What did I play in 2022?
Well, this year was... different. Unfortunately, my health took a sharp nosedive in 2022 and I didn't have as many opportunities to play videogames as I had last year. But I still played a handful of great games and even some new releases - a lot of new releases, actually - so I still have things to share with you. This year I turned more towards writing opinion pieces on games I played. I now play games with a notebook where I draw a mindmap, recording what I think works best in the game and what in my opinion didn't work as well. Not all of those notes become videos but they are still a part of the record; I can always look back and see the details of all the games I've played.
As usual, some little notes before we get started:
- All games I mention in this post were fully completed, except for the games in the special category "the games I did not finish". I never give my opinion on a game that I haven't fully completed because there are games that start off great and end up being a mess.
- These games were not necessarily released in 2022, it's a mixed pot of whatever videogames I decided to play for whatever reasons.
- I don't think I'll spoil anything major about any game in this post but just to be safe check the contents table and if you don't want to know anything about one game or another because you intend to play it yourself, just skip the section.
- And the most important thing! Everything in this post is my personal opinion. If you hate the game I liked or love the game I didn't like, it's fine. We're all different, our opinions are shaped based on our previous experiences, not necessarily with videogames but with life in general. I'll be happy if you find something on my list that piques your interest. This post is basically for me to share many games I enjoyed with other people so they might enjoy them too.
We'll start with the games that I dropped halfway through or didn't really like and then move on to the games that I really enjoyed.
Frustration of the year
Call of the Sea by Out of the Blue (2020)
Call of the Sea was incredibly frustrating for me to play. The game looks gorgeous, however, a lot of clarity was sacrificed for its beauty: you cannot see whether you can interact with an item or not until you stick your nose into it, and this is a critical flaw for a puzzle game. Several times I just walked past interactable items thinking they are just a part of the scene. The game in general doesn't do a very good job leading the player forward, very often I found myself confused and unsure what I was supposed to do and how the game wanted me to proceed, and that's never a good thing in any game. The story is fairly intriguing - I love a good Lovecraftian vibe - although it is made worse by unnatural reactions of the protagonist that cannot be silent for a minute and let you soak up the story. I could have put up with all of that if it wasn't for the fact that the game deliberately wasted my time where it wasn't necessary. The protagonist's walking speed is basically a crawl and her sprint doesn't really come all that close to an average human walking pace either. In some sequences she is slowed down even more with no sprinting option, and it's excruciating. In various areas you have to go back and forth between the farthest corners of the map trying to solve a puzzle and it's hard not to think it was intentional just for the sake of it. The game just tries to be longer than it actually is, and it excels at that, sacrificing pacing and basic player comfort. Could've been a great and thrilling 3-hour adventure instead of a 6-hour drag.
The games I did not finish
Ruined King by Airship Syndicate (2021)
I hoped with all my heart that Ruined King wouldn't be just Battle Chasers: Nightwar with League characters. Unfortunately, it's exactly what this game is. It looks beautiful, the Champions have a lot of cool mechanics, a wide array of abilities and some pretty amazing synergies. However, it all comes down to the same endless dungeons with dozens of filler fights barely punctuated by anything else, just like it was in Battle Chasers. You just traverse miles of corridors with no finish line in sight and fight the same parties of enemies. Some of them pose no threat, others can kill your champion in two strikes, this kind of imbalance was also very much present in Battle Chasers. I spent my last 2-hour session just trying to get through hordes of the same enemies to reach a quest marker and I felt deeply frustrated after that. I have never played League of Legends but I know this universe has incredible and complex lore and I was really excited to learn that Riot will make singleplayer games for players like me, who want the story and the adventures but don't necessarily want to play League of Legends. Unfortunately, from the gameplay standpoint, Ruined King was exhausting for me to play and its pacing prevented me from investing more time into the game and after 18 hours I decided to move on to something else.
