The Best Around
Wow, 2022 is a year that happened. It feels like just last week; I was writing my game of the year article for 2021. But after flipping my notebook out, I reminded myself I somehow managed to review more than five video games this year despite the stress of real-life woes. As there are so many games this year, I have done away with runner-up awards and stuck with my favourites.
Of course, these picks are just my opinion and don’t necessarily even score the highest score of two thumbs up. Most of these are the ones that stuck with me, or I felt did something notably different that they deserve an invisible award to shine. Please enjoy my games of the year for 2022.
The Buzzsaw Award – (best platformer) – Trifox – Nintendo Switch
You know I was a little let down by developers this year. Either my memory is going, or I could have sworn there was less representation of buzzsaws in video games this year. That or developers are getting tired of me making fun of the overused in-game hazard. But onto Trifox. This little gem came out of nowhere with very little marketing and still deserves its moment in the spotlight. A platformer with satisfying twin-stick combat.
Choose between three classes, level up, and create your own custom class to suit your play style. A fairly short adventure, but each level feels unique, with many little surprises to the gameplay that keep it fresh. There are a few niggles, but it feels like a great first entry from a new developer. One of the few games where I would love to see a sequel with the mechanics built on further. If that does happen, I’ll be there on day one.
Early Bird Award (best early access game) – Golfie – PC
Another great year for Early Access games over on Steam, and the one that instantly came to mind for this award was Golfie. A 3D crazy golf game with deck building and roguelike mechanics. It’s a formula that on paper feels like it shouldn’t work, like mixing chocolate with lemons. But it’s this sort of originality that keeps the game industry fresh, which Golfie is brimming with, and this is only in Early Access.
The courses are varied and different. Even if you replay the same course the random cards you’re dealt often meant you had to take a different approach, making it still feel new. The graphics also had this charming, friendly feel to them that felt suited to absolutely any audience. Every run brought a smile to my face, even if things were not going my way. It’s a game that truly lifted the blues away.
Sofa Award (best co-op game) Rescue Party: Live! – PC
It’s been great to see another year of developers showing love for co-op games. The one that stayed with me throughout the year was Rescue Party: Live! Arguably not even the best co-op game I ever played but something about the game’s design and cute appearance just tickled me. The easy description is this is Overcooked mashed with emergency services. Cooperate with your team to rescue survivors in disaster zones like floods and forest fires.
Use ladders to reach them, then use tools like shovels and fire extinguishers to free them. Treat their wounds and get them to the rescue vehicles in one piece, all under a time limit. The stress is high with this one, but if you have a good co-op pal (and I certainly did), it does become a fun exercise changing your plans on the fly as the level changes. Even if it all goes a bit wrong and the game’s odd glitch occurs, I still had a blast with this one. Definitely consider this one for a game night locally or online.
Second Job Award (Best Simulator game) Arcade Paradise – Nintendo Switch
My opinion on simulator-style games still hasn’t really shifted from its 50/50 approach. The whole job in a video game idea still perplexes me, but I understand why people love them. I’ve played some this year that are pretty good and some pretty awful.
Arcade Paradise falls in the former category. As a huge fan of retro gaming, I had a blast running my own arcade and, when I found the odd ten seconds to spare, playing on the arcades themselves. The games featured in this are clearly inspired by the classics, but they each have their own feel making some worthy of spending a night gaming on alone.
Just don’t forget you need to run the shop. What really drew me in with this title was that much of the first section is spent managing a laundromat. Not sure why but the mundane tasks of picking up litter and throwing laundry in the washer, followed by the dryer, were pretty meditative. If the whole game was just about that, I probably would have still dug it on a guilty pleasure level. But the arcade management certainly makes this worthy of something to recommend for retro and simulator fans.
Pixel Award (Best Retro game) Atari 50 – Nintendo Switch
I said it in my review, but for all the game compilations to rework the formula and give it a fresh educational injection. I would have never guessed Atari would be the one to set the new gold standard. Atari 50 is like a museum tour of the company’s positive and negative history. Along the tour, you can stop and play games from the arcades to the consoles.
Going with this approach actually makes revisiting familiar games I’ve played hundreds of times, like Pong and Centipede, all that more enticing to jump in and try again after learning snippets of the history. Bringing love to the more obscure consoles like the Atari Jaguar and Atari Lynx is brilliant for retro enthusiasts. It helps the emulation is spot on, and every game features multiple options to tweak. Atari 50 is an essential purchase for retro fans and is now my favourite way to enjoy Atari games.
