It’s really been a weird year. I know we’ve been overusing that word as of late, but it really has been a weird year. In the real world, the pandemic seems to be subsiding, but companies still have no idea how to continue working, and while valid–we still keep hearing about the pandemic being some sort of excuse despite shareholders of big companies continuing to make crappy projections resulting in layoffs just about everywhere, including the game industry.
But I’m not here to talk about that. I wanna talk about my favorite games from this year, and again, it’s been weird. You would think the current generation of games would better find its footing, and in most cases–it has, but for some reason almost three years into it, you still can’t readily find a PlayStation 5 or even an Xbox Series X at a physical retail store. It’s easier, sure, but it’s still not easy. Period. That has to change, because we’re already nearing the midway point of the generation, which is insane to say.
This year’s Top 10 list somehow includes two (and if you wanna be specific, three) Pokémon games, while #1 may not be what you think, but let’s go ahead and get started.
10. Pokémon Legends Arceus (Switch)
Released very early in the year, Pokémon Legends Arceus really turned the Pokémon series inside out. Taking place in the Sinnoh region, arguably the region with the best overall lore in the series, it’s interesting seeing the series take on feudal history while also just thinking about different ways to catch and battle Pokémon. It really made you think about how Game Freak would tackle a truly open world Pokémon game, which they actually ended up doing in the same calendar year…
9. Live A Live (Switch)
It’s absolutely crazy that it took this many years for Live A Live to reach the western gaming radar. It’s one of the most influential products as far as anime and RPGs go, and you gotta wonder why it took this long for a remake to be considered. In any case, it’s a fantastic one boasting Square Enix’s HD-2D in apologetic fashion. It was a blast playing through this game and seeing how effortlessly it blended other genres into it, and you wonder why it’s not something done more often.
8. The Quarry (PC, Xbox, PlayStation)
Until Dawn was probably the best PS4 exclusive that I feel doesn’t get the respect it deserves. If I made a Top 10 for that platform, Until Dawn would be on it. Though Supermassive Games has continued the genre with The Dark Pictures Anthology, people generally agree that they lack the uniqueness that Until Dawn had. The Quarry brings it back with a smaller Hollywood cast and the whole “who will I kill?” vibe, and it’s still an enjoyable formula.
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge (Multiplatform)
There aren’t very many IPs that tickle gamers with nostalgic charm more than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, at least in my generation. They were probably the first fad I was a part of as a kid, and everything from ninjas to pizza were made even more awesome. The games were great too, and Shredder’s Revenge captures the look and feel we fondly remember so perfectly. Dotemu did it with Streets of Rage 4, and they did it rather easily with TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge.
6. Horizon: Forbidden West (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4)
There’s no discounting the greatness of Horizon, but it’s got some of the worst luck as far as its GOTY hopes. The original game came released right before the Switch game out with Breath of the Wild, and now you have its superb sequel come out around Elden Ring time. Despite all that, Horizon: Forbidden West is more Horizon, and Horizon is fantastic. Aloy is undoubtedly one of PlayStation’s marquee characters, and her journey through the west is every bit as epic as the last one was.
5. Pokémon Scarlet / Violet (Switch)
Much has been made about Pokémon Scarlet & Violet‘s performance issues, and yes, even as someone that hardly cares about that, the latest Pokémon games are the purest example of the Switch’s lack of power. But as a Pokémon fan who’s wanted to see the series evolve, and saw it take that step with the aforementioned Pokémon Legends Arceus, the things you can do in Pokémon Scarlet & Violet are things that I’ve wanted for a long time. Issues aside, this is one of the best main entries in Pokémon in a long time, and the reality is — none of the main Pokémon games are bad.
4. Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Switch)
The Kirby series has been around for over 30 years, and it’s been consistently enjoyable with many of its best games playable on the Switch. Kirby’s swallow ability truly added another dimension to the series turning it into the likes of a racer, an on-rails shooter, and all sorts of fun possibilities probably making it the first time I thought a Kirby game was the best the Switch had to offer this year.
3. Marvel Snap (PC, Mobile)
The Game Awards award winner for “best mobile game” finds itself in my Top 3. There’s a lot to say about a game that’s so simple that it only takes 3 minutes a session, yet it’s so addictively deep that I find myself playing for more than an hour. The product managers at Second Dinner can do a lot more to monetize the experience, but right now it has the perfect balance with fun gameplay and purchaseable cosmetics that should make any sort of Marvel and gaming fan satisfied.
2. God of War: Ragnarok (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4)
God of War: Ragnarok is undoubtedly at or near the top of many Best of 2022 lists, and make no mistake about it — it’s well deserved. The second entry in this new chapter in the life of Kratos and has son Atreus does a lot for both of them as characters, and its take on Norse mythology as we know it definitely makes you think and want more in this world. The amount of action and things to do in the game’s realms are also as plentiful as they are enjoyable.
1. Sifu (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, Switch)
I expected Sloclap’s Sifu to be awesome, but I didn’t expect it to redefine a genre for 3D. At its core, the game a beat-em-up, but the intricacies it takes at both understanding your enemy’s movements as well as mastering your own craft really makes it something unique and special–and the whole idea that each death adds years to your life is the very definition of cool. Who knew that you could make a beat-em-up feel like a rogue-like feel like a fighter?
So yeah. I’m the guy that didn’t put Elden Ring in my list. I’ve played it for 45 minutes, and that undoubtedly has to change. In the meantime, my 2022 backlog includes games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Sonic Frontiers, and A Plague’s Tale: Requiem, and these are all games I really want to get to. But will I? We’ll see, because it’s “weird” that we had some marquee December releases to go along with it.
Anyway, here’s to what’s going to be an absolutely insane 2023 with games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Starfield, and Spider-Man 2 all more or less confirmed!