SwitchRPG Awards 2022 – Kierra’s Picks
The SwitchRPG Awards 2022 are officially underway and with it, we bring back something that was initially thought up of last year alongside the community polls: writer articles! This is a great way for all of us to talk about the games that stood out to us in one way or another. I’ve personally been excited about these articles, because all of the folks at SwitchRPG have such wildly different tastes. And while I’m sure that there will be some overlap with top fives, there’s also guaranteed to be a couple of titles that may be unique to each individual.
And of course, this gives me an excuse to try to let loose and ramble, as is my want. So here are a collection of the games that have made an impression on me this year, both good and bad!
Honorable Mention #1: Live A Live
Live a Live truly feels like a “If you know, you know” title. Perhaps to those outside of the RPG realm, seeing this game mentioned time and time again may only draw confusion. But it is such a treat to play through and is a title I would say should be experienced at least once. All of the stories that are illustrated across the many chapters in short but sweet doses really paints this game in a positive light. That paired with the HD-2D aesthetic and we have an RPG that really sets itself apart from the others.
Honorable Mention #2: Beacon Pines
As is my want, I must have at least one visual novel/visual novel-adjacent game in this list, and this year it goes to Beacon Pines. The art, first and foremost, is gorgeous. Like, oh my goodness, I am in love with how the game looks. Secondly, the story-book aspect of the game, where you’re exploring through the world of Beacon Pines and picking up different emotions in order to play through different scenarios, is wonderfully handled. While the narrator’s voice can be a bit much at times, it really sets the mood of an extravagant story unfolding before your eyes.
5. Most Surprising: Pokemon Legends: Arceus
If you talked to me prior to the Pokemon Legends: Arceus release, then you’ll know that I was apprehensive about it. Pokemon wasn’t known for going outside of its comfortable box often and as such, this game seemed like it would be too ambitious. And yet, by god, they did it. The mad lads did it. Pokemon Legends: Arceus was a fun experience to play through, and one that I desperately (desperately!!!) hope that they expand on in the future.
4. Best Visuals: OPUS: Echo of Starsong
If there is one thing about me, it’s that I’m very sentimental. It is very easy to squeeze out a tear from my eyes if you set up a story of inevitability. Death comes for everyone and even when you know what the ending is going to produce, actually watching those moments unfold gets me every time. While OPUS: Echo of Starsong doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, the ending still hit me pretty hard and I found myself slipping into that familiar feeling of sentimentality. And since this was visually up there as one of my favorite games this year, the art style really set this game apart from everything else that I’ve played. I loved the way that dimensions were played with when it comes to the colors.
3. Best Narrative: Citizen Sleeper
2022 seemed to have been the year of text-based RPGs for me and Citizen Sleeper is that release for me. The writing is amazing. The various quest lines that you can explore and manage keep you on your toes. It does a great job at keeping you aware of what you need to do, as well as hanging a level of threat over your head at key points of the story. It is truly that game that I would want everyone to experience at least once.
2. Best Combat: Triangle Strategy
Tactics games are my life blood and Triangle Strategy was everything I wanted and more in terms of gameplay. Characters galore to play with, different roles to take advantage of, multiple ways to deal damage and defeat enemies in specific battles, and excellent maps. A tactics game is only as great as its combat and boy, is Triangle Strategy’s combat great. For those who want to experiment with all of the units, there is a bit of disappointment in that realm (that will require some grinding to keep everyone up on their levels), but this is ultimately a tactics game for fans to not miss out on.
1. RPG of the Year: Xenoblade Chronicles 3
In a choice that is both not surprising, but also extremely surprising, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is my favorite game that I’ve played this year. It is truly a full package game with its art, gameplay, and music. I fell in love with the world and more importantly, the characters. The combat was very fun for me, although it does enter a level of being mind-numbing when facing regular enemies. But that story…that story kept me enthralled once the first major event kicked off and thrust the characters on their sudden adventure. I’m glad that I pushed myself to finish this meaty game, because I know it would have ended up in my bonus RPG section down below otherwise.
Most Disappointing #1: Maglam Lord
Maglam Lord leaves me feeling very sad because visually, I am in love with it. The art style reminds me of Disgaea, along with the wacky nature of the writing. It can very easily end up as someone’s guilty pleasure. Heck, it could have been my guilty pleasure to look back on fondly. Unfortunately, though, the gameplay really dragged this game down from a fun romp in the forest, to an irritating slog of button-mashing. Perhaps if the battle system had been more fleshed out and left a feeling of impact, this could have been a decent title to recommend.
Most Disappointing #2: Neptunia x Senran Kagura
Neptunia x Senran Kagura is almost the exact opposite of Maglam Lord in terms of initial hopes. I didn’t have any expectations going in, outside of knowing it would be fanservice galore, given both titles that are involved. Unfortunately, as the game drags on, its weaknesses are more apparent. Subpar combat paired with a “meh” story ends up with a title that was probably better left as a draft rather than a final release.
Bonus: RPG that would have been in my top 5 if I had actually finished them: Tactics Ogre Reborn
I have no doubt that Tactics Ogre: Reborn would have been in my top 5 if it had come out a little earlier in the year. As it is, I’m still in the beginning and slowly coursing my way through missions. There’s a reason there’s a cult following for the game. While there is a lot of management to keep track of in terms of making sure all of your units are equipped, it can be fun to have control of a large army of characters.
And those are my picks for 2022! It has been a crazy year for RPGs and there are still a lot of releases that I want to play through. And with 2023 already shaping up to be just as intense as last year, the RPG releases to come are sure to be just as impactful as this year. What games made your list this year?