It’s great to see things finally getting back to a sense of normalcy after 2 years of cancellations, delays and zoom calls. Once again, it’s time to look at some of the most interesting, creative and breakthrough games released this year and if you are speculating whether Elden Ring or Ragnarok makes it to number 1,….you must be new here, this is the Unboxed Top 10 Games of 2022.
I will be completely honest here and admit that I had zero confidence in this game from the moment I saw the first gameplay, and while it may have been low hanging fruit to call it that it really did look like Sega just took some Unreal environments and plopped Sonic elements into it. But after diving into the game I have to say I was generally surprised at what we have here. I need to stress this though, Sonic Frontiers is not an open world game, it’s just big so instead of copying Breath of the Wild he’s going for his old nemesis in Mario and trying to replicate Odyssey.
While it is surely fun being able to run around long distances, bouncing on numerous obstacles and these little challenges that open the map, things can start to feel quite samey after a while, they repeat a lot of the trials and while the new Cyloop is fun and can get you a bunch of rings very quickly, soon enough you unlock moves that break most of the strategy when it comes to combat. The camera also has a had time behaving itself, constantly taking control away from you. You spend most of the time collecting tokens and conversing with your friends so exploration isn’t exactly a priority with beacons constantly telling you that you need to talk with them.
The classic levels that help to unlock more of the world have a similar feel to previous games but the controls don’t feel as tight and Sonics boost even with the upgrades is pitiful in comparison to previous games like Generations. Sonic Frontier isn’t a bad game and in comparison to a lot of his previous work it is an absolute miracle the game runs properly at all, but at the very least, this is a concept that Sonic Team are willing to stick with for once
While it’s been almost a decade since Bayonetta’s last outing, the folks over at Platinum haven’t lost their ways with the latest installment. While Bayonetta plays really no different, they have decided to mix things up and added additional player characters with different styles and they honestly weigh the game down rather than lifting it up.
While the supposed controversy about the lead voice actresses ending up being as significant as a fart in the wind, there were some issues that really held this game back for me. The biggest new feature is commanding a wide number of beasts from hell that impede the combo rich combat that the series is known for rather than compliment it and instead relying on demon Godzilla stomping and clawing away at enemies.
While there isn’t anything wrong with the game, the entire title doesn’t feel as fleshed out compared to the first two, while the series is no stranger to time travel and paradoxes, the really tried pulling out all the stops by going full Infinity War and bring in an entire multiverse in the mix. Sadly the game gets bogged down with an underwhelming third act and ending, and while it’s been made clear by Kamiya that Bayonetta is far from ending, I’m left wondering where he can go from here and I’m not just saying that because I’d rather he finally make Okami 2
Cult of the Lamb
I have to admit I avoided this game for the longest time as it’s two genres I have never had much luck with, but as I remembered how much I loved Hades I decided to give this game a fair go and honestly I’m glad I did. Cult of the Lamb is part roguelike part management Sim, basically think Animal Crossing if Tom Nook got a god complex and formed a cult.
You play a legit sacrificial lamb, resurrected and slowly building a liege of followers consisting of adorable little animals who will follow your every whim as you help build your new settlement while keeping your followers fed, cleaned and of course, well indoctrinated. This also means going out and slaying all the non-believers in randomly generated levels to get more resources, while the difficulty isn’t anything like Hades there is this absolutely adorable charm about it all, even when committing a sacrifice or removing of a dead body, all I could think about was “awwww”
While other management games can be incredibly grueling of your time, constantly making sure all meters are fullfilled Cult of the Lamb isn’t as demanding of your attention and you are able to enjoy the rogue like section of the game without much stress, just keep Tom Nook in check though, we don’t need him getting ideas
Even after I was sold on the existence of Splatoon 3, it honestly feels like the game has done everything in its power to make me regret that, we straight up almost didn’t include it on our list this year due to us having to suspend its score on a count of the woeful connection issues. While Nintendo’s approach to online multiplayer was always seen as a laugh, after almost 20 years and 6 systems that are able to connect online and they still can’t get it right, it honestly isn’t funny anymore, we were always able to look past it because at the very least it was free but now that Nintendo is expecting us to pay, lag and matches dropping at this rate is not acceptable at all.
