2022. What a year. I started off strong (/s) with some health scares then moved 500+ miles to the other side of the country, met a ton of new people and friends, picked up some new hobbies, got engaged, lost my job in a round of layoffs, and then joined a sub-20 person startup. Phew. Needless to say, I feel like I didn’t spend as much time on video games compared to every other year I’ve had this blog, and I certainly spent way less time writing about them, but it’s time to come out of hiding to make the obligatory end of the year post!
My usual disclaimer is that this is a list of my top 5 favorite games I played this year. It’s not a list of games that were released in 2022 and it’s certainly not a list of the “best” games I played this year, just my favorites.
Also my usual rule: It must be a game I completed. Different people have different definitions of “complete” but for these end of year posts, I’ll consider a game eligible if I see the credits roll. (This automatically disqualifies Elden Ring, the big 2022 GOTY, sorry I did not git gud enough).
5. Pokemon Legends: Arceus (Played on Nintendo Switch)
I know I wrote an entire blog post where I feel like I did nothing but complain about the game, and I still consider all of that valid, and I still hesitated to put it in this list. However, as I mentioned, I didn’t have much to fill out this list with and I also did spend a fair amount of time on this game and did legitimately enjoy most of my time on it, so I am begrudgingly placing it at number 5.
This has already been said by a lot of people other than myself but I do really feel like Pokemon Legends: Arceus was the Pokemon game I’ve been waiting for since I was a kid. It’s definitely the first Pokemon game since my first one (Pokemon Yellow) that has really motivated me to try and catch them all, rather then just catching my favorites. It encapsulated that adventurous feeling that made me feel like I was discovering the world of Pokemon for the first time, so it’s hard for me to not view this game through rose-tinted glasses.
I really really want them to iterate on this formula and make an even better Pokemon Legends game…but, well, if you’ve been following Scarlet/Violet, my hopes are low.
4. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (Played on 3DS)
Back in high school, I considered Radiant Historia one of my favorite games of all time, if not my number one favorite. I remember going out to GameStop and buying it on release week because it was released in North America four days before my 15th birthday. I also remember lurking in HCBailly’s forums when he decided to write the first guide for this game on GameFAQs because there was so little information for this game on the internet. Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that this game holds a huge place in my heart and I have a lot of fond memories and nostalgia for it.
With the closure of the 3DS eshop (Also I swear I have a draft of a part 2 blog post for 3DS games and I swear I’ll publish it before the eshop closes) I finally pulled the trigger and bought the 3DS re-release for the game. The re-release adds voice acting and dynamic character portraits, a ton of sidequests that accumulate in a extra scenes/lore and an extra ending chapter if you complete the important ones, and some new mechanics and quality of life improvements. It also adds some new difficulty modes, but I just played on normal. I felt like the new additions weren’t very necessary, but I appreciated them more as I went along.
I don’t think the new additions alone make this game worth a replay if it’s still fresh in your memory, but it had been such a long time since I’ve played it that I forgot enough of the game for it to feel new enough, though unfortunately I still remembered most of the major plot twists. I do think it was very worth replaying to get the original best ending. Of the twelve required sidequests to get the best ending, I think I only completed a single one the first time around (the one with Rosch and Sonja). Those were cool – I liked how they fleshed out all the side characters and the world. And then I went and got the new 3DS best ending too.
10+ years later I definitely feel like I’ve aged out of JRPG tropes and turn-based combat, and I don’t think I’d ever consider this my favorite game of all time anymore, but I still like it enough for it to solidly be number 4 on this list, and would definitely still recommend it if you do like JRPGs and turn-based combat.
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Played on 3DS)
This game was so good that I think I finished this game in the span of like three or four days during my break before my new job.
I loved how much freedom there was in exploring the world since you can tackle a lot of the dungeons in any order. The dungeons were fun (except for the darn ice one, screw the ice ruins) and pretty typical 2D Zelda but I love 2D Zelda so that’s alright. They were a little different though because you don’t get new items at the halfway-ish point of the dungeon, but rather you rent them from a store and then enter the dungeon with it. It makes a little more sense in context, but only a little. Either way I still really enjoy the Zelda dungeons.
The two worlds concept was really cool too. It was a nice call back to the two worlds of A Link to the Past, but was different enough to be interesting. I never actually finished a Link to the Past, but I played more than enough of it to have fun revisiting areas from that game. The two worlds thing didn’t feel gimmicky either. I think the overworld exploration was easily the strongest part of the game for me.
2. Inscryption (Played on PC)
I don’t know how to talk about this game without spoilers. I stayed away from this game for quite a while because of the horror element, but I’m very glad I went for it.
The card game is fun. I liked the card game a lot.
1. Death’s Door (Played on PC)
I think this is easily my favorite game I played this year and is also the only game this year I’ve 100%-ed. It’s basically a 2D Zelda game, but isometric and with vaguely souls-like mechanics. Exploring the world was so much fun! I especially loved how many shortcuts you could open up to connect the areas together – when I was playing through A Link Between Worlds after this, I was almost even bemoaning the lack of shortcuts because I was spoiled by Death’s Door.
The combat and controls are nice and fluid and the weapon options were pretty fun. The aesthetic and art-style are really cute. The music is excellent also. The dungeons also feel pretty typical 2D Zelda, but as discussed, that’s a good thing for me. The boss fights were a lot of fun too and decently challenging.
Overall, I felt like it really just hit everything I could have wanted from a game like this and was just a lot of fun overall. It almost even scratched the Zelda itch better than the actual Zelda game I played (which was also really good!) I also played this game during the tail-end of my interview season, so it definitely helped keep me sane. I was actually pretty bummed once I 100%-ed it because I wished there was more, and still do.
Anyway, that’s all! Here’s to the rest of the holiday season and to 2023!