2022 has wound down, which means it’s that time of year where we look back at the last 12 months and the highlights they brought with them. For a number of reasons, this year was relatively lighter on notable games than some previous years in recent memory have been, but so healthy is the state of the games industry that, even in spite of that, there was still a steady stream of excellent games for players to dive into throughout 2022. From indies to AAA megatons, from sequels to new IPs, from platformers and RPGs to action-adventure games and shooters, there really was a more than a little something for everyone. Here, we’re going to take a look back and pick out our favourite games of the year, counting down from #25 all the way down to our Game of the Year for 2022.
NOTE: All entries and rankings were decided by an internal vote held among the entire GamingBolt staff.
#25. REDOUT 2
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC | Developer: 34BigThings | Read Our Review
In 2016, Redout emerged as a fan-favourite for those who’ve been begging for new WipeOut and F-Zero games, and this year, its sequel upped the ante even further. Redout 2 is almost a dream come true for fans of the genre, showing off high-speed, adrenaline-fueled, futuristic racing at its very best through a combination of tight and responsive mechanics and stunning graphics and visual effects. This is a genre that still has the potential to flourish, and Redout 2 is a brilliant example of that.
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC | Developer: Tunic Team | Read Our Review
Just like Death’s Door was last year, for fans of the older Zelda games, Tunic is one of this year’s brightest spots. Representing indie craftwork at its best in more ways than one, it’s a charming, vibrant game with a striking visual aesthetic that never ceases to amaze with its compelling combination of dungeon crawling, exploration, combat, and puzzles- and given the unique way in which it reveals more about its world to its players as you get deeper into it, Tunic is also a game that becomes increasingly more rewarding the more time you invest into it.
#23. TINY TINA’S WONDERLANDS
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: Gearbox Software | Read Our Review
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands doesn’t shake up the Borderlands formula as much as an elevator pitch of the game might indicate, but it’s still a solid looter shooter in its own right. It retains the series’ addictive core gameplay loot, driving you on to play more and more with its rewarding loot and combat mechanics, while it also throws in some unique elements of its own, thanks to its fantasy-based Dungeons and Dragons-inspired setting. Meanwhile, if you like Borderlands’ humour, there’s plenty of that here as well.
#22. SONIC FRONTIERS
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC | Developer: Sonic Team | Read Our Review
Sonic Frontiers had massive responsibilities on its shoulders, expected as it was not only to bring the stumbling franchise back into form, but to also lay down the foundations for the series’ next decade, if not more. Now, it wouldn’t be Sonic if it didn’t have at least a few frustratingly baffling issues – and Frontiers does have plenty of those – but it’s still the best a mainline 3D Sonic game has been in a long, long time. The open world formula fits Sonic like a glove, and though there’s still may improvements it can make, even as it exists right now, it’s quite compelling.
#21. NEED FOR SPEED UNBOUND
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Developer: Criterion Games | Read Our Review
2019’s Need for Speed Heat was a something of a reprieve in the series’ uncontrolled downward slide, but this year’s Unbound feels so much more significant. And that’s not just because it also represents the return of Criterion as a major AAA studio (though that’s obviously a big deal as well). Even on its own terms, NFS Unbound is an excellent racer. The sense of speed and the arcadey racing action the series has been known for when it’s at its best are present and accounted for here, while Unbound also brings plenty of its own unique flourishes to the table, from an open world that’s always a blast to drive through to a vibrant visual and aesthetic style that gives the game a very distinct look.
#20. THE QUARRY
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: Supermassive Games | Read Our Review
Supermassive Games has established itself as an expert when it comes to interactive choice-based horror adventure titles, but the studio has arguably never touched the heights that it scaled with Until Dawn back in 2014. The Quarry tried to recapture that magic in 2022, and while it may not be quite on the same level, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun. It looks amazing, it is full of pulpy and corny horror, it constantly throws engaging choices (and their disastrous consequences) at you, and it’s especially a blast to play as a multiplayer experience.