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars by Acme Gamestudio (2022)
I was charmed by Asterigos for a short while: the game looks pretty, the combat is quite flexible as you don't really have requirements for weapons and can switch and experiment to your heart's content. It reminded me for some reason of Kingdoms of Amalur - a great game that I remember fondly. However, after 10 hours I can say that everything that is good about this game is overshadowed by some of the worst level architecture I've seen in my entire life, and probably the most horrible backtracking I've ever experienced. When you reach a new area, it is a bland mess of corridors, corridors, rare halls and more corridors and stairs that all look the same. Shortcuts don't help and just add to confusion, especially shortcuts that lead to other shortcuts. The game does not have any kind of map, which doesn't help either, and you cannot fast travel between checkpoints for such a long time I thought I'll never be able to (and I dropped the game before reaching that point). I could fast travel to the checkpoint in my hub area, and to a checkpoint that I touched last. Not only did I have to hesitate when touching a checkpoint and making it my last, but I also had to circle around endlessly trying to backtrack my way to an NPC that I met once in a web or endless corridors and same-ish halls to progress their quest. Out of the 10 hours I played probably 3 of those were spent just running through corridors back and forth trying to reach an NPC or find a way forward.
SIGNALIS by rose engine (2022)
Signalis was on my radar since it was announced and many of my friends anticipated it eagerly so I also shared a part of their excitement. It is a survival horror inspired by classic Resident Evil games set in a dystopian future. While I must admit that Signalis has an incredible visual style and its atmosphere is just as unsettling as I like it, I could not finish it for the same reasons I dropped some other titles this year. Signalis was trying to waste my time while camouflaging it as "being a classic survival horror". The inventory has only six slots but the number of story-related items, keys, mysterious objects and the like is so obnoxious that you never have inventory space to pick them up. I've been told time and time again that "it's like the old Resident Evil games, you're supposed to go back and forth between your stashes". I may not have played older Resident Evil games but I've seen enough playthroughs to know that they do not have nearly as many story-related items as Signalis does. Half the time you're just commuting between your stash room and wherever you found an item that you have no space for.
Unfortunately, Signalis did not impress me in terms of gameplay either. It's just hours of corridors and rooms where you find keys to unlock other rooms to get into more corridors. I played about 7 hours of it - more than a half - and it never changed. Just more keys for more rooms where you find more keys to get access to more rooms.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies by Capcom (2013)
I was all fired up to continue my Ace Attorney Adventures but unfortunately they'd come to an end halfway through Dual Destinies. I didn't like it and chose not to continue playing it. I wasn't really impressed with the standard tutorial case that the games of the franchise start with; I felt dumb playing through it, just going through the motions, and I'd never felt this way before, even though in an AA tutorial case you always know who the culprit is, and yet previously it was still an engaging story to play through. The newest addition to the team, Athena, is performing basically magic in the courtroom, and it somehow works. I know that Phoenix had the magic magatama to break the psyche locks on people, but it never happened in the courtroom, it was always during the investigation parts of the case. Now it's all reading emotions and clearing up soul noises, and it just stopped making sense to me. I think, in part my enjoyment of Ace Attorney depended on how well the trial parts worked inside the game: I tensed up every time because I knew that I needed to be prepared with my evidence and my questions, construct a narrative and follow it. It was exciting when it worked. Here it's basically all whish-whooosh mind reading that for some reason works. I also didn't enjoy the dialogues and the way that the game reiterates what I need to do ten times in a row as if I'm not smart enough to understand the objective. I still have Ace Attorney Chronicles ahead, but I won't be coming back to Dual Destinies - or Spirit of Justice.
