EGM’s Best of 2022: Marc Camron’s Picks
What a weird year in gaming. I found myself constantly awash in games I wanted to play—no shortage there—but simultaneously underwhelmed with the overall quality. While I love games like Dragon Quest: Treasures and Harvestella, they just don’t pack the punch necessary to make a top five list. Good? Absolutely! Great? Nah. The year’s biggest game, Elden Ring, didn’t really fall into my wheelhouse, and there’s the fact that Microsoft had zero big exclusives for the Xbox, something I never really thought I’d see. Perhaps it was fallout from the pandemic, or just general delays all happening at once, but it did make putting this year’s list together much easier than normal. So here’s to 2022, a year when my backlog didn’t grow as wildly out of control as usual—which is good, because 2023 looks insane!
|05||Kirby and the Forgotten Land|
Mario may be the king of the Nintendo platformer, but this year Kirby brought the best hop-and-bop adventure to genre fans. Kirby and the Forgotten Land brings the adorable pink puffball to a glorious, fully 3D world featuring levels that are tightly designed with plenty of secrets for those who care to search for them. The game’s art style combines the colorful, cartoony sensibilities we’re used to from Kirby with a realism not before seen in the series. The final result was the freshest Kirby game ever. Both longtime fans and those new to the series can find a lot to love in the best platform game of the year.
One guy, Matthias Linda, created nearly everything in Chained Echoes. With the exception of the music, lovingly composed by Eddie Marianukroh, Linda did it all. Art, writing, programming, UI design and more. Just one guy. You’d think with all that, the game would be a smaller affair, but it’s not. Expect to spend 30 to 40 hours getting familiar with this large, fully realized world. The game is unabashedly a tribute to the epic RPGs of the 16-bit era, but even then it defies expectations with decisions like eschewing XP and character leveling completely—and somehow it works. All of this comes at a price that’s less than half the average for a new game. Allow yourself to get sucked in this indie masterpiece. It’s well worth your time.
|03||Xenoblade Chronicles 3|
Maybe it’s me, but Xenoblade Chronicles 3 didn’t seem to receive nearly the attention or accolades it deserved. The absolutely massive third entry into Monolith Soft’s epic JRPG series brings the worlds of the first two games together in seamless fashion. Along with its intriguing story, part three offers a refined battle system that’s simply breathtaking. Battles have real weight and give you a sense of accomplishment, while the massive world begs for exploration into every nook and cranny. If you include the side quests, it’s easy to put in more than 125 hours, and that’s before the upcoming season pass DLC hits. So, if you enjoy JRPGs and own a Switch, consider this a must play. Grab that giant sword and dive into a world worthy of your attention.
|02||God of War: Ragnarök|
While I am a bona fide Horizon maniac, God of War: Ragnarök very nearly took the top prize this year. Honestly, it may be the most fully realized game of the year, practically flawless in story, gameplay, music, acting and technical performance. Kratos kicks ass at every step, and Atreus continues to grow into a memorable hero in his own right. The minute-to-minute gameplay folds nicely into the well-spaced set piece moments, keeping the game’s pacing spot on throughout. The game also harnesses the power of the PS5 better than any other available today. If you want to show off your system, this is the game to do it. While it may only be my number two game of the year, Ragnarök might technically be the best game of the year.
|01||Horizon Forbidden West|
As much as I loved Horizon: Zero Dawn, I was not prepared for how much better its sequel ended up. Smoother gameplay, more addictive quests, an amazing story—everything I possibly could have wanted. It swallowed every bit of my free time after its launch, and even after beating it, I couldn’t help but make sure every side quest and diversion was likewise completed. I’m overjoyed some substantial DLC is on the way so I can jump back into Horizon’s amazingly realized world. Sony owns the top two slots on my list this year for good reason: The quality of its first-party titles has reached Nintendo-like levels (which is my highest compliment). Could Spider-Man 2 hit this spot next year? I’m looking forward to finding out!
|SP||The “Back in Grad School Vibes” Award
I have not used my master’s degree in Medieval Literature since I picked up that diploma and waved to my family at my graduation, wondering how I was ever going to make a living with it (spoiler alert: I never did). Pentiment might be the closest I’ve come to employing that knowledge in a long time, though truth be told, that degree did not help playing the game in any way. The feel is there though: Set in 16th century Bavaria with artwork inspired by the illuminated manuscripts from that time, there were times I felt like the crew at Obsidian Entertainment made the game just for me. The adventure is imminently accessible no matter your knowledge of the time period. It’s an odd little game, but one of the best surprises of the year. If you want to try a game that’s truly different, be sure to check Pentiment out.
|SP||The “Worst Best Game” Award
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is exactly the Pokémon game I’ve been waiting for. A huge open world, tons of new monsters to collect, a fun story. And then again, it’s not. The game is fairly ugly, buggy as hell, and suffers from technical issues like pop-in and slowdown that don’t really make sense. Seriously, if the Switch can run Persona 5 Royal, it should be able to run this just fine. A smooth-running, nearly bug-free version of these games would have made my top five list, landing somewhere on the high end. But as much fun as I have playing Pokémon Violet, I can’t ignore the performance pit. With luck some upcoming patches will fix these issues and make the game much more bearable. Until then, however, it wins my newly minted Worst Best Game Award, given to that great game that lives under a toxic shell.
|SP||The “Eternal Optimist” Award
As the year winds down, I have peeked into 2023 and nearly had a panic attack. The lineup looks unbelievable! Octopath Traveler 2, Forespoken, Fire Emblem Engage, Final Fantasy XVI, Hogwarts Legacy, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Resident Evil 4 Remake, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, Diablo IV, Street Fighter 6, and—most of all—The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. And that’s just the big ones we know are coming in the first six months of the year. My inner gamer is shaking with excitement for the new year. I just hope it can live up to expectations, as another year filled with delays and disappointment would kind of suck.
Even though he’s involved with a million different things at work, Marc still finds plenty of time to play games. This doesn’t seem to shrink his backlog, however. Still, he holds out hope for a time when the world is at peace, money becomes unimportant and the average day becomes three hours longer, enabling a semi-adequate time to game.