GBAtemp's 2022 game retrospective - our favorite ports, updates, indies, and more

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Every year, our Editorial Team covers a wide variety of games, be it small-time indies that caught our eye, beloved Nintendo franchises (spoiler alert, we probably gave it a 7/10), huge AAA landmark titles, and then some. With the New Year already here, we wanted to give 2022 one last shout-out, in the form of a roundup that showcases some of the interesting games that we weren't able to give a better look at during the rest of the year.

Marvel's Spider-Man (PC port) - @RyRyIV

What better inclusion for a list of this year's favorite new releases, than a game from 2018? After four years of being the only reason I was considering the purchase of a PS4 or 5, Sony finally gave their exclusive Spider-Man games a pair of Steam ports. These weren’t the only Sony exclusives to get this treatment, but they’re the only ones I was interested in. And while I haven’t yet had a chance to play Miles Morales, I’ve been playing the absolute hell out of the first game since I was able to get my hands on it.

While I don’t feel like there’s much in the form of a new opinion to add, I was incredibly excited as a long-time Marvel comics fan to finally get a chance to experience this gem of a game, and it was far from being a disappointment. From a gameplay perspective, this is the most like Spider-Man I’ve ever felt when playing, even beating out the wonderful web-slinging from 2004’s Spider-Man 2 video game adaptation. Combat, while simple, is fluid and directly in line with what I’d expect from a Spider-Man game. The web-swinging mechanics are straight out of a dream, and the story ended up being one of my favorite Spidey stories in a very long time; perfectly capturing the spirit of every character involved, while bringing its own twists and adaptations. In short, it’s everything a fan of the character could hope for in a video game.

Save Room - @relauby

Sometimes, we find little games to make for ourselves in the middle of larger ones. Resident Evil 4's famous inventory system is an example of this: a small system where all of Leon's items must be organized and fit onto a grid in order to be kept could often turn into minutes of messing with Leon's attaché case to get things just right. For many, it was never enough to leave the attaché case clear enough; it needed to be fully optimized to allow as many items to be crammed in there as possible later.

Save Room cleverly feeds on this strange instinct to organize and optimize. Borrowing RE4's inventory wholesale and presenting a series of forty puzzles where an attaché case must be stuffed to the gills. It also wears its influence fully on its sleeve, shamelessly borrowing specific items and ideas from RE4 to round out the experience. It's a quick sit, but this allows it to stay streamlined and smooth.

Necesse - @Chary

Have you ever wondered, "why hasn't someone combined Stardew Valley, Rune Factory, Rimworld, and Terraria all into one super-game?" That's because someone already did that, in 2019. Necesse is a passion project created by a single indie dev--Mads Skovgaard--that takes all the best aspects from those aforementioned games, and blends it all into a wonderful farming-sim-meets-settlement-manager-meets-sandbox-survival-crafting game. Quickly hooked by the premise, I gave Necesse a shot, especially thanks to its cheap $10 price tag, and proceeded to spend the next 40 hours glued to my screen, hopelessly addicted to the game.

Necesse manages to never feel too clustered, despite all the different concepts all mashed together. You get the simple crafting system from Terraria, along with equipment, enchantments, and bosses that all seem familiar. There's a ridiculous amount of variety when it comes to combat, with the inclusion of summoning staves, magic, melee, and ranged weapons, with a satisfying sense of progression whenever you're able to craft the next tier of equipment. The farming system is just as deep, offering lots of different crops, each of which has varying uses for potions, cooking, or crafting. And if handling all the small stuff like milking cows, harvesting crops, and planting trees ever feels too time-consuming, you can recruit villagers that can do all the chores for you, while you reap the rewards...assuming you're willing to keep up with your villagers' demands! Despite being a few years old at this point, Necesse has seen some of its biggest updates as of this year, with a content patch as recent as December 20th.

For the last 3 years, Necesse has been in early access, with its one lone developer expanding upon the game with numerous updates. While a full release doesn't appear to be in the cards yet, it looks like the project will be getting some new developers in the near future, meaning even more content in a game that is already chock full of stuff to do is on the way. Whether you want to jump into what feels like a fully feature-complete game, or wait for even more content, Necesse should absolutely be on your radar.

