Redbrick Gaming’s Editors and Writers talk about their favourite games that they played during 2022
Minecraft – Jess Parker
A solid part of so many childhoods, Minecraft is one of those games that you just cannot seem to stay away from. Whether you are a hardcore survivalist or enjoy building in creative mode, Minecraft truly has something for everyone. Something that has really drawn me back to Minecraft over this year has been the game-changing updates that have been released between 2021 and 2022: the Caves and Cliffs update, and the Wild update.
Beginning with the Caves and Cliffs update, this two-part release introduced many exciting new features to Minecraft that focused on blocks and mobs. These included: axolotls, goats, glow squid, enhanced mountains and caves, and updated and larger biomes. The Caves and Cliffs update has allowed for biomes to become much more dramatic, creating scenic backdrops for any builder. The new mobs add a bit of diversity to the many creatures that players pass on their travels.
The Wild update introduces the Deep Dark and Mangrove Swamps to the game. Alongside the allays, tadpoles, and frogs, the most prominent new mob is the Warden. Found in the new Deep Dark biome (Below level 0), the Warden is a blind mob that seeks out players by listening. The Warden is a very overpowered mob, with 500 health points and the ability to kill players with one hit; for comparison, this is over double health points of the Ender Dragon.
Minecraft is one of those games that you never really let go of. A guilty pleasure of mine, I always find myself heading back into a phase every few months. For many players, I am sure, this will become a more common occurrence with the introduction of these game-changing updates.
Stardew Valley – Josie Scott-Taylor
Over the course of the exam period last year, I sank an obscene number of hours into Stardew Valley. Every time I opened the game, the calming acoustic soundtrack would soothe my stress and make every assessment worry disappear (until I logged back off several hours later and drowned in deadlines once again). The way Stardew Valley completely immerses you in its expansive world is why it’s my game of the year.
The game has a simple premise: you inherit a farm from your grandfather after he passes away, and you decide to leave capitalism behind and live far away from society in Pelican Town. From there, it’s up to you how you play the game. Some people enjoy peacefully fishing every minute of every day, while some people try to conquer the mines and collect every mineral. Technically, the ‘aim’ of the game is to reach ‘perfection’ in every aspect, but there is nothing forcing you to do that if a tranquil life growing crops and tending to your animals is all you’re after. You can even choose someone from the town to marry, although you may be judged harshly on who you choose…
Stardew Valley provided me with so much comfort last year when things get stressful, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to play a game that is completely dictated by your desires. There are no obligations and no time limits; it’s just you and a farm, far, far away from everything stressful in life.
Elden Ring – Tom Green
Elden Ring is From Software’s grandiose open-world RPG opus. While it follows the tried-and-true formula of its predecessors, the game boasts more in-depth systems, fascinating encyclopaedic lore from A Song of Ice and Fire’s George R.R. Martin, and a scope previously unseen in the genre. I admit partial bias toward the tear-inducing difficulty of the ‘Soulsborne’ genre, but the cryptic beauty of Elden Ring appears to have enticed even the most sceptical games journalists. While there’s an argument to be made for the superiority of the comparatively tightly-controlled encounters in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice or Bloodborne, the freedom offered by Elden Ring allows for unprecedented playstyle control and class choice.
Awe is experienced at every turn, the dynamic skyboxes and refined environments frequently leave you scooping your jaw from the floor, even in moments of unflinching grotesquery, particularly in the boss design. The gameplay similarly induces physical reaction, although this time involves pulling your head away from the wall post-bashing. The difficulty is welcome, increasing challenge provides increasing satisfaction as each boss falls, and the scarce progress markers encourage exploration of the vast open world. Everyone is offered a unique experience, From Software rarely forces players into a linear progression, rather they reward agency and curiosity through incentives to discover new encounters.
Virtually all playstyles are viable, with a welcome adjustment to magic systems from previous entries that saw certain melee-based builds dominate. Elden Ring’s greatest asset is its breadth, it may put off casual players (especially given certain toxic traits of the fanbase) but for those interested, it offers unprecedented customisation, incredible art direction, and systems nearing perfection.
Just Dance – Sophie Utteridge
Admittedly, my love of Just Dance is a little out of control.
I got my first copy of the game in 2009, two years after my family first bought a Nintendo Wii. It was our first video game console ever (later usurped by my brother’s insistence on getting a PlayStation) and we absolutely loved it. Even to this day, the Wii is regularly broken out at Christmas time where we still have epic Wii Sports bowling battles for the last Quality Street chocolate.
