2022 had many delightful games, but three stood out to me the most by the time the year was over. Xenoblade Chronicles 3, which released in July, was the first game of the year to truly exceed all my expectations. The Xenoblade franchise is my all-time favorite series of games, so this third entry had monumental expectations from me. Like I said earlier, it exceeded all of them. Developers Monolith Soft crafted the most beautiful world that I have ever seen, and it seamlessly combines the two worlds that I already adored from Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2. In fact, Xenoblade 3 combined every aspect of the first two games and improved on all of them. The battle-system offers the most engaging combat that I have yet to experience, and the game shines even brighter through the story and music. There were multiple moments where I was shouting at my television due to its heart-wrenching twists and turns. I did not think it would ever happen, but Xenoblade Chronicles 3 surpassed the original Xenoblade Chronicles as my favorite game of all time. I even bought the special edition, which I usually have a hard time justifying for most games.
Signalis was ultimately the biggest surprise of the year for me. I heard about it in passing, but I found out that I needed to play it while watching Jon Cartwright from Good Vibes Gaming talk about his favorite games of 2022. I immediately downloaded it before the video was even over, and I was in awe of the style. It harkens back to my favorite era of video game graphics, which is the original PlayStation aesthetic. I completed the game in less than two days, but I appreciated the bite-sized length! This indie survival-horror title brought me back to blissful memories of the classic Resident Evil and Silent Hill titles, and it even stands toe-to-toe with these legendary franchises.
Chained Echoes is an RPG that I have been anticipating for the past seven years, and I am happy to finally say that it did not disappoint in the slightest. It was created by a solo developer named Matthias Linda, and he achieved what many studios made up of hundreds of people dream of doing: make an old-school RPG as good as Chrono Trigger, Xenogears and Final Fantasy VI. Chained Echoes is not shy about its influences, in fact the first scene is a reference to Chrono Trigger, but it stands entirely on its own. Its unique overdrive battle-system shows that turn-based combat still has a place in the modern video game industry, and its gorgeous pixel-art conveys a forty-hour-long story that kept me hooked until the very end.