In 2023, I plan to relaunch this website in a huge way, and what better way to kick things off than to start by sharing the best and worst of the year in all of the media forms I regularly consume? When it comes to gaming, I had a pretty decent year. Given that 2020-2021 were pretty terrible gaming years to the point that I mostly stopped posting on this blog due to having very little to say about much of what I was consuming, it’s nice to finally say that I have some new all-time favorite games in this year’s gaming class. Don’t worry, though, as there are still plenty of least favorites to rant about. I’m going to exclude replays from this list, as they should get their own separate post, and this is just games I played in 2022, not those released throughout this year. Here are all of the games I played in 2022, ranked from worst to best!
35. Frogger Returns
I was feeling nostalgic one day and decided to pick up Frogger Returns from PlayStation Now on a whim to relive the glory days of when I used to play the PS1 Frogger as a child. Unfortunately, this PS3 iteration is rough and not a lot of fun to play. The controls felt stiff and the platforming felt slow, which could partially be from PS Now’s servers, but most likely is simply that the game isn’t made all that well. At least it was mercifully short, so I could get it over with and move on quickly.
34. Group Project Simulator
Group Project Simulator is a title that I have had on my Steam backlog for a long time. Unfortunately, while the concept of a visual novel based around surviving a group project for school sounded like an interesting premise, it really isn’t a lot of fun to play. The visual novel aspects are fine, but there are these short minigames scattered throughout that were generally terrible. My best guess is that this is some kind of prototype project that the developers were testing concepts with, but this resulted in a final product that probably should have been left in the drafts folder until polished a little more.
Townscaper is not a game, in my opinion. It is basically the world’s least interesting LEGO simulation, instead. An empty map of nothing but water is laid out, and the only thing the player can do is lay out little houses and connect them. There are some interesting surprises in store for players who try to lay out houses in different patterns that merge and combine into neat buildings, but it still was not something that held my attention for more than a few minutes before I wanted to run off and play literally anything else (other than the two games ranked lower on this list, I suppose).
32. The Islander: Town Architect
I play a lot of idle and idle-adjacent games, where the player’s goal is to play as little as possible. In fact, I would call them something of a guilty pleasure of mine. The Islander: Town Architect is one of the most boring iterations of this basic concept. In theory, a city-builder should and does naturally work well within the idle game framework, as the player can add buildings that will make more money or further automate processes. In reality, there just weren’t enough gameplay systems to make this anything more than a glorified screensaver while I played more interesting video games on my console.
31. HE BEAT HER.
I have some really mixed emotions regarding the games of developer Angela He. I’ve played some titles I really like, and some that I really don’t, as their content is often about tough topics and very divisive in nature. HE BEAT HER. is, unfortunately, one of the titles I wasn’t a huge fan of, mostly due to the nature of how the game controls, relying on inputs from the player in the style of an old-school adventure title. This is probably another case of the developer trying something new to benefit their work in a future game, but it didn’t work for me. That said, I will still continue to play everything new that they put out because even when I don’t love the end product, it is always an interesting experience that leaves me thinking.
I love Portal, so I am always intrigued by mind-bending puzzle titles with unique mechanics. The premise behind Superliminal was an interesting one, as the player is tasked with utilizing perspective in a 3D environment to make objects bigger and smaller as needed to progress from room to room within a mysterious environment. There was only one major problem: There weren’t enough ways to take this premise in interesting directions without making it feel like many of the puzzles were effectively copied and pasted from room to room. Here and there, an individual puzzle would really stand out, but those were the exceptions, not the rule.
29. Behind the Frame
On one lazy Saturday, I decided to tackle three narrative adventure titles that I had heard nothing but positive things about in a single day. Two of them will be found in a much more prestigious position on this list. Then there is Behind the Frame, which I found to be one of the dullest experiences of the year. On paper, I thought a narrative adventure about painting would be fun, and the art style caught my eye immediately, but the actual execution bored me to tears. I was so happy it was over so I could uninstall it, and that’s such a shame.
28. Infamous Second Son
Unfortunately, my dislike of Infamous Second Son may be partially my own fault. I played First Light first, and fell in love with Fetch’s neon powers (more on that game later in the list), which may have negatively impacted my feelings towards Delsin’s overall set of moves. That said, this still does not excuse the uninteresting and overly predictable story within this entry in the Infamous franchise. The villain and complex relationship between two brothers all could have been interesting avenues for exploration, but nothing felt like it had any actual weight or payoff because the developers couldn’t decide what story to tell. It’s a game that I think could have been good, but missed the mark on multiple levels.
