The Lion's Rear

2022 Games of the Year


The 2202 rrix Game of the Year votes are in!

The year of the SteamDeck

One thing I notice in writing this is that these are all games which run great on the SteamDeck. Lately most of my gaming has shifted on to the SteamDeck, it's really the perfect little device for this stuff, a decent gamepad with triggers with a screen built in, running a real Linux under the hood, and can run any Flathub applications including emulators for everything from the Atari 2600 to the Nintendo Switch and can even run Emacs or other Nix apps if you try hard enough.

The SteamDeck has a really versatile input-customization system allowing users to share layouts which include things like custom "action wheels" where if you, say, put the right analog stick at "6pm" it will send an i to swap to the inventory menu and at "3pm" it will send a c showing the character information screen, etc. This means that even keyboard-heavy games could in theory be shown to run on this thing. And you'll find here that one of my games of the year, Dwarf Fortress was a quintessential keyboard game until very recently it got to the point where you could play it well on the SteamDeck.

With the work that Valve has put in to making their Wine distribution better this is basically good enough to do my gaming on. I've refunded a few games this year after purchasing them and learning that they don't run well or don't run at all on the SteamDeck. In 2023 I will probably be moving my desktop back to Linux via NixOS. My friend Louis Opter has shown me some decent ways of still accessing Windows within this setup even for gaming which I'll probably explore – that is, using the Intel iGPU to render the Linux desktop and using KVM's PCI forwarding to hand the entire NVidia 1060 to the virtualized Windows OS. My monitor can behave like a KVM switch based on the output it's rendering so I expect in 2023 my main "gaming machine" will be the SteamDeck.

the rrix GOTY is Vampire Survivors & Moonspell DLC

Vampire Survivors is technically a 2k21 game for me, having picked it up in early access shortly after it "graduated" to Steam from, but it was properly released in October 2k22. It's a game where you walk around and kill demons, that's it. You play for up to 30 minutes before inevitably being swallowed up by Death. Your character's weapons fire themselves, you just pick them and move the character around.

This hardly sounds like a game, but the game is in the meta-layer, in building a character that can survive an onslaught of thousands of enemies during that 30 minute window. Each character starts with one weapon and some particular perks that line up with that weapon, but they can carry six weapons and six buffs, and there are some powerful synergies between them. Nearly every weapon has an upgraded form when paired with a particular buff.

Fundamentally, the point of the game is about building characters which break it. You learn that your character can have more than six weapons and six buffs in certain scenarios, that those synergies can create character which don't even need to move, that the time limit of the game itself is only a (very strong) suggestion.

It's a hell of a lot of fun, it's cheap, it's quick, it's low-stress. I think even people who aren't "Gamers" would enjoy this experience.

honorable mention for Dwarf Fortress 1.0

After nearly 20 years, Dwarf Fortress has received a "proper" release, with beautiful graphics, clickable menus, and a new soundtrack. It's a really cool game, a world-simulator and story-builder in a tough-as-nails universe of Dwaves and Elves and Were-creatures. In Dwarf Fortress Losing is fun! and inevitable, the trick is to keep your little friends happy and healthy and drunk for as long as you can.

I have been playing a lot of Rimworld this year, but mostly because the pre-1.0 version of Dwarf Fortress with its three-to-five character menu mnemonics was a fucking pain to deal with especially when playing on the Keyboardio Atreus, but now there is a decent mouse UI and of course intrepid gamers have got it to run nicely on the SteamDeck.

Survival Simulation and world-building games aren't for everyone, and they're sometimes not even for me. I play these games in short, intense bursts. They require a lot of "state" to be loaded up, a lot of the implicit rules and systems interactions and time investment is required to really feel these sorts of games out. Sometimes after a 10 hour play session I realize I'm not treating myself as well as I'm treating my Dwarves and put it down for a while, but I am always drawn back in. The up-side of playing on the SteamDeck is that it happens in 3-4 hour bursts unless I tether myself to a USB-C charger.

"best non-2k22 game" goes to Jupiter Hell

For a few years running, art of rally has been my go-to game but I finally burned myself out on it participating in the Art of Rally Championship Series. I hope to come back to AoR, it's still an incredible and incredibly beautiful game but recently Dakar 18 has taken over its place as low-stress arcade-y driving game.

But one of the things I most missed on the SteamDeck was a good "traditional" Roguelike. Cogmind needs enough screen real-estate that it is barely viable on a laptop, imagining it running on the Deck seems like a fool's errand. I could get a build of NetHack running with some custom controller overlays.

Jupiter Hell is a roguelike set in a 90's flavored sci-fi universe. Set on the moons of Jupiter, the game pits a lone space marine against overwhelming demonic forces. Rip and tear zombies, demons and unmentionable monstrosities, using classic weaponry such as shotguns, chainguns, railguns and the trusty chainsaw. All to the shine of CRT monitors and the tune of heavy metal!

Dive deep into a true form of the 30 year old roguelike game genre that has resurged in popularity. Experience turn-based, grid-based permadeath and fully procedural levels, all in glorious 3D visuals. Get ready for the spiritual successor to DoomRL, the parody roguelike that years ago streamlined the traditional format and popularised a new wave of accessible roguelikes. Distilled, hardcore gameplay, fast-paced challenge and limitless death all await.

Welcome to Jupiter Hell.

Jupiter Hell was on my Wishlist for a while and I kept from buying it because I didn't really jive with the aesthetics of it. But what I thought was a grimdark demon-fest was more of a tongue-in-cheek response to the excess of Duke Nukem and DooM. It's a controller-based roguelike which focuses primarily on ranged combat. You shoot at things in a randomly generated Jupiter system, you loot them for weapons and powerups, there is no hunger mechanic to stress you out, and yet there are still plenty of Yet Another Stupid Deaths waiting around each corner which make the roguelike genre so entertaining.

It's a proper fun roguelike that seems to have slipped between the cracks. It's got good systems and a slider to turn down the cringe if you so desire.

Games On my Radar for 2k23