#19. WEIRD WEST
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: WolfEye Studios | Read Our Review
Developed by former Arkane veteran Raphaël Colantonio and his small indie team at WolfEye Studios, Weird West is pretty much an unmissable game for fans of immersive sims. The dark fantasy and wild west mashup here is captivating in and of itself, but of course, Weird West really shines in the gameplay department above all else, thanks to a complex and elaborate web of gameplay systems that emphasize player choice and agency like very few other games do. Whether you’re studiously following the story or just messing about in the game’s world and creating your own fun, Weird West delivers on every front.
#18. OLLIOLLI WORLD
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC | Developer: Roll7 | Read Our Review
OlliOlli World was something of a risk for Roll7, with the studio taking the series’ established and acclaimed framework and expanding it in significant ways, but it was one that definitely paid off. “Skateboarding platformers” aren’t exactly a very populated sub-category of games, but OlliOlli World proves all over again that, when done right, this is the kind of experience that can sink its claws right into you. Slick movement, endearing characters, gorgeous art design, solid level design- there’s no shortage of things to praise in OlliOlli World.
Available on: PS5, PS4, PC | Developer: Sloclap | Read Our Review
Even though expectations were high from Sifu in the lead-up to its launch, it still managed to turn out better than most people expected. Sloclap’s kung fu brawler may even be among the very best the genre has to offer. It’s crunching and incredibly slick kung fu combat never loses its luster throughout the experience, and the game’s tough but fair (and amazingly satisfying) approach to difficulty makes that combat even better. Sifu is brimming with style and mechanical perfection, and is definitely going to live long in the memory.
#16. ROGUE LEGACY 2
Available on: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC | Developer: Cellar Door Games | Read Our Review
For many, the original Rogue Legacy is the king of roguelikes, so to say that Rogue Legacy 2 had quite a bit to live up to would be a big understatement. That it manages to live up to those expectations is a major accomplishment in and of itself- that it often actually exceeds them is almost beyond belief. Rogue Legacy 2 is an immaculately designed game, and concocts a stellar blend of challenging combat, excellent boss fights, pixel-perfect platform, addictive progression mechanics, and a startling amount of build variety. And really, that’s just scratching the surface.
Available on: PS5, PS4, PC | Developer: BlueTwelve Studio | Read Our Review
In Stray, you play as a cat in a post-apocalyptic world populated by human-like androids and face-sucking parasites. If that central premise isn’t enough to turn your head, it might be because your head is incapable of turning. But Stray doesn’t rely exclusively on its fascinating premise- it’s also a very enjoyable game. Moving around and scaling environments as a lithe, feline creature is always fun on at least a fundamental level, and the game combines that with smartly designed puzzles that consistently keep things interesting. There’s a lot of flash here, yes, but there’s also plenty of substance.
#14. SHOVEL KNIGHT DIG
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS | Developer: Nitrome, Yacht Club Games | Read Our Review
There’s something very elegant about Shovel Knight Dig’s premise- just take that iconic shovel, and make it do what shovels do. Rather than using it as a pogo stick, Shovel Knight Dig sees you going ever downward, and it makes incredible use of that setup. Honestly, no amount of praise is enough for the way it takes the bones of the original Shovel Knight and manages to twist and turn them so they fit into a roguelike experience while still remaining true to their core. It’s perhaps on the shorter side, especially for a roguelike experience, but Shovel Knight Dig makes a strong impression even in its relatively brief runtime.
#13. RETURN TO MONKEY ISLAND
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC | Developer: Terribly Toybox | Read Our Review
Monkey Island is the poster boy of cult classic gaming franchises, but often you can’t help but wonder if that’s simply a case of absence making the heart grow fonder. Return to Monkey Island came along this year (much to the surprise of pretty much everyone) and thoroughly refuted that notion. With series veterans Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman returning to the helm, Return to Monkey Island feels like meeting a dear old friend who’s somehow even more riotously fun than your memories would have you believe. From the sharp writing and endearing characters to the incredible humour and smart puzzles, it delivers in every way that you’d expect a Monkey Island game to deliver, while also ensuring that it modernizes the series in meaningful ways. The wait for Return to Monkey Island may have felt like an interminable one at times, but impossibly enough, the reward at the end was well worth it.
