Somehow, it’s nearly December – how’d that happen? I’ve played fewer games than usual so far this year, but after recently catching up on Pokémon Legends: Arceus so that I was prepared for Pokémon Scarlet (which I’m now playing), it’s got me thinking about the other games I’d like to finish before the end of 2022.
Therefore, below I’m going to run through the games I’d like to finish before 2022 is over. After all, if I have a concrete post here on this site, it’ll give me less of an excuse to keep putting off playing them! If you’re reading this, hopefully this post can also double as a kind of recommendation list for games I have started playing or am about to play. I’ve attempted to be realistic here; for example, I’d like to play Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but I can’t see myself getting through that huge JRPG before the end of the year, so I’ll keep that in the backlog for 2023.
Let’s start with the game I’m actively playing right now; the imminent release of Pokémon Scarlet caused me to finally go back to Pokémon Legends: Arceus, where the series further committed to the open-world direction started with the Wild Area in Sword/Shield. Interacting with Pokémon in a more free-roaming setting was an intriguing and exciting approach, and I was impressed at how Legends: Arceus presented the player with multiple goals to keep you engaged with the open world (and as a huge Diamond/Pearl/Platinum fan, the new lore was brilliant!). With Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, this open approach is combined with the more familiar structure of the mainline Pokémon games and an increased focus on Trainer battles. Brand new Pokémon regions only come around every few years, too, so there was plenty of reason to get excited about these new entries.
So far, I’ve finished the intro sequence of Scarlet and am now making my way through the Paldea region, where you can complete Gyms, take down enemy bases, and seek out Titan Pokémon in the order you choose. Currently, I’m very mixed on Scarlet. On one hand, the very different and less linear structure is intriguing, but the game definitely isn’t fully polished, as there’s a lot of rough animations, framerate issues, and texture pop-ins. Furthermore, there’re a disappointing amount of shops that are reduced to an in-game menu, or buildings that are completely inaccessible. However, the new characters and Pokémon species have been really endearing so far (your guide and rival Nemona has a particularly earnest enthusiasm), and those are big factors for me when it comes to this series. I have a long way to go in Scarlet, and my enjoyment could go either way at this point, but I’m firmly along for the ride!
A Plague Tale: Requiem
This entry in the list is straightforward; I played and really liked A Plague Tale: Innocence, a game which seemed to come out of nowhere to provide a visually impressive sister/brother story set in a fictionalised 1300s France… with rats. Lots of rats. You played as Amicia De Rune, on the run and protecting your younger brother Hugo as your family is hunted down. The complicating factor is an outbreak of swarms of rats which are deadly if you make a wrong move, and lead to some shocking scenes. The ending left the possibility of a sequel open, and after the success of the game, that sequel has come in the form of Requiem.
Requiem appears to continue the main themes of the first game, and I’ve actively avoided spoilers as the plot is such a crucial element of the experience. I talked a bit more about the sequel and the series in my post-E3 2021 post here. Requiem recently released, and I’m eager to play it – perhaps once I am done with Pokémon Scarlet. It’s certainly a different sort of game from Pokémon… Unless you had swarms of Rattata?
This is the one entry on the list that didn’t come out this year (it released on various platforms from 2015 onwards), but it’s always been on my radar because of the gorgeous pixel art style, the sprawling RPG world, and the glowing reception it received upon release. I bought the physical edition via Limited Run Games and played a little bit when it first arrived, but it’s only this year that I went back to it and fully fell into it.
There’s so much depth to the game, and the story is remarkably original in how it interweaves virtual reality and lost memories into the enjoyable exploration and combat. Developers Radical Fish Games clearly deeply cared about the game, as there are so many little secrets in the environments, nuances in the gameplay, and even references to other classic RPGs and video game characters to discover. I’ve put in tens of hours already, and feel like I’m starting to near the climactic portions of the story. I’ve put it on hold whilst I play the new Pokémon releases, but I’m genuinely stoked to go back to it after. If you’re at all a fan of RPGs, I’d highly recommend CrossCode, as it’s a step above most others in the genre.
Mario Strikers: Battle League Football
When a new Mario Strikers game was finally announced for Switch, my friends and I were so happy. Sadly, upon release, Mario Strikers: Battle League Football didn’t quite hit the standard of the first two games, lacking the peak of ridiculousness those prior entries offered; there were less cows and tractors flying across the pitch, that’s for sure! The stadiums were more standard, and there wasn’t much in the way of new additions – if anything, there were less to unlock (it was very sad to discover Monty Mole had been removed).
However, the core DNA of Mario Strikers was still there, and it undoubtedly had never looked better. The first time you see the new animations is very fun, and the game was very playable, especially in local co-op. My friend and I played through the initial Cups, which weren’t nearly as difficult as the GameCube and Wii games. Our next challenge is to play the unlockable higher difficulties and test out the DLC they’ve added to the game since. I’m hoping to do this over the Christmas period, which is an ideal time for local co-op games that make you shout at your friends… Right?!
Horizon Forbidden West
I’m going to end this list with the game that is perhaps most pressing on my to-play list; Horizon Forbidden West, which I inexplicably haven’t started yet despite being very excited for the game and getting a copy back in February!
I know Horizon is going to take a lot of my time (I put around 80-100 hours into Horizon Zero Dawn and the DLC The Frozen Wilds), and I think that is why I’ve been hesitant to play it piecemeal in the evenings. With December and the additional days off, though, it’s time to start Forbidden West and let myself be absorbed into that world. Because I know that once I start playing it, I’m going to be reminded of the Horizon magic, and it’ll likely be difficult to contact me for a while, haha! It’s a prime contender for my favourite games of the year, and I don’t think I should write an article on that before I’ve played Forbidden West.
That’s my list of five games I’d really like to finish playing before the end of 2022! I’ll come back to this in just over a month and see how I’ve done – hopefully I’ll have a lot of great games to talk about!
Have an amazing day!
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