The overwhelming hype
Stray by BlueTwelve Studio (2022)
Stray certainly had a lot of anticipation behind it, mainly because of its protagonist: an absolutely adorable cat. I played it on release and I have to say that Stray brought a fair amount of disappointment for me personally. My major problem with the game was the absence of free jumping. You play as a cat and yet you can't really jump anywhere if it doesn't have the prompt to do so. Sometimes a circle would appear, indicating that I could jump somewhere, and I would jump only for the cat to do nothing because the prompt itself appears half a centimeter closer, enabling the jump itself. Chasing sequences reminded me a lot of everything I heavily disliked in both Little Nightmares: sometimes you just have to know for sure where to run and to jump, you can't navigate as you're running, even if you're quick. It leads to replaying the same sequence over and over again until you learn the path and it detracts from the adrenaline rush you experience during the scene. I knew for sure that in the end the game would somehow find a way to punch me in the feels - and it did, so I finished Stray on quite an uplifting note but I still don't want the last chapter to overwrite everything that I thought was frustrating about the game. I think, I just become exponentially pickier the older I get, so there is also that. If you like exploration games where you mainly walk around and soak up the vibes while trying to unravel a mystery or fill in the blanks in a story, Stray might be just for you. It reminded me a lot of A Story About My Uncle, so if you haven't played that, I highly recommend it, I love that game.
I barely remember what it was about
Elden Ring by Fromsoftware (2022)
Elden Ring was such a weird experience. I think it was the first ever big release that I played on launch and thus was drawn into the whirlpool of people who were also playing it, and it only amplified both the good and the bad. It was an interesting time, I'd never experienced something quite like this before, however it did cloud my mind somewhat and I had a hard time determining how I personally felt about the game.
And now, months later, it's clear to me. I honestly barely remember what Elden Ring was about :D The fact that at some point in time I cared so much I made a 45-minute video on it is BIZARRE to me. Although I got a lot of unsavory comments for that, I'm happy I made it because I can at least time travel and see how engaged I was. I literally remember every other game I've played this year better than I do Elden Ring. I think it might be the burnout, there was too much of this game on all fronts and I was playing it every day until I finished it. It might also be that I shouldn't have played it at all. I still think that I would've liked it much better and would have lost nothing personally if I had just watched someone else play it and read a couple of wikis. After all, I never enjoyed Dark Souls gameplay-wise. You can watch the video if you'd like, I still stand by everything I said there about what I liked and disliked about it. It still gave me a unique experience of socializing with people over a giant highly anticipated release, that was new.
Thanks, Steam NextFest!
GROTTO by Brainwash Gang (2021)
Grotto was a game I anticipated ever since I played the demo and I definitely wasn't disappointed when it came out. Grotto's theme is something that is very close to me - the imperfections of human communication, the way we often misunderstand each other, the loneliness we often feel when we fail to explain our thoughts and feeling to another human being. I've been struggling with interpersonal communication ever since I was a little kid. Grotto echoed many of the thoughts that I ponder when I think about how the understanding of the simplest concepts can be vastly different even between people with similar backgrounds. Grotto is well paced and doesn't outstay its welcome, it tells a good story and can create tension quite unlike anything I previously experienced in a visual novel or a narrative adventure. If you're interested, I have a spoiler-free video on it.
Bear and Breakfast by Gummy Cat (2022)
Bear and Breakfast had my hopes really high because I've been trying to find a low-stress management sim for years now. Here I assumed the role of Hank the Bear who is restoring many resorts in the valley that was previously a popular tourist destination. I had to accommodate guests, decorate rooms, cook, keep an eye on the heaters in the colder part of the valley, pick up trash left by the guests to later reinvest it into buying decorations from the dumpster racoon. Bear and Breakfast turned out to be exactly the game I wanted to play: it didn't punish me for managing things sub-optimally, allowed me to build my own routine and delegate things I didn't really want to do myself. It's beautifully drawn and animated, and has a bunch of adorable NPC. It's not flawless by any means - its pacing is sometimes all over the place, you either get new blueprints every two days or get stuck for a week in still waters. But still, despite all its drawbacks, Bear and Breakfast was a great experience. Wouldn't you know, I also have a spoiler-free video on it, you can check it out if you'd like.