That being said, after 3 months on the market their are still issues but not at the same calibur so at the least we’ve been able to experience Salmon Run and Splatfests without too many hiccups, Splatoon 3 attempts to fix some of the issues that have plagued the series including the new three way splatfests which open up to more variety as well as the madness that is the tri-color battle, the PvE mode introduced in the previous game, Salmon Run, where you fight off numerous hordes of rabid salmon to harvest their eggs is now available 24/7 as well as Big Run special events where you play the mode on the main maps for even more unlocks and even the Ranked Mode adopting a new approach with the season model that everyone else is doing online.
It’s clear that I can have a serious love hate relationship with Splatoon but I can’t help but be won over with it’s appeal as there really is no other shooter like it on the planet, as far as Call of Duty is concerned, Microsoft, Sony, you can have it.
What looks like an adorable children’s book, Beacon Pines is anything but, what starts off as the story of two friends Luka and Rolo as they hangout in their sleepy little town turns into a major conspiracy involving experiments, ice and more twists and turns than I know what to do with. The most fascinating part is you are able to unlock responses when you get to a certain crossroad, sort of like those old choose your own adventure books from years ago, you will find yourself going back and attempting new pathways once you unlock different choices and find yourself on a completely different adventure.
The art style and design of all the characters was the real captivation of this game with everyone having that Rareware style wabbaling for the voice and while only a few hours long, it was still one of the more joyful and heartfelt titles I played this year, not to mention a narrator helping us along the way, of course no narrator can ever hold a candle too
Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
When it was announced that our very first Game of the Year winner was coming back with an updated version of the game we really had no idea what they could actually add? The Stanley Parable is one of only a few games that I’d truly regard as near perfect, the design, writing and of course the narration was like nothing we had experienced before, the level of meta even in the game’s demo was truly one of a kind. Actually going back and trying to continue it, trying to add more sounded like an extremely risky move because some games, some narratives really don’t need a sequel as there is the potential in diluting the franchise as a whole *Last of Us 2* cough cough.
With that in mind, and trying really hard to avoid spoilers what the Stanley Parable was able to achieve the second time around was almost as perfect as the first, after going through the original game you are able to delve into the new content which brings on a whole new layer that almost makes it feel like the original game all over again. So the question you must be asking, why isn’t it higher on the list, note that I’ve been saying “almost” and as great as Ultra Deluxe is, nothing will ever come close to your first and over the past decade we have seen a whole new slew of narratives that have raised the bar in so many ways
On the opposite side of the coin though, what Tunic lacks in narrative it truly makes up for in style, taking major inspiration from the Zelda franchise as well as Souls, you play an adorable little fox who has ended up on a mysterious island, you are not told much and you have to slowly uncover everything via the missing pages of the in-game instruction manual, while at first it comes off as a cute Zelda clone you slowly scratch away at the surface you uncover a secret world just begging to have nook and cranny exposed.
While no where near as big as its inspiration there are plenty of things to keep you busy, the game has almost a Myst level of exploration and don’t be surprised if you are pulling out the blank paper for note taking as you try and figure out some of the game’s more complex secrets, even if you are unable to uncover everything the games music and design are some of the most calming I’ve experienced lately, and it definitely helps after getting your butt whopped by a boss for the seventeeth time
Live A Live
While there is certainly a place for classic RPGs getting the full 3D remake treatment like with Final Fantasy 7 sometimes the game truly works better sticking to the style of the original, namely the more pixel art look of the Super Nintendo with the HD-2D engine introduced with Octopath Traveler being the perfect compromise. Square’s first attempt at this new remake approach has been the obscure Live A Live, an RPG released in 1994 only in Japan that would eventually earn it a cult following, while this certainly wouldn’t have been the first Squaresoft game I would have picked to get the treatment,I’m honestly glad they did.
