Alex Oronas Game of the Year 2022

Man, what a year. I really tackled my backlog this year while still managing a new game or two. Unfortunately there were too many good games on my plate and I enjoyed way too much so let’s start with the Runners up.

Runners Up

Trombone Champ, Session, Midnight Fight Express, Arcade Paradise and Norco

I thought 2022 was really strong for innovative new ideas. Taking a known quantity and turning it on its head to something so new and interesting. Trombone Champ with Guitar Hero, Session with Skate, Midnight Fight Express with the Arkham Games, Arcade Paradise with worklikes and Norco with Point Click adventures. These games all barely missed the cut but I cherish my time with all of them. 

Best Old Game I Played This Year

Chicken Police

Another point and click adventure that had an absurd noir story that fit in perfectly with any detective movie or game I’ve experienced in the last ten years. The twist that made it special was that each character has a human body but with a realistic animal head. There’s something to be said about tasteful boudoir photos of deer ladies or threatening tiger headed bouncers that put a lot of funny thoughts into my head. 

10. Card Shark

This story based card counting simulator grabbed me early on and kept me going until the end. The game extensively teaches you real life grifting mechanics that made me feel dirty but also so clever. Card Shark gave me the confidence to think I could take my new found card skills to the streets if I felt so inclined. It’s cleverly written and original gameplay I have yet to see in a game. An all around quality indie title. 

9. Cult of the Lamb

Cult of the Lamb is such an interesting game. It’s a 50/50 loop of animal crossing resident management sim, with a roguelike dungeon crawler. Managing your town, meant better loot and stats for your run. Making dungeon runs meant more resources to better suit your town. Neglecting one can affect the other, so better make sure you use your time wisely. Cult of the Lamb pulled me in and held onto me as after each run, I had to go to town and manage. There was always more to do, or the next loop to complete. Each run would take 15 minutes, and managing your town roughly took me the same. It was a perfect mix of constant ongoing set ups that pushed me through to the finale. I had a tough time putting this one down. 

8. Tunic

Tunic gave me a short bite sized Zelda experience. It was direct and to the point, while also giving a lot of “a-ha” moments with map, perspective and item discovery. They even go as far as to encode all the item description and in game manuals in a different language, so it’s all trial and error. Satisfying gameplay, beautiful art design, and wonderful soundtrack. This just clicked with me in ways that Death’s Door clicked with me last year, though I will say, the fatigue of this style of game is real. That’s why Tunic is only number 8 on my list, if there’s another game in this style next year, I question whether it’ll even make my list just from the fatigue of it all. 

7. Lost In Play

I love me some point and click adventures. Especially with a beautifully animated cartoon style. Bonus points for a heartwarming imaginative story, boom we got a stew going. Lost in Play does a lot of things right as far as all its base parts combining to something so endearing. My one qualm with it is that like most point and click adventures, the resolutions to some puzzles don’t necessarily make sense. There are times when you just have to randomly click everything or combine even if you don’t understand how you solved it. Still, this tells a story of a brother and sister playing make believe to a wild and fantastical world. It’s whimsical while maintaining its strong story. I loved my time with Lost In Play. 

6. Spiderheck

Man, do I love a good couch party game. Games like Stick Fight or Screen Cheat are absolutely my jam. Some of my favorite times are having friends over with drinks and games. Spiderheck has absolutely taken the top spot this year to my party game collection. Due to being near the airport, my house has become the de facto visitor hub and Spiderheck has been a highlight for any visiting friends. Guarantee, for those that visited, there was a minimum of an hour of this game. It’s silly, it’s competitive, and so easy to pick up and learn. It doesn’t matter your skill level, you will have fun with Spiderheck. 

5. Jack Move

I often want to get into JRPG’s but find it hard due to the time commitment. Jack Move is a perfect bite sized JRPG, clocking in at around 6 hours, it’s perfect. The combat is satisfying and the story is strong. Noa is a strong protagonist that’s personable and quirky. The world is lived in, and the art design is fantastic pixel art. It’s got a steep but manageable difficulty curve and didn’t overstay its welcome. It scratched a very specific itch and was equally as satisfying. 

4. The Quarry

Supergiant games is known for their choose your own adventure campy horror movie style games. I have played a handful of them but rarely do I fully engage with them unless part of a group. During our Extra Life stream, we played a majority of The Quarry on stream, and boy was I hooked. The controller passing nature mixed in with the medium grade celebrity faces and acting pulled together a really intriguing package. On top of that, I always feel like I can call the twist endings, but man I am generally wrong, including with this one, so that mysterious nature feels good. They had a really solid offering this year with The Quarry. 

3. House Flipper

Man, House flipper sure was a trip. Not unlike when I got into Minecraft, I would blink and hours would go by with House Flipper. I would start a house revamp with just a simple vacuuming job, but three houses later I would be painting striped accent walls. Even now, I can hardly remember the haze of House Flipper (which is both a good and bad thing) but its hypnotic siren song grabbed me hard and didn’t let go until there were no more houses to be flipped. 

2. We Are OFK

My surprise sleeper hit. Fellow co-host and I have been eyeing this thing for a while, and knowing I have a penchant for the occasional hipster visual novel, I couldn’t be more hyped. Well turns out the hype was real. The  story is about a group of friends finding their way from jobs they hate, into forming a synthy electro pop band. The end of each chapter is punctuated with a playable music video of a new song and these are all really catchy. The characters are lovable and the story is very relatable. It honestly felt like hanging out with my friends, plus there’s an in-game text message app, so you can actually get texts from your friends! It felt like home, and I never wanted it to end. 

1. Elden Ring

On the complete opposite spectrum, Elden Ring is a spectacle. It’s a punishing beast that is explosive and disastrous and just an overall epic cinematic experience. Each new enemy encounter or boss battle felt like I was in a gory Lord of the Rings legend. These characters were the stuff of myths. Each confrontation felt like a war, and by the end, win or lose, I had left everything I had on the battlefield. I feel like I put my blood, sweat and tears into Elden Ring and it still asked for more. It was a non stop thrill ride with very little time to actually breathe. I was always on edge and ready for the next dramatic curiosity. I loved my time with Elden Ring, I hated my time with Elden Ring. The fact that it could elicit these emotional responses and everything in between is what made it my top ten. I know it’s the hot new From Software game, but for me it was an exercise in pushing my boundaries into how skillful a player I could be. I won’t say I’m a good player, I will say I beat Elden Ring. That’s my badge of honor. 

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