Beacon Pines by Hiding Spot (2022)
Ah, another game brought to my attention by a Steam Festival. I played a demo of Beacon Pines quite a long time ago, then it went on Kickstarter, was successfully crowdfunded and then released. And I loved it! I couldn't put down Beacon Pines until I finished it, it is such a tight story that you cannot really leave it hanging. The art really stood out to me, it's not just cute, there is quite a bit of depth and variety to it, characters have multiple facial expressions and even multiple different forms, and the game can drastically change style in the coolest ways possible. I also felt like the music was doing some really heavy lifting in building an atmosphere of a thriller - yes, Beacon Pines is actually a thriller, and at times it is quite unsettling. It reminded me a lot of Oxenfree - if you haven't played it, please give it a try, I love that game. In Beacon Pines you investigate a mystery but quite often you reach a dead end - you protagonist dies and the story is over. However, you can rewind, go back in time, choose another path and see where it leads you. It is done with the help of charms - words that you use to fill in the blanks in the story and thus discover its many branches. Dead ends are not useless at all; while exploring them you can find more charms that will help you unlock other story paths. It's important to note that Beacon Pines doesn't really have multiple endings - you need to go through multiple bad endings to reach the true one. Much like in Omensight, which I also heartily recommend. Beacon Pines is a great adventure, I'm excited to see what the developers will come up with next.
Little Mouse's Encyclopedia by Circus Atos (2019)
This little gem was developed by a small independent team based in Prague. In Little Mouse's Encyclopedia you explore 4 biomes as a little mouse and learn about various plants, bugs and animals. I adore this type of games (last year it was Alba: a Wildlife Adventure) not only because I get to learn new things about nature that surrounds me but also because I get to expand my vocabulary. I play these little games because they teach me a great deal of words I might not have had even in my passive vocabulary: what different fish are called, various plants and birds. I probably won't use words like 'coniferous' and 'deciduous' daily but I am happy to have them in my passive vocabulary so when I come across them in a book or somewhere else I know what it is. And I just love words.
If you're studying a foreign language, Little Mouse's Encyclopedia is localized into 18 languages and chances are you'll find your target one there. If you're not interested in languages, it's still a beautiful game to relax and learn a few things or to play with your kids or younger relatives. It has beautiful art and some amazing animations. I would have played it anyways.
Under Leaves by Circus Atos (2017)
No to go too far away from this developer, I've played one more game from them, and it's Under Leaves. I remember that evening, I wanted to play something but didn't really have any mental capacity to start anything major or demanding, so I played Under Leaves - a short and sweet hidden object game with a lovely artstyle. If you like to relax playing beautiful hidden object games, this is for you. Also, if you have kids or younger relatives, you can play Under Leaves together.
This year I played a bunch of games by Devcats: I played Zodiacats, A Building Full of Cats and A Castle Full of Cats. As I was trying not to wither away completely, I often turned to simpler puzzle games, or cute hidden object games, and they really helped me improve my mental state. A House Full of Cats and a Building Full of cats are hidden object games where you need to find little kitties scattered around or hiding in unexpected places; surprisingly, these games worked quite well on stream because you know, everyone likes cats. In Zodiacats you assemble little puzzles where zodiac signs are depicted as cats and all the artwork is incredibly adorable. As far as I know, Devcats team is inspired by their own rescue cats or rescues that they know, and the message that goes through all of their games is about adopting cats and saving strays. I must say, this topic is really close to my heart because almost exactly 4 years ago I adopted a difficult cat (at the time I didn't really know how difficult she was), and now she is my family. Her name is Naru, and I love her :3
Strange Horticulture by Bad Viking (2022)
Strange Horticulture was gifted to me for my birthday and I'll admit, for a moment I thought that it would be one of those games that I plan on playing... someday. However, the mood struck me pretty soon and I finished it in two sittings. In this game you inherit a "Strange Horticulture" shop from your late uncle, and every day people come to you with their problems hoping you'll give them a plant that will help them. The problem is that you don't really know what plants from your shop are called what so you need to identify them using your uncle's guidebook and your magnifying glass. There are characters that come once never to be seen again, and characters who come regularly and whose story you can follow. There is also an overarching plot that pulls you in and a number of endings that depend on your decisions. You can travel the land using mysterious hints and coordinates derived from hastily scribbled notes to find more plants and gain even more possibilities. Even though you spent the whole game in your shop, on one and the same screen, the game gives you a sense of travelling and adventuring like a good book would. It's fairly short, about 5 to 6 hours, but it's full of mysteries, fascinating plants and riddles that reminded me a lot of the first installment of the Room franchise. Highly recommended.
