. I mean, I'll give it credit, it made me cry, but it didn't stick with me much.

  • Pokemon Legends Arceus
    This game really hooked me in for a while. A very very satisfying gameplay loop. I wish the gameplay was attached to a story that's at least remotely interesting, but alas. Getting to collect my guys, and actually just SEE them out in the field, not have to transition into big battle cutscenes, etc. etc., it was just fantastic. Don’t think I can go back to any traditional Pokemon games after this one. Now only if this game wasn't rushed, and had Good Graphics and Felt Finished... oh well.

  • Tunic
    One of the best games I've ever played. Decoding its language was my favorite puzzle in any game, by far. And I didn't even realize there was a big hint to the language at the end of the game, so I did it on hard mode oops!! My rosetta stone that cracked it all open was a random NPC fishing and me guessing that he was saying "Fish fish fish, I love to fish!" The realization of how to open the Mountain Door was also so satisfying, such an unexpected culmination that was staring me in the face the whole time. This game succeeded by every measure at creating satisfying mysteries to uncover, and gave me the feeling that there's always more to learn.

  • Prey
    First Immersive Sim I’ve played; A love letter to a genre I know nothing about. It was great! The early game was easily the best part, I ended up far too overpowered, but the freedom of problem solving was so new to me compared to any other 3D shooter type game I’ve played. I watched Errant Signal's video on it years ago and moments from it kept randomly popping up in my head. There's something special about being spoiled on everything that happens in a game, forgetting it, and then suddenly having a flash of recognition as each twist reveals itself.

  • Okaeri! Chibi-Robo! Happy Richie Ōsōji!
    This is the DS Japanese-only sequel to Chibi Robo, which I downloaded to play in 2018 and only now got around to playing. There's a fan translation made by one guy in 2014, and it's not that good, but it's good enough. The game overall is resoundingly… okay. It captures the spirit of the first game but is lacking in a few subtle ways. I found the sound design more annoying; Chibi Robo in so many ways is about the sound effects (the music as you walk, the vocal babble of characters talking, etc.) but a lot of the sounds in this one felt mediocre and grating. The environments also feel a lot smaller; I can’t tell if they actually are, or if it just feels that was because it’s a DS game. In the original, everything felt so massive because it’s all visible on the big screen; but when everything is tiny, the chibiness of Chibi Robo is lost. Nevertheless, if I played it as a kid with a proper localization on a real DS, I'd probably have fond memories of it.

  • Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye
    DLC, but it was so large that this was essentially a sequel. The quality remained as strong as the original game. There were a few very frustrating parts, but overall I yet again had a lot of fun putting together these mysteries and figuring things out. It didn't leave as strong an impact as the original, however -- maybe because I already knew what to expect.

  • Core Keeper
    My boyfriend and I scoured Steam, searching for a game to fill the niche of Terraria for us – building, crafting, adventuring – and tried this. My BF can’t handle 3D games, which is often the limiting factor (alas, we are denied from the joys of Minecraft). Core Keeper was an echo of a replacement. It had potential, but is too early even for early access – there just isn’t nearly enough game in this game to make it anything. Maybe in a few years.

  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land
    Forgotten? This is the same land that it always is, guys. The fact that this game was in 3D barely made a difference, it played the exact same way as every other Kirby game. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently bad about that, and it was a great way to introduce my BF to the world of Kirby, but… I suppose I was disappointed that the game didn't leverage the fact that it was in 3D in a more interesting way. Maybe I was hoping for, say, a 3D Great Cave Offensive. A chance to really explore, rather than just play through the same kind of levels present in every 2D Kirby game.

  • Disco Elysium
    I started replaying this game with my BF. At one point, I failed a conceptualization check where Harry was expressing, like, a poem about his feelings, and he just started to state basic facts about how he's empty and misses his ex and crap. And sometimes I feel that whenever I try and inject anything serious into my art, it's like that. I don't have the nuance to wrap those raw feelings into something interesting and profound. Always in awe of people who are driven by negative emotions to make art. Ruminating in negativity is the antithesis of creation for me.

