Tag Archive: PlayStation


2022 was a year that started and ended strong, with a slew of massive triple-A titles and darling indies that kept gamers busy for hundreds of hours across dozens of genres, making deciding my games of the year a particularly tough task. The only thing I am truly sure of, though, was that it was an unforgettable year as I rode the waves of adventure, hashed out my best strategies, and saved the world a few dozen times over before finally whittling down the list of contenders into this top five. 

05Sonic Frontiers

I’ll admit, I had low expectations for Sonic Frontiers, and maybe that’s why I was blown away by the experience it was able to deliver in the end. A couple of issues with the camera couldn’t take away from the fact that Sonic in an open-world setting just plain works here. Every island he explored to save his friends from a digital purgatory was a fresh new adventure that also found various ways to call back to Sonic’s past. Both the islands themselves (pinball anyone?!) and a half-dozen “levels” contained within that you could teleport to paid homage to Sonic games of the past. By the end, the Blue Blur had never looked better, and I had a hankering for some chili dogs. 

04Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Developer Firaxis is likely best known for XCOM, an intense, punishing, turn-based strategy series, so them taking a crack at the practitioners of the dark arts in the Marvel Universe seemed like an interesting idea. The studio was able to deliver both a memorable strategy experience and a game far more accessible than its usual fare. Marvel’s Midnight Suns’ card-based system, the removal of XCOM staples like fog of war and permadeath, and an explorable hub world outside of battles that holds its own secrets come together to provide a special strategy experience that is enjoyable for newcomers and veterans alike. Even the grind outside of story missions in order to enhance the Abbey, your fully upgradable base, never got old. When you take all this and throw in the settings of the larger Marvel universe, it made it difficult for me to put this game down. 

03Nobody Saves the World

It was late January and I had nothing on my docket to play, so I went scrolling through Xbox Game Pass and noticed Nobody Saves the World. It had a catchy title and a cute art style, and I saw it was made by DrinkBox Studios, the folks behind the Guacamelee! games and Severed, some of my favorite handheld releases from recent years. So, I took a chance and was not disappointed. Imagine an overhead adventure game, but filtered through the lens of DrinkBox’s humor and art style. It was both something familiar and new at the same time as you play the titular Nobody who has the power to become anybody: Mermaids, warriors, ghosts, dragons, and more as every new persona opens more to explore and offers you greater power as you try to save the world. It was so brilliantly done that it stayed in my top five the entire year. 

02Pokémon Legends: Arceus

The formula for Pokémon has worked so well for 25 years that while the mainline games have tried adding some bells and whistles, the series has stayed relatively close to its roots. What makes Pokémon Legends: Arceus so special, then, is that it’s probably the biggest deviation from what makes a great mainline Pokémon game, but still has those tenets of exploration, capturing, and battling. Journeying through the ancient Hisui region, finding variations or new evolutions for classic fan favorite Pokémon, and having to strategize more about each catch with the player character doing much of the workwas such a breath of fresh air that it made my return to the mainline series later in the year with Scarlet and Violet almost disappointing. The only hope now is that we’ll get another legend sometime in the future. 

01Horizon Forbidden West

This was my only easy choice on my list this year. There was no other world I spent as much time in as I explored every nook and cranny, completed every quest, and got to know every character on the way to my lone PlayStation Platinum trophy. Aloy and her allies took part in the most captivating story I experienced this year, and when combined with an unbelievably gorgeous world to explore and gameplay that never got old, it was the singular, most complete package I experienced in 2022. Every main and side quest felt organic to the world, whether it was helping out all the strangers Aloy met, laying waste to every robot animal in her path, or clearing the land so that it might heal. It did all this while setting up the next heart-pounding adventure that I cannot wait for. 

SPThe “Best Reason to Dust Off Your PS VR Headset” Award
Moss Book II

With Sony focusing on the future with its next VR headset, it should come as no surprise that support has somewhat dried up for the headset that’s still currently on the market. But one of my most anticipated sequels did finally drop on the PS VR (and later PC) this year, and it was absolutely worth digging out my PS4 controllers for. Moss: Book II continues the tale of Quill, a field mouse turned unlikely hero. With a larger world to explore and more powers to wield, Moss: Book II brilliantly builds on the first game in every way imaginable, and provides a premiere experience as VR continues to slowly grow in the gaming market.

SPThe “Unsuspecting Addiction” Award
Vampire Survivors

Sometimes there’s a game that’s so simple on its surface but has so much depth to it that it takes the gaming world by storm. This year, that game was Vampire Survivors. All you have to do is move around and try to avoid the ever-encroaching horde of undead enemies. But as you find items, meet new bosses, unlock new arenas, and continue to try to stay alive for longer and longer periods of time, a quick pick-up and play experience soon becomes one of the biggest time sinks, and most pleasant surprises, of the year.

SPThe “Don’t Forget About Me Because I Released So Late” Award
High on Life

It’s easy for a game released in mid-late December to get lost in the awards shuffle and then slip from people’s minds the following year. So, I wanted to highlight a solid shooter that is one of the funniest games you’re likely to ever play. If you’re a fan of Rick and Morty, then High on Life will be right up your alley. It feels like you’re injecting a full season of the show directly into your eyeballs as you’re guided through alien worlds by a set of talking weapons whose lack of filter is only matched by their bloodlust. 