Nice to meet you!
Devil May Cry 5 by Capcom (2019)
This year I played a lot of games from the franchises that I somehow missed, and one of them was DMC. Somehow I always shied away from playing big hack and slash action games. For the longest time the only thing I played in this genre was Darksiders. Last year I enjoyed Bayonetta 1 & 2 and then people recommended Devil May Cry to me. For a couple of days I read some heated discussions as to where one should begin exploration of the DMC franchise. Some told me that that I shouldn't play DMC 2 because apparently it wasn't good, others told me that DMC 3 was a must-play and they were instantly argued that it was the worst one of the franchise. I got extremely confused and just started with the last one :D
I was worried that after Bayonetta, which wasn't very difficult mechanically, I wouldn't be able to play DMC because it's much more complex. I still enjoyed it a lot, it's extremely stylish, has an appealing cast of characters and the rivalry of twin brothers - a story as old as the hills but it still works every time, at least on me.
I'm excited to explore the DMC franchise further and see for myself why some DMC games are so dividing.
Metroid Dread by MercurySteam (2021)
I never played a Metroid game before; I had some limited knowledge about the franchise - like, you know, metroidvania genre is half Metroid and half Castlevania - but I never had the chance to play any of it. Metroid Dread piqued my interest immediately and I downloaded the demo. I got my ass handed to me so many times I didn't even finish it, I got super spooked by EMMI and the controls seemed really complex to me. Naturally, I was like - heck yeah, I want this!
The level architecture in Metroid Dread just blew my mind. I cannot even fathom how you can build a world as tightly interconnected as this one. I kept playing it as I would play any other metroidvania game: get a new ability, go back to explore place you couldn't go previously but Metroid Dread just won't let me. Every time I came back I found previously opened passages either blocked, frozen solid or filled with lava. It annoyed me at first and then I realized that I struggle so much because I try to be smarter than the game, that's the behavior I usually employ with other games of this genre. I decided to stop fighting it, stop being anxious about going the wrong way, getting lost, or missing something important and just go with the flow. As soon as I did that, all my annoyance disappeared and gave way to pure joy.
I was impressed by how well Metroid Dread incorporates horror elements while not being a horror game. Every area has a designated EMMI zone and as soon as you enter it, the sounds of it just send shivers down your spine. You know EMMI is here, and if it senses you... You just run, run for your life, run wherever because you've no clue where you're supposed to end up, and this feeling was very new to me game-wise - just running from danger in any direction that has an open door. Later the pursuit turns into hide-and-seek but however far you progress and however many abilities you get, EMMI never stop being a threat to you. If it sees you, it will hunt you down and murder you. EMMI zones also contribute greatly to overall wonderful pacing of Metroid Dread, interlocking incredibly tense EMMI sequences with more relaxed exploration gameplay. Metroid Dread is definitely one of the best gaming experiences I've had not only this year but in general. Highly recommended.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land by HAL Laboratory (2022)
I'd never played a Kirby game before and had only a vague idea about the franchise but then I saw that trailer where Kirby inhales a car, and that was it. For how colorful and cute the game is, I never expected it to be as challenging as it proved to be, especially towards the final stages and the Phantom World. And I loved it! It has so much variety and so many different abilities that can change the way you traverse a level quite dramatically. Every time I got a new blueprint I'd rush back to Waddle Dee Town to upgrade the weapon even if it was the one I used rarely - just to see what it looked like and how the attacks changed. Challenges that require you to complete a puzzle section with a specific weapon upgrade are not only valuable because of the reward but because they teach you how to use that weapon modification effectively when exploring the world. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is well-paced and has a gentle learning curve. And also - fishing! Who doesn't love fishing! Kirby is incredibly fun to play, the little dance at the end of every level cracked me up every single time. This game always found a way to make me laugh.
