New Game Releases: 2022 Buyer’s Guide – Part 1

With 2022 coming to a close, and Christmas just around the corner, most game companies have taken the next few weeks off.

OH MY GOD?! IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!!! What do I do? My kid/wife/husband/secret santa wanted some game about…I don’t know, an old man’s ring, or Splatterhouse 3, or Thor’s hammer, or maybe something that had all three. Do those exist? If they don’t exist what can I get?? HELP ME!

Okay, okay, stop fretting, I got you covered. I will be giving you a buyer’s guide for each month with my top picks in BOLD. What were the best games to come out; which ones sucked, and which ones flew under the radar and deserve your attention? Get ready to find out!

Since this guide tends to be on the long side, and in the interest of keeping your attention, I will be splitting it into two parts; January to June and July to December. Get your pencils ready folks, the games are coming and you better be taking notes.

 

January:

  • Best – Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2, Please, Touch The Artwork, Pokémon Legends Arceus, Rainbow Six: Extraction, Windjammers 2
  • Avoid – Nobody Saves the World
  • Hidden Gem – Pupperazzi

Believe it or not, we had TWO brand new Pokémon games in 2022, and three in the span of one year if you count November’s Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl. While the most recent entry, Scarlet/Violet has bombed with critics (still a massive commercial success), January’s Pokémon Legends Arceus was very highly regarded by both critics and players. The big change here was the move to an open world format where Pokémon roam freely in the wild. While all of the entries in this franchise have been on connected maps, they were still tied down to a linear structure that forced you to move along certain paths. With Arceus, players are able to go anywhere in whatever order they like. This holiday, while you may be tempted to pick up Scarlet/Violet, the real winner here is Arceus.

rainbow six extraction

As is typical, January was a pretty slow month in terms of new releases. The next biggest game after Arceus was Ubisoft’s co-op shooter Rainbow Six: Extraction. While I personally haven’t played this game in months, it filled a gaping hole in the early part of the year for me, taking up A LOT of my late evening gaming sessions. The game still has a fairly active community so it shouldn’t be too hard to find matches. After that it’s mostly just indie titles, with a new side scroller from Inti Creates, Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2, the “long awaited” sequel Windjammers 2, and the runner up for hidden gem (only because I didn’t play it), the delightful puzzle game Please, Touch The Artwork.

pupperazi

I take no pleasure in dissing a smaller/indie title, but my god, Nobody Saves The World sucks. What starts out as a fun little hack and slash eventually turns into an endless grinding session where you must replay the same areas over and over and over and over and over and over, making this one of the most tedious and boring video games I’ve ever played. I’m likely in the minority because the game continues to receive DLC and updates, so people must have connected with it. Me? Well, I have better things to do with my life. Instead, check out the little indie game Pupperazzi, a photography game where you are tasked with taking photos of cute dogs on a little island that they all call home. The controls are a bit janky, but the puppies more than make up for it. This won’t be a game you play for weeks and weeks, but a fun afternoon with it will calm your nerves and make you want to get up, go outside, and meet some real dogs.

 

February:

  • Best – Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream, Dying Light 2: Stay Human, Elden Ring, Horizon: Forbidden West, King of Fighters XV, MONARK, OlliOlli World, River City Girls Zero, Sifu, Steam Deck, Total War: Warhammer III, Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden
  • Avoid – Kingdom Hearts HD on Switch
  • Hidden Gem – Gibbon: Beyond the Trees

Do I really need to say anything about Elden Ring? Arguably the biggest game of the year and the front runner for all major awards and end of year lists, Elden Ring is an absolute masterpiece from the team at From Software. Taking the brutally difficult gameplay from Dark Souls and marrying it to an open world concept was genius, and helped make it one of the most accessible From games ever made (at least in this modern era). A vast landscape to explore with an insane amount of secrets to uncover, Elden Ring will overtake your life, supplanting every other title in your own personal library. Once you get sucked into From Software’s latest world, you will find it hard to ever leave.