I wanted to like Dorfromantik, but I just don’t. No matter how many rounds I play of it, it just comes off as bland and uninteresting. It feels like it operates within the same “relaxing puzzle” genre as something like Mini Metro, but between the two titles, I would much rather go create some new subway stations rather than lay down some tiles in Dorfromantik. There is some strategy here for those who really want to dive into it further, and I suspect I just don’t have the patience for it personally, but that doesn’t change that it wasn’t for me and a huge disappointment.
26. My Name is Mayo 3
I unironically love the My Name is Mayo series for its self-aware take on the idle and clicker genre, but the third entry missed the mark due to the second half of the game parodying a different genre that was far less interesting. I’m not going to spoil the events of this mayotastic adventure, but I almost didn’t finish this game, even though it is only about an hour long, because of how dull the back half was for me to play.
25. Mine Cards
I’m not going to be too harsh on Mine Cards because this is a game jam project that caught my eye on itch.io, so I decided to give it a try. It’s an idle or clicker title centered around drawing cards out of a deck to add values and mine for various resources. It only takes about thirty minutes, but I had fun with it. The main reason for it being so low on this list is simply a lack of content. If this was ever made into a full game, I’d definitely sink some time into it.
24. Persona 4: Dancing All Night
Persona 4: Dancing All Night is a title that I have been meaning to play since it first came out years ago, but didn’t want to play on my Vita. I finally acquired it while buying a bundle pack with the Persona 3 and 5 Dancing titles and gave it a shot. Unfortunately, it did disappoint a little. The songs themselves were a lot of fun and I did enjoy the actual rhythm game mechanics for this title, but the campaign was dreadful. Every second spent in the story mode made me want to quit gaming forever and it took me nearly a year to actually wrap it up in spite of its short length because I really didn’t want to continue. It’s such a shame, given that Persona 4 Golden is one of my favorite games of all time, but this really wasn’t fun to play.
23. We Should Talk.
We Should Talk. isn’t a bad game as much as it is a forgettable game. It’s a short visual novel about a conversation between two romantic partners told primarily via text messages. How the player responds will determine the ultimate outcome of the relationship by the end of the game. The primary issue I had here is that it was way too easy to reach the “best” ending of the story. In a choose-your-own-adventure game like this, I really want to stumble at least once or twice to get to a better outcome for my protagonist, but that’s not what happened here. I got the best ending on my first try, and by looking at the achievements, so did most everyone else who played this title. It just would have been nice to feel like there was incentive to dive back in and try more alternate routes by making it a little bit more complicated to get to the best possible story resolution.
22. Spider-Man: Miles Morales
I recently wrote about how I had a certain number of games that I planned to prioritize in 2023 as part of a friendly competition with my brother. Well, I got started a little early and have actually already wrapped up two of the titles on that list, with the other one coming a little further down. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is where it is on the list because it should have been great, but just fell so flat. It feels to me that they used Miles Morales as a tech demo to check out the PS5 hardware before going back to develop the next main entry in the series, which led to this game suffering. The plot and characters created here deserved a full game to be completely fleshed out, but instead, it came out rushed and underbaked. All I can say is that I hope the next title in this franchise heavily features Miles as a character, because he deserved better than this.
21. Froggy Pot
This is another itch.io title that I played on a whim because it’s fun to see what creative endeavors pop up through game jams and indie developers practicing their skills. Since these titles are usually pretty short, though, it’s hard to say a lot about them. Froggy Pot tells the story of trying to convince Froggy to get out of a pot of water that is slowly heating up and will eventually come to a boil. It sounds dark, and a look at the trigger warnings will show that it does deal with some darker subject matter, but it’s mostly a relatively cozy experience. The art is nice and it’s just a fun way to pass a few minutes, so I’d recommend giving it a shot if it sounds interesting.
20. Open World Game: The Open World Game
Sometimes, I just want to turn my brain off for a while. Thankfully, Open World Game: The Open World Game is perfect for doing just that for an hour or two. This is a free-to-play parody of open world titles in which the player wanders around a map searching for what sometimes feels like an endless array of collectables, all while gaining levels to gain movement speed and make it easier to find even more collectables. It’s hardly going to win any Game of the Year awards, but I enjoyed my time with it and got all of the achievements.
19. Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight
I like Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight way more than its Persona 4 counterpart, and that’s primarily because it doesn’t try to force in a terrible narrative and just lets me freely play dance segments. There are some character interactions that can be done in order to gain additional character customization options, but they take up much less time than 4’s campaign, and are far more entertaining overall. My only minor gripe is it’s clear to me that the developers had no idea what to do with the soundtrack for this title, as Persona 3 has a more subdued music style than its siblings, which led to some really strange dance remixes that aren’t particularly enjoyable. Overall, though, I had fun here revisiting the cast of Persona 3 and doing a little dancing.
18. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion
This game shouldn’t have worked for me. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is most comparable to a Zelda title, which is not normally something that I would enjoy. That said, the titular Turnip Boy is adorable, the sense of humor on display here matches perfectly with my own, and the world around him is absolutely fascinating to explore. I cannot believe I’m saying this, but this title actually has a few genuinely intriguing lore elements to it that make me wish for a sequel one day so I can learn more about this strange and funny little world. I did get bored with the gameplay after a while, but wanting to see what happens next kept me going and I rolled credits in a single sitting.
17. Nobody Saves the World
Nobody Saves the World is a difficult game to place on this list because it was a little all over the place for me. I absolutely adore the art style and gameplay, and the sense of humor that this game possesses hits more than it misses. Additionally, I had so much fun playing as all of the different classes I was allowed to swap between, especially since they all played quite differently from one another. I can’t say that I regularly get to run around as a turtle, egg, or rat in other RPGs, much less swap between them at will.
That said, the puzzle dungeon approach was both a help and a hindrance here. Each dungeon would have certain restrictions or stipulations, like enemies exploding on death or everything (including you) dying in one hit. These restrictions added a puzzle mechanic to the game, as only certain classes or setups could successfully get through the dungeon. It was meant to keep players on their toes and force them to try classes they may not ordinarily choose, but it also meant that after unlocking a class that I would find fits my playstyle perfectly, I may not have an opportunity to use them that much and will instead be forced to primarily use a class I don’t enjoy playing, instead. Overall, I clearly gave this game a pretty respectable spot on the ranking for the year, but I still have some mixed emotions about how it was actually executed.
16. A Memoir Blue
Similarly to Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, A Memoir Blue isn’t something I should like based on my usual interests. The closest comparison I can give to this title is that it reminds me of those very artistic and abstract indie platformers like Gris, which is normally something that absolutely does not work for me. Something about this game appealed to me, though, and led me to keep an eye on it throughout its development. Ultimately, I’m really glad I took a chance on it because I ended up playing it twice in a row, entranced by the story it told and wanting to make sure I understood all of the abstract details within it. This is only a one or two hour experience, and it’s also a pretty easy achievement-hunting title for those interested, so I would highly recommend picking this one up.
15. Disco Elysium
Like Miles Morales, Disco Elysium is another title I was supposed to be prioritizing in 2023 and ended up deciding to jump into a little bit early. I played the entirety of this detective RPG adventure in a few days, absolutely unable to tear my eyes from the screen. While I didn’t love every second of it and actually have some kind of mixed emotions on it overall, I can honestly say that I’ve never played anything like it and it deserves the spot it has on this list.
Once my emotions have settled a little more on Disco Elysium, I may write a larger piece on my thoughts about it, but I will do my best to sum it up in a few sentences here. I think it’s a perfect introductory CRPG, as it doesn’t have too many spots where a user might accidentally softlock themselves, a serious hazard in some other games of the genre. Additionally, I did find myself compelled by the protagonist and his partner, Kim Kitsuragi, and their journey. Unfortunately, I went into this title primarily because it was billed as a murder mystery, and I personally believe that’s not the best descriptor for the game. There is a murder, and the player is tasked with solving it, but the actual crime quickly feels sidelined in favor of further exploring the world as a whole and the overall resolution of the actual murder plot really leaves a lot to be desired. The beauty of Disco Elysium is in the journey through its politics, as the player uncovers the complex schemes and morally gray characters scattered throughout the world.
Overall, players who like complex political dramas will like Disco Elysium, but players like me, who are more interested in the murder mystery aspect, will likely come away a bit disappointed. I liked my time with the game and I don’t regret playing it, but I also am not sure if I would have picked it up had I understood more about what I was getting myself into ahead of time.
14. Beautiful Katamari
Sometime in the last year or so, Beautiful Katamari, the last major entry in the franchise that I had not played yet, finally became backwards compatible on Xbox! There really isn’t a lot to say about Katamari, as it’s a pretty well-known franchise and every game is about the same as every other, to the point where it feels like every title is actually at least fifty percent cloned levels from the franchise’s first entry, Katamari Damacy. Overall, rolling things up to make my ball bigger and bigger until it can destroy the world is just as satisfying here as it always is, and I love making sure I get a yearly dose of Katamari in my gaming diet.
