I’ve been off gaming for the past couple of months. The beginning of 2022 had me truly spoilt by the likes of Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring and Ghostwire: Tokyo, to the point that deciding which to start playing was genuinely tough. I had to closely monitor my time so I could always get to each game as much as possible.

Unfortunately, I’m now at the point where I can’t play any of them, as each only succeeds in irritating me to my core whenever I think that I’ll give them one last chance.

Horizon Forbidden West is the top of my shitlist for gaming entertainment this year, despite the fact I scored it a 9 around launch. I reviewed it again after finally finishing the story and dropped that down to a 7. The issue is, I still think I scored it too high!

I was on a Forbidden West media and review black-out until I finished the story, as I know some outlets like to sneak in spoilers to amp up their audience. Taking no chances, I muted all mention of the game on social media, removing it from any recommended lists and forbidding (get it?) anyone I knew from raising the subject until I’d given the all-clear. I need not have bothered as it turns out: nobody whatsoever has been discussing the ending. This is either because they didn’t get that far thanks to the tedium, or because the story finale is uninspired, insulting to established characters and just a plain old middle finger to the fans. Without going into specifics, the final cut-scenes reek of the developers possessing an ill-conceived notion they have engineered an ending to end all endings, when in actual fact they’ve just squandered a golden opportunity whcih was presented to them earlier on in their own story!

I also hated Aloy, and was relieved to read I wasn’t alone in that. She is one of the biggest disappointments in the game, especially as I thought she was excellently written and portrayed in Zero Dawn, and I can only say the same about her character throughout Forbidden West if the design document stated: ‘Make Unlikeable. Alienate Friends. Collect Berries’.

Horizon Forbidden West’s dull story, insanely high open world fatigue and flat characters are why it is currently my worst game of the year. Following hotly on its heels is Ghostwire: Tokyo!

Where to start with this game? To get the positives out of the way, the design of the powers and enemies are excellent, and make playing this game very satisfying, provided you only tackle it in short bursts. It makes me sad to say that a lot of the gameplay decisions in the production of this game are severely lacking. The number of powers you get, considering how frequently they are handed out and how you unlock essentially all of them at the beginning of the game, is woeful. It creates an early impulse to acquire new abilities, which only ends in disappointment: that’s your lot!

The game map of Tokyo is way too big to be any fun to traverse outside the opening couple of hours. While I understand the game isn’t overly long, I don’t think I even made it to the halfway point after how burnt out I quickly became upon discovering I wasn’t getting any new abilities to inject life into the frankly stale gameplay. It also doesn’t help that Fire ammo is too sparse to rely on it, and the Water power does as much damage as an apology.

I have tried numerous times to get back into Ghostwire: Tokyo but the final nail in the coffin was the tedious forced stealth section where KK and his powers were taken off me. This section went on for far too long, and now I barely last 20 minutes at a time trying to play. Maybe I’ll restart it in a year or so and try to brute force my way to the ending.

Lastly, Elden Ring. I know what you’re thinking: is it because the game is too hard? No (and yes)! After battling for close to 40 hours to conquer all of Limgrave, the Weeping Peninsula, Liurnia of the Lakes and most of Raya Lucaria, I have finally landed on Altus Plateau. Infuriatingly, the impenetrable obstacle which my pride will not let me move past is among one of the game’s easiest bosses: Rennala.

Her second stage is what beats me, and if it was just a case of passing through a wall of fog to re-attempt her I’d have beaten her not long after failing my first attempt. My enthusiasm to try and try again is whipped away by the fact she isn’t near a site of grace for me to respawn at, and so my Tarnished has a commute to get through before I can start the fight again. Not only this, but she also has a drawn-out and annoying first phase consisting of dodging her little minions to hit them with my big sword a few times before I can even get to the main event with her.

I am fully aware that I can skip the entire fight with her now if I wish to, as I have access to Altus Plateau, but as she is the first boss to pose a real threat to me since Margit, I am determined to topple her. Rather, I would have already if I didn’t have to keep jumping through all the hoops to reach her. It’s a catch-22 situation, which has led to me no longer playing the game. This might be for the best, as I don’t like the look of the majority of bosses I have coming up if I ever do defeat her!

After a couple months of not gaming at all, I have finally been welcomed back into the fold through one of my ultimate comfort games. This is a game I have already played for close to 350 hours since it was released in late 2018, the game which kicked Final Fantasy XV from its perch as my favourite game of all time: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Being back in the Greek world has filled me with such an overwhelming euphoria. Starting my first ever new game plus run has already given me dozens of laughs and excitable gasps as I use late-game powers to trample enemies who are out of their depth facing a regular sword, let alone a mercenary who can leap 20 feet into the air at a moment’s notice to gain the high ground and rain arrows down upon them.

All the games of 2022 so far can’t hold a candle to the strength of a nearly four-year-old Assassin’s Creed game, but I’m not counting this year as a write-off quite yet. Several upcoming games could yet take Elden Ring’s title of my favourite game of 2022, though it only holds that by default, being the experience that has made me the least bitter. I’m sure I’ll be back soon to talk about those games, but in the meantime thanks for reading!

Edited by Catherine.