2022 felt like a year when a lot of the world was finally getting back on track, and the video game industry for the most part followed suit. Major production companies hit us with several major AAA titles that really delivered on both story and gameplay. And while there were a few major delays like Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, along with a few disasters like Overwatch 2, if you were looking for great games to play this year, you didn’t have to look very hard.
And if somehow you were still looking for more content despite the several hundred hour+ major open world releases, the indie scene was equally bountiful with unique titles ranging from avantgarde horror, to sci-fi masterpieces, and of course (maybe a few too many) cozy games.
Needless to say, finalizing a top 10 games of 2022 list was difficult, given we had to make some tough cuts at the last minute. And despite tackling a huge host of titles, frankly there were still a number of games we didn’t get to play this year. But even so and without further ado, here is the Lunch Break Games Blog top 10 games of 2022!
10. Splatoon 3: Nintendo
Splatoon 3 might not be the most revolutionary game to come out in 2022, but the small quality of life adjustments and world building improvements in multiplayer, as well as arguably the best single campaign from the series, made Splatoon 3 a multicolored inky blast to play with or without friends. Spraying nautical urban cityscapes with inky, glossy gloop has never felt more satisfying, and with a new ranking systems that rewards individual efforts, grinding through a set of Anarchy battles felt as rewarding as it did fun. Add in the absolute banger of a soundtrack from the game’s new musical trio, the new locker mechanic, and the somehow improved return of Salmon-Run, and Splatoon 3 is endless hours of pure celebratory delight.
9. Stray: Blue Twelve Studios
With several cat lovers on our staff, it’s no surprise to see Stray making an appearance here. We’ve talked about Stray’s immaculate level of world building in our review, but to reiterate, exploring a brilliantly lit neon underground city full of eerie alleyways and goofy yet compassionate robots made up for some of the game’s mechanical shortcomings. Sure the game isn’t always sure what genre of video game it’s going to be. It still doesn’t fully succeed on blending elements of stealth, puzzle platforming, and even racing. But even if these elements were often not executed to the most polished effect, we still found ourselves exploring every inch of territory our cat could get her paws on.
8. Kirby And The Forgotten Land: Nintendo
With Kirby And The Forgotten Land the little pink puffball finally made the jump into 3D platforming, and in the process arguably made the best Kirby game of all time. With similarities to other Nintendo level-based platforming titles like Mario 3D World, Kirby And the Forgotten Land explores a number of cutesy and increasingly impressive worlds from a beach, to a carnival, to an underground lab that is experimenting on creatures from the Forgotten Land. It’s deceptively simple in its first stages, but as you start to unlock new powers on ability items, like changing a fire ball puff ability into a dragon’s breath charge attack, you will keep finding new ways to explore each level. This also helps when going back to take on a level’s special objectives, which are no walk through Dreamland. The game can be played as a childlike whimsical romp through a cuddly world, or a challenging collectathon with difficult boss battles and an exciting post-game trial. And what’s best is that both of these approaches to the game are equally charming and fun.
7. Vampire Survivors: Luca Galante
It’s rare to find a $4 indie game on Steam that’s worth your time, but Vampire Survivors is pulse-pounding action that will have you ping ponging between fighting for your life and being an undead killing machine. Vampire Survivors is all about strategically upgrading your arsenal for survival, collecting knives, whips, fireballs, lightning controlling rings, and some other god-tiered weaponry to survive for 30 minutes against an onslaught of bats, mummies, medusas, werewolves, and more. And while the only control the player has is movement, piloting your vampire hunter on an optimal path while using your armaments to clear a path towards staying alive is exhilarating. And the more you play, the more weapons, perks, and even characters you unlock for your next run, making this one of the most addictive titles of 2022.
6. Cuphead And The Delicious Last Course: Studio MDHR
Sure it’s a DLC pack, but Cuphead and The Delicious Last Course is the perfect swan song to the tough-as-nails, visually stunning masterpiece. Last Course goes all in on difficulty, offering much more challenging, but somehow much more balanced levels. Through Delicious Last Course, Cuphead and Mugman fight a literal cow cowgirl, take on an insect mafia in a speakeasy, and battle the Salt Baker with a slew of new weapons and abilities. The addition of the now corporeal Miss Chalice also offers an entirely new way to play not just the DLC but the entire original Cuphead Don’t Mess With The Devil as well. The golden hose style animation is as vibrant and detailed as ever, but the game’s fully orchestrated jazz soundtrack (which was recorded during the COVID outbreak) is the ultimate testament to the love this team put into making the perfect finale for their magnum opus of a run and gun.
