by Public Service Associate Owen
I love cats, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to move and explore like a cat. Stray, a game that takes place from the third person perspective of a cat the player controls, gets about as close as you can get to that feline feeling. From darting through narrow passageways and leaping to and from platforms, to bounding up walls and obstacles and scurrying between shuffling feet, Stray really makes you feel like a cat! And it’s a wonderful experience. The main gameplay focuses on solving puzzles to progress the story, but I honestly had the most fun just running around being a cat. You can sleep like a cat, meow for anyone to listen, nuzzle up against strangers who all react to you in different ways, or do my absolute favorite thing: knock objects off of ledges. The environment the game is set in – a tightly-crammed walled city populated by robots – is the perfect space to explore as a cat. It may not have the most moving story or the most exciting gameplay, but at the end of the day it’s a lot of fun to run around the confines of the city as a cat, which is why it has to be one of my favorites of 2022.
Raft is an open-world survival game, and it’s an underrated gem. You start on a 2×2 raft in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by sharks, with nothing but a hook to throw and collect materials with. It’s then up to the player to survive, craft new items, expand their raft, and explore the vast ocean for the game’s storyline. Exploring in Raft is a lot of fun, and since your raft is always moving there’s always somewhere new to go. The game is unapologetic about trapping you on your raft with no context, but slowly figuring out the story bit by bit as you discover new areas makes for a satisfying gameplay experience. Where Raft truly excels is the co-op mode, as surviving on the open ocean is a lot more fun when you’re marooned with a friend. You’ll argue about where to voyage to next, what new items to craft, and how the raft should be designed and upgraded, but it is a lot more fun than going it alone! If you enjoy survival games, especially co-op ones, then I’d highly recommend Raft. Just watch out for the sharks if you decide to go for a swim!
Elden Ring is an action-based role playing game from From Software. Combat, exploration, and character customization are the main features of this game, and it delivers in spades in all three. The most impressive facet of Elden Ring is the map – it’s massive and immense, and the areas of it vary greatly. From large grassy plains dotted with ancient ruins to undead wastelands, there is so much to explore and each area feels intricately connected to the last. The game also features story and lore from A Song and Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin, so Game of Thrones fans will feel at home.
Much like the Dark Souls series of games that it is based on, Elden Ring is a very difficult game. You will struggle mightily against all manner of bosses and creatures, and will often fail multiple times in a row. It takes practice, dedication, and all manner of items and equipment to overcome the obstacles in your way. This may not sound like a fun game, but the empowering feeling of overcoming what is in front of you is especially satisfying in Elden Ring. When you take down a boss, you really feel like you’ve earned it, and it is this feeling that makes Elden Ring so addictive. With a breathtaking world to explore, a limitless amount of character customization, thrilling combat, and underrated story, It’s a game that is truly epic in scope. No other game from 2022 feels as immense as Elden Ring, and it is this that sets it apart from others. If you can learn to enjoy the challenge, then Elden Ring is absolutely a must-own.