Game of the Year 2022

Well, what a year it’s been for the video games industry. In the short space of 12 months, we’ve seen a multitude of fantastic games grace our TVs, monitors and handheld screens, and over the past couple of weeks we’ve been celebrating these with various awards. From excellent indies to heart rate-rising action-adventure games, no matter what kind of experience you enjoy, there’s been a little something for everyone it feels this year. But, now’s the time to talk about the very best of the best games in 2022. We’re now ready to reveal our overall Game of the Year 2022.

Note: This article does not contain any explicit spoilers, but in some entries, it does mention elements of the plot when relevant that you may want to avoid for an entirely spoiler-free experience.

Honorable Mention: Tunic

Image Credit: Finji via Twinfinite

Managing Editor Chris Jecks: I’m gonna just come right out and say it: too many people slept on Tunic for one reason or another. Perhaps its cutesy art style put off the hardcore audience its challenging combat would have appealed to. Maybe the lack of hand-holding turned off those who assumed from its cutesy visuals that it’d be a laid back experience they could shut their mind off while playing. All of these reasons are entirely valid if you’ve tried it and found the gameplay didn’t stick the landing, but I implore you to at least give it a try via Game Pass, so you can appreciate the genius at the heart of the experience.

Tunic puts you in control of a cute lil’ fox, suggestively dressed in a green tunic, sword and shield in-hand. Its Legend of Zelda inspirations can be felt, but it’s Tunic’s tribute to the lowly instruction manual of video games past where the real magic lies.

Rather than holding your hand, proving onscreen markers guiding you to your next objective, Tunic gives you an empty in-game instruction manual that you must complete by collecting the pages scattered around the world. You’re not gathering these in order, so you’ll get teases and tidbits of information you’ll need further down the line. Scrawlings of cheat codes, hidden secrets and tips litter the margins.

It’s only when you finally put all of the pieces of this obscure puzzle together and reach that ‘a-ha’ moment that you begin to really appreciate what it is that Tunic’s doing. It’s an ode to old-school games where the onus was on the player to uncover secrets, share their tips and experiences with other players, and piece together the mysteries of the world.

If nothing else, Tunic should be commended for the secret language tucked away in its sound effects. We won’t say anymore for the sake of spoilers, but if you do want to look it up, the Reddit community has been busy deciphering it, itself a rather impressive feat.

Tunic may not offer hundreds of hours of gameplay, nor cutting edge visuals, but it does offer some of the most unique gameplay mechanics that video games have to offer. The fact the entire thing is the work of just one developer, Andrew Shouldice, too, has to be commended. Tunic epitomises the innovative and unique indie scene in video games, and it absolutely deserves your attention.

Honorable Mention: Horizon Forbidden West

Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Managing Editor Chris Jecks: Sony’s 2022 has been bookended by two massive blockbuster exclusives – God of War Ragnarok marked the end of the publisher’s year, while Horizon Forbidden West kicked things off way back in February. While the former has most certainly stolen the spotlight from the latter, I’d still argue the case that Forbidden West was one of the best games to release this year.

Few games can make an open-world such a joy to explore. As Glinthawks patrol the sky, Watchers writhe and wriggle around as they spot an enemy, and Chargers sprint across barren wastelands, Aloy and I embarked on many an excursion to complete a random side quest, pick up that collectible teasing me from my map, or just to test our mettle at the combat arena. Ashly Burch’s performance as Aloy is once again multi-layered, granting a range of emotions in our protagonist that few games manage to encapsulate. The surrounding cast, including Lance Reddick as Sylens, also bring their A-game, making conversations about events taking place in the game have an added sense of gravitas and heft to them that urges you to buy-in.

Not only does the 31st century rendition of Earth feel alive with the beeps and boops of hostile machines, but its littered with quests to complete, collectibles to gather, and of course, those machines that need dismantling however you see fit. The expanded arsenal of weapons gives you the creative freedom to really exploit each machine type’s unique weaknesses and level the playing ground by disabling their strengths (read: very powerful, annoying weapons). 

What makes Forbidden West stand out is the manner in which it blends an engaging narrative, enjoyable gameplay, an immersive open-world and a cinematic, immersive experience into one convenient package. Few games manage to combine all of these elements together without one falling a little flat, and Forbidden West is yet another example of Sony’s first-party prestige.

2nd Runner Up: Cult of the Lamb

Image Credit: Devolver Digital

Features Editor Andrew McMahon: Amidst the podium for Game of the Year stands a cute little Lamb, and its goal is simple: sacrifice all of the other participants so that it may grow strength and subjugate the masses. Well, while it might not have managed to topple a God and the Tarnished, Cult of the Lamb still managed to do pretty well for itself with some hefty competition.

But how did this indie darling manage to accomplish such a monumental feat this year? Well, it’s all thanks to an interesting idea and an even more detailed and intricate execution of that premise.

