The way I play videogames will change starting next year (more on that at the end of this!), but I think this last 5 years of trying to complete at least 50 different games have been quite invigorating (even if a bit chaotic), and this year is no exception. At least a couple of these videogames, I believe, will go on to stay in my heart for the rest of my life.
Firstly, a couple of honorable mentions!
Eastward, developed by Pixpil Games – 2021
Almost a year later and I’m still torn between frustration and admiration regarding this game. It was the first time I’ve ever played a game with a group of friends, like a reading club, and I was particularly excited about its premise and the gameplay it promised with its trailers. Not to mention the pixel-art and the beautiful music it seemed to have. What deeply affected my appreciation for this game was its story and writing. Inconsistent, cut-out and even choppy, the beats were all over the place and had trouble tying back to its messy cast of characters. I hope the team learns from this experience and gets to develop a better game next time. I know for sure I’ll be one of the first to play it.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus, developed by Game Freak – 2022
I, uh, wow, yet another game that I’m not sure how to feel about. I guess the trend at this point is that all of them are executing such interesting ideas in a way that doesn’t truly connect to me, but still to a certain level where I can appreciate what they’re going for. I think I love this game in that it’s the one that accomplishes something in the franchise while also promising to do something even better in the future.
We Become What We Behold, developed by Nicky Case – 2016
A friend of mine used this game to talk about bias in her Rhetoric and Writing Studies class and when I played the game myself, I immediately saw why. This game deeply understands violence, portraying it succinctly and effectively. Its gruesome representation of both discourse and media still has me thinking months after playing it.
VR – Assorted games
Huliet, wtf, what do you mean with just “VR”? Okay, hear me out: my childhood friend, Rick the Weasel, is the first person IN ALL OF MY SOCIAL CIRCLES (lol, okay, I don’t have that many) to own a VR headset. He invited me over to try it out and holy shit, now I see the appeal. It is definitely not my thing, but I see why a lot of people play it and use it. I think whoever has access to this technology (and it’s physically able to do so) should give VR a try.
Okay, onward to my favorite games that I played in 2022~!
Poinpy, developed by Ojiro Fumoto – 2022
I mean, from the creator of Downwell? And it’s a colorful game that got both me and my fiancé laughing and playing together? This game is simple magic and works wonders. I still haven’t been able to really beat it (just like Downwell, lol), but I’m so glad to see Ojiro Fumoto finding out ways to engage the player with incentives beyond “progression” that just keeps you going back to it. Overall, a fantastic and fun game!
Spider-Man: Miles Morales, developed by Insomniac Games – 2020
A gift from my fiancé! And an interesting experience beyond actually playing it. The conversations surrounding this game’s representation and portrayal of some of the issue related to race left me curious to really delve into it, but I firmly believe watching Woolie Versus playing it with Reggie after having finished my own playthrough is what really made me appreciate it. I mean, the game is fun and works quite well, just like the first one, but this one felt homier, closer to the heart.
Cult of the Lamb, developed by Massive Monster – 2022
Huh, a lot of the games that I loved playing this year relate, somehow, to me playing them with my fiancé or her gifting them to me! Something that I really like about my fiancé is the way her eyes sparkle whenever she sees the cute/dark combination in an art style, particularly in games. In this particular case, we were both attracted to the premise of going out slashing monsters to then come back and tending to our cult followers. What I wasn’t ready for, was the amount of mechanics playing out at the same time and, of course, how well they worked out together!
milk inside a bag of milk inside a bag of milk, developed by Nikita Kryukov – 2020
This game’s take on horror and surrealist themes left me terrified for a few days. Someone recommended it to me when it came out, but I finally had the opportunity to really sit down and play it now, and holy crap was it weird. I think this kind of weird horror is so specific and dependent on its own logic that it’s quite hard to crack even months after playing it. To me, it’s more about the present moment, as you’re playing it. And in that moment, I really did stare into an abyss.
Bloodborne PSX, developed by Lilith (LWMedia) – 2022
Truly, a work of love. An admirable one, specially if you follow Lilith’s dev entries as she went in-depth not only on the original game’s look and feel, but also understanding its gameplay and game design considering, yes, the original game, but also PSX era game development. I haven’t studied enough to really know what was going on behind the scenes, but as I was playing it I felt myself just enjoying it and, at the same time, surprised to see such understanding of, to name one thing, intricate level design to both emulate the original experience and also bring in something entirely unique, a product of thinking back to past game design choices. I really enjoyed the final boss fight, even as a separate element to the overall demake experience. I can’t wait for Bloodborne Kart!!!
