The Best Video Games of 2022
Some years, as we reflect on the games that released over the past 365 days, a clear winner stands out–a game that towered above the rest and defined the year all on its own. 2022 was not one of those years. With the lingering impacts of COVID, tumultuous development cycles, and more delays and surprise announcements than you can shake a Joy-Con at, this year was far from predictable–and perhaps because of that turbulence, it was also one of the most exciting years in gaming in recent memory.
This was the year we saw beloved franchises embark in bold new directions, modern classics receive ambitious sequels, classic IP return in surprising remakes, and indie developers push boundaries with genre-bending creativity. With so many standout titles, it’s near impossible to pick one that comes out on top–but keeping with Goomba Stomp’s yearly tradition, we’ve attempted to do just that.
Every year, our staff votes on the best games of the year, and the voting was as stiff as it’s ever been this year. While the ultimate winner might not surprise many, the top 10 titles alone demonstrate how this year was absolutely bursting with variety. Without further ado, these are Goomba Stomp’s 22 best games of 2022!
12. Splatoon 3
Nintendo’s ink-warfare series has come a long way since its Wii U origins. When directly pit against its predecessors, Splatoon 3 can initially come off as a simple upgrade to Splatoon 2 and the Octo Expansion DLC, but those who submerge themselves in the game’s new content and streamlined changes will quickly come to realize just how much more is being offered under its familiar surface. Splatoon 3 is in every way the pinnacle of the Splatoon series as Nintendo continues to paint yet another promising future for the franchise’s direction both in terms of single-player and multiplayer content.
With a brand new story mode, a better online, the addition of a meticulous card game, more weapons, more maps, more accessibility options, and more of everything players already loved, Splatoon 3 improves and surprises as it continues to patch up its turf wars foundation to meet its maximum potential. With free maps on the way, plenty of upcoming Splatfests to partake in, and more modes being promised by Nintendo’s developers, Splatoon 3 has already established a bright future for itself as it is sailing high above the tide of online multiplayer Switch titles worth playing well beyond launch day. (Marc Kaliroff)
11. Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Monolith Soft as a game developer. Whether you are a fan of Shulk and Rex’s adventures or a newcomer to this universe yearning for a better tomorrow, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 showcases a deep love for its franchise in one brilliantly executed package. Without a doubt, this is a Nintendo Switch JRPG essential that system owners who are deeply attached to the genre cannot miss–especially if they are looking for a narrative-driven adventure that will put their heart on a rollercoaster ride of cheers and fears.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 balances strong characters and a mysterious story with a world that will make players want to explore every inch of its territory. Like many of the developer’s previous projects, after the credits of Monolith Soft’s latest title rolls and players are left feeling bittersweet over its conclusion, they will only wonder how the developer will manage to top itself again. Our memories of Noah, Mio, and the rest of the party will never fade away. (Marc Kaliroff)
10. Citizen Sleeper
For as popular as RPGs are today, there aren’t many titles that take the “role-playing” aspect as seriously as Citizen Sleeper does. As a human consciousness inside a decaying artificial body, players start Citizen Sleeper in dire straits. Suddenly everything is about survival, be it making friends on the space station or working to afford life-saving drugs. A hastily-taken action can have dire consequences for you, those around you, and even the outside entities pulling the strings behind the scenes. Developer Jump Over the Age isn’t shy about cutting secondary routes off early to make players commit to their decisions, further adding weight to each of the eight endings and increasing replay value.
The real stars of Citizen Sleeper, however, are the characters and their stories. Each person inhabiting the abandoned space station known as Erlin’s Eye are fully fleshed out with realistic motivations and heartbreaking backstories, and you have total control over who you get to know and who you align yourself with. Despite the dice and clock systems that introduce elements of luck into an otherwise methodical TTRPG-like experience, Citizen Sleeper hits all the right notes of intrigue, desperation, and empathy to make it one of the best-written games of the year. (Brent Middleton)
9. Kirby and the Forgotten Land
For the longest time, Kirby has been seen by many as one of Nintendo’s “B-tier” franchises. Commonly seen as a kid-friendly option alongside Yoshi, there haven’t been many mainline Kirby games that are deemed “must-plays” on a Nintendo console. All of that changes with Kirby and the Forgotten Land, a Super Mario Odyssey-inspired adventure that’s packed with joy and creativity.
Though the platforming itself is less satisfying than something like Odyssey due to Kirby’s inherently floaty nature, this is more than made up for with a litany of genuinely fun power-ups that are all worth upgrading and experimenting with. The inclusion of bonus stages centered around most of these really show off how versatile each power-up can be. Similarly, the ways the new Mouthful Mode transformations are integrated into each level are seamless and additive rather than something that feels shoehorned in to make use of the mechanic.
