The Best of 2022, A Year in Review

I’m Kinglink and it’s time for a look back at 2022, which is a bit of a disappointing year for me.  No, not because of any specific release, though there were a lack of major titles, but I feel like I failed as a gamer.

2022 for me was a year that I played over 300 games, which is an insane amount, I covered both Game Pass for the PC and Humble Choice so there’s a massive amount of variety in the games I covered… and yet  I only completed about 25 of those titles, almost all of them short affairs like Pupperazzi or games I finished without realizing it, like Peppa freaking Pig… 

Normally I like to talk about the best game I played over the previous year or the game I most recommend, but with most of these games already in videos, I’ve talked about that.  There’s a bigger issue for me. I struggle to call games I haven’t finished this year the best.  Can I call a game the best of the year if I only played a quarter of it? 

I could easily name a few of the biggest titles that I wanted to play, and that list includes Judgement, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-man, and Persona 5.  I have all of those games ready to go for the new year, currently playing Judgement, but again I can’t speak to them yet. 

Still, there are a few awards I have in mind, not major awards, these aren’t the Emmys or the Oscars, there are no trophies, and likely the developers probably will pretend to not recognize these wins on a future game of the year package, but we know this is the most important award a game can receive.  

I can tell you about the one major title I finished this year that I recommend, and that’s Hitman 3.  IO Interactive delivered another set of levels that has a ton to do.  There are more interesting targets and rich environments.  There’s just so much to do in a Hitman game, as well as playing additional contracts after you finish the game. 

I also want to mention that there are no microtransactions here, which is refreshing for a single-player game in 2022.  Kind of disappointing that we’ve come to that point in the gaming industry, but IO Interactive appears to be one of the very few studios out there worthy of that recognition.  There is DLC for each title in this trilogy but that’s inevitable in our modern gaming landscape and I think Hitman 3’s DLC was completely unnecessary. 

There’s also the Elusive contracts that I’ve never really loved due to it being timed content, but overall, Hitman 3 offers a wealth of gameplay, both in the main story missions, as well as more to do after you’ve finished it, so I easily can recommend people checking the current Hitman Trilogy.  If you love this series, this will give you hundreds of hours of fun.

With that said the other category I usually talk about at the end of the year is Humble Choice.  If you aren’t aware, I do a monthly video on their releases and people always ask “What’s the best game” or “Best month”.  I doubt I can give a conclusive answer.  Every month I detail the games, and there’s usually someone who loves the lineup, but more likely is that someone will hate the lineup or talk about how they are skipping it.  

It’s understandable, but that’s the problem.   Humble Choice is made in such a way that even if they released an amazing game, it feels like half the audience wouldn’t be interested in it and skip it.

So what I can tell you is which month I think is the best for me, and which title I’m happiest to own.   Truthfully, the list of major games I didn’t finish this year but wish I did has one more title to add to it that I want to play, and oddly enough it was a title in Game Pass and Humble Choice within a month of each other.  That title would be Deathloop. 

Deathloop combines a few things that I always find intriguing.  This comes from Arkane Studios which is most well-known for the Dishonored franchise.  Those games have amazing open maps and allow players to roam around large sections of the city to complete goals.  Deathloop does the same thing, but also offers players multiple times of day to explore the city, different districts, and a lively world.

The combat in Deathloop is good, but what intrigues me more is the puzzle aspect of trying to figure out how to approach the game to accomplish what sounds like a simple goal: kill 7 specific targets. 

This is only enhanced when you learn Deathloop is set in a time loop, thus the name.  The time loop here resets everything if the player dies, or after four areas are explored, which adds layers of strategy and puzzles to it.  With a decent size map, and a challenging premise this feels like a title I’m glad to have in my library, and it’s why I easily place it at my favorite game from Humble Choice. 

As for the best month, like I said, that’s going to depend on people, but Deathloop came out in October.  That was the same month as Monster Train, which was another game I went crazy for and so I think that’s a safe bet for my favorite. 

With Humble Choice out of the way, I realize there are still a few games worthy of praise, and probably getting ignored by most awards, so I wanted to highlight five indie titles worthy of recommendation.  Games that stood out to me.  These aren’t placed in a specific order, and I tried to keep the titles out of the same genre, so there weren’t five rogue-lites or nerdy games.   

