Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Dec 312022
 

The end of another year is upon us at last, so I’m ready to take a look back at the best games I played this year – not necessarily all 2022 releases, but any game I finished in 2022.

I didn’t play quite as many games this year, and fewer that stood out compared to last year. Whole months passed with me only playing a handful of games.

I blame The Great Ace Attorney.

Partway through the year, I half-jokingly thought I’d just name The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles as my top game again, because even though I finished it last year, it’s been on my mind more than anything I actually played this year.

But I’m sure you wouldn’t want a list where I simply tell you to play The Great Ace Attorney instead of actually listing anything, so I’m going to rank my top 5 games after all.

Better yet, I have an actual methodology for determining my top games for the first time ever! You see, I loved The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles so much, I’ve realized I can rank the games I played in 2022 by how much they managed to distract me from thinking about it.

GAA images were included in the making of this year’s image, for an accurate depiction of my thoughts.

Now before we get into the list proper…

Honorable Mentions

This year, I have to give out three honorable mentions to games that had a good shot of appearing on this list… except that I haven’t finished them yet. Those games are Elden Ring, which pulled me into its vast world despite my initial misgivings, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, which feels like another great entry in the Xenoblade series, and Yakuza 5, which should definitely rank among my top Yakuza games. All three of these games share another thing in common: they’re long. Here’s hoping I finish them next year.

Now now without further ado, here are the top 5 games I played in 2022!

5. Witch on the Holy Night

Recency bias might be partly to blame, as I just finished it yesterday, but Witch on the Holy Night really stands out to me as an excellent visual novel. The world is intriguing and makes me want to explore the related works more. (It sure would be nice if we got another translated visual novel.) I’m glad I finished it before the end of the year.

On the distraction scale, it held my attention whenever I played it, without me losing focus to think about The Great Ace Attorney instead.

4. Omori

Omori is another recent one, and although I criticized the disjointed feel some aspects left me with, I can’t deny that it was a lot of fun. The darker parts were thought-provoking, while the lighter parts were entertaining.

On the distraction scale, it crept into my thoughts occasionally even when I wasn’t playing, temporarily distracting me from The Great Ace Attorney.

3. Birushana

I loved Birushana, and it’s definitely one of my favorite otome games now. The characters were wonderful, the story delightful, and each route filled with many tense, high-stakes moments. I really hope they localize the fandisc, because I need to see more of these characters.

On the distraction scale, a couple of the love interests managed to occupy my thoughts for whole minutes of my free time, though it wasn’t long before The Great Ace Attorney returned.

2. Cupid Parasite

Another otome and another new favorite, Cupid Parasite stands out by being one where I loved every love interest, in addition to having a hilarious story with moments that had me laughing out loud. It was an absolute delight from start to finish. This one is getting a fandisc too, although it’s not even out in Japan yet, so I really hope we eventually get it here.

On the distraction scale, one love interest – and yes, I mean Allan – managed to temporarily usurp my free time thoughts from The Great Ace Attorney for the entire duration of his route and some time afterwards.

1. AI: The Somnium Files

Finally, the best game I played this year is without a doubt AI: The Somnium Files (the first one, although I also enjoyed the sequel). I gushed about it in my review, about how the wacky humor, intriguing mystery, and fantastic story all came together to make it an amazing experience. I enjoyed it more than any of the Zero Escape games, and if you pressured me into ranking my top games of all, it would probably make the list. It’s that good.

On the distraction scale, I spent significant portions of time around my playthrough thinking about AI: The Somnium Files instead of The Great Ace Attorney, and that’s actually an impressive feat.

Conclusion

But Sam, what about all those games on your most-anticipated games of 2022 list? I only managed to play two of them, and while they’d make my top 10 if I was solely ranking games released this year, they didn’t make the cut for this list. The other three are languishing in my backlog. Who knows? Maybe next year will be their year.

In the meantime, I’m not exaggerating how obsessed I’ve been with The Great Ace Attorney. Please go play it. Will it be toppled by a game next year? We’ll certainly find out. Come back tomorrow to see what five games I’m most anticipating from 2023!

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Dec 302022
 

Today we’re going to talk about Witch on the Holy Night, the first Type-Moon visual novel to ever get an official English translation.

It follows two mages living in a mansion on top of a hill, and a boy who gets mixed up with them while struggling to adjust to life in the city.

The story premise sounded interesting enough for me to want to try it, especially since I wanted to show my support. I ordered a physical copy from Play-Asia, because I thought it was too niche to get a physical release in North America.

I was wrong about that, and the North American physical copy will be out on January 27.

But for those playing digital copies from the eShop or an import like mine, Witch on the Holy Night is already out. I decided to play it now, making it possibly my last game of 2022, and I’m glad I did.

Witch on the Holy Night is an interesting visual novel. It has its share of funny slice-of-life scenes, but also some intense dramatic parts and exciting fight scenes. After just a few hours, I was invested in the characters and wanted to know how things would turn out. I almost regret trying the demo first, because the demo’s presentation of several out-of-context scenes meant I had an idea of where certain aspects of the story would go, even if I didn’t know how they’d get there.

I know there’s a connection to other Type-Moon works, but I haven’t played them, so all of these characters were new to me. I also found the world fascinating, mainly the magic system it presents through both action and explanations.

Aside from the compelling story and characters, I also have to praise the presentation. I’ve never played a visual novel with such high production values before. It has constant CGs, unique backgrounds, and animations – it’s incredible!

(I also love the chapter select screen, which is presented as a bookshelf, with more books added as you complete chapters.)

Now, it’s a kinetic novel, which means there aren’t any choices to make. You start at the beginning and read all the way through to the end. There are some optional chapters unlocked along the way, which provide more of a look at the characters and their lives through non-crucial scenes.

The one exception is the bonus chapter unlocked after you finish the main story. This final extra chapter is a standalone story that does have choices, as you try to solve a murder mystery. That was a bit of unexpected fun on top of an already-great visual novel.

Witch on the Holy Night was originally released in Japan in 2012, and apparently the writer intended to make two sequels. Those haven’t come out yet, but with the remake bringing new attention and new audiences to it, there might be new hope. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Witch on the Holy Night, so I have my fingers crossed that we’ll see those sequels eventually.

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Dec 282022
 

As is common, a number of Japanese game developers have made end-of-year comments about their plans for 2023.

Published by Famitsu and 4Gamer and translated by Gematsu, most of these statements aren’t too specific.

One of the most interesting ones to me, however, comes from Hironobu Sakaguchi, who said he’s begun writing the scenario for an unannounced dark fantasy title.

I still need to play more of Mistwalker’s games, including their Apple-exclusive RPG Fantasian, which I now have a device capable of playing. It’s exciting to know that Mistwalker has another title coming up, so I look forward to seeing what it is! (I still wish they’d remaster or port their previous games, too.)

There are lots of other little hints in the messages as well, such as references to new games from Level-5, Koei Tecmo, and Spike Chunsoft, among others.

(As much as I wish there was a hint of Ace Attorney news in Capcom’s messages, they only reference Dragon’s Dogma 2, Monster Hunter, and Exoprimal. I’m still hopeful that next year will be our year.)

Anyway, it’s worth reading through these message to get a glimpse of what 2023 has in store for us. Mistwalker’s new game is the one that caught my attention the most, but what about you?

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