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TheGamer Game Of The Year Editor’s Pick, 2022 – Andrew King

I don’t think there’s ever been a year where I've finished fewer of the games on my top 10. Elden Ring, Triangle Strategy, and Cult of the Lamb are getting the benefit of the doubt that I will enjoy their conclusions as much as everything that came before, and while I’ve played all the Gloomwood that’s currently available, it’s an early access game, and I might not love what it turns into when it’s finished. In short, I’m making some assumptions, but time is limited, and when you need to come up with ideas for articles on new, popular games, it sometimes means that you have to move on from older, less popular ones.

I had a good year with games, though, as my completion rate suggests, I was also busy doing a lot of other stuff. In previous years, games have been the medium I engage with, while this year they were a medium I engaged with. My writing reflects that, as I covered film and TV about as much. When I did play games, I wanted things that could make me think and feel as much as the great work I was experiencing in other media.

Honorable mentions go to Museum of Mechanics: Lockpicking, Return to Monkey Island, Citizen Sleeper, and Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong.

10. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

The first Lego game I've played in over a decade, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was a wonderful way to return to brick-based action in a galaxy far, far away. I played through this while I was watching Andor, and pairing those experiences was a wonderful reminder of the full breadth of what I love about Star Wars.

9. Cult of the Lamb

Beneath Cult of the Lamb's cute aesthetic hides a dark oozing core of violence, power, and control. Actually, it has the word "cult" in the title, so maybe it's not that hidden. Either way, the Animal Crossing-meets-Hades roguelike from Massive Monster was a huge surprise for me, an impressive balancing act that gives you just enough top-down action and settlement management to keep both halves interesting.

8. Triangle Strategy

Triangle Strategy is one of the only games I've played that attempts to correct the lie of RPG choice. Though I love choice-based RPGs, it does sometimes feel strange that your character is the one making the choices at all. In The Outer Worlds when my Captain got to decide whether to divert power to Edgewater or Adelaide McDevitt's Botanical Labs, I couldn’t help but think, "I've been on Terra-2 for, like, a day. Why am I deciding this?" Triangle Strategy’s devs seem to have played the same games and asked the same questions. In addition to delivering satisfying tactical combat and a story that evokes the politicking of Game of Thrones, it is also the only game I played this year that forced me to convince my party that I was making the right call. If I couldn’t convince them, it wasn’t my call.

7. Gloomwood

It only took me about six hours to finish the chunk of Gloomwood that's currently available in early access, butwhat’s there is excellent. A boomer shooter riff on Thief from the devs and publisher behind Dusk, Gloomwood is the kind of stealth game they just don't make anymore. Sneaking through the shadows of the fortress-like fishery, stabbing ghoulish enemies in the back, and slinking back to safety has never been this fun, or charmingly lo-fi.

6. God of War Ragnarok

Kratos' second Norse outing improved on God of War (2018) in basically every way. Though the story this time around doesn't have the elegant simplicity of 2018's quest to spread Faye's ashes at the highest point in the nine realms, its more meandering nature is an asset, allowing for more and better character moments between Kratos, Atreus, Mimir, Brok, Sindri, Freya, and a host of new characters. Though Ragnarok is an action game with lots of excellent combat — especially once the game's new weapon is introduced — it fundamentally feels like a hang out movie. Or, more fitting for its length, like a TV series made before streaming shrunk every season down to 10 episodes or less. There's ‘filler’ here, and that's why it works. Though Kratos and Atreus are ultimately attempting to avert the end of the world, the game's primary strength is in just how much fun there is to have hanging out with your dad and his severed head buddy along the way. Dudes (ragna) rock.

5. Immortality

The project Sam Barlow began with Her Story reaches its culmination in Half Mermaid's Immortality, a sexy, violent, and skin-crawling FMV mystery that tasks players with trolling through caches of footage from three unreleased films to uncover the mystery of what happened to starlet Marissa Marcel. Those answers are darker and stranger than you think. This is a rare video game that feels haunted.

4. Neon White

Endlessly inventive, balletic, kinetic, and, at times, deeply juvenile, Neon White is a joy to play while telling a visual novel-style story that becomes surprisingly engrossing as it moves toward its final moments.

3. Pentiment

I wasn't surprised that Pentiment was good. Given that developer Obsidian's resume includes excellent choice-driven RPGs like The Outer Worlds, Fallout: New Vegas, and the Pillars of Eternity games, I expected its medieval murdery mystery would be well worth the price of its paint. What did surprise me, though, was how hard it stuck the landing. Weaving a satisfying mystery yarn is no mean feat, but Obsidian managed to nail the genre, setting up a killer I never suspected who still felt completely right. Not only is Pentiment a stellar whodunnit, its decades-long story is also beautifully moving. By the time the credits roll, the denizens of Tassing feel like old friends.

2. Elden Ring

What can I say about Elden Ring that hasn’t already been said? I’ve never seen a game that is simultaneously this big and this intricate. Even in areas where you feel you’ve fully explored, there are often hidden caves and corridors waiting to be found. It’s big Dark Souls, but scaling Dark Souls’ tangled level design up to this size without losing its sense of purpose was the year’s most impressive feat.

1. Butterfly Soup 2

Increasingly, I measure a work of art's quality by how much it makes me feel. That's subjective, but then, so is every approach to criticism. The old games crit technique, which gave bullet points to Graphics, Replay Value, and Fun Factor may seem more objective, but it clearly expresses the subjective point of view that the kind of game with best in class particle effects and long hour counts, are more worthy by virtue of the resources propping them up.

I don't agree, and that's why Butterfly Soup 2 is at the top of my list. The romantic visual novel about queer Asian teens hanging out, playing baseball, and falling in love is the game that made me feel the most this year. It made me laugh more than any game I've played in a long time. It made me feel secondhand shame as its protagonists experienced embarrassing moments. It made me remember the excitement of high school crushes. It isn't big and it isn't shiny. It's small and reuses a bunch of art from developer Brianna Lei's previous game. That doesn't matter. It's the best game of the year.

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