It has, you might have noticed, been a pretty good year so far for games. Elden Ring’s arguably the greatest game that’s released since Breath of the Wild, Pokémon got the modern makeover we’ve been pining after for years, Gran Turismo is – considerable launch issues aside – close to firing on all cylinders again and even little Kirby put in his best effort to date. And that’s before you even consider more modest modern masterpieces such as Tunic and OlliOlli World.
There’s a lot, basically – so much so that keeping on top of it all can be a task itself. So here’s a handy runthrough of the best games of 2022 so far, something we’ll be returning to and updating on a regular basis. It should be the perfect companion piece should you be looking for anything to play in the more fallow months that are set to follow what’s been an amazing amount of activity.
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition
PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch
What we said in our Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition review: ‘This often feels like a visitor from a parallel dimension itself – sequel to an acclaimed RPG that’s in practice more of a companion piece, reminiscent of the PS1 Final Fantasies but a very different beast on the battlefield. It’s an engrossing epic, mixing sadness, whimsy and a touch of cosmic dread without, somehow, disintegrating into farce, and if the battle system can be a touch infuriating, coming to terms with it is part of the adventure. The remaster isn’t a dazzling effort, but the game’s revival in any form is something to celebrate. I am eager to read reactions to it from players who got into RPGs after the Chrono series went under.’
PC and Mac
What we said in our Norco review: ‘Playing through Norco is completely and totally engrossing. Part of that might feel like cheating, what with the act-ending cliffhangers and the figurative mystery boxes of its story or the literal others on its shelves. But it’s also utterly earned. It’s striking, surprising, novel. It’s darkly wary of a future that sits on a knife-edge, disdainful of the cynics, priest-like to the anxious. It’s nothing less than extraordinarily beautiful. And like the increasing number of games that want to go a little further than distracting us from these things and instead wrestle with them head-on, it is mesmerising.’
- Buy Norco on PC and Mac from GOG.
PC and Mac
What we said in our Patrick’s Parabox review: ‘My experience with Patrick’s Parabox, then, was itself nested like a Russian doll. Looking at the outer layer, I wasn’t sold. Yet another nondescript puzzler in a sea of hundreds, with some style but a few rough edges. One layer deeper it started to click. Okay, this is fun. I don’t know how it won all these indie design awards but by jove I’ll solve this puzzle. By the last few stages, though, I was nodding along, muttering ‘Brilliant!’ and ‘Genius!’’
- Buy Patrick’s Parabox on PC and Mac from Steam.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
What we said in our Kirby and the Forgotten Land review: ‘It’s tempting to say that with The Forgotten Land Kirby has graduated from second-tier character to starring in a game that rivals Mario in its pomp, but that’s not quite the case. The many ideas and new abilities are never quite as fully rounded as in obvious analogue Super Mario Odyssey; the polish, likewise, isn’t quite there (and neither is the framerate, it’s worth pointing out, with the action sitting around 30fps rather than the more fluid modern Marios). That all seems to be by the by, though.
‘Like its predecessors, Kirby and the Forgotten Land’s an open-armed thing, and now more than ever before it’s a game that’s for absolutely everyone, the move to 3D platforming perhaps the most significant step forward in the series’ history. This is an absolute hug of a game, and quite likely Kirby’s best outing yet.’
PC, Mac and Xbox
What we said in our Tunic review: ‘You are not a fox by accident in this game, I think. One of my first thoughts about Tunic, right back at the start, is that your wibbling fox hero didn’t actually seem very foxlike. Too much bounce. Too much cheer. Too much innocence. They did not match the gorgeous midnight creatures I sometimes glimpse freeze-framed by a blast of security light at the end of a driveway in the rare hours. Haunted face, blazing eyes, one foot raised and paused mid-step. These are tricksy animals. This is projection, I know, but foxes always feel like deep thinkers, privy to wild and complex thoughts. They do not always bounce cheerfully through this world. And then, over time, I understood. Your hero in Tunic is not yet a fox. They are a cub. And so you, the player, must become the fox for them.’
