It’s easy to get disillusioned with video games when it’s your entire job, but looking back at 2022, it really was a great year for the medium. Narrowing this list down to a top ten was a chore and a half, so much so that I have five honourable mentions, and there are even more that I’d love to throw at you and tell you to play, but there’s only so much time left before we get to 2023 and the cavalcade of instant hits that’s going to bring us. I can’t wait. I just love video games. I’m such a gamer.
Honourable Mentions: Apico, Shadowrun Trilogy, Final Fantasy Stranger of Paradise, The Case of the Golden Idol, The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow
10. Two Point Campus
I was a child of the RollerCoaster Tycoon and Theme Hospital era, so simulator games have an irrevocable hold on me that will remain forever. When Two Point Hospital came along I was an easy mark – I sank days of my life into that game. Two Point Campus is a perfect follow-up. It retains its compelling gameplay and fantastic sense of whimsy, but also makes changes and additions that show an understanding of what simulator fans want. We want more. We want Two Point Everything.
9. Return To Monkey Island
Like simulator games, Monkey Island was also a very large part of my childhood, so when a new game was announced I was beyond thrilled. Despite making some decisions that I didn’t personally agree with, devouring this game over the course of three days was incredible – it’s filled with fun puzzles and niche references that tickle the nostalgic part of the brain. Having Guybrush Threepwood back in my life is all I could have asked for, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll be seeing more of him soon.
8. Citizen Sleeper
An anticapitalist narrative RPG set in a cyberpunk world? Sign me up. Everyone who played Citizen Sleeper at TheGamer raved about it, so I knew I’d be in for something good, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it is. Delightful characters, exciting pacing, and a neat repertoire of tabletop-like mechanics make Citizen Sleeper a very compelling experience. I’ve never wanted to try mushroom-based alcohol, but this game makes it sound like ambrosia from the heavens.
7. Triangle Strategy
Triangle Strategy is exactly my cup of tea. I love losing myself in a fantasy world of political strife, difficult decisions, and strategic combat, and Triangle Strategy offers exactly that. Everything about it is exquisite, from the gorgeously rendered HD-2D graphics to the fine-tuned difficulty balance. Like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre (oh, spoilers!), this game is going to be one I return to throughout the rest of my life.
6. Lucy Dreaming
Lucy Dreaming is one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. As I said in my review, I went in expecting a serviceable point-and-click adventure with enough laughs to keep me invested, but what I experienced was one of the most hilarious games I’ve played set in the most glorious pastiche of small-town Britain. In a word, Lucy Dreaming is charming. In two words? Exceedingly charming.
5. Elden Ring
I really enjoyed my time with Elden Ring. I always knew I would – I love a Souls game as much as the next man, and Elden Ring looked to meet the lofty expectations set upon it. What solidified Elden Ring’s place on this list, however, is something a bit more personal – my partner doesn’t get into RPGs as much as me – Breath of the Wild is the closest he gets, and he gave Baldur’s Gate 3 a good go – but something about Elden Ring got him interested and then hooked. And so, we played together, for hours. I pointed out the hidden items, gave him tips on how to level up, and celebrated his greatest victories with him. It was a lovely experience and just highlights what I love about video games and their ability to bring people together.
Soppy, I know, but let me have it.
4. Vampire Survivors
I could wax lyrical about Vampire Survivors for a long time. I could write entire papers on how the progression creates a sense of satisfaction, how it recaptures the vibes of old-school arcade games, or how it seems to have created its own mini-genre. Instead, I’ll try to sum up my feelings towards Vampire Survivors in a single sentence. A short, succinct summation of my experience.
King’s Bible go brrrrrr.
3. Victoria 3
I’m a total simp for Paradox grand strategy. Not to go on about him, but I’m pretty sure it was the hundreds of hours spent playing Europa Universalis 4 and Crusader Kings 2 deep into the night with my partner that solidified our relationship in the first place, and we’ve devoured every new game since then. Victoria 3 is an incredibly strong game and one of the most mechanically complex I’ve played, and I love that shit. Getting into the minutiae of how a country is run and tweaking the tiniest things, from tariffs to education laws, isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but it appeals to me and my perfectionist mind.
2. Tactics Ogre: Reborn
I knew I’d love this game before it even came out – it’s a remaster of a game I sank hundreds of hours into, which was itself a remake of a game that I bought as a child and had to run on a laptop emulator since it didn’t have a PAL release. Denam’s story has been with me for two decades at this point, and Tactics Ogre: Reborn is the ideal way to tell it. I write a ton of guides for TheGamer – I’ve written guides for eight out of ten of the games on this list – but guiding this game felt like a full-circle moment, and barely felt like work. The game is just that good.
1. Cult Of The Lamb
People always make comparisons to explain what Cult of the Lamb is. You’ll see Hades, Happy Tree Friends, and Animal Crossing name-dropped, and while they are fair comparisons, they’re not sufficient to express how the game feels to play. Cult of the Lamb is satisfaction distilled. From the chunky, dopaminergic combat to serotonergic cult management, this gory, gruesome game is one of the happiest little games I’ve played. I love taking care of my adorable cultists, even when they’re gleefully sacrificing their own lives for me. It scratches an itch I didn’t know I had, and I was seriously wowed by the game. Hands down, it’s the best game I played this year.
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