Hey y’all, it’s Eric. You know, the guy who managed to not post a single time in 2022. I’m killing the game.
Also, as you can tell by the photos, I got really into dithering. And the color purple.
So how has my year been? Oh, you know, I moved cities, I got a better-paying job. Oh yeah, and I’m really, really into LEGOs again.
Welcome to my personal hell. It took me over a month to organize all of this. I have spreadsheets. I have codes. I have a lot of ziploc bags of extra pieces that won’t fit in the drawers. And I’m building MOCs again, which has honestly been a ton of fun.
I’ve also bought a LOT of sets. In the last few years, LEGO has put out these particular type of sets – they don’t have a specific theme per se, but it’s all the sets in black boxes, with that LEGO border on the bottom. They might as well start calling it the Eric theme, because I want to buy every single one of them.
Another thing that has happened in the last few years (that I will one day write an article on) is that LEGO sets are crazy complicated now. It happened some time during my dark period, and these sets employ some crazy techniques. It’s not just in the 18+ sets, either. Have you see the Monkie Kid sets? Those things are CRAZY. I would have been all over those when I was a kid.
It really seems like LEGO is back on top after a few awkward years in the late 2010s. And with more income, I am absolutely all over it.
I love every set that I’ve gotten this year, but here are two stand-outs I want to briefly mentions:
This set eschews everything about the Wall Art sets – it’s not just dots on a large plate. That’s easy. Anyone can do that. How about trying to capture one of the most famous Impressionist pieces ever – not only in 3D, but by capturing Van Gogh’s specific brush strokes. Yes. Seriously. It blew my mind when I noticed it. This is such a technically impressive set that not only is instantly recognizable as Starry Night, but as a LEGO set, too. Getting both is pretty hard – I haven’t seen any other sets do that. Even the new Great Wave set more just looks like a pointillist take on the piece than a LEGO set. I would love to see more sets like this. Starry Night might be my favorite LEGO set ever made.
Although the Jazz Band is not far behind. LEGO embraced something I haven’t seen before in the build of this set – encouraging people to build this together. One person builds one figure each, and they come together. It’s a cool idea, but LEGOs are all for Eric, so I built this one by itself. Even still, it breaks up really nicely, and doesn’t become exhausting to build, something larger sets like this can have happen (looking at you, Eiffel Tower). I am a sucker for jazz music, too – I used to be in a jazz band, and I really love the vibe of this set. I imagine a dimly-lit room, filled with the smell of open bottles of whiskey and cigarettes, while the raunchy sounds of jazz weave through the room. Some of the building techniques here are incredible impressive, especially on the upright bass – my favorite part of the set.
Plus, booting out the more classically-dressed guy in the original Ideas submission for a woman in a gorgeous yellow dress really makes the set pop all the more. Excellent, excellent set.
I already know my favorite game of 2022. I just haven’t played it yet.
It’s got to be God of War: Ragnarok. 2018’s God of War is one of my favorite games of all time, and just on a lark I played through it one more time in preparation of Ragnarok. For the 8th time. It’s just that good.
If Ragnarok manages to match the 2018 game, or even come close, I will love it. I’ll write a review once I get and beat it.
I’m just working through my backlog before buying another game.
Still, no other games really stuck out to me this year. There are good games, and I’ll recommend and talk about them a bit, but there’s no clear winner like in previous years.
Anyway, let’s talk about Elden Ring.
I wish I loved Elden Ring. I really do. There are things about it I love: those classic Dark Souls moments, like going toe-to-toe with a giant boss, fighting for hours, and finally winning. Or the quite frankly insane amount of weapons this game includes. Or jumping, which makes it kinda hard to go back to the older Souls games.
My biggest problem with Elden Ring is just how big it is. I know that’s a strange complaint, but this is coming from a guy who has a record of hating open world games. There is so much going on in Elden Ring, so many little dungeons and bosses all over the place, that it’s tough getting it all. And if you do try to get it all, you’ll get what I did during my first attempt: get exhausted by the second area, 60 hours in.
