Games of the Year

RPGFan Games of the Year 2022 ~ Editors’ Awards: Sam-James Gordon

RPGFan Games of the Year 2022 Editors' Awards

While some of us are still mentally and physically recovering from 2021, I am wondering how long it will take for my wallet to recover from 2022. Square Enix have been absolutely killing it this year, yet in some ways, their releases have still been overshadowed by blockbuster hits such as Elden Ring and Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Both of those games deserve all the praise they receive; they are phenomenal. However, the overwhelming attention they garnered has inspired me to highlight a few of my favourite games of 2022 that can claim a slightly more humble achievement: they reignited my hopes for comparatively dormant genres and series. Some important moves were made this year. Let’s look back at a selection of my personal standouts and discuss their implications for future releases.

Triangle Strategy

Conspiracy theory time: Triangle Strategy‘s purpose in the Greater Square Enix Universe was to test the waters for a Final Fantasy Tactics remake. I see a pattern emerging with HD-2D games. After the initial success of Octopath Traveler, both as a new IP and pioneer of the HD-2D graphical style, Square Enix moved forwards with remakes of LIVE A LIVE and Dragon Quest III. This is just a personal theory, but I am hoping that part of Triangle Strategy‘s mission was to prepare the market for similar remakes in the SRPG genre. As I mentioned in my review of Tactics Ogre: Reborn, 2022 saw a big push for SRPGs, and at the forefront was Square Enix. 

Whether or not I am correct in analysing these trends, Triangle Strategy stands proudly on its own. The storylines were deep and complex, your narrative choices had a real impact, and it was all delivered with a high level of polish. Each unit in your roster had their own purpose on the battlefield. Their individual arcs were memorable. Triangle Strategy easily earned a place on my Game of the Year 2022 list, and I’m glad that Square Enix is putting so much care and attention into their new IPs.

Screenshot From Triangle Strategy

Star Ocean: The Divine Force

During the lead-up to Star Ocean: The Divine Force‘s release, I was apprehensive that the game would be another miss for the series. I don’t want to focus on its predecessor’s shortcomings, but I think the Star Ocean fandom breathed a collective sigh of relief when The Divine Force matched, and in some cases surpassed, our expectations. My reason for including the game on my list is quite simple: I am happy to see hope for the series’ future. With IPs dropped left, right and centre, I don’t think many people ever really anticipated another entry after Integrity and Faithlessness. Nonetheless, Square Enix proved they do indeed have faith, and a new iteration was born.

The Divine Force‘s leading gameplay hook is D.U.M.A, an android device that grants the party a whole host of abilities. It opens up a lot of variety when it comes to exploring maps, allowing the designers to create more interesting environments with incentivesto explore. D.U.M.A’s nifty toolset extends to combat, adding dimension and movement strategies to the battle system. Take that, 4D storyline of Till the End of Time! With so many of our favourite longer-running series in a state of deep sleep, Square Enix’s decision to keep the fire burning for Star Ocean is something that brought me great joy this year. Sam-James’s Top 3 Game of the Year approved!


Harvestella is one of three new IPs to launch from Square Enix this year. Alongside Triangle Strategy and The DioField Chronicle, Harvestella stood out to me because it marks the first attempt at the farming/ life/ dungeon crawling hybrid genre for Square Enix. While games such as Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town and Rune Factory 5 are the latest releases from the series that established the genre, its ascent in popularity since Stardew Valley is a metaphorical pie Square Enix did not have a piece of until now. 

What sets Harvestella apart from other sim RPGs is its focus on how you choose to spend your time. Farming is a key aspect of the game, for sure, but most of your in-game day is usually spent gallivanting off to towns and dungeons a good distance away from your home. This creates an exciting time-management dynamic, and often you won’t be able to clear a dungeon in one clean sweep. Some days you’ll need to forego undertaking character sidequests (of which there are many, and the storylines are brilliant) to ensure you have enough time to travel to your current dungeon and make enough progress in it to reach a teleporter-save point-checkpoint. You can fast-travel home, though, so you can push your character until the very last minute before bedtime. It’s a rewarding formula and really captures that “one more day” element that makes these games so enjoyable. 

Harvestella easily makes my Game of the Year list, not only because it’s wonderful to see Square Enix putting out so many new IPs, but because they’re crafted from the ground up with passion.

Sam-James Gordon

Sam-James Gordon

Sam-James, AKA Sam, has been a fan of RPGs since childhood. He grew up on games like Final Fantasy VIII, Legend of Dragoon, Grandia and the Breath of Fire series. The PS2 was a golden era of gaming for Sam, before many of his favourite series became dormant, and is loving the modern resurgence with games like Eiyuden Chronicle, Penny Blood, and Armed Fantasia.