Top 10 Game of the Year 2022 contenders so far

As the calendar turns to the fourth quarter, we are slowly heading into the season of the game of the year. It’s time to reflect on the games that made 2022 so special for gamers and left the most impact with their creativity, clever concepts and, above all, fantastic gameplay.

While there are now clear contenders for the crown, the holiday season is the perfect time to release those latest titles that could earn gaming’s highest accolade. With games like Bayonetta 3, Pokémon Scarlet, and With Violet, God of War: Ragnarök, and The Callisto Protocol still on the way, the Game of the Year race could really heat up in the final stretch of the year.

Whether it heats up or not, however, we still have plenty of games that have a good chance of racking up Game of the Year honors from gamers and outlets across the board. Here are just 10 of the biggest and best games of the year that you can expect to strike gold.

Worship of the Lamb

Image source: Devolver Digital

A massive breakout title from the single-digit developer team at Massive Monster, Cult of the Lamb quickly captivated players on a much larger scale than any of the team’s other titles. In it, you play as a possessed lamb who is saved by a deity known as “The Waiter”, who forces the lamb to create his own cult to pay off his debts.

Drawing on the roguelike genre to a large extent, Cult of the Lamb also features management simulation gameplay in what has been one of the formula’s most unique spins to date. It’s almost as if Cult of the Lamb is the Hades of 2022; another clever take on a genre that has received plenty of games lately. Even Twinfinite’s Andrew McMahon called it “an easy favorite for Game of the Year” in his review of the game.

OlliOlli World

olliolli world
Image source: Private Division

The third entry in Roll7’s OlliOlli series, OlliOlli World looks like the franchise’s finest hour; a game that passes the ever-hard 900 and polishes things to the highest degree. With more 2.5D feel than previous entries, the door has been opened for even more skating opportunities.

What helps with this is the fantastic level design. Helping the game’s crazy themes, the levels feel so full of life compared to predecessors, and the hidden paths lead to an even greater sense of inventiveness to explore with your playstyle. It’s a wonderfully relaxing time who pulls off every possible inversion to be the best entry in the series.

sleeper citizen

sleeper citizen
Image source: Travel Companion

In a year of surprising and refreshing indie darlings, Citizen Sleeper has carved its own path as an engrossing journey into the corporate space. Its text-based gameplay inspires many choices, navigating the game’s beautiful story centered around a human in a robot body trying to survive in a perilous and desolate world.

It’s a dark, cyberpunk journey that asks you how you would handle life in this dreary world. Comply and work to death? Or do everything in your power to get out of it? It’s a clever game that elevates its simplistic yet satisfying mechanics with fantastic world-building and characters. An underrated gem, Citizen Sleeper is now available on Xbox Game Pass if you’re looking to give it a try.

Back to Monkey Island

back to monkey island
Image source: Devolver Digital

Nostalgia can be a difficult thing to deal with when creating a video game. While you want to appeal to old-school players, you don’t want to embrace nostalgia so hard that you’ll alienate new players looking to enter the series for the first time. It’s a tightrope to cross, but Return to Monkey Island does it with aplomb.

The game captures the essence and love of old-school point-and-click adventure games to serve as swashbuckling adventure, but also makes some nice changes that make sense for the modern era. The puzzles aren’t as mind-blowing as they once were, and easier difficulty options help players enjoy the lovingly crafted story, while still being able to appreciate what made the genre special in the first place. It’s a throwback with a lot of love instilled in it, but it’s a throwback that remembers what year it is. As a result, it fits right in with the best point-and-click adventure titles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

revenge of tmnt shredder
Image source: Dotemu

Speaking of nostalgia, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge has quietly put together a compelling case as one of the best games of the year. Without feeling the need to reinvent the beat ’em up wheel, Shredder’s Revenge instead chooses to be a loving homage to the old school styles of classic franchise titles from the 1980s and 1990s.

