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Games of the Year 2022: The Good

2022 was a strange year of video games for me. Of the 14 games I was anticipating at the beginning of the year, I played six of them, skipped four, and four more were delayed. Not a bad ratio I guess when compared to the industry at large where delays and postponements continued to dominate. But of those four games I played only one of them managed to make my "good" list for 2022. The rest are dark horses that I was genuinely surprised by.

Fingers crossed that the plethora of game delays over the last three years finally bare some significant fruit in 2023.

1. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

If I am being honest, I'm disappointed that Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is my favourite game of 2022 because the original Monster Hunter Rise was my 2021 game of the year.

My disappointment stems mostly from the fact that the Sunbreak expansion did not do anything special. It brought the new monsters, weapons, and quality of life improvements we've come to expect from Capcom, to a game that I already thoroughly enjoyed. The Monster Hunter franchise may not be shattering expectations but it is just so darn entertaining that I don't care.

All the games below it on the list have some rough edge that actively made me think "I don't like this" whereas Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak never elicited that emotion. I put dozens of hours into slaying new and exciting monsters and enjoyed every second. There really isn't much more I can ask for.

At this point in time the only real negative I can give the Monster Hunter franchise is that they don't support cross-platform play or saves. Hilariously, the only thing I can complain about is that Capcom isn't making it easy for me to buy multiple copies of their game so I can play it anywhere.

It does not look like a mainline Monster Hunter game will be released in 2023 so perhaps we'll finally have a fair competition for game of the year.

2. Pokémon Legends: Arceus

I enjoyed Pokémon Legends: Arceus not as much for what it is but for what it could be. It feels a lot like the first Assassin's Creed game in that it was still really rough around the edges but the core gameplay was super engaging.

An open-world Pokémon game has been the dream for so long and while Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a good first step there is still a long way to go. But even when the open-world was quite static at times, I still thoroughly enjoyed exploring every nook and cranny. Fingers crossed that whatever sequel Game Freak makes, it starts bringing us closer to a Breath of the Wild type of open-world.

3. Vampire Survivors

My sleeper hit of 2022 is undoubtedly Vampire Survivors.

It is a mashup of roguelike, run-based, and bullet hell games. You pick from a plethora of characters, which determines your starting weapon, and then do whatever it takes to survive 30 minutes against an unyielding horde of monsters. By levelling up and defeating bosses you collect new weapons and power-ups to keep the murder train going.

Something about the fixed game length combined with collecting power-ups tripped a piece of my lizard brain and I became obsessed with Vampire Survivors. Every time a new patch came out I would boot up my Steam Deck and beat everything that was released. In total I played just over 53 hours of Vampire Survivors this year.

For $3 USD on Steam you absolutely cannot go wrong. Or if that is somehow too much for you then try it for free on the App Store.

4. Citizen Sleeper

Citizen Sleeper is not going to be a game for everyone. It is more of a visual novel or interactive film than a video game and I'm not saying that is a bad thing. I am one of those people who loves games that focus on a compelling story and Citizen Sleeper has that in spades.

I don't want to risk spoiling anything but the gist is that you're a human who awakens on a cyberpunk-esque space station and is just trying to survive. This isn't one of those games where you're the centre of the universe and are trying to save it. This is a gritty tale of someone fighting to continue living in the grim world they inhabit.

Every day you roll dice which are used to perform a limited number of actions and that is how the game adds weight to all of your decisions. Sometimes you're just not going to have enough high die rolls to do what you want, let alone what you need. Like I said before, this game isn't about winning, it is about surviving and over the eight hours it took me to "beat" the game I did have to make some pretty tough decisions.

As of the time of this writing Citizen Sleeper is still on Xbox Game Pass so if you're a member you really have no excuse. Give it a try and perhaps you'll find yourself enjoying it as much as I did.

5. Dead Cells

Dead Cells got an Apple Arcade release this year so I finally put a couple of hours into it.

I've written before about my love for roguelikes (such as Hades and Monster Train) so it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed Dead Cells as well. But you can definitely see how this is one of the progenitors of modern roguelikes. Dead Cells seemingly focuses too much on pure randomness for my liking. In a game like Hades you have a bit more control as to what weapons and powers you can start with and you're always moving towards making them better. In Dead Cells it feels like a complete crapshoot. You're at the whim of what RNGesus decides to give you.

There was something about the pacing of Hades and Monster Train where the moment I ended a run, whether I won or lost, I immediately wanted to try again. Whereas when I died in Dead Cells I felt like it was good time to take a break. But I still played over six hours of Dead Cells and think it is a solid game nonetheless.