horizons forbidden west

February was a very solid month for new releases sadly, though, pretty much all of them were overshadowed by Elden Ring. Guerrilla Games Horizon: Forbidden West probably felt the biggest sting, as it caters to the same kind of crowd. This echoed the release of the first game in the franchise when it released around the same time as Breath of the Wild. The other two major releases in February were Dying Light 2: Stay Human and King of Fighters XV, both in the kind of mid-tier range, catering to a broad, but certainly more niche, audience. Over in the RPG realm, we had the tactical game Total War: Warhammer III on PC, a fantastic title that didn’t seem to hold onto its early release buzz. There was also the next entry in the Atelier series with Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream (who is also thicc), as well as MONARK , a new RPG from former Atlus developers, and the first of many, MANY, Square Enix games to come out in 2022 debuted in February, the unique card based RPG Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden. Dear lord, there’s more? On the indie side of things we had OlliOlli World, River City Girls Zero, and Sifu, the last of which garnered a bit of controversy at The Game Awards for being nominated in the fighting game category, despite it being a brawler.

gibbon

This month’s title to avoid is just the first of a pattern that seemed to plague games in 2022, poor performance at launch. This isn’t a new problem, game’s have been coming out undercooked for a long time, but for some reason, in 2022, we seemed to get A LOT. Now the Switch version of all the Kingdom Hearts HD games are a lot more stable now than they were in February, I still can’t justify spending money on a cloud based game. Especially since there are digital downloads and physical copies easily available to you, often much cheaper. Okay, I know, some people like cloud gaming for its versatility and ability to play high end games on any device, but what happens when those servers go dark (and they will). Just keep that mind. Instead of fiddling around with bad internet connections and input lag, check out the gorgeous indie title Gibbon: Beyond The Trees. Set in a tropical rain forest, Gibbon has players run, jump, and swing through trees, enjoying the natural beauty and experiencing how freeing it is to just, you know, live. However, as players progress farther into the game they start to see their habitat being destroyed due to deforestation. Gibbon isn’t a very long game, but it’s effect on you should hopefully last a lot longer.

 

March:

  • Best – Chocobo GP, The Cruel King and the Great Hero, GhostWire: Tokyo, Gran Turismo 7, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Norco, Mario Kart 8: Booster Course Pass, Rune factory 5, Shadow Warrior 3, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Triangle Strategy, Tunic, Weird West
  • Avoid – Babylon’s Fall
  • Hidden Gem – WWE 2K22

Maybe it’s because my seven year old daughter played this game for months on end and I have such a soft spot for things that make her happy, but not only is Kirby and the Forgotten Land the best game to come out in March, it’s one of my absolute favorites of the entire year. While Kirby had dabbled in the 3d realm in the past, notably with Kirby 64, it hadn’t fully embraced that style, until Forgotten Land. Set in a far off universe, Kirby and his pal Elfilin must make their way through a plethora of 3d platforming stages, searching for captured waddle dee’s. While the game is cute, charming, and easy, that doesn’t detract at all from the fun and, if you’re a long time Kirby player, you know that the end of the game is brutally difficult. I think I watched my daughter fight the end boss about 20 times before she was able to beat it and the scream she let out was exactly the same one I did when I beat Margit in Elden Ring. Seeing how much joy this game brought to my daughter reminded me of my own childhood and helped me to remember just what it is I love about playing video games.

triangle strategy

The rest of March’s games weren’t slouches either, with a number of heavy hitters coming out before the end of the fiscal year. In the same week as Kirby we also got Shinji Mikami’s Ghostwire: Tokyo as well as Gearbox’s Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Both of these games just kind of came and went, you can likely find them in the bargain bin, so pick them up! On the mid tier side we had the latest entry in the Shadow Warrior series with part 3, because the people demanded it (I guess), as well as Weird West, an isometric RPG from the co-creators of Prey and Dishonored. Racing fans were in for a treat as Sony put out Gran Turismo 7 that, surprise, had several issues at launch (though not bad enough to tell you to avoid it). On the indie side we got the Zelda inspired game Tunic and the critically acclaimed point & click adventure Norco. A couple of JRPGs also came stateside, the NIS title The Cruel King and the Great Hero, a sad tale about an angry father and his precocious daughter (totally not relatable to MY life) and the long awaited Rune Factory 5, which I own and have never played. On the DLC front, Nintendo surprised everyone when it announced that they’d be releasing 32 new tracks for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, with wave 1 releasing in March. Finally, we saw the release of THREE new Square Enix games this month with the racing game Chocobo GP (watch out Gran Turismo), the action RPG Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, a Dark Souls-esque title that is good but not great, and, lastly, Triangle Strategy, a tactical RPG from the makers of Bravely Default and Octopath Traveller. That game is FANTASTIC, I highly recommend it (just be prepared for a lot of dialogue…).

