The Best Video Games of 2022
For most of 2022, the video game industry was defined more by its past than its future. Microsoft is desperately trying to acquire Activision Blizzard, a gaming giant whose stable of franchises includes Call of Duty and Warcraft. One of Sony’s biggest “releases” was the revamped PlayStation Plus, a subscription service that, for an additional monthly fee, grants access to games from the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3. Even some of the year’s most discussed games feel rooted the past: More than a year after its disastrous launch, Cyberpunk 2077 got a massive patch that moved it much closer to the game it should have been all along.
Fortunately, 2022 has also seen a solid lineup of new games, released on a variety of platforms, though some haven’t been easy to find. Which games might you have missed? We’re here to help. (And for the sake of making sure we’re actually tipping our hat to new games, this list excludes all re-releases, remasters, and remakes — so no Uncharted: The Last of Us Part I or Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII here.
Here are the best video games of 2022, along with where you can play them:
20. Card Shark
The most enjoyably tense stealth game released so far in 2022 doesn’t ask players to sneak past guards or shoot security cameras with a silenced pistol. Instead, you’re dropped into the shoes of a mute servant in 18th century France, teaming up with a scheming nobleman to cheat rich idiots out of their gambling money. As you peep at your mark’s cards, dropping silent clues for your ally while trying not to be noticed, you’ll feel like a conman worthy of an Ocean’s Eleven prequel.
19. OlliOlli World
If Tony Hawk is the definitive skateboarding video game series, OlliOlli World is its adorably goofy little cousin. This addictive, arcade-style 2D platformer drops all pretenses of realism to give gamers the skating experience of their wildest dreams, zipping along fantastical tracks with a customizable cartoon avatar.
18. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
An absolute explosion of nostalgia for anyone who dumped too many quarters into Turtles in Time at their local arcade, this 2D beat-‘em-up invites you and up to five (!) friends to nload on the Foot Clan. But while it looks, sounds, and plays like the Turtles you remember, Shredder’s Revenge makes a few clever updates to the formula, including character-based progression and rewards for completing challenges in each of the game’s 16 levels.
17. Trek to Yomi
A lean-and-mean side-scrolling action game set in Japan’s Edo period, Trek to Yomi stands out due to its striking black-and-white art style and fixed camera, which turns each sword battle into a painterly tableau reminiscent of a Kurosawa film. The combat might have benefitted from a little more complexity, but it feels so good when you dispatch a small army of goons with a series of perfectly-timed strikes and parries that you probably won’t care.
16. Marvel’s Midnight Suns
(PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows)
It’s been a good year for Marvel superhero games that don’t just riff on the increasingly rickety framework of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so much so that this isn’t even the only Marvel-based card game on this list (more on that later). Marvel’s Midnight Suns leans instead into the supernatural, sometimes goth-y history of Marvel lore. The game’s graphics look at least two generations out of date, but it eventually won me over with a battle system that rewards clever, synergistic strategies and a surprisingly goofy approach to these way-too-familiar characters. Don’t miss Blade’s book club.
15. Ghostwire: Tokyo
This timed exclusive (it will release on other platforms soon) flew curiously under the radar when it dropped at the end of March, but action-horror fans shouldn’t hesitate to scoop it up. Set in a modern Tokyo beset by creepy ghosts and monsters, the player controls a young man who teams up with a (relatively) benevolent spirit to put them back to rest. The flashy-looking combat eventually gets repetitive, but the eerie world Ghostwire conjures up is worth the price of admission.
It’s not hard to imagine the elevator pitch meeting that led to Rollerdrome: “What if there was a Tony Hawk game where you also had a gun?” This absurd, stylish blend of extreme sports and arena combat gives the player a pair of rollerblades and a small arsenal of weapons, then challenges you to do tricks and clear the arena of baddies with as much panache as you can master.
13. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
After oversaturating the market with everything from Lego Jurassic World to Lego Incredibles over the past decade, Traveller’s Tales wisely took a few years off before soft-relaunching the series with Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, which ambitiously adapts all nine movies in the mainline Star Wars franchise. It paid off: This is easily the best Lego game the studio has ever released. Even Rise of Skywalker is fun when it’s made of bricks.
12. Horizon Forbidden West
Somehow, Sony’s big-budget open-world has become an underdog. The franchise-starter, 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn, was overshadowed by the release of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and we’ll get to what overshadowed this sequel in a minute. But while Horizon Forbidden West sometimes suffers from the bloat that characterizes most open-world games, it also has uncommon strengths, from the colorful and strange post-apocalyptic setting to the brilliant strategic rhythms of the combat, which challenges players to uncover the weaknesses of imposing robot dinosaurs with little more than their wits and a bow-and-arrow.
11. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
A much-needed shakeup to a formula that basically hadn’t changed since 1996, every experimental flourish in Pokémon Legends: Arceus feels like a hint about where one of Nintendo’s most durable franchises might be going in the future. In this prequel, set in an era where humans barely understand and frequently fear Pokémon, the player is tasked with filling out a notebook by catching, battling, or even just observing these creatures in their natural habits. To top it off, random encounters have been replaced by a series of diverse regions to wander, encouraging exploration and unique approaches that break up the series’ increasingly stale rhythms.