#12. SPLATOON 3
Available on: Nintendo Switch | Developer: Nintendo | Read Our Review
Splatoon 3 is a perfect example of how sequels with the “evolution over revolution” mindset can still deliver an amazing experience. The series’ core gameplay formula is very much a known quantity at this point, and rather than trying to fix something that isn’t broke, Splatoon 3 takes that formula and hones it to near-perfection. Yes, Nintendo’s persistent incompetence when it comes to having good online has been a bit of a hurdle for the game, but at the end of the day, it’s still an absolute blast to play. It’s also worth mentioning that Splatoon 3 has a genuinely good single player campaign, so even if you’re not looking for a multiplayer experience, this is a game that’s still worth your attention.
#11. OVERWATCH 2
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC | Developer: Blizzard Entertainment | Read Our Review
There was absolutely no way that Overwatch 2 was going to capture lightning in a bottle the way its predecessor did when it first launched, but the long-awaited sequel does serve as an excellent reminder of what made Blizzard’s hero shooter formula resonate so strongly with so many people in the first place. Grindy progression mechanics and a questionable Battle Pass structure are some of the game’s several issues at launch, but when you actually get down to playing the game, it’s impossible not to have fun with Overwatch 2. The new 5v5 format in particular revitalizes the gameplay in significant ways, while several other refinements also come together to make for noticeable improvements.
#10. MARIO + RABBIDS SPARKS OF HOPE
Available on: Nintendo Switch | Developer: Ubisoft | Read Our Review
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle took pretty much everybody by surprise in more ways than one when it launched in 2017, so it’s only fitting that its sequel, Sparks of Hope, did the same this year (if not to the same degree). Even though it could easily have been an iterative sequel that played it safe, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope takes a number of risks that almost all pay off. From its new and improved combat mechanics to its vast and varied cast of playable heroes, from its expanded focus on RPG progression to the significantly greater emphasis that it places on exploration, Sparks of Hope not only feels like a bigger and better sequel, but also one that isn’t too bothered about sticking to the script, and instead does its own thing. And without a doubt, it’s a better game for it.
#9. A PLAGUE TALE: REQUIEM
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC | Developer: Asobo Studio | Read Our Review
A great many people were taken by surprise by just how good A Plague Tale: Innocence was, and this year, Asobo Studio one-upped itself with the sequel. A Plague Tale: Requiem is almost the perfect sequel, because though it doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, it significantly improves upon its predecessor in every aspect. This is a textbook example of bigger and better- the stealth is more refined and feels more tense, the levels are larger and offer more room for exploration, the visuals are even more gorgeous, and yes, the rat hordes are much more massive, almost ridiculously so at times. This is also a game with a lot of heart, telling a captivating story that revolves round endearing characters who share very real and well-written relationships with each other, with the central pair of Amicia and Hugo in particular once again stealing the show. Just like its predecessor, even without the backing of a blockbuster AAA budget or a massive development team, A Plague Tale: Requiem can stand toe-to-toe with some of the best games out there.
#8. LEGO STAR WARS: THE SKYWALKER SAGA
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC | Developer: Traveller’s Tales | Read Our Review
LEGO games, almost by definition, have never really been the kind that will blow you away in any real way, but that’s precisely why LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga came as such a massive surprise. Sure, saying that it’ll blow you away is still a bit of an understatement, but this is the best that Traveller’s Tales LEGO series has ever been. The fact that it condenses and combines all numbered Star Wars films in a single package is enough to entice people in and of itself, but even beyond that, this is just a legitimately well-made game. Obviously, it retains the simplicity and straightforwardness that characterizes LEGO games above all else, but it also refines and improves the series’ gameplay formula in a number of key ways. No matter what you’re doing in this game – whether that’s flying the Millennium Falcon and blowing up TIE Fighters, or exploring lovingly recreated open world Star Wars locations and discovering a plethora of engaging side content, or laughing at it trademark silly LEGO humour – you’re guaranteed to have a blast with The Skywalker Saga the whole way through.
