asylumrunner

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Games Completed in 2022

Swing and a miss last year, came up short on completing 30 games in 2021 thanks to some life stuff, a pretty heavy year of work, and also the scant version of the world reopening motivating me to go out and make up for lost time instead of staying home and playing video games.

But stay home and play video games I still did, and stay home and play video games I still will! There are still so many good games I haven't played that I really want to, so this year, on top of my normal 30 game goal, I am also trying to set my sights on playing as many "Oh Man I Always Meant To Get Around To Playing This Someday"s as I can. Looking at you, Chrono Trigger!

List items

  • A Link Between Worlds is, by a country mile, my favorite Zelda game. The freeform world design and item rental system (also, Ravio is easily my favorite later-era Zelda character, especially with where his character goes near game's end) means you really do feel a freedom to explore all of Hyrule and Lorule, but at the same time you still have the wonderful item-based exploration, puzzle solving, and combat which would be abandoned in Breath of the Wild.

    The bosses are all a delight, there are some absolutely primo dungeons in here, the world is an absolute joy to explore and is just the perfect size, it's like if A Link To The past wasn't an incredibly obtuse game with dated four-directional d-pad controls. Just perfect, absolutely sublime.

  • This game rules! A definite step up from the relative drudgery that was Kiwami 1, and maybe at worst a _smidge_ lesser to the perfection that was 0, but this game is an absolute blast. The combat is extremely fun, with the new Dragon Engine adding a fluidity to everything that I really enjoy. The cast here has very high highs, with the obvious standouts being Kaoru and Ryuji as both fantastic characters, although I do wish some of the supporting villain cast got a bit more fleshing out, especially some of the Jingweon Mafia guys.

    It's Yakuza, what can I say, it's great. Tons of dumb fun minigames, the substories are absolutely delightful (definitely a step up from the drudgery that were the ones in Kiwami 1, lots of highlights here in 2), tons of perfect little details that made me miss Tokyo even more two years into the pandemic, and most importantly of all, the cabaret club manager minigame is back, and moster importantly of all: Goro Majima.

  • I absolutely fucking adored this game tip to tail and direly regret waiting this long to play it. It's so cool and stylish and unique among both of the serieses that its pulling from, and just a delight to play.

    This game is less of a crossover between SMT and Fire Emblem and more a sort of weird double remix which takes bits and pieces from each franchise and blends them together into something reminiscent of both but decidedly neither. It definitely hews closer to the SMT side (Atlus did make it, after all), but the Session and Carnage systems are decently different from the Press Turn system of contemporary SMT (it actually reminded me a bit of Digital Devil Saga), and it turns into a pacey, exciting combat system focused on style and flourish, perhaps moreso than tactical planning (although that's definitely there).

    The characters in TMS#FE are really a highlight, the ensemble cast you end up assembling are all extremely compelling, each young talented entertainers figuring out specifically what they want to do with their lives and what the concept of performance means to them. Following them through their struggles with these questions is pretty compelling, keeping a good breadth of tone from the contemplative and serious to the pretty dumb and fun, and if I have a complaint with TMS, it's that I wish the game was longer to give me even more and deeper plot arcs like these, but if my only complaint is that I want more, that's a good-ass sign.

    This game is also, just, so stylish. The songs, of which there are many, are bangers, the UI and visual style just oozes the glitzy glamorous excess of showbiz, the character and costume designs are very cool (I really like the redesigned Fire Emblem characters), it's just all stylish in a way Atlus has now thoroughly become known for.

    This game slaps! Go buy it so Atlus and Nintendo make another one with the characters from Fates and Three Houses!

  • Disco Elysium is, without a moment of hesitation, the best game I've ever played.

    An absolute triumph of exemplary writing, not just in games, but in, just, writing, Disco Elysium paints an incredible story about complicated, fascinating, sympathetic, broken people. What seems at the start to be relatively clear-cut in nature opens up like a flower, revealing intertwining layers of personal trauma, the tragedy of a paradise that was never a paradise which was crushed under the heel of capital, of ideology that withers and dies when exposed to harsh reality, and of dreams you still hold on to despite every voice in your head telling you they're impossible. And one very large stick insect.

    It's flawless. It's a game I will be thinking of for months, if not years, if not simply forever. An absolute triumph of the form.

