I’ve played several games this year. Many of them have been either retro or indie games. I’ve found that I’ve been shying away from the AAA games that don’t appeal to me or seem to be overpriced.
I’ve decided to make a short list of the games that I think are the best games that I’ve played this year. I’m not going to put these in any particular order, but I will tell you which was my favorite.
First, let’s talk about the selection criteria, and then we’ll get into the list.
Let’s talk about what qualifies for this list. I looked at the games I played from 01 December 2021 to 01 December 2022. This includes games from the Talking Pixels and First Impressions series on my YouTube channel. Here are some other cut-offs:
- Can’t be a compilation or collection
- It either had to have been released this year, or I had to have played it this year
Developer: Denis Sinner, Moi Rai Games
Metacritic Score/User Score: 80 and 8.3
This is the best game that I played this year! It borrows heavily from Pokemon but changes things enough to feel unique. It has a fun story and beautiful pixel art.
Monster Sanctuary is a side-scrolling RPG where you collect monsters to fight your battles and overcome puzzles. The monsters feel unique, and building a team that works best for you is easy. The only thing I wish had been expanded was the number of monsters that can evolve. The last time I played this, only a handful (less than 10, I believe) could evolve into a more powerful form.
Overall, this was an excellent game to discover! I spent a lot of time messing around with different parties and exploring as much of this world as possible to find more monsters.
Developer: Supermassive Games
Metacritic Score/User Score: 79 and 5.6
This is more of a Visual Novel or Interactive Movie. It is a genre that I didn’t know that I was interested in until I played Until Dawn. It isn’t a genre that is for everyone.
The plot isn’t all that interesting to me. However, the interactions between the characters are what carried me through this. The Quarry has a few plot twists, but they were a little predictable. If you are looking for a fun B movie, then this is a fun experience.
I usually look forward to Supermassive games because I like what they’re doing. Some of the Dark Picture’s games weren’t all that great, so I was glad to see The Quarry. I had a lot of fun with it, and I’m looking forward to the next game in this style.
Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Genre: Action Adventure, Sandbox
Metacritic Score/User Score: 84 and 8.1
This was one of the most wholesome games that I’ve ever played. It is all about bringing souls to the afterlife. Each soul has a task for you to perform and will give you quests throughout the game.
In Spiritfarer, you sail around on a boat and visit islands on a vast ocean. You also have to care for the needs of the different spirits that travel around with you. This includes:
- Feeding them
- Building them homes
- Upgrading your boat and building
- Growing food
- Visiting different islands
The most enjoyable part of this game is the fishing mini-game. You sit on the back of the boat and watch the world go by while catching fish.
Sometimes you need a relaxing game. This is a great game that is different from the other games you might be playing. Spiritfarer is a great game that does away with all of the combat and focuses on telling a story.
Developer: Square Enix
Metacritic Score: N/A
There isn’t much I can say about Chrono Trigger that hasn’t already been said. This is one of the best retro JRPGs and has given me many memories over the years. This is one of those grilled-cheese games that feel like comfort food to me. I know that is a strange analogy.
The music is fantastic, the graphics are great, and the story is very compelling. I loved the time-traveling theme of the game and how you impacted the history of this world. The characters that you meet along the way are also delightful.
I remember playing this game with my friends back in high school. Since then, I’ve returned to the game over and over again. Each time I play it, I learn more about the game and how you can beat it. I haven’t seen all of the different endings, but that is part of the fun of this game.
Developer: Game Refuge Inc.
Genre: Arcade/Strategy Game
Metacritic Score: N/A
This is an amazing game! It is also one of the unique games that EA published back when they cared. It is a combination of genres that doesn’t sound like it would work. Somehow it did, and General Chaos because a great game!
There is a story to this game. It isn’t all that important, and it simply sets up the rivalry between the generals of the opposing armies. The game occurs in a series of battles between two groups of soldiers. You can choose between different lineups for your squad of soldiers.
General Chaos is a very cartoonish game. While there is violence in the game, it is all played as a joke. I always thought of the game as an aggressive game of capture the flag, or like kids playing guns in the woods.
Tales of Destiny
Developer: Namco Tales Team
Metacritic Score: N/A
I remember this game being harder than it was. My best friend at the time introduced me to this game. He was stuck on one part near the end of the game that seemed so hard to get past. Then I played it recently and was amazed by how easy the game was.
