GOTY 2022: Mick Fraser

by on December 28, 2022

Another year peeled in one satisfying motion from the bottom of our metaphorical shoe and hurled to the path behind us, and another GOTY list in which I’ll try to somehow ratify the order of magnitude by which I enjoyed my ten favourite games. It’s always a bit of a weird one for me, especially being a critic. It’s easy for me to tell you if I liked something or didn’t, but attempting to rank the overall joy it gave me – that’s tough. Hence my seemingly impossible personal deliberations over GOTY 2022.

Because games are so different. Even just a glance at the list below shows that my favourite games of 2022 add up to a particularly eclectic selection – even more so than usual. I usually go for the explosions and violence, and, while there’s plenty of both below, there’s also a little more whimsy than usual. 2022 may well be a year remembered for towering achievements like God of War: Ragnarok and Elden Ring, but it was also a year for the little guy, the underdog, the try-hard. Read on for my personal GOTY 2022 list, beginning with a few honourable mentions.

GOTY 2022 Honourable Mentions

Goty 2022 mick

Steelrising is the game I always wanted Spiders to make. I will champion the French developers of Greedfall and Of Orcs and Men until I die upon this sodden hill, because I genuinely believe that one day they’ll produce a masterpiece. Steelrising was nearly it for me, a superb Soulslike with a truly interesting world and some wonderful combat.

Chained Echoes was a very late entry to this list. I wouldn’t even have played this old school RPG if not for Lyle Carr’s review, and as much as it deeply, deeply, deeply pains me to agree with Lyle, it’s a fantastic achievement by a tiny, one-man studio.

Salt & Sacrifice may not have quite lived up to the promise of the game-changing Salt & Sanctuary, but the fact that James Silva somehow managed to combine the Metroidvania magic of the first game with a Monster Hunter-like boss structure is more than worthy of note.

Return to Monkey Island is a self-indulgent addition, as indeed it was a somewhat self-indulgent experience for me. The return of original creators Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman elevated what could have been easy nostalgia-bait to something that genuinely pays homage to its own history.

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars should be on the list of anyone who likes Soulslikes or action games. Sneaking out to zero fanfare, it’s an indie adventure that mixes a great progression system with a colourful, vibrant fantasy world.

10. Nobody Saves the World

GOTY 2022

It might sound a bit silly considering how much the site in general raved about this game, but I just didn’t get around to it until very recently. And when I did, wow. I still find it hard to believe it took me so long to try it. It’s just so damn playable. Drinkbox is a developer with considerable pedigree in my eyes, and I should have known that anything it put out would be an instant classic. Nobody Saves the World is just that. A beautiful, unique art style and some of the most fluid and addictive gameplay I’ve experienced in a while make it an easy slot into my GOTY 2022 list.

9. Evil West


Evil West might have some jank in the tank but if anything, that just makes it more endearing. This is Flying Wild Hog doing what they do, but better than they usually do it. Shadow Warrior 2 was the yardstick by which I previously measured their output, which this year’s Shadow Warrior 3 fell some way short of. But Evil West’s mix of vicious violence, slick combat, and hokey cowboys-versus-vampires narrative make it the second best game with West in the title from 2022. And there was a surprising amount of those.

GOTY 2022 #8. Tinykin

GOTY 2022

Like Nobody Saves the World, Tinykin came out of nowhere for me. Had I raised my head above my usual comfort zone of death, carnage, and jiggle physics I may have come to the realisation sooner that Tinykin is one of the year’s best releases. It’s entirely charming, captivating, likeable and, perhaps above all, nice. It’s a bloody nice game, released in a year where there didn’t seem to be enough nice to go around, let alone share so liberally. It’s a wonderful little puzzle game that just fills me with warmth and fluffiness. Play it, you fuck.

7. A Plague Tale: Requiem


One game that really can’t be called “nice” is A Plague Tale: Requiem, the sequel to Godisageek’s 2019 Game of the Year, A Plague Tale: Innocence. And it’s not meant to be nice, either. This is a game about finding hope in hopelessness, of finding a spark of light in the encroaching darkness and following it to whatever salvation you can find. Even if that salvation is, ultimately, accepting that you cannot change your fate. But Requiem is, for me, an utterly incredible and soul-shaking story stretched a little too thin across a game that almost, almost out-stays its welcome. Even so, it’s still an undeniable masterpiece in terms of narrative, audio, and characterisation.

