Among the many games I played in 2022 were also a number of demos for upcoming games. Now some of those games have since released, but in many cases the demos I played were all for games that I still do not own now. So as a way to finish out my week of reflecting on Adventure Rules in 2022, I thought it’d be fun to look back and forward all at once by thinking about which 2022 demo experiences might lead to 2023 full game completions. Of course, I will also take a minute to talk about some other games I’m excited for next year, even if I haven’t played a demo for them yet. Let’s start with the demo reflection first.
#5: Tracks of Thought
Tracks of Thought has a neat premise: a card conversation RPG where rather than using cards to fight, you use them to communicate until you and your “opponent” can come to a mutual understanding and resolve your differences. Your decisions modify your deck and equip you with different tools for resolving conversations, rewarding different strategies and even giving you a completely different rival based on the personality that you play out. I think the mechanics have a lot of potential but the demo showcased so little of the game that I’m a bit hesitant compared to my enthusiasm for some of the other games on this list.
#4: Cassette Beasts
What if Pokemon were captured on cassettes and you turned into them by listening to your Walkman? That’s the premise of Cassette Beasts, a game about waking up on a mysterious island and working together with new friends to discover how to return to the world from whence you came. Cassette Beasts plays on the typical Pokemon formula but modifies it in various ways by bringing in a wide variety of quality of life improvements as well as mechanics seen in other RPGs. I’ve long wanted Pokemon to have some real competition to push the core premise in a new direction. Cassette Beasts won’t be that, but it still might be a fun way to have a different sort of monster battling experience.
#3: Slay the Princess
“I Can Fix Her” simulator looks great! Slay the Princess is a game in which you are told by a narrator that you need to go and kill a princess in order to save the world. In the tradition of games like Stanley Parable, you are given a lot of freedom to push the boundaries of the game and try to discover new paths forward, each of which leads to a unique interpretation of the princess and how she appears to you and interacts with you. Allegedly, you cannot romance her, but that won’t stop me or the rest of the internet from being horny for what is clearly a horrifying eldritch monstrosity in a princess costume. This game isn’t higher on the list because while it is very cool, it’s ultimately a visual novel and I am on the hunt for experiences with solid gameplay, too.
#2: Thirsty Suitors
WHEN DOES THIS GAME COME OUT?! Thirsty Suitors has a very cool premise – a woman returning to her hometown has to face down her exes as she comes to terms with the many social and emotional disasters she left behind. Your choices determine your “thirstsona” which gives you different options for moving forward and theoretically, different endings to explore. The character designs are out of this world and the dialogue is whip-smart; the only thing keeping Thirsty Suitors from the top of my list is that from the RPG standpoint, it doesn’t feel like there’s much special going on with the game mechanics.
#1: Tyrant’s Blessing
This game is out, and the only reason I haven’t bought it yet is because I am still holding out for a Switch (read: portable) version of the game. Tyrant’s Blessing is a tactical RPG in the style of Into the Breach, forecasting your doom at the beginning of the turn and challenging you to move your units and use their special abilities to prevent the danger you see coming. It has a few key differences that help it to feel unique; from the undead bodies of your foes reviving for a certain number of times to the way that enemies capture your soul by targeting you, forcing you to do more than just move out of the way in order to avoid attacks. With lots of heroes with unique abilities to discover and helpful animal companions to bring along for the ride, Tyrant’s Blessing captures the spirit of one of my favorite video games while also doing its own thing in a way that I really appreciate.
I’ve got plenty that I am excited about outside of the games I’ve chosen based on demos. Here are just a handful of titles I’ve got on my radar, ordered this time based on when they are anticipated to release or when I estimate that I’ll be playing them.
Persona 3 Portable
I’ve been making my way backwards through Persona, as Persona 5 Royal was my first and then I played Persona 4 Golden earlier this year. In late January of 2023, Persona 3 Portable will be my next challenge to tackle. It has been kind of odd going backwards through a series instead of forwards, with each game being a notable step backward from a mechanical standpoint but not necessarily from a story one. A lot of folks I know who are more passionate about Persona than I am consider 3 to be particularly good, so I’m excited to dig into it and meet the cast of characters who await me there. And who knows, maybe something about the gameplay will still grab me despite the game’s age.
