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As we reach the end of 2022, it’s time to look back at our favorite games of the year. This was an interesting one. Sure, we still had some big triple-A experiences that captured our attention, but 2022 also had a large amount of indies and other smaller games to pick up the slack.
Our picks, which the GamesBeat editorial team decided together, represents games from a multitude of genres and platforms. We had to cut some personal favorites to keep the list at 10, but we all feel good about getting to highlight these wonderful titles.
Stray, the indie title that was known simply as ‘that cat game’ before its release, proved to be so much more than that. This adventure game is packed with a surprising amount of story and cyberpunk flare along with good platforming mechanics for its agile protagonist.
While Stray is a little on the short side, it doesn’t waste any of its time. Even the feline hero is more than just a gimmick, showing a great deal of character and intelligence. It may not be a big game, but Stray is a lovely, soulful title that sticks with you even after it’s over.
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— Rachel Kaser
9. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II
Activision built a new unified engine for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2. It worked for the next-gen consoles as well as the PC, and it enabled integration of Modern Warfare II multiplayer maps and weapons in Warzone 2. On top of that efficiency, MWII had both excellent multiplayer and single-player campaign experiences this year. The story had an interesting twist, veering off the path of modern American war propaganda in a way that is healthy for a game that is embraced around the world.
The storytelling is better, with enhanced roles for CIA task force leader Kate Laswell and the new Mexican special forces soldiers — who all become important characters in the campaign. The action is intense, but the game finds a better line between entertainment and sensational war violence compared to the 2019 title.
— Dean Takahashi
Tunic is an adorable indie action game that wears its old school Legend of Zelda vibes on its sleeve quite literally. You play as a fox in a familiar green tunic discovering secrets and fighting monsters that inhabit the world.
If you’re looking for a game with minimal hand-holding and tutorials — this is it. The design philosophy is a revival of the NES/SNES era. Tunic’s tutorials — inspired by game manuals of old — are written in a unique script that players must figure out how to read along the way. The story of this game is fairly minimal too. However, the game does update some of these 1980s retro elements to the current day, borrowing from Souls-like games.
Tunic is about as indie as it gets — other than music, the game was developed by Andrew Shouldice over seven years. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the craft and artistry that went into creating this magical world. It’s an easy recommendation for gamers motivated by discovery.
— Jordan Fragen
7. Cult of the Lamb
If cutesy meets eldritch horror is your kind of game, look no further than Cult of the Lamb. You play as an adorable lamb turned cult leader, splitting your time between managing your Animal Crossing-inspired flock and going on rouge-like dungeon runs to gather resources and new followers.
The game is full of charm and humor and has enough customization options to allow players to effectively roleplay as a cult leader. For players looking for depth, there’s enough to keep you occupied. The combat is frantic and takes some getting used to, but it’s the right blend of satisfying yet challenging.
Publisher Devolver Digital also worked with Streaming Toolsmith to make Twitch integration that allowed viewers to get in on the action. Viewers can enter a raffle to name and customize a follower. Periodically, Twitch chat will also be able to vote to help or hinder the streamer. This increased interaction allowed me to have fun both when I was playing and watching. This blend of genres, depth, customization and the horror meets cute vibes was enough to raise this little lamb to the list.
— Jordan Fragen
6. Kirby and the Forgotten Land
I’ve wanted a 3D Kirby platformer for decades. The 2D games from this series have always offered delightful adventures (even if I found the last one, Kirby Star Allies, a bit dull), but I also thought that the franchise could work well as a 3D experience.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land more than proved me right. It retains the charm and fun of the series while adding more depth (literally). The game also features engaging boss battles, an intuitive two-player co-op mode and a catchy soundtrack. I also love how it ramps up the difficulty. Sure, at first this is another breezy Kirby adventure, but you’ll have to put in some effort to beat some of the optional offerings after the credits roll.
— Mike Minotti
5. Neon White
Neon White is one of the most unique games of the year. It’s hard to try to distill and explain in a couple of paragraphs. It’s a first-person action-platformer where you use cards that represent guns and special abilities to try and make your way through levels as fast as possible.
I couldn’t get enough of it. Neon White feels as good to play as any first-person title ever, and it’s designed to have you replaying stages dozens (in my case, even hundreds of times) as you chase perfection. I also love its bright, Y2K-era inspired aesthetics.
— Mike Minotti
4. Marvel Snap
It’s no secret that mobile games are dominating the market, but Marvel Snap has been a breakout success in 2022. I’ll lay my cards out on the table and say I’ve been obsessed since launch. Ben Brode and the team at Second Dinner have built a game designed for the medium and it shows.
Marvel Snap borrows from Brode’s digital CCG Hearthstone roots, but in a concentrated, mobile-friendly experience. Games (typically) last six turns and deck building feels manageable with only 12 cards to pick. Each match feels unique due to the location randomization. And the Snap mechanic takes the game to the next level, rewarding skillful players and game knowledge.
However, Marvel Snap’s most important contribution to the industry was its consumer-friendly monetization. Unlike other card games and mobile titles, players can progress and compete at a high level without spending money. I hope the team continues to add new ways to earn cards and extends its seasons for longer than a month, but I’m still using many of the cards you earn early on in my decks. It’s the perfect Clash Royale meets Hearthstone mash up for when you’ve got a coffee break.
— Jordan Fragen
3. God of War Ragnarök
Ragnarök is the culmination of the God of War series’ long journey into maturity. While its predecessor distanced itself from Kratos’ murderous past, treating it as a shameful secret, Ragnarök confronts it directly and ties the two dissonant halves of the franchise together. It has a richer, more interesting cast of characters and enhanced combat mechanics.
It feels like the final leg of a very long journey we’ve all been on with Kratos, with all the bittersweet feelings that though invokes. Also, Christopher Judge and Sunny Suljic continue to be a fantastic father-son duo.
— Rachel Kaser
Pentiment was 2022’s best surprise. It’s a juicy combination of historical drama and murder mystery — something we don’t get often enough in video games. Following the life of artist-turned-amateur detective Andreas Maler, Pentiment delivers a brilliant small-town mystery story, folding in tragedy, romance, humor and drama with its cast of colorful characters.
Its unique art style is also one of its high points — Pentiment looks more distinctive than any other game of 2022. Some might find it a bit slow-paced, but the pacing serves to build atmosphere and tension as Tassing’s community draws closer to the breaking point.
— Rachel Kaser
1. Elden Ring
The most visible, discussed and omnipresent game of 2022 was also the year’s best. Elden Ring took FromSoftware’s addicting action RPG formula and made it more engaging and interesting by plopping into a giant open world. No matter which way you decide to explore, Elden Ring rewards you with something interesting to discover.
Playing it also felt like taking part in a community. That could mean literally teaming up with strangers or friends as you fought giant bosses. But that also involved comparing notes, talking with other people who played the game to learn their strategies, builds and discoveries.
Elden Ring was also a giant hit and it’s sure to influence the medium in the coming years. This could open the way for more large, open games that put more faith in players.
— Mike Minotti