13. Yoshi’s Story
I was super sick with Covid in January, like many others were at the time. I felt awful enough that I wanted to avoid getting out of bed, but not awful enough to sleep the day away. I pulled out my Switch, looking for something relaxing, and came across Yoshi’s Story. Keep in mind that I did not have a Nintendo 64 as a child and therefore rarely played the console outside of friend’s houses and hotel rooms, so this was a brand-new experience to me. It isn’t a very long game, as I seem to recall beating it within a few hours, but the smile it put on my face in an otherwise horrible day was worth a spot on the list.
Xbox Game Pass is the unsung hero of this year for me, as I played a number of indie titles that I otherwise would not have tried due to them showing up on Game Pass. TinyKin, a 3D platformer heavily reminiscent of Pikmin, is a great example of something that flew entirely under my radar and ended up being a huge standout of my year. The controls could be a little slippery at times and some of the humor overstayed its welcome, but a good 3D platformer brings me back to my childhood in a way that other genres can’t accomplish. I felt like I was a little kid playing Spyro the Dragon all over again and it was so much fun!
11. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising
Like many other JRPG fans, I am incredibly excited for Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes, a spiritual successor to the Suikoden series. What I was not expecting, however, was that the small preview title released this year, Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising, would be so charming. This game is nothing like its future sequel. It’s a 2D action RPG with light city-building and metroidvania elements that follows the main characters completing a series of fetch quests to rebuild a struggling town. While that may not sound overly impressive, the gameplay loop is incredibly rewarding and addictive as each quest makes the town come further to life and players get to see the impact they’re having on the town throughout the story. I only started playing it because it was on Game Pass, but I rolled credits within a few days, my eyes glued to the screen. It isn’t very long, so anyone who has any interest in Hundred Heroes should give this a try.
10. Infamous First Light
I decided to tackle the PS4 duo of Infamous First Light and Second Son this year. Unfortunately, I clearly did not enjoy Second Son all that much, but First Light was a phenomenal experience. The world of the Infamous franchise is always fun, as it continues to explore the ramifications of what might occur to society if certain people suddenly develop superpowers one day. Fetch is a compelling protagonist, as she has an interesting sense of morality and justice. Ultimately, though, the best part of this game is Fetch’s neon powers. Her moveset is so fast and fluid that I find myself loading the game up to play a few rounds of the arena mode just to play with her powers some more. It’ll be hard to beat the neon powers if another game in this franchise is ever released.
A theme of this year’s gaming is that I enjoyed a lot of cozy games that really took the time to just let me breathe and exist in their world. Lake is a great example of this, as the player follows Meredith, a tech employee in her forties who decides to go back to her old town for a small vacation and fill in for her dad on his mail delivery route. This is going to be a divisive game, as there isn’t much of a plot or any gameplay beyond driving a mail truck to the location specified on the map and, well, delivering the mail. The joy in Meredith’s story, though, is in reconnecting with her old friends, finding new romance, and determining what she wants in her life. There are no wrong choices in Lake, just what’s best for Meredith’s future, which gave me a sense of freedom and calm as I stepped into her shoes for a while.
Littlewood is another cozy game, but more in the style of a traditional Harvest Moon title. Has anyone ever wondered what happens after the dark lord has been defeated in a fantasy story and now the world has to pick up the shattered pieces left behind? That’s where Littlewood starts up, with a broken-down town that sacrificed everything to save the world and now must rebuild in the newly-found peace. I have put dozens of hours into this title, building my town and making new friends, and I still regularly go back to it so I can do a little more mining, fishing, and farming. The gameplay loop is a ton of fun and this may very well rank up there with Stardew Valley as one of my favorite cozy farming titles.
First of all, before I go any further here, while everything I’m about to discuss is literally on the Steam page for Adios (I checked), I would thoroughly recommend going in blind for this one. If you like short, character-driven narrative adventures or walking sims, and you’re okay with some tough topics, just give it a try.
I’m not sure whether to describe Adios as a cozy title like the previous two or not. On some level, it is, as the protagonist goes about the farm he has cared for over the years, tending to the animals and enjoying his slow and relaxing life. Still, it’s hard to overlook the central premise here: This quiet farmer disposes of bodies for a crime organization by feeding the remains to his pigs. One day, he decides he wants out of his life of crime and chooses to spend what may be his last day with the man who will ultimately have to kill him to keep the organization’s secrets safe if the farmer’s mind cannot be changed. This is a tense, emotional game, but it also brought up some big questions about the meaning of life and I enjoyed every second of it.
