Man, what a year 2022 was. It felt simultaneously way too short but also interminably long. Still, with 2023 upon us, now’s a great time to look back over the last year at all the stuff I really loved. Here is my brief 2022 in Review!
This is oprainfall after all, so we should probably start off with what video games I really enjoyed! I played more games than I realized, and overall it was a pretty good year for me in terms of titles I really loved. But here’s my top contenders.
Star Ocean: The Divine Force
Hands down this was my favorite game of the year, jank and all. I loved this game despite its flaws, and it reignited my love of the series after Integrity and Faithlessness left me feeling pretty bummed. Not only is this the best cast out of all the games, it has an absolute banger of a soundtrack, a fun combat system, amazing Private Actions, and some gorgeous visuals. Laeticia and Raymond are fantastic main characters, and Albaird is my second favorite character in the series, trailing only behind Rena from Second Story. I could gush over this game for hours, and it has brought me endless amounts of joy.
Cat game, cat game, cat game! To say I loved this game would be an understatement. Had Divine Force not released in 2022, Stray would have been my Game of the Year, no contest. It’s not long, but it didn’t need to be, clocking in right around five hours, and it was some of the best five hours I’ve spent playing video games. From the setting to the characters to the music, Stray was just beautiful. B-12 is one of the best companions in recent memory, and the way the cat controls as you navigate the robot city feels incredibly satisfying. It’s obvious the team put a lot of love and care into the way they crafted the cat’s mechanics, and it made for a really memorable piece of interactive media. In all my years of gaming, I’ve only ever had to set my controller down twice while playing because I was overcome with emotion, but Stray added a third time, and for that alone it earns major points for me.
As the first Soulsbourne game I’ve ever played, I’ve gotta say Elden Ring was something special. I’ve avoided these style of games due to their difficulty, but I was really determined to get through this one at least, and it was incredibly satisfying. I definitely had my issues, particularly with some bullshit enemy mechanics and the reuse of boss monsters, as well as the fact at least two of my questlines just up and broke in the middle so I couldn’t complete them (I’m so sorry, Alexander!). But, even with the jank, I just had so much fun. Exploration was exciting, finding little tidbits of lore made me happy, and even though I couldn’t beat her on my own, taking down Malenia was a triumph. This is an experience I’ll cherish, and it has me really considering going back and playing earlier FromSoft titles.
As a fan of Shin Megami Tensei, Monark was a delight. I loved the brooding atmosphere, the way the game tackled themes of loneliness, despair, self-worth and identity, and how it wove those themes into the actual gameplay. I reviewed this back in February, and it hasn’t really strayed too far from my thoughts ever since. I loved the battle system; I found the setting really fun. The characters were charming and compelling, and their designs are some of the best this year. The music, as well, is just stunning, with a fantastic soundtrack that I’ve been listening to virtually nonstop. If you like grindy games with darker themes, I cannot recommend this enough.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
As the culmination of a decade’s worth of story, Endwalker is hard to beat. It was emotionally satisfying, narratively fulfilling, and a masterclass in music. This game has been a staple of my life for over 10 years (I started in 1.0, and A Realm Reborn turns 10 this year), so it couldn’t not be on this list. But, even ignoring the time and emotional investment I’ve put into it, FFXIV is just a fun experience I get to share with friends and family, and I will cherish it for that if nothing else. Also just look at my Lalafell, she is precious.