The Best Games Of 2022 (So Far)

·14-min read
So, a guardian, a skateboarder, and a paragliding archer walk into a bar in some of the best games of 2022.
So, a guardian, a skateboarder, and a paragliding archer walk into a bar in some of the best games of 2022.

It’s no exaggeration to say that, in terms of video games, 2022 is off to a banner start. The first three months of the year have been flush with the sort of marquee releases that tend to clog the holiday season, when year-end shopping sprees and awards shows are on everyone’s minds. It’s not even April and we already have close to a dozen games that easily qualify as some of the best of 2022.

This post originally appeared on March 16, 2022. We’ve updated it to reflect some of the best games that have come out in the meantime.

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What follows is a comprehensive list of those games, blockbusters and indie standouts alike, that have already left a meteoric impact on Kotaku’s collective tastes. But also, we get it: Your time is precious, and even if you spend every second of your free time playing, you’ll never be able to knock these all out before the next wave of must-play games comes out. To that end, we’ve included rough estimates of how long it would take you to complete each game, citing figures from the eternally helpful HowLongToBeat.

All right, that’s enough ado. Here, in no particular order, are the best games of 2022.

Perfect Tides

Four students have a conversation in front of a high school in Perfect Tides, one of the best games of 2022.
Four students have a conversation in front of a high school in Perfect Tides, one of the best games of 2022.

It’s pretty rare for a game to be so specific in its characters and storytelling that it feels like it reached right into your memories to construct its narrative. But that’s the kinda game Meredith Gran’s Perfect Tides is. A point-and-click coming-of-age adventure about the ephemerality of adolescence, Perfect Tides is just short enough to be played in a weekend and just challenging enough to stump you for a few minutes—if not a few hours. The real draw, though, is its complex story tracking a teenager growing up online. There are some seriously effective story beats here, topics of abuse and heartache and loneliness, that all go over with aplomb. There are multiple endings depending on the puzzles you solve, and some pull on the heartstrings so hard you may be reduced to tears.

Playable On: PC

Rough Average Playtime: N/A

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Anakin and Obi-Wan fight on a beam in Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, one of the best games of 2022.
Anakin and Obi-Wan fight on a beam in Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, one of the best games of 2022.

It might seem odd to include a licensed Lego video game on this list of great games, but Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga isn’t some tiny, rushed cash grab. Instead, it’s one of the best Star Wars games ever made. Seriously. It effortlessly combines all nine mainline films into a mega open-world action-adventure that is both a treat for Star Wars fans and perfect for kids and families to play together. It features hundreds of puzzles, characters, planets, spaceships, and loads of funny jokes and gags. And all of it looks amazing, with every Lego character and ship covered in details like scratches, dust, and dirt. If you love Star Wars, you should immediately stop reading and go play Skywalker Saga. And if you don’t love Star Wars, well it’s weird you read all the way to the end of this long paragraph exclusively about a Star Wars game…

Playable On: PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 19 hours

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Nintendo Switch)

Weird West

A bounty hunter talks to a pigman in Weird West, one of the best games of 2022.
A bounty hunter talks to a pigman in Weird West, one of the best games of 2022.

When you think of immersive sims, you probably imagine a first-person game with densely packed environments. Weird West bucks expectation—it’s an isometric shooter—but make no mistake: It is definitively an immersive sim. Developed by the co-creator of Dishonored, Weird West is an alternate-reality western where humans live alongside werewolves and other creatures of the night. The narrative is broken up into a sort of anthology across five distinct characters (a bounty hunter, a mage, a “pigman”). And even though your choices have steep consequences, like any solid entry in the genre’s canon, there’s a handy quick-save option that allows you to go wild, experiment, and make as many mistakes as you want.

Playable On: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Rough Average Playtime: 24 hours

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Kirby inhales a creature in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, one of the best Switch games of 2022.
Kirby inhales a creature in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, one of the best Switch games of 2022.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is one of the best Kirby games of all time, which easily secures it a spot in the best games of 2022. Everything that makes Kirby’s adventures great can be found here: adorable visuals, fun-to-use powers, and a gentle learning curve that steepens only when you want it to. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the kind of game in which you can spend hours searching for hidden treasures and grinding for better times in the boss rush arena or boot up right before bed for a quick romp through its gorgeous, post-apocalyptic levels. Forget that Italian plumber; Kirby is Nintendo’s true masterpiece, and Forgotten Land is a worthy successor to the pink puffball’s decades-long legacy of greatness.

