10 excellent games you probably missed in 2022
It’s almost impossible to keep up with the gaming world – hundreds of new titles are released every month, from AAA mega-millionaire franchises to indies from small teams. Without large advertising budgets, some brilliant titles simply disappear. So at the end of the year we want to shine a spotlight on some of the games that didn’t get the attention they deserved. From surreal adventures to perplexing puzzles to a journey deep into a fish processing plant, these 10 titles are well worth your time.
Adventure games have been enjoying a renaissance for a while, as they allow developers to tackle more advanced concepts and interpersonal relationships. Games like Disco Elysium have pushed the genre forward, and 2022’s Norco is another exceptional creation. Set in an alternate universe of Louisiana, the game takes you to a decaying refinery town as Kay, a woman who returns home after her mother’s death. Brilliantly written and deeply engaging, it was the first winner of the Games award at the Tribeca Film Festival. Norco is a spectacular example of the power of games to tell immersive and unique stories.
Available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Series S, PC
2. Weird horticulture
Farming games are popular, but what happens to all those plants after you grow them? In Strange Horticulture, you are the owner of a rare plant shop that you have inherited from your uncle. Customers come in looking for botanical remedies for their various ailments, and you have to use what less-than-stellar documentation remains to figure out which of your plants will cure them—and which will accidentally kill them. As your business grows, you’ll need to get out into the wild to search for new specimens, exchange letters with other plant shop owners, and make sure your cat is petted. The latter is particularly important.
Available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, MacOS
3. TERROR course
Metafictional games are nothing new; players are familiar with the ins and outs of game development like never before. But indie RPG tERRORbane takes the concept in some strange directions. As the cliche hero Terrorbane, you’re just trying to complete a mission when you’re drawn into the oldest conflict in the world – the battle between the player and the developer. It manifests itself in increasingly bizarre and unpleasant bugs in the code of the game you are playing, which you are tasked with documenting and solving. It’s a lively and fun little adventure that takes about six hours to complete, but multiple endings and plenty of hidden goodies will keep you engaged.
Available on Steam, Nintendo Switch
4. Escape Academy
Developed by Coin Crew Games, this fun and fascinating game enrolls you in a special school to train escape room designers – and the curriculum consists of diabolical traps and brain teasers. Fix the plumbing before the water rises and drowns you, brew the perfect cup of tea, hack the school computer and more. The addition of both local and online co-op makes it all the more entertaining. Hopefully, the developers are listening to fans clamoring for a sequel, because the concept can be developed a lot further, and some rough edges can easily be refined.
Available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Series S, PC
Some ideas are just weird enough to work. And Rollerdrome, which mixes Tony Hawk-style stunting with arena combat, makes the landing. As a roller skater in a dystopian future death game, you must trick to replenish your ammo and take out the “House Players” to stop the run. The game was created by the company behind the super dope skating series OlliOlli, so the action is tight, but throwing in shooting and struggling to survive adds an exciting wrinkle. The difficulty can be unforgiving, but once you’re in that flow, it’s a pleasure like no other.
Available on PS4, PS5, PC
6. Citizen Sleeper
Developed by a one-man studio with some art and music help and based on a tabletop RPG, Citizen Sleeper is elegant and interesting. You are cast as a digitized human mind in a robot body that has escaped eternal slavery and landed on a space station called the Eye. Each day you roll virtual dice and decide how to allocate them to perform a variety of tasks: take care of your degrading body, gather information, and interact with the other inhabitants of the Eye. It’s beautifully written, subtly strategic, and unlike anything else you’ve played this year.
Available on Xbox One, Series X, Series S, Switch, PC, macOS
7. How the fish is prepared
One of the best things about games is their ability to transplant us into other bodies and other lives. It’s taken to a crazy place in the quirky indie game How Fish Is Made, which lets you play like a sardine. Trapped in the bowels of a massive, rusting machine with other fish and insects, and with questionable choices to be made, you must rise or fall to discover your destiny. This game is quite short – under an hour. But it’s also free, which means you have no excuse not to play it. Even Hideo Kojima(Opens in a new window) gave it his stamp of approval.
Available on PC
Recommended by our editors
Horror games are often the most willing to push boundaries, and Italian developer Santa Ragione’s brilliant Saturnalia stood out from the pack this year. In Gravoi, a fictional Sardinian town plagued by a mysterious beast, four outsiders must survive the annual festival where the locals offer their fellow humans as snacks to keep the monster fed for another year. With no way to fight back, you must distract the creature, run for your life through a maze of brutalist streets and uncover the dark history and disturbing customs of Gravoi. It’s a brilliant, laser-sharp experience that will chill you to the core.
Available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Series S, Switch, PC, macOS
9. Chess player
Sometimes a brilliant new game can come from old ideas. Robert Alvarez’s Chessformer is an engrossing puzzle game that uses the vocabulary of chess to become something completely brain-wrenching. Instead of the flat plane of chess, you move from a side perspective, and pieces can piggy-back on each other in their attempt to capture the opposing king. The free game is an elegant experience, and it will leave you thinking about the possibilities long after you’ve solved all the levels.
Available on PC, Web
Let’s wrap this up with a gorgeous, unique game that doesn’t fit into any genre, but forges its own path. You can call Wicked a platform game, because your strange little aquatic protagonist moves from surface to surface. But instead of running and jumping, the character creates expanding circles of power that it can cling to and ride. It’s an original mechanic that seems simple when you first use it, but becomes fiendishly complex as the game adds new concepts and ideas. Throw in a gorgeous soundtrack generated by your actions and the world around you, and haunting, evocative visuals, and you’ve got a fantastic game worth your time.
Available on Switch, PC, macOS
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