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The best video games of July 2022

July proved to be a surprisingly solid month for the gaming industry, even if it didn’t seem like it on paper. While there was only one really significant AAA release, a wide range of experimental titles from lots of different genres stepped into the spotlight throughout the month. From a remake of a game that never got a western release to a short, immersive experience about cats, some of the most distinct and unconventional games of 2022 dropped during the month of July. 

As a result, there are quite a few games we recommend players check out this month ahead of the rush of releases this fall. In particular, the following seven games really spoke to us. 

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - Direct Teaser Trailer

One of the month’s last releases was also its best. Nintendo and Monolith Soft released Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on July 28, and it serves as a culmination of what the series has built toward since the first Xenoblade Chronicles title was released. While its combat system is pretty complicated, with MMO-like structure and character fusion, its standout story and faithfulness to the series’ formula should please JRPG fans who are now getting a third Xenoblade Chronicles game on Nintendo Switch.

“If you get emotionally attached to characters, especially passionate ones who don’t want to hurt people and are just trying their best, then it’s a must-play,” Jess Reyes wrote in Digital Trends four-star review of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. “You just have to be ready for an action RPG that isn’t always the picture of elegance — and be prepared to live with those quirks through a long, long adventure.”

One of the year’s best video game narratives is packed inside one of its longest RPGs. But if you’re a fan of Monolith Soft’s RPG formula, there doesn’t seem to be any reason not the check out this game. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is now available exclusively for Nintendo Switch. 

Stray

Stray - Gameplay Walkthrough | PS5, PS4

One of the other biggest games this month is Stray, an indie title from BlueTwelve Studio and publisher Annapurna Interactive about a cat exploring a post-apocalyptic cyberpunk city. For cat owners, Stray is a dream come true as it gamifies all the weird behaviors adorable cats are known for. Stray is a beautiful-looking game with a compelling story that only lasts five hours, so you should fit it into your gaming schedule if you can. 

“Much has been made about the game’s adorable feline lead since the game was first announced, but Stray isn’t just a cute gimmick; it’s a forward-thinking science-fiction game about our increasingly complicated connection with technology,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in his four-star review of Stray. “Between its clever (though limited) gameplay ideas and weighty social commentary, Stray is a special experience that works best as a futuristic mood piece. And a really darn cute one at that.”

If you love cats, then it seems like it’s impossible to not fall in love with some parts of Stray. Just don’t ask me what I think of the cat’s actions in the game; I’m a dog person. Stray is available now for PC, PS4, and PS5. It’s available with a PlayStation Plus Extra or PlayStation Plus Premium subscription, too, making it the first game to launch on day one of Sony’s new subscription service. 

Live A Live

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The other big JRPG to release in July was Live A Live. This Nintendo Switch exclusive from Square Enix is actually a remake of Super Famicom RPG that never made it stateside. It’s rare that games in this situation ever get a western release, let alone get remade, so this is a notable game just for that. Still, it manages to stand out even further thanks to its HD-2D makeover and its unique structure where players go through several separate adventures before they all come together in the end.

Live A Live mostly accomplishes what it’s supposed to do: tell a serviceable story and back it up with engaging gameplay,” George Yang wrote in Digital Trends’ three-and-a-half star review of Live A Live. “However, the game takes too long to get to the best part, which is the final chapter when all of the characters are available to join a single party. Until then, a few of the character chapters can be slogs to get through. The visual presentation and music are great, though, making the journey to the end a treat for both eyes and ears.”

The developers who worked on Live A Live in the 90s went on to influence titles like Chrono Trigger and Octopath Traveler. If you want to see a modernized version of where those ideas originated, then Live A Live is a fantastic game to check out. Currently, Live A Live is available exclusively on Nintendo Switch. 