Super Mario Odyssey by Nintendo (2017)
I've had Super Mario Odyssey since I got the Switch but because I never really played any Mario game I wasn't in a hurry to start this one. And then I got sick and needed something to relax to and boy was it the wrong choice to pick Odyssey! :D
Just kidding! I enjoyed Odyssey a great deal even though it turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated. At the same time, I think, it helped me overcome my perfectionism because no way I'm collecting all those moons, so I just relaxed and skipped the parts that were more challenging for me than I would like. I also got neck-deep into Mario lore because previously I had only a vague idea about a plumber with a mustache who's trying to save the princess but she is always in another castle. Turns out, there are multiple princesses, Mario - Wario, Luigi - Waluigi, it's insane. I just peeked into the Mario wiki and was immediately overwhelmed :D I loved travelling to different kingdoms and exploring many new mechanics the game constantly threw my way. I also loved the alternative controls with separated joycons, that was definitely fun. My friend is a big fan of Mario games and I asked him why Mario keeps saving Princess Peach, like, are they friends, is she his love interest, is it a knight-princess kind of thing like Link and Zelda? And he said, 'Well, there isn't really anybody else willing to save her..." and I laughed so hard :D Mario is one of the franchises that I got to know this year so if you have any recommendations on what Mario games are the best or which ones you personally enjoyed or disliked the most, let me know!
The rarest find
The Excavation of Hob's Barrow by Cloak and Dagger Games (2022)
Last year my rarest find was Unforeseen Incidents, and this year it's The Excavation of Hob's Barrow! I found it by accident on twitter of all places, when the devs tweeted that the game had just launched. I was intrigued by the title, and it's been a while since I played a good point-n-click adventure game. It tells a story of Thomasina Bateman, an antiquarian who is writing a book on the barrows of England. She arrives in the small village of Bewlay to excavate the so-called Hob's Barrow. It turned out to be an incredible game with a great story soaked in an unsettling atmosphere of Lovecraftian horror and a wide array of fully voiced characters. Its progression is smooth, item-combining is clear and logical, and I never got stuck anywhere. I was surprised how well The Excavation of Hob's Barrow handles the transition between the tension of a slowly but steadily building story and then its climax and ending, not many games make it work as well as this one does. It's not at all long, about 7 to 8 hours but it puts all the time it has to good use and never wastes yours. If you're into this kind of adventures, please give it a try.
