So many games have come out this year (already!) and these are our favorites so far.
It's that time of year. This is the first version of the Best Games of 2022 list that will eventually turn into an official top 10 games of the year (as it did in 2021). And wow what a start to the year! Gaming wise it has been big release after big release and some of that cadence has spilled over here as well. It's hard to believe we've almost had more reviews in quarter 1 of 2022 than we had all of last year.
Making these lists is always a little painful because there are always more games to play. For all, I know the best game of 2022 came out and I'll just never hear of it. But as I always say, any best of list is inherently limited by what the writer(s) have spent time with. So in the spirit of embracing what I've played and making time for more in quarter 2 here are the best games of 2022 so far.
An immersive sim with some good voice acting, weighted decision making, a shovel to bury the bodies, and the ability to roll through the window. Weird West won me over the moment I could carry a pot around for no reason.
And in keeping with its title, it absolutely gets weird. The story and characters bring out the completionist in me as I work to raise my reputation with the right people. My only beef with this game is the clunky gunplay which feels dated and unwieldy but it’s nothing some practice (and a heavy reliance on stealth) can’t make up for.
They gave a dog a grappling hook.
If you’re a fellow platformer stan I don’t need to say more but I will. Grapple Dog is a really lovely time thanks to its smooth controls, generous health, and slightly slow movement speed. It’s a relaxing and enticing experience with a bounce attack that’s reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog. And the combo of the grapple hook/wall jump allows you to get to places in surprising ways that make for more dynamic traversal.
Dying Light 2 is at its height when you’re, literally, reaching heights. The parkour traversal is natural, intuitive, and tempting to master as the city has plenty of parkour challenges scattered throughout. As far as environmental design you can climb almost anything but there’s some explicit telegraphing throughout using the color yellow varying from painted railing, dangling ceiling lights, or tattered cloth. It’s a fantastic balance that makes the city feel immersive and free while providing enough guidance to keep me from getting lost or frustrated as I run from place to place.
The plot is decorated with brutal choices and constant betrayal/shadiness. And sidequests can be equally as engrossing as the main campaign. Most importantly, there’s some really strong writing throughout.
I recommend Dying Light 2 for its delicious drama, chaotic melee, and wonderful parkour playgrounds and puzzles but the journey’s bizarrely half-baked ending keeps it from greatness.
I’m currently only 2 hours through this 5-7 hour campaign but so far I’m loving the writing and trippy interactivity of this point-and-click adventure game about futuristic Southern Louisana. about I pet a cat and the cat loved it so much it flew through the ceiling and left behind a phone case version of itself.
So far the brutal honesty has caught my eye the most. Norco touches on disease, debt, the complexity of relationships, cults, and capitalism all in a way that feels true to life. There’s a prose quality to the text, especially outside of dialogue. Vivid descriptions of things like a roach stuck between the cover and clock in the microwave sit with me long after my sessions and weird minigames like steering a boat across the bayou to kill on behalf of a crocodile toss me into magical realism in a way I haven’t felt since What Remains of Edith Finch.
This game is weird as hell in a good way and I’m excited to see what it has to say.
Everyone plays Pokemon a little differently and different things keep people coming back game after game. For me, it’s always been about loving the creatures themselves. Raising old favorites and finding new ones is at the forefront of my mind and Pokemon Legends Arceus puts the emphasis on that, with battling taking a bit of a backseat.
The novelty of finding Alpha Pokemon out in the wild and, after some strategy, building a team of Big Mons is a welcomed change. While finding higher-level Pokemon out in the world isn’t new it’s now common enough to feel like you’re genuinely in the wild. Plus, there are plenty of areas to explore and the rideable Pokemon make traversal easier as you progress.
Funky twists on old formulas help things feel fresh. I was floored when I found out I could defeat bosses without any Pokemon left to battle at all and while each big battle after that is the same it was still a cool deviation.
Pokemon Legends Arceus celebrates our relationship with Pokemon while reminding us that “they’re frightening creatures.” There’s still a lot of room for growth in the franchise but I hope to see many of these features carried forward for years to come.
In Nobody Saves the World you play as Nobody who, interestingly enough, can become almost everything from an Egg to a Mermaid. By design, you need to play as a specific form to upgrade it and unlock new forms. While each form has its own unique characteristics abilities can be swapped to come up with some goofy creations like a snail that can shoot arrows.
In a game all about synergy between forms, form abilities, and the challenges at hand having, another person to synergize with only enhances what Nobody Saves the World does well. I played the first few hours alone before having my partner join me and, to my surprise, he loved it as much as I did and stayed the whole way through.