Elden Ring, developed by FromSoftware – 2022
People who know me saw this coming. Even if I do believe the whole medieval dark fantasy theme is running out for the people at FromSoft, this game’s combat and exploration excelled consistently throughout such a big experience. Seeing the world, in general, and getting places was both incentivized and well thought out, really achieving the feel of an unique experience for each playthrough/player. I truly understand why so many people have this at their top in their own lists of favorite 2022 games.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, developed by Tecmo – 2003
Finally, I played a Fatal Frame game to completion, and I’m very glad I did. This game kept me jumping in my couch, with the hairs in the back of my neck constantly pulled up. Even if the combat was frustrating (kind of the whole point, really, when making a horror game like this), I think the capturing ghosts in film worked rather well with the overall theme of a town stuck in time and in a cycle of violence and sacrifice. I would need to go back to I and then play III to compare, but something I enjoyed in this game was its understanding of a curse, of the endlessness of things.
He Fucked the Girl Out of Me, developed by Taylor McCue – 2022
This game broke my heart and, at the same, represented hope for me. I will be writing an entry entirely dedicated to this one (I don’t know how long, nor when it will be published), but I truly feel that talking about this game will tap into some personal stuff. For now, I can say that I truly appreciate that this game exists, that it did what it did, and said the things it said, beyond what they meant to me.
Signalis, developed by rose-engine – 2022
Oohh, boy… Umh, this game was fantastic? A punch in the face? It made me cry?? I admit it had me worried it was leaning a bit too much on the homage aspect to Silent Hill and Resident Evil (maybe?), but even before halfway through, I experienced some of the best horror I have ever seen in a game in a long time. I was talking about cycles earlier, and I firmly believe that both the setting, story and design of this game allowed it to engage in a queer, beautiful and sad horror experience related to repetition and breaking cycles.
Butterfly Soup & Butterfly Soup 2, developed by Brianna Lei – 2017 & 2022
I FUCKING LOVED THESE GAMES AAHH. Again, Pami played these right after I finished the 2nd one, and seeing my fiancé screenshotting like crazy almost the same moments as me had me crying all over again when I watched her play. I might need to think a bit more about the way the dialogue is written, but it achieves such a funny, and even beautiful level of characterization that I need to study it overall for my future writing endeavors. Queer writing is important, and the way Brianna Lei writes is such a treat to read through, especially when you have such a fun, charismatic and, well, lovely cast of characters. I can’t get over how much I loved these dorks, and they may as well be among my favorite videogame characters of all time, for both their personalities and them facing such relatable challenges. Beyond queerness, the anti-racist discussion in these games was cleverly put together to both be represented in a simple manner, but also engrained into the very core of what makes these stories so relatable and truthful to what they are aiming for. To me, they are stories of struggle, love and lightheartedness. It was a joy, a beam of light to play them.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale, developed by Greg Lobanov, Lena, Raine, Em Halberstadt, Alexis Dean-Jones, and Madeline Berger – 2021
I don’t order this list in any particular way, but I feel like I wanted to leave this one at the end for a particular reason. Personally, I feel like I played this game in a perfect point of my life. Months after its release, but I got to play it right when I needed it. This year, two people stood out to me: my fiancé (duh), and Turnip, a friend who both, well, was a dear friend of mine this year, but also as an overall mentor (at least that’s how our relationship felt to me). Both persons lifted me up to new, different moments this year, and I feel like they’re both in this game. Turnip played it before me, and they recommended the game, and I feel like their overall way of seeing the world is all around the game’s feel. Pami hasn’t played it, but I feel like she will enjoy it and know what I mean when I say that her artistic endeavors, worries and successes are all there in this game. The creators, I feel, understand struggling with confidence, even beyond the artistic aspect. But what I truly admire from their approach was the fact that they connected it all back to community formation, to understanding and listening to other people. This game is made complete by its cast, by how you interact with them and the world. This is great inspiration for me and my goals in the future, which I will never be able to do without the help of the people I love. This last thing rings true in this game, and that’s a reason I deeply loved it.
Stick around after this image to read some final thoughts!
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I will be changing the way I play games from now on. It’s been 5 years since I beat cancer. It’s been 5 years of (happy) unstableness, of constant changing and thinking about my life. I feel like, overall, the +250 games (at least 50 for each year) contributed to me changing and influenced my process of becoming. Now that I’m engaged, that I’m moving on from being a student (at least for now), and that my oncologist recommended a change to my routine check-ups (now only once a year!), I feel like I want to try new things out. I don’t know what my yearly lists will look like in the future, especially considering Twitter is dead to me (lol), but I’m sure they will be different. For that reason too, I have decided I will not try too much to play that many games each year. From now own, I will take my time with each game that I play, and I will change my “goal” from 50 to 12. I never really hurried up with any game to meet that objective throughout the years, but it definitely was in the back of my mind. Now, I want to try out really not having that at all and just stopping to see each game that I play for what it is. If I end up playing just 12 games a year, even less, then that’s fine, as long as I can connect with at least one of them.
For now, that’s it! Thank you for reading my thoughts this last few years (I think I’ve been writing about my readings and gaming for the last 3 years). Take care, and look forward to my own writing and game development, please!