I look down, and I can’t see my legs. There’s nothing but an empty seat with what feels like my consciousness floating above it. It’s an unnerving and uncomfortable feeling, because from the second I become cognizant of it, I know this isn’t real. I’m not talking about a nightmare, however—I’m talking about far too many VR games that don’t bother creating an avatar for you in their virtual reality. You fail to see anything, and you’re immediately disconnected from the experience, even while NPCs talk and interact with you. And, as irritating as this is, it’s the least of the many problems that plagued Archangel, the first VR offering from studio Skydance Interactive.

Archangel is set towards the end of the 21st century. The world we know is gone as many of the Earth’s countries—including the US and most of Europe, although the game makes a point of letting us know Canada did not fall for some reason—are united under the totalitarian rule of one faction bent on maintaining their own version of order. A resistance force hiding in the American Midwest, however, is trying to even the odds with a secret weapon, working toward finally overthrowing the dictatorship that has left most of the world in ruins. You play as the pilot of that secret weapon: a 60-foot tall mechsuit with an adaptable AI program that gives you every edge you could ever want in battle. It’s your job to get this prototype mechsuit from the research installation it was built in to resistance homebase to be mass-produced, but there’s just the little issue of an entire army standing in your way.

In my mind, it’s games like this that are holding virtual reality back. Archangel is built around a great idea which the team then took absolutely no chances whatsoever with, resulting in what comes off as nothing more than a glorified tech demo. I loved the idea of piloting a giant mech suit and blowing up everything around me, but by the time I was done, I couldn’t wait to delete Archangel from my harddrive. There are really only seven levels in the game (nine if you count the opening and end scenes where you just sit there and are talked at for five minutes each), and I beat the entire experience in less than four hours—yet I was never more relieved to take my VR headset off then after playing Archangel due to how it drags on.

All of the gameplay takes place on rails, and your mech lumbers along like a six-story tortoise instead of a feared killing machine. Despite being the “pilot,” the only aspects of your mech that you really control are the left and right arms, each outfitted with a pair of weapons and shields. With these tools at your disposal, you can shred the enemy army apart like paper blowing into a hurricane. Tanks, planes, turrets, and even giant robo-dogs are no match for you, even when the screen becomes filled with foes.

While using PS Move controllers, you can set one up for each arm, and get the feel of at least directly controlling that aspect of the mech with satisfying accuracy. If you’re like most people, however, you’ll probably end up using a PS4 controller instead. Under that control scheme, the firing mechanisms are predictably set for each appropriate trigger button, but you need to swing the controller around—far more wildly and more inaccurately than when using Move controllers—in order to switch from arm to arm and have each arm independently do what you need them to do, especially when on the defensive. It can quickly turn a competent rail-shooter experience into an extremely frustrating one.

Archangel is also an ugly game. Many VR games haven’t really wowed in the visuals department yet, especially as there are some limitations with the tech still, but Archangel is a pretty low bar in terms of animation and graphics. Most of the buildings in the ruined cities you walk through look like geometry from two generations ago, with no reflection and minimal complexity. Enemy tanks and planes also look far too simplistic compared to what we expect from this generation of consoles. As well, the character models look so cartoonish that I couldn’t figure out if this game was even trying to convey realism—not to mention that half the time when you talk to your three squadmates, their lips don’t match up with the words they’re saying. (Or worse, many times, I’d be hearing characters talk, but their lips weren’t even moving.)

Of course, these are the few times you actually see other characters at all. There are no cutscenes in Archangel, which could be construed as someone at Skydance wanting to make an effort at immersion. Instead, however, you can talk to your squadmates, or the mech AI, between levels to try to flesh out the world. Unfortunately, all you get is a computer screen that pops up in your cockpit, and some of the most long-winded and horribly overacted banter that I’ve heard in a video game in a long time. It’s the obviously poor fix for someone who wants desperately to flesh out this world they’ve created, but have no real idea how to do it in a video game. By the end of the game, I wanted every character to fall off a cliff (including my own). Archangel’s world could’ve been an interesting one, and there are hints of it if you look closely enough. Overall, though, it’s just full of sad, ham-fisted attempts at character development and world building, which utterly fail at trying to cover up the monotony of shooting the same enemies with the same weapons at the same slow pace for four hours.

Looking at Archangel, there is no doubt there was an intriguing idea here. But with every passing moment, every enemy shot down, and after every terrible delivery of a new line of dialogue, I lost hope that the game would ever reach its potential until I finally got to the credits and my suffering ended. There are great VR games and experiences out there, but Archangel does not come even close to sniffing them and should be avoided at all costs.

Publisher: Skydance Interactive • Developer: Skydance Interactive • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 07.18.17
3.0
While there’s really nothing broken in Archangel, the game suffers from a clear lack of follow-through on any of the interesting ideas it tries to bring to the table. Its slow, plodding pace stands out even more against the backdrop of mediocre gameplay and one-note characters that made me thankful when the game came to its abrupt end.
The Good The idea of piloting a six-story mech is an exciting one, even when not pulled off properly.
The Bad Ugly visuals, slow pace, an overall lack of control, and a story that fails to captivate until the very end.
The Ugly The feeling of being trapped inside my PS VR headset and being forced to continue playing this game.
Archangel is available on PS4 for PS VR, and PC for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Primary version reviewed was for PS4/PS VR. Review code was provided by Skydance Interactive for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.