As Dusk Falls

Image used with permission by copyright holder

As Dusk Falls is for those who enjoy narrative adventure games like Life is Strange: True Colors. Split into two books that are three chapters each, As Dusk Falls tells the story of a hostage situation at a hotel in Arizona and the effects it had on the people who were there during it. The game is presented in a motion comic-like format, with minimal movement, so the choices are really the crux of the interactive experience here. Its unique presentation isn’t for everyone, but if the atypical style clicks with you, then you’ll really enjoy it.

“Even if As Dusk Falls doesn’t feel great to play on a controller, it’s a compelling crime drama narrative that remains exciting even as the scenario ramps up and becomes increasingly outlandish,” I wrote in the game’s three-and-a-half star Digital Trends review. “If you like crime dramas or narrative-driven games, it’s worth checking this out on Xbox Game Pass at the very least.”

As Dusk Falls is also notable because it’s one of the only Xbox Game Studios-published games coming to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S in 2022. As a result, Xbox fans looking for exclusive content should really check it out as it’s a unique and exclusive experience. 

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series

KLONOA PHANTASY REVERIE SERIES - Launch Trailer

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a remaster of the two main console games in a somewhat obscure Bandai Namco platformer series. The games follow the titular character as they explore and save a dream world. For the most part, the games are lighthearted platforming adventures, though the first game, in particular, has a shocking ending. Add in its unique 2.5D-level design and Klonoa’s enemy-inflating abilities, and you’ve got a series that never really got the love it deserved until now.

“From grassy lands to whimsical forests, all accompanied by calming and cheerful music tracks even when the situation is dire, Klonoa constantly reminds me that a great video game can just be a pure fun-first experience that brings players to a different world,” De’Angelo Epps wrote in a Digital Trends article recommending the collection

Klonoa games have historically underperformed, so hopefully, this remastered collection does well enough to warrant a continuation of the series. This is the game fans of platformers will want to check out this month. Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. 

Endling: Extinction is Forever

The fox carries a cub across a pipe as two other follow in Endling: Extinction is Forever.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Endling: Extinction is Forever mixes adventure and survival game elements to tell the story of a fox who is just trying to protect its four children in a world that humans are quickly destroying. In between moments spent searching for a lost cub, players must also dodge hunters and furriers and find food to eat. Endling: Extinction is Forever is masterful at environmental storytelling, as with each passing day you’ll slowly start to see trees cut down, trash fill up the rivers, and once beautiful vistas become covered in smoke and grime. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about how this was a standout title that might have gotten drowned out a bit by launching on the same day as Stray and As Dusk Falls. “It’s harrowing and pretty depressing but effective in getting its pro-environment and anti-capitalist message across,” I wrote. “Although Endling: Extinction is Forever is more pessimistic than Stray as it more negatively describes the direct impact of humanity’s actions, it’s an equally worthwhile indie game about nature that features a cute animal protagonist. In fact, these differences make Endling: Extinction is Forever a good companion piece to Stray.”

It’s a little surprising that we got two post-apocalyptic games starring animals on the same day, but Endling: Extinction is Forever does more than enough to stand on its own. If this harrowing premise intrigues you, I’d recommend giving the game a shot. Endling: Extinction is Forever is available now for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. 

Bear and Breakfast

A bear stands in a hotel lobbey in Bear and Breakfast.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sometimes, games stand out just because of their kooky titles or concept. Bear and Breakfast is one of those games because of just that; it’s a game about a bear who’s running a bed and breakfast! While it features pretty art and vibrant areas for players to explore, Bear and Breakfast also isn’t afraid to lean into the simulation elements of its concept, as players have to build their bed and breakfast and make sure it operates smoothly. 

“I find its cartoon visual style soothing, with its simple shapes and colorful palette,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in an article recommending Bear and Breakfast as a relaxing summer game. “Though most of all, it’s that creation aspect that stands out. It’s a game about fixer-uppers, one that plays with the satisfaction that comes from mending a broken space and making it feel like home. Building comfortable, miniature spaces out of a few well-placed objects makes for a zen-like gameplay loop that has been chilling me out amid an un-bear-able heat wave.”