But no game has brought me more joy than Just Dance. In my opinion, this absolute gem of a game is a true personality test of friends and family. Are you someone who puts maximum effort into every dance? Or do you sit on the sofa and wave your arm about in vain hope something will happen? Or are you someone in-between who skips past the difficult moves for self-preservation? In any case, the way you play Just Dance highlights the true person within – something I have found hilarious in recent years.
Whilst the selection of songs might not always be the best, all versions of Just Dance have a certain charm. There will always be crowd favourites like Psy’s Gangnam Style and Britney Spears’ Toxic, and absolutely wild songs like Rasputin – the dance I have yet to do perfectly.
But no matter the song, Just Dance, and indeed any Wii title, will always have my heart for being a truly timeless game. It still effortlessly creates endless laughs and bundles of fun all by simply putting on some music and showing some dance moves.
And that’s why Just Dance will always be my game of the year.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II – James Evenden
Few titles can channel nostalgia for my gaming past and bring me back to being a raging fifteen-year-old cursing myself for being killed in a game of online multiplayer. Call of Duty: Black Ops II is one of those titles. I assumed that, as I have not had access to my old Xbox 360 in years, I would never get the chance to return to Black Ops II. Then, my housemate and our lovely treasurer, Nikhil Handa, told me he had downloaded it on his PC. Like a giddy schoolboy, I raced upstairs to join him.
I knew my class loadout like the back of my hand and knew what map I wanted to play and where to go. We started on ‘Nuketown 2025’ against bots. I admit I was very rusty, and my feeble attempts at quick scope sniping did not go very well. Getting used to the flow of the individual maps again, the spawn points and the feel for the different guns was a great time. Nik was a lot better than me, and as we engaged in some friendly competition to see who could kill the most bots in fifteen minutes, my muscle memory came back to me, and with it all the memories of playing against my old school friends.
I have not identified myself as a gamer in a while. I am no longer up to date on what is happening in the industry like I used to be, and I no longer receive the latest Call of Duty title for Christmas every year. But, whenever I am bored at home, I know I can go upstairs and relive a small portion of my childhood again through Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land – Benjamin Oakden
After more than 20 years of trying, Kirby finally makes the jump to fully 3D platforming, delivering what might well be the best game in the series. HAL makes the most out of the post-apocalyptic setting with colourful and creative world designs, with the abandoned theme park being a particular joy. The puzzle-based level elements utilised in previous Kirby games are completely enhanced by the extra dimension, adding a new level of depth and exploration while still feeling true to the series’ roots. Kirby’s trademark copy abilities can now be upgraded, allowing for fresh reimagining of old favourites, and the new ‘mouthful mode’ adds fun movement and combat possibilities. That, combined with the countless collectables and side challenges makes Kirby and the Forgotten Land incredibly replayable, with plenty of post-game content to delve into as well.
The Kirby series isn’t exactly known for its difficulty, and that rings true for Forgotten Land as well, with the 3D space making enemies almost laughable. However, the main campaign doesn’t need to be difficult, instead feeling like a cute and relaxing showcase of creative level ideas, and players seeking a challenge can, in traditional Kirby fashion, turn to the arena modes that unlock after finishing the main story. Although the mini bosses get rather repetitive, the actual bosses are all memorable and well designed, with the final boss in particular having a hilarious use of Kirby’s mouthful ability. It all makes for a charming and replayable platformer that makes real advances to one of Nintendo’s best loved franchises. Oh, and did I mention that it’s really cute?
Pokémon Legends: Arceus – Louis Wright
It is rare presently, with so much university work, that I will have time to play a new, upcoming release. Therefore this January, when Pokémon Legends: Arceus released on the Nintendo Switch, I made a conscious effort to leave the pub event I was at, and make my way home for midnight so that I could play Pokémon into the early hours of the morning.
This decision was entirely worthwhile as Pokémon Legends: Arceus may be my favourite entry in the series for the last decade. Through the way it changes the standard Pokémon formula, that being a linear exploration filled with battles, to something invigorating, an open-ended exploration tasking you with catching as many creatures as possible, it provides a fresh experience that is entirely worthwhile. In one word Legends: Arceus is addicting.
The endless cycle of gameplay- catching Pokémon, being rewarded, and upgrading your means to catch Pokémon -is infinitely fulfilling in the stimulation it provides. Realistically, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a game that can be played ad infinitum. As long as the player has a desire in their hearts to catch more Pokémon, the game will continue to be fun and accessible.
For the countless hours I have put into the game, and for the countless Pokémon that I have caught- Pokémon Legends: Arceus finds itself as being my favourite game that I have played this year. Not only does it take a franchise I am beholden to in a bold new direction, but does so in a way that remains close to its roots and still provides the same sense of familiarity that constantly makes me come back to Pokémon.
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