With 2022 wrapping up, it’s about time to take a look back at some of the best games of the year. This was, all told, a very solid year for gaming; there were some truly excellent titles, and while the year also saw its fair share of mediocre offerings, it’s hard to argue that gamers weren’t spoiled for choice. Whatever platform you like to game on, there’s plenty from the year 2022 that should keep you entertained. Here are the best games of 2022, in no particular order.
From Software’s traditional exploration-heavy action RPGs made the leap to open-world gameplay in Elden Ring, and it paid off in spades. The game offered a world full of exciting exploration, a landscape where a mysterious spire in the distance would almost always offer something interesting or useful for your current playthrough (and more often than not, an incredibly difficult combat encounter guarding that thing). It could occasionally be a touch overstuffed, but it’s hard to argue Elden Ring doesn’t represent an exciting new direction for Soulslikes.
With an incredible core gameplay loop supported by a surprisingly effective character-driven visual novel story, Neon White proved that it’s still possible to get more life and excitement out of the first-person shooter genre. In essence, the game is a speedrun simulator; you must complete each stage in as fast a time as possible, necessitating efficient manipulation of the weapons and enemies in the environment. Watching actual speedrun videos of this game is absolute insanity.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet
They may not have been quite as much of a hit with fans as previous Pokemon games, and their performance might be unforgivably bad, but there’s something immensely compelling about Pokemon Scarlet and Violet nonetheless. Whether it’s the surprisingly evocative and affecting storytelling (yes, really) or the massive open world that lets you wander at your leisure, Scarlet and Violet represent an exciting new direction for the series. Long may it continue (although hopefully with better technicals next time around)
Survival horror isn’t dead, it turns out, largely thanks to indie horror Signalis. The plot could be a touch pretentious and “difficult” at times, but Signalis’ nervy resource-based gameplay and emphasis on exploration made it a joy to play through nonetheless. In a world that seems to have forgotten subtlety and pacing in horror (looking at you, Callisto Protocol), Signalis showed that the old Resident Evil and Silent Hill models still hold weight in the modern era.
Mario and Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
Absolutely nobody expected Mario and Rabbids: Kingdom Battle to be as great as it was. Still fewer people expected Sparks of Hope to surpass its predecessor in every way, offering a really rather excellent tactical RPG with great characters and fun environments to explore. Ubisoft’s game also contains some exciting evolutions of the strategy genre; the free movement, which allows you to position your characters wherever you like as long as you haven’t acted yet, is a stroke of genius.
Remember instruction manuals for video games? Tunic very much hopes you do, because it contains an entire instruction manual. No, really; at the outset, Tunic doesn’t tell you anything about its huge, isometric world, so you’ll need to find pages of a virtual instruction manual in order to learn what anything does or means. What follows is a rich, tactile adventure that takes inspiration principally from the original Legend of Zelda, and one whose central premise is a gift that just keeps on giving.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
Final Fantasy XIV continues to be the antidote to cynical modern MMORPG design. While its story can be a touch linear, this is one of the best narratives in the entire Final Fantasy series. Bear in mind that you really can’t get started with Endwalker; you’ll have to experience the entire saga up to that point, but it really is worth it to get to know some of Final Fantasy’s best characters and settings to date. The new dungeons, raids, and locations Endwalker offers make it a fitting sendoff for the series.
Live A Live
Live A Live probably doesn’t really hold up to modern JRPGs from a gameplay standpoint. Its grid-based tactical RPG combat is a little strange, and if you’re used to games with more efficient design, this one might grate at the beginning. Give it some time, though, because as it progresses, Live A Live unfolds one of the most creative and fascinating RPG stories in history. This Switch remake applies Octopath Traveler’s beautiful HD-2D style to the 1994 original, making it the definitive way to experience this oddball classic.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Forgotten Land reminds you (ironically) just how great Nintendo and its partners are when they’re at the top of their game. A beautiful, colourful odyssey stuffed to the gills with varied challenges and great level design, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a wonderful return to form for the little pink blob. If you’re a completionist, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy in this massive collectathon; it’s almost always worth revisiting levels multiple times to find all the things you missed the first time around.
It’s spent a fair while in Early Access, but Prodeus finally got a full release this year, and it’s phenomenal. This is very much Doom with the training wheels turned off; it’s an intensely brutal journey through dimly-lit space bases and alien planets, a paean to violence in its purest and most expressive form. If you don’t enter some kind of battle trance while you’re blasting your way through Prodeus’ expertly-crafted levels, you’re doing it wrong.