Playable On: Switch

Rough Average Playtime: 15 hours

Kirby and the Forgotten Land - Nintendo Switch

Tunic

A fox dodges slime monsters in a dungeon in Tunic, one of the best games of 2022.
A fox dodges slime monsters in a dungeon in Tunic, one of the best games of 2022.

Few games on the planet trust you as much as Tunic does. The twee isometric adventure game, which casts you as a baby fox, barely explains a thing. You soon find a stick, then a sword, then a shield, then a magic staff, and use that gear to beat up Zelda-inspired foes. Along the way, you piece together an in-game instruction manual, deliciously styled like an old-school booklet, although even that doesn’t help clarify anything, as it’s written in a purposefully abstruse runic language. Tunic is confusing. It’s tough (bosses in particular). You always feel like it’s one step ahead of you. But it’s also the sort of game that unspools at a carefully plotted pace, that slowly unveils its secrets, every one more deliciously mind-bending than the last.

Playable On: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 15 hours

Shredders

Zeb Powell stomps a frontside bluntslide on a rail in Shredders, one of the best games of 2022.
Zeb Powell stomps a frontside bluntslide on a rail in Shredders, one of the best games of 2022.

Shredders isn’t a snowboarding game. It’s snowboarding. Clearly drawing inspiration from measured action sports hits like Skate, Shredders makes use of a twin-stick control scheme—the left thumbstick moves your body, the right moves your board—that’s tougher to get the hang of than “press A to jump” but magnitudes more authentic. The result? Fewer triple flips 1800s. More cork 720s. Shredders even features parks designed by a real-world terrain park designer, all the rails, kickers, and spine transfers laid out with natural flow. Like snowboarding on actual slopes, it takes some time to master Shredders’ quirks. But once you get into a flow, you don’t leave it. Consider yourself warned.

Playable On: PC, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 5 hours, not accounting for the time you’ll spend messing around after rolling the credits

Norco

A humanoid sits on the bed of a truck at sunset in Norco, one of the best PC games of 2022.
A humanoid sits on the bed of a truck at sunset in Norco, one of the best PC games of 2022.

Norco is a Southern Gothic point-and-click adventure with a quality of writing all-too rarely seen in video games. This is a tale about returning to a childhood home in the wake of a death, and discovering a community that is fracturing at its seams. Its magical realism-led depiction of the real-world town of Norco, on the banks of the Mississippi, delivers a subtle science fiction take on our current plight of poverty, environmental destruction, and isolationism. And yet, it does all of this without ever wagging a finger, or feeling like it’s delivering a “cautionary tale.” It’s compellingly smart, superbly told, and features some stunning pixel art.

Playable On: PC

Rough Average Playtime: 7 hours

Horizon Forbidden West

Aloy aims a bow at a giant shellsnapper in Horizon Forbidden West, one of the best PS5 games of 2022.
Aloy aims a bow at a giant shellsnapper in Horizon Forbidden West, one of the best PS5 games of 2022.

Horizon Forbidden West is the pinnacle of so-called “map games.” Lest you get the wrong idea, that’s unequivocally a compliment and a selling point, even if you’re burnt out on the format. Nearly every point of interest in Horizon’s world—a post-apocalyptic rendition of the American west—is worth checking out, whether you end up finding a surprisingly complex tactical mini-game or the first mission in a riveting chain of side-quests. Then there’s the inventive combat system (based around futuristic bows and arrows) which pits you against some of gaming’s coolest cannon fodder (robots modeled after prehistoric beasts), all set against the backdrop of a truly a bonkers story anchored by an all-star cast (Lance Reddick, Angela Bassett, Ashly Burch). Also: You get a hang glider. Take that, BotW.

Playable On: PS4, PS5

Rough Average Playtime: 52 hours

Horizon Forbidden West Standard Edition - PlayStation 5

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

A Pokemon trainer rides Arceus in Pokemon Legends: Arceus.
A Pokemon trainer rides Arceus in Pokemon Legends: Arceus.

