This clever, shareable pun was the feel-good story of the beginning of the year, as mysterious color-block emojis took over social feeds and half the world was tricked into guessing the word of the day. Worldle mania may have evaporated somewhat since the New York Times took over, but it will still be a defining game of 2022.
What we said: “The simplicity is the charm. A wordle is released every day and it is the same for everyone around the world. There are no ads, no nagging notifications begging you to come back every morning, no new skins… there’s a refreshing, innocent quality to the game’s rejection of the capitalist systems that define so many video games today. Long may Wordle remain so pure.” Read the full review.
A spectacular and unfathomable action-fantasy game from one of today’s greatest game directors, Hidetaka Miyazaki, and the seemingly endlessly talented developers at FromSoftware. This is a world where you never know what you’ll find, where you’ll be defeated in 50 different ways, but always want to come back to discover more.
What we said: “Video games can be all sorts of things, representing all sorts of artistic ambitions. Most, however, share a common goal: to conjure a compelling fictional reality filled with enticing mysteries, enchanting secrets, and enriching opportunities to compete and collaborate. They aim to create a frontier space where a determined player can fix what’s broken and organize what’s messy. By that definition at least, Elden Ring is the best video game ever made.” Read the full review.
A welcoming skateboarding game with chill vibes, a flawlessly cool soundtrack, and a suitably alternative art style. You create a cute little skater, customize your board and ride it through surreal, dreamy landscapes, grind rails and wallriding over billboards held up by giant bees, and try to do as many tricks as you can into each short, tightly designed board to squeeze.
What we said: “From its free-spirited counterculture flavor to its flamboyant aesthetic, this is the gaming equivalent of a weekend trip to Brighton: an interactive experience for those who don’t really know how to skateboard but are still religiously shopping for a new pair of Vans.” Read the full review.
Horizon forbidden west
This is an intimidatingly huge game, but exploring the post-apocalyptic USA starring red-haired warrior Aloy is alarmingly engrossing. Intimidating robotic dinosaurs and warlike tribes pose a threat, and battling them becomes more fun the further you advance in the game – but it’s the world, with its enticing treasures, amazing landmarks, and unusual characters, that creates the allure . Even after 50 hours immersed in the game, you don’t get tired of how incredible it looks.
What we said: “When I was out in this world following whatever leads I found, Horizon made me the happiest. I wasted hours out there recovering random artifacts from old train stations or crashed planes and battling the intimidating mechanical creatures that haunt the place.” Read the full review.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Arceus is the first real twist in the predictable 25-year-old Pokémon formula, letting you play more as an explorer than a fighter, traveling back in time to help compile the first Pokédex, the Pokémon Encyclopedia. It looks subpar, but it has the power to amaze even older millennials as they explore the wilderness and marvel at the fictional creatures that live there.
What we said: “Twenty-six years after catching my very first Pokemon, the franchise is new again, and that happy sense of excitement is back.” Read the full review.
Total War: Warhammer III
The finale of a grand, operatic fantasy wargame trilogy, this massive, high-stakes strategy game sees eight factions of delightfully overwrought demons, dwarves, undead, and ogres fight epic battles and sieges to build and secure their empires (and claim to raise course to supernatural demonic powers). 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 excesses while still building worlds with earnest imagination, and Creative Assembly caps the trilogy with some of its most gripping — and fun — writing.” Read the full review.
A puzzling and very very clever adventure game inspired by old-school Zelda, Tunic is reminiscent of the days when you had to trawl through a game manual when you got stuck rather than turning to Google for instant answers . Its derelict temples and dungeons are filled with mysterious puzzles and creatures that will stimulate your imagination, brain and reflexes. It’s also very cute.
What we said: “It feels like a luxury to play a game that doesn’t constantly push you to the next goal, but instead gives you room to daydream.” Read the full review.
Nintendo Switch Sports
Compete with friends and family – or online strangers – in tennis, bowling, swordplay, badminton, soccer, and volleyball in this inviting and fun sports variety game. Its motion controls are fun and accessible enough for anyone to pick up and play, but not without finesse. Especially children have an absolute ruckus with this game.
What we said: “None of these sports alone would be enough to sustain a game, but together and paired with Nintendo’s charming and elegant aesthetic and brain-busting music, they’re guaranteed to have a good time.” Read the full review.
Gran Turismo 7
This demanding racing sim remains the ultimate in realistic video game driving experience while retaining its signature eccentricity. If you want to know what it’s like to drive the Nürburgring 24 Hours at night in torrential rain, let GT7 know. If you want to collect cars rendered in obsessive detail, you can do that too (although the in-game economy still has a few kinks that need to be ironed out). A maximalist homage to car culture.
What we said: “It’s reassuring that despite ever-increasing technical sophistication, Gran Turismo’s unique, eccentric character remains. It’s present in the Grab Bag mission mode, which clearly shows that a race between Fiat 500s with 17 horsepower can be just as exciting as one between cars with 50 times the braking power.” Read the full review.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
A family-friendly treat that takes players through all the major Star Wars films in inimitable slapstick style, offering a banquet of jokes and collectibles and everything else a young Star Wars fan (or their parents) could ever want. The Lego models in the game are also stunning – it’s amazing to see how evolving technology has improved this once rather modest series of games over time.
What we said: “These games have always tried to evoke our favorite family movie franchises as we choose to remember them, without all the boring, indulgent, and problematic parts. My god, even The Phantom Menace is tolerable here.” Read the full review.
You are a corporate android on the run, living on a derelict space station and trying to live out your days in peace. A thoughtful game presented mainly through expressive text and illustrations. This is a slower, more cerebral experience than the usual action-packed sci-fi, and it creatively and sensitively explores its themes of humanity and technology.
What we said: “The characters are so well drawn, both literally and figuratively, that it’s tempting to spend as much time in their orbit as possible.” Read the full review.
A current pinnacle in video game storytelling, NORCO is an intelligent, powerful portrait of a community and city on the brink of collapse, based on the experiences of its developers growing up in the real-life refinery town of Norco, Louisiana. Crafted as a point-and-click adventure with detailed, interesting pixel art, it’s weird and witty and cutting and always well-written. A memorable environmental and social commentary, part satire, part portrait of a sick society.