The most unusual experience
Pentiment by Obsidian Entertainment (2022)
Honestly, I don't want to tell you anything about Pentiment because there are so many tiny details in this game that I'm afraid to spoil. Pentiment is without a doubt the most unusual gaming experience I've had this year. Whenever I think of all games that I'd played and whether I played something truly remarkable and unique in some way, Pentiment is what comes to mind. I have a great appreciation for games that have a unique historical setting. Pentiment is set in a small Bavarian town of Tassing in the 16th century, and you play as Andreas, an artist with a half of a university degree. The local abbey invited him to work in their scriptorium on book illustrations. There he meets all the monks and nuns, and then gets acquainted with the townsfolk, makes friends with the local printer and his family. Then Andreas gets tangled in an investigation and has to solve a mystery, or maybe multiple ones. Be ready to read a lot - I'd say 90% of the game is reading, you'll be going around talking to people, researching, snooping and eavesdropping to get to the truth, it's like medieval Disco Elysium. The game is absolutely unapologetic in this regard - yes, you're supposed to remember all the people in town and the abbey, yes, you're supposed to keep track of who is a relative to whom. The game gives you a glossary, and a character sheet, and a journal, and a map, but still I'd think it would be difficult to play if you're not personally invested into the story and characters. Pentiment is... an exceptional game, it proceeds not at all how you'd expect it to, so you'll be constantly taken by surprise. The game has no save-load option so whatever decisions you make are final, and they are going to impact the story. I really liked that when the time comes to persuade someone to do something or to solicit an answer from them, the game shows you the list of your previous actions that contributed to the character's decision to help you or not, it's very transparent in that regard.
I don't know any other game that has such a fitting title as Pentiment does. Initially I thought - ah, pentiment, like pentimento, the earlier images that's been painted over in a painting. Makes sense because Andreas is an artist. But now, having finished the game, I know why it's called Pentiment I'm still thinking about it to this day.
The FIFTH PANTHEON
We have finally reached The Fifth Pantheon - an assortment of games I liked the most this year but couldn't come up with a separate category for :D This category is named after the final Pantheon in Hollow Kngiht's DLC God's and Glory. Here are some more of my best gaming experiences of 2022.
Children of Morta by Dead Mage (2019)
The only roguelike I cared about was Hades. I played a lot of roguelikes before I came to the conclusion that I just don't enjoy the genre. There are two reasons for this: I heavily dislike replaying the same thing over and over again and there is usually not enough story to keep me engaged. Hades was my top game of 2020 because it had enough variety and a ton of story and characters for me to invest into. And this year I stumbled upon Children of Morta, another family-centered roguelike that I greatly enjoyed. The progression was fast enough for me not to get incredibly bored running the same dungeons over and over again (that would've driven me nuts), the story was simple yet compelling, the game looks gorgeous, especially the Bergson's house. Although I have to admit I was getting a bit motionsick at the start of the game because of the way idle animations work. I am one of those people who just pick their favorite build or a favorite weapon and never change it until forced to, and Children of Morta does force you to change characters by implementing such a natural thing as fatigue. It would be annoying if it wasn't the very source of its impressive gameplay variety. The more you level up different characters, the more the whole family benefits from it: they start appearing in fights to help each other out, share runes that add great variability to the combat and improve each other's stats. Locking on one single character is pointless - its their synergies that make all the action happen. And, after all, this is a story about family.
A Plague Tale: Innocence by Asobo Studio (2019)
A Plague Tale: Innocence came out 3 years ago but there were so many great releases that year so it took me some time to get to it. I was just sitting there, not really ready to start some sort of big 60-hour adventure, and I was wondering if I have something in my library that's about 10 hours or so, and I found Plague Tale. I could not put this game down, I finished it in three days. A Plague Tale: Innocence tells a heartbreaking story about kids caught between the Inquisition and the Black Plague. I think, having children as your story protagonists is especially challenging because you can very easily make them too strong or too clever for their age, and they basically will be adult protagonists who just look like kids. And yet in Innocence I always felt - painfully so - how weak and vulnerable Amicia and Hugo are, and I just kept thinking to myself: they are just kids. My heart was shattered every time they had to make decisions they did not want to make - just to survive - and how heavy a burden they were carrying the more the story unfolded. The game looks incredible, especially the hordes of black rats, those are simply terrifying, and the way they move is even more so.
A Plague Tale: Innocence is a fantastic game, I enjoyed it greatly. I played it with the French voiceover and I thought it was incredible.