There’s never been a Pokémon game like Pokémon Legends: Arceus. It’s not quite an open world. Its story beats are nothing revolutionary. It’s not even in the running for prettiest game on the Nintendo Switch. But somehow it does capture the magic of seeing a fire dog, fencing bug, or whatever other weird creature stomping around on the horizon like no game before it. Pokémon roam mountains, valleys, and forests ready to destroy you, but also befriend you and show off their personality once you’ve mastered the game’s slick crafting economy and combat. Arceus is the best parts of Pokémon Snap and of the main series under one roof, transcending the limitations, which cast a shadow over so many of its predecessors, of adhering to rote tradition.

Playable On: Switch

Rough Average Playtime: 40 hours

Pokémon Legends: Arceus - Nintendo Switch

Elden Ring

A giant monster wields a giant axe in Elden Ring, one of the best Xbox games of 2022.
A giant monster wields a giant axe in Elden Ring, one of the best Xbox games of 2022.

Elden Ring is the culmination of the FromSoftware ethos established almost 30 years ago with the original King’s Field. But despite being the company’s biggest game to date, both in terms of scale and popularity, it also knows how to get out of its own way. While Souls newcomers may struggle with Elden Ring’s vague goals and overall challenge, every minor frustration serves to make its environmental storytelling and moments of triumph all the more compelling. Elden Ring is not a game that gently caresses your tired shoulders but one that latches onto your back like a demonic monkey, an obsession made all the more difficult to shake by its copious checkpoints and the ease with which it allows you to drop in for a quick adventure, and then jet. If you previously wanted to get into the Souls series but bounced off its lengthy dungeons and backtracking, Elden Ring may just be the FromSoftware game that finally gets you over that hump.

Playable On: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 77 hours

Elden Ring - PlayStation 5

Nobody Saves the World

Nobody stands on a whale's tongue in the middle of an ocean in Nobody Saves the World, one of the best games of 2022.
Nobody stands on a whale's tongue in the middle of an ocean in Nobody Saves the World, one of the best games of 2022.

At its core, Nobody Saves the World is about making numbers go up. You play as a magician with shape-shifting powers. Initially, you can only transform into standard fantasy fare—think: guard, ranger—but the more XP you earn, the more forms you can morph into, eventually turning into a horse, a mermaid, a dragon, or a freakin’ zombie. Every form has its own set of abilities, but you can mix and match moves across all of them, and swap between up to eight forms on the fly. For those who love a min-max grind, the one in Nobody Saves the World is as compulsive as they come. The whole game is set to an earworm soundtrack by Jim Guthrie (known for scoring Below, Sword and Sworcery, and Indie Game: The Movie) that never gets old, perfect for a grind that doesn’t get old either.

Playable On: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 19 hours

Doki Doki Ragnarok

A viking stands next to a village in Doki Doki Ragnarok, one of the best games of 2022.
A viking stands next to a village in Doki Doki Ragnarok, one of the best games of 2022.

A game about a Viking who dates villages (no, not villagers) sounds like it’s either going to be too goofy to be rewarding, or too creepy to be comfortable. And yet it is absolutely superb, a genuinely funny, sweetly progressive game about ransacking fields and burning down farms, all in the name of love and pillaging. What’s most crucial here is just how lovely it is. It’s a warm hug of a game, without any unwanted wandering hands. It’s also, we’re confident in saying, the only game in which you can get friend-zoned by a capital city. Doki Doki Ragnarok’s an absolute treat, from so far left of left field, with many big laughs on offer.

Playable On: PC

Rough Average Playtime: N/A

Wordle

A person plays Wordle on an iPhone, one of the best browser games of 2022.
A person plays Wordle on an iPhone, one of the best browser games of 2022.

You likely won’t have heard about Wordle. It’s an obscure little online puzzle game in which players must attempt to guess a five-letter word with Mastermind-like hints. What’s neat about it is there’s only one puzzle every day, so you can compete against any friends you’ve let in on this little secret. Maybe don’t tell too many people, though, because if this blows up you just know it could get spoiled. Something ridiculous might happen, like The New York Times deciding they want to own it, and then removing all the rude words. So check it out, it’s amazing, but maybe keep it under your hat for now.

Small print: Yeah, Wordle technically came out in 2021, but the world didn’t start freaking out over it ‘til this year. So it fits!

