This clever, shareable word game was the feelgood story of the early part of the year, as mysterious coloured-block emojis proliferated across social feeds and half the planet was drawn into guessing the word of the day. Wordle mania might have dissipated a little since the New York Times took it over, but it’ll still be a defining game of 2022.
What we said: “The simplicity is the charm. One Wordle is released each day, and it’s the same one for everyone around the world. There are no advertisements, no niggling notifications begging you to return each morning, no novelty skins … the game’s rejection of the capitalistic systems that define so many video games today has a refreshing, innocent quality. Long may Wordle remain so pure.” Read the full review.
A spectacular and inscrutable action-fantasy game from one of the greatest game directors working today, Hidetaka Miyazaki, and the seemingly inexhaustibly talented developers at FromSoftware. This is a world where you never know what you might find, where you’ll be defeated 50 different ways but always want to come back to discover more.
What we said: “Video games can be all kinds of different things, representing all manner of artistic ambitions. Most, however, share a common goal: to conjure a compelling fictional reality, filled with beckoning mysteries, enchanting secrets, and enriching opportunities to compete and collaborate. They aim to provide a liminal space in which a determined player can fix that which is broken, order that which is chaotic. By this definition, at least, Elden Ring is the finest video game yet made.” Read the full review.
A welcoming skateboarding game with chill vibes, an impeccably cool soundtrack and a suitably alternative art style. You create a cute little skater, customise your board and take it out across surreal, dreamy landscapes, grinding on rails and wall-riding across billboards held up by giant bees, trying to squeeze as many tricks as you can into each short, tightly designed level.
What we said: “From its free-spirited counterculture flavour to its flamboyant aesthetic, this is the gaming equivalent of a weekend trip to Brighton: an interactive experience for those who can’t actually skateboard but religiously buy a new pair of Vans anyway.” Read the full review.
Horizon Forbidden West
This is an intimidatingly huge game, but exploring the post-apocalyptic US with red-haired warrior Aloy is alarmingly absorbing. Intimidating robot dinosaurs and warring tribes provide the danger, and fighting them is more fun the further into the game you get – but it’s the world, with its tempting treasures and amazing sights and unusual characters, that provides the intrigue. Even after 50 hours immersed in the game, you’ll not tire of how incredible it looks.
What we said: “It’s when I was out in this world, following whatever trails I found, that Horizon made me happiest. I lost hours out there, retrieving random artefacts from old train stations or crashed planes, and scrapping with the intimidating mechanical creatures that stalk the place.” Read the full review.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
The first real shake-up to the predictable 25-year-old Pokémon formula, Arceus has you playing as more of a researcher than a battler, travelling back in time to help compile the first Pokédex, the Pokémon encyclopedia. It looks sub-par, but it has the power to make even elder millennials feel a sense of wonder again as you explore the wilds and marvel at the fictional creatures that live there.
What we said: “Twenty-six years after I caught my very first Pokémon, the franchise is new again, and that gleeful sense of excitement is back.” Read the full review.
Total War: Warhammer III
The finale of a grand, operatic fantasy war game trilogy, this huge-scale, high-stakes strategy game sees eight factions of gloriously overwrought daemons, dwarves, undead and ogres fight epic battles and sieges to build and secure their empires (and lay claim to supernatural demonic power, of course). An absurdly generous sandbox for Warhammer fans to play in.
What we said: “Warhammer’s real trick has always been how it stays tongue-in-cheek about its own excess while still worldbuilding with earnest imagination, and Creative Assembly caps off the trilogy with some of its most gripping – and funniest – writing.” Read the full review.
Recalling the days when you had to pore over a game manual when you got stuck rather than turning to Google for instant answers, Tunic is an enigmatic and very, very clever adventure game inspired by old-school Zelda. Its derelict temples and dungeons are full of mysterious puzzles and creatures that engage your imagination as well as your brain and reflexes. It’s extremely cute, too.
What we said: “It feels like a luxury to play a game that isn’t constantly prodding you towards the next objective, and that instead allows you the space to daydream.” Read the full review.
Nintendo Switch Sports
Compete with friends and family – or online strangers – in tennis, bowling, sword fighting, badminton, football and volleyball in this welcoming and cheerful sports variety game. Its motion controls are fun and accessible enough for anyone to pick up and play but not without finesse. Kids especially have an absolute riot with this game.
What we said: “None of these sports would be enough to sustain a game alone, but together, and paired with Nintendo’s charming and slick aesthetic and brain-infesting music, they are the makings of a good time” Read the full review.
Gran Turismo 7
This fastidious racing simulation remains the ultimate realistic video game driving experience, while also holding on to its trademark eccentricity. If you want to know what it feels like to race the Nürburgring 24-hour circuit in torrential rain at night, GT7 will let you. If you want to collect cars rendered in obsessive detail, you can do that too (though the in-game economy still has some kinks that need to be ironed out). A maximalist tribute to car culture.
What we said: “It’s reassuring that despite ever-greater technical refinement, Gran Turismo’s unique, eccentric character remains intact. It’s present in the grab-bag mission mode, which handily demonstrates that a race between 17 brake horsepower Fiat 500s can be just as gripping as one between cars with 50 times that.” Read the full review.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
A family-friendly delight that takes players through all the main Star Wars films in inimitable slapstick style, offering up a banquet of in-jokes and collectibles and everything else a young Star Wars fan (or their parent) could possibly want. The in-game Lego models are jaw-dropping, too – it’s amazing to see how evolving technology has enhanced this once rather humble series of games over time.
What we said: “These games have always sought to conjure our favourite family movie franchises as we choose to remember them, shorn of all the boring, indulgent and problematic bits. My god, even The Phantom Menace is bearable here.” Read the full review.
You are a corporate-owned android on the run, living on a dilapidated space station and trying to live out your days in peace. A thoughtful game presented mostly through expressive text and illustrations, this is a slower, more cerebral experience than the usual action-heavy sci-fi, and it explores its themes of humanity and technology creatively and sensitively.
What we said: “The characters are so well drawn, literally and figuratively, that it’s tempting to spend as much time as you can in their orbit.” Read the full review.
A recent high point in video game storytelling, NORCO is an intelligent, evocative portrait of a community and a town on the verge of collapse, based on the experiences of its developers growing up in the real-life refinery town of Norco, Louisiana. Styled as a point-and-click adventure with detailed, interesting pixel art, it is strange and funny and cutting and always well written. A memorable piece of environmentalist and social commentary, part satire and part portrait of a sick society.
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