With incredibly varied and fast-paced gameplay, a gorgeous pixel art style, and plenty of fun callbacks to the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, Shredder’s Revenge hits all the right nostalgic notes. Much like Monkey Island, however, it remembers what year it is and brings back that nostalgic style with more than enough modern touches for a satisfying throwback.

Tunic

tunic
Image source: Finji

It seems like nostalgia has been a big point in this list right now. Let’s talk about a game that sticks much more to its old-school roots: Tunic. Borrowing heavily from the styles of old-school games in The Legend of Zelda series, Tunic immerses its Dark Souls gameplay in a colorful world with a cartoon fox, forcing you to collect bits and pieces of a textbook to figure out your next goal.

It’s a combination that really works, delivering a classic gaming experience without delving too deeply into dated elements. It rewards your sense of discovery and the focus on exploration makes for a fantastic adventure worth having.

Forbidden Horizon West

forbidden horizon west
Image source: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Even with plenty of indie darlings making up the top contenders, that’s not to say AAA titles haven’t delivered the goods. Sony’s Horizon Forbidden West is a crown jewel in the publisher’s high-quality catalog and a massive improvement on a game that was already fantastic.

Carrying on the fresh and inventive formula introduced in 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn, Forbidden West features another emotional story, even bigger battles, more stunning visuals, and another masterclass in open-world gameplay. It expands on everything the first game did, but remembers that “bigger” doesn’t immediately mean “better” and improves on the original in just about every way. It’s another one of Sony’s best titles, and it would probably take the cake among open-world games if another massive title hadn’t been released in the same week.

neon white

neon white
Image source: Annapurna Interactive

One of the most surprising (and underrated) games of the year, Neon White is a new journey from debut developer Angel Matrix. It’s an incredibly clever take on the ever-popular first-person shooter genre with a card-based system and wonderful puzzle-platforming gameplay.

Even beyond its compelling parkour, anime aesthetic, and quirky card combat, Neon White is intentionally designed for frenetic speedrun-based gameplay that encourages you to complete levels as fast as humanly possible. It creates such an addictive gameplay loop that makes it one of the most surprising titles of the year. Hoping it will be released on other platforms as soon as possible.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

xenoblade 3
Image source: Nintendo

There was a time when it felt like the original Xenoblade Chronicles was getting to a point where it would never be surpassed. It was such a crowning achievement that it seemed like no sequel would ever come close to its level. And then Xenoblade Chronicles 3 comes this year and everyone is rethinking that ideology.

Beyond its gripping story and superb audiovisual components, Xenoblade’s newest adventure brings major improvements to combat while offering plenty of content to keep you coming back for more. It’s hands down one of the best Switch games available right now, and a masterpiece among Monolith Soft’s incredible library of titles. The franchise has come a long way, and it’s great to see it finally get its flowers after starting out as a cult Wii game that took a fan campaign called Operation Rainfall to localize.

Ring of Elden

old ring
Image source: Bandai Namco Entertainment

You didn’t think we’d go through this whole list without mentioning Elden Ring, did you? I mean, it’s pretty much the de facto “favorite” among the games here, and it may already have a large amount of Game of the Year awards locked in. Hell, given that Geoff Keighley has tied Elden Ring somewhat to his brand with appearances on his shows, this might be the easier choice for Game of the Year honor at The Game Awards 2022.

The truth, however, is that even when you put the hype aside, Elden Ring is a very special game. It manages to leverage lessons learned from previous FromSoftware titles while creating a captivating open world that few games can match. It’s a testament to FromSoftware’s excellent library that a game as critically acclaimed as this may not even be considered the best for some (hello, Bloodborne). Even so, it’s another phenomenal RPG from a company that just can’t stop raising the bar no matter how hard they try.

This is just a small taste of some of the best games of 2022. We know there are more than a few other titles that stand alongside these 10, so what are some of your favorite games of 2022? ? Let us know in the comments!

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