*sigh* Which reminds me that I can’t think of 2022 without thinking of one major negative.  But it’s big enough to make a mark on my list.  And that would be the closing of Zachtronics.   It was the one video that I didn’t plan to make, and the one video I’m still sad I had to. 

Zachtronics has meant a lot to me, they make programming games for non-programmers… or just games for programmers if we’re being honest about it. They always create an interesting game, and sure enough, their last official title, Last Call BBS, hits that nail on the head.  Instead of one last game, it feels like this is a collection of different ideas from the studio.  But each game here delivers.

The fact you have to dial into a BBS brings a huge nostalgia back for me.  But then there are simple toys such as building Gundam-style models and each one brings joy to my heart for the simplicity of it.  

Of course, it’s not a Zachtronics game without a unique style of puzzle, or in this case five or six.  The Dungeons and Diagrams are easily worth recommending.  Though I equally love to play the 20th Century Food Court, and then there are even more games to check out, that I’ll leave for people to discover on their own.  They’ve also expanded the game with new levels since release so there’s, even more, to see here. 

Now Last Call BBS is excellent, but it’s not technically the last game, and having all the solitaire titles from Zachtronics together is a nice touch but I’m going to ignore that and just think of Last Call BBS as the final Zachtronics title, and honestly, it’s a perfect end to that studio. 

However, games like Dyson Sphere Program and others show me that while Zachtronics has ended, and maybe that’s it for those developers, others will continue to deliver unique games just like this.  I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to see unique games that prove not everything needs to be a big loud shooter.

Of course, Zachtronics games are so nerdy… so so nerdy.  Speaking of nerdy games, we come to a second title to check out.  That’s going to be Hardspace: Shipbreaker.  There’s just something about Simulator games, especially when I have too much to do, I always find a reason to come back to these because they usually don’t require an extreme amount of time commitment and the games are pretty laid back.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker tries to push a huge narrative of how awful everyone’s life is and how the company is ruining everyone’s life, and fine, but earning hundreds of millions of dollars while ripping apart giant hulking brutes of ships is just fun on its own.  You always make a massive profit on your ledger, and there are tons of ways to rip apart the ships so it’s up to you to decide the approach you take. 

I heard Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation call these Dad games, and perhaps that’s a better term than simulators.  I’d get offended, but yeah… I’m a dad, and I love this stuff.  Honestly just give me a ship, a little piece, and quiet and I’ll sort it into the right categories for you. 

Truthfully, I had trouble choosing which game to cover here, because I also played some Lawn Mowing Simulator, and PowerWash Simulator, and both of those games are equally…. I guess the term is fun, but Hardspace: Shipbreaker is the one that I return to the most just because I love the mechanics here. 

Speaking of large categories of games that need a single representative.  We come to the rogue-lites, and this year they’re represented by the cheapest representative.  That’s right, it’s Vampire Survivors.  What seems like the simplest game continues to suck hour after hour of my life as I try to master the gameplay and see what else is in store for me. 

This year Vampire Survivors left early access and has changed quite a bit over the year, but what continues to be its legacy is an addictive game, that has a tight core gameplay loop, and gives players the ability to grow from a simple start into a massive beast of a character, who decimates enemies… and is still somehow fallible. 

There’s just something about rogue-lites where players feel how strong they are, that I love.  This was also seen in Gunfire Reborn, which was another really solid entry.  I also have to mention Dreamscraper as a great rogue-lite but both of those games are complex and require so much more, whereas Vampire Survivors mastered the pick-up-and-play aspect of the genre.  

It’s so easy to just start a game of Vampire Survivors and see how far you get, and equally common to still be playing it a few hours later.  This reminds me a lot of how addictive my favorite rogue-lites are such as Nethack, or Hades, and for that reason, Vampire Survivors deserves the attention it’s received and even more.  

In fact, there’s a new DLC out for the game that came out in December, so even if you’ve played the launch version of Vampire Survivor there’s even more for you to see if you’re interested. 

You know, the sprites and items in Vampire Survivors are clearly ripped off, or I guess we call that borrowed from Castlevania.  Another game that took a beloved franchise and used it for inspiration is our next game, Tinykin.  Which, also like Vampire Survivors’ new DLC,  got a fresh add-on.  For Tinykin it was a free challenge update, introducing new time trials. 