#7. KIRBY AND THE FORGOTTEN LAND
Available on: Nintendo Switch | Developer: HAL Laboratory | Read Our Review
The Kirby franchise may have taken its sweet time finally making the jump into the 3D platforming space, but there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that it’s made a resounding debut. Kirby and the Forgotten Land may, in fact, very well be one of the best outings in this long-running series to date. It’s brimming with the sort of charm that you’d expect to see in any Kirby game (or hell, any Nintendo platformer), but it’s what the game does as a 3D platformer that makes it truly stand out. Inhaling things whole and taking on their properties is a conceit that obviously suits a Kirby game very well, and it also makes for an excellent platformer by essentially providing the game a platform for constant creativity with its abilities and level design until the very end. The Nintendo Switch has a bevy of excellent platformers, but even in that exalted library, Kirby and the Forgotten Land ranks as one of the genre’s best offerings on the platform. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait as long for the pink puff’s next 3D platforming adventure.
=#5. GRAN TURISMO 7
Available on: PS5, PS4 | Developer: Polyphony Digital | Read Our Review
The Gran Turismo franchise wasn’t exactly in the best shape of its life in the PS4 years, and the long-running series’ sizeable fanbase was desperate for it to go back to its roots and deliver a more traditional racing sim experience. With Gran Turismo 7, it does exactly that, and above all else, it has reminded us just why Gran Turismo has the sort of legacy and cache it does. For automobile enthusiasts and fans of racing sims, GT7 is nirvana. It combines incredible driving mechanics with a frankly staggering customization framework, and on top of that foundation, it piles on oodles and oodles of content, from a large roster of cars to a wide selection of tracks, from a healthy selection of modes to a meaty and addictive campaign. We would, of course, be remiss not to mention the noticeable issues GT7 had at launch with its monetization and grindy progression, but Polyphony Digital deserves credit for having addressed most of the game’s biggest issues with routine post-launch updates and patches. By its very nature, Gran Turismo 7 isn’t for everyone, but it undoubtedly represents the series at its highest point in a long, long time.
=#5. XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 3
Available on: Nintendo Switch | Developer: Monolith Soft | Read Our Review
Featuring an unbelievable sense of scale, Xenoblade 3 goes all out on crafting a massive, gorgeous world with some of the best art and visual design you’ll ever see in a game. And it’s just as successful in other areas as well, if not even more so. The combat system is the absolute best it’s ever been, and somehow manages to combine its bevy of systems in perfect harmony, so that each fight – whether it’s against a run-of-the-mill trash mob or a terrifyingly large enemy – feels equally engaging. The exploration never fails to feel rewarding, because around every corner is either a great new side quest or a breathtaking new vista to behold. The Switch has a hell of a lot of excellent games, and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 sits at the top of that pile alongside the best of the best in the system’s library.
#4. POKEMON LEGENDS: ARCEUS
Available on: Nintendo Switch | Developer: Game Freak | Read Our Review
Pokemon was in dire need of a refresh until not that long ago, and had been for quite some time. Given how terribly the franchise had stagnated, only an immaculately radical execution would have been enough to bring about a change in the series’ critical perception- and thankfully, that’s exactly what Pokemon Legends: Arceus turned out to be. The game boils the series’ formula down to its bare essentials- catching Pokemon and filling up your Pokedex is front and center in Pokemon Legends the way it almost never has been before, and the game brings that conceit to life with an incredibly addictive gameplay loop. Exploring the open world maps and chancing upon unique Pokemon to survey never loses its luster throughout the game’s lengthy runtime, and that addictive loop is helped greatly by the many quality-of-life changes found throughout the experience. From battling Pokemon to traversing the maps, from progression mechanics to so much more, Pokemon Legends: Arceus makes countless smart changes and improvements in a number of key areas that all come together to make for a significantly snappier and more enjoyable experience than anything this series has delivered in a long, long time.