Fire Emblem Engage
Coming out on the same day as P3P, the end of January marks my descent in JRPG hell. I had some concerns about Engage when it was first revealed but a lot of the mechanical details that have come out since do look promising to me. It seems like Intelligent Systems wanted a “back to basics” Fire Emblem, which may not have been what I was looking for but may not necessarily be a bad thing either. While I’m not particularly enthused about what appears to be happening with the story, the game looks gorgeous and I dig a lot of the character designs for the new cast members. The special skills unlocked by the Emblems look to really change the tactical battle part of Engage, and honestly if Fire Emblem needs an upgrade anywhere it probably is the essence of the battles themselves. I don’t expect this game to usurp Three Houses for me but I am going to keep an open mind.
Once I get past January and February it seems like releases will slow down for me a little bit, which will give me some time to pick up GamePass again and check out some of the titles there that I want to play. One of those is Immortality, a celebrated title that was nominated for multiple Game Awards and which I have been trying to play this year, to no success. I wanted to play Immortality on mobile via Netflix, since I already pay for a Netflix subscription and therefore would be getting the game essentially “for free.” But my phone can’t run the game and you can’t play Netflix titles on PC, so instead I’ll be planning to go the GamePass route in order to experience the story of Marissa Marcel in full.
Speaking of stuff I plan to play on GamePass, Pentement is a game that caught my attention earlier this year with its unique art style and comparisons to Disco Elysium. Now the director shut down those comparisons pretty quickly but then replaced that with “it’s more like Night in the Woods” – which I also like! I win either way! I’ve heard good things about Pentement on the various gaming podcasts I listen to when driving for work, so I’m excited to pick it up and experience its unique offerings for myself. Being able to check it out using GamePass will also allow me to dabble in some other games once I knock it out, so I’m strategically waiting for the empty period after I put Fire Emblem and Persona to bed, before this next title comes out.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Breath of the Wild isn’t my favorite Zelda game, but I did enjoy what it was doing and I want to see them develop on that formula in a way that continues to push the series forward. We’ve seen so little of Tears of the Kingdom and the fandom build up around it is wild. Theories about playing as a young Ganondorf in the past before he is corrupted by Malice or playing as Zelda to reclaim his heart from darkness all sound awesome but will probably not come true, so I am working hard to keep my expectations in check and to anticipate another perfectly fine open world romp that doesn’t quite match my hopes for Zelda storytelling. If this game were somehow the Majora’s Mask to Breath of the Wild’s Ocarina of Time I would absolutely flip my lid, but I don’t think we’re going to get an experience like that.
Hollow Knight: Silksong
Listen. At E3 last year we were given a 12 month window in which Silksong should be released. “All of the games you see today will be available on GamePass in the next 12 months.” That’s what they said. So at the very latest, Hollow Knight’s next entry should be available to me by June 2023, after I’ve wrapped up my time with Tears of the Kingdom. Right? RIGHT?! In all seriousness I am excited for this game and I do anticipate it to release sometime this coming year, but if it takes a little longer I’ll be fine with that. They can take as much time as they need to make a game as amazing as the first Hollow Knight, as far as I am concerned. Playing Bloodborne this year really increased my appreciation for what Hollow Knight is doing, so I am more excited than I have ever been to finally get my mitts on Silksong.
What, you thought I could make a whole post about games I’m excited for next year and NOT include Hades II? I’ve never shouted so loudly about anything happening at the Game Awards, and my Tumblr dashboard is basically a solid wall of Melinoë fanart. Hades was my co-game of the year the year I played it (shoutout to Celeste too) and the idea of seeing Supergiant experiment with creating a sequel for the first time is an exciting prospect. It seems like Melinoë will have new weapons and abilities to bring to bear and the new characters they have already shown have excellent designs. I don’t know when in 2023 Hades II is meant to hit early access, but I will be eagerly waiting for the day I can dive in and experience the game for myself.
So there you have it, my list of anticipated titles for 2023! There are more games than this on my personal list of “games on my radar” but I wanted to keep this to some of the titles I am most enthusiastic about. I’d love to hear from you as well about your own picks for the games you are most looking forward to next year!