Saturday, December 31, 2022
When we look back on 2022, I’m fairly sure we’ll all come to the same conclusion: 2022 was a pretty solid year with some absolute standouts, but thanks to game delays galore - more than likely a knock on effect from the COVID-19 disruptions in 2020 - it was perhaps one of the quietest years in recent memory. That said, 2022 did have some absolutely fantastic titles. Titles that would have competed in every end of year awards for the past 10 plus years. We have no doubt about that.
By now you’ll have seen the nominees that we dropped on Christmas Eve - like we always do - but it’s about time we ran you through the actual runners up, and more importantly, the winners. Even with a year as quiet and sporadic as 2022, this year was not easy. There was a lot of conversation behind the scenes, thinly veiled threats and bouts of rage, but after more than a few hours of constant back and forths, we finally have a list of 2022’s best PlayStation games. The best games of 2022. The reason why we all do this.
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, we’d like to take a second to wish everyone a happy new year, and thank everyone for their support. We’re looking forward to what we can accomplish together next year.
Anyway! Rather than waffle on any longer, let’s just get on with the show and get down to what really matters, and that’s heaping praise on 2022’s best and brightest games. What a treat!
There are few stories in 2022 that are as emotionally charged and as heart wrenching as Asobo Studio’s A Plague Tale: Requiem. The follow up to 2019’s sleeper hit, A Plague Tale: Innocence, picks up not long after the events of the first game in the relative peace and tranquillity of Provence’s outer lying regions, but it’s not long before things start to escalate and the world starts to fall apart again. The evolution of the main character, Amicia, and her relationship with her brother, Hugo, is truly one of the Requiem’s highlights - more so than it was in the original. To see the darkness seep into Amicia’s demeanour as she struggles to cope with the woes that her younger brother is going through adds another dimension to the desperation that she’s experiencing. It’s genuinely hard not to be gripped by the twists and turns of Amicia and Hugo’s relationship and their adventure throughout France, with more trials and tribulations than you can throw a stick at. With buckets of intrigue, drama and some absolutely captivating performances, especially by Charlotte McBurney and Logan Hannan, Requiem’s narrative and story is easily one of 2022’s best packages.
Just missing out on top spot this year was the excellent Horizon Forbidden West from Guerrilla Games. And when we say just missing out, we truly mean it, because Forbidden West’s story in 2022 and its story beats were absolutely top notch. After defeating HADES in Horizon Zero Dawn, Aloy finds herself venturing into the west in Forbidden West, in an attempt to find a backup of GAIA and save the world from decimation. Forbidden West boasts some of the most incredible set-pieces and moments of wonder, that all come about as a result of the narrative. The whole old Las Vegas sequence of events, along with the narrative that’s spun when you visit San Francisco, are two highlights of the year, by far. And the truth is, they’re just 2 of many incredible crescendos in what is a fantastic game. The emotionally charged narrative has it all. It has heartbreak, it has wonder, it has tension and it has mystery. In fact, Horizon Forbidden West has the lot, and any other year it’d be a resounding winner, but unfortunately for Guerrilla Games, 2022 was also the year of God of War Ragnarok.
God of War Ragnarok’s story in 2022 had the lot. It had a whole host of interesting characters, it had an incredible amount of tension and drama, it had buckets of action, and more importantly, it had us on the edge of our seats from start to finish. There were so many elements and subplots to Ragnarok’s story that we truly couldn’t take our eyes off it until they were all resolved. How will Kratos and Freya resolve their differences? Will they even resolve their differences? Can Kratos and Atreus defy fate and destiny? What does Odin want with that mask and what does Artreus have to do with everything? How did Thor get that belly? And the list goes on. The fact that Ragnarok intertwines all these stories and subplots, and then proceeds to answer the vast majority of them is what keeps you engaged for so many hours. It’s not easy to keep someone hooked for a good 40-50-hours in a story-driven action game, but Sony Santa Monica and God of War Ragnarok did it with relative ease. A fantastic story, from a fantastic studio, in a fantastic game. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Charlotte McBurney’s performance in A Plague Tale: Requiem in 2022 was nothing but outstanding. Reprising her role as Amicia, a young girl battling her own emotions and inner demons as she tries to protect her brother, McBurney takes her performance to the next level in Requiem. McBurney's role as Amicia in The Plague Tale: Requiem has an incredible amount of range and is truly one of the highlights of Asobo Studios’ follow-up to 2019’s A Plague Tale: Innocence. Sure, Amicia has lost that French accent that we adored so much in the original, but McBurney’s emotionally charged performance throughout Requiem makes that nothing but a distant memory. Seeing McBurney portray Amicia was one of 2022’s true pleasures, and seeing her go from caring sister to letting the rage and anger take over is fascinating viewing, and McBurney deserves all the credit for bringing that to life.
