Jump Dash Roll's Best Video Games of 2022
2022. The year that Covid “disappeared” (unless you live in China), Russia invaded the Ukraine, and the most controversial World Cup to date happened. Every year you think things can’t get worse… But anyway, let’s pivot around to something we can all celebrate: the best games of the year.
And there have been some crackers. From incredible triple-A titles down to tiny indie masterpieces, the gaming world never fails to eschew the grim reality of our perilous existence in order to pump out bonafide works of art. This year is no exception, which made choosing a favourite incredibly hard for the writers at Jump Dash Roll. But once again, a few brave souls have poked their head above the parapet to fly a flag for the title they deem to be “best” this year.
It’s all subjective, but then isn’t every opinion? So without further ado, here are JDR’s picks for 2022.
The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow - Rob Kershaw
I could have picked God of War: Ragnarok, by sheer virtue of the amount of time I ploughed into it. I almost did. Santa Monica Studio’s sequel was intoxicating in the way that the first was, but the expanded world, increased amount of stuff to do and incredible cinematics aside, it was ultimately just a bigger, better version of their 2018 title.
Conversely, The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow was an outlier: something that took me by surprise with its slow-burning story, creepy village horror vibes, and excellent voice acting. As point-and-clicks go, it might not have advanced the genre in a truly meaningful way, but it absolutely nailed the basics. Puzzles were of middling difficulty and logical, the interface was accessible, and the characters were all unique and interesting. But it was the story of Thomasina’s single-mindedness in her archaeological pursuit that provided the hook. Coming up against a hostile community and a host of setbacks, her determination imbued the player with equal urgency to find out exactly what was in the barrow, and why people were so keen to keep her away.
If ever there was a succinct parable about the dangers of not heeding warning signs, odd occurrences or creepy nightmares, Cloak and Dagger’s superb psychological horror set the bar. It might only take four hours to complete for seasoned adventure gamers, but the ending lingered on in my mind for days and even weeks after the credits rolled.
Stray - Peter Taylor
In comparison to other years I've not played, or completed, that many games this year. It's been a busy year in our family and I don't see that slowing down any time soon, if anything, Dad's taxi is going to get busier and busier. So in terms of picking my game of 2022 the pool of potential winners isn't huge but if I'm honest my pick, Stray, wasn't even on my list of games to play. I am, however, glad that I decided to give it a whirl as it caught me in ways I didn't expect.
On a basic level, Stray is a puzzle-platformer with a few instances of combat (if you can really call it that) where you are a cat. You've fallen into a place filled with sentient robots but no humans and, since you're a cat, you've no idea what's going on. I loved how Stray rewards you with exploration as you can piece together what happened but also you get to see just how much work the developers put into realising the world that they have created. There are so many incidentals that you spend almost as much time exploring as you do to complete the game.
Stray isn't a long game to play and you could easily get through the story in a handful of hours but there's more to be seen and, if you do, it makes the ending much more poignant. I am grateful I looked past the basics and played Stray. Visually it's impressive but its strengths are in its attention to detail and the story it tells.
Elden Ring - Luciano Howard
I don't have time to play everything I want. However, I am unable to say no to any FromSoftware game, so upon Elden Ring's release in February I got hold of it and played it as much as I could.
And I still am. As well as watching videos, perusing the subreddit and learning all I can from all the wikis, I've logged on to play every day I can, with plans to go back for more. I'm still only on my first journey through the lands between, too. New game plus awaits.
The game is magnificent. I still put Dark Souls at the top of the Soulsborne tree, for myriad reasons, but Elden Ring is that gameplay translated to a miraculous open world which keeps surprising. Quests are multiple and varied, signposted better for newcomers but with the crazy depth you feel can only be solved with the community - I mean, jumping off a cliff to find a floating rock, lying down and then being transported in space and time to fight an ancient dragon lord? Wow.
It's a brilliant game, full of excellence and variety and narrative and character. It's all there to be enjoyed many times over as well. A masterpiece, then, yes, and very much my game of the year.
South of the Circle - Derek Johnson
I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to decide what my favourite game of 2022 is. There were so many great titles that it would take, well, about ten reviews' worth of words to talk about them all. But, of all the things I want to hyperlink (but won’t, you’re welcome editor), South of the Circle is far and away the best.
Although it doesn’t have much in the way of gameplay, its story is mind-bogglingly fantastic. With what is easily the most believable and best voice-acted cast of characters I’ve ever listened to, the game’s narrative absolutely encapsulated me in a way that few other titles have. I completed it in one sitting, and after that sitting, I needed a cigarette and glass of Laphroaig 10 year just to process everything I’d sat through.
That’s something I’ve only done after especially hard days in the real world, and after beating The Last of Us Part II, which is the highest praise I can give a video game. South of the Circle is a remarkable piece of entertainment that commentates on war, peace, love, the environment and so many other important societal issues, and it does it in a way that made me ball my bloody eyes out at the end. I can’t say I wanted to do that this year, but the point of excellent interactive entertainment isn’t to make you feel better, it’s to make you think, and my goodness did South of the Circle make me think.
