What Was The Video Game ‘Theme’ For 2022?

What Was The Video Game ‘Theme’ For 2022?

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Now that we’re at the end of 2022, I’m taking the time to look back on the year and figure out what the theme was—and how we’ll remember this year in gaming long after it’s gone.

If you look at the GOTY lists on many sites, you will see that they are all dominated by Elder Ring and God of War Ragnarok, but here at Nintendo Life we’ve had a very different year. Two Pokémon games, new 3D Kirby, Splatoon 3, Bayonet 3and Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope it kept the exclusives and first-party fires going on the old Switch, and while we didn’t get a full release of Mario or Zelda this year, we did get a lot from news about The tears of the kingdom and on Super Mario Bros. Movie to tide us over.

Image: Nintendo

Personally, I’m more of an indie girl when it comes down to it, and this year didn’t disappoint, even though many of the best indies on the Switch were ports from previous years. I like to think that 2022 will be remembered as the year of weird but beautiful games with a genre-defying narrative angle, like Neon white, Cult of the Lamb, Citizen Sleeperand Card Sharkand even if we don’t get other games in the same category — Immortality, Repentanceand The case of the Golden Idol comes to mind — I still think the Switch had a pretty fantastic year for indies.

Still, if I had to guess what 2022 will be remembered for, I think I’ve already answered the question: two Pokémon games that effectively ended the year with Legends: Arceus at the beginning and Scarlet and Violet finally. Both were janky to varying degrees, but both took the series to new heights at the same time, and in a year that was devoid of Mario and Zelda, it makes sense that another of the big dogs would take the spotlight.

What Was The Video Game ‘Theme’ For 2022?
Image: The Pokémon Company

Those two games, for me at least, were a real homecoming moment—the first time in a long time that I actually wanted to play a Pokémon game all the way through. For so long the series has been about the same thing with different flavors; Arceus and ScarVi finally dared to take big steps into the great unknown, and despite its many technical flaws, the series is better for it.

And going by the themes of both of those giant Pokémon games, I guess I can argue that 2022, five years later Breath of the wildwas all freedom. The freedom to roam ScarVi and the Elden Ring, the freedom to explore Xenoblade Chronicles 3and even the non-linearity of Sonic Frontiers — I think we continue to see ripples in game design coming from the giant hit that Breath of the Wild made in 2017, and I don’t mind at all. Many games, especially AAA, have benefited this year from open worlds, and if studios can continue to get it right, the games will be all the better for them.

But there may be a bigger, grander theme that I’m just not seeing, and so I’m turning to you, dear readers. What do you think will be the “theme” of 2022? Is it different on Switch than other platforms? And what do you think next year will be besides Zelda? Let me know in the comments!

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