Games Played, a 2022 Retrospective

Games Played, a 2022 Retrospective

December 27, 2022 Off By JR

With this being the time of year for retrospective blog posts, I look back over the video games I’ve played this year. It felt like quite a few, and then I looked at the list and was surprised at how many there were. One theme that stood out to me is the number of games from the Metroidvania genre. Growing up, I didn’t play games from this genre; I was more into games like Megaman, Pokemon, and some Legend of Zelda. I tried playing Super Metroid again ten years ago but could not get off the ground with it. I even leaned towards the original Castlevania games (on NES and SNES), which were straight-up platformers compared with their contemporary, non-linear counterparts. In 2022, this all changed, and it probably kicked off with the first game on the list. 

Note: this list isn’t necessarily comprehensive of all games I played in 2022, just what I could find receipts for or remembered, and the order is only approximately correct. 

Metroid Dread

The first on the list was gifted to me by my better half, Amanda. Friends of ours played it and really liked it. At first, I was hesitant, recalling that I’d never really gotten into the Metroid series as a kid or an adult. However, this game changed my uptake of the genre entirely. Metroid games have always been about the atmosphere they set, and this game nailed that in so many ways. From the opening sequence, to the art direction, to the gameplay, to the music. Music is going to be a theme of this whole post, and what makes Metroid Dread stand out is that the music isn’t melodic, but instead, it sets the atmosphere. It hangs in the background and tugs at your nerves – such as when you’re being chased by the E.M.M.I. (a hunter robot that mostly you have to run the bleep away from) – or makes you feel creeped out. As it’s a non-linear game, you could take various paths through the parts of the planet you’re exploring, but as far as I know, I took the anticipated path (I don’t get too adventurous). The challenge of the game hung in that sweet spot of being able to get around when you needed, and some tasks to multiple attempts but never too many. Even the final boss took effort and multiple attempts but never to the point that I wanted to call it quits. I didn’t get 100% of all items because some take just a bit more skill than I was willing and able to develop, requiring some serious gymnastics. Now queue me falling into a Metroidvania-ish rabbit hole. 

Status: Story completed but did not get 100%

Ender Lilies

I’d never heard of this game but saw it on one of the Nintendo game release announcement videos. At the start, it reminded me of Child of Light, an RPG I played years ago with gorgeous music and art direction. Ender Lilies is of a different genre, but it did not disappoint in any way. The soundtrack can stand alone; I listen to it often, and it left such a mark that simply hearing it conjures that exact area or moment in the game. As the soundtrack plays, portions of the game vividly play in my mind. The art direction is fabulous, making use of colour and saturation in such subtle ways that you don’t realize how they’re affecting you until you actively pause and reflect. In film, there is a use of colour called the Smallville effect (splash of colour in primarily greyscale scenes). This is implemented in Ender Lilies, drawing your attention in specific ways. The ability/battle system is unlike any I’d played before, with a deep cast of spirits you can summon with varied and interesting abilities to match any playing style. The game has multiple endings, which gives you more than just non-linear exploration of the vast map but also different jumping-off points. After completing the game, you can challenge a boss rush, which I did numerous times. Again and again, trying to get a better time (or even make it through. A couple of bosses are just brutal). Eventually, Amanda (strongly) suggested I start to play another game because the boss rushes were getting to be a bit much. I may pick up this one again to play new game +, which I only sometimes do with games. 

Ender Lilies might be the best game I’ve played all year. 

Status: Story complete, all endings acquired, all items acquired. 

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Expansion Pass

 I originally had Hyrule Warriors for the WiiU, a unique Dynasty Warriors-style game in the Zelda universe. Amanda and I loved The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so when this new Hyrule Warriors came out, it finally prompted us to get a Nintendo Switch. We played the original together, this new one together, and in 2022 also played the Expansion Pass together. Amanda likes the weapon crafting and meal-making aspects of the games, and I’m more action and combat-oriented, which makes this the perfect game for us to enjoy together. We get to work together, having input on the parts of the game we could be more enthusiastic about doing and getting to rock the parts we like. The story adds nicely to the existing Breath of the Wild lore, even those I don’t think the Hyrule Warrior games are canon. 

Status: story complete and 95+% items and events complete

MONOPOLY® for Nintendo Switch™

Boardgames made into video games it’s a whole genre. This version of monopoly has some fun maps and custom rule adjustments. Amanda obliterates anyone who plays the board game with her, and the virtual version is no different. At least I get to suffer alongside the CPU players. 