Of all the characters in video game land, there aren't many characters who don't show a lot of emotion. Most tend to show more emotion than you can shake a stick at - or at least attempt to. However, Kratos from God of War is one very notable exception. He's angry, says "Boy" a lot, and the truth is, his character really isn’t that deep. He's pretty one-dimensional. All of that was true before God of War Ragnarok, where Kratos really comes to life and starts to display a wider range of emotions. The fact that Christopher Judge, Kratos' voice actor, can bring to life emotions in an emotionless character is actually pretty remarkable. In Ragnarok Kratos starts to exhibit more compassionate emotions, whether you’re talking about humour, humility and perhaps even a little empathy, and Judge does a phenomenal job of bringing those attributes to life without comprising the Kratos that we all know and love. Judge manages to bring the whole gamut of emotions to the forefront in Ragnarok, as we see Kratos grow from a one-dimensional husk to one who we can relate to. Feelings of loss, fear of losing a loved one, compassion and more; somehow Judge brings Kratos to life in a way that we're not used to in Ragnarok and he does so with such swagger it's hard not to feel for the usually emotionless God of War. For that, Judge deserves all the credit under the sun for his performance this year.
While God of War Ragnarok's Kratos is usually an emotionless husk, Aloy from Horizon Forbidden West is exactly the opposite. The leading lady of Guerrilla Games' smash hit wears her heart on her sleeve, and Ashly Burch takes Aloy to a new level in Horizon Forbidden West. In the lengthy campaign you'll see Aloy get dragged through some of the most testing situations imaginable and Burch manages to display an insane range of emotions from start to finish. She suffers loss, experiences anger, hopelessness, joy, sadness and all while being one of the most compassionate characters that exists in games. Aloy is an incredibly complex character and Burch encapsulates that role absolutely perfectly. They say that voice actors can breathe life into a character and a game, and Burch as usual absolutely hits the nail on the head. She is genuinely a breath of fresh air, so much so that you go through the emotional ringer with her, feeling everything Aloy does. Every twinge of sadness, happiness, anger, you'll feel it too, and for that we can't think of a more deserving winner for this year's Best Performance award. Truly an iconic performance.
Modern Warfare 2’s campaign might have been a little disappointing compared to some of the best Call of Duty campaigns of recent years, but the multiplayer? Yeah, this year’s multiplayer offering has been excellent once again. With plenty of callbacks to maps from previous Modern Warfare games, and the promise of more to arrive in the future, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 does a good job distilling down what players loved so much about the games that put Call of Duty on the map as the multiplayer titan it now is.
As a single-player game, Gotham Knights is a tad disappointing. It doesn’t quite live up to the high standards set by the Arkham games that came before, with a focus on RPG progression and gear collection that makes the combat feel less impactful than you’d like. Luckily, all of the extraneous systems that Gotham Knights includes in its single player mode really come into their own in multiplayer. This is where Gotham Knights shines, as you leap over the rooftops of Gotham City with a friend, as your very own dynamic duo. You can perform team takedowns on your foes, and finally make use of those momentum abilities that boost your allies in combat. With a gorgeous new interpretation of Gotham City to explore, and a friend alongside you to beat up baddies, Gotham Knights really shines as a co-op experience.
