For me, the year of 2022 (at least as far as gaming is concerned) was much like a chocolate chip bran muffin: sure, there were some nuggets of sweet goodness, but most of it was just kind of…meh. That’s not to say that we didn’t get some amazing games this year (indeed, we got some right up to the very end as you’re about to see), but it also might be due to the fact that the good stuff was just so good that it kind of dimmed the shine of anything else in comparison.
Either way, here’s the stuff I really enjoyed this year, in listicle form, for your SmashPad reading enjoyment.
10. Stray (PS4, PS5, Windows)
Yeah, it’s the meme game. But what could have been just regular cat worship actually turned out to be a fairly engaging post-apocalyptic narrative (but with cats, hence the appeal).
9. Immortality (PC, Xbox Series X/S, Android, Mobile)
2022 was the year that the so-called ‘interactive film’ finally managed to evolve from quaint novelty to genuine art form. There’s a genuinely unsettling horror narrative hiding within this film-editing detective simulator.
8. Metal: Hellsinger (PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S)
This is basically Doom Eternal as a rhythm game, and holy crap does it work. Some genuinely challenging shooting combined with a driving heavy metal soundtrack that is as pivotal to the gameplay itself as it is awesome.
7. Weird West (Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)
Veteran developers formerly from Arkane Studios developed this dark fantasy Western game, filled with gothic horror storytelling and frontier brutality. The central narrative is incredibly well-written, and goes in directions you wouldn’t expect.
6. Cult of the Lamb (Multiplatform)
It’s like Stardew Valley, except you’re leading a cult. The aesthetic is of course fantastic, but it’s the gameplay that really sells it.
5. Tunic (Multiplatform)
A genuinely challenging Zelda/Souls-like, with charming visuals and a compelling plot. Why are some of the chests already opened? You’ll find out why.
4. Vampire Survivors (PC, Xbox, Mobile)
This Castlevania-worshiping reverse bullet-hell had no business being as good as it was. It’s basically a dopamine machine, and it knows it.
3. Splatoon 3 (Switch)
I fell in love with the Splatoon world with its second installment, and number 3 was even better. I love how Nintendo is slowly embracing the darker undertones of the Splatoon universe.
2. Chained Echoes (Multiplatform)
Right at the eleventh hour, solo developer Matthias Linda released this absolute gem of an RPG to the world at the beginning of December. A game made by a JRPG fanatic, its clever writing and engaging combat system proved to be a joy all the way to the end, and would have been my game of the year if it had not had been for…
1. Elden Ring (PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)
There really is no other choice. Elden Ring was so good that it made every other game released this year seem drab and lifeless in comparison. From Software really outdid themselves with this game, taking their formula to new and exciting heights in an open world that feels more believable and lived-in than any other open world game developed to date. The easy choice for GOTY.