Status: JR obliterated

Hollow Knight

This game has very high reviews all around, but I didn’t know anything about it when I started. To be honest, I got it partly because it was on my wishlist (thinking it would be a bit like Shovel Knight, but I was very wrong) and because a friend recommended it. When it was recommended to me, I was under the impression it would be a < 30-hour game, so as I played and watched the game clock rack up, I thought to myself, “I must be near the end.” But, again, I was very wrong! This game has so much depth and so much stuff to do. Plus, the expansion was included, which I did not really realize at first. I digress.

In terms of games of 2022 that could be the best I played, Hollow Knight is a solid competitor. Story? Check. Music? Check check. Like Ender Lilies, I listen to this soundtrack regularly, and the same thing happens, it conjures images of scenes and story bits from the game. Gameplay? Also just fantastic. The charms you collect along the way give you so much variation in how you can play, from being more melee oriented to spell-oriented, defence or adventure. Depending on the task, I could always switch up the charms to help me achieve my goal. This game also had two rabbit holes I started to fall down. The first was the colosseum, an arena you enter and compete to defeat enemies in waves—the stage changes with each wave, providing a different set of challenges. Sometimes there were platforms. Sometimes spikes. Sometimes both, and they change during the battle! The second was this heaven-like area where you can do boss rushes (yup, that’s a theme here). These types of things I like because if I have a busy week where exploration isn’t as viable, I can still enjoy the game because they’re a bit isolated but set within the game. 

I only managed to complete one out of three endings, though. The final battles with the Radiance I could never quite get through. This led me to put the game down and find a YouTube video with the other two endings. However, that didn’t diminish the game for me; it was truly fabulous, and there’s still so much I could continue to explore and do there. 

Status: one story is complete and technically over 100% complete (because of the expansion) but only partially complete. 


With a name like 20XX you know is this is going to be Megaman related. However, it’s an indie game with a female Megaman-like character and multi-player! Amanda and I played a few levels of it and enjoyed the little we did (may come back to it), but ultimately we had other games on our to-play list we thought we would enjoy more. Then physics and controls left something to be desired here, but I loved the concept. 

Status: started but incomplete. 

Mega Man Legacy Collection

Speaking of MegaMan, now I go deep into the originals. As a kid, I mostly played MegaMan X, and years ago, I got the X collection, which is games X – X6 for PS6. I played the bleep out of those games. At that time, I’d started watching speed runs of various games on YouTube, and all these games appeared on those lists. It got to the point where I would start to see how fast I could work through MegaMan X, which is still my favourite. 

Anyway, this legacy collection was games one through six, most of which I’d never actually played before. Growing up, I’d only had access to two and three. It was so interesting to go through these six games in rapid succession to see how the story evolved over time and how the mechanics you come to assume in the X series developed in the early days. The music is also top-notch. MegaMan was originally called Rockman, and there was a big focus on music for the franchise. Because of that history and the fact many of these games came out in the 80s, many of the best works of music come out of these six games. Not only are the original tracks head bang worthy, but the games have inspired fans to remix and resynthesize the tracks endlessly, so you can always find new and equally great tracks that take you down the Mega Memory Lane. 

Thankfully for me, the collection included one important update, the ability to rewind. The classic games are known for being brutally difficult (speed runs of these are just 10s of minutes long), and the games aren’t actually that long. Sometimes you’d just have to try, be defeated, and apply what you learned the last time around and apply it. As someone who is pretty casual, being able to rewind myself out of a hole or off of some spikes made these much less gruelling, and I could just enjoy them.

Status: Complete

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

They took the rewind feature away! This collection is the games from seven to ten. Seven, I played on the SNES as a kid, and playing it again took me down memory lane. I’d never played eight as it was for Playstation, but I’m glad I only went through it once because it might be the worst of the series. Nine and ten were interesting because they returned to the classic NES style. The bonus for nine & ten was that all of the game physics and controls were upgraded to play like modern games (more like these two please!) Nine and ten were a feel-good throw back to the first six, although I never managed to finish nine. As much as I liked all ten of these classics, MegaMan X still holds the number one spot in my heart. 

Status: Three out of four complete, and up to the final boss in the last one. 

Greak: Memories of Azur

I might have forgotten about this one without looking through the list of games on the gamepad. That only has to do with how short it is, not a comment on the game itself because it was actually loads of fun. In this game, you play as three siblings on missions to find each other and collect items so your village can flee an incoming invasion of monsters. This is along those Metroidvania-style games as it has some exploration elements. What sets this apart from the others on this list is the puzzles. As you meet up with your siblings – one rogue-like one that can swim, climb, and crawl through tunnels; a magic user that can float; and the brute who comes with a shield and grappling hook – you explore dungeons that require you to switch between characters. You leave your siblings standing on switches or waiting at doors while you take another sibling to explore the dungeon further. The game does a good job of scaffolding you for increasingly challenging puzzles. Again, it was short (<20 hours), which I enjoyed. Years ago, when I played Child of Light, I spoke with a friend who studies video games, and we talked about “weekend RPGs,” games you could complete in under 20 hours or a weekend. Given their construction, the Metroidvania genre would have some difficulty with that, but it’s a thought. While the art was cute and the gameplay pretty solid, I don’t recall any music from this one. 