The last couple of years has seen a massive boom in the number of Super Smash Bros. imitators that have hit the market. From indie titles like Rivals of Aether and Brawlout, to bigger budget crossover games like Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, there’s been plenty of competition. None, however, have managed to capture that true crossover fighter feel like MultiVersus. Warner Bros waded into the crowded waters with not only a multitude of IP to draw from, but a really solid fighter to build upon, and the budget to make it all work. The result is a multiplayer title that’s a joy to play, with its co-op focus giving it a different feel to Nintendo’s own fighter. The art style is excellent, somehow making characters like Arya Stark and Bug Bunny look like they exist within the same world, and the voice acting really elevates the presentation. Add on the fact that it’s an addictively enjoyable fighter in its own right, and you’ve got one of the best multiplayer games of the past year.
Elden Ring might not win any awards for best animations or best visual fidelity, but when it comes to artistic vision and creativity, it’s second to none - which will come as no surprise considering FromSoftware created it. The latest offering from the Dark Souls developer takes their traditional formula and goes open-world with it, to incredible effect. And best of all, they’ve still managed to maintain their usual levels of diversity. With catacombs to explore, swamps to wade through, lakes to traverse, deserts to get lost in, and so much more, you can’t help but fall in love with Elden Ring’s open-world. The game truly shines in its more mystical environments too, like battling through Nokron, the Eternal City; fighting on the branches of the epic Haligtree; or avoiding the dangers in the Crumbling Farum Azula. Each of them epic in their own right, and just a few examples of a game whose open-world and its diversity will be celebrated for years to come. Throw into that FromSoftware’s usual phenomenal enemy design, along with its trademark gothic architecture, and Elden Ring’s Lands Between is easily one of the best and most memorable open-worlds of recent times.
The Nine Realms in God of War (2018) was a world full of wonder, one full of mystery and easily one of the most iconic worlds that have ever graced our screens. It was always going to be tough to match that, let alone beat it. But it should come as no surprise that Sony Santa Monica managed that in 2022. God of War Ragnarok's Nine Realms took 2018's Nine Realms and built a castle on it. Just to see Fimbulwinter transform the environment in Midgard, one we spent tens of hours in in 2018 was a joy to behold. The desperately cold winter backdrop paints a completely different vibe to that of the tropical sunsets of 2018's adventure. On top of that this time, you had the massive jungles and Crater region in Vanaheim, the deserts of Alfheim and the tropical-esque shores of Svartalfheim, to name but a few. There's no doubt about it, God of War Ragnarok was a stunning looking game that wasn't just gorgeous character models in a phenomenal world, the level of detail was present in all aspects, from its cutscenes to its cinematography. It’s a very special game.
A lot of the time when we see key art for a game so far ahead of launch, when the game finally launches you can see that concessions have had to be made and the final product never quite meets those lofty expectations. Horizon Forbidden West is an exception to the rule. In fact, you could argue that the final product is actually more awe-inspiring than the original key art of Aloy for Forbidden West. Guerrilla Games' follow-up to Horizon Zero Dawn is something we only dreamed of when it was first unveiled. Horizon Forbidden West boasts an open-world with insane diversity between the different biomes that you can feel the love poured into each and every environment. Whether you're underwater, on top of a mountain or barrelling through the jungle, Forbidden West's open-world is a technical marvel. And on top of that, the set-pieces from a visual perspective somehow elevate that ten-fold. The first time you unlock the secrets of the desert in old Las Vegas, or you see the San Francisco city from the top of a skyscraper, it genuinely is enough to take your breath away. Throw in a mount at the end and see the game world from the skies and it will surely knock your socks off. Horizon Forbidden West's open-world is not only good, it's mind blowing, and perhaps one of the most incredible game worlds ever created.
Olivier Deriviere, the main composer for Asobo Studio’s 2022 outing, has done an absolutely fantastic job in creating the perfect complement to A Plague Tale: Requiem’s world and characters. Perfectly encapsulating the vibe of 14th century France, the orchestra-heavy soundtrack combined with the angelic voices of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, is the perfect combination for Requiem’s tension-filled set-pieces and its emotionally-charged voice acting. While the main track, ‘A Plague Tale Requiem’ might be one of the most iconic compositions of the year, the likes of ‘Siblings’ and the frankly beautiful ‘Reunion,’ ‘Fragile’ and ‘The Holy Child’ compositions is where the original score truly shines. Every track heightens its accompanying scene perfectly, and is the true example of how a brilliant music arrangement can elevate a game ten-fold.