  • Huh! Even knowing this was a Twisty Game TM, I didn't quite see that was where we were going, but it was cool to ride to the end of this thing!

    Minimal spoilers, but I enjoyed Inscryption quite a bit! Has a satisfying plot that manages to stay enthralling through a lot of twists and turns, some wonderfully clever game mechanics, and ultimately a really fun card-battling game at its core that is delightful to strategize over and break. Enjoyed this one through and through.

  • I've had this sitting on my shelf unplayed forever, I think out of genuine fear. Not for the edgelord horror that comes with The Darkness property, but fear that this sequel to The Darkness, a game I played as an adolescent and enjoyed quite a bit, is probably past its moment, and represents an era of first-person shooter design, as well as just aesthetic sensibilities, that has long passed.

    I was right. The Darkness II represents the later era of a general doldrum of first person shooters in the late 360/PS3 era. Super linear level design lacks much in the way of exciting locales or even setpieces, the plot is, frankly, hideous, laden with excruciating genre tropes, and the whole thing is just paced like shit. "Is it all a dream" and "ghost girlfriend" are both tropes which when deployed this poorly should be 5 years' jailtime on their own, and in conjunction, with glacial pacing for story scenes, an absolutely nothing cast of characters, and a frankly insufferable protagonist (shut up about your fucking girlfriend Jackie) all come together to make this thing pretty rough in 2022.

    The shooting's cool, at least? It's cool to rip people apart with cool demon tentacles. Unfortunately, the encounter design sucks, with the light, natural enemy to the Darkness, being deployed liberally, which makes the screen almost entirely pitch white with a 2000s era flashbang ringing noise that makes finding and extinguishing the light nigh impossible. Encounters are frustrating, repetitive, and not terribly inspired, especially when the game has the incredible (read: bad) idea to nullify your Darkness powers, be it through story conceit, bright lights, enemies immune to Darkness powers, which turns the game into Just A Kinda Shit Shooter.

    Damn.

  • Holy shit I'm playing a lot of good games this year.

    Elden Ring is, honestly, perfect. If at the end of the game they'd revealed one more zone the size of Limgrave or Liurnia's worth of content I would have grinned ear to ear. Every moment of this game was so much fun, the new mechanics (jumping, stealth, the horse) are all surprisingly versatile and fun to add to the arsenal, the boss design is an absolute all-timer (although I do wish there were a few more bespoke bosses that weren't repeated, but oh well, what can you do with a game of this size), and the whole thing is fucking gorgeous.

    The gameplay is the best the Fromsoft formula has ever been, with incredibly satisfying weapons and the fantastic Ashes of War available that really let you trick out your already large array of moves. Combine this with relatively early access to a relatively cheap respec and you can absolutely explore a nice, wide variety of builds and playstyles and weapons and everything. There are very, very few moments in 125 hours of play that I ever truly felt stuck.

    This game is my Breath of the Wild, in that this was a complete breath of fresh air for the open world genre, its greatness spurred on by a genuine, profound sense of discovery that permeates every hour of the game, a real sense like you will never know what's behind every corner. That mystery is what makes Elden Ring one of my favorite games of all time.

  • Damn, when I started this game I really didn't think I would be as hopelessly addicted to it as I was Elden Ring, and early on I really had some friction with the combat system, but once it all clicked, holy shit this is an incredible video game.

    Much has been said about Sekiro's combat, and I am going to say more: it's really good. When you're feeling it and really engaged in the combat as the head-on duel it's meant to be rather than the comparatively timid combat of most Souls games, the satisfaction of parrying away all of an enemy's attacks, sneaking in your couple of cheeky slashes, watching that Posture meter slowly rise, until the gory finale where all your hard work pays off, it's all so incredibly rewarding. The fact that there are so many enemies in this game you can stealth deathblow too, cutting a boss fight in half if you are clever and attentive, is really cool.

    My only, few gripes with the game are mainly to do with some of the movement mechanics. Some of the wall-grabbing and climbing feels fiddly, and the grappling hook can be unpredictable as to where it's gonna wanna target, which is sometimes an issue in areas like Ashina Castle with a lot of grapple points, some far from the guys that want to kill you, and some _pretty close_ to the guys that want to kill you. Dealing with that is a smidge annoying. Not that annoying though!

