We regret to inform you that 2022 is half over. You might as well just start buying your Christmas presents now, folks, because from here it's a slippery slope to Winter. But before that happens, let's celebrate the six-month mark of 2022 with our games of the year so far, or GOTYSF!
The list is stacked this year, with Pokémons and Ninja Turtles and Kirbies, so we had a little discussion between the NL team about our picks for GOTYSF, but if you want to skip straight to the poll to have your say (how could you) then it's right at the bottom. But the words are good too. You should read them anyway.
Without further 2022 ado, let's get GOTYSFing!
KATE GRAY, STAFF WRITER: My first pick is a recent one: Card Shark! I played a bit of it way back and knew it was something special, and now it’s out in full I can see that I was right and I have great taste. It’s bloody hard, though. A lot of it depends on remembering long strings of information, like how to signal what suit and rank a card is, and though it’s all way simpler than actual card sharpery, it’s not great for my brain. It’s a really fascinating, creative, unique approach to games though. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
GAVIN LANE, EDITOR: Card Shark is on my list of ‘Games I Have To Get Around To At Some Point Before We Get To GOTY Proper’, but it does look like a winner.
ALANA HAGUES, STAFF WRITER: I think card games and deckbuilders need something really interesting to get their hooks in me, and the minute I saw Card Shark (that art style!) and saw it in motion I was intrigued. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, so it’s on that “to play” list too.
OLLIE REYNOLDS, STAFF WRITER: I know very little about this game I’m afraid, and its name just makes me think of GTA, so… Sorry bout that, ha!
I haven’t managed to finish the game yet
KATE: It’s actually… not really a card game at all. It’s pretty much nothing to do with card playing itself, which is really interesting! It’s more about memory, finesse, and repeating instructions, which sounds awfully dull, but isn’t. There’s also a story on top about French elitism and sticking it to the aristocracy and all that, but I got stuck on one particularly hard puzzley bit and haven’t managed to finish the game yet!
ALANA: Well! Consider that a lesson for me.
KATE: WarioWare is a pretty good comparison, actually, because there are some rhythm-ish elements to it. Obviously, you’re cheating at cards, so you need to not draw too much attention to yourself, which means that you’re usually juggling the trick itself, the timing, and the distractions, like pouring wine or leaving the table. That’s what makes it so hard! The pressure is on!!!
GAVIN: That’s how I feel looking at the list of 2022 releases having not played too many of them! My instant go-to at the moment is the very-recently-released Portal: Companion Collection… but that doesn’t really count, does it?
ALANA: They’ve never been on Nintendo consoles before, right? And they’re still brilliant! The Companion Collection absolutely deserves a mention at least.
GAVIN: They do. From what I’ve played, they’re just exactly what you’d want a Switch port of this pair to be. Anyway, having mentioned them, my pick so far this year (bearing in mind there’s a ton of stuff from the first six months I haven’t touched yet) might have to be Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Mainly because I’ve come around on it massively following my initial reaction. At the beginning it just seemed like a very pleasant, very polished 3D platformer, but once I started playing with my daughter by my side, it totally transformed the experience. It’s possibly the most polished game I’ve played… ever?
OLLIE: Whoa, bold words there!
KATE: Is it cheating to have a daughter there with you to make you appreciate the childlike joy of Kirby like you haven’t been able to since you, yourself, were a child?
GAVIN: Ha, perhaps! It might be that the game opens up a little after the first area, too. I’m really not the biggest Kirby fan (except for Epic Yarn, which is appropriately epic), but Forgotten Land has really turned things around and won me over. We’ll see how it ranks come the end of the year, but I’ve been very impressed.
OLLIE: That’s good to hear! I must admit, Kirby has never been my thing and it’s unlikely this one will convince me to dive into that particular world, but I’m happy Kirby and the Forgotten Land has resonated with so many people!
