Happy New Year!

Holy shit, it’s New Year. How the fuck did that happen? Another year has hurtled past my eyes like my dog running toward the muddiest puddle he can find, and like my dog it was kind of dirty and in dire need of a wash. At the ripe old age of 31 (stop sniggering) I’m beginning to appreciate the concept of time seeming to pass quicker and quicker. I hadn’t even got used to being 30 before my birthday snuck up on me like it was planning to sexually assault me in an alley.

It was certainly…a year. That happened. Most of it has been spent dealing with a constant flow of family drama, so my primary memories of the year are of stress, worry, frustration and anger. But there were some glowing highlights; just days before Christmas I got a new nephew whom I shall forever curse for having a birthday so damn close to Christmas; my brother and best mate took me to see Kevin Bridges, a fantastic Scottish comedian; and I got to see Top Gun: Maverick in 4DX which was an amazing experience that lead to my brother almost dying of a heart attack on multiple occasions. Also, The Batman was a thing and it was awesome.

It was a pretty cool year for gaming news and happenings. Microsoft’s attempted takeover of Activision Blizzard has arguably been the biggest story of the year, while Sony has been fighting the deal tooth and nail, resulting in some entertaining bickering and comments between the two. In a crazy twist, Microsoft has ended up promising to bring Call of Duty to the Nintendo Switch for the next decade, a console that hasn’t had a Call of Duty since….er, ever, actually.

But we also saw Valve renter the hardware market with the uber-cool Steamdeck which I so, so want to review but can’t justify actually buying. Sony bought a few studios, including none other than Bungie. Then Embracer bought everybody else, including your mum and probably mine. At this point the wealth of studios and IP they own is utterly mind-boggling, and yet there are signs that Embracer has embraced too much, too fast, and might be struggling to get it all working. Then again, they own the rights to published Lord of the Rings games, resurrect Legacy of Kain and make more Tomb Raider games, so the future could be bright.

Google announce the shut down Stadia. Nobody was surprised. G4 imploded. Nobody was surprised about that, either. GTA 6 leaked and everybody was surprised about that. Oh, and some kid crashed the videogame awards to nominate “reformed orthodox rabbi Bill Clinton,” so…that was a thing.

I wanted to take a look back over the year and dive into a few numbers. I think there’s a general belief that 2022 was a slow year for games, although there were obviously some absolute bangers, and my numbers seem to reflect that – I only published 26 game reviews over the past 12 months. Plus a few tech reviews. Not exactly my busiest year. However, I have been making an effort to curtail how much I play, both to save on those growing electric bills and just for the sake of my mental health. I’ve got an obsessive personality and its really easy to slip into the bad habit of firing up a game in the morning and playing it all day.

So as you guys know I use a 5-point scoring system. I tallied up every score across those 26 games, ran the math and discovered that the average star rating across the year was 3.5 out of 5. That’s definitely on the positive side, and I’m sure people would say I’m too lenient on games. Maybe I am. But I also think I’m just picky with how I spend my time – I don’t tend to spare a second thought for games that clearly look like trash, so scores tend to be quite high. I only hand out low scores to games I thought had some real potential at first-glance but that wound up being terrible. Case in point, only two games score 2-stars or lower; Ravenous Devils had a really cool concept but lousy gameplay; and The Waylanders was just boring and broken.

There are a few glimmers of hope nestled in the mess, but ultimately the best thing I can say about The Waylanders is that it’s playable.

The Waylanders review

On the other end of the spectrum I didn’t hand out any 5-star ratings this year. I did, however, score two games at 4.5 and they couldn’t be more different. On the one hand we have the mighty God of War: Ragnarock, a triple-A title so triple-A-ish that the napkins were probably made of $10 bills. Huge, bombastic, gorgeous, cinematic, dramatic – all fair words that could describe Santa Monica’s magnum opus. I had a freaking blast playing it, got completely caught up in the story and wound up getting the Platinum trophy for it. The other game I scored highly was Teenage Mutant Nunja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a 2D pixellated brawler that could not be further from the hulking rage of Kratos. It’s an old-school arcade brawler that revels in taking its simple gameplay formula and executing it at the highest levels.

Moving forward, 2023 looks like a pretty stacked year for games with some massive titles coming out in just the first few months. That’s pretty terrifying because there are still games from 2022 I’m trying to catch up on, like Plague Tale: Requiem. It’s why I’m pushing back my best games of 2022 list until the end of January because I want to have a chance to play at least one or two more games from the year. Hell, I haven’t even touched the huge update for The Witcher 3, something I’ve been anticipating for ages.

Who knows, I might even get around to playing Elden Ring. Just kidding, I don’t think my fragile gaming ego could handle the punishment.

To wrap up, let’s get the mushy stuff done. As always, I huge, massive thank you to everyone that reads my reviews. You guys are awesome, and you’ve put me in a fun position where I get to work with a bunch of companies to review cool games. I hope your 2022 was everything it could be, and that 2023 will be even better for you. And if, for whatever reason, 2022 was rough, hang in there. Life can always get better, situations can always be changed and I believe in you and your ability to chase that change. We live in a tough world full of stress and massive problems, and its easy to buckle under the combined weight of jobs, bills, food, inflation, wars, politics and even the Internet. Far, far too easy. Being happy takes work and it always starts with a decision to be better, to be happy.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s to another 12 months of awesome games.


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