What we said in our Triangle Strategy review: ‘The maps frequently involve obstacles and elevation that, while not providing cover the way they do in the XCOM games, for example, can still be used to your advantage, and this interplay – between each character’s unique attributes, the ever-scarce TP points and some outstanding map design – means combat is excellent, often leading me to take a good hour per encounter. Tactics RPGS flourish in situations that force you to take a step back and think: can I move my healer close enough to a wounded party member in time? Should I launch a ranged spell now or save my TP in case it could hit even more enemies the next round? Triangle Strategy absolutely delivers on that.’
Gran Turismo 7
PS4 and PS5
What we said in our Gran Turismo 7 review: ‘Half-met promises and some missing features feel like part of the modern Gran Turismo experience expected by fans, but for the first time in several ages this feels like a Gran Turismo that’s worthy of being a modern blockbuster, its appeal breaking out well beyond cultish car nerds like myself. It’s a sumptuous, arrestingly gorgeous thing that most importantly retains its enthusiast’s heart under the graphical showcase, and that does its level best to make a car enthusiast out of anyone in its orbit. Is it the king of driving games once more? The genre’s now too broad and too varied to make such a statement, though Gran Turismo finds itself a neat slot alongside the likes of Assetto Corsa and iRacing, presenting accessible driving that looks simply staggering. Is it the best Gran Turismo to date? Of that there’s no real doubt.’
PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Switch
What we said in our OlliOlli World review: ‘This is a skating game, and these games are always two games in one. OlliOlli World is a case in point: at first you just have to get to the end of each level. But then you want to advanced-trick through a Ghost, don’t you? Optional challenges tug you into seeing the level you just battled over as a series of fresh possibilities. And then you’re through that barrier and the whole world is filled with possibilities absolutely everywhere. Two games in one: a blend of platform hurdles that are fixed and that you need to ace, and then those gaps for self-expression and doing extra tricks and chains and grabs and manuals and spins for wild points. Oh, those gaps! Find them! Create them! (Mind them.)’
PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC
What we said in our Elden Ring review: ‘Elden Ring remains a glorious game, one that established fans are going to savour for some time to come, and one that may just welcome new fans into the FromSoft fold. Sumptuous visual design, dark and detailed lore and a vast-but-intricate open world are reason enough to venture out into the Lands Between. Add to that FromSoftware’s unforgiving and unforgettable gameplay loop and this is something truly special.’
Far: Changing Tides
PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch and PC
What we said in our Far: Changing Tides review: ‘Having adored the first game, I was delighted that a sequel – or “companion piece” – was coming, but admit I was apprehensive, too. I worried that Far: Lone Sails’ unique appeal couldn’t be stretched to encompass a sequel with a longer runtime, and wasn’t sure the puzzling would be so endearing the second time around. If you too are concerned about the same things, worry not. It turns out Far: Changing Tides is every bit as bewitching as its predecessor thanks to its stunning presentation, haunting soundtrack, and wholly unique gameplay and puzzle mechanics. Don’t miss it.’
- Buy Far: Changing Tides on PC from Steam.
PS4, PS5 and PC
What we said in our Sifu review: ‘Sifu is a brilliant, eccentric fighting game. It expects close attention and patience, and rewards you with scuffles of incredible intensity. Its campaign structure is bizarre but engaging, coaxing you to replay levels not just for additional moves or to shed a few decades, but to enjoy what you’ve painstakingly committed to muscle memory.
‘It could take itself a bit less seriously. Certain terrain kills and crowd control sequences recall Jackie Chan’s action comedies and sillier beat ’em ups from the PS2 era, but Sloclap never delivers on this comic potential. The story is ponderous and mechanical, more suffocated than energised by the familiar theme of hatred consuming the hater. A less reverent approach might also have helped the game untangle its own Orientalist worldview and perceive itself not as a solemn curator of East Asian culture but an appreciative tourist, galloping around with a camera. Where Sifu most earns its seriousness, for me, is in that largely unspoken marriage of combos and counters with questions of perception and synchronicity. This is a game about the punch-drunk unevenness of time, and the way that unevenness depends on the mind you bring to bear.’