Status: completed quickly.

Unravel 2

Amanda and I were looking for co-op games and stumbled upon this one. This puzzle-oriented platformer sees you and your partner as yarn creatures running through different stages. You have to jump, swing, lift, and coordinate your movements with the other player in increasingly complex challenges. The puzzle aspect is fun, especially if you’re playing with someone else. If left to my own devices, I would have been stumped so many times! That being said, we never finished it. We may come back to this one again. 

Status: not complete

Spirit of the North

I really liked the concept of this game. You play as a fox in snow-covered lands and come upon spirits that begin your journey. Throughout the stages, you discover the remains of human(?) travellers and set their spirits free. Through certain areas, you see artifacts of people and murals depicting what events lead to the current state of the world. It’s a super chill game that’s one part exploration and one part puzzle solving. It’s not an open world which puts a nice container on each quest to open the next area. The music is ambient and adds to the relaxed feeling while playing. The controls, however, left a lot to be desired and eventually got to the point where it was easier to put it down and pick something else up. It reminded me of old Sega Dreamcast games I thought I would love, but the janky controls were too much. 

Status: not complete

ibb & obb

I saw the receipt for this one and how to look it up. I smiled and laughed when I saw it again. This is one we got to play together, and we made it much further through this than through Unravel. This cute two-player game moves you through platforming stages from left to right. The stages are separated horizontally, with certain sections you can “fall through.” This creates interesting mechanics where you might not be able to continue because you can’t jump high enough. To solve this, you flip to the other side and jump off of a high ledge there to get an extra gravity boost. The puzzles were fun, and again it was great to play with someone else, especially when you get stumped. The artwork was charming, and the transitions from stage to stage were unique (a little recap of how you did, a party with other cute creatures like ibb & obb, a little party music track, and sometimes fireworks). 

Status: Complete

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

A classic arcade genre was the beat ’em up. That’s basically the format of Ninja Turtle games, and this one was no different. However, one update on this version is that you can play multi-player over Switch online. This meant that two of our friends could be in their living room, and we could be in ours, and all four of us could play together. Had this come out in 2020, it would have been the perfect game (we played other things that helped get us through). Unfortunately, it was mostly a nostalgia purchase and play, and like other nostalgia-based purchases, once it scratches the itch, it gets old again really fast. So we ended up only halfway through it. 

Status: not complete

Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition

Back to Metroidvania with Ori. Amanda gifted me the sequel to this one, so I had to get the first game and play through it. Ori has actually been on my game wishlist for years (even saved to my list on the WiiU Nintendo eShop). I don’t know why I never got around to it, but this game is as stunning as I’d anticipated and fits perfectly in that weekend game format I mentioned above. This time, you take on the role of a forest spirit separated from its home. The game shares its story through the narration of the spirit tree – at times when you enter new areas – through non-playable scenes without any text or narration, and semi-playable scenes where you might take on the role of someone other than Ori. The music adds to the feel of each region of the forest of Nibel you explore, sitting between the background and your awareness. The art direction and music sit nicely together, supporting the rich gameplay that combines platforming and mini-puzzles. For a short game with a semi straight forward story, the creators get you invested in all the characters with surprising speed and ease. The way the regions of the forest are put together made it a treat to explore every corner and revisit places I’d been already. That is one tricky thing to manage in this genre. You often have to backtrack once you unlock new abilities to get different items or progress in an area you’d already been in. In some games, this could be monotonous, but in Ori, the forest is so visually attractive and inviting that it is lovely to revisit different areas. While going through it, I could see where different items were, and I remember telling Amanda I didn’t think I would 100% the game. I’d just get what I could and then finish the story. What surprised me was that once I got near the end of the game, the travel was so smooth that it didn’t feel like a chore to go back and get everything. So bam! 100% of items were acquired, all abilities unlocked, and all areas 100% explored. 

Status: Complete

The final game to play of 2022 will be the sequel this Ori, and then I’m off to 2023. 

*when I saw 100% on any of these, I excluded achievements because I’m not that dedicated to being a completionist. not at all. 

Photo by Mister Mister