He Fucked the Girl Out of Me - @relauby

He Fucked the Girl Out of Me is an intensely personal narrative experience that details a young trans woman's introduction to the world of sex work and its lasting trauma. It's as uncomfortable as the name and premise would imply, but the frankness of the writing makes its impact hit that much harder. Stories of this kind aren't seen very often, and when they are, they're usually sanitized or at least cleaned up to fit a more conventional mold. Clearly, He Fucked the Girl Out of Me isn't interested in conforming to convention, making this a raw, moving, and unique story.

Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion - @Prans

Back when Sony knew of the existence of a handheld gaming market and actually took it seriously, the company’s devices hosted some compelling exclusives. Among these was 2007’s PSP-exclusive Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII which has recently been remastered as Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - Reunion for newer systems. But as a game that was initially designed for handheld gaming 15 years ago, does this version hold up to modern standards?

As a refresher, Crisis Core serves as a prequel to Final Fantasy VII, taking place some seven years before the latter. It follows protagonist Zack Fair, a young and ambitious SOLDIER operative, as his story weaves into that of FF7 and its main cast. While the remake of FF7 featured some story notable changes, Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - Reunion’s plot stays true to the origin, which is still an engaging and emotional one.

What has been changed in this remaster though is its visuals and the changes stark; so much so that you could easily think that, at first glance, this might be a new Final Fantasy game. This apparent perception is fuelled by the remaster’s detailed character models, crisp HD environments, fluid performance and support of up to 120 fps on PC. Character models are detailed and the environment is crisp. On PC, you can further tune some of the graphical settings based on your needs. Nevertheless, we are occasionally reminded that this is a remaster rather than a remake with the reused cutscenes of the PSP version that can pale in comparison to the reworked in-game graphics. That said, this minor hiccup can largely be overlooked thanks to the enhanced overall look of the game, complete with new audio and voice acting that match that of Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Also bearing notable changes is the gameplay itself. With more hardware keys available on newer systems and controllers than the PSP’s, controls during exploration and combat feels more intuitive, contemporary and fluid. It plays more as a familiar action RPG with combat commands mapped directly to face buttons. The return of the Materia Fusion system adds a layer of fun by expanding Zack’s battle options, which already feature a healthy arsenal including magic, summons, abilities and limit breaks.

However, my main gripe is that despite the overall improved controls, during exploration I still found moving sideways with a controller stick to be rather odd as Zack wouldn’t seem as responsive to move in the desired direction. I found a workaround by positioning the camera view behind Zack and moving him forwards (rather than aiming left/right). It’s not ideal and I hope there’s a fix down the line.

Back to the battle mechanics, the Digital Mind Wave (DMW) slot system makes a comeback in this remaster but is rather unchanged. It adds some originality to the combat by tying Zack’s memories and relationships to the combat based on matching icons. But its execution can feel haphazard and the remaster might have benefited from toggling it off. Luckily, it’s a passive feature that you can essentially disregard.

I was also inclined to disregard most of the side quests given their repetitive, grinding nature. But they do provide additional playtime being playable in short bouts.

As a whole though, most of the gripes - remnants of the origin of the title as a PSP game initially designed for on-the-go gaming - can be overlooked in favour of the hugely improved aesthetics and presentation and contemporary approach to the controls. It plays fluidly on PC and I would personally recommend it for handheld gaming PCs such as the Steam Deck, even if it will look good on a 4K-enabled rig. The overall experience is engaging, especially if you are itching for some new Final Fantasy experience. And given the revival of Final Fantasy VII, with its episodic remake, it was high time for Square Enix to bring this UMD-exclusive to a larger audience; and they did it with pomp.

Frog Detective 3 - @relauby

After a short break, the Frog Detective series has finally come to an end, with a final entry that's as sweet, charming and heartwarming as everything that came before. While doing nothing to radically change the series' formula, it's more than worth the price of admission to spend another hour in this world and with these characters.

