This year has been stealthy solid when it comes to video game releases. There was a dry period in the summer, but for the majority of 2022 there have been strong releases by tent pole developers. Trying to not just spend my whole free time playing video games, I have quickly built up a backlog of 2022 releases, from small indie games to giant JRPGs and everything in between. Instead of doing a traditional Game of the Year list, I have decided to write a Backlog Game of the Year of the eight games from my backlog that I am looking forward to finally starting in 2023 (hopefully).
This game caught my eye during a Nintendo digital event, and what struck me was how graphics were made to fit the 18th century France that it took place in. Card Shark is a side-scrolling adventure game that is centered around cheating people out of their money at cards. You learn new tricks as you continue your journey to discover if the rumor of the “Twelve Bottles of Milk” is true. The game is developed by Nerial, who you might know from the mobile game series Reigns (a fantasy strategy series played by swiping through cards like a dating app). There are not many card-based strategy games that are not centered around deck building, so this is one I am hoping to play next year.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
Following up Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, which was surprising in its quality and Sparks of Hope looks to continue that. The biggest change to gameplay is they have got rid of the first game’s grid system for something close to real time strategy. With the added characters and the smart changes regarding combat, it looks like Ubisoft has another winner, even if this game does not seem to have a story that is engaging, I had such a great time with the first one that the sequel is on my list to check out.
Cult of the Lamb
This is an indie game that I did not know if I would like, even after seeing multiple trailers and really liking the style that it was going for. It was not till I talked to friends that had played it that really made me add it to my backlog. Cult of the Lamb is a mixture of roguelike and Animal Crossing, if the Nintendo franchise was into the occult. There were some bugs when the game was first released that seemed to be ironed out now. With January being a lighter month on big releases, it seems to be the perfect time to start a cult.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Having a full-time job while also trying to keep other hobbies and a social life going does not leave tons of room for giant JRPGs, but that does not stop me from trying. Having not played a Xenoblade game before, the way I have heard people talk about the open world design and the story has intrigued me enough for this to be the first one I try. Throw in some tactical combat that is a high mark for the genre, and this will have me dusting off the Switch to play this next year.
Kirby and the Forgotten Lands
Another Switch title came out and looked amazing, but I just did not get around to playing it. I have always enjoyed Kirby the character more than I enjoyed any of Kirby’s games. When I first saw the trailer for Forgotten Lands during a Nintendo Direct, I did not realize I was looking at a Kirby game at all. The art direction looks unique for the character, and it seems to be a good departure from the traditional Kirby experience. I always like to give franchises more chances when they try new things, so I am going to give this Kirby game a look in 2023.
Rogue Legacy 2
My first introduction to the roguelike genre was Cellar Door’s original Rogue Legacy and did interesting mechanics with passing down traits through family members. In a year where I played through multiple sequels that felt were less than their originals, everything I have heard about Rogue Legacy 2 has improved on the first game. It left early access this summer, and now that it is in a wider release, I look forward to finally getting around to it in the new year.
This was a game that I was super excited for, then more trailers and gameplay started to get shown for it, making my excitement lessen each time. Gotham Knights on paper seems like a great idea: co-op through Gotham with a friend playing as characters of the Bat Family, trying to fill the cowl that Batman left behind. Even with the reviews and problems this game has seen since launch, I still have a desire to tag up with a buddy and fight crime through the Gotham streets. I have confidence that the problems will get ironed out, and the game will go on sale, which makes it a perfect 2022 game to play in 2023.
This is the most recent addition to the growing backlog list because of how bonkers the latest Sonic game sounds. Sonic Frontiers seems to be Sega’s answer to Breath of the Wild, and it looks like they got close in some respects and were far apart in others. Reading reviews for this game, it seems like a game that when it goes on sale that I want to play just to say I experienced it for myself. There are some gameplay changes that really interest me, like Sonic now having skill trees and the different biomes that you visit in the open world. Like I said earlier about Kirby, I am always willing to give franchises another chance if they try something new, and that seems exactly what Sonic Frontiers is. After it has some performance updates, this seems like a great game to pick up during the release lull that always happens during the year.
Well, these are the top eight games from my backlog list, with plenty of honorable mentions that did not get included. 2022 seems to be the year when the game industry finally got back on track with releases after struggling the last two years with the COVID pandemic. 2022 has been an underrated year for games, even if I have not played as much as I did in 2021, and it makes me very excited to see what comes out in 2023!
Cody’s first experience with video games was Spot Goes to Hollywood for the Sega Genesis. Since that
moment, he has become enamored with the storytelling video games can offer. He enjoys it when his
writing can put a spotlight on video games that are trying to push the boundaries of the medium and
really advance what we think of a video game forward.