I know I haven’t been around that much this year – it’s been rather hectic, to say the least. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been playing games, and hoo-boy, have I had my hands full checking out the latest releases in 2022. I have danced between systems all year and genuinely found all three big hitters to deliver something worth talking about.
I am going to keep this short and try to stick to six entries. I was going to do five, but then honourable mentions became a thing, and it spiralled out of control. Instead, I settled on six which is an unusual number, but let’s give it a whirl. A smidge more content after a year of literally no content.
Pokemon Legends Arceus
Pokemon has had a pretty whacky year. Not only did it release one of the worst-performing games Nintendo has ever published, but it also released a weird little spin-off that managed to utterly grip me from start to finish. Pokemon Legends Arceus, despite not being a mainline entry in the Pokemon series, was the refresh the series has desperately needed for well over a decade.
Cutting out all of the grind and tediousness left Arceus feeling fresh and new in a way that no other Pokemon game really has. Battling was quick, the gimmicks were not intrusive, and the way you caught Pokemon was seamless and, honestly, brilliant. They managed to make a Pokemon game about the excitement of finding new Pokemon – not about beating the snot out of random woodland critters.
Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemon Hunters
I am a huge Warhammer fan. You may have noticed I have a number of articles dedicated to the game, and when I saw a new strategy game set in this wide, wonderful, and (w)horrifying series, I was more than a little bit excited. When I got my hands on the game I was well and truly hooked.
Commanding a squad of power-armoured space wizards infused with God’s very own DNA is something all games should try to match if I am being perfectly honest. Mechanically the game was tight, graphically it was rather outstanding, and the plot was every bit as bombastic and corny as I could have hoped. You really can’t get better than this.
Oh, and now there’s DLC that lets you walk around as a walking coffin that contains a partially dead space wizard. It just keeps getting better.
Midnight Suns snuck up on me on launch day, clobbered me on the back of the dome, and left me dazed and confused. I had no idea this game even existed, so when it popped up in my feed, I got a bit of a shock. I made a rather impulsive purchase without knowing anything about it and hopped right in.
About 40 hours later I was done, and it dawned on me that I had just played one of the best games of 2022, and very few people were going to play it. It combined old-school dialogue trees with an over-the-top story then mushed all that together with a deck-building turn-based strategy game. XCOM this is not – it’s actually better.
I don’t think anybody expected a tiny game with next to no button inputs to make a wave in the greater gaming space. Especially a game with limited animations, rather basic graphics, and a gameplay loop that, on the surface, resembles an arcade demo screen. But here we are, in 2022, with Vampire Survivors being one of the best games to release this year – by far.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all the games on this list, but Vampire Survivors marks a shift. Vampire Survivors could have taken the number one spot – heck, maybe it should be there and not third. This game blew my socks off, and I am still playing it months later. I even bought the DLC and sunk way more hours into it than I care to admit. Imagine a giant digital onion laced with cocaine and you have Vampire Survivors.
I am not a big narrative person. Stories are cool, but I tend to play games for gameplay. You can always skip a crappy story, but you are stuck with crappy gameplay. Immortality is different though. Immortality is certainly a game, but not in the traditional sense. It has gameplay, but not how you might expect.
Immortality is a game that can be spoiled with but a single misplaced word, so I won’t harp on for too long. In short, Immortality had me hooked from start to finish. It had me intrigued, spooked, questioning, and pondering in equal measure. The only thing I regret is having played it at all. Why? Because I know how it all ends – I can never experience Immortality again, and that makes me genuinely sad.
I asked myself countless times this past week if this game should be number one. Then I summed it all up. I played Elden Ring, to completion, three times back-to-back. I sunk about 500 hours into the game and loved every single second I invested. Elden Ring had me sinking 10-hour play sessions for weeks on end, and I couldn’t stop myself.
Elden Ring is one of those games that makes you glad to be a gamer. Happy that you got to witness one of the most engrossing gameplay experiences that media has to offer. Very few games – if any – capture the raw sense of adventure like Elden Ring does. Every direction you go leads to something new and worthwhile. Sprawling landscapes that just keep getting bigger, and hidden areas that make you question who would be crazy enough to hide this much content. Elden Ring is a true masterpiece that was easily my number one for the entire year.
Incidentally, it is also my partner’s game of the year who spent all 500 hours watching me play Elden Ring, despite not being a gamer herself. She is still asking me months later to play it again. You know what? I think I might.