So I tried again, this time running straight to each main boss, fighting, and then, if I needed to level up, I’d explore the area around. This worked better, and I got a lot farther. However, this also started to not work, because I would be outclassed by some of the later, required bosses. I got up to the ninth required boss, who just started jumping around the arena, and I just gave up. I was too exhausted.
So I don’t know. I want to try it a third time, but odds are I’ll just get tired again. It’s frustrating, because I want to love Elden Ring, I just can’t. I’m also worried that my favorite game series will only ever be open world from here on out, which is also sad. In my opinion, Sekiro is still the best Soulsborne game, and it’s about as linear as it gets. I think that’s what this series needs more of, but it’s impossible to ignore the massive success of Elden Ring.
Still, I’m happy for From Software. They have one of the most consistent hit rates in gaming. Even with Armored Core VI, which has nothing to do with Dark Souls, I’ll probably still buy on day one and put a hundred hours into it. Just be ready for my end-of-the-year complaints if it’s open world again.
Speaking of open world, let me talk about 80 Days. This didn’t come out in 2022, but I played it this year, so good enough.
I never play mobile games. Ever. But when my Switch broke and I had a flight from Alaska to Nashville, I finally cracked. I used to read a lot of Jules Verne as a kid, so I saw a game based on Around the World in 80 Days and thought I’d check it out.
What I got was a deeply personal, surprisingly intense visual novel / strategy game. You play as Passepartout, man-servant to Phileas Fogg. You’re in charge of the whole cross-world trip: planning the route, taking care of money, gathering supplies. At each stop, you’ll meet interesting characters, who can offer a new mode of transportation, an interesting story, or just a nice personal moment with Passepartout.
In one moment, I ended up in the Middle East trying out a new type of transportation. I was promised it would cut my trip in half by putting me next to the Pacific. Instead, it malfunctioned and I ended up near Russia with only 50 days left.
Another time, we were on a boat heading towards Panama. Then – someone on the boat was murdered. And it was up to me to solve it before we’d land. It didn’t go well.
No matter what your plan, this game keeps throwing different scenarios at you, and you have to just push through, and keep pushing west (or north. or south). I can’t recommend this game enough, especially if you’re on a flight. It just feels right.
Okay, this one came out of NOWHERE for me. I hate LEGO games. Seriously. The only good LEGO games in years past are the Harry Potter games – and that’s just because I’m a sucker for running around Hogwarts. But, I got COVID, I had to sit out of work for about a week, and I thought, what the hell, I’ll try out this new LEGO game.
And I am really happy I did. This game manages to make the Sequel Trilogy look good, even. They avoid the long levels of other LEGO games for really short bits, and then rely on the more open sections of each planets. Each planet has a bunch of Kyber Bricks, characters, side quests, Extras, etc. – strewn all over the place. It really scratched that Mario Odyssey itch, and I hit 100% on the game. It got a little annoying towards the end, but that’s just the price you pay when doing 100%.
Just like Elden Ring, it’s hard to imagine the next LEGO game not taking some of the lessons here. It cuts the worst bits of other LEGO games, doubles down on the comedy, and really nails that Star Wars-y feel. Again, let me reiterate, this game made the Sequel Trilogy look good. Parts of it, at least. And now I know the names of planets like Exegol and Canto Bight.
I know this company had a lot of crunch, which really sucks, so hopefully they pace things out better in the next game. But I am down for whatever they bring in next. Please redo Harry Potter. Please please please please.
I really don’t have much for this section. I’m not sure what sets I’ll get in this new year. I’m putting aside a few bucks a month to build up a budget. I am looking at the NINJAGO City Gardens, and kicking myself for not getting the City or the Docks when they were avaliable. Also – I hear a rumor about some minifig-scale Lord of the Rings sets on the way…
As for video games, other than The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (which is on everyone’s list), nothing really has me super excited. I’m sure some surprise hits will come out later in the year – I’ll just have to keep my eyes open. Let me know if you have any reccomendations!
You must log in to post a comment.