2022 has been one heck of a year for games, big Triple-A titles, indie hits and a whole lot in between. Here at ninjarefinery.com we’ve done our best to play and enjoy as many of them as possible.
It’s also been a year for games to reach their potential and improve after rushed releases. 2022 saw Battlefield 2042 hit it’s stride a year after release. Halo Infinite got the co-op mode we wanted and the multiplayer is significantly improved from launch.
Fortnite eschewed the building element of it’s battle royale, and PUBG went free-to-play. It’s been a big and busy year. But change and improvement aside, what’s been so good in 2022 that it deserves the title of Game of the Year?
I previously wrote about the contenders, and since then I’ve been through them all, re-visiting them as they are now. Do games from early 2022 hold-up still? Do recent releases hold a candle to some of the bigger titles earlier on? It’s been a fun couple of weeks getting back into games I remember fondly.
What I’ve found, is that I’ve actually been able to whittle-down the rather large list of contenders to just 3. 3 titles have stayed in my mind since I first played them, and whilst I’ve enjoyed others, and continue to do so. But these three are outstanding by every measure I can think of.
I think my biggest surprise is that 2 of these three are indie games form small development teams. Once a flagship-franchise type of guy, honing-in on those huge GTA-level releases. But I’ve grown tired, like their formulas and content.
It’s why God of War Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West aren’t here. They look great, but they take themselves so seriously and drag on out of their own self-importance for so long. I haven’t the patience for bloat and over-doing old formats.
2022 has 3 top contenders in my head.
- Neon White
- Vampire Survivors
- Elden Ring
What’s good about them, and which is the top dog in 2022?
Well, speed-running, anime styling devils in heaven. Not a premise I would have dived into if I’m honest. Despite it sounding like something I would totally watch.
A first-person shooter where the aim of each level is just to get throguh it as quickly as possible. 2022’s surprise here for me was just how much I love Neon White.
Hearing people wax-lyrical about it on podcasts, seeing reviews of it glowing about it. It was hard not to get pulled into the hype, but I was skeptical to say the least. Roll on hours of game play, countless efforts at the same level aiming for the platinum time. Resetting my run if I’m a fraction off-course. Neaon White unlocked the part of me that loves a boss fight and nailing the routines.
Neon White gives you all you need t get through the ma as quickly as possible, but you know you can do it better. This is the 2022 “just one more” game of the year, without a doubt. I know I can improve, I knew I’d started slow, I should use this weapon here or save this one for later.
Crafted masterfully, each level is built to help you achieve those speeds.
Add to it the leaderboards with friends (none of mine play, sadly) and the rest of the world, and you have a constant reminder that you could go again and do better. The story is fine, the design and overal aesthetic is cool, and the soundtrack is great!
It’s a perfect speed-running package and a game I’ll be improving on over and over for years to come!
I’ll be honest, on the face of it Vampire Survivors doesn’t look like a game from 2022. Let alone a contender for the best game of the year.
The premise and gameplay are simple, but that simplicity brings a kind of addiction. A tug at seeing you becoming all-powerful after collecting the right upgrades. Feeling that might, you feel empowered to go again, this time to be better, to mix different gear and to push on.
Light on story, Vampire Survivors is a vampire/gothic/horror themed game, where you control your survivor. Needing only one hand to play the game (movement only, no weapon firing), you’re always just kind of at ease because there’s no complexity to the movement.
It’s a contender exactly because of that though. 2022 has been a year of complexity, Vampire Survivors says fuck complexity. Sure, there’s blending weapon and items to concoct builds, and achieve as much as possible. But you got the 30 minute mark and your run is all but over. At least for the first 15 or so hours, where death can still come and kill you.
I didn’t “click” with Vampire Survivors like others did. Not initially anyway. Being almost a passive game, I was having fun but not engaging fully. That’s on me.
Watching friends and others really dive in and talk of builds and weapon evolutions. Going on runs just for gold. Killing death! I needed to go back, and it all became much clearer.
This is the perfect game to play with a podcast on, or to just listen to some music. Ideal to just wind-down with. But complex enough to hold your attention.
It’s a joy, a wonder and a legitimate contender for Game of the Year 2022.
Incredibly fun, a real power trip and an almost relaxing bout of chaos.
I don’t know that I can say much more about Elden Ring that I haven’t already said. It’s a legit contender for Game of the Year 2022 in all the ways I would expect a big release like this to be.
It’s more than that though. Elden Ring is about discovery, challenge and honestly satisfaction.
I never understood Soulsborne games until now. Despite my best efforts. But the open nature and the sheer scope and scale here really allow for exploration and understanding.
It’s Breath of the Wild but dark, cold and often really really hard. But it’s satisfying in ways so many games just aren’t these days. No hand-holding, just you and the world. You suss it out…..off you go Tarnished!
Compare that freedom and removal of hand-holding to the likes of the over-eager God of War Ragnarok that basically forces simple puzzle solutions down your throat within seconds of looking at it. Elden Ring is a breath of fresh air in a sphere that’s just more concerned with polish and sales.
Working on custom character builds to pay how I want. Discovering weapons, incantations and gear to help me on my way.
Finding the balance of spending runes on gear, using them to level up, it running the risk of losing them at death because i got cocky.
Elden Ring has been the game that taught me how to adjust my expectations and understanding of a genre.
I need to finish it, yes. But it’s been a massive shift for me mentally and one of the only actually satisfying Triple-A titles released in 2022.
Ninjarefinery.com Game of the Year 2022
I have been back and forth in this so much. Re-playing all of these games, re-engaging and falling in love with them all over again.
There are plenty of other near-miss contenders, too. But these three really stood out. And above those…..one has had the most significant impact.
Elden Ring is our Game of the Year 2022.
Fill with dread and wonder, exploration and tight dungeons. Elden Ring has changed my mind, opened my mind and let me enjoy a level of difficulty that a lot of people have been enjoying/enduring for a good few years now.
Elden Ring is a true masterpiece and I read about things to do in it, every day. Gear to fetch, build changes to make and quests to undertake.
Combat is form but fair, with movement and accuracy at the forefront of every encounter. A masterclass in boss fights and risk vs reward.
It’s my aim to finish it in 2023 as homage to how incredible it truly is.