Well we’re a little over halfway through the year, and I thought it might be fun to reflect. I rather enjoyed doing a midyear recap of my favourite games last year, so I figured I’d make it a “thing” this year. It should go without saying, but something something subjective, and this is based on the titles I’ve played within the past 6 months. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to many 2022 titles yet. I picked up Teardown, Neon White, Citizen Sleeper, and God of War – all 2022 releases if we go by their Steam dates – and I’m working through Elden Ring at the time of writing. Consider that a forewarning as almost nothing I’m about to mention was released this year. That said, are we good? Good. Let’s get into it.
5. Hitman 3
After heaping a mountain of praise onto its predecessor last year, I’m sure it will come as little surprise that I enjoyed Hitman 3. Having said that, I feel like 2 was stronger overall. IO Interactive decided to take 3 in a slightly different direction compared to the previous entries, by having more cinematic and scripted moments throughout the game. This helped to bring Hitman 3 inline with its contemporaries from a spectacle perspective, but ultimately hurt the fun of the title – at least for me it did. However, I found a similar sense of joy replaying each of the game’s 5 levels (we don’t talk about Romania) as I felt during my deep dive into Hitman 2.
There’s only one level in Hitman 3 that hits a lot of the same notes as Hitman 2, and that would be the level in Berlin. Coincidentally, I think this is Hitman 3’s best level, and highlights a lot of what makes this trilogy work. Agent 47 is dropped into a bustling club with 10 targets, 5 of which he needs to take out to finish the level. The trick here is that all of your targets are also hunting you, which dramatically changes how you need to approach taking them out. The placement of the targets, and the various tools located throughout the level also help to create a huge variety of different routes that players can take through the level giving Berlin a lot of replay value. It really puts all of the skills you’ve accumulated across the trilogy to the test, and stands as one of the single best levels I’ve played through this year.
4. Lumines Remastered
A few years back I’d heard about Lumines from a best of Dunkey video. I then saw it on the list of available games through Gamepass. I decided to download it because I had another week or two on my monthly sub, and worst case I could swiftly move on after trying it. I’m glad I gave it that shot though because it turned out to be one of the most fun games I’ve played all year.
Lumines is like a hybrid rhythm-puzzle game. You place square coloured blocks down Tetris-style, and once you match 4 squares of a given colour they’ll be marked for removal. The trick is that the board is cleared by a bar that moves across the screen in-time with the music track that is playing. In some cases, this will mean that blocks are cleared quickly, while at other times they’ll be cleared slowly. Despite this, the longer you last, the faster the blocks will fall. The result is a game where I’d frequently enter flow state, while starring unblinking at the screen. Lumines is addictive, simple, and incredibly fun.
Where Lumines is a game that engages through speed, Dorfromantik is equally addictive, while being far more relaxing. It’s a strategy game, but also a bit of a city builder, where you place hexagonal tiles to create your world. The trick is that you’ll want to match the biomes on adjacent tiles to earn more tiles, and increase your score. It’s an incredibly simple concept, not unlike board games of a similar style, that is easy to pick-up, but difficult to master.
I’m keeping this a little lighter because I just wrote a full review for the game. It’s genuinely one of the best games of 2022, and I highly recommend you read my review to find out why. Fingers crossed after the team irons out controller support that this one will find its way to Switch, or the other platforms.
2. Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye
Yes – there IS a DLC on here. It’s my list though, and Echoes of the Eyes is legitimately one of the best things I’ve played all year.
Echoes of the Eye is an expansion to one of the best games from 2019, Outer Wilds. The expansion sees you discovering the ruins of another alien species, who, like the Nomai, were searching for the eye of the universe. As you explore the ruins of this mysterious species, you’ll uncover their journey, and secrets. Plus Echoes of the Eye plugs the few holes that existed in Outer Wilds’ story.
The one aspect of Echoes of the Eye that resonated so strongly with me was how the story is communicated. Everything is handled without words, which is a stark contrast from the mountains of text in the base game. Instead of reading logs through a translator, players have to piece everything together from context clues littered throughout the environment. This will most assuredly not be to everyone’s tastes, but I reveled in it. The fantasy of being a space archeologist was sold far more convincingly while I was sifting through the art, belongings, and tools of this lost society trying to uncover their stories and culture. As such, I found Echoes of the Eye far more immersive than many of the other games that I’ve played.
If you enjoyed Outer Wilds, you absolutely need to play Echoes of the Eye. I can’t believe the team managed to capture the exact same experience I had while playing Outer Wilds again, but they did and it’s fantastic. Do yourself a solid and pick this up.
1. Dark Souls Remastered
To me, the funniest thing about Dark Souls is that I was convinced I wouldn’t actually enjoy it. Jason, and Miranda both thought I wouldn’t enjoy the title. I value both of their opinions, quite highly, so I had a lot of skepticism going into Dark Souls. Fortunately, I defied all expectations, and actually enjoyed my time with the game. Imagine that.
I don’t even know what to say about Dark Souls that I didn’t already cover in my giant retrospective earlier this year. It’s a fantastic game, and, having now played it, I can see why and where it inspired so many of the games I’ve loved over the past decade. The way the world is designed is probably my single favourite aspect of the whole thing. Interconnected, labyrinthian worlds are my favourite kind of places to explore in video games. Slowly piecing together a space, and coming to understand it on an intimate level is a feeling I relish. I have spent almost a hundred hours combing through Lordran across 3 different playthroughs, yet I still feel like there is more secrets to discover. Few games truly pull at my imagination in the same way that Dark Souls has.
Honourable Mention: Guilty Gear Strive
GUILTY GEAR STRIVE, BABY!
You knew I couldn’t have a top games list without mentioning my most played game of the year. Normally I omit repeats, but Strive feels like a different game following the season 2 balance update. Plus, I’ve put another 200 hours into it between playing more May, and occasionally dicking around with Baiken and Testament. Strive is the rare sort of game that continues to engage me well beyond the point when I’d have gotten bored with other games. Here’s to another 200 hours of bullshit blazing!
If you made it this far – thank you. That’s my top 5, kind of 6, for 2022 midyear checkpoint rolled. Was nice to look back on the thirty-something titles I’ve played this year, and identify which stood out the most to me. It might also be interesting to cross reference this when I eventually do my yearly wrap-up in January of next year. I wonder how many of the games featured here will still make the final cut? There’s certainly a lot of upcoming competition as I’ll be delving into a multitude of 2022 titles during the back half of the year.
As always, thanks for reading, and stay safe out there.