We know we've said this already before in this feature, but honestly, if God of War Ragnarok didn't exist, Horizon Forbidden West would have run rampant in this year's Game of the Year awards (and vice versa with Horizon Forbidden West). This is very much apparent when it comes to their respective soundtracks as well. To put it bluntly, Horizon Forbidden West's original compositions by The Flight (Alexis Smith, Joe Henson), Oleksa Lozowchuk, Niels Van Der Leest and Joris De Man were out of this world. Aloy's Theme literally sends shivers down our spines whenever we hear it. It is an outstanding piece of music. A very different vibe to God of War Ragnarok, but one totally fitting with Forbidden West and its incredible open-world. The benefit of having multiple composers as well is the diversity in the compositions. Lozowchuk's 'In The Flood' is an sprawling epic of a composition that just keeps on growing while De Man's 'The World on her Shoulders' is a powerful and moody arrangement. The Flight's synth-heavy sci-fi arrangements, like 'Singular Purpose' are like nothing else from the other composers. Meanwhile, Van Der Leest's 'Steel Bones' is just a beautiful arrangement across the board, one that is worthy of listening to on repeat. Easily one of the year's best soundtracks by far, and you should give it a listen… if you have 7 and a half hours free! Oof!
It should really come as no surprise that God of War Ragnarok takes home the Best Audio award of 2022, as Ragnarok's audio was second to none, literally. It should also come as no surprise that industry veteran and musical maestro, Bear McCreary composed it too. The Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica and God of War (2018) composer has been one of the entertainment industries top talents for well over a decade now, and Ragnarok's composition was up there with his very best. The range in God of War Ragnarok's original score is outstanding. One song like 'Giantess of Ironwood' will rock the wind instruments and string instruments, and be a little angelic, while 'The Hand of Odin' goes big on the deep chanting, bassy string instruments and drums. Two completely different ends of the spectrum, both absolutely fantastic compositions. In fact, McCreary barely puts a foot wrong and God of War Ragnarok will go down as one of the best arrangements in recent years. It's fitting that a game with incredibly high production values has a score to not only match that, but elevate everything around it. Sublime. Simply sublime. Now go and listen to 'The Hand of Odin' and 'The All Father' on repeat, you won't regret it.
Summons in Souls-like games aren’t exactly considered a fresh new gameplay feature, but the Spirit Summons in 2022’s Elden Ring took the Souls-like summons to a new level. In previous games players could summon spirits/NPCs at certain spots in the world to assist with boss fights and the like. However, in Elden Ring, Spirit Summons actually come in the form of spells that players could use, to assist wherever and whenever they wanted (for the most part). That meant boss fights, some open-world encounters and more were now less lonely affairs. And on top of that, players could upgrade them as well. They ranged from jellyfish and spectral warriors to wolves and mimic tears, and were more than useful companions for your adventures throughout the Lands Between. Along with magic, the Spirit Summons allowed players not too technically advanced or new players to the franchise to have an easier time of it, and anything that allows more players to experience FromSoftware’s latest masterpiece is okay with us. The best thing is, they’re purely optional too, so the Souls-like purists don’t need to worry about them if they don’t like them, while at the same time they open up the game to new players. This full evolution of the Spirit Summons in Elden Ring is why they are deserving as a runner up in this year’s Best Fresh Gameplay Feature category.
The wonderfully stylish and brutally difficult Sifu, from French developers Slocap, launched on PlayStation this year. In it, you play Yang, a disgraced martial arts student who is on a mission of vengeance. Part of one of Sifu's mechanics in this martial arts inspired beat 'em up, is that every time you die, you come back in the next life as an older Yang with different perks, both positive and negative. It's a gameplay mechanic that can drastically change how you play the game. Sometimes it might be better to die and age up, as you may get increased damage, but that could come at a cost of having a reduced health bar. It's a wonderfully innovative mechanic that takes the whole 'lives' system to a completely different level. Sure, in a Mario game you might have 5 lives, but in Sifu, every life, no matter what the age, will have its pros and cons, and will matter. In what is a mechanic we've taken for granted over the years, Sifu developers, Sloclap, have managed to innovate in an area that hasn't seen much if any innovation since the dawn of video games. Kudos, indeed!