ALANA: Yeah, I’m also not the biggest Kirby fan, and there are so many little magical moments in Forgotten Land that exude pure joy. But I sort of went the opposite direction to you, Gavin. I really liked the initial few worlds, and sort of by the end, I was ready for it to be over. Which, if anyone has beaten the game…
GAVIN: Oof. Well, this is GOTYSF, so maybe I’ll have 180-ed again come December. I hope not but we’ll see!
ALANA: I hope so! I still really liked it, but Kirby is kind of just like comfort food that, once I feel full, I’m happy to put down. I’m in the minority! But okay, maybe I should be a bit less of a contrarian and talk about something I adored – Citizen Sleeper. This is an RPG in the really traditional sense – dialogue trees, dice rolls, conversations, etc. All set beautifully in a cerebral, calm space setting where people interact with each other, learn about each other, and discuss the ins and outs of a colony. This sort of makeshift society that has formed over years shows all the good and bad sides of society, and it’s a beautifully written world and story. Nice and short, too!
I haven’t had the time to play it myself
KATE: I’m so glad you picked Citizen Sleeper, because I haven’t had the time to play it myself, and I know I’m going to love it. I think it’ll make it on to a lot of end-of-year GOTY lists, too.
ALANA: I really hope so! It’s wonderful, and it’s not heavy either despite the kind of politics it ends up discussing. Everyone feels like a real human being. It’s like a slightly lighter, gentler Disco Elysium. And you never feel under pressure to make the right dice rolls – there are ways to get better dice, and there are skills you can learn, but yeah. Super good. And free DLC later this year, too.
OLLIE: Nice, I’d heard it’s kind of similar to Disco Elysium, so that’s really good to hear, maybe I’ll give that one a go at some point.
OLLIE: Ha, my list is way too long. So anyway, my first pick has to be the brilliant Adventure Ti - er, sorry, OlliOlli World. It’s just wonderful. It takes the incredibly slick gameplay of the first two OlliOlli games and expands it in so many ways. The graphics are rudimentary, but it works perfectly well within that world, and the customisation options are just off the charts. Definitely one to go for if you’re into skill based gameplay at all.
KATE: Do I have to be into skateboarding? I’ve only ever played one Tony Hawk game and it was mostly for the music.
OLLIE: Nah, I wouldn’t say so. It lists off all the wacky tricks as you pull them off, but you don’t need to know them, as such. The true joy of the game lies within simply stringing together a bunch of tricks and it’s more or less completely mapped to the analogue sticks - very intuitive!
GAVIN: They released some DLC for it recently, right? I love the style it’s got. I always felt the previous games were more ‘functional’ in the visuals department, this one has the art to back up the sweet gameplay.
it’s definitely on my ‘to-do’ list in the near future
OLLIE: Yeah, I’ve not tried the new DLC yet, but it’s definitely on my ‘to-do’ list in the near future. You’re right about the art style, it definitely feels like this was the game the devs always intended to make, and it’s great to see it finally realised.
ALANA: Yeah, this is another one on my long list to play. I love how colourful and creative it looks, and consistent Ollie’s praise for OlliOlli World hasn’t helped!
KATE: Wait. Ollie. OlliOlli World. I think… I think I see a connection…
OLLIE: Ollie Ollie World needs to happen.
KATE: Right, shall we talk about our second picks for GOTYSF?
KATE: I’ll go first then! My second was a bit tricky to pick, actually. Most of the games I’ve played this year have either been ports or old games, and I feel a bit weird picking a port… So my second pick, if you’ll let me have it, is a game I haven’t actually played yet. BUT I know I’m going to love it. You know, like when you see something on a menu that you know is going to be great? Yeah. Anyway, it’s AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative, which is really hard to type. I absolutely adore the Zero Escape games, and I’m playing through the first AI game and loving it. I wish there were more story games about murders and weird timey-wimey stuff, because that’s my JAM.
ALANA: I think what AI does so well is characters. God, the characters and the voice performances are so good that you’re willing to believe anything that happens. And I’m really happy to see nirvanA initiative review so well, too, even if I prefer the first game personally. BUT it’s still brilliant – well written, considerately plotted, and still hilarious.
