From Sci-Fi Horror to Stray Cats: The Best Games of 2022
Variety does not define modern gaming. Even as the sun starts to slowly set on Call of Duty, Fortnite’s star continues to rise. While Ubisoft’s formula for open world action turns against them others take it, remix it and adapt it. All that is to say that the most popular games of 2022 were not necessarily the best games of 2022. Except Elden Ring of course. Variety might not define modern gaming but it does define this list. One of the best games of 2022 was a tactical fighting game. Another had you control a cat in a robotic dystopia. One had you lead a cult… as a lamb. Another was a tragic survival horror set in deep space and it wasn’t The Calisto Protocol. Well, let’s not draw this out. Here are the best games of 2022!
Cult of the Lamb
Cult of the Lamb sees you play as the devilishly cute titular animal, freshly resurrected by, and now indentured servant to a chained eldritch god. Your mission is now to amass followers to your cause and to act as an instrument of divine justice against the bishops who imprisoned your God.
A game of two parts, the action plays out as a randomized dungeon adventure: weapons and abilities are preordained and no one route is ever the same, lending a freshness to re-runs and combat progression.
The other side of the game plays as a cult leader simulator as you oversee your flock desperate for salvation. However, this is more of a macabre resource management compared to other agricultural games, as you watch for starvation, old age and disillusioned cultists spouting falsehoods.
Anyone who remembers the old animated show Happy Tree Friends will be familiar with this game’s artistic approach, as these repentant woodland critters will openly vomit, defecate and murder, as well as explode into mountains of cutesy cartoon gore.
What more is there to say about FromSoftware’s newest fantasy RPG that hasn’t already been said? Critically acclaimed, unrelentingly punishing, deceptively addictive and otherworldly in every possible way. Elden Ring is everything Hidetaka Miyazaki has worked towards since the cult beginnings of the Dark Souls series all the way through to their Akira Kurosawa influenced, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
Further Reading: Elden Ring is the Best Open World Game in Over 15 Years
Elden Ring is a hugely successful action RPG that has carved out a bright future for FromSoftware connecting with a much bigger audience than ever expected and rightly so. It may not be the undisputed high point of FromSoftware’s back catalogue (personally that belongs to the GOAT – Bloodborne) but Elden Ring is a monumental achievement in every discernible way and is easily one of the best games of the current console generation. A must play for those seeking an immersive open world adventure rarely experienced before. John Hogan.
Evil Dead: The Game
The Evil Dead has had a horrid time throughout its minimal but long-standing gaming history with titles like Hail To The King and Regeneration never really receiving the backing or exposure they needed to shine. Cue Saber Interactive and their ambitious desire to turn The Evil Dead franchise into an asymmetrical multiplayer game in the vein of Dead By Daylight and surely Ash and his mortal companions were destined to get the recognition they deserved right?
Saber Interactive’s asymmetrical approach to The Evil Dead franchise proved a dominant winner with gamers. An enjoyable horror experience that combined all the signature elements of Sam Raimi’s classics into a strong, balanced asymmetrical experience that fans would gladly lap up. Still surviving with a hugely active online player base, Evil Dead: The Game reinvigorated the DBD formula and has already proved it plans on going nowhere any time soon. Evil Dead: The Game is bloody good fun with friends and one of this year’s best horror experiences. Groovy! John Hogan.
Supermassive Games have struggled a bit since the critical success of Until Dawn. After a couple of mediocre anthology games Supermassive Games returned in 2022 with The Quarry and boy was it a strong return to form.
The formula is pretty much the same as previous games but The Quarry once again showcased superb storytelling and some unique twists on horror norms. With a focus on relaxed storytelling and simplistic gameplay more than ever, The Quarry ended up providing 2022 with one of its best horror games. If you seek a simple but well put together B-movie-esque horror gaming experience, then look no further than Supermassive Games’ newest entry. A brilliant return to form rekindling the potential Supermassive Games possess. John Hogan.
Have you ever wished there was a classic Jackie Chan inspired kung-fu gaming equivalent of Kill Bill for you to sink your teeth into? If so, Sifu is the answer. A punishing but highly rewarding brawler that teaches you the art of determination and the value of life and death. Sifu is a slick dive into kung-fu movie inspirations that won the hearts of many this year. Slocap’s Sifu is an experience like no other that with careful button bashing can lead to the apprentice becoming the master in stylistic fashion. Sifu truly is a diamond in the rough this year and deserving of your time. John Hogan.
A sci-fi echo of Resident Evil and Silent Hill with some H. P. Lovecraft, David Lynch and Neon Genesis Evangelion thrown in Signalis makes the case that it’s in indie gaming where horror’s best kept secrets lie. An android Replika unit named Elster wakes up on a remote, icy planet after a crash landing and begins searching for her human companion. Elster navigates her way to a facility full of androids gone mad. They are mindless husks that wander the depths of a mining facility that has become an endless hell from which there seems to be no escape.
Ring any bells? Signalis is classic survival horror updated for the modern era. The original survival horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill are all but ghosts now with uncanny Frankenstein clones built to replace them. Signalis feels like the first original (and good) survival horror that’s come along in quite a while. With its original PlayStation graphics, tough enemies and limited resources Signalis feels like it stepped directly into 2022 from the turn of the millennium. But Signalis is, ironically, more than a replica. It’s a genuine work of art that escapes the shadow of its influences and becomes more than the sum of its parts.
At one point the Lovecraft quote “Great holes secretly are digged where earth’s pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl” appears and because of what players have already experienced up to that point whole new vistas of horror will open up before them. But even with all its brutal violence, decorative gore and maddening puzzles Signalis finds time to breathe, to dance, to paint. It’s a reminder that even in the universe’s darkest, coldest places love can triumph.
If you can survive that is… Andrew Carroll.
BlueTwelve Studio’s Stray may just be the most unexpected (and truly welcomed) hit of the year. A heartfelt experience that manages to make a few simplistic hours playing as a cat feel like a fascinating journey through a cyberpunk dystopia filled with all manner of surprises and wholesome activity.
BlueTwelve Studio’s clear focus on atmosphere and, strangely, character development/interactions are what really brings this world to life. Whether it’s the soothing wailing of a robotic guitarist, the detective duties and chemistry of you and your metal compatriot or the wholesome bonding with other feline companions, Stray is focused on providing the simple things gamers enjoy and casual gamers who just want to sit down and enjoy a short but impressive experience will not be disappointed. Stray is easily one of this year’s best experiences and an absolute joy to behold. John Hogan.
While first coming to people’s attention in late 2021, the word puzzle craze was acquired by the New York Times in January 2022. While not the first thing that comes to mind in gaming for 2022, lacking the spectacle and scope of a AAA game, its simplicity is it’s brilliance. With the most humble of origins, this 5×6 grid has swept the globe and created a gaming audience rarely seen in its scale and variety of users.
In its own conceptual way, Wordle is language-based combat, with only six chances to vanquish your enemy. Those 26 letters are your only tools; your only friends but also the final boss you must overcome. Yellow squares provide you with prompts in the right direction, while the reward of a green square shows your blows have landed. All for the glory of an ever-growing daily streak.
More realistically, Wordle offers the giddy fix of a crossword conundrum for any schedule, a brain teaser for the morning coffee or the commute home. It is the satisfaction of a daily achievement with the vastness of the English language as its landscape.
It is the rush of gaming distilled to its purest form. Eoin Carty.