5. Cult of the Lamb: Massive Monster
Who knew running a cult could be so charming? Cult of the Lamb offered a strategic look into the day to day tasks and decisions of a cult leader in charge of a commune of adorable woodland creatures. Cult of the Lamb has a vast assortment of gameplay, including a simple yet difficult rogue-like hack and slash, along with a full RTS resource management sim, as well as an impressive collection of mini games. What helps Cult of the Lamb succeed is that all of these game modes are engaging and polished, and, most importantly, constantly give the player new solutions and objectives to keep any part of gameplay from growing stale. And of all these mechanics, Cult of the Lamb’s “create a cult law” ability unlocks are maybe the game’s best game mode, giving the player godlike authority, while also finding ways to punish the player for their decisions and remind them there can never be any truly ethical way to lord power over others. It boasts an eerie popup story book art style soaking in dark but vibrant colors, and its soundtrack offers a “lo-fi hip-hop meets world beats” score to all of your crimes. For a game that is having you build a cult, it also takes the time it needs to drive home a message about the follies of embracing man-made false-prophet religion.
4. Citizen Sleeper: Gareth Damian Martin
While recently trying to explain Citizen Sleeper to the staff, one of our reviewers said that the game is what would happen if you took Blade Runner, and added a dash of Dune and Total Recall, mixing them all into a TTRPG. The end result is one of the most haunting stories crafted in gaming during 2022. In Citizen Sleeper you wake up in a corporate company space station city as an android-like sleeper, having given up your body for reasons you can’t quite remember. You will play through daily cycles, making allies and enemies, and trying to decide your actions by using dice rolls to attempt actions, which are complemented by choose-your-own-adventure style text navigation to pick your story’s path. No matter what decisions you make, Citizen Sleeper‘s characters are as nuanced and complex as the survival decisions the player is making, and even the happiest endings of side quests or even main story missions are saturated in a sense of hopeful melancholy. Your decisions and the fates of the characters you meet are sure to stick with you long after the final credits roll.
3. Neon White: Annapurna Interactive
Neon White is the pure joy of movement embodied in a flashy and stylish minimalistic heaven, and we mean this both literally and figuratively. In Neon White the player takes the role of White, a deceased assassin brought to Heaven with an army of other killers to rid Heaven of a demon problem. The gameplay has the player speed-running platforming segments and building a deck of cards which act as an arsenal of guns with which to take out said demons. This platforming and quick level reset ability mimics titles like Celeste but through the lens of games like Mirror’s Edge. And as goofy and silly as the initial story seems, the game’s questions about forgiveness, revenge, and actual peace work well to ground the flashiness into a fast paced thrilling experience.
2. God of War: Ragnarok : Santa Monica Studio
Many reading this list were probably wondering which of the year’s two most impressive titles would come in second, and while we placed God of War: Ragnarok one slot short of game of the year, this game is still so, so special. The continuation of characters’ story arcs in innovative and emotional directions, the thrilling boss fights, the variety of ways you can slay enemies, everything God of War: Ragnarok tackles improves upon nearly everything God of War (2018) already did so perfectly. It is truly a fitting conclusion to Kratos’s Norse adventure, and while we assume we will see more of the now up-and-coming God of Peace down the line, it is nevertheless just as fitting a conclusion to the series as a whole.
1. Elden Ring : FromSoftware
There’s little left to say about Elden Ring, but that’s because critics and gamers alike have been singing its praises throughout 2022, and deservedly so. Perhaps the most ambitious game and world ever created, Elden Ring feels like the next step to the future of what a game can be. It’s hard to pick our favorite part of this game – the constantly rewarding exploration? The cryptic side quests with deep lore, or the characters dealing with the mistakes of the past? And what about the ability to tackle a huge open world with friends? Elden Ring’s brilliance far outshines any of its hiccups or bumps, even when those bumps are pretty noticeable. The innovation of this game is simply that impressive that it has become a masterpiece and one of the greatest games of all time in its first year. So rise tarnished. And greet the 2022 game of the year.
TMNT Shredder’s Revenge, Mario Rabbids Sparks of Hope, Horizon Forbidden West,