It's a place all right.

January 31, 2023 (Originally posted on Neocities)

Games I Beat in 2022, Finally Ranked

This list ended up coming out a month later than I usually aim for, due to being really busy at the end of last year as well as the start of this year, but I managed to get this together. Plus there’s just a lot of games I played through that I had to recall enough to write something about. And once again, most entries here are from Game Pass, though some aren’t. There’s even some Games With Gold in this list from before that became even more of an afterthought compared to Game Pass, so who knows how long until that gets axed completely along with Gold itself. Despite modern gaming being highly questionable, including some companies’ weird and effectively outdated obsession with blockchain garbage that they’re willing to strip out a number of potentially good features, studios, or properties just to try to scam a few more people directly, there’s still some good games coming out on occasion, often indies. I’ve certainly been checking out more stuff on the indie side, and not just because of the ongoing push to drive the $60 USD standard price tag up another $10, which somehow translates to way more than that in most other countries.

As usual, counting down to the top spot. And I’ve beaten all of these to whatever counts as an ending, or at least what I count as one in some cases where it doesn’t explicitly say “you did it, here’s credits” and it isn’t a fake credits thing either. Just whatever seems to count as finishing a major thing.

  1. SkateBIRD (XB1, Game Pass)
    For whatever reason, this is one of the very few recent skateboard games that actually plays like Tony Hawk instead of Skate and also isn’t just a Tony Hawk remake. And for whatever reason they decided to have it act more like Goat Simulator than a tighter skating simulation. Essentially it’s fairly easy to fall off the board or not go quite where you want to and somehow skating up long winding ramps is one of the hardest things to do but is also somehow fairly necessary to progress in the story. Fortunately there’s accessibility options including things like not falling off rails or falling off in general as easily, as well as disabling mission timers, but I felt like they were fairly necessary to not go utterly insane trying to battle the controls. These may have been patched in by the time I played as I’d heard that those weren’t a thing previously.
    I had played two demos of this previously and was wondering if the half-working skating physics were going to be cleaned up by release, but apparently not exactly. However, the game did at least run pretty well on the Xbox One. I was also able to set my bird to look like a quail, complete with the funny head feather thingy, though still relatively shaped like a… whatever the usual bird is. Apparently an update happened later to add a new level and also allow the bird to become an Among Us bean for whatever reason.
    Long story short, the game is cute and all but I would really like to see a properly done Tony Hawk style game that isn’t just a Tony Hawk remake. I still don’t know why indie skating games are going more the route of Skate because that whole focus on realism seems a bit much to play casually, and I would play Tony Hawk games just to screw around instead of having to perfect how to wiggle the sticks to manipulate feet. I also know about the Nail the Trick thing in later Tony Hawk games that seemed tacked on. For all I know that inline skating death arena game Rollerdrome might be more what I’m looking for.
  2. Lake (XB1, Game Pass)
    This is some kind of small town mail delivery simulator but also based in story somewhat. The point is to get friendly with the town while doing the usual duties and then deciding what to do with the player character’s life. Everything’s fairly friendly and easygoing and there aren’t really any major stakes to deal with here so the story seems fairly template, also it feels like romantic paths, of which there’s two I think, are sort of railroaded, but it’s possible to not lean too hard into it and just leave stuff vague or friendly. Also they seem to be at least somewhat tied to what the player character decides to do with their life, so there’s not as much mix and match. Really I didn’t care to get the player character romantically involved with anyone, I figured the point was to just be friendly with everyone. It didn’t run the best on the Xbox One, even with fairly simple-looking graphics in a number of places, so maybe it was just rendering a lot of the town at once. Also at one point the game crashed near the end of a really long cutscene sort of story segment at the end, so I had to replay through that without anything being really skippable or having any checkpoints between cutscenes, so that was annoying.
  3. Gorogoa (XB1, Game Pass)
    This is a puzzle game, but unfortunately I can’t really recall a lot of what happened, just that is has a bunch of weird art and I think it involves collecting some kind of colored orbs that tells a sort of story through things. It may be related to some kind of war thing, I don’t exactly remember. It played decently but the main issue here is it didn’t exactly stick with me, even though it seems like a game that could resonate with people, just not me I guess. That’s its main weakness here, but generally I do remember having some fun figuring things out mostly.
  4. Twelve Minutes (XB1, Game Pass)
    Some kind of weird time looping puzzle game about a man and woman in an apartment where a thing happens and you have to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it, but there’s only so much time to figure it out, or if the man who is the player character gets killed and then it resets sooner. That’s about as much as I’ll explain the premise to not spoil everything. Somehow the first thing I tried was to murder the woman to see what would happen or if it would let me do that, and it did. Then I had the guy leave the apartment, which also triggers a reset. There’s a fair bit of experimentation you can do here, or you can attempt to troll the woman before the plot kicks off to see what happens, like just grabbing random items and hiding them in places, though that’s fairly limited. It is also possible to flush every item apparently, somehow, because the toilet is really strong I guess. The story’s not the most interesting thing and has a really weird ending, but I still ended up seeing this one through.
  5. Unpacking (XB1, Game Pass)
    A game about discovering someone’s life through unpacking their stuff while also having to generally follow rules on where things go, but even that can be turned off if you really just want to dump everything on the floor and call it a day. I left that on so there would be some semblance of challenge. I also attempted to see how annoyingly I could unpack and not have it call me out, like just stacking all the clothes in the closets instead of using the many hangers available and also orienting books and media on shelves at random. Some items were hard to tell what they were, and those were difficult to figure out where to put them at first, resorting to trial and error. Also, attempting to put away pots either on the oven or in cabinets, the two places they apparently needed to be, was oddly difficult at times. Other than that, fairly chill puzzle game with pixel graphics.
  6. LEGO Batman: The Videogame (360 via XB1)
    A fairly early standard modern Lego game, apparently released not too long after the first Indiana Jones one. However it does have some shortcomings, generally most combat is just an onslaught of random respawning characters at times, and some encounters are a bit weird and cheap, though there’s no lives system like usual, just losing a bunch of studs that are often mostly recollected on respawn anyway. It also has two stories in three parts each, a hero side and villain side, and by the end it was feeling a bit long. Generally when I played this I was on a break from Lego games for a fair bit since they mainly felt similar to each other, but I was willing to get back to the grind that year.
