Making this Best of 2022 article had me looking back at what I wrote in the Best of 2021 article. It’s amazing and scary at the same time how much things can change within the span of a year. I wrote:
I don’t know about you, but somehow I feel this year didn’t deliver what I expected. I distinctly remember wishing my husband a very happy 2021, adding: “2021 can’t be as awful as 2020 was, at least the vaccines are coming!” I’m talking about Covid of course. And yes, the vaccines did arrive, but so did mutations of this virus. And once again the lives of people around the world are impacted, either by the disease itself or by restrictions in everyday life.
Now, at the end of 2022, Covid is a thing of the past in most countries, like the Netherlands, where I live. Instead, the horrible war that started at the end of February changed the whole world in a different way. Not only for the victims of this senseless war in Ukraine but in a minor way, also for the rest of us. Necessities of our everyday life, energy and gas, have become scarce commodities. And what the people who strive for a better environment didn’t achieve is now achieved through our wallets. At least in Europe, where we are trying not to be dependent on Russian gas. People are trying to use less electricity and gas, in Europe, gas usage is 25% lower than it used to be. It’s cold in the house while I’m writing this article as we are also trying to cut back. Let’s hope the weather helps us out and stays mild!
Meanwhile, let’s go back to video games, though, a much nicer topic. Things at LadiesGamers are great; we have reviewed even more games than the already staggering amount in 2021. A lot of them were Steam games, and more and more, we see games releasing on the Switch that we’ve long since reviewed on Steam already. I reviewed quite a few of them myself, so let’s see what my best games of 2022 are!
1. Atelier Sophie 2: the Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream
Somehow, every year my Best Of list features an Atelier game. Maybe no real surprise, as I’m a big fan and have played them all since Atelier Rorona. This year, Atelier Sophie 2: the Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream was released. So, back to the story of Sophie and Plachta after the first game about them was released in 2015. In the first game, we got to know Sophie Neuenmuller, who lives in a town called Kirchen Bell and tries to practice alchemy.
She tries to, because ever since her grandmother passed away, orphan Sophie doesn’t have anyone to teach her. She’s often lonely until she finds a book, one that flies through the air and can talk! After finding the book that introduces itself as Plachta, her life changes. Plachta teaches her some serious Alchemy, and when they find a way to incorporate Plachta’s being into a doll, they leave Kirchen Bell together. Their goal is for Sophie to become a licensed Alchemist.
The pair discover a huge tree identical to one that Plachta had seen in a dream, and as they get closer, a mysterious vortex pulls them inside. Sophie wakes up alone in a curious new world called Erde Wiege after which the adventure starts.
As always, this Atelier game has several components: battling monsters while you explore the lands to find new ingredients for your alchemy. And in turn, this alchemy makes things like medicine and better weapons to conquer stronger enemies. Meanwhile, there are mysteries to unravel. And as ever, Gust uses every new game to try out new things in these elements.
The newest Atelier games, to me, are always the best, especially because this one brings back turn-based battles, which I love best. So for me, Atelier Sophie 2: the Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is definitely my number 1 game of 2022.
Want to know more? My review for Atelier Sophie 2 is here.
2. Disney Dreamlight Valley
Some games just grow on you. I know that Disney Dreamlight Valley did just that. When I reviewed it, I couldn’t look past the bugs, so no Two Thumbs Up for that one. But since then, the game keeps drawing me in, minor bugs and all. It’s not as good to me as Animal Crossing, but it’s a lovely game. It holds many of the sim elements I love: farming crops, fishing, cooking, and crafting. Plus, you can get creative with your clothes, house and the outdoors as well.
There’s a storyline, bringing the Valley back to how it used to be before the Forgetting planted Night Thorns everywhere and the inhabitants left. Up to you, of course, to rid the land of the thorns with your magic and, one by one, get the familiar Disney and Pixar characters back. There’s just so much content in Dreamlight Valley; it can be overwhelming to dive in. There’s a constant stream of tasks and quests that make me a little bit nervous, but at the same time, it keeps drawing me in. Definitely my number 2 of 2022. If you want, you can read my review here!
3. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
At the beginning of 2022, GameFreak and Nintendo felt the need to shake up the familiar formula of the Pokémon games and brought us Pokémon Legends: Arceus. The biggest draw of Pokémon Legends: Arceus for me is the open-world concept! Maybe not entirely open world, as like in Breath of the Wild, it has areas you can unlock during your storyline, but still. Standing on the edge of a hill, looking out over the vast lands and admiring the sunset, it sure feels like an open world.
I loved this outing from the standard. Why? Well, the story is a different one. You don’t travel the lands to become the best trainer possible. No, most people living in Hisui are afraid of Pokémon and don’t see them as possible partners, just wildlife to get away from as quickly as possible.
Your task isn’t as much catching them as studying Pokémon. To do this, you observe them, and sure, you do battle and catch them. But in a different way. Sometimes you can catch them unawares, and getting them in your self-made Pokéball is easy. Sometimes they engage you in battle, and you must wheedle their HP down with the familiar types and moves. But what’s changed is that some can hurt you yourself too. Feels more equal, you don’t just rope the Pokémon into battle for you, but you have to be wary of your own health too.
The way of the boss battles, when you battle the Nobles, is very, very different. It had me hesitant at first, even, as there’s an action element in there that I usually don’t excel in. But all of that makes it more exciting too. Making your own balls, potions, and other things is fun, and doing the quests for the people in Jubilife is great too.
As far as I’m concerned, GameFreak should investigate this direction for the Pokémon Legends games a bit. I sure am a fan. Paula reviewed the game for us; find her review here.
When I got my Steam Deck, the first game I bought on it was BunHouse. It had the sign that it would work well on the Steam Deck. Because the Deck was still full of secrets, I felt a simple game would ease me in nicely. Aside from that, playing a simple game is sometimes just a way to relax from a stressful life. And what better way than to put on your bunny ears and grow some plants. Because did you know Bunnies can grow plants?
You start pretty bare, with a huge Greenhouse, four small tables, some pots and a couple of seeds. And, very important, you have a watering can and soil. Both are in unlimited quantities, so no need to fill your watering can all the time. Fill the pots with the soil and put the seed into the pot. The encyclopaedia shows how much water or sunlight the plant needs to grow well.
Order new seeds of different sorts, and make sure you have all the items you need for the plant to flourish and make your Greenhouse look great. Oh, and choose a nice hat for your bunny, but that bit is optional.
BunHouse is the only game I know that actually made me feel like I’m gardening! My review of it is here.
My go-to game is always some cute-looking simulation game. Give me a combination of leading a virtual life, doing some farming, crafting and loads of quests, and I am in gaming heaven. So I was pretty happy when I could review Ooblets.
So, what is this game about? Ultimately, it all comes down to collecting Ookblets. You collect them through card-based dance battles, where you are rewarded with seeds to grow your own Ooblets. Aside from growing Ooblets, there’s other farming too and taking care of the farmhouse. There’s crafting, using materials from crops and stuff you forage in recipes and blueprints. This all leads to developing your hometown of Badgetown through quests.
The game is cute and colourful and exudes a happy vibe. You see, everyone in the games can’t stand still; they simply have to dance! And the Ooblets you have collecting follow after you like a happy procession. It really is enough to brighten my day.
Want to know more? My review for Ooblets is here.
Runner up Dragon Quest: Treasures
This is what happens when a game is released in the last few weeks of the year: you aren’t sure yet if it could be one that belongs in the list! And Dragon Quest: Treasures is such a game.
I was very hesitant at first if I should even buy the game, but Paula was so enthusiastic in her review that I couldn’t resist. I love a good exploration game, and the only thing holding me back was the action based fighting. As honestly, I’m never much good at that. But that wasn’t an issue at all, as my character can just hang back and let the companion monsters do the work. So there I am, searching for treasures and collecting items, and they do my dirty work. Though I must spring into action when there’s a boss fight to be done.
So far, Dragon Quest: Treasures is fun, I don’t feel much pressure while finding my way around and seeing all manner of amazing sights. That’s my kind of gaming! Still, I have only yet scratched the surface of the game, so for now I do want to list it as my runner up!