Wow, it's been a long but somehow also fast year? Unfortunately, I didn't get to play nearly as many games as I would've liked this year but hopefully, 2023 is much smoother and I can rectify that.
As for my favorite games of this year, I'm gonna start with a few honorable mentions for games I haven't completed or put quite enough time into but still enjoyed a lot.
Stranger of Paradise
The only reason this game isn't in my top 5 is that I still haven't gotten my friends together to finish the last few chapters. This game is fantastic and is, honestly, the first non-FromSoft Soulslike that I actually enjoy! The gameplay whips, co-op is simple to do and incredibly fun, the soundtrack is great, and the story and characters are WAY better than most people think it is. I really need to get around to finishing this.
Being such a recent release and due to life just keeping me busy I haven't been able to put nearly as much time into this as I'd like but everything I've seen of it so far is so high quality and I had a lot of fun with what I've played so far. The pixel art is fantastic, the character and monster designs are great, and the gameplay is unique enough while still feeling reminiscent of classic JRPGs.
This one surprised me! I haven't enjoyed NFS or really any racing games in quite a long time but Unbound has been fun! It's got a fun style, a great soundtrack, and good, challenging, races. Performance is a little iffy on my laptop which is why I haven't played too much but once my desktop is set up I'd love to play more.
Hyper Demon is wild. It's a heavily speed-focused FPS with a unique art style and a surprising amount of depth. The goal is to take out waves of various enemies as quickly as possible. These enemies have different weak points and methods of being killed so there's some quick decision-making that needs to be done while fighting. It's very difficult to describe this game but it's very unique.
Soul Hackers 2
This was a very fun little JRPG! I haven't finished it yet just due to other releases happening but it was very fun and had a great little cast with awesome designs. This game got knocked by many people for its visuals but personally, I thought it looked great!
And because I'm indecisive my top 5 is split kinda odd. 5-3 are in no particular order and my top 2 are tied for my game of the year.
5. Modern Warfare 2
Just gonna get this one out of the way because I don't have much to say and I kinda hate that it's here. I used to be an absolute CoD fiend but the last one I played seriously was Black Ops 2.
MW2 is buggy as hell, basic functions struggle to work half the time, the UI is a complete mess, and the maps are terrible but it's just so much fun to play for some reason. Nostalgia maybe? I'm not entirely sure but, despite everything, it's been a blast with friends. I haven't had this much fun with a competitive FPS in a long time.
4. Force Reboot
Force Reboot is a very fun little game!
It's a Doom/Quake/Ultrakill-ish shooter with a bit of rogue-lite structure and elements. Your health is constantly ticking down which forces you to clear rooms as fast as possible and every few rooms you get to choose a new random buff but every buff comes with a random debuff as well. It's very fast-paced and although there aren't a ton of buffs and debuffs you can make some pretty fun builds if things line up for you well.
It's only $3 and there isn't tons of content but what's there is more than worth the asking price.
3. River City Girls 2
This game snuck on here right at the last minute! River City Girls was one of, if not, my favorite games of 2019 so I'm glad the sequel is here as well in 2022.
This game is more of the same as the first game. Some problems still remain such as the bosses breaking out of combos very quickly and having pretty frequent invulnerable phases. But other problems like death being extremely punishing and healing being very expensive were fixed. Provie is super cool and of course, Marian being playable this time is awesome. 100% completion was also much quicker and less tedious this time around, only taking me two playthroughs whereas the first game took me around 4 I believe. And it's still got very nice pixel art and a fun soundtrack!
Overall a better experience than the first in my opinion and that was already a pretty high bar.
2. Elden Ring
Of course, Elden Ring is here. This game is FromSoft at their absolute best.
Every new mechanic is a fantastic addition to the Souls formula and the build variety and replayability are probably the best it has ever been. Also one of the few open worlds I genuinely enjoyed traversing and exploring with so many things to do and find.
I don't have too much else to say other than Elden Ring finally felt like a true successor to Dark Souls 1.
1. Neon White
I initially thought this was another rogue-lite deck-builder but shooter flavored. This assumption persisted until launch day when I bought it, booted it, and quickly realized that wasn't even close to true. What I actually got was something infinitely better.
Neon White is a lightning fast, first person action platformer set beyond the pearly gates of Heaven, with music by Machine Girl. The platforming in this game is incredible. The game's general speed is set at a perfect point and every movement ability is unique and incredibly fun. The introduction of new movement abilities is also perfectly paced, they let you get comfortable with an ability before mixing in others and as soon you start to feel mastery over an ability a new one gets introduced.
The entire aesthetic of the game is fantastic as well. With a gorgeous y2k visual style, cool character designs, and one of the best video game soundtracks I've ever heard in my life.
I can't remember the last video game I had as much fun as I did racing against my own times and even other world record times in Neon White. Everything about this game (except the writing) felt so laser-focused on my tastes it was kind of incredible to me especially considering I had almost no knowledge of what the game was before I bought it. This really felt like a game I needed to play, particularly with how rough 2022 was at points, and it has become one of my all-time favorites for it.
And that's everything! Despite not getting to play too much this year I'm incredibly happy with what I did get to play and I'm hoping 2023 shapes up to be even better! If you want to tell me how much you love Neon White go follow me on Twitter or Cohost