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WellPlayed’s Favourite Games Of 2022

The cream of our crops

Lazier games journalists could just scribble Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarok on a napkin and call it a GOTY article, but up with that the eclectic bunch at WellPlayed will not put. While our writers loved those games for obvious reasons, 2022 had some absolute gems that would be criminal to overlook. A few WellPlayed heavyweights weigh in on the year that was, and if any of these bad boys slipped under your radar then make sure to check it out.

Zach

I’ve always been a big fan of third-person action adventures, and my love for history and the spins on it that video games make meant that A Plague Tale: Innocence was always going to be up my alley, which it very much was. The question was whether its sequel A Plague Tale: Requiem could deliver an ever greater experience, and the answer is a resounding yes. With a darker narrative driven by phenomenal performances from the main characters that sees Amicia de Rune pushed to the brink, an incredible composition and sublime visuals that squeeze every drop of beauty out of its AA budget, Requiem is a must-play for fans of story-driven games.

Another game I was super keen on that exceeded my expectations was Evil West from Flying Wild Hog. For years I’ve been craving a sequel to Darkwatch and the Polish studio was able to give me the closest thing I’ll likely get to a sequel. The best thing about Evil West is that it delivers on everything it sets out to achieve – an old-school bombastic action game with no frills. If you like your shooters like you like your cowboys – fast, hard and straight to the point – then Evil West is something you should check out.

Every year indie developers still find ways to surprise me with their insanely creative ways. I am a massive fan of point-and-click and beat em’ up games, two genres that indies champion these days, but if you’d told me a solo developer was attempting to mix both genres I would have said there’s no way the two will work. I guess that’s why I’m not a developer because BROK the InvestiGator is proof that the two genres can co-exist together. Not only does COWCAT’s genre mix work well, but the 90s cartoon aesthetic makes the whole experience just that much better.

Adam

At the time of writing, I’ve just had a good look over my PlayStation Wrap-Up for 2022. It’s not exactly chock full of surprises, as I’m fully aware that I put way too many hours into Fortnite and Deep Rock Galactic, but it is funny to see a single-player RPG take the top spot for hours played even though I haven’t seen the credits roll. Funny, yes, but still not overly surprising when that gold medal winner happens to be Elden Ring. It took out the big prize at The Game Awards, so there’s little that I could say about FromSoftware’s magnum opus that you haven’t heard before, but just know that I couldn’t agree with the love this game has received anymore. 

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If you engaged in a conversation with me back in the early months of 2022, I apologise, because it’s likely that I veered violently away from whatever subject you were talking about in favour of blabbing about how damn cool Sifu is. A difficult yet rewarding martial arts action game would be more than enough to capture my attention, but the distinct visual style and unique ageing mechanic cemented Sifu as one of my favourite games of the year. Few gaming moments from 2022 can compare with mastering Sifu’s combat, unlocking shortcuts through a level and beating the boss without ageing (dying) once. An honorary mention should also go to the similarly-brutal brawler, Midnight Fight Express, which was impressively made by a solo developer. 

Outside of Elden Ring, the other gargantuan AAA title for 2022 was undoubtedly God of War Ragnarök. I know, it’s another big-budget blockbuster that’s had plenty of time in the limelight, but I’m in the minority here at WellPlayed towers, so I feel like I need to give this excellent sequel its teal flowers. Ragnarök faced an uphill battle following the incredible 2018 soft reboot, but the iterate-over-innovate approach definitely clicked with me. The subtle tweaks to gameplay and the continuation of the engaging tale of Kratos, his BOY and their plight with the Norse gods was just what the Norns ordered. The various switches to play as Atreus made for an interesting combat shift that helped keep my 20 or so hours with the game feeling fresh and interesting. Was Ragnarök as genre-defining as its predecessor? No, but it’s a worthy successor that ticked all the right boxes just the same.

Nathan

Sometimes the suits over at Big Video Game manage to surprise audiences with a game with a prestige title that evades a hype cycle. 2022 will never be a notable year for Microsoft, yet it produced the phenomenal Pentiment. This writer’s first 10 and the wet dream of any medieval European history nerd. Indulgent history nerds are encouraged to investigate a menacing intergenerational mystery with a level of moral dynamism that leaves contemporary RPGs and adventure games feeling like antiquated binary affairs. 

Elden Ring is the game that elicits just about every dramatically positive superlative in the game critic’s handbook. It ignited in me that same sense of discovery and wanderlust that Breath of the Wild pioneered in 2017. A staggering world with memorable sights, sounds, and souls within, my creamy white DualSense has never looked the same after the sullying it received in February . Signalis is the best classic survival horror title to launch into the unfathomable depths of audiences’ minds since Silent Hill 2. So much so, I believe this will be a standard that Bloober’s remake is measured against. With a sharply cut presentation that emphasises text, black space, and unreliable focal characters, Signalis is a strangely compelling mix of comic horror-adjacent sci-fi mystery. The story isn’t particularly memorable in its minutiae, yet every frame is cinematic and framed to perfect effect. Its cutscenes drenched in Evangelion-esque esoterica about an android’s descent into madness was easily the most edge-of-my-seat title this year. And a humble German indie that has been in development since 2014, too!

Ash

I played an enjoyable Sonic game in 2022. I understand that in Australia, we do not really celebrate Thanksgiving – but c’mon man, I am so eternally grateful that Sonic Frontiers wasn’t a big ol’ bag of crap. It was vindicating to see others also give it a hefty dose of recognition – making the distinction that it really was a game that tried very hard, and mostly succeeded. Top work Sonic Team.

