Nate's Top Games of 2022
I figure, why not record my favorite ways to waste time in the last year. As always, This is a ranking of games I played in 2022 regardless of when they came out.
Here's the list, from favorite to least favorite, because I like putting number one on top.
🥇 Xenoblade Chronicles 3
I played Xenoblade Chronicles 2 when it came out, about five(?) years ago. I loved Rex, the protagonist of that game, mostly because he is a self-proclaimed optimist, something that sets him apart from...well, pretty much every Final Fantasy protagonist. I also really enjoyed the lore and worldbuilding in XC2.
So I was excited when 3 was announced. And I devoured it, loved it. I loved it so much I bought a copy of XC1, played that, then played through 2, so I could remember the stuff I'd forgotten over the past five (?) years, and then re-played 3 in New Game+ mode, to unlock all the things I hadn't unlocked in my first playthrough.
XC3 is the best of a great trilogy, but I loved my time in the Xenoblade universe this year. Monolith Soft's writing really resonates with me, I find their characters interesting and appreciable.
🥈 Marvel's Midnight Suns
I'm not a MCU fan. I don't dislike the Marvel movies, I just haven't watched many of them. I would have passed on this game except for one thing:
Firaxis made it, and it's a turn-based strategy game.
In other words, this is super hero XCOM. And I love the XCOM games. (Not X-COM. I'm bad at those ones.) I'm glad I picked up Midnight Suns. The writing is pretty solid, the character design and battle design is interesting, and I now know way more about the Marvel universe than I did. I might even watch some of the movies someday. Or read the comics.
There's a lot to love in this game beyond the Marvel trappings, though. At its heart this is an XCOM game: you go fight battles, then you come home and upgrade your base and your characters. They layered in some “Persona” mechanics, as you are also increasing your main character's relationships with their team of Marvel superheroes. This game is fully voiced and the voice work is excellent. Also I love Nico, both as a character outside of battle and as a fighter in battle.
(RimWorld is also given the “Lifetime Achievement” award this year: 🏆)
New RimWorld expansion just came out! Your colonists can have kids! The kids can grow up! RimWorld is that much closer to being “The Sims, in Space, with Monsters!”
I've been playing RimWorld on and off for three-ish years, and it's always just as fabulous as before. I love shepherding my little band of armless, legless, barely-animated people through the oddities of their world, helping them build bases and narrowly avoid being murdered by the rest of the world.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade
I don't like Cloud Strife. I'm sorry. he's too moody, too boring.
But the rest of this game is pure gold. Like everyone else I was wowed by FFVII back in the day, and it's clear that the remake is a love letter to the original. The graphics are beyond gorgeous, the voice work is excellent, the combat design is top notch. All the characters are relatable and interesting.
My understanding is that the whole Remake is meant to be Cloud's emotional journey, and that they are trying to give him some depth that didn't come across in the original. Since this is part one of a trilogy, I can understand Cloud still being emotionally stunted, but it's hard to put up with.
King's Bounty II
I was very afraid this game would suck. I loved King's Bounty: Armored Princess, but it's been like, a decade and I wasn't sure how 1C would handle a fully 3D take on King's Bounty.
But honestly, it turned out great. It's janky, sure. I've seen the inside of my character's head more than once, I know what the back of their eyeballs look like. Sometimes they clip through things or fall off of things where there shouldn't be anywhere to fall.
But the writing is good, and silly, and the heart and soul of the King's Bounty tactical game are still there. The world is somewhat standard looking middle-ages Europe, but serviceable. This is a fun one to pick up on sale.
I love that this game has almost no lore. You fight vampires. Lots of them. Thousands. You get weapons, those weapons get better, you kill more vampires. Then you die. Then you do it again. This is the video game equivalent of popcorn, and it's delicious. It's the exact opposite of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and that's fine.
Against the Storm
A late entry to the list; I might have even started this one in 2023; not sure.
But the tagline intrigued me; it's a rogue-lite city builder. And it nails it. The rogue-lite part is that you build cities up to the point when they are good enough to appease the queen, then you take resources back to the main base and upgrade it. Every so often all the cities you built are wiped entirely off the map and you start again. So you focus on the first parts, when you're setting up your infrastructure. This game has a strong element of exploration; each map is unique, and you have to hew your way through forests to find new land and new resources. And at that point that most city builders start getting kinda dull, you hit your goal and start a new city.
🎶Best Soundtrack: Tunic
Best new Soundtrack, anyway, the RimWorld Soundtrack is stellar. But the Tunic soundtrack is so perfect, and fits the game's world so elegantly.
I enjoyed Tunic, but I didn't finish it. I've listened to the soundtrack many, many times, though. It's superb music for working or reading.
Least Favorite Game of 2022: Elden Ring
I know this puts me firmly in the minority, but there it is. I really liked Elden Ring for about 30 hours, and then it started feeling like homework. I'm sure that makes me lame or a bad gamer or whatever, but I'm comfortable with that. I respect the achievement that Elden Ring represents as a culmination of the “Souls Like” genre, and it is a good enough Souls Like to get me to play it, but in the end it's not really my thing.
None of this a knock on the game, though. It's a triumph of its form. It's visually stunning and the gameplay is superb.