In fact, there’s not a lot of bloat in Forgotten Land; it’s a carefully-designed package that offers a compelling main campaign and plenty of side objectives for completionists to enjoy. Seeing Waddle Dee Town naturally populate and build up over time into a hub with useful shops and fun activities is a joy, and gave the hunt to find every last Waddle Dee that much more purpose. Kirby and the Forgotten Land has solidified itself as one of the Nintendo Switch’s very best experiences and continues the Switch’s streak of reinventing some of Nintendo’s best franchises for the better. (Brent Middleton)
8. Horizon Forbidden West
Five years after Aloy became one of PlayStation’s modern icons, Guerilla Games continued to fire off on all cylinders as they set their brave young hunter’s sights on the dangerous west side of America. Horizon Forbidden West is a fantastic sequel to 2017’s ambitious Horizon Zero Dawn, even if it offers more or less the same experience with a larger emphasis on scale. While it still carries over some of the same problems Zero Dawn fell victim to, Forbidden West is a careful follow-up to Aloy’s original story that visually and technically always flaunts its shambled world that breeds together the ways of the future and the past.
Perhaps its spectacle can get in the way of exploring new ideas, but its efforts to build upon the already entertaining gameplay foundation of Zero Dawn never fails to please. Between the thrill of the hunt and the need to continue her heroic quest to save what remains of the world, Horizon Forbidden West pushes Aloy into a fulfilling direction that will only leave players wanting more. By the time the player reaches Aloy’s final confrontation with her newest foe, they will only be in awe over the story’s direction and how the Horizon series has continued to take extraordinary routes to isolate itself from the rest of PlayStation’s impressive first-party lineup of narrative-driven rollercoasters. (Marc Kaliroff)
7. Marvel Snap
A free-to-play Marvel mobile card game seems like an odd choice for a list of the year’s top games. Indeed, Marvel pleasantly surprised many card game enthusiasts when they launched Marvel Snap, a well-thought-out and enjoyable title that’s big on fun and very inoffensive in terms of monetization. The game is straightforward and easy to jump into, but it’s just sophisticated enough to remain engaging and challenging after hours of play.
There are enough randomized elements to keep each match fresh, but not so many as to make the game RNG-dependent. Even if there is some degree of random chance involved, a strong sense of tactics and strategy is still essential. Games are also capped at 6 rounds, creating a bite-sized experience where you can easily fit in a few rounds on the bus or subway without missing your stop; however, despite their short length, matches are still engaging and require a fair bit of critical thinking and strategy.
Marvel Snap is also visually stunning for a mobile title and features some catchy audio. The artists who created the phenomenal artwork are unfortunately uncredited on the cards themselves at the moment, but the developers have made a commitment to adding artist credits soon. Monetization is unobtrusive; it is possible to fully experience the game and create a competitively viable deck without spending a single penny, and players rarely feel pressured to spend money on the game. While it’s still relatively new and will likely change a lot as it grows and adds new cards, Marvel Snap is off to a very exciting start, and is definitely one of 2022’s gaming highlights. (Steven Greenwood)
6. Neon White
Neon White is a glorious gift from Donut County creator Ben Esposito and his one-time get-together development team, Angel Matrix. Once a player steps into this unholy iteration of heaven and pulls their first trigger, they will be locked tightly into the game’s premise of exterminating every demon inside its stylistic octane bloodbath. While Neon White may not be revolutionary in terms of providing new ideas to its genre, the way the game has refined and combined its runner, first-person, and role-playing elements together is absolutely gratifying. There is an addicting replay value to Neon White that not many other games in its genre can share.
Between the time challenges, discoverable gifts, standard missions, and side conversations to explore, more than enough content has been elegantly stuffed into Neon White to keep players engaged right up until they see the game’s two credits roll. Even if mission levels are supposed to take less than a minute to complete, it is so easy for players to find themselves replaying each a dozen times before moving on. Ben Esposito may have been aiming to please a niche audience with Neon White, but there is no doubt that this absolute knockout will likely find an audience far beyond the cult following target Angel Matrix was going for. Neon White will keep players running until they reach the finish line of White’s story. (Marc Kaliroff)
Few games released with more hype than Stray, a platforming adventure game set in a stunning cyberpunk dystopia starring an adorable orange cat. There is much to love about Stray: the worldbuilding is clear and prescient, painting a future that is uncomfortably close to reality. The game looks incredible from tip to tail, proving that in a year packed with massive AAA releases, a densely packed city block can be just as intriguing as a sprawling map.
