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Games of the Year 2022: The Bad

I completely understand how some people could thoroughly enjoy the games on this list. But for me I went into all of these games expecting one thing and being completely blindsided when the developers obviously were trying to build something else.

1. Shin Megami Tensei V

I absolutely detest Shin Megami Tensei V.

For those who are unaware, the Persona series is actually a spin-off of Shin Megami Tensei (SMT). But apparently everything that makes the Persona games great is what they added to SMT. The only thing that seems to be shared between the two series is that you battle and capture demons. Everything that people love about Persona (a large cast of characters, complex story, daily high school drama, social links, etc) does not exist in Shin Megami Tensei V which was something I really wish I knew before playing this game.

The combat in Persona is nothing special but it is also not the focus of Persona. It is typically a means to advance the story when conflict needs to be resolved between the protagonists and antagonists. I've gone literally several hours between combat encounters because the social simulation aspects of Persona are what drives the game. In Shin Megami Tensei V I once went eight hours between story beats because I had to grind enemies in order to beat a boss.

Combat is the most important thing in Shin Megami Tensei V. If you do not absolutely love the combat of the Persona series then do not play SMT. As I mentioned previously I don't think the combat in Persona is anything special so I was not prepared for Shin Megami Tensei V. It felt like I had stepped back in time 20 years to old school JRPGs where you were forced to grind for hours just to level up your party. Skills and strategy seemed to mean nothing when your numbers were just that much lower than your opponents.

The most hilarious aspect of Shin Megami Tensei V is that the developers knew the game was really grindy so they added paid DLC that allows you to gain experience faster. I bought this after playing about 10 hours and I still found the game to be too grindy.

When games like Persona 5 Royal, Dragon Quest XI, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Final Fantasy VII Remake exist there is absolutely no reason to play Shin Megami Tensei V.

2. Moonshot

Moonshot is a basic puzzle game where you drag and release a moon to slingshot it between obstacles it hopes that it reaches the end of the level. Not a unique concept by any means so the design of the controls and levels are what will make or break a game such as this.

Unfortunately, Moonshot absolutely fumbles the controls. The whole game is predicated on the idea that if you make a shot and it fails, you'll then be able to make a better follow-up shot. However, the drag and release controls don't seem to be fine tuned enough for you to make the minor adjustments that are needed. I found myself making fundamentally the same shot over and over again even though it felt like I was dragging and releasing in a different way.

After failing consistently for 15 minutes I questioned why I was wasting my time with this game. Of course I had no good reason so I stopped banging my head against the wall and deleted it. Hopefully by writing this I stop a couple of people from ever installing it in the first place.

3. Shovel Knight Dig

Shove Knight Dig is going to be my prime example of how not to make a roguelike.

I played the game for about 90 minutes and essentially made no progress. I didn't gain any persistent power-ups that made a difference. Nor did I learn how I was supposed to get good enough to be able to beat the first boss. I got to the point where I found myself playing the first level over and over again. Gathering the same type of items, killing the same type of enemies, fighting in the same type of way, and then dying to the first boss.

If I went and picked up Shovel Knight Dig again this moment it would be as if I had never played the game at all which is a crazy thought. I could go back to Hades right now and have a plethora of weapons and power-ups to chose from, which I would probably instantly remember how to use. But even after playing 90 minutes of Shovel Knight Dig the game has in essence disappeared from my mind.

4. Jetpack Joyride 2

I am at an utter loss as to why Apple puts games like Jetpack Joyride 2 on Apple Arcade.

One of the big selling points of Apple Arcade was that it was going to be free of microtransactions. But when a game leaves in the dozen different resources that players could typically buy with microtransactions it doesn't magically make the game better. In fact it actually makes the game worse because now your only option is to grind mindlessly for these resources. At least when you could buy them you'd get a quick dopamine rush followed by the sombre realization that you spent real money on fake digital assets. But when you install a game like Jetpack Joyride 2 and realize your only option is to grind mindlessly for hours you ask yourself "why am I playing this game?" to which there is no answer so you delete it and move on.

Apple Arcade is quickly becoming a dumping ground for games that would almost certainly fail if Apple Arcade did not exist. These developers are bilking Apple for cash for games whose existence is barely being noticed. I really wonder how much longer Apple Arcade is going to stick around for. Or maybe I'm just grossly underestimating the people who are willing to waste their time on games like this.

5. Tunic

Based on the visuals and marketing I thought Tunic was going to be one type of game but the developers wanted to make something else.

Any review of Tunic is going to immediately make a comparison to The Legend of Zelda series and it is not unwarranted. The graphics, the camera angle, the map of the world, all immediately evoke 8-bit and 16-bit Zelda games. And for those first few hours that is the type of game you are playing.

But at a certain point it becomes abundantly clear that the developers wanted to make a Dark Souls game. Combat is brought to the forefront but unfortunately the camera and controls of Tunic do not lend itself to a Dark Souls game. I was never really sure if an enemy was going to hit me or if I was going to hit them. It isn't clear when you have invincibility frames. Attack animations are long and you're locked into them. After playing Elden Ring earlier this year, it is incredibly painful to then play a game like Tunic.

In the end I cheated and turned on the invincibility mode so the combat no longer mattered and I could send the end of the game.

6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022) is not the sequel I was looking for to the 2019 reboot. While the graphics are still outstanding, the gameplay and level design has taken a nose dive.

There are 17 levels in Modern Warfare II and three of them are essentially playable cutscenes. Of the remaining 14 levels I only truly enjoyed four of them. These were the "traditional" Call of Duty levels where you were battling through a well designed map.

But since 2019 Call of Duty's battle royale mode, Warzone, has become so popular that Infinity Ward deemed it must also be used in the campaign. Four levels are entirely designed around Warzone's key mechanics (crafting, stealth, vehicles) and they were all tedious at best and frustrating at worst.

One horrible game design element that plagued every level were the "heavy" enemies who can take more bullets that normal. While I am not averse to heavily armoured enemies they immediately clash with the "realistic" short time-to-kill that Call of Duty is known for. Having to shoot one of these enemies in the knee four times with a .50 caliber sniper rifle is not fun.

I haven't even mentioned the game breaking bugs yet. The least offensive ones only required me to reload a checkpoint and replay a portion of the level. The worst ones crashed the game and every time I tried to load my save it would crash again. For these bugs I was forced to not only replay the level from the beginning but make absolutely certain that I did not die in certain areas otherwise the game would enter a crash loop.

I am so disgusted at the amount of time I wasted on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II that I think I am finally done with the franchise.