  7. Pupperazzi (XB1, Game Pass)
    This is a fairly simple game about doing camera-focused tasks in a world full of dogs. And somehow the player character is a living camera with legs that is also somehow capable of taking self portrait pictures despite the lens effectively being their eye. It’s just that weird. It’s also fairly relaxed and cute and the dogs get weird faces sometimes. It did have some glitches on the Xbox One and maybe in general but it generally worked fine.
  8. Exo One (XB1, Game Pass)
    This is a weird game about momentum in a strange series of alien planets, essentially controlling some kind of orb that can shift into a disc to change between rolling to build up speed and gliding to get places. Each planet also has some sort of gimmick to the traversal, one has a lot of water so figuring out how to skip the thing helps for example. It’s fairly neat and not the longest game and there’s also some weird cutscenes between things to try to throw in a story, but they don’t overstay their welcome either and it sort of brings in a 2001: A Space Odyssey movie sort of aesthetic.
  9. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (360 via XB1)
    A more modern Lego game, this one is certainly more polished than the previous Lego Batman and also features the open hub world approach as seen in many other later Lego games. Again, a bit more of the same, but still fairly fun to mess with for a bit and find all the weird secrets and references to stuff. As this includes other DC characters, this includes Superman. However, for a significant part of the story, Superman is depowered somewhat and can’t fly, limiting the free roam between missions for a while. Otherwise he’s as powerful as usual.
  10. Beacon Pines (XB1, Game Pass)
    This is a game involving trying to figure out the intended story path through a book the narrator is writing and starring a number of cute animal people getting involved in a plot that certainly goes places, including the parallel paths that aren’t the intended one having the keys to get closer to the “true ending” as it is. However even with branching paths it still felt a bit more linear than one might expect from a game about choices as it involved going back through whenever a new key unlocked a new option, but fortunately going through these paths is relatively streamlined, being able to jump to critical choices. Also there were a number of keys that went unused through the paths, not even as a short-form “bad end” joke result.
  11. The Artful Escape (XB1, Game Pass)
    This is a game that really gets by on presentation rather than actual gameplay, which mostly consists of running across some basic platforming and matching button prompts at times, with the occasional curveball. There’s also no real penalty to messing up any of that. However it’s utterly weird and trippy and the art style is quite something. While all the people wear thick glasses that hide their eyes, the other character designs are quite abstract while also often following the motif of some “key” related to the plot. It’s a pretty neat experience to chill with, though the plot was a little bit cliché involving a rise to stardom and gaining confidence in the shadow of a legacy.
  12. Her Story (PC, Game Pass)
    This is a modern FMV game involving interviewing someone and all the clips that’s been broken up into while removing the interviewer’s side of the conversation, so this means having to figure out the story from just who the camera’s facing. It’s a pretty interesting and experimental title, though the end result was a little weird and a bit confusing, yet still counted enough to be an ending, which just shows up as an option after watching enough videos as far as I can tell.
  13. Telling Lies (XB1, Game Pass)
    I ended up playing this one before Her Story and I can tell that this one’s a bit more polished. Like the game above, it involves going through a bunch of videos, searching for keywords that show up in dialogue and such to find more videos to figure out what’s going on with all the twists that happen along the way. I think this one has a bit more of a concrete plot than the other as well instead of being more widely open to interpretation, plus the production value seems to be much higher given how there’s multiple locations and actors shown.
  14. Forza Horizon 5 (PC, Game Pass)
    I’m not exactly sure why I wanted to look at this after I had issues with the game before this in the series, which I had access to prior to Game Pass because my Xbox One is secondhand and that just works somehow, but I ended up generally seeing it through until reaching the Hall of Fame status which seems to be endgame, though these games don’t throw up the credits screen then. I’m just considering this one done since that’s a long-term goal of sorts. Generally I preferred the parts of the game where you don’t have to stick to the roads as much and can just shortcut over to a general checkpoint. That can be risky and somehow take longer than following the roads and actually being good at the game but I prefer to have fun smashing through everything, and a surprising number of things are smashable along with a number of things that would look smashable but aren’t.
    There’s also a nice variety of cars including vintage Beetles and the AE86 for maximum drift, and of course the community skins that can be downloaded naturally come in Herbie and tofu delivery flavors respectively, among other cars that aren’t even practical for general use and can be tuned in such ways that they’re even less driveable somehow. Generally I had more fun with this than I expected, and the soundtrack being fairly good, some stations more than others, helped with that.
    Of course given that only the base package is accessible through Game Pass I haven’t gone to mess with the Hot Wheels thing, or some of the later content that’s been added in that requires actually being good with steering a car and staying on the roads. There are accessibility and difficulty options to make things like that easier but I didn’t feel like messing with those a bunch, just finding something that mainly worked and felt like a car game. However I did turn on the sign language interpreter option to see how that worked and try to get some vague understanding of ASL. It’s pretty neat, it just puts a video of a person doing the signs in the corner and it’s possible to have a transparent background as well so there’s just a person who pops up during some dialogue, though not all, some are still just subtitles. The radio DJs don’t even have subtitles to my knowledge, not sure if that will be a thing later.
    I should also note that I played this on the cloud option at first just because it’s a big install, but eventually installed it on my big gaming PC once I noticed I was playing it a fair bit. On the cloud, which plays like console, I would always pick the 60 FPS performance option even though the streaming thing would screw up more with that sometimes. Fortunately, even with a lower end RTX card, the game ran great on my PC at the desired framerate with fairly high graphics settings, though really if they were lower I’m not sure I’d have noticed given how car games usually look nice and shiny at a glance even as far back as the PS2.
  15. Superliminal (XB1, Game Pass)
