EVERYONE has a personal favourite game and it’s rare that everyone agrees on what is good.
At GLHF, we report on games all-year-round, and that means that between us, we’ve played almost everything that was released this year.
Elden Ring won Game of the Year at the Game Awards.
Instead of fighting over what was number one, we decided to each choose our personal favourites.
Here’s the games we think you should play that were released in 2022.
My first session with Elden Ring lasted just a few hours before I decided to take a break. The next session lasted a few hours more.
The first few days were slow and steady progress – and then suddenly, everything was Elden Ring.
I went to sleep late because I was playing Elden Ring. I woke up too late to go to the gym because of Elden Ring.
During work hours, I wrote and spoke about Elden Ring. It consumed me, and that was fine, because even if it wasn’t what I was doing for work, it was what I would be thinking about anyway.
And despite all of that, I wouldn’t trade my time with Elden Ring for any other video game this year.
Elden Ring evoked something that only the best open world games do, and that’s true exploration.
Elden Ring, by eschewing modern game design, created something truly memorable and unlike anything else you can play right now.
Elden Ring isn’t a perfect game, as proven by every patch that has released since, and a PVP community that was about ready to go back to Dark Souls 3 before the most recent update, but it’s easily the best game of the year.
I’m sorry, it really isn’t a competition. I love the likes of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Splatoon 3, and Bayonetta 3, but none of them could possibly take over my life for two months straight like Elden Ring did.
I can only pray the next game that I work on for over a month is half as enjoyable. — Dave Aubrey
Citizen Sleeper was a surprise favourite.
We’ve all been there – video games fatigue, or any other media. It happens to us all – especially if you write about them for a living.
After working on Elden Ring for less than ten days for a review, I have a feeling it was just that.
A good remedy for it is typically relying on some smaller, more relaxing game. This year, that kind of remedy was Citizen Sleeper.
Not a perfect game, but I love having the opportunity to mention it across our triple A-filled games of the year list.
Making progress little step after little step, feeling protected by these intimate worlds in an industry obsessed with huge stories, huge hour counts, huge difficulty levels.
Citizen Sleeper had the minimalist design that healed me in such an eventful year.
All you need is a mouse and the ability to read if you want to enjoy Citizen Sleeper. It doesn’t demand your attention 100% of the time like Elden Ring.
That doesn’t mean Citizen Sleeper goes light on story, and themes. When it comes down to reflecting upon human life and death, AI, and soul.
Citizen Sleeper’s world is healing from capitalism, at times getting rid of its insane practices, at times mimicking them.
Multiple choices, paths and endings, characters and factions to fight or cooperate with – and a strong emotional impact that will stay with you hours after playing it.
I don’t ask anything else from a game, and this is more than enough for Citizen Sleeper to grab an outsider place in this GOTY 2022 list. — Paolo Sirio
Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Legends Arceus put Pokemon in a semi-open world.
The Pokémon franchise has always been afraid of change. Whether it’s video games, trading cards, or even the anime; a new generation typically just means more of the same.
So, when Pokémon Legends: Arceus was revealed and promised to be something completely new, I was immediately hooked.
This got the full main-series treatment, and the team behind it when making the exact kind of game hardcore Pokémon fans have been begging for.
It is the freshest, most exciting, and all-around greatest Pokémon game since the series went 3D.
Catching these critters has always been an important part of the series, but battles are usually the driving force of the game.
Legends took the bold step of making exploration and catching the main focus of gameplay, and it created the kind of experience I never thought a Pokémon game could give us.
The addition of Agile and Strong style attacks allow battles to run much faster than usual, not only improving the few mandatory battles there are but fitting the theme too.
Despite a rather muted color palette and… not the best texture work, each area is teeming with life, both in terms of a rich environment and the Pokémon wandering the landscape.
It’s not hyperbole to say Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a childhood dream come true.
When I was playing the 2D games as a kid, I envisioned almost exactly this kind of game where you had complete freedom to explore and catch Pokémon to your heart’s content, with real danger in the world as they tried to attack you and evade capture.