If the title didn’t already sell you and Bear and Breakfast, then maybe its relaxing vibes will. Bear and Breakfast is available now on PC and is in development for Nintendo Switch. 

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Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
The best video games of March 2022
Kirby becomes a car in Kirby and the Forgotten land.

Thanks to Elden Ring, February 2022 will go down as one of the best months for video games ever. But March 2022 wasn't too shabby either. From the latest entries in long-running series like Kirby, Gran Turismo, and Shadow Warrior to ambitious new ideas from smaller studios, there were plenty of awesome experiences across several genres for players to experience this month.
If you were too busy playing the massive Elden Ring, you might have missed some fantastic games. These are seven titles from March 2022 that players should go and check out once the Elden Ring hype dies down. 
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Kirby and the Forgotten Land – Mouthful Mode Reveal – Nintendo Switch
Kirby is back and more three-dimensional than ever. While this hallmark Nintendo series started in 1992, it had yet to deliver an open 3D experience like Mario, Zelda, and many other classic franchises. Now, on the franchise's t0th anniversary, Kirby and the Forgotten Land makes the jump to 3D spectacularly. It features the excellent level design and diverse copy abilities expected from the series and also introduces the meme-worthy "Mouthful Mode" mechanic where Kirby can suck up, but not entirely swallow, large objects. 
Kirby and the Forgotten Land got four stars from Digital Trends. "Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a delightful puzzle-platformer that adds more dimensions to the basic Kirby formula," Gaming editor Giovanni Colantonio wrote in his review. "Mouthful Mode isn’t just a gimmick; it’s a hysterical mechanic that deepens the puzzle potential. The art direction is the star of the show, turning basic platforming motifs into a creative world that always had me curious to see what awaited me in the next level."
Whether you're looking for a new game to play with your kid, a wholesome title to cheer you up, or just a solid 3D platformer, Kirby and the Forgotten Land checks all of those boxes. It sets an exciting new precedent that future games in the series will potentially follow. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is available exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
Gran Turismo 7

While this game has been met with some controversy over its online focus and microtransactions, there's no denying that Gran Turismo 7 is an incredibly refined racing game experience. Sony's latest first-party PS5 exclusive contains many high-end cars realized in stunning detail and lets players fully embrace the simulation of upgrading, tuning, and racing. 
"Gran Turismo 7 is a comprehensive racing simulator with features that will please series fans, those looking to learn about cars, and people who just want to race casually," I wrote in a four-star review. "While this simulator is more focused on making the player feel elegant rather than exhilarated, it sticks to its vision and highlights the power of the PS5."
Until the next Forza Motorsport game releases, Gran Turismo 7 is the new gold standard for simulation racing thanks to its intricate design that tries to make all of its players into car enthusiasts. It's just as engaging on PS4. Gran Turismo 7 is available on PS4 and PS5.
Shadow Warrior 3
Shadow Warrior 3 - Release Date Trailer
Shadow Warrior 3 is a short and sweet first-person shooter that channels the high-octane energy of its predecessors and games like Doom Eternal. Although it's not very deep and can be beaten in just a few hours, Shadow Warrior 3 is a wacky and hard to put down adventure about defeating a bunch of demons and a gigantic dragon.
"There’s virtually no decision-making but a whole lot of killing enemies, watching pretty colors go off on the screen, and having uncomplicated fun," DT writer Otto Kratky wrote in a Digital Trends piece about the game. "Shadow Warrior 3 is simply a good game, but it accomplishes every task a video game should do quickly and without effort."
This FPS game won't bog players down in an extensive live service or present them with a best-in-class narrative. Players just looking for some bombastic shooting fun will find plenty to enjoy with Shadow Warrior 3. The game is available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One and is included in the PlayStation Now subscription service.  
Dawn of the Monsters
Dawn of the Monsters - Combat Deep Dive
Good Godzilla games are few and far between. Fortunately, Dawn of the Monsters lets players experience the massive power fantasy that makes Kaiju so exciting to many people. Developer 13AM Games and publisher WayForward accomplish this feat with a beat 'em up that's easy to learn and fun to master. It also has a comic book- and manga-inspired art style that's likely to impress fans of Kaiju. 
"Fans of kaiju, mecha, super robots, Super Sentai, Ultraman, and beat ’em ups in general will find that Dawn of the Monsters isn’t just stomping around for show," writer DeAngelo Epps said of the game in a Digital Trends article. The game is available for Google Stadia, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch. Those with a Stadia Pro subscription can currently download that game for free as part of that service. 
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin 

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The best video games of February 2022
Armored character wielding sword in Elden Ring.