    A puzzle game involving being stuck in a dream world while manipulating items, usually by scaling them relative to the player’s perspective, but sometimes there’s other weird twists thrown in. There’s also a weird number of collectibles, involving doing things like pulling fire alarms and using fire extinguishers and some items that are really hidden out of the way. The story is just mainly background but establishes that the game world is just weird. It’s possible to solve certain puzzles a bit differently, like with one example where I managed to copy a duplicating object slowly across the floor until one of them hit the button to open the exit because I didn’t realize the intended solution. A fairly interesting game that I probably wouldn’t have played if it wasn’t on Game Pass when I played it, for reasons.
  16. Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition (XB1, Game Pass)
    Another thing that’s more of an experience than a game typically. It has a particular mood and it fits well within the “new weird” as it’s called apparently while also being a look into company ghost towns or something. It’s a low poly sort of thing reminiscent of Another World but in full 3D while also sometimes becoming vector line graphics. The style is deep in 80s computer tech while also being a sort of script, and dialogue choices are kinda just there and don’t always alter the outcome of things in major ways, maybe more just being another viewpoint or angle on things. It’s certainly not quite everyone’s sort of thing and people might find it really boring, but I found it neat to check out on random afternoons or evenings to unwind a bit.
  17. The Pedestrian (XB1, Game Pass)
    A puzzle game depicting one of those abstract people figures like on bathroom or street signs going through and doing platforming. Fortunately the platforming isn’t too timing-dependent and time even freezes when arranging the pieces but some parts didn’t feel like they explained themselves enough in terms of seeing what a thing does and I had to mess with things a fair bit to understand what the game was intending sometimes. Still, it features a new sort of gimmick each set of levels which may or may not carry on to the next thing, which is neat.
  18. The Forgotten City (XB1, Game Pass)
    This is a game that’s adapted from a mod, like another game later on this list, but with significantly more alterations. Given that the original mod was more rooted in Skyrim’s own stuff, that makes sense, and in exchange it’s more drawing from largely Roman society with other cultures from around then being present. The core concept is still the same, where the player is pulled into a time loop that resets every time someone commits a crime as defined by whatever governing entity keeps watch, which results in everyone being executed, and all the weird stuff that comes with that sort of foreknowledge and carrying items across loops. Even having played the original mod, this still had a lot of new things to check out and various twists involved. Most of the gameplay involves running around places and talking to people while figuring out how to cause or prevent certain things, with minimal combat sections that aren’t arbitrarily weird to control, in fact controlling about as expected for first-person stuff, or overly long. And somehow I managed to find a path to the “true” ending that was similar to how I did it in Skyrim, so that was interesting, as was how the ending was expanded upon itself. I recommend checking this one out if you don’t mind the occasional philosophical kinda stuff coming up.
  19. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (PC, Game Pass)
    A Lego game taking on Star Wars and covering movies already covered in previous games, but differently this time. Given the oldest Lego Star Wars were before they started pulling in voice acting, often in the form of being pulled directly from movies, this one gives voice acting to everything. And it’s not just pulled from the movies, either, they actually went through and voice acted everything completely, even the various alien language NPCs seem to have different sentences that could possibly be accurate to the source, but I’m not a big enough nerd to figure that out for real. Also regarding nerd stuff, the boss subtitles hide additional jokes in a fairly well-known Star Wars language.
    A significant number of the main characters are voiced by soundalikes, whose sounding like the character may vary, but some original cast members do show up and the voice work is overall fine by me. This redoing everything also gave them the freedom to rewrite the script quite a bit, for better or worse depending who you ask, mainly throwing in more jokes and making each movie more of an abridged version, which does also obscure a number of the more “violent” parts while also leaving some intact, and possibly occasionally made more “violent” due to the nature of how Lego stuff works. And then there’s a whole lot of referential and self-deprecating humor throughout which is actually fairly funny given they’re able to comment on things like the frequent Senate scenes in the prequels, or the sequel movies covering previous concepts from the original trilogy, and so many complaints about sand, of course. I decided to play through the game in chronological order just to start with the prequel memes. It also draws a lot from the expanded universe as well, including some nods to Legends canon while pulling from the current canon, including Mister Bones, a friendly and stab-happy modified battle droid who comes from the Aftermath novels. I like Mister Bones. In fact the battle droids in general have been given a lot more personality in this game, which just makes that more fun.
    The gameplay is similar to previous Lego games, but now instead of a mostly fixed camera outside of the hub world, it’s a more traditional modern third-person angle, and this benefits the fact that blasters are used for a significant part of the game so that feels more natural. Also all characters have attacks now instead of certain ones just serving to remove obstacles and find collectibles, so one can certainly take the likes of C-3PO and kick some ass. There’s even a melee combo system with blocking and having to counter blocks and such. Of course the jump physics still vary so some characters are just better at getting around.
    Each movie is split into five core missions with overworld missions linking them together across the multiple hub planets and regions, but generally only the core missions are replayable, and tend to require multiple playthroughs for those going for completion, as usual. And there’s a likely excessive amount of collectibles scattered throughout the galaxy outside of core missions. And a lot of those require taking on side missions which once again are fully voice acted. There’s a lot of game here, but at the very least it’s fun to explore and play through some familiar movies again, as well as some less familiar ones.
  20. The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe (PC, Steam)
    Continuing the theme of games revisiting previous iterations of things but differently, there’s this, which is an updated release of a remake of a mod, and it still brings plenty of new content to the table. It starts in familiar territory, where this story about a man named Stanley who works in an office pushing buttons all day explores said office in more depth, but ends up going well off the rails soon enough. And then the new content kicks in and everything has a new perspective, and I found it all pretty amusing. There’s even more mysteries to unfold and I don’t want to go too much into detail about these because it’s something to experience. And it’s even on consoles now. Of course I played on PC like I have done the previous couple of times. Staying true to the source I guess. Or rather Unity instead of Source this time. But it really feels and looks like a Source game, so they did a great job capturing that particular “feel” that an engine can somehow have.