Legends was a Pokémon game for Pokémon fans first and foremost, I desperately hope a follow-up is in the series’ future. — Ryan Woodrow
God of War Ragnarök
The boy becomes a man.
The 2018 game before it was a near-perfect reboot, but the sequel addresses every single issue.
There are more enemies to fight, the story is expanded, more characters get the limelight, there are more ways to do battle, more realms to explore, and Kratos finally confronts his past.
Also, you’re not constantly getting blockaded on your way to the top of a mountain. Thanks Odin.
It would have been easy to go the way of the old series and just up the ante – smash the shock and awe dials right up – but there’s a calm hand guiding the game along.
It’s self-assured, it knows what it wants to say, and it hammers it home with the power of Thor.
It’s a game with the confidence you can only earn by living your life and being comfortable in your own skin, which is something that Kratos also learns to do over the course of the game.
It doesn’t need to be overly brutal and bloody because it knows an emotional gut punch can be more painful than a curb stomp.
The excellent cast leans right into this creativity, making sure every character leaves their mark after the credits roll.
I’ve done it all – every single chest, all the ravens, all of it. And when I was done, I went straight back in for some more on the hardest difficulty.
When the year started so strongly with Elden Ring, I never imagined another game would knock FromSoftware’s masterpiece off the top spot for me.
But there’s just so much heart, so much focus in God of War Ragnarök that my game of the year couldn’t be anything else. — Kirk McKeand
Bayonetta’s story took a new turn.
I had a Wii U. So, I am one of the few people that have been patiently waiting eight years for Bayonetta 3, ever since I saw the credits roll on Bayo 2.
For me it was worth the wait. It wasn’t like I was short of things to play in the meantime.
Bayonetta 3 takes the tried and tested Bayonetta formula and turns it up to 11.
There are even more secrets that are even harder to find, more devilish weapons and helpful demons, more playable characters, and even more difficult boss fights than ever faced before.
There’s certainly more skill involved than in previous games, where learning certain combos feels vital to success on harder difficulty.
Demon Slaves deal more damage, but leave you vulnerable. Balancing the best accessories for either Bayonetta or her demons is also a tough choice.
The main story is only around 15 hours, but by the time I reached the finale of Chapter 11, I knew I’d play it again. By the time I put the console down, I was 80 hours deep.
The highlight of every Bayonetta game is the Rodin fight. Many people never defeat him, and in Bayonetta 3 he’s the hardest he’s ever been.
I think I adjusted my loadout more than 10 times trying to find the perfect combination, but when I finally bested him, the feeling was unrivalled.
It doesn’t hurt that he gives you the best weapon and demon in the game, giving you yet another reason to play Bayonetta all over again. — Georgina Young
Signalis reminded us of old school horror.
Low, electric hissing noises are something to be feared in Signalis.
Chances are it’s merely a starship’s fluorescent lights flickering on and off — but it could also be some sort of bloodthirsty, malfunctioning android eager to rip the living apart.
It’s the same flavour of psychological warfare that made Silent Hill stand out all those years ago — constant mind games where even the most straightforward act carries a life-threatening degree of weight.
There’s plenty of catharsis in blasting cybernetic foes to bits for a brief moment of respite, but it also dries up ammo reserves and ultimately leaves you feeling just as helpless as before.
Signalis takes cues from horror’s all-time greats in that it’s a haunting yet moving tale with extraordinary circumstances.
No spoilers, of course, but this story’s brilliant twists and turns will likely tug at your heartstrings before the credits roll.
That scifi backdrop in Signalis also makes for some ridiculously clever puzzles, particularly any that require the radio.
Mysterious audio signals reverberate throughout old colony stations, and many contain secrets to unlocking doors or finding key items.
I’ll never forget writing down strings of numbers from a radio broadcast, then deciphering its hidden message through notes later. Eureka moments aren’t in short supply here.
Signalis is, without a doubt, one of the best horror games in recent memory.
Contending with something like Resident Evil is no easy task, yet developer Rose-engine shows that even titans of the genre could learn a thing or two from indies. — Kyle Campbell
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 improved on the second game.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the last game in the trilogy, but probably not the last game in the series, and it delivers everything anyone could possibly want.
