Game of the Year Watch 2022
July is here, 2022 is halfway done, and it’s time to reflect on what a year we’ve had thus far. The Nintendo Switch is nothing if not an RPG Powerhouse, with some of the most memorable RPG releases year after year. 2022 has been no different, with a steady stream of both mainstream and indie titles blowing us away with their own unique takes on our favorite video game genre. And with our site back in full swing, we’ll be taking another chance to celebrate these great games at the end of the year with the 2022 SwitchRPG Awards.
Today, we’ll be looking back at the first half of 2022 and discussing what our staff think might be some real contenders for the top prize, RPG of the Year. Of course opinions change, winds shift, and hindsight is always 20-20, so only time will tell which of these games will receive nominations when December finally rolls around.
Let’s get into it.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus
A welcome surprise when it was first announced, Pokemon Legends: Arceus released early this year to the satisfaction of many. Arceus mixed up the traditional Pokemon formula, introducing open world gameplay, new catch and battle mechanics, and moving the setting back hundreds of years in the past. The game has its detractors, and a few obvious weaknesses in presentation, but Arceus more than makes up for those failings with its fresh take on this beloved RPG series. And the numbers do not lie. Fans showed up in droves to experience a revamped adventure, proving for all that the series can successfully deviate from the blueprint first established by Generation 1. Pokemon Legends: Arceus will face stiff competition for nominations in this year’s awards, not only from other games on this list, but also from the upcoming, mainline Pokemon titles: Pokemon Violet and Scarlet.
Dungeons of Dreadrock
A self-described RPG that certainly has the aesthetics (if not the gameplay) of a full blooded roleplaying game, Dungeons of Dreadrock is in either case a phenomenal indie title well deserving of a nomination. When a young boy is offered as a sacrifice to a being known as the “King of the Mountain,” his sister sets out to rescue him, traversing the mountain’s 100 floors in her quest. Each floor presents a unique puzzle to solve, which gets progressively more difficult and nuanced as the game progresses. Later game puzzles even require players to bait enemies from previous floors into advantageous positions to trigger requirements on the floor below. With Zelda-inspired combat, a 16-bit aesthetic, quality chiptune music tracks, and wonderful gameplay, Dungeons of Dreadrock is one of the best indies out this year.
Nobody Saves the World
Indies have truly shined on the Switch this year, especially in the RPG space we all know and love. Nobody Saves the World is a beautiful action RPG and dungeon crawler that brings together roguelike elements, shapeshifting mechanics, and a solid progression system into a neat 20-hour package. With the ability to change between 18-different forms over the course of the game – each of which can be upgraded over time – players will not lack for variety as they make their way through the game’s procedurally-generated dungeons. Add to that a quirky, darkly-humorous narrative, and you’ve got yet another memorable title vying for top spot in this year’s awards.
Rise of the Third Power
For those looking for the more traditional RPG experience, you need look no further than Rise of the Third Power. From the same studio that released Ara Fell in 2020, Rise of the Third Power is a turn-based RPG with a real-world, 1930’s-inspired setting (complete with a recent ‘Great War’ that changed the world). Still featuring fantastical monsters and magic, the game executes its gameplay beautifully, with synergistic combat, a unique, party-based progression system, and a glut of intelligently crafted dungeons and side content. While the game’s 16-bit inspired aesthetics can vary in quality, the remainder of the game hits at every turn. With this title, the developers at Stegosoft Games prove they have what it takes to keep pumping out Game of the Year contenders long term.
No list of “Best RPGs of 2022” would be complete without Triangle Strategy. The latest game from Team Asano at Square Enix, Triangle Strategy acts as a spiritual successor to Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics. The game’s branching storyline sees the player embroiled in a vicious war over natural resources and the political wrangling of the world’s leading nations. Forced to repeatedly make choices that will affect not only the game’s main party, but also the citizens of three warring nations, Triangle Strategy delivers on its promises at every turn. The story is mature, the tactical gameplay sharp, and the graphics and sound are presented in Square’s iconic HD-2D engine. Without a doubt, Triangle Strategy will be a strong contender in this year’s awards.
The five games featured above are just a small sampling of the great RPGs that have graced the Nintendo Switch this year. Other fantastic releases include Citizen Sleeper, a sci-fi, narrative RPG set on a space station; Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden, the second in a new card battling RPG series from Square Enix; Chrono Cross: Radical Dreamers Edition, the remake from a beloved RPG franchise; Kharon’s Crypt, a gothic-themed dungeon crawler; and Eiyuden Chronicles Rising, a better hype man than any could have hoped for leading up to the release of Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes. All these games and more are sure to be contenders in the various award categories coming at the end of the year.
Speaking of the end of the year, we still have a massive pile of upcoming RPGs to get through between now and then. LIVE-A-LIVE, another HD-2D remake from Square Enix, hits in just a few weeks, with the highly anticipated Xenoblade Chronicles 3 – a virtual shoe-in for an RPG of the Year nom – coming not long after. Square Enix will keep more hits coming, with both Harvestella (a farming / RPG hybrid) and Dragon Quest Treasures (yet another spin-off for the granddaddy of RPG series) coming late this year. And finally, we can’t forget that we have a new generation of Pokemon launching this November just before the award season cutoffs with Pokemon Violet and Scarlet. With all these 2022 releases, the Switch continues to prove itself to be an absolute monster of an RPG console – a fact for which we are all thankful.
Stay tuned as the year progresses for our thoughts on these games and others, and look out this December for the 2022 SwitchRPG Awards!