February 2022 will go down as one of the best months for video games ever. From indie platformers to AAA open-world powerhouses, several fantastic games launched to critical acclaim and record-breaking player counts. Because so many great games came out in January and February, it’s not surprising if some players’ missed one -- or more than one.
Seven titles in particular rose above everything else released this month and will be remembered by many gamers for years to come. These are the February 2022 games that players should not miss out on, in no particular order.
Elden Ring
Elden Ring Review | A Near Perfect Open World Adventure!
The latest game from FromSoftware was finally released, and it’s clear that Elden Ring may be a contender for game of the generation. Combining methodical and challenging Soulslike gameplay with a vast and open world like that of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Elden Ring struck a chord with critics and audiences alike.
Digital Trends gave the game four stars in our review, which was more critical than the general consensus, but we still enjoyed the experience immensely. “Elden Ring is a new gold standard for open-world game design, dishing out some of the best freeform exploration since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” our review states.
Elden Ring seems like it might be the pinnacle of FromSoftware’s Soulslike formula, and it’s a perfect example of what great open-world design looks like. If you somehow haven’t heard about it already, make sure that Elden Ring is on your radar.
Horizon Forbidden West

Both Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West have had the honor of being fantastic open-world games … that were released just before other titles that revolutionized the genre. Though Horizon Forbidden West has tons of dialogue and might not be the most innovative open-world game, it’s still gorgeous on PS5 and an enjoyable romp.
“Horizon Forbidden West establishes the Horizon franchise as a power player in Sony’s first-party arsenal,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in Digital Trends’ four-star review of the game. “It fixes the few blemishes Horizon Zero Dawn had by strengthening its combat and adding better ways to get around the world.”
There aren’t many other games that can match the feeling a player gets when taking down a giant mechanical monster in Horizon Forbidden West. It’s a must-play for PS5 owners, even if Elden Ring is the best open-world game released this month.
OlliOlli World

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5 cool Nintendo Direct announcements you may have missed
Klonoa and Huepow jump together in the key art for Klonoa: Door to Phantomile.