This is a hybrid of JRPG and an Action-RPG. At the time, I remember thinking this was a style I hadn’t seen before. You controlled one character, and the AI that handled your party members was actually competent! It has a fun combat system, but you can exploit some of its flaws while fighting the bosses.
This was an easy game. The boss fights weren’t all that challenging, and it felt like two games were mashed together. It was like the developers wanted to add more twists to the plot. It works for the game, but I was slightly annoyed by it. Overall, this is one of the better RPGs I’ve played this year, and it was so much fun to experience it again.
The DioFIELD Chronicle
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Tactical RPG
Metacritic Score/User Score: 67 and 4.1
Don’t let the scores fool you on this one. The DioFIELD Chronicles is a good game with a fascinating world and an interesting story. At first, I wouldn’t say I liked the combat all that much, but it did grow on me as I kept playing.
I did have some problems with this game. I didn’t like how small your party was, but they did try to work around it by letting you use the special abilities of other party members. I kept thinking I would like to see more games based on the world created here. It was very engaging.
There are problems with the game. It was clear that Square Enix didn’t think too much of the game. I didn’t see much advertising for it, and I think it could have been better if the developers had been given more time or money. There is potential in this game, and I hope that more is done with the ideas from the game.
TMNT: Shredders Revenge
Developer: Tribute Games
Metacritic Score/User Score: 87 and 8.2
If you’re a fan of the TMNT arcade games or a fan of retro beat-em-ups, this is the perfect game for you! The game looks great and plays like a sequel to the Konami arcade games. It goes further than that by adding characters that should have been playable in other games.
The story isn’t all that important in a game like this. You need to beat up all the bad guys that appear on the screen and stop the bad guys from doing whatever. You fight all the bad guys from the TMNT cartoon and comic books in this game.
I enjoyed this game so much! It was a wonderful surprise when I heard about it and it was great when I finally played it.
Genre: Tactical RPG
Metacritic Score: N/A
Before I started playing it this year, I had forgotten quite a bit about this game. Looking at it now, I think it is some hybrid of a tactical RPG and a JRPG. It also stands out from Fire Emblem by allowing a degree of exploration outside the battle scenes.
Shining Force was one of the first Tactical RPGs I played when I was little. While it wasn’t the first in the genre, it is a beautiful game made in that style. It has some rough edges that would be smoothed out in future entries, but it is a great game.
The story isn’t anything special, and the combat lacks some of the strategy found in other Tactical RPGs. However, it is an enjoyable game to go back to and play. It was an enjoyable experience that I thoroughly enjoyed playing.
Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Card Battler RPG
Metacritic Score/ User Score: 79 and 5.8
The Voice of Cards games snuck up on me. I don’t remember seeing much promotion for them, and it felt like Square Enix didn’t have much faith in them. You could probably say that about most of Square’s games that aren’t Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest.
This was a fun entry in the emerging Voice of Cards series. This one isn’t as funny as the first, but The Forsaken Maiden isn’t all that serious. It is still a fun game that offers a bit of comedy and a unique combat style that isn’t seen often.
Playing this game felt like a Tabletop RPG or a trading card game. The graphics reinforce this as you move a game piece around a board, and the combat is card and dice-based. These games aren’t connected, so you can pick any of them up and not miss anything from the story. This is a fun game, and I’m looking forward to playing more games in this series.
Dune: Spice Wars
Developer: Shiro Games
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Metacritic Score/ User Score: N/A
This is an excellent start to an RTS game based on Dune. While it didn’t remind me of Dune II, it was a fun game that I think will improve over time. It does have some issues, but I think the Dune series works best as a strategy game that doesn’t need to be connected to the overall story.
I played this as an early-access game. I could tell some of the features weren’t finished, as each of the four factions felt the same. This was a bit of a letdown, but I figured it would be tweaked as the game is further developed. The early art style in the cutscenes didn’t feel like a Dune game, but it worked for it. I found it growing on me as I kept playing.
This might be a bit of nostalgia talking, but this is a solid RTS. I enjoyed playing the game and trying out the four different factions. I think it will get better as it moves out of early access.
Developer: Berzerk Studios
Metacritic Score/ User Score: 84 and 7.3
I felt like I was playing a Castlevania spinoff while I was playing Infernax. This was an excellent game for me to stumble across! It is a challenging game that I thoroughly enjoyed playing.
The pixel art is great, and it feels like I’m playing a Sega Genesis clone of Castlevania IV. I also like the different spells you learn while playing the game, and the open world works great for a game like this.