Coffee Award (best short game) Gibbons Beyond the Trees – Nintendo Switch
A reminder of a coffee game. This is usually a short game that can be finished in one or two gaming sessions. Adding a nice brew is optional, though mine is often coffee and milk with no sugar. This year’s coffee award goes to the game that moved me the most, Gibbons Beyond the Trees. A graphically beautiful game where you play as a Gibbon on a short quest through the trees.
Without a word of dialogue, you experience a story of family, strategy and, most importantly, hope. This is all accompanied by some exceptional sound design. We all have our charities of choice, and mine has always learned towards the support and preservation of animals. I don’t think a video game has ever captured my love for the animal species as well as this title, and I’m very grateful to have experienced it this year.
Magic Wand Award (best RPG) Video Game Fables – PC
Initially, when I played Video Game Fables I expected it to be a run-of-the-mill turn-based experience with questionable graphics. How wrong I was. This easily falls into the category of don’t judge a book by its cover. Video Game Fables put a different spin on the formula, mixing up the experience system as more of a currency to choose how you upgrade each character or the entire party. Battles feel engaging, requiring you to make full use of your move set rather than just spamming the attack.
The enemy designs got many a chuckle out of me with their silliness, such as running celery. Added to this, the story is filled with great humour and a dash of heart. Playing as three RPG misfits who are on a quest to save their video game realm. The graphical style, while feeling a bit basic, soon became quite warming. The solo developer made the most of their resources and ended up creating an RPG that really deserves more love and attention. It’s also released DLC recently, showing their commitment to still supporting this game.
Hooded Cloak Award (best roguelike or lite) Rogue Legacy 2 – PC
There was an enormous amount of roguelike and rogue-lite games, but my top choice is Rogue Legacy 2. Take on a next castle filled with baddies and tough boss fights, with death being a certainty. With each failure, an heir takes your place and spends all your gold on upgrades making each run a little easier. Rogue Legacy 2 takes everything that worked in the original game and builds on it in every way possible.
Beautiful hand-drawn graphics, more crazy classes to play as and a humongous amount of content to unlock. It may be the familiar rogue-lite formula, but with this level of polish, it still waves above the competition. My favourite part by far is failing a run and asking my partner to choose the next heir to play as, even if that often means having the hardest run possible. It’s a fond feature that has carried over from the original. The game was also released to Switch recently so it’s also likely I’ll double dip on this one.
Indie Hug award (best publisher) – Team 17
I never expected one day, I would be giving oodles of praise to the guys responsible for the Worms series. Once upon a convention, I met some of the developers of this series, and they were pretty rude to me, so I have had a mild childish grudge. But boy, this company has published many indie classics over the last two years.
Hit after hit, and this trend doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. In the month of November alone, we had Ship of Fools, an excellent rogue-lite with two-player co-op; Bravery & Greed, an awesome roguelike with brawling mechanics that can be played with up to 4 players and just recently, The Witch Knight, a 2D adventure that mixes exploration and space shooter style combat. I can’t think of an indie title published by Team 17 I dislike, and hopefully, that trend continues.
Game of the Year – Puppy’s Adventure
2022 was an excellent year for gaming, especially in the indie scene. But all these games have got nothing on Puppy’s Adventure. A chunky handheld where every button you press makes a funny noise. It’s designed for children aged six months and up and was probably my new baby’s favourite toy. So serious talk: I struggled to think of one game I would put above everything else. For the last two years, the choice was obvious.
But this year, the choice in my heart was more personal and family-focused. I became a father for the first time last year, and by far, the best entertainment I have had is watching my baby play with his toys and smile. After what is often an awful day at work, all that misery from the day melts away when I come home, see his face, and he reaches his arms out for a cuddle. I’m incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful family of my own, something I didn’t think I deserved, so it just seemed right that Puppy’s Adventure gets my pick for the game of the year 2022.
To end the year, I want to once again show gratitude for some important chaps and chapettes.
Special thanks to my wife, who always helps with editing my silly articles, helps with the local co-op titles and just puts up with my nerdy nonsense.
Thanks to the higher-ups at LadiesGamers for continuing to allow me to contribute to the site and express my weird creativity.
Many thanks to Mr Mahjong for his assistance with several of the co-op-based reviews which I covered this year as well as also being a great buddy and listening to me talk rubbish every week during game nights.
Thanks to all of the patrons who help fund the site and keep it ad-free. The support is really appreciated.
Thanks to all the readers of LadiesGamers for taking time out of their day to read all of our articles.
2022 has been a year’s roller coaster with its ups and downs. Be sure to share your gratitude to your loved ones, and we’ll be here for 2023 to cover more wholesome gaming and hopefully keep you entertained.