There’s no sense talking about the year that was in Japanese video games without putting Elden Ring front and center.

Released in February, the latest title from Hidetaka Miyazaki and Shibuya-based developer FromSoftware was hotly anticipated well ahead of its launch. Before it’d been out for a full month, the notoriously difficult and narratively sparse high fantasy role-playing action title had sold more than 13 million copies (as of November, total sales sit just a hair below 18 million).

Today, Elden Ring sits as the second-best selling game of 2022. The only titles to surpass it (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2) and approach it (Madden NFL 23, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and God of War: Ragnarok) are all sequels from long-established series with such brand recognition and pull among both hardcore and casual gamers that the comparison to an original IP like Elden Ring that prides itself on its at-times exasperating difficulty is almost moot.