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I was also pleasantly surprised by New Tales From The Borderlands, a spiritual sequel that absolutely managed to reignite my interest in the brutal and eternally shitty universe of lost vaults and badasses. A handful of radical characters enduring their worst day ever told a heartfelt tale of personal relationships gone bust and dreams left to wither, and I loved every Fran-filled second,

Oh, and did I mention Gungrave? As in, Gungrave G.O.R.E. I will say it once more for the people in the back – this series is MY peasant’s dish. Just like in the Ratatouille film, playing that dangerously retro title filled me with a kind of joy that I thought was forever gripped in the hands of my inner child. But apparently a creaky Dad of two can still have a blast wearing the trigger button of his controller down as a zombie man freaks out with dual handguns like he was trying to swat flies.

Mark

If it wasn’t for video games, my 2022 would have been considerably worse than it already was, so I have Cult of the Lamb to thank for being an absolutely stellar title. It was also my first perfect score, and there’s a reason for that. From its incredibly charming design to its cleverly addictive gameplay, everything about it spoke to me in the best way possible, and no other game had me fretting about my cult while simultaneously grinning about a sacrifice or two. I will forever stand for the Lamb, another legendary Aussie release to add to the growing collection of locally produced gems.

In a similarly addictive vein, Neon White engulfed me with its ‘just one more run’ mentality, a shooter with a clever puzzle-solving spin and plenty of speed. It helps of course that it’s pitch-perfect in its execution; every level is designed to push you towards cutting corners to reduce your time by the millisecond. All that is backed by a banger of a soundtrack and an intriguing cast of characters, and having only recently launched on PS5 with some brand new features, there’s no better time than now to give it a run.

Finally, given the almost consistent amount of top-quality indies that have launched across the year, you might have forgotten about one of the best action adventures that dropped all the way back in March on Xbox. Tunic is a stellar experience, taking the best bits of the Zelda series and melding them together with unique puzzle-solving mechanics that hark back to the good old days of game manuals and hint books. Tunic is just about in every platform now so go hunt it down! 

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James 

Let’s get something out of the way early: Vampire Survivors is exceptional and, like an idiot, I didn’t lay hands on it until after GOTY considerations. So for the sake of comprehensiveness, let’s just all quietly agree that a bullet hell that invites you to become the bullet in a Not-Quite-Castlevania art style is a glorious bit of game design and aesthetic. Before we get to the big ones, I’d also be remiss to not fire off some honourable mentions. Fortnite rules. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins was fucking absurd. Sonic Frontiers made me a believer. And Wayward Strand is a fair dinkum Aussie beauty. 

Alright, let’s talk Signalis. The collective gaming industry has what some might call an unhealthy fixation on its past. Maybe more so than any other medium, games echo and reference with such clumsy abandon that if I told you one of the best games of 2022 was a vaguely Silent Hill PS1/2 era inspired survival horror, I wouldn’t blame you for being sceptical. And yet, Signalis developer duo rose-engine have not only elevated their inspiration points but crafted something wholly unique in the process. Signalis exhibits a maturity of craft, riffing effortlessly on cinematic camera work, traditional game mechanics and layering in a shockingly dense amount of political and social commentary. A terrifying and dizzy descent, Signalis shows us the best way to honour our past is to forge a new vision of the future. 

Likewise, Elden Ring is a game steeped in a history in and of itself. FromSoftware have been spinning gold for decades now, effectively birthing a genre in the process, but Elden Ring is the first time their immaculate design work has reached this far, and for good reason; Elden Ring is the studio’s most approachable title, weaving years of feedback and ideas into a sincerely epic fantasy adventure that’s begging to be explored and conquered. Open-world as redefined by earnest discovery, combat seamlessly refined with countless build options and support networks, and a story that…well, yes, the story is still obscure as all buggery but the character stories along the way are open and clear and unrelentingly beautiful in a bittersweet way. I logged over 200 hours in The Lands Between, compelled to see every one of its secrets and take my blade to anyone who would dare hold me back. It is a near-perfect adventure, as well as sporting some of the best multiplayer of the year. Elden Ring is an achievement for FromSoftware in countless ways, grander than anything before it, but I imagine it’s not the incredible boss designs or epic moments I’ll remember most. It’s the quiet times I would sit at a site of Grace, waiting out the rain as the world went by around me.

Game of the year though, that nebulous and impossible title, can go to no other than the nebulous and impossible Immortality. Sam Barlow’s latest FMV mystery game, this time by way of new studio Half Mermaid, has my whole heart, body and soul. A kaleidoscope of cinema, interactive fiction and unbridled imagination, Immortality strips back the artifice of the player character and instead directly engages you, complicity and all, in its spiral. A cult actress has vanished amid a flurry of controversy and unreleased films, and you must piece together a timeline using a deluge of film clips, behind-the-scenes glimpses, interviews and more. The game’s signature match cut technique, which allows you to cast an eye over an object or face to have the game whip you across time to another similar shot, invites you to observe with fervent eyes. This is a tale of exploitation, power, sex and some far bigger ideas I still don’t want to spoil. Your hunger for knowledge is twisted into something voyeuristic and cruel, and the game is smart enough to pull the rug just as you begin to notice. There is simply too much to say about Immortality and not enough words or time. It is the best game I played this year and marks a significant milestone in interactive fiction and maturity in video game writing. 

2022 was an excellent year for video games – there are many games that we could have talked about here that we didn’t get a chance to. But now you know what games captivated us the most this year. How do our picks compare to yours? What games did you enjoy the most this year? Let us know in the comments or on social media.

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