wwe 2k22

Hey, remember in the previous section when I talked about servers shutting down, causing you to lose access to your game; say hello to Babylon’s Fall. This online only, co-op hack & slash came from a solid developer, Platinum Games, and was one of the 2.8 billion games that Square Enix put out in 2022, but for one reason or another it just didn’t click with players. Well, the consensus was that the game was pretty bad, so that could be a reason no one was playing it. With no players that meant Babylon’s Fall was basically worthless, so Square Enix pulled the plug on the game, telling players that the servers would be shut down in February of 2023, less than a year after it released. Can you imagine if you spent $70 on this? Yikes. I’ll tell you what’s worth $70 bucks, WWE 2K22. Typically this space is reserved for some indie darling that flew under the radar and, clearly, WWE is far from indie. Still, I would wager that, unless you’re a big pro wrestling fan, you probably didn’t give two shits about WWE 2K22. Not only is it a “sports” title, a genre that “real gamer’s” ignore, but it’s pro wrestling, which is for nerds! Plus, its previous entry, WWE 2K20, is notorious for being, quite possibly, the worst wrestling game ever made. Okay, so why is WWE 2K22 here? Well, besides my own personal love of professional wrestling (or sports entertainment, if you will), this game is just really, really fun. Hiding under all that pro wrestling dressing is a fairly deep, highly entertaining fighting game. With multiple modes to play, endless match types to partake in, and a brilliant character creation tool, WWE 2K22 is an absolute must-buy for any serious gamer. I’m shooting straight with you here, I know you folks are no marks.

 

April:

  • Best – Dune Spice Wars, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, MLB The Show 22, MotoGP 22, Nintendo Switch Sports, Rogue Legacy 2, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt, Vampire: The Masquerade – Heartless Lullaby
  • Avoid – The House of the Dead: Remake
  • Hidden Gem – Ravenous Devils

After releasing their first LEGO game in 2005, Traveler’s Tales have made a name for themselves for creating high quality games that are fun to play and easy to pick up. For their 29th release, TT went back to the Star Wars well to make one of their biggest and most ambitions releases to date, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Telling the story of all nine mainline Star Wars films, The Skywalker Saga is a grand epic that isn’t just a celebration of the Star Wars films, but also TT’s history with the license. With 45 levels and 380 characters (not counting DLC), this game has something for every Star Wars fan. On the flip side, this is a TT LEGO game and it does start to get repetitive after a while, but sitting down on the couch and playing with a friend totally makes up for whatever shortcomings it has.

nintendo switch sports

April was pretty bare bones this year, with only a small handful of AAA titles and barely any indie games of note. The next biggest release was probably Nintendo Switch Sports, an updated version of Wii Sports that takes full advantage of the Joy Con controllers. Put on your wrist strap and faux bowl with your friends & family, just like it’s 2006 all over again! Arcade sports fans weren’t the only ones to get a new game in April, simulation sports fans were also treated with two big games in April. First is MLB The Show 22, a baseball game in case you have no idea what the MLB is, and MotoGP 22, a motorcycle racing game in case you have no idea what Moto and GP stand for; the 22 is both titles is the year 2022. Dune Spice Wars hit PC as an early access title, delighting fans of tactical games, and Rogue Legacy 2 also dropped into early access, delighting fans of rouge-like games. Finally, Vampire: The Masquerade put out two new games this month, Bloodhunt, a battle royale game, and Heartless Lullaby, an isometric RPG. Both games are free to play, so YMMV on them.