#3. HORIZON FORBIDDEN WEST
Available on: PS5, PS4 | Developer: Guerrilla Games | Read Our Review
2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn is not an easy game to follow-up on, given its impressive critical and commercial success and its sizeable fan following, but Guerrilla Games was more than up to the task with Horizon Forbidden West. It’s all too easy for developers to promise sequels that are bigger and better, but very rarely do they make good on that promise as thoroughly as Guerrilla did with Forbidden West. The core concept of taking on mechanical monstrosities in a fascinating post-post-apocalyptic setting remains as inherently strong as ever, but it manages to flourish even more here thanks to a number of key improvements. Traversal is much more fun thanks to additions like the Shieldwing, the new machines are excellently designed and an absolute joy to take on in combat, the open world is not only much larger, but also much more varied and, as a result, more enjoyable to explore, and the side content also makes a significant leap forward in terms of both quality and quantity. Horizon Forbidden West is a large, long game with a bevy of content, and the fact that it manages to be an excellent, gorgeous experience throughout that lengthy runtime is an achievement that cannot be praised enough.
#2. ELDEN RING
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: FromSoftware | Read Our Review
In the end, the battle for our Game of the Year was always going to be between Elden Ring and the game that eventually did win our top honors. And you know what? Elden Ring put up a hell of a fight- better than any other game could have. Which, of course, makes sense- it is a magnificently designed game, with some of the best open world design we have seen this side of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Of course, it helps that it lifts a lot of the same design principles that guided Nintendo’s masterpiece. That open world mastery is paired with FromSoftware’s penchant for amazing world design and combat, as well as unforgettable boss fights, while unlike the likes of Sekiro and Bloodborne, it also returns to the Souls’ franchise’s focus on incredibly deep combat variety. While Elden Ring comes with its share of flaws and shortcomings of its own – most notable, the unfortunate technical issues the game continues to suffer from to this day, several months on from launch, not to mention a final third where the quality isn’t quite on the same level as the rest of the game – it is still an incredible experience, and truly unlike anything else. Elden Ring is a masterpiece, and such a great game that honestly, any other year, it could easily have taken the top spot. This year, of course, it didn’t. It was almost the best game we played all year, yes. But only almost.
GAMINGBOLT’S 2022 GAME OF THE YEAR – GOD OF WAR RAGNAROK
Available on: PS5, PS4 | Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio | Read Our Review
The God of War franchise’s stock skyrocketed in 2018, with a series reboot (or soft reboot, at least) that was so successful at what it set out to do that it instantly embedded itself in gaming history as one of the best games of its kind. How do you follow up on that? How do you even begin to make something that can hope to live up to those lofty standards? Most developers would have folded under that kind of pressure, but Sony Santa Monica has proven time and again that if there’s one thing the studio has always been capable of doing, it’s improving on greatness. That is exactly what God of War Ragnarok does.
Take the story. You’d think the franchise had hit heights it would never again be able to hit with how perfectly it characterized and developed the characters of Kratos and Atreus (the former in particular), but Ragnarok manages to dwarf even its predecessor, to the extent where Kratos has indisputably become one of the greatest gaming protagonists of all time (while the supporting cast surrounding him isn’t anything to scoff at either). And while we can’t go into too much detail about how Ragnarok ends things without spoiling them, we can confidently say that in addition to everything else it does, it also sets up a pretty exciting future for the franchise, which may be headed in directions none of us would have seen coming until not too long ago.
On the gameplay front, God of War Ragnarok takes a much more iterative approach- and it’s better for it. It takes the bones of its 2018 predecessor, and puts a heathy amount of meat on them. Combat is improved in meaningful ways, not only with a significantly expanded arsenal of moves and tools and abilities that are always fun to use in combat, but also with impressive enemy variety that forces you to use that expanded arsenal to its fullest. With plenty of excellent boss fights and high-octane set piece moments, the game also comes much closer to delivering the kind of scale that this series has always been known for.
And that’s barely scratching the surface. We could go on and on about how God of War Ragnarok is one of the most polished games we’ve played in quite some time, how much more enjoyable its exploration is, how many incredible side quests it has, how drop-dead gorgeous the game looks. We could praise this game all day long and still have plenty of things left to talk about. That’s the hallmark of a true masterpiece- and that’s exactly what God of War Ragnarok is. Even though it’s following up on one of the most highly regarded games of all time, it manages to escape the imposing shadow of its predecessor, and establishes it as one of the series’ best outings yet- one that improves upon the 2018 game in nearly every way possible.
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