Remember those halcyon days, when you were a kid in the nineties or noughties, buying a brand new game, and immediately digging out the instruction manual for the ride home? Tunic taps into that nostalgia with its very own in-game instruction manual. The brilliance, however, comes from the implementation. The manual itself is collected page-by-page in the overworld, slowly increasing your knowledge of the game’s mechanics as you find them. Oh, and it’s in another language too, making the deciphering of it itself into a little puzzle. The fact that there are entire game mechanics available to you right from the start, that you won’t discover until you find the corresponding manual page much later, is a little slice of genius, and makes Tunic and its in-game instruction manual feel like one of the freshest games and gameplay features to come out of 2022.
There are a few games from 2022 that when you look at them, you can’t help but just see the incredible amount of potential seeping out of them. One of those brand new IPs, oozing with hidden possibilities is Striking Distance Studios’ The Callisto Protocol - the debut game from the studio who is head up by Dead Space veteran, Glenn Schofield. “It’s a bit too much like Dead Space,” we heard people scream. Well, we’re in the opposite camp: “It wasn’t enough like Dead Space” for our liking. The Callisto Protocol was a beautiful looking game with a great cast of characters, and was an enjoyable experience (for the most part) from beginning to end, but what a new IP needs to succeed is untapped potential. The Callisto Protocol laid down a great foundation and built a rich and interesting world chock full of potential. Now, just imagine it with a whole range of creative weapons that come with some sort of body dismemberment that Dead Space became synonymous with. That’s why The Callisto Protocol was one of our Best New IPs of 2022.
Ever since the first trailer for Stray dropped way back in June 2020, we were sold on the concept of AnnaPurna's latest indie game. A game where you play as a cat and you have to navigate a near-future world where robots inhabit the land, that sounds like right up our alley! And fortunately, when BlueTwelve Studio dropped Stray in August of this year, things were actually far more interesting and engrossing than we could ever have imagined. The puzzle-action-platformer was a delightful romp, but perhaps more importantly, it made us think what a great franchise it could become. There's plenty to love about Stray's world and its lore, so much so that we'd love to see a sequel to one of 2022's more surprising and cat-hartic platformers. Forget the cat for a minute, it's the world that BlueTwelve created that is far more alluring for us. Sure, we love our feline friend, but the what happened and why sounds like something that should be explored a hell of a lot more. In short: Stray was bloody great, and we hope this is the start of a beautiful relationship together.
We absolutely cannot wait for the sequel to Elden Ring. Will it ever happen? It’s hard to say, as FromSoftware is a studio that seems as prepared to venture into the new, as it is to revisit the old. But with the Dark Souls trilogy seemingly wrapped up, according to creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, Elden Ring came along this year and completely blew our collective minds. The open-world completely changed the feel, and made the game far more accessible to newcomers, while the story, co-created by Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin, has so much room for expansion in a future game. Of all the new IP that released over this past year, Elden Ring is the one we’re most excited to see more of. Now, where is that DLC, FromSoftware?
Destiny 2 had another big year in 2022. Developer Bungie got things going at the beginning of the year with The Witch Queen DLC, one of the biggest expansions to come to Destiny 2. This offered up loads of new story, brand new locations, weapons, gear, and even a tasty new raid for players to get stuck into. The year continued with brand new seasons of content as well, with returning fan favourite events, and we even got the announcement of Lightfall, the next big expansion, just before the year was up. Over five years on from release, Destiny 2 is still going strong. Let’s see what the future will bring.
It should come as no surprise to see that Fortnite had another very well supported year this year. Perhaps it should be expected, given the huge amount of money that it brings in for developer Epic Games, but it’s impressive nonetheless. This year brought with it the additions of giant lizards, tornados, a zero build mode, tons of crossovers, and even a brand new chapter for the game. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that Epic Games donated all of its proceeds from the first two weeks of its new season to humanitarian relief for Ukraine in March earlier this year, raising a whopping $144 million in the process. How’s that for support?