ravenous devils

Hey, I’ll be honest, this month’s game to avoid, House of the Dead Remake, isn’t that bad, so there’s not real need to avoid it. Why bring it up, then? Well, I gotta bring up something, and House of the Dead gets the short straw. Still, it’s not a very good game either, it’s very short, very repetitive, and just generally has no business existing. You don’t need to hate House of the Dead Remake, but you also don’t ever need to think about it; moving on. This month’s hidden gem is also fairly short but it packs a much better wallop than House of the Dead, the worker sim Ravenous Devils. In this game, players control a husband & wife duo who have just moved to London to open a tailor shop and pub. However, the couple have a dark secret, they like to kill people and serve them for dinner. Taking strong inspiration from Sweeny Todd, the tailor murders victims in his back room, dumps their bodies down a chute to the basement where the wife prepares their corpses for consumption and serves them to unwitting patrons. In the story mode, players are confronted by a wealthy psychopath who commands them to serve up his high society rivals on plate, lest he turn them into the police. It’s gory, it’s hectic and, surprisingly, it’s got some real emotional stuff. Check out Ravenous Devils, I think you’ll like it.

 

May:

  • Best – The Centennial Case : A Shijima Story, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, Evil Dead: The Game, Salt & Sacrifice, Sniper Elite 5, Touken Ranbu Warriors, Trek to Yomi, Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, Warhammer 40K: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters
  • Avoid – Roller Champions
  • Hidden Gem – Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers

Everything good about Sniper Elite 5 can be summed up in one brief statement; shooting Nazis in the nuts. Not only can you explode their nut sacks, you can blow their brains out, tear open their hearts, shred their livers, and pierce their lungs. Oh yeah, and there’s a really, really fantastic stealth game mixed in there as well. Each level is its own little open world, with multiple pathways to infiltrate the enemy base from. Stay hidden and silently murder your foes, or go in guns blazing and turn their bunkers into bloodbaths; there’s no wrong way to kill a Nazi. Now, if you’re squeamish, I get it, this game is ultra violent and gory. Dammit, though, if it doesn’t feel satisfying to see a bullet go right through the eye of a Nazi scumbag, fuck these pricks.

Evil Dead

May was also relatively quiet and boring and is probably when I should have been playing stuff like Tiny Tina and Stranger of Paradise, but instead I was knee deep in the viscera of Nazis as well as deadites with the very fun, very gory Evil Dead: The Game. This is an asymmetrical, third person action game in which four players take on a single opponent who can control an army of undead creatures. Each survivor character has their own unique jobs and abilities, such as healer, DPS, and tank, while each undead boss has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. I’m not playing Evil Dead very much anymore, but for a couple of weeks it was absolutely glorious. Aside from that, most of the rest is fairly forgettable. Trek To Yomi looked promising but then dropped off the face of the Earth, Square Enix put out The Centennial Case and delighted 15 people, Salt & Sacrifice is the sequel to Salt & Sanctuary, two games that have never been in my kitchen, Touken Ranbu Warriors was one of this year’s musou games, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising existed, we had ANOTHER Vampire: The Masquerade game, Swansong and, finally, there was a new Warhammer 40k game called Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters.

arcade spirits new challengers

May was so boring that even the game to avoid and the hidden gem aren’t all that interesting. I guess avoid Roller Champions because it’s a free to play, online only game, instead check out Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers, a dating sim that takes place in a mall arcade. In this sequel to the original Arcade Spirits, players once again try to find love and friendship among a diverse cast of characters. You are free to romance anyone you like, regardless of your gender or pronouns, which is sure to piss off Tucker Carlson. More choices, more features, and the ability to import save data from the first game, Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers definitely needs to be on your radar.

