Something went wrong. Try again later


Where the air smells like root beer.

9849 3772 283 280
Forum Posts Wiki Points Following Followers

Sparky B's Best of 2022

Good golly, Miss Molly, I wonder what this list could be about? As always, I don't care about when a game actually came out. This is the stuff I liked most this year.

Yo, VIP. Let's hit it.

List items

  • Health is a great thing to have in 2022! My brother got really sick, and now he's not, thanks to hospitals, smart people like "dcctors" and "nurses" and "physical theapists," and his kick-assedness. So congrats to you, Health, the winner of the best thing about 2022.

  • I am fat. I love ravioli.

  • I played three games this year that could have easily taken my number one spot (for games, anyways), but I think Rune Factory 4 slightly ekes out the other two by din of simply being charming as hell. For starters, the game looks gorgeous. The gameplay is surprisingly robust, with lots of upgradeables, great combat, and a jaw-dropping number of skills to increase through simple usage. You gain levels in health for taking baths and sleeping!

    Its weakest point is its disjointed story, which feels a bit like it was written by an overeager teenager, but there again, that's sort of charming in its own way. It's a game I played the hell out of for about 100 hours, and there's still tons more I never actually saw. Love, love, love this game.

  • Rogue Legacy 2 continues the first game's, uh, legacy in making me, a dumb fat-fingered player with the reflexes of a narcoleptic sloth, feel like an invincible man-warrior (after eighteen thousand runs). I'm always improving, which is great. I love a game that rewards grind as much as it does actual skill.

    There's also a ton more of everything here. More classes, more weapons, more skill trees. The devs did what's smart here and shored up their strengths rather than try to transform the game into something it isn't. Marvelous game.

  • Lacrimosa of Dana is a sprawl of a RPG that smartly knows when to add in new gameplay elements to pad out its length, then makes most of those elements optional and rewarding, a winner in my book. It also tells a surprisingly touching story, one I won't spoil here, but one that also left me disappointed. There's an opportunity here, a huge, glaring one, to create a genuinely touching, emotionally-wrought relationship, as the two leads almost accidentally play so well off each other. That, sadly, never comes to fruition, as God forbid we actually have JRPG characters in a relationship that's more than sighs and long looks. But what is here is genuinely affecting, and not just for that relationship but one of the main characters' relationships to the world around her.

    Oh, and it's a fun game to play, too.

  • (This is specifically regarding the DLC episode Lost Robots, a prequel to Bear with Me)

    Okay, bear with me (sigh), as a large part of why Lost Robots is so affecting is because of its link to the main game Bear with Me. The spoiler free version - if you like point and clickers, go play Bear with Me, then play Lost Robots. It's marketed as a prologue but you'll definitely want to play it after the main game. It's a nice hour-long adventure game, nailing the fundamentals without overstaying its welcome.

    Now, spoilers ahead:

    Part of what affected me most about the original Bear with Me episodes is the gut punch of an emotional ending. I expected the series to be about a girl's struggle with oncoming puberty (there's a theme of red, along with deaths I thought were meataphors for a childhood ending). But it's really about a girl's mental break after her brother dies in a fire when she's taken to a hospital for an easily avoidable accident - her brother Flint dares her to eat a cookie she knows she's allergic to. While the technical aspects of that finale left something to be desired - the whole episode felt truncated and was glitchy - it nailed the emotional impact and left me a huge fan of the game.

    Lost Robots is a fine continuation of Bear with Me. It tells Flint's story through an imaginary investigation with Ted E. Bear in the minutes leading up to his death. The investigation itself really doesn't matter and the game knows that. It's all about the connection between the bear and Flint, and focuses its efforts on their dialogue to the game's benefit. Hints of what's about to happen to Flint abound in small, disturbing ways - certain scenes are filled with smoke. There's a common motif of a cut cable running through the comic book-style interludes. And perhaps most saddening is the conclusion, which I won't spoil here, but which left me really remembering how much I loved the full game.

    Give Bear with Me a shot. Please. Gaming needs more narrative experiences like this.

  • My video game addiction of the last half of 2022. This also has the distinction of being the first deck builder I've fallen in love with since SolForge. It's a free game you don't actually need to buy anything for to really enjoy, as your starter deck cards are viable well into the upper echelons of the competitive gameplay, and it's rewarding as hell to pick up for fifteen minutes every day. Really neat game.

  • Tea - it's what's powering me through this list!

  • Hitman 3 occasionally dabbles with the genius of some of the previous games, but tries too hard to be something it's not, namely a narrative focused game with levels that don't often play to its strengths. There are exceptions - the much-talked-about murder mansion, for example - and by and large this is still a fun game. I'm curious what Io does from here with its James Bond game (is that still coming?) but someday I hope they return to this series with a backbone to the game that can be properly expanded on instead of bolting on parts like its current Frankenstein's monster.

  • The Steam launch was buggy as hell, leading to me leaving it a negative review, but things have turned around and it's now fun to click cookies till your cookie-clickin' fingers are sore. Proof that simplicity sometimes equates to fun.

  • I don't hate Tales from Arise. I really love a lot about it, mostly its gameplay, which is among the best in the series, and that's all I really need out of a Tales game. But there are a lot of caveats here, ones that leave me feeling pretty exhausted with it.

    Scope is a weird, difficult thing in RPGs. Sometimes you get games like Final Fantasy VII or Xenoblade Chronicles, where the world feels properly huge while still fun to explore. Sometimes you get games like Suikoden, where the maps aren't actually all that big but feel proportinately correct, using the limited assets to create a scope that fits within the game they've created.

    And then sometimes you get Tales of Arise.

    There's no sense of scope here. At one point, very early on in the game, the main character comments how bizarre it is that the encampment of reels he now belongs to is right next to the first big bad guy's castle. This is shrugged off with in-game commentary about how hiding in plain sight, but it's a glaring way of pointing out Tales of Arise's biggest problem. There is no sense of scope here, and no cohesiveness to its world. Every realm follows a simple formule - small exploration bit to get you acclimated to the new (or at least reskinned) mobs, a small town to resupply and give you the first taste of that region's plot arc, a larger zone to explore, and then a main town.

    None of this feels right in scope. Everything that happens is sandwiched so tightly together by its narrow environments it breaks the illusion and jarred me right out of any import the events might have otherwise had. I don't feel like I freed a country-sized population. I feel like I saved ten NPCs.

    But there's promise here for better things to come for the series. The animations are gorgeous. Some of the environments are pretty. A few of the special attacks have some real style to them, especially the team-ups. But then again, there are the usual eye-rolling Tales traits. The battle quotes are repeated a thousand fucking times, to the point where I started playing with the sound off. The side characters all feel cookie cutter, from the always-hungry female lead (seriously, that might be her only character trait other than she's literally thorny), the sorta-bratty sidekick guy, and the nerdy magician.

    But like I say, the core gameplay is excellent. The combat has rarely felt better in the series, and here, they've managed to find a balance with the crafting system, making it useful but not necessary. It's a good game, but it's a very problematic one.