This year we have been spoiled with riches in the world of video games even beyond the year’s biggest titles, and that says a lot because we started with Elden Ring and ended with God of War Ragnarok. Both of those are v8 engine tour-de-force AAA blockbusters, and yet there was so much to be impressed by in between (drafts), especially in the indie scene, which makes up a hefty half of this list. Everything from incredible presentation value to tight gameplay was present, and we were so enthusiastic with what was available to us, particularly via Xbox Game Pass, that we couldn’t just stick to the typical ten. Therefore, we have amassed a list of 20 video games here in no particular order, from blockbusters to strategy games to rhythmic action and survival horror. That said, we’re positive there’s some gems we missed so if you have a favorite video game of 2022 not presented here, please let us know in the comments or on our Discord server and we’d love to drum up conversation about our favorite games.
Swedish developers The Outsiders took the idea “What if you took Doom Eternal, but you had to play Guitar Hero at the same time” and made that a reality with this underground indie hit of the year. Metal: Hellsinger plays like a shooter from the POV of a demon only known as The Unknown. The plot might be thin but the reason people will be drawn to it is the excellent gameplay. While at the surface this looks most appealing to fans of the modern Doom games, it also requires the ability to keep a rhythm. Your shooting reticle is a metronome marker as arrows thump in on ¼ beat and your job is to not only clear the level, but on each action, be it shooting, slashing, clashing, dashing, prancing, vixening or what have you, you will climb in score the closer you stay to the beat. Good and Perfect scores for your action pacing is the goal, and the more you keep this strategy in mind, your multiplier goes up, as well as the parts of the song that plays throughout the level. At maxed out multiplier, the lyrical vocal track persists as long as you can make it, and if you can keep that going, you’ll be a damned rock star. [Evan Griffin]
Signalis grabs you tight and leaves you breathless as it drags players deep down into its cold, cerebral depths with an exactness in tone, style, atmosphere and game structure while wandering its abandoned and haunted hallways. Even those still relatively green to the Survival Horror genre (me) will find much to love as the strength of the bond between games such as Resident Evil 1 or Silent Hill 2 create the DNA which turns Signalis’ into something unique. It takes the primordial essence of those games and infuses them with the fundamentals of Isaac Asimov’s finest work, but the elegant pace and visual cadence of a Tarkovsky feature. The tropes aren’t anything we haven’t seen in Hollywood films, but never has a game executed them with something as succinctly, as immersive, or as filmic as this. Its inventive presentation value is bolstered by a gameplay structure that is satisfyingly familiar for Survival Horror fans but also welcoming for newcomers to explore. Signalis is yet another example to weaponize in the Video Games as Art list. [Evan Griffin]
“Kung fu game by the Absolver guys!” is how most people would describe this game. The Game Awards jury would for some reason also choose the descriptor of Best Fighting Game. Sifu is much more than that once you start diving in. The best summation of Sifu is that it uses all of its aesthetic power combined with deliberately simple design to allow players to live out the narrative of a kung fu movie. The gameplay structure apes a very simple revenge film story with a Game of Death structure. The conceit of the game is a fascinating translation of these film tropes as well, as each time the player character dies he/she ages, becoming not only more powerful, but weaker in health as it interprets them going out to execute their enemies as a wiser and more experienced kung fu master. There is a reason this game is getting adapted to live action already by the creators of the John Wick franchise. If you liked classic single player linear beat ’em ups like God Hand back in the PS2 era, Sifu is the spiritual successor to that genre with a contemporary roguelike structure as the players become more adept at the challenge of combat. [Evan Griffin]
I’ve already whinged plenty about this game, but the TLDR is the fact that I genuinely believe anyone who puts Overwatch 2 on their Best Of lists at the end of this year are dead wrong or have no idea what they’re talking about because that game is bad. Gundam Evolution, on the other hand, is the secret savior of the hero based shooter that no one is playing. It brings back the traditional 6v6 with classic mecha throughout the series from both the Federation and Newtype factions and across several timelines, each with unique power sets that will feel familiar to players who have been missing the original iteration of Overwatch.