And, no, I’m not putting Elden Ring on the top spot like damn near everyone else did, somehow including Bill Clinton I guess? I didn’t even play it. I also don’t plan to play it anytime soon, given the absolute torrent of Souls games that have happened for at least a decade, and that resulting in so many other games having to play just like those do, meaning that I also don’t really want to play those. This also resulted in pretty much everyone forgetting about Armored Core to where people are like “aren’t those the Dark Souls guys” instead of “didn’t they used to make games about mecha” when they finally announced a new Armored Core, with the only hope for that being that it’ll certainly be Armored Core and not just Souls combat with mecha. Plus the whole dark fantasy setting has been pretty played out by this point by, you guessed it, Souls games and the like. Really, darker settings in general. Maybe liven things up a bit sometimes. Though if things have to be completely dark and gritty and constantly asking “BUT WHO IS… THE REAL MONSTERS?”, at least flying around in mecha makes it much more enjoyable. I feel like The Last Of Us Part Whatever could take some notes about that. And yes, I’m aware that Elden Ring is apparently “the most accessible Souls game” but there’s other things about it that I don’t want to play through and deal with right now. Though I am aware of the existence of characters like a cute lizard snake type girl and a tall wolf dog guy in the game so at least there’s that to look forward to if I ever get around to this. Anyway, time for the actual top game.

