Strategy and simulation games tend to spin. We’ve had several strong years recently, with 2020 being our latest highlight. None of the recent years lack. This will be the seventh consecutive listing for the two types, so I should know. This list cannot include any game in Early Access nor a reboot, remake or reimagining (sorry, Tactics Ogre: Reborn).
Also on Wccftech’s Best Games of 2022 lists: Shooters, Fighting, Platformer, Adventure, Indie, Action, Horror, and Multiplayer.
An interesting aside, this kind of feels like the end of a circle. 2016 was the first time I’ve written best strategy and simulation lists (separate at the time), and some of the familiar entries here bring back some fond memories. The best example of this is the first game on my list:
Total War: Warhammer III (9.5 / 10)
Type: Strategy (grand strategy). program: PC.
No year is complete without what has become a tradition. A strategy game published by SEGA that deserves to be any Game of the Year list, apart from the Strategy and Simulation-only list. This marked the end of Creative Assembly’s run in the Warhammer universe, and it was the perfect end to the trilogy, especially if you wanted the pure Total War experience with the Immortal Empires campaign.
The culmination of the Total War: Warhammer trilogy, the story-focused approach combined with massive multi-part battles feels like the right thing to do. While the aspects can make you feel rushed, this is undoubtedly intentional because you’re racing against all the other factions on the map, and the more you play, the more you’ll like it. The battles look really epic, even the normal battles are seeing a significant improvement thanks to the excellent design. The AI improvements on the campaign map, along with unique faction features, add another layer to the game. There is a little disturbance here and there; The AI has problems during battles. Corruption on the campaign map seems unbalanced, but while these can be annoying (mainly corruption), they are minor issues in the overall plot. All in all, Total War: Warhammer III is an excellent game.
Two Point Campus (8/10)
Type: simulation. Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series S/X, Nintendo Switch.
SEGA reappears, which makes me repeat something again: SEGA is one of the best publishers in the gaming business today, especially if you’re strategically minded (with a dash of simulation). Two Point Campus, a follow-up to Two Point Hospital, continues from the original. It looks like the developers are setting up the Two Point Universe, giving us a bunch of slapstick management simulations of anything and everything. Police or fire then?
With its solid gameplay and sense of humor, as well as Two Point Studios beefing up the management aspects, I’m looking forward to the next ride.
Two Point Campus follows the path laid out by Two Point Hospital, while maintaining the same comedic look and tone, and the same humor in the spins and expletives. Like the first title, this one combines simulation mechanics, solid management, and accessibility that work well with the aforementioned tone and aesthetic. Two Point Studios knows their business, and they undoubtedly lead the class in more ways than one.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns (8.5/10)
Type: Strategy (turning tactics). Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series S/X, Nintendo Switch.
Following on from Total War, Marvel’s Midnight Suns also represent the circle I mentioned at the beginning. Firaxis, the developers of XCOM2, returns and appears on this list. I, being the cynical ass that I am, assumed that Marvel’s Midnight Suns would be a regular game, XCOM mainly but Marvel. How wrong I was.
Yes, this is a turn-based tactical title like XCOM, but that’s where the similarities end. Incorporating deck-based mechanics almost perfectly, it also incorporates the opportunity that you’re never sure if you’ll draw a useful card. In addition to engaging combat, Firaxis also included solid RPG mechanics, branching out from its usual gameplay and great performance.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a solid tactical RPG that sounds like something that wouldn’t be amiss in the MCU. It might feel a little bloated in some elements, but it’s a very solid game. The characterization is top notch, with some screenwriting and voice acting to back it up. Outside of the RPG aspects, combat is fun, engaging, and challenging – especially at higher difficulty levels. I had a lot of fun with the game, and continue to enjoy it, and I can only think that fans of the genre – and Marvel – will enjoy it as much as I do.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker (9/10)
Type: simulation. Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series S/X.
After its Early Access release in 2020, Hardspace: Shipbreaker proved to be a hit for Blackbird Interactive and Focus Home Entertainment, selling over 500,000 copies in Early Access alone. It’s for good reason, too. Combining a strong story with aspects of excellent simulation, this almost speculative look at corporate abuse and the dismantling of spaceships is excellent.
Hardspace Shipbreaker does everything you want it to do, and it does it well. Shipbreaking is fun, tangible, and rewarding. The story is funny, thoughtful, and engaging. And the music is relaxed and thoughtful.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope (8.5/10)
Type: Strategy (turning tactics). Platforms: Nintendo Switch.
Made out of the minds of a group of sordid, grotesque individuals, Mario and Rapid’s marriage should never work out. Of course, since we’re now looking at the second of the Mario + Rabbids titles, and it’s on our best-of list, we know it worked.
Ubisoft has developed another solid game, one that manages to have a level of humor throughout that never gets boring and keeps you smiling. In addition, the sequel has improved on tactical action with increased flexibility – a great game that keeps you looking for what comes next.
Tactical RPG fans and those who love the chaotic nature of Rabbids owe it to themselves to check out both Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope and the prequel Kingdom Battle for a gaming experience you won’t find on any other platform.
I know I didn’t include the big one on this list. The reason is that – because there were so many personal issues that I should have played to review, I didn’t get a chance to participate. I’ll be reviewing it late next year, but it will have to lead the Honors team. Little yet. I’ve played enough to know it’s excellent, but not enough to do it justice.
Overall, 2022 was a decent year, but it wasn’t the best. It’s had notable titles, the culmination of one of the best trios, and developers like Firaxis have branched out successfully. If there’s anything I’ve missed, let me know because I know there will be something. Drop me a line in the comments, and give me something to play with this year!