I knew that mechanically it would be good, but I had given up hope that the series could deliver a charming, nuanced story that was paced in a pleasing way.
I have absolutely no qualms saying that this game made me cry. A lot.
It was a touching, nuanced, incredibly thoughtful storytelling experience that spent the time to balance and build out its characters.
We saw only what we needed to see, only when we needed to see it.
We found out about our heroes and their place in the world over the space of days and weeks, not hours.
And that’s to say nothing of Xenoblade 3’s rock-solid character work.
I was absolutely blown away by just how well-developed each and every character was, especially when the ensemble cast of six all had to vie for attention throughout the game’s runtime.
It’s an utterly gorgeous game, too, with a dozen absolutely stunning locales to visit, each one more beautiful than the last.
Like any JRPG, it does tend to get bogged down in ridiculous skill trees and fine-tuning stats and abilities and synergies, but it’s so incredibly easy to overlook that when the rest of the game is so incredibly fantastic.
As a sequel to the previous two Xenoblade games, it’s a stunning finale.
As a standalone game, it’s just as good. And as a video game that was released in the year of our lord 2022? Well, it’s hard to see how anything could beat it. — Oliver Brandt
Everyone loves a Stray.
Stray launched in July and quickly became viral as the internet got flooded with players and their cats reacting to the game.
The curious cat game’s success was surely helped by the fact that it was one of the first and very few day-one releases on Sony’s revamped PlayStation Plus subscription service, but this alone doesn’t explain its popularity.
The ‘Cyberpunk 2077 but you’re a cat’ indie also overtook long-awaited titles to become the most wishlisted game on Steam in the lead-up to its release.
Its gorgeously crafted cyberpunk world and the premise of playing as a cat felt wholesome and new.
Creating a believable and cute feline protagonist is a surefire way of making a likeable game with the broadest appeal possible. And there’s a dedicated meow button. How cool is that?
While the usual suspects to make a best games of the year list are oftentimes sequels of established game franchises, Stray was the odd one out.
Being the debut game of its indie developer BlueTwelve Studio, it looked fresh and unburdened by expectations and preconceived notions of what it should be.
Opting not to anthropomorphize the unnamed cat protag like most other games with animals do, and relying on your robot companion to push the narrative forward, helped make Stray and its world much more credible.
Best game lists and game awards should not be popularity contests, but the fascinating allure of Stray and its inquisitive protagonist goes beyond mere crowd-pleasing.
Games must be enjoyable and fun to play, and Stray is definitely up there in delivering a great experience. — Stoyan Ovcharov
Splatoon doesn’t recreate the wheel but adds quality of life.
Splatoon is different from most shooters.
Aim doesn’t matter much, fashion is just as important as skill, and since almost everything you do helps the team in some way, the whole atmosphere is just fun.
Jumping into Splatoon 3 from the start was a completely different to Splatoon 2, and much more exciting, experience.
Much like Splatoon 2 was more of an expansion than a full sequel, Splatoon 3 doesn’t drastically change the formula Nintendo established in 2015 on the Wii U, but it does still make a range of substantial improvements.
The new weapon types such as the close-range wiper blade seem like tame additions, but they create entirely new playstyles and encourage you to think differently about team formations and how best to use even old, familiar maps.
Splatfests are back, and while the Tri-Color Turf War battles aren’t a hit with many fans, I enjoy the way they shake up the familiar ground-splatting mode and force teams to plan more strategically than usual.
The festivities will come to an end eventually, but Salmon Run is, thankfully, here to stay as a permanent mode.
All this is without even getting into the smaller quality of life improvements, things like letting you skip the intro segment every time you log in and the option to change gear between matches without leaving the lobby.
It may only be a refinement instead of an advancement, but it’s certainly a welcome one.
I’ve had more fun with Splatoon 3 than I have with other games in a long time, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. — Josh Broadwell
Written by Georgina Young and the team at GLHF.
Did you miss our previous article…