  1. Tinykin (PC, Game Pass)
    The way this game is and when it showed up, I’ll have to call this my top game of the year that I finished. I played a number of pretty good games, but this one just had what I was apparently looking for after quite some time. I’d played the demo back during some Steam event thing and therefore already had some interest in checking it out. It really is an odd mix of Chibi-Robo and Pikmin among other things, which are two of my favorite GameCube games (specifically I’ve played Pikmin 2) featuring weird events in an upscaled world, but more casual and relaxing with the option for some trickier platforming sections if wanted. It has an odd art style of sprites always facing the camera, but it works, and the art style is nice too, also given that most non-Tinykin characters in the game are some kind of cute cartoony bug, and the Tinykin themselves are cute as well. They even hatch out of gumdrop-shaped egg things. I’ve just been into cute bug things.
    The controls are fairly tight so there’s a good flow between throwing Tinykin around and hopping around the environment, and each level, representing a room of the house, has significant verticality so it’s a whole journey from the floor to the rafters, and of course plenty of shortcuts to unlock to zip around between areas so it’s not always a long trip after the initial one. Each level also has a local plot attached, a bit like the recurring worlds in later 3D Mario games like Sunshine and Odyssey, which is tied to the main objective of the game because this problem needs to be solved to get the required item, while there’s also a number of optional side missions that award various other collectibles complete with flavor text. Some are purely for fun, others are upgrades, particularly for being able to hover jump and cross increasingly large gaps. Each Tinykin also has its gimmick, some are strong and can carry objects across the level, another kind is explosive, and the rest have other powers that either solve puzzles or help with getting to different parts of the levels.
    Long story short, this game isn’t a massive undertaking and it feels about the perfect length for what it is, with the option for completionists to do whatever it is they do to get every last thing in the environment. Apparently there was a challenge mode update at some point recently mainly adding races around the levels for cosmetic rewards. I just wonder if there will be any future expansions or a sequel of some kind, though the game does wrap itself up pretty nicely by the end, so I’m not sure how well that could work, but if it does work, I’d look forward to playing that.

With that, time to get back to whatever it was I was doing. Probably more games if I find the time, but I’ve got a bunch of other things I’m working on, including my actual job that’s been taking up a lot of my time lately. We’ll see what else I get through on Game Pass while I have that and while it still has interesting enough games to me. There’s already a few interesting things on the horizon, but they keep dropping more games than they put on at times so I can only wonder what will be left later on. Plus, I have many other games I’d like to clear that I’ve had for a while. Maybe next time it won’t be as much Game Pass percentage-wise while I get back to stuff I’ve been meaning to for some time, but we’ll see where that goes.

(Back to blog index)