KATE: There was an awful lot of fan service in the first game – lots of weird pervy stuff, ha – but I realised I don’t really mind it too much? Especially since it's meant to be a bit of an eye-roll moment. Maybe I’m just used to it after playing 999 and Danganronpa, which have a lot of the same sort of, er, I don’t know how to explain it in a family-friendly way…
ALANA: I know what you mean and I can’t find the right words either! AI2 (I’m not doing the case/letter thing every time) is maybe worse but it’s kinda… not derogatory in the same way as other games can be? And the different protagonists help balanced it a bit more, at least.
I haven’t played either of these games
OLLIE: I haven’t played either of these games, so I really can’t offer up anything of value here! But… Hmm… I suppose you can pick a game you haven’t played yet. I choose Bayonetta 3! Ha, joking.
KATE: New rule: The game has to at least have a release date. Also preferably be out.
GAVIN: So then, Banjo…
ALANA: I mean… that would be unfair to everything else!
GAVIN: You’re not wrong. I mean, how can anything compare to such a monumentally fine piece of interactive entertainment, now available on Nintendo Switch as part of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack?
KATE: Gav, pick your actual game instead of talking about Banjo again!!
GAVIN: Can you tell I’m stalling because I’m having trouble picking something?? I’ve dabbled with Grapple Dog and enjoyed it, but having it as a GOTYSF would be generous. And I’ve only dipped my toe into some others on the list, it’s hard to know!
KATE: You’re allowed to pick games you haven’t played, remember!
OLLIE: Tell you what Gav, I’ll choose for you. In fact, I think I can speak for all gamers when I say… Ahem… Drum roll….. TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge!
ALANA: Beautiful. Yes. I’m very glad you brought this up. TMNT is sheer arcade joy. I feel like I’m a kid all over again playing this.
GAVIN: Oh, I endorse that! I’ve only played the first level but it felt like that perfect mix of nostalgia and mod-cons. Dotemu seems to have cornered the market in that.
OLLIE: Yeah, it’s pretty great. Coming from someone who has little to no nostalgia for TMNT, I do nevertheless enjoy games like Streets of Rage 4 and Scott Pilgrim. Shredder’s Revenge somehow feels better than both, and I can’t quite get over just how slick the combat gameplay feels.
KATE: The closest I have come to playing TMNT is that I saw a turtle at the aquarium last weekend. It was a good turtle.
GAVIN: So you’d rate it more highly than SOR4, Ollie? I really need to dive back in!
OLLIE: I think so, yeah. I’m not one of those “oh, pixelated graphics are better, bwaaah” kinda people, but the visuals in TMNT really blew me away; the whole package feels kind of perfect to me.
ALANA: It’s another example of a game being made by fans who get it. There are so many references to really obscure pieces of TMNT media, and references to other fighting games, right down to getting the voice actors back where they could. Plus it controls tightly, sounds perfect (Tee Lopes!!!), and looks amazing.
KATE: Wait, was that Ollie’s pick or was Ollie lending it to Gav?
GAVIN: Ha, look, I’ve spent the best part of the last six months playing Mother 3, Hades, a Japan-only N64 fishing game, and just recently Cuphead. My 2022 list is more of a vague concept than a solid thing at this point. Ollie can have that one!
KATE: Oooh, we can count the new Cuphead DLC as a game!
ALANA: I still need to play Cuphead… hard games make me a liiiittle unhappy. Well, um, my second pick for GOTYSF is something that’s already been mentioned – Neon White. Talk about a pivot in genres for Ben Esposito. Though Neon White is really hard to categorise. Speedrunner/platformer/puzzler? Sure! But it’s dumb, fun, stupid, and ridiculously addictive. It really scratches a competitive itch in me. And I’m not usually good with first-person games, either, so, yay?
OLLIE: Ack, yet another game I’ve yet to play! This one definitely sounds awesome though, so I’ll be picking it up soon…ish.
yet another game I’ve yet to play...
