Still having a tough time saying goodbye to 2022. While there were plenty of wild moments in the year, it’s been a great time overall. Happy to have experienced playing plenty of games for Noisy Pixel and writing up some fun reviews. And I gotta say, this year has been a solid year for gaming. Each month has brought up some amazing titles, giving me a lot to play through, but also continuing to ensure that I leave my backlog crying in the dust. I kind of have a feeling 2023 will do the same for me. But with that said, here are my top favorites for the year of 2022:
Honorable Mention: Kirby and the Forgotten Land
It’s wild to think that Kirby never had such a vast 3D world like this until 2022. But here we are, with a game that surprised me with its beautiful level design and dynamic environments. Seeing how whimsical and silly it was for Kirby to turn into such a variety of objects made me so entertained and giddy.
Kirby is known to be a family-friendly game but its level of creativity always astounds me. I can’t forget to mention the intense combat, especially with the tough boss battles. I’m truly happy with this move for the franchise and I can’t wait to see what else will come for Kirby.
5. Anno: Mutationem
When I saw the gorgeous pixel-art visuals for this game, I was already in love. The neon lighting, the mesmerizing reflections, and the seamless transitions between 2D and 3D were phenomenal to gaze at. But when delving into the plot and atmosphere, I had a blast exploring the mysteries of this dystopian cyberpunk society, figuring out the pieces to the puzzle of this world.
I felt the need to interact with everyone and do every side quest in hopes of ascertaining more information. Outside of the world-building is a strong combat system with some exciting boss fights. I could see the level of love and attention given to this world, hence why it makes my list.
4. Pokémon: Legends Arceus
Pokémon has been a beloved franchise for me for as long as I can recall, as I own almost all games. Seeing the disappointing release of Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl, I was stunned to see how quickly Legends: Arceus released afterward. I’ve been wondering when Pokemon would shake up the formula for their games, and they did so wonderfully with this title.
While I was skeptical of how they would do so, they made a great stride in a different direction. With the changes to the battle and catching system, it became so much more fun to explore the vast world. In addition, the character stories comprise one of the better narratives in a mainline Pokemon game. With some similarities being implemented in Scarlet/Violet, it’s great to see how influential this game changes Pokemon for the foreseeable future.
Stray blew my expectations out of the water when it came to what it had to offer. The idea of exploring a beautiful environment as a cat was enough to attract me, but Stray had so much more to provide. Outside of the stellar graphics, the cat explored a society devoid of humanity, yet retaining the infrastructure and sociopolitical pretenses a human society would have.
There’s only so much one can do through the lens of a cat, yet our story was enough to gather some insight and make an impact on their world. Of course, there are some adorable things to do as a cat as well. It’s a charming and innovative mix of gameplay ideas that melds together to make such a wonderful and memorable game.
2. AI: The Somnium Files – The Nirvana Initiative
I think it’s safe to say that many of the Noisy Pixel staff have a fascination and admiration for Uchikoshi’s writing, and that definitely includes me. When I played the first AI: The Somnium Files, I was blown away by the level of complexity that was underlying the narrative. It’s safe to say that the sequel continued this deep unraveling and precision storytelling with aplomb.
It’s even more impressive that the dialogue and character writing is humorous and even silly at times. How I can feel so many emotions in one scene, let alone a whole game, truly reflects the amazing mindsets behind the narrative. This game continues the direction of insanity in a beautiful and mind-blowing way.
1. Neon White
Yeah, seems like Annapurna has won my heart this year. I was unsure how well Neon White would work out given the random mix of genres it seemed to present. How could you mix a first-person shooter with a speedrunning platformer with a card system with a visual novel? Despite the concept being a head-scratcher, the actual execution and implementation had to be some of the most creative fun I’ve ever had.
Yeah, the story and dialogue was a bit cheesy, but I had so much fun with the gameplay and looking at the visuals, I couldn’t help but still think fondly of the characters. It’s a game I could go back to anytime and still find new ways to complete certain levels. The rush is addicting and it definitely was my favorite experience of the year.
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