2022 was a hell of a year for smaller games that kept me going between big releases.
If you’ve skipped all of this text to scroll down to the games on my Top 10 list and have gotten angry that Elden Ring isn’t even on my list, I hope you’ve come back to read this bit where I will explain how that happens. The main reason is that I haven’t touched the game since March and haven’t felt that much of a need to go back. It’s still a great game that I enjoyed a lot and is worthy of praise, but my attention has gone elsewhere throughout the year. I’ll probably get back to it at some point, but on my PC, it ran just rough enough that I wasn’t jonesing to get back to it while waiting for updates to make it better. Maybe I’ll just buy it on PS5 now that it’s finally on sale to have the best shot of really getting hooked.
Now for the rest of the games I had to cut from the list below that totally deserve praise. Lil Gator Game is a rad, charming game everybody should check out whenever you can. Arcade Paradise was another game that got close because it’s a fun laundromat/arcade management sim that was just a joy to play. OlliOlli World is a great third game in the series of wacky skateboarding games that is bigger and better than ever. Sifu is a rad action roguelite where you’re just fighting people with your great martial arts skills until you get rocked. Pupperazzi is a fun, cute game about being a sentient camera that takes pictures of dogs to complete requests that you’re given. Cult of the Lamb is a great roguelite where you’re managing a cult camp on one end and fighting lots of enemies in a fun action roguelite game. Horizon Forbidden West is the other big game that didn’t make my list that I enjoyed a lot, but it was such a big game that I didn’t have the time to make as much of a dent as I’d have liked. It sucks that there were so many good games that I couldn’t keep up with them all.
Here are my top 10 games of 2022:
10. Tunic – PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Tunic is such a good love letter to The Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls by merging the mechanics of a Souls-like with the nostalgia of classic games. It’s coolest feature is a manual with many missing pages that you’ll collect, which gives you tips on how to play the game plus many clues as to how you might be able to solve many of its puzzles as it guides you around its world. The best part is that it includes some good accessibility settings to let you play without taking damage should you have pushed as far as your mind and skills can take you and want to just enjoy the ride to the end. That’s how accessibility can help make a great game better for all.
9. Shin chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation: The Endless Seven-Day Journey – PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Shin chan is an anime series I loved when it appeared on Adult Swim years ago as you enjoyed the crude humor of a mischievious grade school kid that could push every adult around him to their absolute limits. Instead of leaning into that part of the Shin chan IP, this game focuses more on a more curious and pleasant Shin chan that is on summer vacation in a small village with his family as a weird professor tries to cause chaos with his time machine only for everybody in town to just roll with whatever happens. As a spiritual successor to the Japanese-only Boku no Natsuyasumi series, this game has all the wonder of what a perfect summer vacation would be like for a kid in Japan that collects bugs, fish, does errands, and helping out the townsfolk while not taking itself too seriously.
8. Kirby and the Forgotten Land – Nintendo Switch
Kirby is my favorite Nintendo franchise and the Forgotten Land does a great job of bringing it into 3D, though not in the way that Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time did for their bigger series. It’s still the same chill experience in most of the levels you’ll play with more hectic boss fights that do a better job of being fully 3D fights. When you’re not in a level, you head back to your base to enjoy the spoils of the Waddle Dees you’ve saved offering various other ways to have fun or relax. I hope Hal Laboratory gets the chance next time to go fully 3D and create the truly next-level Kirby experience that it deserves.
7. God of War Ragnarok – PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
I mananged to finish God of War weeks before Ragnarok and it was the perfect way to prepare for the next adventure of Kratos and Atreus. This time around, the stakes are much higher as Ragnarok is on the horizon with very few people for Kratos to trust to help them stop all of their potential enemies from destroying the life and family he was hoping to build in this world. Ragnarok is a great evolution of the first game and an excellent sequel with which to wrap up this arc of the God of War saga.
6. Return to Monkey Island – PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC
I never grew up playing much in the way of PC games, so I did not play any of the Monkey Island games until the special editions of the first two games that released on Xbox 360 and PS3. Even then, I only beat them earlier this year with Return to Monkey Island out a few weeks later, so it made for an amazingly fun experience to see the rise of Guybrush Threepwood’s adventures and conflicts with LeChuck that is capped off with Ron Gilbert’s return to the series. What we get with Return to Monkey Island is an amazing introspective on a series that has meant so much to so many people that celebrates its best moments and those helped add to the legend of Guybrush and LeChuck.