God of War: Ragnarok - Ant Barlow
This year I’m forced to choose between my head and my heart. As such, I’m going to start by again fawning over Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. A perfectly realised retro side-scrolling beat’em up that captured absolutely everything a TMNT obsessive like myself loves about the Heroes in a Half-Shell. It’s undoubtedly got the best soundtrack of the year if we’re allowed to hand out other awards here.
Unfortunately, not even Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo can conquer the might of Kratos. God of War: Ragnarok is not only the best game released this year, but one of my favourite games of all time. Building on the incredible foundations Sony Santa Monica laid in 2018, Ragnarok improves on every aspect.
Within the first hour, I had cheered, laughed, cried and watched the story unfold with my jaw agape. The performances are wonderful, the action is thrilling, varied and satisfying, and the writing is some of the best in all of videogames. There’s a wonderful balance between intense action and moments of reflection throughout, which helps everything God of War Ragnarok does land that little bit harder.
This is is a game that I have devoured but continue to play more of and leaving the Nine Realms is not something I plan on doing for some time.
Citizen Sleeper - Iain Blank
I have been playing low-spec indie games almost exclusively in 2022, primarily because my gaming PC was accidentally put into storage, leaving me with only a 7-year-old laptop to play games on.
Still, that was far from a bad thing, as there have been some great indie offerings this year. But of all the games I played, the one I find my mind continuously looping back to is Citizen Sleeper.
The game is graphically basic, and most of the game involves reading through text boxes. Still, there's something about the storyline that stays with you long after you complete the game. You play as a robot who has escaped a life of servitude, trying to come to terms with your newfound freedom and, quite simply, to survive. It's a basic premise used in sci-fi for decades, but it works particularly well in this game and makes you think about the future of artificial intelligence.
Could an AI machine ever really become human? Should a robot with synthetic intelligence be entitled to the same rights as the humans that created it? These are the moral and philosophical questions that Citizen Sleeper provokes in players, and they are guaranteed to stay with you long after the game is finished.
Dwarf Fortress - Shaun McHugh
The second winter comes soon. Supplies are good; there’s enough plump helmets stockpiled to ensure ale can be brewed. Cold is easier to stand when you’re inebriated.
Last month a new migrant came, Urist Granitebright. He brought his four young children, three boys and a girl. They are too young to be useful yet, although the youngest girl spends many hours watching the craftsdwarves who decorate goods with shell and bone.
The children play hide and seek in the stockpiles, jumping out from behind statues to scare passing workers. Many enjoy the distraction; others complain young dwarves don’t have the respect for their elders they used to.
One evening, at dusk, a terrifying beast of spikes and spittle attacked the fortress. Tiny eyes swivelled madly in a blood stained face. The giant hedgehog was frenzied, though none could tell why. It broke through the paddock fence, grabbing a yak by the head and shaking it violently. The wood cutter, Urist Èrithdîsh, was first to arrive, swinging his axe at the beast and cutting it across the side. The hedgehog screamed in pain and fell prone to the ground.
As others looked on in terror, the children ran from the fortress. They surrounded the hedgehog and stamped it to death.
Winter has come now. The wind is too cold to venture out for long. In the fortress work goes on. The girl sits and watches as a craftsdwarf decorates a barrel with the bones of a giant hedgehog.
And that’s why Dwarf Fortress is my game of the year.
Stray - Jessica Eudy
Another year’s in the books, and it was certainly an exciting one for games. Elden Ring was, naturally, the game that defined the year for most people; others enjoyed oddball roguelites like Cult of the Lamb or e-sports juggernauts like Overwatch 2.
But the game that really snuggled up to my heart (and many others’) was BlueTwelve Studio’s Stray, the poignant feline platformer that became an online sensation on release. After all, there are few things that the Internet at large loves more than cats. Stray is a game that feels novel to play – a cat’s movement is very specific, after all – but never gets overwhelming. In addition to lovingly detailed kitty cuteness and enjoyable puzzles, Stray also offers an engaging sci-fi plot line that feels strikingly relevant to our world as it is now. The underground game world may only be occupied by television-headed robots and one stray cat, but the themes and motifs present are wonderfully human.
A lot of love and care was poured into this game by the developers, and it shows – there are a plethora of secrets to discover, if your stray cat is curious and tenacious enough. I gave this game a 9/10 in my review, and there’s a reason why. 2022 may have been a good year for games, but this was easily one of the best. Looking forward to 2023, I’m particularly anticipating The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, as Breath of the Wild is one of my all-time favourite titles. But if 2023’s games give us just a fraction of the heart and passion that went into 2022’s breakout indies (Stray included), I think we all have a lot to look forward to.
We’d love to hear your choices for the games that didn’t make it onto our list which you think have been unfairly overlooked — hit us up on Twitter with your thoughts!
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