Life is Strange: True Colors (XSX) Game of the Year
Have you ever been playing a game and had the awesome realization it’s your game of the year? That’s how I felt about True Colors. 🤩
Alex Chen is the character I related to most in 2022. Her empathy alone felt so very accurate, and her hobbies and interests overlapped with mine in ways I did not expect. Factor in the grief that drives the story, and how my personal life changed in similar ways, and this game hit perfectly for me. 🥰
I also adored Steph Gingrich, an absolute boss of a character. Her relationship with Alex is one of my all-time favorites. The Wavelengths DLC expanded on Steph’s journey and gave me more insight into her trauma, and her growth. Oh, and her taste in music…😍
I love them both so much. 💘
- Unpacking (XSX)
- Best Storytelling without a Dialog Box
- Best Sound Design
- Wildermyth (PC)
- Best Storytelling with a Dialog Box
- Best Procedural Storytelling
- West of Loathing (NS)
- Silliest Story
- Most Accurate Stick Figures
- Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising (XSX)
- Biggest Surprise
- Ruins Magus (VR)
- VR Game I Didn’t Want to Put Down
- Pentiment (XSX)
- Game That Played Me
- Most Reading Required
Haven (XSX) Game of the Year
Haven. Wow. Where to begin. Let me start of by saying that I had no idea a game like this existed. It had me from the jump (the New Game screen). A game about an existing romance that I get to tag along for, and watch grow? I was all in!
From the inside of Kay & Yu’s home, the Nest, through the trials and tribulations of exploring a foreign planet and doubling down on love, Haven brought me a lot of smiles. Watching their relationship grow closer and closer through light-hearted interactions and while camping out, to more intimate scenes. Also, sometimes, it’s just about needing snuggles.
I just loved it so much. So, so much.
- The Artful Escape (XSX)
- Best Visuals
- Best Music
- Best Ending
- Best Button: Shred
- Chicory: A Colorful Tale (PS4)
- Best Friendship: Chicory and Pizza
- Most Accessible Boss Fight Options
- Sayonara Wild Hearts (NS)
- Best End Level
- Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon (360)
- Best 80’s Game
Cyberpunk 2077 (XSX) Game of the Year
Yes, Cyberpunk 2077. The bug-ridden, frequently crashing, and “runs like trash on last gen consoles” game. That, but played on an Xbox Series X in glorious 4K, won me over. Let’s be honest, though, short of playing it on a decent PC, I had the best system to run it on. The new console made this game enjoyable, as bugs became a nuisance and not an issue. I made the mistake of pre-ordering it, but waited until the second patch to start it up. I also avoided all the vitriol surrounding it’s lackluster release.
By the time I was done in Night City, I was 92 hours in. I once had over a million eddies. I even allied with two of the best NPCs in the game. Was it cool having Keanu Reeves kicking about in my head? Definitely. However, when I look back on this game, and yearn to return to it when the next-gen patches are out, I don’t think of Johnny Silverhand, or of Rogue. I think of Judy. I think of Panam. I think of Night City and how much I just want to go roam those streets and run jobs again; And I haven’t even mentioned Brain Dances… I’m still amazed it made it into the final game, and I am still impressed with it.
- Least Amount of Credits Rolled: Zero
- Most Games I’ve Ever Jettisoned in a Year: Fourty
- Cyberpunk 2077 (XSX)
- Blew My Mind: Brain Dances
- Best Backup: Aldecados
- Best Relationship: Judy
- Tie: Best Side Character: Panam
- Final Fantasy 7 Remake (PS4)
- Tie: Best Side Character: Tifa
- Tie: Best Side Character: Jesse
- Untitled Goose Game (XB1)
Fire Emblem: Three Houses (NS) Game of the Year
Rarely does a game come out that I have zero anticipation for that captures my attention as quickly as Three Houses did. It came out, I knew little about it, but I was enticed enough to purchase it digitally, and after 165 hours across 3 of the storylines, I can say without a doubt that it was my favorite game of the year.