I did not know what to expect going into Immortality. I have played and enjoyed the developer’s prior title, Her Story, so I knew it would be some sort of FMV puzzle game about piecing together a story, but I did not expect the direction that Immortality was going to head. It’s creepy and fun, always keeping me on the edge of my seat and hoping to find out more about the strange characters I was watching on the screen.
The game’s premise is vague, but intriguing, which is the main reason I decided to give it a try. It’s all about a single, fictional person. Marissa Marcel is an actress who has appeared in three films from the 1970s to 1990s, none of which ever released for varying reasons. She has gained something of a cult following due to her complete disappearance after the filming of her third movie. One day, snippets of all of her films are found, once thought to be lost to time, though the clips are all seemingly out of order. What really happened to Marissa Marcel, and will these clips reveal the truth? If this premise intrigues you, just go play it and don’t read anything else about it. It may not be an experience every player walks away liking, but most players will walk away with a strong opinion of it, which is high praise for any form of media.
5. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Enjoying Marvel’s Spider-Man might be the biggest surprise of 2022. I decided to play it mostly because I had heard it was a pretty easy platinum trophy and I wanted to increase my total trophy percentage. While I don’t have anything against superheroes in general, I wouldn’t say that I’m someone who goes out of their way to consume superhero-related media, either. I did also play two Infamous games this year, though, so I might just be wrong about my own tastes.
That said, Spider-Man was amazing. The combat was fluid and satisfying, flying around the city was so much fun that I’d sometimes catch myself just aimlessly moving around for no reason, and most importantly, the story and characters were way better than anticipated. I was thoroughly impressed by Peter Parker’s characterization here, as well as everyone else in his life, and I can’t wait until the sequel comes out. I just wish that Miles Morales had gotten an equal about of love in his game, as well.
4. Vampire Survivors
Truly, if I were to rank these games based purely on how thoroughly addicted to them I was while in the midst of playing them, Vampire Survivors would top this list and it wouldn’t even be close. The gameplay here is misleadingly simple. There are enemies and the player has weapons. Simple, right? There’s just one catch: The player has no control over when those weapons fire. This puts the player in a constant state of trying to move around the enemies while getting into good positions to make sure the next bullet takes out the scary boss on screen. While it is a roguelike of sorts, the amount of upgrades that can be bought and earned through gameplay progression quickly gets the player to the point where clearing the stage is 100% achievable, with the question now being which weapons to combine and synergize to have the most fun outcome. It may not be my favorite game of the year, but it does take the award for being the most unrelentingly fun.
3. Before Your Eyes
I played Adios and Before Your Eyes in the same weekend, and to say that I was a bit of an emotional wreck after that is an understatement. Before Your Eyes is played using the webcam to check when the player blinks. Whenever a blink is tracked, the world moves forward to a new point in the narrative. Time is fleeting and there is only so much time players can stay in a given moment, no matter how badly they may want to see more. I can’t say anything about the plot because it would ruin the experience, so just know that it is an absolute must-play experience for anyone that can handle a lot of emotion.
Spider-Man was the biggest shock of the year in terms of overall enjoyment, but the degree to which I adore Hades comes in as a close second. I don’t hate SuperGiant Games by any means, but I also like Bastion and Transistor way less than the average gamer. Hades had me in a trance, though, and I couldn’t stop playing. I loved it so much that I put in the full sixty or more hours that it took me to earn the platinum and see my journey through to the end. While I don’t typically enjoy roguelike titles, the phenomenal soundtrack and variety of skills and weapons had me constantly going “Just one more run!” well into the middle of the night.
1. God of War (2018)
Something has to be number one, and while many of these titles were beautiful and mesmerizing experiences, none of them quite measure up to the adventures of Kratos and Atreus in God of War. I will admit that I didn’t play this game for so many years due to a lack of interest. The fact that the camera angle never breaks throughout the game sounded more like a gimmick than an interesting mechanic, and I’m not a huge fan of most games that utilize the trope of turning the whole game into an escort mission.
Thankfully, after being urged to give this one a try by my brother, I can promise that I was wrong on both counts. Keeping the camera fluid throughout the whole game, even through cutscenes, turns the entire adventure into such an in-depth and intimate look at the complicated bonds between family members. Atreus is a partner throughout the journey, he never gets in the way or frustrates the player. Overall, I still need to make it through Ragnarok, but I can say this: If it’s even half as good as God of War is, I imagine Kratos may top my list of favorites in 2023, as well.
Well, that’s it! All of my favorite (and least favorite) gaming experiences of 2022 summed up in a single list. I will be making similar posts about anime, movies, and books that were notable throughout my 2022. I have lots of wrap-ups to make, so I hope this is enjoyable!
What were your favorite games of 2022? Let me know in the comments below!