Zack Zwiezen’s Top 10 Games Of 2022
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2022 was a bit of an odd year for games. I’ve seen a lot of folks, including some fine people here at Kotaku, suggest 2022 was pretty bad on that front. I’ve spotted the opposite take, too! Personally, I’m squarely in the “2022 was a great year for games” camp. I mean, when I first started trying to decide on my 10 favorites I spent about an hour going through everything I played and whittled it down to…15! Then I spent another 20 minutes cutting it down to size. So yeah, 2022 was a good year for games, if you ask me, even if the world around us continued to spiral into a hellscape of diseases, conspiracy nuts, death, and capitalism (sorry, I’m repeating myself.) But at least we had some top-notch interactive video games to enjoy through it all…
Anyway, let’s get on with this thing. Here are my top 10 games of 2022 as well as some honorable mentions. As usual, this list is in no particular order until the very end, where I’ll drop my personal favorite game of the year!
TMNT Shredder’s Revenge
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I’m not a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. I don’t really have much love for old arcade beat ‘em ups, either. And yet, I still had a blast with Shredder’s Revenge, a game that is so much fun I ended up playing through it four times with different people. And all of them had a blast too, mashing buttons and kicking ninja *** in this fantastic retro-inspired throwback. It’s a great game, and also one of the best co-op games on Game Pass right now, too!
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Like Shredder’s Revenge, I wasn’t so sure about Neon White. It looked very anime-ish, and as someone who never really got into that stuff, I had misgivings. But I gave it a shot and, well…yeah, it’s some anime ***. But it also has some of the tightest and most satisfying first-person platforming and combat I’ve experienced in years. Combine that with wonderful music, a slick look, an engaging storyline, and a leaderboard that shows your friends’ best times and you’ve got one of 2022’s best games.
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I held off on playing this for a very long time. I wish I could explain why, but I honestly have no idea. I was just an idiot. When I got a Steam Deck earlier this year I finally loaded it up, as it came highly recommended for portable play. And yeah, you were all so right: Vampire Survivors *** rips. What an amazing time. For a game that has so few interactive elements—you just move around and the game auto-fires at enemies—it’s hard to stop playing it. The power-ups! The sounds! The thrill of watching a giant crowd of skeletons get melted in seconds! So good. So damn good.
Image: Blizzard / Kotaku / Mike Kemp / In Pictures (Getty Images)
Uh oh! I’m really kicking the hornet’s nest by including Diablo Immortal on here, huh? But when I stop and think about games that came out in 2022 that I played a ton of, Diablo Immortal is near the top of that list. Yes, I’ve heard that it’s a giant money-sucking vampire that isn’t fair or whatever. Yet, months and months have gone by and I’m still having a great time killing demons and finding loot. I might not have the best gems or whatever, but I also don’t care. Immortal has become my go-to game when I want to chill on the couch and zone out after working all day.
Two Point Campus
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A few months ago I got very, very sick and during that time I spent far, far too many hours playing Two Point Campus, the next game from the people behind Two Point Hospital. Like that prior game, Campus has you building silly facilities (for training Knights, or robots) that are also filled with stuff like realistic bathrooms and trash cans. But this time you’re creating massive schools. And like in Hospital, you’ll need to balance all the wacky hijinks with more mundane problems like make sure you have enough places for students to sleep or eat. I especially love the in-game radio, which features DJs and the perfect tunes for spending hours setting up the perfect dorms and classrooms for your various students.
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Another mobile game on my top 10? Am I trying to make people hate me? Maybe! But really, when I stop and think about it, Marvel Snap easily makes the cut. It’s just so damn fun. The mix of fast matches, small decks, and random locations makes it feel unlike any other card game out there. Plus it has cross-progression across my phone, tablet, and PC. Basically, I can never escape this free-to-play card battler starring superheroes and villains, and I’m fine with that.
God of War Ragnarök
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I expected big action in the latest entry in the long-running God of War franchise. I also knew there would be huge boss fights. Likewise, I wasn’t surprised by the amazing visuals or the epic music and setpieces. What did surprise me (in a good way) was how Ragnarök takes time throughout its main campaign to let things get quiet, to allow its characters time to just exist and chill together. Some of the best moments in the game happen not when people are screaming or punching, but when they are just sitting around a table dealing with their emotions and thinking about what to do next. In such a big, loud game, these moments stood out and were much appreciated.
Image: Marvel / Firaxis / Kotaku / Michele Spatari / AFP (Getty Images)
I didn’t realize I wanted a turn-based superhero pinball simulator with social elements until I played Firaxis’ newest game, Marvel’s Midnight Suns. Okay, it’s not actually a pinball game, but a big part of the combat in Midnight Suns revolves around flinging heroes and bad guys around the various maps, often bashing them into each other, walls, or off ledges. And when you aren’t smashing Iron Man into Doctor Strange, you can read their tweets, hang out and play games with them, or just chill by the pool. I mean, Midnight Suns is a game that lets you become best friends with Blade and do yoga with him after drop-kicking a bad guy into Wolverine. What else do you need? Oh, you want the ability to take pictures of Ghostrider’s ***, frame them, and hang the images around your room? Guess what? You can do that too, you weirdo!
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
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The latest Mario and Rabbids tactical crossover is splendid, and so much fun that I was able to ignore the incredible performance issues it has thanks to the aging Switch I was forced to play it on. But even with those technical hiccups, I still truly enjoyed Sparks of Hope, which expands on the gameplay found in the Battle Kingdom, adding more characters, more abilities, and larger worlds to explore. They also gave Bowser a rocket launcher. ‘Nuff said.
And now, my favorite game of 2022?
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
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It’s wild that it took this long to finally get a massive open-world Star Wars game that features nearly every main planet and city from the nine main films. And it’s even weirder that it happened in a Lego game first, but whatever. I don’t care. I’m just so happy it exists.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga isn’t just a cute, enjoyable family-friendly action game filled with Star Wars characters and music. It’s also an incredibly dense game in which you can easily lose 100 hours if you want to unlock everything and solve all its puzzles. And you might end up doing that, because it plays so well thanks to changes made from previous Lego games. This is now a third-person action game, complete with modern FPS-like controls and combo-based melee combat. Oh, and don’t forget: It also has tons of satisfying space combat and powerful ground vehicles.
And somehow this game still runs like a treat on modern consoles. While the many Star Wars memes and jokes often made me genuinely cackle, you don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy Skywalker Saga. (But if you are, you really, really should play this game.) And lucky you, it’s now on Game Pass. Go play it and enjoy my favorite game of 2022.
So there we go! If you want to read my 2021 picks, 2020 faves, or 2019 notables, just click those links and enjoy. Or get angry about my choices! Whatever makes you feel better, I guess. You can also see nearly every game I played this year over here if you care about that stuff.
Before this gets too long, here are some honorable mentions. I really enjoyed my time with co-op loot shooter Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, but the crossplay issues and bugs at launch soured my feelings about it. Destiny 2 and Fortnite remained some of my favorite things to play, but they didn’t come out this year so they don’t make my list. (I have rules, people!) Nightmare Reaper and Lil Gator Game are very different, but equally wonderful games that almost ended up on my list. And while it never really had a chance of making my top 10, I still loved Evil West.