This was a game that made me want to upgrade my console when the revised Switch with better battery life was announced, because I could barely get 2 hours in handheld mode. It bumped up to over 4 hours after the upgrade and I don’t regret it one bit.
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (PS4)
- 2018’s Game of 2019
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses (NS)
- Most Romances
- Most Playthroughs
- Katana Zero (NS)
- Best Soundtrack
- Best Style
- Star Wars: Jedi - Fallen Order (PS4)
- Best Lightsabre Combat
- Best Star Wars Story
- Favorite New Character: Nightsister Merrin
Much like last year, I’m going with a single standout title. I’ve also got some awards for many other games, except for those I considered personal disappointments.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (PS4) Game of the Year
I really didn’t expect this to end up as the game to define my year. Until recently, with the wonderful Origins entry, this series was completely off my radar. In a year where I played Origins and then months later went on to play Odyssey, you’d think my combined time with them would have worn me out. That I would have been beaten down by the weight of Ubisoft’s stabby franchise. This is, after all, the eleventh main game in the series.
However, Origins was a wonderful reboot, and Odyssey just took it even further. A huge map, an interesting backstory, and a character that just excels at taking down everything. Changing things up might as well be the name of the game, and I loved the fact that I could stealthily take down an entire fort, wade into a battlefield and fight multiple enemies at once, or snipe camp after camp.
They also spent a lot of time making sure to not overdue the whole Greek monsters aspect. I didn’t even realize they were in the game until I encountered my first one, and each of them that I fought felt like they were done with respect and not just to create another boss battle.
I spent 85 hours in this game, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Kassandra was a delight to play, and I will be picking it up again. I rarely, if ever, want to continue an open-world game once I’ve completed the main story, and that speaks volumes.
- VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action (Vita)
- Best Visual Novel
- So Good I Had to Play It Again
- Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus (PS4)
- Best Nazi-Stomping Game
- Biggest End Credits Surprise
- Darkside Detective (Switch)
- Best X-Files Game
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 (PS4)
- Best Squirrel Girl Game
- Most Stan Lee Predicaments
- The Last of Us Remastered + DLC (PS4)
- Best Game I Waited Way Too Long to Play
- Best Naughty Dog Game
- YAKUZA 0 (PS4)
- Best Game That Took Forever to Hook Me
- Mega Man 11 (PS4)
- Best Improvements to a Series
- Donut County (PS4/iOS)
- Best New Mechanic
- Best New Character: BK
- Yoku’s Island Express (Switch)
- Biggest Surprise
- Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4)
- Best Claudia Black Performance
- Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
- Most Feels Felt
- Best Laura Bailey Performance
- Best Story
- Best Post-Credits Scene
- Detroit: Become Human (PS4)
- Best Ship: Connor Hank
- Best Tracking of Unlocked Options
- Most Unpredictable Outcomes from Dialogue Choices
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4)
- Best Callbacks to Games in the Series
- Assassin’s Creed: Origins (PS4)
- Best Story in an Assassin’s Creed Game
- Best Character I Wish I Could Have Played: Aya
- Tie: Best Protagonist in an Assassin’s Creed Game: Bayak
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (PS4)
- Most Fun in an Assassin’s Creed Game
- Most Time Spent in an Assassin’s Creed Game: 85 Hours
- Best Locations
- Best Combat
- Tie: Best Protagonist in an Assassin’s Creed Game: Kassandra
This year, there was a single game that stood out amongst the rest. Instead of going through a traditional “Top 10” list, I have decided instead to single out the Game of the Year and then present awards for different games, if I found them deserving enough. It should give you a bit of insight into how I feel about them.
Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4) Game of the Year
I couldn’t get this game out of my head all year long. When I learned the backstory post-Deathbringer, I felt sick. Further in, the reveal of what “Zero Dawn” was pretty frickin’ awesome. The ending gave me the feels. It got dusty, for sure. Even after 240+ hours in Breath of the Wild, this is still my favorite game from 2017.
- Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4)
- Best Star Wars Game
- Night in the Woods (PS4)
- Best Knife Fighting
- Best Friendship Simulator
- Persona 4 Golden (Vita)
- Best Game I Waited Way Too Long to Play
- The only game I have ever wanted to hug
- Persona 5 (PS4)
- Best Styyyyyle
- Best Music
- Best Waifu: Makoto
- Undertale (P4/Vita)
- Sweetest Story
- What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4)
- Best Storytelling
- Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
- Best Openworld
- Most Time Spent: 245 hours
- So Good I Had to Play It Again
- Most Enjoyable Second Playthrough: Master Mode
- Nier: Automata (PS4)
- Best End Credits
- Most Endings
- Steamworld Dig 2 (PS4/Vita/Switch)
- Best Formula Changeup
- Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
- Best Throwback
1. Hitman (PS4)
I always wanted to love this series, but it wasn’t until this most recent release that it could be realized. Thanks to Giantbomb’s coverage of this exceptional game, I learned to love the mistake-ridden mayhem (let me be clear: the mistakes are all mine). I have hit max mastery in each level, and know them all by heart.
Hitman doesn’t take itself seriously, and each destination is a playground. Every map is somebody else’s favortie. And maps that I weren’t too keen on originally would grow on me once I became familiar with them. This became essential when I started doing Elusive Targets, because you only get one chance to get in, take them out, and get out. Oh, and you can’t save.
I remember introducing my nephew to this game. As a shooter fanatic, he was so bad it was hilarious. His penchant for guns got him in more trouble, and it was awesome. I remember the first time I picked up a cannon ball in Sapienza. The way he laughed when I threw it at an npc’s face will stay with me forever.
2. Dark Souls III (PS4)
The Souls series has always been something I have watched from a distance. I’ve never considered myself a fan of the difficulty. Well, not until 2016.
Dark Souls III was my first Souls game. I saw it being streamed a lot on Twitch, and it wasn’t until a week after it came out that the itch began. A quick rental was followed by a purchase. And then, it got its hooks in me.
I can count on one hand the number of games I have replayed because I find them challenging. “Man, that was fun. Let’s do it again, this time, with [insert self-imposed restriction].” It wasn’t helping that I was watching people attempt to do no-hit runs. While watching them was fun, I decided armorless runs were for me.
So, for the first time in ages, I was replaying a game because the challenge was rewarding. And the boss I struggled with the most was the Twin Princes, regardless of the type of run. So enjoy my favorite highlight:
3. Watch_Dogs 2 (PS4)
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with Watch_Dogs 2. I stayed far away from the first game after hearing the lackluster response. Imagine my surprise when I was captivated with the sequel. An open world game where dealing with the environment and its denizens requires use of gadgets (and scissor lifts)!? Sign me up!
The side characters each had interesting stories, and the hacks that you get to perform with alongside them made me smile so very big. From remote-controlling cars, to destroying voting machines to the tune of Fortunate Son, to hacking into satellite systems and using those to perform remote hacks, it doesn’t let up.
4. Stardew Valley (PC & PS4)
What a whirlwind adventure I had with Stardew Valley. Over 150 hours spent in it between the PC and PS4 version, and it’s something else.
Charming music, interesting villagers, and crop-growing mechanic that eventually proves quite lucrative. Oh, and did I mention exploring the caves?
I love the art style, and just the overall flavor of the game. The fact that this was the work of a single developer is pretty crazy. I enjoyed every part. Well, every part of the first 7 months. Winter of year 2 can become a slog, and that’s where both of my playthroughs floundered. But man, what an amazing 7 months.
5. DOOM (PS4)
DOOM was a great game. From the guns to the glory kills, to just all-out room battles. I caught myself smiling more than once, especially towards the conclusion. This was definitely the game I heard the most about before I played it, and it held up to the hype.