KATE: Same!!! I was going to pick this one as “I’m pretty sure I’ll love it but I haven’t played it yet” so I’m glad you chose it instead, Alana. It’s weird, I’ve read so much about it but everyone seems to say the same thing – that they don’t know what it is, but it’s great. A deckbuilding dating sim speedrunning visual novel platformer??? Sounds awesome!
ALANA: Yeah, just throw it all in! And it’s over-the-top and never takes itself seriously, which I think pairs really nicely with the snappy gameplay. Also, gyro controls. I haven’t tried them, but I know a lot of people love gyro, and I’ve heard very good things about them here. Apologies to Pokemon Legends: Arceus here, which would’ve been my second pick had Angel Matrix not made something this fun.
GAVIN: I was going to ask if anyone felt strongly enough to pencil Arceus onto their GOTYSF list.
KATE: I was thinking about it, and I can’t tell if it’s because it was all the way back in January, or because it just didn’t set my heart on fire, but… my takeaway from PLA or PokeLegArc or whatever we want to call it for short was that it was a cool new direction, but more of a proof of concept than a fully-fleshed-out game. That’s more dismissive than I mean it to be, honestly – it had a lot of great additions to the Pokémon oeuvre, like the fast catching and the open worldyness, but a lot of times it just felt massive and empty.
OLLIE: I honestly didn’t like it at all. I really wanted to, but… no. Not for me.
GAVIN: It’s on my list, but hearing things like that coupled with my time constraints at the start of the year, I didn’t want to invest my time in something so huge that I wasn’t 99% sure I’d love. Ditto Triangle Strategy, although I’m pretty sure I’d adore that. Did that make anyone’s list? I’m itching to play it!
ALANA: I’m a little sad at this Arceus talk! It’s probably one of my favourite Pokémon games ever. I nearly fell off the series with Sword & Shield, so this felt really fresh, but I do get the whole “proof of concept” criticism. I think it being on my GOTY list at the end of the year will depend on Scarlet & Violet, really. And with Triangle Strategy, I haven’t played it yet! Strategy games intimidate me! But I love Final Fantasy Tactics and I love Octopath Traveler (and HD-2D), so I think I’ll have to buckle up and play it this summer.
KATE: Have we all picked a first and second GOTYSF, then?
ALANA: I think so! The rest of the year is pretty stacked for me and there’s a few games from the past six months I want to catch up on, but it’s been a pretty busy year so far.
ALANA: Oh man, I’ve played 13 Sentinels on PS4. That game is genuinely brilliant.
OLLIE: I think that’s it for our first and second picks though! Unless… Has Gav actually got one or not..?
GAVIN: Erm, well, you see the thing is… *runs*
KATE: You can pick an old game, if you want! I mean, my real GOTYSF is Hollow Knight!
ALANA: I can get behind this choice! Hey, maybe Silksong will come out this year and- *is cut off*
GAVIN: If I can pick an old game I’ve played this year that isn’t Hades (NEWS FLASH! HADES IS GOOD GAME!), I’d say Blasphemous. Really cracking Metroidvania, that. So good and evergreen I’m jamming it awkwardly in here!
OLLIE: If we’re picking old games, then Resident Evil 4 is my GOTY every year!
KATE: Oh yeah, have you guys heard of this game called Breath of the Wild? It’s proper good.
GAVIN: New one on me. Is it a roguelike?
OLLIE: It’s terrible, don’t bother.
ALANA: No, it’s a Soulslike I think.
KATE: Bit of a Zelda-like really.
We apologise deeply for the running theme of this GOTY list being "we haven't actually had time to keep up with all the releases", but, you know, even when you work in games you don't get to play all the games!
And now... it's your turn to vote!
Note: This list of GOTY games is pretty much every game we've rated 9/10 or 10/10 this year, plus a few stand-out 8/10s. If your game choice isn't on here, make a case for it in the comments!