The UX/UI experience is actually really efficient considering the game is made by Bandai Namco. In addition to clear visuals and a simple ping system ripped straight from Apex Legends, this squad based shooter is definitely still finding its legs but conjoins the love for the sights and sounds of 80s anime as well as maps spiritually consistent with Overwatch’s best. [Evan Griffin]
There have been so many first-person shooters and platformers made over the decades that it wouldn’t be wrong to assume game developers have run out of ideas to make these established formulas exciting again. The answers provided by Angel Matrix are an interesting combination of speed, cards and early-2000s anime humor. That caffeinated smoothie is Neon White, one of the most colorful, quirky and surprisingly blood-pumping FPS titles in recent memory. The game has its own outstanding charms, such as the winding level designs that mimic ancient Roman architecture, the thumping soundtrack with cuts straight out of fight scenes from The Matrix and the juvenile dialogue from voice actors ready for a run on Toonami. Neon White is also a game that learned from recent history, following the formulas of the Doom reboot sequels by emphasizing constant motion and bouncy platforming to keep players invested. [Jon Winkler]
Possibly this year’s biggest breakout success story (what started as a browser-based quarantine project slowly grew into a multi-console phenomenon popular enough to let its creator quit his day job), Vampire Survivors is somehow both the most minimalist and maximalist game on this list. While you can get a general idea of what to expect through its chaotic blender of descriptors – a roguelike, shoot ‘em up, bullet-hell that pays homage to Castlevania in both appearance and gameplay mechanics – the depth it has to offer quickly becomes overwhelming the further into it you get. While the only things you control are your character’s movement and what upgrades you select, investing in the skill tree and unlocking new characters/areas (of which there are many) makes your runs last longer and gives you breathing room to discover a delightfully complex web of weapon synergies and gameplay styles.
With each 30 minute run coming out of the game with a relatively slow start, it is a perfect game to multitask and zone out to. That is, until the entire screen floods with enemies and it becomes a pulse racing mad-dash for survival; nothing this year has as equally frustrated and motivated me as losing a round with 30 seconds to go (twice.) With fresh DLC out and more on the horizon, Vampire Survivors is a dopamine-rushing must play, and with the vast number of ways to accessible play it, one that is hard to make an excuse not to. [Quinn Parulis, Guest Contributor]
Nobody Saves the World
The newest game from acclaimed developing studio Drinkbox of Guacamelee fame, Nobody Saves the World puts you in the shoes of the titular Nobody and sets you off on a classic Zelda inspired dungeon crawling adventure. While you start out as weak and powerless as can be, you end up armed with a wand that allows you to transform into a large variety of different classes ranging from rats and slugs all the way to powerhouses like dragons and bodybuilders. The jobs are all able to be leveled up individually and doing so gives the player the ability to carry over their primary moves to other classes, allowing for the kind of customization offered by the highest end rpgs and roguelikes; half the fun of the of the game is in the grind to unlock zanier and more powerful combos that the endgame requires you to switch between rapidly to survive and, well, save the world. Featuring an adorably macabre and cartoonish art design, solid cooperative play and satisfyingly weighted combat, Nobody Saves the World is an odd and hilarious game that becomes increasingly hard to put down the deeper into it you get, and, if its recent dlc and the history of the developer’s previous franchise are anything to go by, will be one more than worthy of the investment.[Quinn Parulis, Guest Contributor]
With a level of hyperbolic acclaim not seen since its most obvious predecessor, Breath of the Wild, the hype from its overly aggressive fanbase and the generally positive reception from gamers who would never touch previous FromSoft games (thank god Armored Core is back), the discourse surrounding Elden Ring has been both a blessing and a curse for a game so tightly made and designed to be relatively insulated against criticism. Rather than trying to sell you by piling on with even more praise and lauding, a more interesting point of entry can be found in how the game makes very little effort to stave off the most obvious criticisms it faced even before releasing: the appeal of open-world gaming had been worn thin (to put it lightly), the formula used by the studio’s previous games was starting to become predictable (even Bloodborne doesn’t stretch as far away from the usual mechanics as its defenders tend to argue), and the idea of an even bigger and longer game from a company known for making you dig for its plots and emotional beats was hard to digest for people wary of combining that world with the potential emptiness that plagues many of the genre’s huge maps.
