Best Games of 2022: Ryuji’s Top Five Games of 2022

It’s time to close the book on 2022, huh? I’m sure many of us have had our fair share of great and bad experiences. For me, many personal events happened, and without going into too much detail, I’m grateful for how some things turned out. I can’t wait to grab 2023 by its horns and hopefully have more surprises and experiences.

Nonetheless, it is time for our annual tradition, where I’ll list five games that impacted me immensely during the year. It was admittedly hard to pick just five titles to talk about, especially since I had many to consider, but eh, details. So, this is Ryuji, or Angelus Victor’s Top 5 Games of 2022.

5. Variable Barricade

noisy pixel picks ryuji 1

Let’s waste no time and get straight to the otome games. Unsurprisingly, out of all of the ones I’ve played this year, I have to give the crown to Variable Barricade, which was one of the best otome romance comedies I have ever played this year, hands down. Initially, I thought Lover Pretend would perhaps take its place here, but after playing (and reviewing) both, the difference was just night and day.

The comedy and the banter all culminated into a title I couldn’t stop playing. This is also one visual novel where the protagonist is fully voiced, which increased my immersion tenfold as I watched her scream and angrily stomp her opinions. Furthermore, it also managed to subvert my expectations over and over. So if you ever wanted my true recommendation for a romantic comedy, I highly recommend giving Variable Barricade a try. You will not regret it.

4. AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative

AI The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative

When I first played the original AI: The Somnium Files three years ago, I did not know what to expect, as, before that, I’d never played any of Uchikoshi’s games or even heard of them properly until then. But right after being led into the rabbit hole of the Zero Escape team, I, of course, had to get the sequel to one of the most influential of them, AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative.

This game makes me open an exception whenever it comes to its localization. Most of the time, I preferred setting the audio to Japanese and English for subtitles. Still, because the dialogue was so intricately crafted, every performance from the English cast makes me prefer it vastly over the Japanese dub. Now, there were some typos, but none of them were bad. Furthermore, the amount of new mechanics in the Somnium and the way the story spans between Ryuki and Mizuki made it an experience I won’t forget.

3. Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

You know that outdated saying that a game must give you one hour of content for every dollar you spend on it? Of course, it never made sense both back then and nowadays, but let’s say that it took me over 70 hours to get through the entirety of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and as of the time of this writing, I’m probably close to the 80-hour mark, so I guess for this title? It checks out. From its fantastic storyline to its phenomenal soundtrack, this is my top JRPG of 2022.

Monolith Soft continues to impress me with how well they know how to optimize for the Nintendo Switch platform because out of all the RPGs I’ve seen on the console, Xenoblade 3 had all the graphical whistles while not looking like a PowerPoint slideshow at the same time. Furthermore, it takes what both Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2 did so well and manages to improve it further, both with its combat and exploration. I also have high hopes for its Expansion Pass, which has me wondering just how many additional hours it’ll add to the game, and if it will live up to the quality of either Future Connected or Torna.

2. Star Ocean: The Divine Force

star ocean

After the reasonably negative critical reception of Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness and the shutdown of the Anamnesis mobile game, my initial thoughts are that Square Enix would never touch the Star Ocean series ever again or perhaps put the IP on a forever hiatus, which…really saddened me at first primarily because I love the mixture of space exploration and fantasy RPG of the series. So when the sixth mainline title graced our year, I could not believe my eyes. Perhaps I wasn’t as excited as one of our staff, but it piqued my interest.

I’m not saying it’s a perfect title by any means, especially since, on release, there were a lot of icky issues. For example, the crafting system relies too much on RNG for my liking. Still, compared to its predecessor, it certainly fixes a lot of the gripes that I had, especially with the grinding, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing through the story this time. And the inclusion of the double protagonist system gave me real Scarlet Nexus vibes. Now, will we ever get a seventh game? Well, I would certainly hope we do, but only time will tell, and I will certainly be praying that the developers manage not to go under and that this series doesn’t get swept under the rug.

1. Slow Damage

slow damage featured

All right, hear me out here. I am very inexperienced when it comes to games rated for mature audiences. That is especially true when it comes to the ones from developer Nitro+Chiral, who, as far as I know, dominate the segment of 18+ visual novels purely for the absolute mind-blow you get. Still, I couldn’t stop when my curiosity truly got the best of me when I decided to play the English localization of Slow Damage. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it rightfully earned my place on this list.

Yes, there are sex scenes, violence, and a whole laundry list of sensitive content warnings that I should probably not mention here, but none of those reasons came anywhere close to making me want to close the game out of pure discomfort. On the contrary, this title evoked a mesmerizing feeling that words can’t convey properly, that I sometimes think that Towa was secretly trying to pry my secret desires.

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