Best Action/Adventure Game
God of War Ragnarök
We had a feeling that God of War Ragnarok was going to be great, but this title completely blew us away. The development team at Santa Monica Studio proves they understand this series and what makes it amazing. Its story is packed with emotion and action, but the exploration and game mechanics are what truly had us eager to play until the final hours. It’s going to be really tough for any release in the genre to do it better than this.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is more than just a JRPG. It’s a masterpiece that will certainly go down as one of the best games in the Xenoblade series history. It combines what Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2 did so right and also fixes a lot of the gripes its predecessors might’ve had. We cannot overstate enough how you should absolutely play this game. Just make sure to set aside a cool 80 hours, however, because the world of Aionios is vast and has no shortage of things to do.
Sonic Frontiers represented a promise of long-sought-after evolution for the series, and it delivered. Fans got to experience the franchise’s first attempt at an open-world adventure with RPG mechanics like a skill tree and character upgrades. The sense of speed is thrilling, and the strong narrative and writing make the journey continually compelling. With a formula like this, the future of Sonic’s video game outings seems bright and promising.
Best Visual Novel
No one could have expected the next best Digimon adventure would be delivered through the visual novel genre, but here we are. Digimon Survive gave fans a unique experience by bringing a dose of reality to the digital world. Characters would be able to shape their Digimon’s personality based on their responses in dialogue that kept our eyes glued to the screen. Although there’s an added tactical RPG system here, the story will surely keep you invested in how this Digi-venture plays out.
Best Mobile Game
Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent
Sure, Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent has been available in Japan for two years now, but with the western release, we were excited to finally jump into Orsterra. The story takes place before Octopath Traveler and includes the signature multi-story systems of the original game. We found the quality of this title to stand out next to the other mobile games released this year.
Best Fighting Game
King of Fighters XV
King of Fighters XV had a lot of pressure to provide fans with an experience worthy of such a lengthy development time. Luckily for us, the wait was worth it. This is a series that provides players with a sizable roster of fighters to fit any and all playstyles. Further, the numerous modes kept us playing and fine-tuning our skills. Since launch, the online experience has been updated, with the promise of DLC characters on the way. I mean, Mai Shiranui’s inclusion should be reason enough to play.
Best Otome Game
Variable Barricade undeniably set the bar unbelievably high when it was released in the first few months of 2022. It featured a voiced protagonist, an engaging comedic story, and a very interesting flowchart system. Even after other releases such as Paradigm Paradox and Lover Pretend hit the scene, they just couldn’t compete with Hibari and her cast of absolutely hilarious suitors.
Best BL Game
Nitro+Chiral once again shows that when it comes to the BL genre, they just knock it off the park as always. Slow Damage tells a compelling story that is just mesmerizing to just keep on reading for hours and hours as you watch the protagonist, Towa, peer deep into other people’s desires. Furthermore, there’s just true depth to this dark, somber perspective on the future, as the city of Shinkoumi is represented as this “place where you go if you have a dark secret to hide,” and that is made even more apparent thanks to the stellar translation by Molly Lee.
Best Yuri Game
Please Be Happy
Releasing towards the end of 2022, Please Be Happy was finally released after being teased to yuri visual novel fans for a few years now. The narrative delivers one that touches on fantasy and friendship with a healthy serving of romance. The slice-of-life nature of the story allows for some moments of drama, but this story will have you begging for a happy ending. Its illustrations are also of note, as each character features a soft design that only Studio Elan can deliver.
Give us an RPG with the promise of hooking up with busty ladies from the character designer of the Senran Kagura series, and you can probably guess that we’ll fall in love with this game. The story is complete with branching storylines and numerous hijinks that make it a stand-out release in the H-genre. If you’re looking for a fun way to sink hours into a perverted adventure, well, you found it.
AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative
Uchikoshi’s team has produced another great narrative masterpiece with the release of AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative. Players get to experience a new case while taking on the role of Special Agents Mizuki and Ryuki. There are so many notable characters and wonderful adventure elements in this game that make the entire experience memorable. Each moment of this adventure makes it harder to put the controller down as you dive into the Somnium world and figure out the mystery of the Half-Body Serial Killings.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s soundtrack shows the prowess of composer Yasunori Mitsuda once again, with phenomenal soundtracks which you can listen to across all of the areas. From the cinematic area soundtracks to the absolute bop of the combat music, it would feel like a true disservice if it didn’t win this award if we’re being honest.
Best Indie Game
Chained Echoes is easily 2022’s most surprising hit. This turn-based indie RPG inspired by classics like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI contains a stellar narrative with excellent character growth, terrific world-building, and political intrigue. The combat system is one of the best-balanced takes of the genre, too, and the soundtrack is sublime. If you’re even a loose fan of turn-based games, Chained Echoes is a definite must-play.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim (Switch)
Before this port came, people have always said that 13 Sentinels would never leave the PlayStation 4. Well, they got one heck of a shock when the Switch port was announced at a Japanese broadcast. that’s for sure, and that isn’t for no reason. Not only does this amazing game by Vanillaware run very smoothly on the Nintendo Switch, but even when the going gets tough, the game doesn’t look like a PowerPoint slideshow. The amount of optimization that was done here warrants respect.
Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion
After being confined to the PSP for years, we finally got Crisis Core in the form of a remaster for modern platforms, allowing both new and old fans to dive deep into the legacy of the one who wielded the Buster Sword before Cloud and also offering us not only insight in an earlier node of the Final Fantasy VII compilation timeline but also making us understand just how beloved and important Zack Fair is to the series.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is an ambitious DLC that feels entirely distinct from the base game. Featuring several brand new boss fights on a new Isle alongside a new playable character, developer Studio MDHR excelled in every way imaginable. Some of the best boss battles in gaming are here, requiring intense telegraph and pattern perception. It’s no surprise it won this award.
If the greatest that is Elden Ring doesn’t convince you that FromSoftware is one of the best game developers from this past year, then perhaps their reveal of a new Armored Core will do the trick. For years, FromSoftware has been innovative in the action genre to create unique and challenging experiences by taking chances on the skills of gamers. We look forward to everything this team has in store, but this was definitely their year.
Annapurna Interactive has a knack for building a wonderful catalog of published titles across multiple genres. Their vision for a creative portfolio shows in each published video game. This year, they delivered a game about a cat titled Stray. While some studios might overlook this premise, Annapurna Interactive gave it the marketing and attention it needed to bring it to gamers’ wishlists so the developer could focus on creating a memorable experience. It’s for this that Annapurna Interactive takes this year’s award for best Publisher.
Most Shocking Reveal of 2022
Armed Fantasia / Penny Blood
Let’s face it. How long have we been waiting for a successor to the beloved Wild Arms and Shadow Hearts series? When this ambitious Double Kickstarter project was announced, we were surprised that the developers of those IPs would be creating a brand-new spiritual successor. We might not see this game until 2025, but the moment it hits store shelves, you can be certain of one thing: We are very excited to get the chance to play it.
Most Anticipated Game of 2022
Final Fantasy XVI
The latest entry in the Final Fantasy series has earned its glorious victory as the most anticipated game of 2023. Several members of our staff are excited to try it out, especially since it’s going to be a more mature-oriented title. And considering it also won our Reader’s Choice Award, I guess this goes to show just how big is our excitement for this game. Yoshi-P’s team has long since earned high praise for saving Final Fantasy XIV from its demise, so we all cannot wait to see what his team will concoct in a new mainline entry.
Game of the Year 2022
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s announcement and arrival were so shockingly sudden, especially with the release date even being pushed forward of all things. Thankfully, this rapid launch did not result in poor quality, as this apparent conclusion to the series was met with immensely positive acclaim by fans and critics alike. From improved voice direction, a revamped combat system with Jobs, and a dense and vast open world, this entry is undeniably one of the Switch’s greatest hits.
Reader’s Choice Game of the Year 2022
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Readers’ Most Anticipated Game of 2022
Final Fantasy XVI
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