While not the most in-depth RPG Square ever made, it probably still stands as the most interesting as it’s actually seven smaller stories in one with each set in a different time period from Prehistoric, to Feudal Japan and even the Distant Future and no two stories really play the same with the exception of the combat system which is laid out like a grid. The remake offers plenty of enhancements that were not possible in the original game that really help your playthrough.
We would really like to see what else the HD-2D engine can be used with, we are already getting a remake of Dragon Quest 3 and a sequel to Octopath, but what other underappreciated SquareEnix titles getting a remake, like Secret of Evermore or Illusion of Gaia. The biggest question though is, which path should Chrono take.
The Entropy Center
We have seen many people over the years try and recapture what Portal was able to give us back in 2007, the first person puzzle game with its dark humor and unique puzzles was a true lightning in a bottle moment and while we have seem some ambitious attempts over the years none have really been able to crack it until now.
The Entropy Center takes the concept of time travel and really makes it work with your brand new Entropy Gun that reverses the time of objects and being accompanied by its virtual assistant Astra, while you used to have to think with portals this time around you essentially have to think backwards when solving the many puzzles that fill the center. Much like Portal you also have to endure obstacles between these with your time reverse gun helping to fix the crumbling center.
Astra is not Glados, infact we find she is a lot more cheerful and supportive of you, giving you constant reassurances and compliments to keep going and the connection the protagonist Aria and her create over the several hours is truly heartfelt especially as you come to realize just how dire the situation is not just with yourself but the fate of the earth.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
I will admit I was kind of harsh during my initial review of Kirby and the Forgotten Land, when the first trailer hit I was honestly expecting Kirby to break off the shackles and evolve into a full open world 3D title, but in all honesty the game plays just like most other games in the series just on a 3D plane, I will admit that the new mouthful modes are interesting but it doesnt really ignore that Kirby has practically played the same for years now, which I will admit isn’t a bad thing and if people are looking for something else Kirby has been very busy lately, alongside this we are getting a remake of the Wii game that isn’t Kirby’s Epic Yarn and including the spinoffs like Fighters and Clash we’ve come the closest to an Air Ride sequel only with an inflation fetish.
At its core, Silt is an amazing concept, take Limbo put it underwater and have it swarming with the most terrifying creatures at the bottom of the sea, for a lot of people that alone will make them nope out of it but for anyone brave enough to dive into this game you will find a fascinating yet flawed title. Your deep diver protagonist is able to posses the creatures that swim around that help you get through obstacles, unfortunately, while an amazing concept, issues with controls can really hold the game back
At first glance, Card Shark has to be one of the most unique games released this year, set in 18th century France you play a new recruit to a professional conman as you grift your way through games, the monoprint artstyle and the dozens of techniques used to cheat makes up a fascinating little adventure, you always have to be on your toes and quick witted as some techniques can get quite hard to memorize, but after a while you can get the hang of it. Just don’t go to the casino afterwards and try it out yourself…trust me.they don’t like it
As technology improves we are able to convey stories and ideas that we never could even dream of a few years ago, while we saw many great narratives this year nothing honestly stood out quite like this.
Stray is honestly one of the most fascinating games I have played in a very long time, I remember seeing concepts of the game for years on Reddit boards and being immediately sold on the concept, playing as a lonesome little cat after being separated from his family you wind up in a world that humanity has long since left, surrounded by androids and weird squishy alien creatures the entire journey is taken from the perspective of our feline friend, the way they scamper up buildings, rub up against characters and of course how they casually knock items off.
What really sets Stray apart from any other game I played this year was just the raw emotion and connection you feel for your feline friend and the robotic buddy that joins you, apart from that you are just a normal cat, you have no secret powers, you are vulnerable to many of the dangers that plagued this world and it was a true emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. It may not have been the biggest game this year but there was truly nothing else like Stray, the Unboxed 2022 Game of the Year
And if that doesn’t convince you, three words; Dedicated. Meow. Button.
The founder and Editor in Chief of UnboxedTV. Nintendo lover and not afraid to admit it, can always go for a good Indie Metroidvania with a nice cold Cider.