Stray got a ton of pre-release help for promising to let the player experience life as a stray cat (albeit one stuck navigating a weird dystopian city full of robots). Great news: It does what it says on the tin. Stray definitely has flaws, but they’re much easier to forgive in a game that delivers on the simple pleasures of meowing, pawing stuff, and slinking around.
9. Rogue Legacy 2
Like its predecessor, Rogue Legacy 2 is an ideal marriage of two diametrically opposed game genres: The roguelike, known for its difficulty and hostility to the player, and the 2D platformer, known for its straightforwardness and pick-up-and-play approachability. As you navigate a castle that reconfigures itself every time you die — and you’ll die plenty, switching into a new character with a different skill set for every run — you’ll end up in an addictive loop that offers just the right sense of forward progress.
8. Beacon Pines
(Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows)
Beacon Pines is exactly what you need this winter: A cozy game with some surprisingly dark twists and turns. Literally taking the form of a storybook, complete with talking animals — and casting the player as an orphaned 12-year-old deer who stumbles onto a horrifying conspiracy threaded into his town’s roots — the game’s central clever conceit is that you’re actually in a choose-your-own-adventure book, with numerous dead ends that still provide you with helpful information to proceed down an entirely different branch of the story’s path.
7. The Quarry
One of several story-focused games that dropped over the summer, The Quarry gleefully leans into every slasher-movie trope you can imagine. A group of teenagers at a summer camp, played by actors like Justice Smith and Ariel Winter, discover they’re being stalked by someone — or something — intent on picking them off one by one. Anyone can live or die, making the player’s actions particularly consequential, and like any good horror experience, the game is best enjoyed with a group of friends.
6. God of War Ragnarök
(PlayStation 4 and 5)
2018’s God of War is often described as a “reboot” of the ultra-violent, ultra-popular PlayStation franchise, but that’s never been accurate. What made that game remarkable is that it was a true sequel, reinventing how God of War plays while acknowledging the literal and psychological consequences wrought by the lifetime of carnage wrought by its hero, Kratos. This sequel, Ragnarok, is nowhere near as revolutionary—but it doesn’t need to be. Instead, it’s a worthy enlargement of everything that made its predecessor so compelling, dramatically expanding the scope of the world and the satisfyingly crunchy combat while paying off ideas that have been quietly embedded in God of War’s plot from the very beginning.
At first glance, Tunic looks like yet another indie Zelda clone (albeit one that lets you control a sword-wielding fox instead). But the game soon evolves into an elaborate and unexpected tribute to one element of old-school gaming you might not even realize you’ve missed: The instruction manual. As you play the game, you’ll collect digital pages that offer hints about how to progress — and you’ll need them, because Tunic’s ability to squeeze in challenges and secrets is apparently bottomless.
(PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows)
“Some parts of this game may be considered violent or cruel,” warns SIGNALIS as you boot it up. And boy does it live up to that. This unnerving, sometimes trippy blend of cosmic sci-fi and survival horror casts the player as an android who awakens after crash-landing on a hostile ice planet and stumbles into an ever-expanding gauntlet of nightmares. Don’t be fooled by the game’s throwback lo-fi aesthetic, which recalls the glory days of the original PlayStation: This one deserves to be played in the dark, with a good set of headphones, on the biggest TV you can find.
3. Marvel Snap
(Windows, Android, iOS)
This year’s late-breaking contender for “mobile game you can’t put down,” Marvel Snap manages to overcome superhero fatigue and the dreaded to free-to-play phone games that periodically nudge you to spend actual money on them. It falls squarely into the sweet spot of easy to learn/hard to master that so many similar games fail to hit. Building a deck of 10 cards — most with game-changing techniques that cleverly riff on the powers of Marvel heroes — each match takes just a few minutes, rewarding smart strategy while allowing for the kind of gleeful randomness that can blow up even the best-laid plans.
(Xbox Series X/S, Windows, Android, iOS)
Beginning with 2015’s Her Story, creator Sam Barlow has built a following on an odd, riveting style of game built almost entirely around watching video clips. (It’s more compelling than it sounds.) In the case of Immortality, a horror mystery that’s also Barlow’s best game yet, you’re invited to pick through old clips of an actress named Marissa Marcel, whose meteoric rise to Hollywood stardom was derailed under murky circumstances. By jumping non-linearly through scenes from Marcel’s movies, as well as behind-the-scenes footage, you start to piece together a gripping chronological narrative, though much of the work happens in your own head. That experience, necessarily be different for every player, makes you both detective and voyeur, but mostly you’ll feel powerless; there’s nothing in gaming quite like the dread of clicking on a seemingly innocuous image and immediately being confronted by something you’re utterly unprepared to see. (Pro tip: If you have a Netflix account, you can start playing Immortality right now, at no extra cost, via the wildly underutilized “Games” section in the company’s iOS and Android apps.)
1. Elden Ring
Every game on this list is well worth playing, but Elden Ring is something else: An instant phenomenon that somehow managed to surpass the insane hype that surrounded it from the day it was announced. Everything about this massive dark fantasy open world stands out, from its endlessly interesting, show-don’t-tell approach to storytelling and worldbuilding to the sheer individuality with which each player can build their character, It’s not uncommon for someone to put in the 100-plus hours it takes to finish the game, watch the credits roll, and immediately start with a new character class to see what else Elden Ring had to offer. Instant classics don’t come much more classic than this.