Instead of trying to overly innovate and come up with ways around those potential issues, Elden Ring instead decided to double down and refine the fundamental pillars necessary to marry its already established formula to a massive new world. So yes, you can dismiss it as simply just open-world Dark Souls, but those are two very popular institutions for a reason, and sometimes improving on something not broken can be all it takes to make the biggest game of the year something worthy of that title. [Quinn Parulis, Guest Contributor]
Simulator games are currently in somewhat of a golden age, evolving from the broad staples like The Sims into increasingly niche subjects where anyone looking hard enough will be able to find exactly what the simulation they are craving. Despite this glut of quality offerings, one of the most astonishing accomplishments of the genre can be found in the unassuming Powerwash Simulator, a game that revolves around nothing more than cleaning the hell out of everything you see. While featuring enough unlockable upgrades and cosmetics to keep you always chasing bigger and bigger paydays – the campaign mode has stages ranging from houses and playgrounds all the way to monster trains and ferris wheels – the real draw is the level of meditative relaxation that defies the normal laws of logic of what an enjoyable gaming experience should be. Offering all the fun of checking a task off the to-do list without any of the actual pressure (unless you count the power of the more hardcore washers at your disposal), the game is a constant dopamine rush that requires a minimal level of mental investment. Playable on a variety of platforms and featuring solid cooperative and challenge modes, Powerwash Simulator is filled to the brim with enough content to keep you spraying and scrubbing to your heart’s content in an addictive gameplay loop that needs to be played for a only a few minutes to truly understand its lasting appeal. [Quinn Parulis, Guest Contributor]
A splendid mishmash of a wide variety of complimentary influences, Tunic is a love letter to the storied history of top-down action-adventure games. While aping most directly from the original Legend of Zelda titles and wearing that influence proudly, the game also keeps things fresh with an added dash of modern flourishes borrowed from the Souls series, Hyper-Light Drifter, Fez and, probably the most succinct comparison, Devolver Digital’s Death’s Door. Featuring genuinely challenging combat and detailed map and level design, Tunic’s most unique aspect must be its in-game journal that functions as a treasure trove of maps, concept art, and the only means of learning the game’s mechanics.
What makes that journal so memorable is that each page must be discovered in tucked away places that require more than a little bit of effort in exploration. Similarly, the fact that everything in the game is written in a made-up language that might be decipherable but for the most part requires some critical inferring skills. The sense of discovery presented is one unmatched in recent memory, creating a unique game that is a must play for any fans of the genre looking for something that feels like a perfect balance of both old and new. [Quinn Parulis, Guest Contributor]
Rogue Legacy 2
Creating a follow up to 2013’s Rogue Legacy was always going to be tricky. Released around the start of the resurgence of the Rogue-Lite genre before modern staples of the genre started pushing it into exciting new directions like Hades, Slay the Spire and Crypt of the Necrodancer, the original game was all about refining what wasn’t broke; the traditional formula of a randomly generated map with numerous branching paths, a simple and addictive upgrading system, and perma-deaths that make you start the whole thing over again. What made it stand was its class system where upon every death you chose the next member of your family tree to brave the dungeon, each coming with delightful hereditary traits that change the gameplay in some wild ways, like colorblindness taking the color out completely, or gigantism that forces you to rethink approaches to the platforming elements.