I did enjoy the story of a returning knight finding his home being attacked by demons. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t played before, but it was done so well that I couldn’t stop playing it. It is a great game that does so many things right. It is what I would like to see from a modern Castlevania game if Konami ever decides to make a new one.
Streets of Rage
Metacritic Score/ User Score: N/A
Streets of Rage is one of the best retro beat-em-ups. I keep forgetting that it didn’t have an arcade release because it feels like a game that would have been in the arcades. It used the same engine as Golden Axe, but I think it was much better than Golden Axe.
You play as one of three characters with their own strengths and weaknesses as you try to stop a criminal organization. It is a standard plot for beat-em-ups from the era, and it isn’t all that important for you to follow it. It is all about punching people in the face!
While beat-em-ups have a repetitive gameplay style, I think if they are done right, they can be very satisfying, almost like a stress reliever. There is also some strategy to these games, as you can’t just walk up to an enemy and attack. You have to figure out the right way to attack both the bosses and the standard enemies.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
Developer: Asobo Studios
Metacritic Score/ User Score: 85 and 8.4
This was a game that I was very excited about. I really liked the first game and many of the games that Focus has published. I really like these medium-sized games that don’t require a 50-plus hour commitment.
A Plague Tale: Requiem takes place in France like the last game. The characters from the first game are back and seem to be doing well after dealing with all kinds of horrible things. One would think that these two would have learned not to get into trouble, but they seem to stumble into these things.
The stealth and evasion parts of the game are fun, even if I’m terrible at that sort of thing. If you pay attention to your surroundings and use the camera, then this should be no problem. It is an excellent follow-up to the first game.
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Metacritic Score/ User Score: 86 and 7.1
This game is a point-and-click adventure in the style of Monkey Island, King’s Quest, and Space Quest. It uses an art style similar to Monty Python and the Holy Grail or any other Monty Python media. I’m not totally familiar with everything that used this art style.
You play as an artist named Andreas, who lives in 1518. When you start the game, you learn that he is working on a commission for the Abbot, and that Andreas is making a masterpiece. Over the course of the game, you meet the people of the town. You can control your character’s backstory through these interactions and change how people view your character.
This is a game that I usually wouldn’t play, but it is an enjoyable game that offers a nice break from the latest open-world Action-RPG that seems to be popular with AAA developers. If you’re looking for something different, then this is the right game for you.
Best of the Rest
Not everything I played could make it on this list, and some games didn’t deserve it. Here are the honorable mentions or the Best of the Rest:
- Pokemon Yellow – I do love this game! However, nostalgia wasn’t enough to elevate it onto this list.
- World of Horror – This is a unique horror RPG that leans into Japanese myth and has a spectacular art style that I love. It just wasn’t enough to make it into my top ten.
- Tactics Ogre Reborn – If this had been a new game or if it had been closer to the PS1 release, I would have put it on this list. It is a great game, but I found it too watered down.
- X-COM: UFO Defense – This game isn’t on this list because I didn’t want to put too many retro titles on it. If I had made a top 16, this would have made it.
- Stinger – I would have liked to put this on the list. However, I didn’t think it did enough to compete with the other games I played this year.
- House of the Dead Remake – The only reason this one didn’t make the list was the control scheme. This would have been my game of the year if a light-gun attachment had been released alongside it.
- Triangle Strategy – This is a case of me thinking that DioFIELD Chronicles is better. I like Triangle Strategy, but SquareEnix did better with DioFIELD Chronicles.
- E.V.O.: The Search for Eden – Another victim of nostalgia not meeting expectations. This is a fun Action RPG that fell apart as you run into cheap deaths for you and the enemy bosses.
- Golden Axe – This is an excellent beat-em-up! I like the Genesis/Mega Drive version, but Streets of Rage is the better game.
- Final Fight – If this had been the arcade version, I would have added it to the list. The SNES port is good but lacks features that should have been in the games.
I know that there are plenty of games that I should have included. You can’t play everything, and sometimes you need to pick the games that you think are the best for you. These fifteen games are the ones that I enjoyed the most this year.
It might have been strange to include retro games on this list, but I wanted to do an overall look at the games I played this year. Each of the games that I included brought something special to the table. Whether it was nostalgia or a great experience, I had a lot of fun with them.
I’m looking forward to the games I’ll be playing in 2023 and seeing which games other people enjoy. Until next time, have a great day!