Dying Light 2
PC, Xbox One and Series S/X and PlayStation 4/5
What we said in our Dying Light 2 review: ‘There are stumbles here and there – including infrequent technical issues, which again seem synonymous with the territory of a game of this scope, with models infrequently popping awkwardly into each other or levitating a few feet from the ground – but they’re infrequent enough to be overpowered by the ambition of everything else that’s in play. Dying Light 2 is not exactly an innovative game, but it’s one that throws so much together with an enthusiasm that is, if you’ll pardon the pun, infectious. Even more commendably, for the most part it sticks. I can’t pretend to be an expert in big blockbuster games – the bloat and overstated breadth isn’t exactly to my taste – but Dying Light 2, with its varied systems lifted wholesale from elsewhere, is a welcome reminder of how hugely entertaining they can be. There’s a brutality to its breadth, to the vastness of its world – this is the triple-A experience served up with the subtlety and grace of a modified hammer to the head. It’s rarely elegant, but it is most definitely enjoyable.’
Total War: Warhammer 3
PC, Linux and Mac
What we said in our Total War: Warhammer 3 review: ‘Recently I caught myself – forgive me – explaining thrash metal to a friend who never got it. It’s about building tolerance as much as anything, learning to find the layers to the sound, to acquire a taste for different parts of the palate. I wish I could’ve explained it through Total War. The more you learn of this game’s enemies, the unit types, the little, hard-to-explain intricacies of campaign movement and engagement rules and rule exceptions and the rest – the more you slog it out through the onslaught of early-game detail and action all at once, the battle’s Total Spectacle, the game’s imperious wall of sound – the more you’ll enjoy it. Right now, after a little while, I’m smitten. And exhausted. And really in the mood for some Slayer.’
Please Touch the Artwork
PC, iOS and Android, and coming soon to Switch
What we said in our Please Touch the Artwork review: ‘Please, Touch the Artwork is a playful puzzle game inspired by abstract art. But it’s also, I think, something else. It’s an attempt to get you to see the art afresh, to see it as part of a lineage that can be understood, to see the way it has evolved and shifted forms over time, and to have a go yourself in a manner of speaking. By using three abstract paintings as the foundations for three types of puzzle, Please, Touch the Artwork encourages you to dabble in the process of abstract art, which is the part of art that we generally don’t get to see. You may be trying to solve something in the game, to beat a level, but you’re also making choices, thinking critically. The first wall to an appreciation of abstract art – that the art is, you know, finished, and hanging in a gallery and you can only get so close – that wall comes down. Please, touch! See what you can do. For me it was a revelation.’
- Buy Please Touch the Artwork on PC from Steam.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
What we said in our Pokémon Legends: Arceus review: ‘There’s an overpowering sense of novelty to Pokémon Legends: Arceus. This is something new, and it’s also Pokémon, a decades-old series, in its purest essence. Battle, trade, collect. Even then there’s a fraction of the trainer battles, nothing online, an option but no more necessity to trade. Is it overzealous budget cuts or pure, minimalist design? Is it empty, or is it filled with newfound nimbleness, of the kind that inspires all that wonder and awe precisely because so much of it has been chipped away?
‘Either way, this is a game crafted by subtractive sculpture. And how weirdly refreshing that is, compared to our artform’s current, insatiable appetite for only adding more and more. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is either this series’ bare minimum, or its purest form. I think it’s both at once.’
PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch. Originally launched 2018 on PC, Linux, Mac
What we said in our Vagante review: ‘Vagante is, all told, the definition of a hidden gem. I’m glad I played on Switch, eyestrain notwithstanding, because the smaller screen does reinforce what I like best about the game – its compactness and delicacy. Roguelikes are often sold as variety shows, but I enjoy them just as much for their sense of economy, the same parts unfolding into many fiendish combinations. Vagante is an elaborate little Swiss Army knife indeed, though arguably short of a headline feature. True, it doesn’t have the raw chaos of Noita, in which a single teleport-on-damage unlock can carry you halfway through without you even touching the controls. Nor does it have the personality and sex appeal of Hades, or the conceptual ingenuity of Loop Hero. But thanks to its deceptive straightforwardness, it feels easier to pick up than many of its peers.’
PS4, PC, Xbox (Game Pass) and Switch
What we said in our Windjammers 2 review: ‘Is it superior to the 1994 original? I don’t think those behind Windjammers 2 will be too disheartened to hear I’m not sure it ever could be, that original aesthetic and those pared-back fundamentals still providing a special offering all of their own. Remarkably, though, this is a sequel that sits proudly alongside the original, offering a subtly different, enjoyably dynamic take that will hopefully earn the series a new legion of fans. Here’s an assured revival of a cult favourite that’s a modern classic in its own right.’