This year’s excellent sequel continues down the path laid by its predecessor by sticking to what is essentially the exact same structural format but refined to the point of airtight polish. The gameplay feels as tight as a 2D action platformer can get, upgrading your skills and watching your castle grow is incredibly addictive, and the introduction of a larger variety of locals to hack and slash your way through keeps things from feeling like too much of a retread. Sometimes the best games are ones that remind you of why you fell in love with a genre to begin with, and Rogue Legacy 2 is the best example of this in the Rouge-Lite you’re going to find this year. [Quinn Parulis, Guest Contributor]
Pokémon Legends Arceus
The good Pokémon game that came out is really that good. Legends focused more on the mechanics of catching and exploring than Scarlet and Violet did, for the better. Beyond being compared to other titles, Legends is just a good time. By leveraging and expanding on existing love, Legends was able to be compelling while driving players in the direction of research over competition. As a cherry on top, the chance of actually being destroyed by a rogue Pokémon is just a good time. All of this culminates in one of the best final battles of a Pokémon title in ages as well. If we have to live in a future world of Pokémon, it should look a lot more like Legends Arceus. [Travis Hymas]
A magnificent blend of video game and tabletop RPG, Citizen Sleeper is a-game about how life is pain. Citizen Sleeper is also about living in spite of it. Using striking narration and beautiful dialogue from creator Gareth Damian Martin, Sleeper weaves moments of small joy into major complication organically even as its setting reaches beyond the stratosphere. Speaking at length about my Sleeper’s budding friendship with the chef Emp his or the uncertainty tha Lem and Mina found a better life far away feels like spoiling the best parts. There’s a bittersweet melancholy of the entire experience, but unlike a lot of its tonal kin, it is really hard to feel like the harsh cold of space is all there is. It is absolutely worth taking a weekend to experience Citizen Sleeper yourself. [Travis Hymas]
What really sets Marvel Snap apart is that the team at Second Dinner really seems to have a grasp on the mediums they’re working with. Designed from the start to be the kind of game you can play while waiting in line at the bank, Snap knows the device you’re playing on won’t be exclusively for playing games. As a TCG, Snap knows the faster you can get playing with cards, the more likely you are to be hooked. And being the latest in a never-ending line of Marvel licensed mobile games. Snap knows it needs to stand out. All of these factors blended together into one of the strongest mobile-only titles in a good long while. Marvel Snap uses the long history of TCGs and Marvel comics to make an easy to pick up but hard to put down game – even as it’s designed to be dropped when you need to. [Travis Hymas]
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Honestly, it’s kinda impressive that it took this long for anyone to take a crack at a follow-up to Turtles in Time. Shredder’s Revenge is definitely up to the task. A loving recreation of the most iconic version of the Turtles, Shredder’s Revenge is a straightforward and slick brawler that scratches that retro itch. The team at DotEmu have proven they know how to make a revival with modern sensibility with Streets of Rage 4 before; and Shredder’s Revenge might be even better. That may sound at first like being able to blast through Shredder’s Revenge in a couple of afternoons is a negative, but it’s not. Multiple challenges, extra unlocks, and even a bonus character make the quicker and modern pacing more enticing and worth revisiting. A special note should be made for the game’s score, which has a familiar energy to the classic 16-bit Turtles games while being wholly unique and exciting to their own. [Travis Hymas]
God of War Ragnarok
Since 2018’s God of War amazed the gaming world, we’ve all been waiting for the continuation of the story of Kratos and Atreus. In 2022, we were given God of War Ragnarok which is an even more emotional and introspective game than its predecessor. It’s a story of fatherhood and what it means to love your child unconditionally. At the same time, it’s even more of a story about prophecy and identity. Kratos grapples with his past and what it’ll take to keep his present and future safe, while his son is trying to become and adult and do whatever it takes to be the strong son that his father doesn’t know he needs. And with the variety of big adversaries in this game, the father and son are in for the fight of their lives. This game is relatable and will leave you thinking for a long time afterwards. [Tyler Carlsen]
Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate Daemonhunters
Chaos Gate is a fantastic little tactics game that has very successfully punched well above its weight. The Warhammer 40,000 franchise has a bit of a running curse about it, where only one in every five games are actually any good, but the tactics games seem to have the best luck so far. Chaos Gate is an X-COM-like squad tactics game, where you take a team of Grey Knights: The universe’s equivalent of medieval knights, but each with an array of psychic powers and an over the top arsenal of space weaponry. The Grey Knights are on a quest to defeat a local plague outbreak brought on by the Chaos god of disease, Nurgle. Chaos Gates’ setting is a refreshing change for the W40K franchise, one that usually focuses more on the standard space marines against a rotating rogues gallery of Orks, Bugs or Chaos space marines, with the seclusive Grey Knights taking center stage, and my favorite plague god faction, the Death Guard, as the primary antagonists. Chaos Gate is an absolute must play for X-COM fans looking for something new, and easily secures the silver medal in my heart for best 40K game, just behind the other best known 40K X-COM style title, Mechanicus. [Evan Griffin]
Do you like the Tony Hawk skating games? Do you also like the arena/fps games? Well, developer Roll7 was thinking about you when they created Rollerdrome. Set in a future
where entertainment consists of strapping on some rollerblades and your favorite guns and competing in arenas, this game takes the well-established controls of the skate game genre and increases the stakes. You play as Kara Hassan who is a new participant in the rollerdrome competition. The objective sounds simple, eliminate all enemies while also performing various tricks and gathering collectibles, but as you progress through the stages this gets way more challenging. With pistols, shotguns, and RPGs in your arsenal, you will go up against other “house players” and work your way up the leaderboard while slowly discovering that not everyone in this competition is happy to be there. This game is a wild ride for any fans of the skate genre and will surly take up way more of your time than you think. [Tyler Carlsen]
The long-awaited spiritual successor to 2015’s smash hit, Until Dawn, arrived in true bloody glory.
Supermassive Games’ The Quarry lived up to the expectations of a satisfying B-horror movie brought to life in a next generation video game. From classic slasher victim archetypes to a scary monster terrorizing a summer camp, The Quarry infused elements from the horror genre to create an exciting and gory survival horror entry. The Quarry successfully utilizes many elements from Until Dawn and Supermassive Games’ other horror series, The Dark Pictures Anthology, to create a strong and finetuned story. The large cast of characters feel fleshed out and grounded; each one bringing their archetype and relationships to life. The many
weaving storytelling paths open up the world of The Quarry to provide replayability and shocking twists based on the decision you make. And for those who love a heart-pounding monster movie, the creature in The Quarry will keep you on your toes, giving a new interpretation on a classic horror monster. [Justin Carriero]
Strangers of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins
So, Team Ninja’s newest hack and slash is very much a guilty pleasure. While we were 100% onboard after seeing the introductory bonkers “We have to kill chaos” trailer, it was hard to know what to expect from Strangers of Paradise. The gameplay looks like a Souls-like, but the tone is all over the place; from the anime man screaming about how he needs to kill the devil to the Fred Durst needle drop, its impossible to know what is going on, and even when you put 30 painstaking hours into it, you’ll still have no idea. The segmented gameplay contains loosely strung together action set pieces with the sparsely occasional cutscene thrown in to confuse the plot even more, and the presentation value is so rocky you could swear it was out of an early PS3 Square Enix game. but perhaps that kind of mid ’00s Japanese action trying desperately to appeal to westerners, plus the jank of the Cell processor back in 2007 is almost a comedic aesthetic. Intentionally jank or not, the gameplay loop is so solid, you can easily forgive the game’s story shortcomings. SoP is easily the best clunker of a game since Earth Defense Force. [Evan Griffin]