JURNALJOGJA – What a year for gaming. While 2022 may not have enjoyed as many AAA releases as in past years, the ones that weren’t delayed into 2023 were stellar and the indie development scene more than made up for the lack of big-budget titles. Some of our favorite releases this year came from small, ambitious teams that delivered fresh ideas. As is tradition, the Engadget team came together to extol the virtues of our favorite releases from the past 12 months.
Bayonetta 3 is a delicious amplification of the series’ most ridiculous themes. It indulges in absurdity without disrupting the rapid-fire combat or Bayonetta’s unrivaled sense of fashion and wit. Bayonetta 3 is joyful, mechanically rich and full of action, plus it allows players to transform into a literal hell train in order to take down massive beasts bent on destroying the multiverse. Bayonetta elegantly dances her way through battles, dropping one-liners and shooting enemies with her gun shoes in one moment, and turning into a giant spider creature the next.
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The Bayonetta series just keeps getting weirder, but that doesn’t mean it’s losing its sense of satisfying gameplay along the way. In the franchise’s third installment, Bayonetta is powerful, confident and funny; she’s a drag queen in a universe loosely held together by witchcraft, and the chaos of this combination is truly magical.
Cult of the Lamb
Sure, you’ve played Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, Hades and The Binding of Isaac – but what if you could play all of them at once, in a single adorable demonic package? That’s Cult of the Lamb, baby.
Cult of the Lamb is part social and farming simulator, part dungeon-crawling roguelike and all-around fantastic. After being sacrificed and resurrected, you’re instructed by a grand, dark deity to start your own cult, managing worship services, agriculture, cooking, marriages, deaths and much more. You must also venture into the wilderness to battle demons and recruit more followers. Keep in mind that you’re a lamb, which makes all of this exceptionally cute.
Cult of the Lamb is a brilliant balance of satanic dungeon crawling and cult simulation, offering more action than Animal Crossing and more casual farming mechanics than Hades. Cult of the Lamb is incredibly satisfying, and it’s rich in gameplay, story and environments. Most of all, it’s cute as hell.
There was never going to be a version of this post that did not include Elden Ring, FromSoftware’s big push into open-world Berserk-inspired sword and sorcery.
Yes, there’s something to be said about the earlier, more linear Souls games forcing players down a path of increasing gloom and difficulty (cue the hallmark rasping laugh of an NPC who seems to know precisely how screwed you are), how the inevitability of that experience allowed the devs to craft a bespoke gameplay loop of apprehension, frustration, discovery and the eventual reward of mastery. I love that stuff! But Elden Ring tried something new, effectively playing a shell game with those four player states, and making discovery the new initial draw.
My big “aha!” moments in Dark Souls 3 or Bloodborne arrived when I’d finally spotted a shortcut or sussed out a boss’s hidden weakness. Elden Ring retained that. But what really made the good brain chemicals flow was just… roaming around. Reaching the top of some lava-ridden mesa. Or finding a way onto some seemingly inaccessible islet. The grandeur of the settings and knowledge FromSoft wouldn’t make me work for a slice of geography devoid of treasures to loot and dudes to hack apart made the effort worthwhile.
Some fans adore the limited palate of Sekiro which essentially tells players, “git gud or quit.” Call me a bad gamer (accurate) but I prefer the maximalism and flexibility that Elden Ring brought to the table. Want to grind until every boss is trivial? How about a hitless all-remembrances run? Either, and anything in between, is valid. Allowing for challenge and accessibility makes Elden Ring a beautifully executed twist on the formula FromSoft has been honing for nearly 30 years.
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