But the draw is the player character, a curious feline that is so realistically animated that upon the game’s release an entire cottage industry sprung up overnight of social media users recording their own cats reacting to Stray. The cat and its backpack instantly won the hearts of the internet. For a studio’s first effort, Stray is a magnificent example of a game that focuses on doing a few things extremely well. Its success is evidence that a more focused approach can yield an experience that is both adorable and instantly memorable. (Cameron Daxon)
4. Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course
Cuphead was already a remarkably impressive work of art back when it was first released in 2017, but the release of The Delicious Last Course DLC expansion managed to make it that much better. This is not to say that The Delicious Last Course serves as some grand innovation of the Cuphead formula; at its core, this expansion simply adds a few extra bosses and a new playable character for veterans wanting a bit more meat to the base game. Fortunately, Studio MDHR more than delivered with this extra content, proving that Cuphead has not lost an ounce of its allure after nearly five years.
The developers went all out with the new bosses here, producing some spectacular encounters that are immensely enjoyable to replay again and again. All of them boast challenging, intricately designed attack patterns that constantly keep players on the move, and despite how overwhelming they can be, they rarely, if ever, feel unfair. Although none of these bosses fundamentally change the core gameplay, the developers were not afraid to have them push Cuphead’s mechanics in interesting, creative ways. The base game was already known for being a visual marvel, but the new bosses still manage to raise the bar in terms of animation quality. In particular, the final boss has what are probably some of the most mind-blowing pieces of animation to ever grace a video game.
The cherry on top of this immaculate sundae is the addition of Ms. Chalice, a character that offers an engaging, more forgiving new playstyle that never outright nullifies the challenge that Cuphead is known for. The Delicious Last Course may not be a big meal, but every bite is worth savoring. (Daniel Pinheiro)
Sometimes a novel hook is its own reward. Tunic thrives on this principle by dropping you into a world where you don’t know what’s going on and forcing you to experiment to learn what’s even possible for you to do in the game. In essence, it’s just a Zelda clone with some souls-like energy grafted onto it, but the ripped-out pages of the manual that you find throughout change so much of how you experience the game that it becomes this odd little mystery box where it feels like anything can happen.
Games like Tunic are just as tough on your mind as they are on your reflexes, and with its hundreds of hidden little secrets, tricks, and messages, the game is something so special at the same time as it is just so obtuse. Still, that’s Tunic‘s charm in the end, that you will feel compelled to push past all of the confusion and frustration just to spend more time in its incredible little world. (Mike Worby)
2. God of War Ragnarök
It is hard to overstate just how much of an achievement God of War Ragnarök is. The follow-up to the highly acclaimed 2018 revival of the God of War series, Ragnarök takes incredible leaps in both storytelling and gameplay. The game pays off story threads established over a decade ago, anchored by a stunning ensemble performance cast. Combat is endlessly enjoyable, varied and difficult but with enough accessibility options to allow players to progress in any way they see fit. Though Ragnarök is available on the PlayStation 4, it looks stunning on the PlayStation 5. The art direction is impeccable, and the score is Game Awards-worthy.
But perhaps the greatest achievement of God of War Ragnarök is in how it handles its quiet moments. When faced with the inevitable, Kratos and Atreus choose to fight against their fate. But though Ragnarök is filled with spectacle and bombast, it is laced with subtle character moments and well-written favors that show the developers had goals beyond pushing Sony’s hardware to its limit. Rather than a bloody tale of vengeance, Ragnarök instead focuses on what it means to accept your past and create your own future. If this ends up being the last time players see Kratos, it is a worthy sendoff to a venerable character. (Cameron Daxon)
1. Elden Ring
FromSoftware’s latest evolution of the legendary Dark Souls formula is by far their most ambitious yet, and the colossal open world of the Lands Between stuns not only with its beauty but with the hundreds of secrets waiting to be discovered. Delivering a near-unprecedented level of player freedom, Elden Ring thrusts its Tarnished warriors into a desolate kingdom to fight for fame and glory with a core gameplay loop that doesn’t reinvent the FromSoftware action-RPG formula but instead ramps up every aspect.
Each region of the Lands Between is a small game in itself, and the map continues to expand no matter how many dozens of hours are spent scouring its every corner for loot. The diversity of weapons, spells, and player builds begs for multiple playthroughs to experiment with the vast array of collectible items. Boss encounters are more terrifying than ever, sporting agile and diverse movesets that test players to their limit in true FromSoftware fashion, but a new spirit ash summon system levels the playing field by opening up countless new opportunities to summon powerful NPC allies in times of need, making Elden Ring the friendliest Souls-like experience for newcomers while maintaining a challenge for those who seek it.
Elden Ring is a rare breed of game that provides a unique experience to every player. Regions can broadly be tackled in any order and by any available means, coalescing in a grand journey of conquest and discovery that dwarfs any of the Dark Souls games before it in scope. The sheer flexibility of Elden Ring is its core strength, and the overall consistency of its quality is a breathtaking achievement. It is the culmination of a decade of innovative game design that prioritizes the player’s journey over its own narrative, and the result is an unforgettable game that will be talked about for years to come. (James Cook)