 

June:

  • Best – AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative, Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course, Fire Emblem Heroes: Three Hopes, Mario Strikers: Battle League, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, Neon White, The Quarry, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
  • Avoid – Diablo Immortal
  • Hidden Gem – Card Shark

Game developer Ben Esposito made his name known with the 2018 indie game Donut County. The quirky game was a critical darling and sold relatively well. For his follow-up game, Esposito went in a different direction, leaving behind quirky and intimate puzzle solving for fast-paced running & gunning in Neon White. That’s a bit inaccurate because Neon White is, at it’s core, a quirky puzzle game, just with guns. Built with speedrunners in mind, Neon White tasks players with reaching a goal in the fastest time possible. To do this, players discover cards that allow them to pull off various types of moves that can shave off precious seconds to try and achieve the highest score. There was a bit of flak given to the game for its dialogue, which was seen as juvenile and distasteful, but if you can look past that minor annoyance, Neon White delivers one of the best gaming experiences of the year.

shredders revenge

June was a bit better for new releases, with a bunch of AAA titles to check out. Nintendo had two major exclusives come to the Switch, the first is the latest entry in the Fire Emblem Heroes series, called Three Hopes (it’s also the second musou game of the year), and we also had Mario Strikers: Battle League, a soccer (or football) game starring Mario and his friends. While I don’t think it’s had the lasting power of the latest Mario golf and tennis games, Battle League is still just as fun, though I think it starts to lose its luster a lot faster. Horror fans got a nice treat with The Quarry, an interactive drama in which players must try and keep nine camp counselors alive through the night. The Quarry was developed by Supermassive Games who are well known for these types of games, having released Until Dawn as well as all of the Dark Pictures Anthology games. Continuing with the interactive narratives, Spike Chunsoft put out AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative in June, thrusting players into a murder mystery where EVERYONE is a suspect (dun, dun dun). One of my fvorite games of the year also came out in June, the throwback brawler Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, picking up the mantle from the Turtles classic arcade games. Finally, June saw two high profile DLC releases, the first is Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course, the final installment for 2017’s Cuphead features a bunch of new bosses to fight as well as a brand new character to play, Miss Chalice. The second big DLC was Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, a huge update that adds a new story, new areas to explore, new monsters to hunt, new weapons to collect, and a slew of new characters to meet and go on tedious missions for.

card shark

This month’s game to avoid is probably the one you should stay away from the most, Diablo Immortal. While it’s easy to shit on the free to play mobile game, Diablo Immortal feels so much more evil and predatory than your average app. While there is a solid, free game to be played, the microtransactions in Diablo Immortal feel overtly predatory, to the point that Activision Blizzard almost blatantly point out that free to play users are inferior to those who pay to play. It’s manipulation to the highest degree, with the game flaunting what you don’t get, constantly dangling carrots in front of you, feeding addictive behaviors. While this week’s hidden gem is also addictive, it’s the good kind, you know, when you can’t put a game down because it’s so much fun, telling yourself “just one more turn before bed” and the next thing you know it’s 2 am and you need to wake up at 7 am. What game am I talking about? Why it’s the absolutely spectacular Card Shark. Not only is it the best hidden gem from June, but it might be the best hidden gem of the entire year. Card Shark is a point & click adventure with timed puzzle elements. Players take on the role of a mute young man who works as a server in a tavern. One day, the young man meets an older, distinguished gentleman who just so happens to be a con artist and cheat. Sensing promise in the young mute (and likely an easy mark), the gentleman asks the mute to help him cheat a wealthy man out of his money. The mute is able to help the gentleman but is quickly accused buy the wealthy (and very drunk) man of cheating. The wealthy man pulls out a gun and, in his drunken stupor, accidentally kills the young mute’s boss at the tavern. Shocked and afraid, the young mute runs off with the gentleman who introduces him to his gang of cheats and scoundrels, learning new tricks and cons from each of them, eventually using those to gain the upper hand in various cards games across France in the late 18th century.

 

Hey, look at that, six months down and six more to go! I hope I was able to steer you towards a few games that you might have missed out on or given you some good ideas on something to get for that gamer in your life this holiday season. I’ll be back tomorrow morning with a look at the titles released from July to December. Take care out there folks, play some good games and avoid the bad ones, you don’t want to lose control and destroy our solar system whole.


Andy Tuttle
Andy Tuttle

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