Every RPG has some grind but great ones make it so incentivized and enticing that it doesn’t feel grueling. Nobody Saves the World achieves this through its fun, customizable forms and a thoughtful progression system that makes this action-adventure game a delight. And while co-op is limited to online, playing through it with my partner was some of the most fun I’ve had all year.
On its surface Tunic seems like a serviceable version of games that have come before. But after just a few hours Tunic reveals itself to be something special.
There’s an obvious charm to it with an adorable fox and geometric shapes made delicate thanks to its soft, yet colorful palette. But beyond that is a wonderful mechanic that helps unravel the game’s mystery: the instruction manual. This game is all about finding pages of its own book. It’s a meta move and a nostalgia play but it absolutely works. It’s cute but also incredibly functional and creates a uniquely helpful gameplay loop.
At their core, instruction manual pages give the player information on Tunic but that info comes both directly and indirectly. Sometimes it’s face value info like the controls, other time’s it’s handwritten notes that don’t quite mean anything until you connect the dots.
Tunic takes the “playground guide help discussions” cliche and turns it into a charming mechanic rife with mysteries that serve as its own story. The combat gets in its own way but it takes a back seat to something pretty special.
When I tried the original OlliOlli years ago I was immediately frustrated by my own inability to pull off combos and progress. In general, combo memorization and perfect execution have never been my strong suit or what I enjoy in games. So you imagine my delight and surprise when I fell head over heels for OlliOlli World, which skirts all my previous issues with an artstyle that looks like a Saturday morning cartoon and a soundtrack that feels like lo-fi beats to skate to.
What works so well here are the ways levels are in direct conversation with tutorials. While not perfect, you rarely need to do anything you are explicitly taught and the tutorials are rolled out throughout the adventure so you’re never overwhelmed. OlliOlli World is all about journeying to meet the mystical skate gods on your quest for Gnarvana and along the way you truly learn to move with divinity and grace.
Not to mention the entire thing is playful as hell. You skate through a beach town and can take on sidequest from a bodybuilder. You ride billboards held by giant bees in whimsical forests. You try to pop (or avoid) giant cat balloons. Getting good (or just better!) at any game takes repetition and OlliOlli World paves the path to improvement with wildly fun courses and sick cosmetic rewards.
As someone who started rollerskating 2 years ago, there’s a joy, freedom, and rush rolled into the act and it’s one that OlliOlli World captures incredibly well. This game is a surrealist escape into a skater’s paradise and I couldn’t get enough.
Now standing among the best titles of this 30-year franchise, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is an instant classic. This is also one of the best-looking titles on the Nintendo Switch, with lovingly detailed environments and uncompromising performance across all six worlds.
As usual, what makes Kirby great is his mechanical versatility (all thanks to those iconic copy abilities). This is even more magical and strange thanks to Mouthful Mode: in which Kirby envelopes an object, adopting some of its properties. This makes for some wild combos from Kirby wrapping around a car and bursting through cement to him becoming a vending machine that shoots soda cans at things. Kirby is the ultimate power fantasy made unique thanks to how silly it all is.
While combat remains, mostly, unchallenging the real pushback comes from cleverly hidden collectibles, secret challenges, and optional levels that brilliantly double as some of the most engaging tutorials I’ve ever experienced.
Also when you upgrade the Ranger ability that gives Kirby a gun Kirby gets TWO guns. And to quote an in-game collectible description: “Kirby is the cutest bonk to have ever bonked and bonk” and he is well-deserving of a spot on this list. Kirby and the Forgotten Land has a solid start and it only gets better as you play. Plus, it has one of the best endings I’ve played in recent years with the final levels acting as a greatest hits for everything that made the adventure a blast.
Sequels can be hard to get right but Horizon Forbidden West improves on almost every aspect of the first title, which was already fantastic. Whether main quest or side story, playing is its own reward of fun, narrative intrigue, well-paced leveling, and appealing skills. The thrill of hunting remains the focal point and it's only enhanced by a larger and more diverse set of mechanical animals, weapons, and tools.
Narratively, Horizon Forbidden West doubles down on the sci-fi and cranks up the drama. At its height, it’s a thrilling pairing of challenging battles and compelling plot points. While Aloy’s characterization still leaves a bit to be desired, Forbidden West gives charming side characters enough screentime to grow attached making Aloy’s army a team for the ages.
What really makes this title a standout of the year is how well it fires on (almost) all cylinders. The open-world is based on tried and true, checkbox design but damn it if I’m not looking to check every single box and have a blast doing it. And with each task done I get an interesting world detail, more time with a great cast, beautiful vistas, cool armor, surprisingly powerful weapons, or just another heart-pounding encounter.
Below are some details that may inform why some games aren't on the list.
Games I still need to play (or play more of):
Not for me:
Games that people seem to generally like but I couldn’t get through or do not wish to get through, mostly due to genre.