I really liked the assortment of weapons. I generally am not the craziest FPS player, but I like what I like, and the choices here felt really fleshed out. I had to laugh, though, when I picked up the Super Shotgun (a sawed-off shotgun), because I knew I was in for some fun. It became my main choice for nearly every non-boss baddie.
The level design was pretty good, overall. The differing vistas of Mars and Hell never felt old, or overstayed their welcome. They were tied together quite well, and the story (yes, the story in a single-player FPS) was actually quite good. From the backstory of the DOOM Slayer told from the perspective of demons, to the desire of infinite energy for mankind, it was quite intriguing. Especially the player character’s complete lack of care for anything that didn’t involve violence.
6. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4)
I didn’t like Geralt until I saw his interactions with Ciri. And then he made more sense to me. The fact that this game is on my list comes down to two reasons: Yenefer and Ciri.
1. Final Fantasy VI (SNES)
To be written.
2. Persona 4 Golden (Vita)
The only game I’ve ever wanted to hug.
One of my favorite things about playing Final Fantasy VI back in the day was that it didn’t stray from adult topics. Persona 4 Golden is the first game since then that I can remember tackling some similar issues. Memory loss, the price of fame, identity troubles, unfulfilled crushes, and even cross-dressing, are all addressed with this small, wonderful package.
I say small, but this game easily spans 60+ hours. And it has ample VO, to boot. It’s refreshing to play a game like this.
Combat-wise, it allows you to micro-manage your teammates to the level you desire. Want them to focus on support and healing, or damage, or just want to give them orders yourself? And the tactics you set actually make the characters feel more alive. I’d only take control when a party member absolutely needed to do something and I hadn’t been convinced by the AI enough to trust them. And to be fair, I think that happened once in my entire playthrough.
I should mention the story, too. It contains mystery behind mystery, and takes some turns I did not see coming at all. I’ve laughed out loud many times at it, as well. The characters all have such great personalities, and are very much their own individuals.
I can say I was honestly surprised that a game originally released in 2008 that I never got to until 2017 would jump into second place on my favorite games of all time list, but here we are. And I think it deserves this spot, without question.
3. Road Rash (PS1/Gen/Win)
This is such wonderful game. It’s been so long since I’ve played it. I remember spending so much time with this at my cousin’s house when I was young. When I was in my 20’s, I had it on PC and it was still great. Recently (late 2018), I bought the PS1 version to play on my PS3 and it has been a joy just getting back into it.
This game does so many things right, and (save for the Genesis version) even has some great FMV. The intro made me tear up, and I say that with pride. I’ve always adored this game and am thrilled to put it on this list.
Here’s a taste of the goodness that is the intro video.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Not quite sure where this game goes on my overall list of favorites ever. For a 2017 game though, it’s going to take a lot to challenge it for GotY. Oh yeah, and it’s only March…
My bullet points, until I get to writing up something more proper:
- Love the stealth / noise mechanic.
- The World is so great.
- Love the scope of the world.
- Barely used mounts because the world was just fun to explore.
- Love the machine variety.
- Really loved the snapmaws when I discovered them.
- Fighting machines rarely got old.
- It felt like fighting dinosaurs.
- Love when battles go crazy and you are just scrambling to win.
- Love the range of weapon features.
- upgrade paths unlock new elemental damage.
- Armor is interesting.
- Stealth armor is cool.
- Enjoy the selection and the designs.
- Would like an easier way to switch armors.
- Music is wonderful
- When I learned the backstory post-Deathbringer, I felt sick.
- The idea of “Zero Dawn” is pretty frickin’ awesome.
- The ending gave me the feels. It got dusty, for sure.
- Ashly Burch killed it as Aloy.
- Lance Reddick was a great addition.
- Strong women throughout the game.
- Persona 5 was dang good.
- Persona 4 Golden still my favorite. See favorite games #2.
- Horizon: Zero Dawn was amazeballs.
- Night in the Woods.
- Solid, but forgettable.
- Zelda: Breath of the Wild was so good.
- 225+ hours played.
- Master Mode completed.