Sandbox Games of the Year

Sandbox Games of the Year 2022

With The Game Awards 2022 complete (congrats to the winners!) and the year coming to a close, it’s time to reveal the Sandbox team’s games of the year. Without further ado, here are some of our favorite titles from 2022!

Val: There were a few games I loved this year, but my personal favorites were God of War Ragnarok and The Quarry (which then encouraged me to finally play Until Dawn). At the heart of both games was the storytelling; even though God of War Ragnarok and The Quarry are of course incredibly different from each other, they both hooked me right away because of their narratives. I’m also a huge fan of adventure games, so it’s no surprise the original God of War was my game of the year back in 2018.

Tim: Waypoint dubbed 2022 the “Year of the Narrative Banger,” and I can’t argue. Brianna Lei’s hilariously heartfelt Butterfly Soup 2 (“a visual novel about gay Asian-American teens playing baseball and falling in love”) dug even deeper into its characters, their relationships, and their distinct yet overlapping struggles with identity growing up as the LGBT children of immigrants in America. And NORCO painted a hauntingly comic and surreal picture of the people and stories who persist in a community surrounded by the twilight fires of oil refineries and the rising waters of climate change.

Tony: 2022 was a good year for the franchises I am interested in! The year started off strong with Pokémon Legends Arceus, reimagining every great part of Pokemon, a really GREAT game. I didn’t put enough hours into it. Then there was Xenoblade Chronicles 3 – great game, VERY FUN gameplay but the story was a little predictable. Still one of my top JRPGs this year. The latter half of 2022 had the new World of Warcraft expansion, “Dragonflight,” which so far has been a pretty solid expansion. But – my favorite game this year has to be Pokémon Scarlet/Violet.

Pat: It has to be Elden Ring. Never have I ever had my soul crushed so repeatedly while still having a blast. And while technically not a 2022 release, honorary shout out to TOEM as well (and shout out to Tim for the recommendation). Oh, Tunic too.

Tyler: 2022 was filled with a lot of surprises for me. Pokémon Violet exceeded my expectations despite some technical hiccups. NORCO was a haunting and delightful experience from a new team with something to say. But it’s hard for me to give anything but Elden Ring my game of the year. Having never gone through a Souls-like, for this to be the one that pulled me in speaks to its quality! An incredibly varied selection of creative bosses, an expansive open world, and surprises at every turn kept me fully engrossed. Through all the pain and frustration of losing to Margit for the twentieth time, or losing thousands of the games experience from a risky move, Elden Ring was worth every patience testing moment. Plus – it gave us Let Me Solo Her guy! No other game can say that in 2022.

Rob: It’s an easy pick for me this year – despite finishing some great games like It Takes Two, Metroid Dread, Teardown and A Plague Tale, Elden Ring far surpassed anything I could have imagined. The attention to detail, endless possibilities, and relentless adventure make this one of the greatest games I’ve ever played. I’ve never been into the souls’ games, though I did start my career working on From’s King’s Field series, this made me a believer and provided hundreds of hours of enjoyment.

Dan: My most played game of the year was Out of the Park Baseball 23, the newest entry in the acclaimed text-based baseball simulation franchise. The depth and level of detail they put into the game every year is incredible – it’s truly the most realistic sports sim on the market. I’ve also really enjoyed my time with Pokémon Violet. It’s my first Pokémon game in about 15 years, and I like the new direction the franchise is going (and feel the team has done a good job addressing some of the more tedious aspects of earlier Pokémon games). There are also way too many new releases I haven’t had the chance to play yet, such as A Plague Tale: Requiem. I’m almost done with my playthrough of A Plague Tale: Innocence, and am really looking forward to playing the sequel once I complete the first game.

Check out our other blog posts here. Happy holidays and see you in 2023!

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