While the outside world seems to be trying everything it can to build on the shitshow of the previous year, iterating on consecutive spirals of misery, gaming is needed more than ever. And thankfully 2022 served up some absolutely delicious slices of escapism, as well as some frankly outstanding experiences to boot. For me, it’s been a year of games trying their best to hold onto a top-ten space on my GOTY 2022 list as great releases have inundated us this past year. Some managed the task for an entire twelve months, whereas others popped up with barely a few weeks left of the year to go. But all of them were brilliant, providing some excellent experiences throughout.
Aside from the games, I’m immensely proud of what the team has achieved this year on God is a Geek. I feel like we’re going from strength to strength, providing engaging, useful content, and the only way is up. Here’s to an amazing 2023 together will you, our lovely audience along for the ride too.
But before we look too far ahead, here’s my GOTY list for 2022
GOTY 2022 Honourable mentions
Dying Light 2: Stay Human was a long time coming, and whilst it maybe wasn’t quite the epic we all hoped it would be, it’s full of action and fun, and is still tense as heck when night falls and all hell breaks loose.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus got me playing a Pokemon game again, and actually enjoying it. Ever since the first-gen monsters, I’ve wanted to love the series but it never clicked. Arceus and the “Legends” series may be just my ticket back in.
Immortality is a very different type of game, and in all honesty a bit of a gamble. But the idea behind it is so intriguing the acting is superb, and if you can land the story, you’re in for a real treat.
The Devil in Me is Supermassive’s season one finale of their Dark Pictures Anthology, and things go off with a bang. Its tense setting with a villain you think could be around any corner makes it horror gold. Roll on season two.
Chained Echoes is a game I really wish has been released a bit earlier in the year. It’s an excellent example of a 2D turn-based RPG, but with enough new ideas to set it apart.
We begin my GOTY 2022 list with a very good Metroidvania. Islets came out of nowhere, grabbed me by the kahunas, and wouldn’t let me go until I’d seen the credits. I couldn’t put this charming adventure down, and the fact it was made by just one person still blows my mind. The level design – and its interesting Islet progression – is excellent as is the usual Metroidvania progression fare. It controls great and looks and sounds great too. Throw in some decent boss fights and even some shmup elements too, and you’ve got a lovely little package that I adored.
9. Rainbow Six: Extraction
You’d think given we’re all friends here at God is a Geek, that a co-op shooter like Rainbow Six Extraction would bring out the best of us. But instead, it just highlights how different we are. Be it my long unhelpful silences whilst concentrating, Mick’s all-guns-blazing approach to stealth, or Adam’s after-the-moment advice that only a true bossman can deliver. But what we all can agree on is Rainbow Six: Extraction is a bloody good time, with varied, tense scenarios and operators delivering a meaningful sense of teamwork and camaraderie throughout.
8. The Quarry
How do you solve a problem like Until Dawn? That’s a quandary Supermassive Games have been wrestling with since the horror title’s success and acclaim back in 2015. The Dark Pictures Anthology hasn’t quite recaptured that magic, but The Quarry manages to do just that. With publishers 2K and a stellar cast, The Quarry feels like a return to form, as it embraces a familiar setting and tone that won plaudits and fans seven years ago. The character modelling and voice acting are done very well, and the choices can land you with some truly memorable results. Supermassive definitely back to its best.
7. Tiny Tina’s Wonderland
Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for a good co-op romp, but I adored my time with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. It’s full of all the charm of the original Borderlands, as well as some genuinely witty fourth-wall-breaking humour throughout as well. The guns are responsive and the world is varied and interesting to play through. It’s also the best example I’ve seen of co-op done right. It’s easy to dip into each other’s game, progress on any level is shared, including any collectibles any of you find, and the game scales enemies uniquely to your level so any player can join any other, without fear of imbalance. It makes co-op seamless, which should be a given these days, but you;d be amazed how often games get it wrong. If you fancy a slightly different, and well-executed co-op, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is well worth a look.
6. A Plague Tale: Requiem
I adored A Plague Tale: Innocence and couldn’t wait to revisit the lives of Amicia, Hugo, and co in Requiem. It’s quick to start and doesn’t let up until the credits. The gameplay mix of stealth and light puzzle elements is still as tense as ever thanks to the ever-present rats looking to devour you if you make a wrong move. But it’s the story of Hugo and Amicia that really drew me in, tugging at my heartstrings. I love both characters, their relationship feels genuine, and therefore at times gut-wrenchingly heart-breaking. The climax to the game made me shed a tear, a testament to the writing, voice acting, and overall delivery of a great story.
5. Nobody Saves the World
There’s something to be said for a game that came out in the first few days of January still making my top 10 of the year after 12 months of big releases. But that’s the magic of Drinkbox Studios, who in my eyes can do no wrong at the moment. Off the back of the Guacamelee! games, they changed tact and instead went for a top-down dungeon-crawler. But you wouldn’t know from the looks of Nobody Saves the World that this was a pivot into the unknown. A gorgeous art style, nice atmospheric music, and a smattering of that Drinkbox humour make it a great package. The sheer amount of Forms and loadout combinations you can have promotes experimentation and simply having fun killing things in its world. It’s gentle, but addictive, and overall an excellent title.
4. Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Some series just click with you as an individual, and the original Xenoblade Chronicles did just that back on the Wii. In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, we have a clear culmination of what has gone before in both previous numbered titles. The characters feel more fleshed out and believable, borne out in their main dialogue right down to their colloquial minor interactions. The world feels more real, more vertical and intertwined, making it more interesting to explore. True, there are systems galore, but each is introduced at a decent pace, and you never quite feel overwhelmed as you progress. And by the end you realise you’ve become a combat pro, utilising everything the game has to give you to overcome Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s toughest tests. It means you’re consistently engaged, whether that’s enjoying a cutscene, battling enemies, or simply exploring a new area, everything is done well to engross you in the adventure. Just don’t look at the eyebrows, please!
Often when Mr. Lyle Carr really rates a game, it’s a bit of a red flag for me. Our tastes can be very different, and that’s putting aside his heinous views on Breath of the Wild. So when he introduced me to Tinykin earlier in the year, I approached it with genuine open-minded ambivalence. What I found instead was an insanely charming little romp that I couldn’t put down. Its simple ideas belie how truly enjoyable Tinykin is to play. Everything is so accessible, traversal is made simple and efficient, and you’re also discovering something new as you explore. The game never feels like a slog, and it’s an absolute joy for a collectible hunter like me too. It tells a lovely tale, controls really well, and just gives you the heartwarming satisfaction to play. If you’ve not played this indie gem, you definitely should give it a go.
And so it pains me to say this, but Lyle, you were right. A podium position on my GOTY 2022 list. I almost feel dirty.
2. God of War: Ragnarok
Phew, this was a close call. To the point where even in the run-up to writing this article I was changing my mind, about which way around to put these next two games. I thought my top two last year was close, and the truth is I didn’t know what close was until my GOTY 2022 deliberations. Frankly, God of War: Ragnarok is nothing short of a masterpiece. The addictive, well-executed gameplay lands on just the right side of accessible, with the light-touch puzzles and checklist of collectibles successfully dragging you into every area, tantalising you with everything it has to offer. The combat is initially simple and intuitive but the skill trees and upgrade systems give you so many versatile options to suit your preferences, or indeed, your curiosity. Traversal is efficient, satisfying, and respectful of your time, further encouraging you onto your next endeavour.
And then we move from the well-executed to the frankly astonishing. The benchmark-setting factors of God of War: Ragnarok. Visually this game is outstanding. The attention to detail in the character models, their facial animations, and the way they move, all sets the standard for others to follow in the future. The voice acting is also superb, particularly from the returning characters, and the writing gives it all meaning. These all come together to weave a heartfelt, believable story comprised of woven interactions between Kratos and Atreus that at times made me genuinely weep. You’re immersed, you’re fighting, and you are Kratos and Atreus. I wondered how Santa Monica would top 2018’s God of War. What they’ve produced in Ragnarok is another leap forward and everything you could want in the sequel.
1. Elden Ring
And so here we are, numero uno for my GOTY 2022 list. Ever since Dark Souls jumped onto my radar all those years ago on the PS3, I’ve been hooked on the series and the developer for their challenging, sometimes cruel approach to overcoming adversity. Their games have borne a genre and for good reason, as people understood the endorphin hit of the practice makes perfect mantra. Of knowing that there always is a way beyond the seemingly impossible, and getting through it, no mate you many times YOU DIED is where the joy really lies.
But after so many games, where could FromSoft really take the genre? The answer was: wherever you wanted. Embracing more than a smidge of what made Breath of the Wild so engaging, Elden Ring presents you with a world so sprawling, diverse and interesting, you don’t know where to go next. And the beauty of it is, it doesn’t actually matter, because there’s always something to find, see and do. Forts, villages, graves, caves, ruins and more pepper the landscape, with treasure to find and secrets to uncover. You might encounter some aggressive soldiers, maybe a giant, or you may accidentally discover the nesting place of a chock-off dragon. It’s the quintessential water-cooler game, with players discussing their own experiences in different orders, tailoring the game to their choices.
Now take all of that and put it to one side. Along with the gorgeous environments, with truly diverse landscapes and atmospheres. Park if you can the immense boss battles against gigantic, fearsome creatures, requiring relentless skill and consideration to overcome. Because what really excites me about what Elden Ring achieved, is it proved what was possible with truly open-world titles. Breath of the Wild – and crib-sheet followers since – gave us an open world that could have had more in it of times of substance. Elden Ring also proves you can do Open World games and still have larger dungeon-type areas to explore with treasure to find at the end. It has shattered preconceptions of the genre and I’m excited to see where the big guns take it next – I’m looking at you Tears of the Kingdom.
I loved Elden Ring from the moment I first stepped out into Limgrave, and close to 100 hours later, I’m still in love. There’s so much to see and do, still little pockets of the world or sidequests I haven’t yet finished. It’s such a lovely, packed world, full of variety that rewards the curious and the brave. A masterclass of world-building, challenge, variety, and uniqueness. It’s an experience absolutely everyone should try, my GOTY 2022.