It’s hard to think of many non-live-service games that are as well supported as Dead Cells, and 2022 proved to be the action roguelike’s biggest year yet. Developer Motion Twin kicked things off in January with the release of The Queen and the Sea, the biggest DLC that Dead Cells had seen since it launched in 2018. More updates came, including the Breaking Barriers update, which added tons of all-important accessibility options. A free Boss Rush mode followed, and the game also got a big indie game crossover, with the likes of Shovel Knight and Hotline Miami, before finishing off the year by announcing an exciting Castlevania crossover. No microtransactions, no battle pass. Just quality, well priced DLC, and excellent free updates. What more could you ask for?
Sure, XCOM and Civilization developer, Firaxis, are world renowned developers, but when we heard they were doing an XCOM-style Marvel game that had a card and deck building system at its core, we were pretty baffled. Surely that couldn't work… XCOM could definitely work with Marvel, even though you'd surely lose the permadeath mechanics that make XCOM so treacherous, but to throw a card game on top. Nope, that's too many competing systems. Oh boy were we wrong - and we're more than happy to admit that! Marvel's Midnight Suns not only works as an XCOM style game, but the card game at its core actually adds another level of depth and complexity to it that just really works. On top of that Firaxis managed to deliver some really interesting RPG and social mechanics, and a massive Abbey and its grounds to explore - chock full of mysteries to solve - and Marvel’s Midnight Suns was truly one of 2022’s biggest surprises.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and similarly, it takes a developer the size of a village to make a game these days, especially if you want it to have triple-A visuals and performance. That is unless your name is Zeng Xiancheng, AKA FYQD Studio, the solo creator of the genuinely impressive Bright Memory: Infinite. As development tools get more and more accessible, one-person created games are seemingly becoming more and more prevalent, but to create a first-person shooter with the production values of a triple-A studio, that is by no means an easy feat. In fact, it’s a seemingly impossible feat, but FYQD managed that with such style and grace that you’d assume he’s been doing this for decades. Spoiler, he has not. That’s what makes Bright Memory: Infinite so impressive, and it’s not just a game that relies on visuals and performance either. From a gameplay perspective it’s a genuinely fun and action packed experience, thus making it one of 2022’s biggest gaming surprises, and we’re excited to see what FYQD cooks up next. If it’s half the game Bright Memory is, we’re in for a treat.
Roll7 is best known as the developer of the OlliOlli games; super simple, addictive high score games in 2D. So when the trailer for Rollerdrome debuted during PlayStation’s June State of Play presentation earlier this year, full of guns and blood and slow-motion shooting, you’d have been unlikely to guess that it came from the same developer as OlliOlli. The skating and high score chasing is here, but the rest is unrecognisable. It’s even more surprising, given that Roll7 had already launched another game, OlliOlli World, earlier in the year. And not only that, but Rollerdrome went on to become one of the very best games to come out of 2022. There’s no way that we saw that coming, did you?
You can’t make a game like Elden Ring, and not be in the running for the Best Developer award. FromSoftware is a studio that really hasn’t missed in recent years, with the likes of Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, and Sekiro all proving to be GOTY contenders in their own rights. And not only did FromSoftware release one of the very best games of the year in 2022, but it continually supported it well throughout the year. From smaller patches, adding in new quests and NPCs, to balance changes for the competitive side of things, and ending on the addition of free PvP DLC, FromSoftware has had a cracking year with Elden Ring. The Japanese developer even went on to announce a brand new Armored Core game earlier this month. All we need now is a nice big Elden Ring expansion to round things out, but even without that, it’s hard to argue that FromSoftware hasn’t had a cracking year.
How many small studios can put out two separate games in the space of a year, let alone two critically acclaimed titles? Roll7, the developer behind OlliOlli World and Rollerdrome, certainly managed it, with two arcade-style titles that had wildly different vibes, but the same high quality. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that both OlliOlli World and Rollerdrome were easily the studio’s most ambitious games yet. When you look back at the release of the original OlliOlli game on the PlayStation Vita, and then look at the British studio’s output in 2022, it’s staggering how far the developer has come. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Roll7.