5. Far: Changing Tides – PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Far: Lone Sails was such a fun and unique adventure game where you pilot a unique wheeled vessell to traverse a mysterious world in search of what may be at the end. Far: Changing Tides takes that to its logical conclusion as you control a new character that has a cool submarine you must pilot and manage that takes you to some amazing new locales where the world building really adds so much to the world and its history to help you better understand how things came to be. The ending is an especially amazing moment that ties everything together in a way that blew me away, so I hope it leads to a very special third game in the series.
4. Vampire Survivors – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Mobile
When I started hearing people talk about this very weird and cheap Early Access game on Steam where you only moved a character around while they automatically attack enemies around you as you tried to survive as long as possible, it seems like such a nonsense game for weirdos. I then realized how much of a weirdo I am and gave the game a shot only to figure out that this is the exact kind of absurd nonsense that is my jam. It took a while for me to figure out how it should actually be played well and how to properly progress through its unlock system to keep the ridiculousness flowing, but once that happened, I was unstoppable in obsessively trying to min/max my play sessions to always be making progress and enjoying the stupidity that is what a good run looks like. Go play Vampire Survivors and stop acting like you’re too good for this game.
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge – PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
My favorite beat-’em-up of all times is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time on the Super Nintendo and it’s been an amazing year to be a TMNT fan with the Cowabunga Collection and Shredder’s Revenge giving us almost everything we have wanted. Shredder’s Revenge is a proper sequel to the best Turtles game that takes its core mechanics, fleshes them out a great deal, adds a cool progression system, and a ton of nostalgia for Turtles in Time and the classic cartoon series that makes it such an amazing game that I never expected to happen because of the checkered history of TMNT games over the past 20 years.
2. Hardspace Shipbreaker – PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Simulators are huge these days and Hardspace Shipbreaker is one of the best in recent memory as you’re the unfortunate victim of the future’s aggressive capitalist machine and you sacrifice your original body and future to get out of some bad debt. As a result, you join the Lynx Corporation as a shipbreaker to tear apart spaceships for scrap with a deep $1.2 billion in the hole to work back from by sorting the various pieces of these ships into the appropriate receptacles for the most amount of money possible for each job. Along the way, there is talk of unionizing as the big, bad corporation fights it every step of the way before the workers ultimately win as you cut up ships, hope to not blow yourself up, and work off this debt as quickly as possible. It’s such a fun timesink that I don’t mind so much everytime I was given more dangerous ships to disassemble for maximum gain.
1. PowerWash Simulator – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
I’ve known for about 18 months what game would be my Game of the Year would be since I first started this amazing simulator back in the start of PowerWash Simulator’s Early Access period on Steam during the Summer of 2021. It’s a game with a simple mechanic of visiting these very dirty buildings and vehicles and using your powerwasher to clean them until they’re so clean that they sparkle. You wouldn’t expect this sort of game to have a great story, but it is full of silly moments, cool callbacks, and some unexpected twists and escalation of the scale of your importance to this weird little town’s future.
It’s a chill game that puts me in a great zen-like mindspace when I most need it and the end of the game is the most satisfying experience that I’ve had in a long time. I’m finishing up my third and fourth playthroughs with the Xbox and Steam’s alternate Research Edition and I can’t wait for the upcoming content that the developers are working on. Unfortunately, the game is at its worst on Xbox consoles where you can only use controllers, so please play it on PC if you can.
2022 has been a great year for games and I’m excited for a lot of stuff in 2023. I’ll be getting a Steam Deck soon enough to make it easier to play some of these PC games that I don’t often play for various reasons compared to my consoles. PlayStation VR2 will be an exciting launch for the early part of the year that I hope I can stream that well enough when I get it and some games. It seems like Nintendo won’t have new hardware for 2023, so maybe that’ll help save me some money. Then again, who knows with Nintendo. Thank you for reading this and I hope you all have a great year ahead.