It finally happened. 2022! A proper, worthy sequel to 2020, unlike the undercooked cash grab that was 2021. While the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the world has (fingers crossed) become better at fighting it. This means lots of us were able to get certain parts of our lives back after a long time, even though so many people continue to not have that privilege. Times continue to be uncertain, and there’s every chance that things won’t be the same next year. Whoops, that got dark.
To spare our minds from that and any other crushing realities we may be dealing with, we often turn to games. This is Checkpoint Ganing’s third annual GONTYs, a reminder that some of our favourite games of 2022 didn’t necessarily come out in 2022, be they older games we discovered for the first time, or old favourites we returned to for comfort. That said, have you seen everything that’s out in 2022? I mean, my goodness, so many bangers.
Guardians of the Galaxy (released 2021)
Guardians of the Galaxy is a good game by its own rights, but it’s also the first game I ever played on Game Pass, on my first ever Xbox (my tiny Series S ended up being my most used console this year). I wanted a big shiny AAA action-em-up to see those fancy new/current gen graphics to play with for a few hours and then discard, but I ended up seeing it all the way through because of how great the writing is. Read Luke’s review for more details.
Taking place in a different continuity to the films (which is great because I’ve only seen the first one), you play Peter Quill just as the Guardians first come together. You need to continually take sides as the other four members butt heads with each other, while trying to save a galaxy in disarray after the recent death of Thanos. Each character is brilliantly detailed, which comes off in how you control them in battle too. Plus it’s the first game I’ve encountered where breast jiggle physics are only used on male character models, and not for comic effect. I’m not a fan of how Square Enix’s deal with Marvel meant studios like Eidos and Crystal Dynamics had to put their regular franchises on hold (RIP Deus Ex I guess) but Eidos Montreal really nailed the brief here, to the point where I almost hope they make a sequel some day. Also, how great is Game Pass?! – Pedro
Kingdom Hearts (first game released 2002)
Kingdom Hearts was always a series that escaped me in my childhood. So, when Kingdom Hearts IV was announced earlier this year, it was high time I didn’t neglect the franchise any longer. Since then, I’ve gotten through four games. Experiencing it in sessions with friends intimately familiar with the IP has helped exponentially. What resulted in my playthrough was what felt like a million questions. Thankfully, my friends were there with answers.
Kingdom Hearts is perhaps the weirdest, zaniest and most wonderful franchise I’ve experienced. The juxtaposition of seeing characters like Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud hang out with Mickey and Goofy is still unbelievable. Every step I take, whether that’s in the Disney worlds or that of original content, feels like I’m in this bizarre theme park where a story is to be said to me. It’s with this I understand why for some, it’s talked about with such majesty. Kingdom Hearts is a confusing but magical set of experiences. One that I’ve grown to love and wouldn’t experience any other way. – Charlie
The Path (released 2009)
I have been obsessed with this game since 2009. I never got to play it until this year, because buying games online just… wasn’t a thing for a good chunk. The Path is part walking simulator part psychological horror game. You get to choose which of the six sisters to play as with your only goal is to go to grandmothers house and stay on the path. Of course, you do that, and… you fail? The thing is, the goal of the game is to stray from the path. While going through the forest you’ll find various objects and can interact with them, and eventually you’ll find a wolf.
Some wolves are literal interpretations of the Red Riding mythos, and some are metaphorical. Each girl has a wolf that is associated with the stages of childhood and adolescence, and there is no right or wrong way to interpret each character’s wolf. Eventually after meeting them, you’ll find your character lying on the ground near grandmother’s house unconscious, and you’ll have to navigate through the house until you complete her story. The Path is a game that I’ve always thought about, and it’s a game that hits me in a way a game has never before. – Melissa
Pillars of Eternity (released 2015)
I am a huge fan of story-based RPGs, and Pillars of Eternity has been on my radar for a long time. I initially gave the game a go around 2016, but it just didn’t click with me and I only played for a few hours. However, this year I decided to try again and this time I was hooked. Pillars of Eternity is an isometric, party-based RPG with a heavy focus on dialogue and player choice, it also has an incredibly gripping story that has you learning why you have become a Watcher. This is a person who is able to remember moments from their past lives and communicate with spirits of the dead.
Every character that joins your party is incredibly written and voice acted, showing that high-quality cutscenes are less than necessary to tell a good story. Partway through the game you also unlock a keep that can be upgraded and maintained, offering better bonuses when you decide to spend the night there (and I love micromanagement, so this was thrilling for me). Everything comes together to create an outstanding achievement in RPG games, with a sequel that somehow manages to be even better. If you are an RPG fan and haven’t given it a try, I highly highly recommend it. – Bree
Mass Effect: Andromeda (released 2017)
I am the number one Mass Effect simp on the Checkpoint team. I live and breathe this universe so much. And when there was news of a new Mass Effect game, boy I was bloody excited. Now, I will say, yes, Andromeda had a lot of issues leading up to release, and honestly it still has. It’s one of the things that makes me sad to see what could’ve been a great game. Though, with news of a new title in the series, and Project Director Mike Gamble’s continuous hints to Andromeda, it doesn’t seem like its the end of the Pathfinder team.
But going back to Andromeda, a lot of the issues aren’t as bad as what it was at launch. Admittedly, I am playing on PC and thus I get access to mods that can adjust the game, like having the doors on Kadara open faster, seriously why did they think slower doors would do? But, I still do enjoy the game, I recognise where it could’ve been better, but I also believe that a lot of people were expecting the next Commander Shepard, and comparing Andromeda to a trilogy. Is Andromeda on the same level as 1? No. Mass Effect 1 is the best game, but Andromeda still gives me that sense of wonderment and feels like I’m in Star Trek. Exploring uncharted worlds. If you passed on Andromeda, please, give it a go! – Melissa
Lost Odyssey (released 2007)
As I mentioned up top, the Series S is my first ever Xbox, after a lifetime of PlayStation as my primary home console. As well as Game Pass, I also love how seamless backwards compatibility is with Microsoft. If you bought a game online for the 360, more often than not you can still play it on modern consoles. Or like me, if you’re a JRPG nut who never got to play the games the creator of Final Fantasy made after leaving Square Enix, here they are, have at it. Lost Odyssey was one of the first games Hironobu Sakaguchi was involved with after Final Fantasy X, and it has glimpses of what could have been if he hadn’t left. It’s an epic emotional tale set in a medieval/steampunk world with a brooding hero, with an old fashioned yet stylish turn-based combat system that gives a cinematic edge to everything your party does.
Does it hold up well? Of course not. It’s two generations old and is nowhere near as revolutionary as it once was. The combat is sometimes repetitive, sometimes full of difficulty spikes, sometimes both at the same time, with some enemies having weaknesses that I could only find out by googling. It also contains a gross character whose constant chauvinism is portrayed as comic relief, which really reminds you that that’s a type of character Sakaguchi’s put in his games before. Still, what I appreciate more than Lost Odyssey itself is how happy I am that I actually got to play it, to experience this slice of JRPG history first hand, thanks to Xbox. – Pedro