In this day and age of video games, as a consumer you often find yourself disappointed with the final launch state of many games. It's a sad truth, but still true all the same. That's why this year we're deciding to award our Best Developer of 2022 award to none other than Guerrilla Games, the developers of Horizon Forbidden West. Now, we've done this for a few reasons. Firstly, Horizon Forbidden West is an absolutely phenomenal game in many respects. Wonderful open-world, incredible cast (especially Ashly Burch who won our Best Performance award), a stunning musical score and mind-boggling game world. It's an absolutely stunning game across the board. But for us, to launch such a game, with the level of polish that it launched with is nothing but staggering. A lot of the bug plagued games these days are often open-worlds, because creating open-worlds and testing every facet is a monumental task. However, Guerrilla Games' Horizon Forbidden West is as polished an open-world game that we've ever seen. Compare and contrast to a Bethesda open-world game, for instance, and you can see why we're so full of praise for the Dutch developer. So, not only did they create one of this generation's gems already, they did it with a level of polish that should be expected from every triple-A game. Those delays don't look so bad now, right?
It’s fair to say that EA had a relatively disappointing year in 2021, thanks in part to Battlefield 2042’s lukewarm reception. 2022, however, has been a different kettle of fish, thanks mostly to its wonderful year on the race track. This year was proof that buying Codemasters last year was a savvy move for the mega-publisher, as it was clear that they wanted to corner as much of the racing market as they could. In 2022 the publisher launched not 1, not 2, but 3 excellent racing games - and not all Codemasters games as well! First out the gate was GRID Legends in February, an excellent racing game from one of Codemasters’ newer but still highly sought after racing franchises. Next up was the yearly iteration of their F1 titles, F1 2022, which as always was “another superlative Formula One game, and a damn fine racing experience in its own right” according to our own Rich Walker. Perhaps the biggest surprise though, was Need for Speed Unbound, which saw Criterion Games head up development duties once again for the long-established franchise, and they absolutely knocked it out of the park. On top of that Apex Legends had another solid year, while their other sports titles did okay in terms of critic scores. 2022 was also the year that they announced the comeback of Dead Space with a remake, but perhaps more importantly, they announced and unveiled Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which is coming in March 2023. All in all, not a bad year at all… especially if you’re a racing fan.
There’s no doubt about it, 2K had a pretty damn good year in 2022, a year where they tried some new things, brought to life the game of a tried and tested developer, but perhaps more importantly for the sports fans, brought around a much needed return to form! They kicked off their year with a twisted take on their Borderlands franchise with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, a game that tried something new with an established franchise and was a whole lot of fun. The summer saw them take a punt on the always reliable Supermassive Games with The Quarry, another great entry in their choice and consequence teen slashers genre that they’ve honed over the years - even if Dan did hate the way the ending was delivered. Then came the return to form for their two sports titles. After the disastrous launch of WWE 2K20 and the subsequent cancellation of WWE 2K21, it was great to see WWE 2K22 bring back its A-game. The same could be said for NBA 2K23 too, which hadn’t scored above 80 on our sites since 2018! Well, that was until 2022, of course. While the New Tales From The Borderlands title wasn’t incredibly well received, Marvel’s Midnight Suns absolutely was. Who knew that mixing XCOM-style mechanics with Marvel characters and a deck building card game would turn out so well?! Firaxis and 2K did, apparently. As you can see, it was a pretty good year for 2K. Here’s hoping 2023 sees more of the same from them.
How can you publish juggernauts like God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and Gran Turismo 7, all in the space of twelve months, and not win this award? Those three games alone would be enough to seal the deal, but Sony also went on to publish The Last of Us Part I, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, and MLB The Show 22. Putting out that many quality games in the space of a year should be a tough ask, but recently, it seems that Sony seems to be able to do it each and every year. The Japanese publisher also released a bunch of classic PlayStation games onto its consoles too, including the likes of Ape Escape, Syphon Filter, and Wild Arms. With a pipeline this strong, the future certainly looks bright for PlayStation, and 2022 was another cracking year for Sony as a publisher.
First announced back at E3 2017, we’ve been waiting an awful long time for Tunic. Luckily, the Zelda-inspired adventure didn’t disappoint. Quite the opposite, in fact, it went on to exceed all of our expectations. Starring a cute fox protagonist, and a wonderfully stylised world, Tunic could have been a simple top-down adventure where you fight baddies and beat dungeons, and we still would have had a good time with it. But Tunic is deeper than it appears on the surface, and with its ingenious instruction manual collectibles, the game becomes one big puzzle box that you need to unravel. With the way Tunic slowly drip feeds the player information, you’ll never be able to experience it the same way again after your first playthrough, but that makes it all the more special. Tunic really was worth the wait.
