Best of 2022 is ComingSoon’s weeklong celebration of the entertainment that made this past year so memorable.
2022 was a very memorable year for gaming that provided a few classics, and a lot of really good games. However, it was particularly a great year for gaming narratives as we saw examples in the indie space, triple-A titles, and all over the world that pushed gaming beyond the expected norms both in terms of content and quality.
There were also quite a few titles that were just a blast to play, so let’s take a look at my 10 favorite games of the year.
10. Soul Hackers 2
I didn’t get around to as many role-playing games as I wanted this year but Soul Hackers 2 certainly scratched that itch. The Shin Megami Tensei combat system is fantastic and it’s the actual combat that shines here as the story is passable but rarely memorable and the characters are largely archetypes without much to say. While it has clear flaws, and never reaches the same highs as the franchise’s best, those looking for a solid RPG for 40 hours can’t go wrong here.
9. The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
I’m always a huge fan of metacommentary, especially within gaming as developers are able to more thoroughly play with the player and their expectations due to the interactive nature of the game. Ultra Deluxe winds up being more of a quasi-sequel to The Stanley Parable, all while lampooning the very ideas of indie darlings becoming commercial properties and the minimal upgrades many rereleases get. It’s a true delight.
8. Gran Turismo 7
Nextlander’s Alex Navarro made a hilarious observation that “Gran Turismo 7 is your father’s racing game.” That couldn’t be more true. The way Polyphony Digital has presented its racer, which is a celebration of the entire automobile industry, feels straight out of the aughts and is refreshingly earnest with how much it just wants to dork out about cars. Oh, and the actual racing is stellar too. It’s one of the few games this year that I’ve kept booting up once a month or so to play more of.
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
While I love them, there’s no denying that brawlers are largely a relic of the past. That’s why Shredder’s Revenge was such a pleasant experience as it helped strike a balance between staying true to the genre while also offering a modern-playing blast of a game. Walloping iconic TMNT enemies in co-op is a ton of fun and the levels all move at a snappy pace. It’s all killer, no filler, and it’s one of the most replayable offerings of the year as I’m sure I’ll fit in yearly replays since it’s just that fun.
6. OlliOlli World
OlliOlli World kept me entertained throughout most of the year thanks to a robust base game and two incredibly fun expansions. Despite some solid competition from Session, this remains the best skateboarding game of the year and one that managed to evolve from past titles thanks to its mixture of new mechanics and taking advantage of multi-layered 3D levels. Plus, Danny Trejo appears and you can put a cut-out mask of him on your character’s face. That rocks.
5. Lost Judgment: The Kaito Files
It’s rare that a game from Ryu ga Gotoku Studio doesn’t top my year-end list, but this expansion for Lost Judgment is still stellar. While I had some doubts about Kaito as a leading man, the Like a Dragon developer did a great job further fleshing out the kind brute and telling a touching story with him that ends with one of the coolest boss fights of the year. The only downside is the lack of side activities (I wanted to sing karaoke as Kaito so badly), but the overarching story about love and doing what you can to protect those important to you still resonates strongly.
4. Atari 50 The Anniversary Collection
When Digital Eclipse was relaunched in 2015, the studio explained that its goal was to provide Criterion Collection-quality compilations for gaming. Since then, the team has done some truly awesome collections, such as this year’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, but it never quite reached the high-quality mark it had set for itself. That all changed with Atari 50: The Anniversary Collection, which features a full museum and in-depth video features that contextualizes the history behind the game collection rather than just faithfully including them. It’s a brilliant collection and what all should aspire to be. This is how games should be preserved.
3. God of War Ragnarök
Full disclosure, I haven’t finished the second Norse God of War game (it’s long!), but the moments I’ve already experienced have fully earned it a spot on this list. Ragnarök features the most polished combat I’ve experienced in years, a thrilling mix of brutality and strategy. It’s also a gorgeous experience, triple-A gaming at its peak as so much care (and manpower) has gone into making each of the realms gorgeous and interesting to explore. It’s also surprisingly funny with some legitimately hilarious moments that break up the serious main plot.
Most impressive though is how the game has managed to make Atreus an interesting character. No only was he surprisingly fun to play as, but he grew in a way that has made me retrospectively appreciate how much of a little shit he was in the 2018 game. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but bring on an expansion or sequel starring Atreus. I’m more than down.
2. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
Stranger of Paradise initially had my heart for all the Chaos memes that were all over social media. Jack, the game’s protagonist, comes across as a hilarious edgelord and from a tired background of an outsider coming from another world. So imagine my shock when Team Ninja not only fleshes him out into something deeper and more interesting, but also uses him to completely recontextualize the events of the original Final Fantasy with one of gaming’s coolest final acts.
Even before I was totally invested in the story, the combat of Final Fantasy Origin had me on my toes. Mixing it up with Final Fantasy foes in a more action-oriented manner is a blast, especially with how Jack is able to brutally crystallize his enemies and watch them shatter. Some of the kills are totally barbaric and rival what you see Kratos or the Doom Slayer do. What started as a guilty pleasure quickly became one of my favorite games of the year and one I’m proud to champion.
1. AI: The Somnium Files: Nirvana Initiative
I love murder mysteries, so the original AI: The Somnium Files was a total blast as it featured a serial killer called the Cyclops Killer that kept removing the eyeballs of his victims. It turned into an even wilder story due to its sci-fi elements, although some of the puzzle-solving (you go into the minds of people to sort through their trauma and lies) was on the frustrating side. Essentially, it was a great game that was begging for a sequel to clean up some of the rough edges.
Thankfully, Nirvana Initiative not only polished the ideas of the original but managed to top it both thematically and through gameplay. The murder mystery is even wilder, spanning two timelines six years apart with people getting cut in half on a molecular level. The twists are even more mind-boggling and there’s a wild amount of variety and heart involved in all of its facets.
It’s also one of the funniest game scripts ever written on top of being completely wild. A game shouldn’t be able to be this over-the-top and ridiculous while being so thoughtful and emotionally impactful, but it just somehow works. It winds up being a total trip and one that I desperately wish I could take again for the first time.