The basic idea of Cult of the Lamb is that you’re tasked with taking down the gods of the land that sacrificed you, the Bishops. To do so, you must gain followers that will, in turn, pray to you and increase your own strength, which you then use to defeat enemies on Roguelike adventures, called Crusades.

This eventually leads up to epic confrontations with the Bishop that rules over each land, where you must use the skills you’ve gained and the knowledge of each enemy attack throughout the biome to kill them. The only way you can do this, though, is by keeping your followers happy and your cult thriving.

Like any good cult leader knows, you have to do a lot for your flock, including feeding them, completing requests on their behalf, and even cleaning up after their poop. In doing so, you’re granted belief that you can use to upgrade stats, skills, and weapons that help on the Crusade.

If you ignore your duties at camp, then your people will begin to revolt, stealing resources and making upgrading that much harder. Thankfully, the Cult of the Lamb sets up its farming system makes it so that you can eventually make the cult pretty self-sufficient, which is not only helpful for gameplay but also super satisfying.

All in all, Cult of the Lamb does a phenomenal job of integrating Roguelike and farming elements seamlessly into one another, creating one of the best games of the year as a result.

1st Runner Up: God of War Ragnarok

God of War Ragnarok Ratatoskr
Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Freelance Writer Jake Su: With high hopes and expectations, there were simply many ways in which God of War Ragnarok could fail in the eyes of its most ardent fans and passionate detractors. Yet, when the time came for Kratos and Atreus to resume their adventures in the lands of the Norse, Sony Santa Monica managed to create an adventure that far outshines its predecessor, building on its already strong foundations and constructing a monument to the greatness of emotional storytelling driven by characters that are not just divine beings, but also legends that will stick long in the memory.

The coming of the end of the world can mean a lot of things to different people, and God of War Ragnarok smashes it by providing players with varying perspectives, fleshing out the world with its people and gods, and the central idea of how fate only binds you if you let it. From Kratos, Atreus, Odin, and Thor, to Freya and the dwarven brothers of Sindri and Brok, each has their time to shine, drawing players into their worlds and leaving an indelible mark with one of the best gaming stories ever told.

God of War Ragnarok’s gameplay formula is also the best the series has seen, expanding upon the combat system to give players plenty of options to vanquish their quarry, with a new weapon to boot that calls back to the roots of Kratos’ upbringing being a huge highlight. Exploration and puzzles become more than just a driver for secrets and loot, but also an essential component of storytelling and worldbuilding, helping to refine the Nine Realms into truly living places.

Whether it be the characters, the voice acting, the cinematic direction, or the core gameplay, God of War Ragnarok has simply blown me away on all fronts. And if its ending is to be taken at face value, Kratos will soon be back for more, and there is no other way I would have liked it.

Twinfinite’s Game of the Year 2022: Elden Ring

Image Credit: Bandai Namco

Reviews Editor Zhiqing Wan: Elden Ring isn’t a game that should’ve worked. For a company that prides itself on creating small, but intricately designed worlds that loop over and into each other to build fascinating intertwining paths, translating that design philosophy in an open-world game sounded like a fool’s errand. How could the incredibly smart design of Lordran ever work in an open-world environment?

FromSoftware answers that question simply by expanding the scope of the entire game. The various landmarks in The Lands Between aren’t necessarily interconnected with each other, but they are filled with a ludicrous amount of dungeons, caves, castles, and cities that feel like they were ripped straight out of a Dark Souls game. Perhaps the most impressive part of Elden Ring is that each of these concentrated areas have been treated with so much care, to the point where it wouldn’t be unheard of to spend hours in any of them, just to see if you can find every secret that’s tucked away inside.

Elden Ring is also a game that relishes in giving players countless secrets and little gems to uncover for themselves. True to typical FromSoft fashion, Elden Ring doesn’t like unnecessary exposition, and often leaves it to the player to figure things out for themselves. It must be noted, though, that unlike past games, Elden Ring also takes care to make sure that the lonesome experience never gets frustrating. Little quality-of-life improvements like flask refills, the ability to tackle almost any dungeon or boss in any order, and of course, the Sites of Grace littered all over the map help to keep exploration feeling breezy for the most part. This might be the biggest and most intimidating FromSoft game yet, but it’s also the most accessible.

While its narrative tools may not always appeal to everyone, there’s something elegant and beautiful in the way Elden Ring chooses to tell its story. So much of its lore is uncovered through simple observation, whether it’s through an item description or just looking at your surroundings, and The Lands Between serve as a rich tapestry of war, family feuds, and unnecessary bloodshed. It’s a game that gives you as much as you put into it, and if you’re willing to stick with it and meet it on its own terms, Elden Ring easily becomes one of the most rewarding video games you’ll ever play.

Congratulations to the entire Elden Ring development team at FromSoftware and publisher Bandai Namco for winning Twinfinite’s Game of the Year 2022 award!

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