A Plague Tale: Requiem by Asobo Studio (2022)
Took me a while to formulate my thoughts on Requiem. It is, without a doubt, an incredible highlight not only among other games I played this year but among all games I have ever played. It's... hard not to think about it even weeks later, I feel like I'm still processing it. I really wanted to play Requiem because I loved Innocence and I wanted to see how the story of Amicia and Hugo ends. Narratively, Requiem is not really a sequel but more of a "part two" of a whole complete story. In every other sense Requiem does feel like a sequel, it is a drastic improvement over Innocence. If in Innocence the stealth sequences had some variety but often offered just a couple of corridor-like paths, in Requiem stealth sequences are vast open spaces with creative verticality that offer a great number of ways to reach the objective. And Amicia has infinite stones! Might seem like a questionable decision but I liked it. In Innocence the stones were also infinite, you just had to collect them all the time. Since having zero stones could potentially softlock you, the devs had to put them literally everywhere, and it was just a waste of everybody's time. Overall Requiem is just bigger, bolder, brighter and more terrifying. Everything that was well done in Innocence was cranked up until the crank broke off.
I can't say I often cry in games. I do, sometimes, especially when I reach the ending, or when someone I feel emotionally attached to dies, or something along those lines. In Requiem I cried a record number of times, I felt like every other chapter my eyes welled with tears. Not because someone dies every other chapter, but because such things happen that I sometimes thought that maybe dying to rats in Innocence wasn't actually a bad ending compared to the events that transpire in Requiem. This game hits incredibly hard, emotionally, especially if you do care about the characters and you're worried about their well-being. I played with the French voiceover and I think half the time I was crying because Amicia's actress was giving such a heartbreaking performance. Overall Requiem is my second game of the year. You know when you read a book, watch a movie, or play a game and it is one of the greatest things in the world but it kind of... scarred you so you probably won't forget it for years, if ever? Well, that's Requiem for me.
Game of the Year
TUNIC by TUNIC team (2022)
It's... TUNIC :D I'm sure many of you who watched my video on Tunic knew it from the start, but TUNIC is my game of 2022. I played a lot of incredible games this year that left a lasting impression on me, however, when I focus and think about one game that was all around a fantastic experience, there is no doubt in my mind, it's TUNIC. I played it many months ago and I'm still obsessed with it. TUNIC feels like rediscovering the whole of gaming. You wake up on a shore, you have zero context on what's happening, every inscription you find is in a fox language that you can't read so you have nothing else to do but to explore. There is no saving the world that needs to be happening, you're not bombarded by tutorials, characters and quests, you just wake up, find a stick and go for a walk. TUNIC has an in-game manual that's all in fox English, and you'll be going back to it very often because it has everything: all the secrets, and maps, and collectables, and instructions, and everything, you just need to do a little deciphering. Even when you've played a fair bit of this game and you think you know what it's about, TUNIC shows you its new side; the game is fairly compact but it has so many layers it is insane. It changes context and subverts expectations in ways that make you gasp. The thing that captivated me the most was Tunic's gentle hospitality - the game just loves you. Whether you choose to go deeper and deeper into its secrets or you decide that's too deep for you - it loves you anyway. Tunic is an outpour of joy that is never boring, never disappointing. The feeling of boundless exploration, or not being stuck anywhere, of having a big world just waiting for me is something I wish I could fold like a little handkerchief and always carry with me. TUNIC is the best game I played this year.
Well, that's it. This year I finally started letting go of games I didn't really enjoy, something I needed to learn how to do. I'm... happy that even in a whirlpool of real life circumstances this year I still found time and energy to play some videogames.
Please let me know in the comments what your best and worst gaming experiences were this year, maybe there was a game that you really wanted to play but ended up not liking, or on the contrary, the game you didn't expect anything out of turned out to be one of the best. It doesn't matter if the game was released this year, I'm just interested in what you have played in 2022.
As usual, stay tuned here and on the Lair's YouTube channel not to miss out on anything.
Thank you very much for your time and Happy New Year!