  • Cult of the Lamb
    Cute but sparse. All the systems felt juuuuust slightly too simple. I ran out of cult management stuff to do before I had finished half the dungeon exploration -- lost interest from there. It was fun, but also my attention span for grindy-resource gather-y games has diminished with age.

  • Perfect Tides
    Not my generation, but nevertheless captured the feeling of teenage angst so perfectly I was reminded of feelings I forgot I ever had. Very compelling to watch Mara make terrible decisions and love her all the more of it. Some of the Adventure-Game puzzles were a bit inscrutable (as they always are), but once I started playing with a guide, I was able to be fully captivated by the story.

  • Recursed
    Puzzle game about exploring rooms contained in boxes stored in boxes (sometimes in a recursive manner). Very challenging, very smart puzzles. Occasionally the dev voices over hints, but the audio quality is comically bad – definitely has the vibe of a “puzzle game made by a programmer”, but in an endearing way.

  • Fallen London
    Third time's the charm! Tried playing this back in 2016, and again in 2019, never hooked me for more than a month or two. But at long last in 2022 it has become a habit. Some of the best worldbuilding I've experienced. I'm always left wanting to know more. It's a bit funny that this game serves as a nice bit of familiarity and comfort for the day to day, when most of these stories have to do with incomprehensible horror and misfortune.

  • Sunless Sea
    I also never managed to get into this game until this year! The first dozen hours or so were fantastic; but once I became comfortable with everything, it became a slog. Slow ship speed DOES succeed in building up suspense and unease, until you master the game systems and understand how to play safe. I played too well -- usually in this game you go through a lot of different captains, but I won after 30 hours of playing with my first, and felt finished at that point. I'll maybe revisit it in a year or two.

  • Sonic Frontiers
    I was tricked into playing this game by rapscallions and ne'er-do-wells -- my friends seemed to really be enjoying it! So I wanted in on the fun and discovered that... it was resoundingly mediocre! It felt like Mario Odyssey, insofar as I was running around a world getting nonstop collectables, but with all the charm and personality scrubbed away. It's mildly fun, I'll give it that, but that's all I'll concede. I keep forgetting that I don't actually like sonic games, I just like people who like sonic games. (excluding the sonic adventure games, which I adore)

  • We Happy Few
    Played this for a few hours before I got bored. Gameplay was standard Skyrim / Fallout -esc, and I was spoiled by Prey so much that it couldn't remotely compare. I’m yearning a bit for a more thorough critique of the story, most reviews seem to universally praise it in juxtaposition to poor gameplay, but don’t go in depth. Something felt off to me about “sending children away on trains” standing in for complicity in the holocaust, as it removes any discussion of antisemitism – on some level it feels like a de-politicalization of WWII, and this treatment makes the whole game feel naive and childish.

  • Umineko When They Cry
    I sure did read an 80 hour novel in two weeks. Highly recommend (umineko, not reading it that quickly). The story was fantastic, one of the best I have experienced. Deeply compelling mysteries upon mysteries, with immensely flawed characters you come to love anyway, plus a fantastic soundtrack that keeps the energy up the whole time. One big critique though: this game could have really benefited from an editor. As incredible as the story was, occasionally the moment to moment writing could get a bit repetitive and tedious.

    Solving the mystery was deeply satisfying -- got to theorize with a friend while other friends who knew everything already got to go "oh ho ho" and "hmm" as they watched us desperately try to reach the truth. We managed to solve maybe 85% of the mysteries at the end of Episode 6, no idea how people managed to do so by the end of Episode 4. Though of course it all seems obvious in retrospect.

I played a lot of really great games this year, wow. I'm always surprised by how much I've played each year, writing these really helps cement what the most impactful experiences were this year. Which were, by the way, the following: Inscryption, Tunic, Prey, Umineko. (Disco Elyisum would be here too if I hadn't already played it)