Imagine if Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Max Payne had a love child, and then raised it on ‘80s dystopian sci-fi films. That pretty much sums up Rollerdrome, a game that straps you into the retro roller skates of a rookie in the eponymous future bloodsport. But it’s the clever way that the skating and shooting genres are blended that makes Rollerdrome such a joy. Pulling off tricks isn’t just for building up a high score, it also refills your ammunition, meaning you need to string together tricks, along with your dodge, and slow motion shots, in order to win the day. The result is that you end up in a wonderful flow state, moving from skating, to shooting, and back again. With excellent presentation on top of it all, Rollerdrome is simply a joy to play.
Stray always seemed destined for success, from the moment that clips of the game were first posted on Twitter over half a decade ago. After all, it was the cute cat game, and what more could you ask for? As it turns out, developer BlueTwelve Studio was happy to answer that one. “A lot more”, they said, and it’s everything else that the studio added to Stray that makes it so special. The cyberpunk city, built by humans, but abandoned by them, is beautiful to behold, and the robot residents within are a fascinating bunch. There’s an emotional heart to Stray, as well, and it’s all backed up by an intuitive platforming mechanic, and gorgeous presentation. And we haven’t even mentioned that there’s a dedicated “meow” button yet either! One button! Just for meowing! Stray is somehow greater than the sum of its parts, and let’s be honest, those parts were already pretty good anyway. A worthy winner.
Elden Ring is an extraordinary game. Taking the Dark Souls formula that FromSoftware had perfected, and putting it in an open world, was always a recipe for success, but it was shocking just how perfectly suited the two ideas were for each other. The challenging bosses from Dark Souls are still here, but now, rather than bashing your head against a tough fight, you can wander off in any other direction and discover something new. And there’s always something to discover in Elden Ring - a beautiful subterranean city, a rotting lake of blood, or a lovely NPC who’s almost certainly doomed to die. Exploration in Elden Ring is always rewarding, and it’s a stunningly beautiful world to explore. You could play for 100 hours, and there will still be something new to discover. The combat is incredibly varied, with plenty of different play styles to try out, and feels absolutely brilliant, to boot. Elden Ring is easily one of the best games to come out of 2022.
You'd think we'd run out of superlatives and compliments for Horizon Forbidden West at this point. Well, you're wrong. We could wax lyrical over Guerrilla Games' Horizon Forbidden West for hours more, which is a testament to the job that the Dutch developers pulled off. It's one of the most memorable open-worlds in video games in recent times, and easily one of the best game worlds ever created. But Horizon Forbidden West is so much more than that. It's a game chock full of emotion, a game full to the brim with sensational set-pieces, a phenomenal musical arrangement, and some emotionally charged performances. It'll be no consolation for the dev team, but most years Forbidden West would have walked the Game of the Year awards. That's how good it was. At the end of the day though, it comes down to margins and while Horizon Forbidden West was captivating, brilliant and a joy to behold, it still fell just short. Just. It was close though! Regardless of this award, Horizon Forbidden West was a force to be reckoned with in 2022, and we imagine when we get around to talking about games of the generation, this will be well in with a shout then too.
Sony Santa Monica had a monumental task at hand when they approached their sequel to the 2018 reboot of God of War. How do you make a follow-up to one of last generation's most-loved titles? Well, you create God of War Ragnarok, a game that was what the 2018 title was, and then some. More weapons, more enemies, more epic boss fights, more fantastic characters, another epic score, and a bigger open-world which has so much more to do. That's a pretty good start. On top of that Sony Santa Monica delivered a captivating story as well, one that saw some pretty wonderful performances from Christopher Judge and his cohorts, with more twists and turns than an M Night Shyamalan film. Not only did they make the fantastical Nine Realms more fleshed out and intriguing than they were in the original reboot, but they jam packed them with mysteries galore, and an absolute metric ton of incredibly engaging side content. God of War Ragnarok is truly a masterpiece and our 2022 Game of the Year.
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