Nintendo Directs are always exciting because they contain some of the year's most notable game reveals. While the Nintendo-published headliners of the show are what everyone typically talks about, there are plenty of other third-party announcements that round out these shows. Though some of these games might seem like filler during the presentation, they are sometimes the most meaningful parts of the showcase when one looks back after the fact.
The February 9 Nintendo Direct was no different in that regard. It contained significant first-party reveals like Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, Nintendo Switch Sports, and Xenoblade Chronicles 3. However, five other announcements from the show felt just as significant, even if they were much more niche. From games that are getting a second shot at life to ones that are much more experimental, these are five atypical games from the Nintendo Direct that players should pay attention to. 
Live A Live
LIVE A LIVE - Nintendo Switch
Not only did this game lay the groundwork for RPGs like Octopath Traveller and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, but it's a win for the fan translation community as well. Live A Live is the next game to use the HD-2D style Square Enix created for Octopath Traveler, but it's actually a remake of a Super Famicom JRPG that never came out in North America. 
It follows seven different protagonists across different time periods, from prehistory to the Wild West to the distant future, before they all come together to fight the King of Demons. Its segmented story structure was a bold narrative choice in the 1990s and influenced the structure of many modern JRPGs. I recommend watching Did You Know Gaming's Region Locked video to get a complete sense of what this game is about and why it never came to the West.
Previously, the only way to play this was a fan translation from the group Aeon Genesis, and their efforts have kept this cult classic relevant since its release. This release is a huge win for fans who've worked hard to preserve these lost JRPGs and gives new players a chance to experience an innovative JRPG story.
Live A Live will launch for Nintendo Switch on July 22.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series
KLONOA Phantasy Reverie Series - Nintendo Switch
Klonoa is an obscure platformer franchise from Bandai Namco Entertainment. While Klonoa games have been well-received thanks to satisfying platforming mechanics and surprisingly engaging stories, games in this series haven't sold very well. As such, Klonoa was largely ignored as the North American versions of its games skyrocketed in price. As a result, it became more difficult for new players to find out what makes Klonoa so great.
During this Nintendo Direct, Bandai Namco Entertainment confirmed the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series, a remaster of console platformers Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil, is coming to Nintendo Switch soon. This package will introduce Klonoa to a whole new generation and possibly revive the series if it sells well enough.
Platformer fans should keep an eye on Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series when it releases for Nintendo Switch on July 8, 2022.
The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story
The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story | Announce Trailer
Missed this one? Don't worry, it was only in the Japanese Nintendo Direct. While North American viewers missed out on this live-action video game's reveal during the Direct, it's still releasing in the  West and looks wild. The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story follows two characters named Haruka Kagami and Eiji Shijima as they try to solve four Shijima-related murders that have taken place over the last 100 years.
It's like Last Night in Soho meets Sherlock, and a unique take on the choose your own adventure game split into three phases. In the incident phase, players watch the murder unfold and look for clues to help them solve the mystery. In the reasoning phase, players come up with a hypothesis for who committed the crime using all of the information they have before seeing how their choices play out in the solution phase.
This game's experimental narrative structure and development team consisting of people who've worked on Metal Gear Solid V, Nier: Automata, and The Naked Director make it one of the boldest games to come out of any of the Nintendo Directs on February 9.
The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story will hit Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and PS5 on May 12, 2022.
Front Mission remakes
FRONT MISSION 1st: Remake - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Remakes of the first two games in the Front Mission series were confirmed during the Nintendo Direct. Front Mission is a classic strategy game series from Square Enix, though Forever Entertainment is handling these remakes. Players command squads of mechs called Wanzers in a future conflict between the fictional Oceania Cooperative Union and Unified Continental States. These remakes are more shocking than they might initially seem when one considers that the last game in the series was Left Alive.
Front Mission never garnered worldwide appeal, so the series was dormant for some time. In 2019, Square Enix released Left Alive, a stealth action game set in the Front Mission universe. Critics panned Left Alive because of its bad story, lots of glitches, and clunky and frustratingly hard gameplay. Most franchises could never recover from something as terrible as Left Alive, but Forever Entertainment is trying to make Front Mission relevant again with these remakes. A new generation of players will finally learn what made this series unique and, hopefully, Front Mission's reputation will be restored.
Front Mission 1st will launch sometime this summer, while the sequel's remake is still in development. 
Disney Speedstorm
Disney Speedstorm - Nintendo Direct 2.9.22 - Nintendo Switch
While many of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it reveals during the Direct were from Japanese studios, Disney Speedstorm is a more mainstream title to keep an eye on. The reveal of a Disney and Pixar racing game might seem negligible, especially in lieu of the Mario Kart 8 DLC news, but it might be a surprisingly successful title on the platform. It's no secret that Mario Kart 8 has been extremely lucrative on Switch, and it's a full-price title. Disney Speedstorm will be free-to-play and features lots of Disney and Pixar characters that might be even more recognizable to children than Mario and his friends.
For parents that don't want to spend money on Mario Kart or kids looking for free games to try on their Switch, Disney Speedstorm will be a very appealing option. It seems like a solid racer regardless of its price point. While Disney Speedstorm is the kind of game hardcore gamers roll their eyes at this, don't be surprised if a free-to-play Disney racer with local and online multiplayer becomes one of the most popular games on Nintendo Switch when it launches this summer. 

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