Playable On: Your web browser of choice

Rough Average Playtime: Lmao

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen

A giant monster with three blue eyes stands menacingly in front of red trees in Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, one of the best shooters of 2022.
A giant monster with three blue eyes stands menacingly in front of red trees in Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, one of the best shooters of 2022.

If you’ve written off Destiny in the past, it’s time to change that. Destiny 2: The Witch Queen features the best campaign the series has ever had, full of moments that go toe-to-toe with the likes of Doom Eternal and Halo Infinite, and some that even surpass them. It’s the kind of expansion that reminds you of what Bungie was before it became the engine behind one of the most successful (and demanding) live-service games in the modern era. The Witch Queen is a stunningly original take on gothic sci-fi from top to bottom with a story to match. Best of all, it lets you ignore as much of the MMORPG grind as you want to.

Playable On: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 13 hours

Far: Changing Tides

A sailor operates a rickety vessel on an open ocean in Far: Changing Tides, one of the best games of 2022.
A sailor operates a rickety vessel on an open ocean in Far: Changing Tides, one of the best games of 2022.

For a game about the end of the world, Far: Changing Tides is remarkably chill. You, as an unnamed protagonist, are tasked with traversing through the world of a waterlogged apocalypse. Your goal, simply, is to keep heading toward the right side of the screen, obstacles be damned. Far: Changing Tides ebbs and flows between quirky environmental puzzles and slower-paced sailing segments, in which you raise a mast to catch a breeze or jump up and down on an Industrial-age bellows to fire up an engine in a rhythmic sequence that veers on repetitive but ends up engaging enough to keep you rapt.

Playable On: PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 6 hours

Triangle Strategy

Soldiers line up on a grid based battlefield in a castle in Triangle Strategy, one of the best games of 2022.
Soldiers line up on a grid based battlefield in a castle in Triangle Strategy, one of the best games of 2022.

Triangle Strategy is an engrossing tactical role-playing game that makes the most out of its emotional Octopath Traveler roots. The story is comfort food for anyone who enjoys soap opera antics or a plot with actual politicking. Its unique party vote system also ensures that every path divergence feels meaningful. The pixel animations are among the best in recent games, and the map art takes full advantage of its Final Fantasy Tactics appearance. The tactical system is very simple to learn, but also difficult to master. Even longtime tactics fans will struggle with the maps that appear in the middle to late-game, but the AI is fair. As a bonus, Triangle Strategy is the type of game that’s easily replayed after a first run.

Playable On: Switch

Rough Average Playtime: 37 hours

TRIANGLE STRATEGY - Nintendo Switch

Vampire Survivors

A player fights enemies in Vampire Survivors, one of the best PC games of 2022.
A player fights enemies in Vampire Survivors, one of the best PC games of 2022.

By all rights, Vampire Survivors should not be as good as it is. It very clearly rips off Castlevania aesthetics; utilizes a boring, blocky user interface suited more for mobile devices; and asks little of the player apart from walking through endless hordes of bats, zombies, and other assorted ghouls. And yet, Vampire Survivors may just be one of the greatest games of 2022 so far. Vampire Survivors’ power lies with its near-constant dopamine rush. It’s the perfect game to pull up during a boring work meeting or while waiting in lengthy Final Fantasy XIV queues. Few experiences in gaming today feel as satisfying as clearing the screen of baddies, opening a chest, and being showered with items and gold. Even better, Vampire Survivors doesn’t try to nickel and dime you with mobile-style monetization, even though it would be the easiest thing in the world for its solo dev to do. That alone deserves some praise.

Playable On: PC

Rough Average Playtime: 11 hours

OlliOlli World

A skateboarder pops a three flip off a banana shaped rail in Olli Olli World.
A skateboarder pops a three flip off a banana shaped rail in Olli Olli World.

Roll7's OlliOlli World is a super-cute skateboarding platformer, but don’t let the vibrant color palette and charming characters fool you. Like real-life skateboarding, this game is tough. It requires immense diligence and focus to pull off the many gravity-defying moves in the game’s extensive tricktionary. But even if you slam—and you’ll slam a lot—OlliOlli World is a joy to play, particularly because of its Adventure Time aesthetic, chill soundtrack, and simple controller scheme. It’s steezy as hell, and the multiple paths and challenges ensure you’ll keep coming back to land the highest scores and sickest tricks possible.

Playable On: PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 9 hours

OlliOlli World Standard - PC [Online Game Code]

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