Baldur's Gate 3 - @RyRyIV

It’s been over two full years since Baldur’s Gate 3 was initially released in early access, a game that I’ve been incredibly excited for and playing consistently since my initial review back in 2020, doing my best to keep up with every hotfix, update, and patch Larian Studios sends our way. And while it seems many of my fellow adventurers are a bit overly eager for this Forgotten Realms adventure to finally be fully released, the player base was absolutely blessed with a lot of positive forward progress this year, as well as some major news on Acts 2 and 3, which will mark the full release of the game. As I did in last year’s roundup, I’ll be highlighting here the major updates and additions that have been made throughout 2022 on this gem of a game.

Starting back in February, players got their first look at Patch 7, codenamed “Absolute Frenzy,” which brought some major UI and quality-of-life improvements, new options for in-game melee weapons, and the biggest addition to the update; a new class. Finally, the popular Barbarian class was brought into the game, giving players an entirely new playstyle to explore, test, and enjoy. This would be the only major update for about five months, when Patch 8: Of Valour and Lore took center stage; bringing with it the usual fixes and QOL improvements, along with another new class and accompanying character race; Gnomes finally entered the game, alongside the Bard class. Much like how the Barbarian brought new abilities and weapon options with it, the Bard class ushered itself in alongside usable musical instruments, and new spells to fully invest yourself in the character. Our final major patch update comes just this month of December, with the appropriately named “Holy Knight” update. Patch 9 brought us the Christmas gift of new spells, a raised level cap from 4 to 5, and this writer’s personal favorite class in all of D&D, the Paladin. The Paladin class marks possibly the biggest addition of all the new classes and play styles added to the game, being a class quite reliant on roleplay (shocking for an RPG, I know). Finally, the choices you make in game will matter for more than an NPC opinion gauge, as making certain decisions that go against your Paladin’s Oath will cause you to lose your subclass, being forced to take on a new Oathbreaker role and new abilities. This means that for anyone wanting to maintain their Paladin subclass, roleplaying and abiding by your oath is mandatory.

Arguably the biggest update we got this year, though, comes in the form of a long-awaited release window. After, up to this point, two years in early access, Baldur’s Gate 3 is finally scheduled for a full release in August of 2023. No specific date has been locked in, and few more details are known outside of some physical goodies in the special edition, as well as two returning fan-favorite characters from the original Baldur’s Gate duology. But for fans of this entry in the Forgotten Realms franchise, there’s, at last, a light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to. In all, it was a huge year for Baldur’s Gate 3, and next year is shaping up to be even bigger. And this writer, personally, can’t wait.


Thank you, to all our users that read and comment on our editorials, reviews, and articles! We look forward to seeing what 2023 has in store for the industry, and sharing our opinions on games new and old.​
 

Charli

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Haven't been playing a whole lot over the last year. Certainly not anything new. Had great fun playing through Vice City again (check out Vanilla Vice on moddb) and with the THPS 1 + 2 remake :)

Oh, and probably the greatest thing was playing through Tomb Raider 1 with a friend in couch co-op thanks to OpenLara :D Doing stupid stuff and running around with two Laras when the game was never designed for this was insanely fun x) (Also: check out the great GBA Port of OpenLara!)

oh, and more thing :D Rayman Redemption brought back a whole lot of Rayman 1 nostalgia :) I guess this whole year consisted mostly of playing nostalgia games for me.. :P

And then, in December the new Dwarf Fortress release hit me hard.. Been playing the hell out of this game lately :P This game is also another nostalgia trip for me, I last played it 10 years ago and I still had all my plans and drawings for the dwarfy stuff I wanted to build back then in my cupboard :3

Cheers! :)
 
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Sk17

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Haven't been playing a whole lot over the last year. Certainly not anything new. Had great fun playing through Vice City again (check out Vanilla Vice on moddb) and with the THPS 1 + 2 remake :)
I suggest you to check the "GTA Tightened Vice" mod. If you're bored of the original game, this mod makes every mission way more difficult. Not reccomended if you get frustrated easily, though.
 
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