GOTY 2022 #6. Horizon Forbidden West


Returning to Aloy’s world has been like slipping on a comfortable sweater, grabbing a hot mug of cocoa, and then beating a massive armoured dinosaur to death with it. It’s my kind of game, too, one who’s story is 80% setting, and the stories you make up yourself within it are just as compelling as anything the game gives you. It’s stunningly, almost disarmingly beautiful at times, but it’s also a fantastic open world adventure that just keeps on giving and giving.

5. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak


Another year, another Monster Hunter game in my top ten. It’s hard to believe that there was a time I couldn’t even play these games, let alone sing their praises. But since the advent of World, and subsequently Iceborne, I’ve been a total convert to Capcom’s monster-mashing club. Sunbreak hasn’t ultimately turned out to be quite the expansion Iceborne was, and yet the quality of life changes it brought to Monster Hunter Rise, coupled with, of course, the new roster of monsters to make pants out of, make it one of my most-played games of 2022.

4. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands


Borderlands is Borderlands, right? Well, yeah, except when it isn’t. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands did something I didn’t expect it to do: it revolutionised a franchise that even I was beginning to get a little weary of. I’ve been a Borderlands fan since the first one released, but it has been a franchise in need of a shake-up for a while. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands did that: putting my favourite Borderlands character back in the hot seat to guide us through a whacky, wired adventure with as much heart as butt humour, and some genuinely great ideas, to boot.

GOTY 2022 #3. God of War: Ragnarok

GOTY 2022

I hate to be anticlimactic here, but from this point on the order of games is almost superfluous. The reason God of War resides in the 3-spot is barely a reflection on the game itself, but rather on how I’ve personally received it. Ragnarok is an exceptional video game. Of that there is no doubt. This is a game that positively thrums with emotion, and reflects quality in every facet of its design, from the tremendous combat to the groundbreaking cinematic direction. I cannot fault it, nor would I wish to. What Sony Santa Monica achieved with Kratos in particular here is nothing short of staggering. The characterisation is a new benchmark in terms of how to steer an arc, and it will be a long, long time before anyone tops it.

2. Marvel’s Midnight Suns


This game is special to me. At the tail end of the year, when I was feeling the usual November fatigue and becoming just a little burnt-out by the often cynical process of critiquing game after game, Midnight Suns dropped in my lap like Thor’s hammer – and I was not worthy. I can unequivocally say that I love everything about this game, from the deep, consuming combat to the relationship management between my fractious group of superheroes; from the rewarding exploration to the over-the-top, bombastic storyline. It also came at a time when MCU fatigue was well and truly setting in, offering anathema to the malaise that gripped me by showing me my favourite heroes in a different light. And, of course, let’s not forget that this is Firaxis stepping outside their comfort zone and still absolutely nailing the tactical combat in every way that matters.

1. Elden Ring


There was a time when I thought Elden Ring was some kind of cruel trick on the part of FormSoftware, promising me an open world Soulslike experience with input from none other than George R.R. Martin and then simply not giving me it. Not you; me. Personally. This was an attack, I came to believe, of the most grievous kind. And then, after what seemed like decades of waiting, it arrived – and exceeded all of my expectations in terms of size, scale, and impact.

I mean, look, let’s get one thing out of the way before I go on: Martin’s involvement may have been somewhat overplayed. Besides naming all the characters after his own initials (yes he bloody did, okay) and writing the, admittedly brilliant, backstory, his influence isn’t particularly keenly felt. This is a From world, through and through, a kind of meta-Lordran that tells a far stronger story through the use of stunning visual design and environmental storytelling that compliments the reams of flavour text. There’s story here for those willing to pick it apart (or watch a YouTuber do it instead), but the backstory is more important. And for what it’s worth, I knew what I was doing in the Lands Between and why I was there. I wanted to see it through because I understood my place in the world. From haven’t done that since Bloodborne.

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But more than that, the experience of Elden Ring is what makes it my favourite game of 2022. I played it pre-release, with no build guides or people to talk to, before all the secrets had been spoiled and the bosses had been cheesed. I felt every ounce of emotion, all the rage and frustration at losing over and over to the first real boss, and all the elation and adrenaline of laying the first dragon to rest on my own, with only my wits and skills to carry me. And Torrent, of course. For that reason, Elden Ring is the game I’ll remember most potently from 2022, and why I’ll never forget my first harrowing, exhausting, and exhilarating ride through The Lands Between.