    Great game, I wish it was like four times the length because all of it is just wonderful.

  • Breaking the combo of Fromsoft games by playing a Japan-only adventure game for the original Game Boy! Played with the community translation patch, for which I am grateful.

    What an extremely neat little game! With a relatively small palette of verbs and mechanics, this game is really clever in the way it uses those mechanics as a way to bolster the minimal script and tell a pretty fun little story. On top of that, the puzzles and actual adventurin' are all pretty good! Altogether, this is a real treasure of an adventure game, especially on the platform.

  • One of my goals this year is to finally play through the entire mainline Metal Gear Solid series (that is, no MG1 or 2, no Acids, definitely no Survive lol), which means starting with a replay of Metal Gear Solid 1! Played on ePSXe on PC after taking a crack at the PS3 port and getting mad every time I died and had to rewatch a 10 minute cutscene.

    I think the original Metal Gear Solid still holds up pretty well! The thing I appreciate most in all of Kojima's games is just the degree of clever and unique design in them, and MGS1 is no different. The boss battles mostly feel surprisingly open-ended and memorable, there's a lot of pretty clever stuff that's not even particularly explained (cigarettes detecting lasers, and box-based fast travel, for example), and Shadow Moses is generally a fun space to explore, with just the right amount of backtracking.

    It's not perfect, though. The controls, even mapped to a Series X controller as I was doing, are pretty finicky, with the first-person controls (specifically sniping) being both necessary at points and pretty awful. Snake proves to be a little bit shoogly to control, which can lead to some irritating situations where one step goes a bit wonky, setting off alarms and potentially requiring a reload (much more tolerable with save states, to be fair).

    And, oh god, 24 years later, I don't know if this is controversial to say, but this writing is pretty rough. I think a lot of Kojima's later works, up to and including Death Stranding, present some interesting philosophical ideas and unique characters, despite still being pretty overbearing in the script, but wow everything MGS1 is trying to do just really doesn't work. The themes here are a mess (war is bad, I guess is the most consistent point here, which, good for you?), the character work deserves props for beating the dead horse of "now that I'm dying, here's why I'm not actually the bad guy" almost a decade before Assassin's Creed, and basically anything involving Otacon is just absolutely embarassing. The final speech Snake gives before the end credits borders on parody, but honestly its timing is so bizarre that I think it doesn't work no matter if it was intended to be funny or not.

    Still, though! Good game! Probably my least favorite MGS, but that's like being my least favorite steak or least favorite $20 I Found In Some Jeans I Washed: still really good!

  • Really pretty good, although I think it peters out a little bit near the end.

    The system involving picking up manual pages is absolutely genius, culminating in a puzzle near the end that I think is one of the most satisfying video game puzzles I have solved in a long, long time.

    My problem is that right around that time, the game sort of runs out of puzzle ideas, and relies on a single kind of puzzle (the "Holy Cross" puzzles, for those in the know), which it repeats over and over and over again, much to my general irritation. Most of these puzzles are optional, to be fair, but it's sort of a bummer to watch the game run out of steam like this at the end, for what are supposed to the be the endgame puzzles, hypothetically the cream of the crop.

    Still, though, really enjoyed this!

  • This thing whips.

    Extremely tight controls, an art style I really enjoy, an absolutely bangin' soundtrack from Machine Girl I've had on repeat ever since beating the game, an absolutely addictive loop of perfecting runs again and again looking for the best time or trying to get that Platinum medal, I honestly really enjoyed my time with this tip to tail. Might actually be my favorite game of 2022 this year, if only because it manages to keep its foot on the gas w.r.t quality from beginning to end, unlike some of the other games I've enjoyed this year which did sorta slump a bit near their ends.

    I feel like the thing everyone has had beef with has been the writing, and I'll say: it's Fine! I wouldn't quite say that it's Extremely Online, as much as it is the sort of sense of humor that is definitely extremely In Vogue Online right now. It feels like all of the characters in Neon White would do really well on Twitter, but they're not written like they are just quoting popular tweets, if that makes sense.

    Also, seriously, cannot say enough, this soundtrack fucking rules. The pumping bass and the perfect vocal drops ("GODSPEED, BABY") just keep this whole thing moving at a million miles an hour and I love it.