Our individual Game of the Year articles allow our lovely team of writers to share their own personal PS5 and PS4 picks for 2022. Today, it's the turn of editor Sammy Barker.
I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of “games within games”. It’s part of the appeal of series like Shenmue and Yakuza to me; I love the idea of being able to deviate from the core storyline to experience something completely different, before returning to the campaign when I’m ready. I get the sense that the team at Newcastle-based developer Nosebleed Interactive is cut from the same cloth as me, and it elevates that concept to extraordinary levels with its tycoon-based minigame compilation simulation Arcade Paradise.
I liked Train Sim World 3 a lot to begin with, and then they added the Birmingham Cross-City Line as an expansion. Having grown up travelling on a Class 323, with its iconic sci-fi style acceleration sounds, seeing some of my local stations replicated meticulously on a PS5 proved a real uncanny moment. Outside of that, though, I think Dovetail is really beginning to get better at crafting a complete package: TSW3 isn’t massively different to its predecessor, but the user interface improvements alongside the additions of dynamic weather make it more immersive and allow you to quickly get to the good stuff – which is, of course, driving the trains.
I’m not sure when or why public opinion has turned so dramatically on Horizon Forbidden West, but I already feel the need to defend my decision to rank Aloy’s sophomore outing so highly. It’s odd because I thought Guerrilla delivered another fine game. The combat hasn’t tired for me, and I enjoyed the strange and unexpected deviations the Dutch developer adopted. This is an oddball adventure, and it potentially sets up an even odder sequel. At its core, though, I still find its underlying concept, this strange and imaginative mix of tribes and sci-fi, utterly fascinating. And, if anything, I think the sequel has a much stronger cast of characters than its predecessor.
2. Elden Ring
I’m sorry to be predictable, but I’m afraid it’s going to get worse. I must admit, my relationship with Elden Ring has wavered over the course of the year. There’s no denying FromSoftware delivered a landmark game here – a true titan of the open world genre. And yet, even though I’m rating it second in my personal picks, I do think the acclaim has been a little overblown. A weak final third and a lot of repetition soured me on the title at times, but I can’t ignore the unforgettable first 50 hours I spent in the Lands Between, and for that reason I have to tip my hat to this dark and macabre action RPG.
What else? I hate to break the figurative record, but God of War Ragnarok is good – like, really good. I think what underlines the game’s outstanding achievements to me is the fact I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Prior to release, I can’t say any of the trailers had particularly appealed to me, and I’ve never been all that interested in Norse lore. But the game won me over almost immediately with its unprecedented polish and quality. This is a superbly written, outstandingly designed experience, filled with memorable moments and compelling combat that never tires over the course of its unexpectedly long running-time. This is why I favour PlayStation above all.
What do you think of Sammy's personal Game of the Year picks? Feel free to agree wholeheartedly, or berate relentlessly in the comments section below.