SwitchRPG Awards 2022 – Ben’s Picks
This year, SwitchRPG will once again be presenting the annual SwitchRPG Awards by way of our own curated lists, which could result in lists of our favorite Switch RPGs of 2022, “best” Switch RPGs by category, or something else entirely. This will run in parallel to our community-based Switch RPG awards (coming soon). Please keep in mind that we always allow for titles released the previous December – in this case, December 2021 – due to the holiday season, amount of games that tend to release around this time, and simply how lengthy RPGs tend to be in general.
For me, 2022 has been another solid year for Switch RPGs. While it’s actually one of my least varied years in terms of number of Switch RPGs played – currently 36, “beaten” only by 2017’s 24 games – I still feel there were a ton of great games spread throughout the year, and still far too many for me to ever have time to play through to completion. That said, I have managed to narrow down what my favorites are for this year, some that disappointed me, as well as one releasing soon that I can only imagine will be on my favorites list this time next year.
Honorable Mention: Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth
While I don’t consider myself a diehard fan of Metroidvanias, I am a sucker for those that draw clear inspiration from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. When Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth first released back in January, it kind of flew under the radar and seemingly had little to no coverage through mainstream outlets. And even though I found the aesthetics quite appealing, I wasn’t sure how well I’d like it, not knowing anything about the media property it was based upon.
But my Symphony of the Night senses were tingling, so I ultimately took the plunge and am so glad I did. Despite no prior attachment to the world or characters, I really enjoyed the narrative focus on loss and how to – and how not to – best deal with it. The gameplay is tight, polished, but maybe a tad on the easy side when compared to its genre peers. The visuals are breathtaking, using a minimalistic color palette to the absolute finest degree. The game’s only true fault is that it’s over too soon, around a 10-hour runtime for 100% completion, but some might argue that this only strengthens its cause and makes it a short, but genuinely sweet adventure.
5: Rise of the Third Power
Every once in a while, there is an indie release that stands out from the crowd. Although most projects are conceived out of a certain level of passion, only a select few exude qualities that elevate it to a genuine “labor of love.” In 2020, I felt that Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition by Stegosoft Games easily fit that bill. The flawed, but big hearted RPG was the culmination of years of blood, sweat, and tears that all started as a hobbyist project two decades prior.
While the studio’s latest entry, Rise of the Third Power, doesn’t have quite the same level of historical depth, it is nonetheless an impressive end result of years of dedication and hard work by a genuinely passionate team. Like Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition was in 2020, Rise of the Third Power is undoubtedly one of the best budget-friendly Switch RPGs of 2022, and a must-have for all turn-based JRPG fans.
4: Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream
It’s not very often that existing sub-sections of properties are brought back into the limelight in truly unexpected ways. But this has come to be expected from the longrunning Atelier series, with 2019’s Atelier Lulua – a sequel to the original and much older Arland trilogy – coming out of nowhere. Three years later, Gust once again jumped back into the archives with the release of Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream, which is a direct sequel to 2015’s Atelier Sophie.
Fortunately, with a brand-new adventure, vision, and help of the Ryza graphics engine, Sophie has never been better. In stark contrast to Ryza’s evolving action combat, Sophie 2 marks a return to the franchise’s roots with turn-based battles, and it doesn’t feel Gust ever skipped a beat. The iconic synthesis system has also seen improvements and is arguably both the best and most newcomer-friendly version we’ve seen to date. All considered, Sophie 2 is yet another solid entry into one of my favorite franchises to date.
3: Xenoblade Chronicles 3
The latest entry into the Xenoblade series will undoubtedly be on everyone’s favorite Switch RPG list this year in some form, and for good reason. There’s not much that hasn’t been said about it at this point, from the compelling story and interesting characters, to the refined combat system, stunning visuals, and exceptional soundtrack, there’s very little to fault Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on without resorting to nitpicking.
What is likely to be the biggest surprise here is that it didn’t make my personal top spot, and though it certainly could have gone that way, two other games stood out for me more this year. Even still, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is probably my favorite game in the series to date, at least until we get a remaster of Xenoblade Chronicles X next year. A man can dream, right?
2: Tactics Ogre: Reborn
Numbers don’t lie. Besides our now famous Project Final Fantasy VI article, our most popular articles and search terms have been regarding classic tactical RPGs, of which we’ve discussed many times over the years. Everyone wanted Matsuno’s iconic games to make their Switch debuts, and we all knew it was a matter of time before it actually happened.
What we didn’t expect, perhaps, was Tactics Ogre coming before the more widely regarded Final Fantasy Tactics. But honestly, I’m glad that it did, as the remaster of the 2010 remake of the 1995 classic has not only shown me things I’d like to see when we do get Final Fantasy Tactics (more on this soon) but also has become a top contender for my absolute favorite game of this year. The gripping narrative steeped in meaningful choice and consequence, slow burn dynamic strategy combat, and inclusion of quality-of-life features wraps the decades-old classic in an extremely appealing package despite some mishaps with certain features (notably the graphic filter and absence of cross/subclassing).
Regardless, Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a reminder of just how influential and integral Matsuno-san’s earliest works were in the tactical RPG space, and they remain fun and enjoyable experiences decades later.
1: Persona 5 Royal
I’ve mentioned this before so I’ll be brief here: the very first Persona game turned me off as a kid, and I never really cared to ever play the series again. But that was 20 years ago, and ever since the Switch became a smorgasbord for all things RPG, I’ve come out of my shell and have played a bunch of games I probably would have never touched back in the day, like the Atelier series that is now easily one of my favorites of all time.
Now I know I’d like Persona 5 to a certain extent, given just how many accolades it has received over the past six years and how my RPG palate has diversified ever since. But nothing could have prepared me for just how much I would ultimately enjoy it. An interesting, if bizarre narrative, great characters, a truly unique art style, catchy jazz-inspired soundtrack, stellar gameplay – Persona 5 Royal truly has it all. Perhaps most intriguing of all is not just the fact that it’s centered around highschool kids, yet feels so mature, but also how it manages to demand dozens, if not hundreds of hours from the player without ever feeling overwhelming or tiresome.
It’s just that good, and I just can’t wait to devote more time to Joker’s adventure once the holiday season settles down a bit.
Most Disappointing: Rune Factory 5
At the peak of COVID, I had the opportunity to cover Rune Factory 4 Special for the site, and 60+ hours later, I was a fan of the series. To say that I was hyped for Rune Factory 5 would be an understatement, and boy, what a letdown it was when I was finally able to play it. While the core gameplay was solid, the myriad of visual and performance issues put so much of a strain on the positives buried underneath that I came away from it with only disappointment.
While it may have received some updates and improvements since the last time I played it, I’ve already put it past me and have accepted that I may not have that Rune Factory itch genuinely scratched until the re-release of Rune Factory 3 come 2023.
Potential 2023 Candidate: Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered
As the resident SaGa fan at SwitchRPG, I am beyond hyped for the impending release of Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered. It is the only SaGa game released on consoles that I’ve never played before, and seeing just how well they’ve handled the re-releases and remasters of the other entries already on Switch, I have no reason to believe that Minstrel Song won’t be among them before too long. There is something about the SaGa progression formula that has always resonated with me on a deep level, and I’m certain that this new release will soon follow suit.
That’s it for this list! What did you think about my picks, and did any of them make your own favorites for this year? Let me know, and be on the lookout for more awards articles soon!