Tinykin is just a cute adorable game that I’m thrilled I got to play.  I love when indies see a major developer abandoning interesting ideas and game space, and step in themselves.  This is what I think about when I play Tinykin.  This isn’t Pikmin… but it’s Pikmin-adjacent, and that’s a great thing. 

The exploration of the large house in Tinykin is amazing, but the locations are so rich with hidden spots, and interesting ideas.  There’s a great puzzle where the player is told about a scary monster that they need a picture of, and eventually, the player discovers it’s a large stuffed animal.  

There are tons of little pieces of Tinykin that are joyful, such as skating around on a bar of soap.  Meeting each of the new types of Tinykin in the levels is accompanied by a wonderful animation that is fun to see, and the story in the game helps guide the player on their path. 

There’s also a lack of real danger outside of environmental traps and fall damage, which keeps the game on the exploration rather than trying to shoehorn a combat system that wouldn’t work in the game, and that’s a nice touch.  It’s a more laid-back affair that players can experience at their own pace. 

There’s also a lack of backtracking in Tinykin which I appreciate, but also when replaying it, I noticed how I wanted to spend more time in each room.  If there’s one issue I have with Tinykin, it’s that Tinykin is a little short in my opinion, which is not a bad thing, it means I just want more, and god more Tinykin is going to be great.  I hope they’re already considering what their next game will be and don’t stall out like A Hat in Time’s developer did. 

Speaking of games that I want more of, we come to the final Indie game to talk about, and probably my favorite of this year.  It’s Tunic. 

Yes, it’s a fox dressed up like Link adventuring around a large world, collecting three items, and sure the Zelda comparisons might feel obvious, but honestly, I don’t think it fits the Zelda mold as much as others do.  There are obvious references, but this is different.   In the same way that this has a challenge, it’s not Dark Souls either. 

And yeah, in my initial coverage I made both of those comparisons, I was wrong.   But what I love in Tunic is the exploration.  With almost everything in the game in a foreign unreadable language, the entire game revolves around the player trying to understand and discover as much of the world as they can. 

This brings me to my favorite piece of Tunic, the instruction manual.  You earn pieces of this as you explore and find different pages.  It’s still mostly written in a foreign language, but it still helps piece together the rules of the world, game, and experience.  I can not stress enough how I think this is the best thing I’ve seen all year, and likely for many years.  Just the idea of discovery being tied to a foreign instruction manual for players to try to figure out as they play through the game is brilliant.

Of course, I have to mention the bosses in Tunic as well, there are so many great fights, interesting locations, and difficult challenges, and honestly, each fight felt equally epic and unique, and because of that, it’s a blast to play through this game, even if there’s not that many bosses, which again is why I’d love more to the title. 

Ultimately though Tunic feels great, in the same way as the other four Indie titles I have shown do.  It’s a unique experience and it’s one I won’t easily forget.  As I said, I don’t necessarily have an order for the best game of the year this time, but if I had to choose one, I would go with Zelda Souls… Sorry I mean Tunic. 

And that’s what my 2022 has been like, hopefully, there’s something that interests you or that you want to check out.  Feel free to tell me what your favorite games of 2022 were, whether they be AAA or Indie, so I can potentially add them to my list for next year.   I usually make these lists based on what I played, and not necessarily what came out, but this year there were a lot of recent titles on the list. 

So I’ve talked about this before, but like I said there are a lot of games I need to catch up on and so I’m going to be taking a short couple of months off.  Humble Choice coverage is still going to be ongoing, but that’s going to be the entire channel until at least probably March.  I made this video in December so I’m probably already relaxing, playing games, or perhaps I’m secretly scripting my next video… probably that, knowing how my process goes.

Though if you’re interested in seeing what comes next, I’ve given some pretty major hints in my previous videos and have a good idea of where we’re going.   If you are interested in hanging out I’ll throw up a link to my discord server where it’s mostly just talking about games, and game-related topics…… also pizza recipes. 

As always, consider subscribing so you can find out what I end up settling on, give me a like or a comment to help others find this video, and feel free to share this video. I can always appreciate that. 

Here are a couple videos in case you want to see more from me.

See you next time. 

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