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AusGamers Top 10 Best Games of 2022
Post by AusGamers @ 12:24am 01/01/23 | Comments
Counting down the best games of 2022, one day at a time from Januray 1st, 2023…


Another year is dusted as we pick ourselves up for an already jam-packed 2023. But 2022 was highlight-filled in its own right, with some heavy-hitters like Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarök running AAA amok, while a handful of Indies and even a few left-of-fielders gave us bold, new experiences such as Vampire Survivors, Pentiment and the Aussie-made Cult of the Lamb, to name just a few.

To celebrate and highlight the games that made an impact on us in 2022, we’re back with our annual AusGamers Top 10 Best Games Of countdown -- an original concept we started back in 2018 which, as always, kicks off on New Year’s Day, with each of the 10 games entered into the list revealed one day at a time until we get to the coveted Number One spot. Before we reach Number One though, we also reveal our Honourable Mentions list on the penultimate day, ostensibly rounding out the full list of games to 20 that made our featured manifests for the year that just was.

Related: Top 10 Games of 2022 - Honourable Mentions




And so without further ado, as the older kids say, we start off 2023 by looking back at the year that was, which featured deep and challenging journeys, wonderful shared experiences, and new jaunts into realms unknown, unfamiliar and ultra-interesting that will inevitably shake up the greater gaming landscape for the better. Kicking off with one of 2022’s later entries, and certainly one of the year’s more unique offerings, overall...

10. Pentiment




Pentiment from Obsidian was as outlier as they come. Borne of a studio best known for its RPG and action-RPG tilts, the game centred itself around the musings and social interactions of a young artist working at an abbey in the 16th Century, illuminating manuscripts. His life is rather droll and his (or your) noseying about the tiny village of Tassing in Bavaria where events take place, leads to a deeper, darker mystery through which only he could find reason and cause. And thus a murder-mystery quickly establishes itself as the game’s key draw, with a presentation quite unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

From Our Review:
You won’t play a game like it this year, or even from the past few years lest you dabble in the narrative adventure field, and even then Obsidian’s new opus is pretty distinct. Its writing is among the best I’ve experienced for this style of game, while the cadence of its unfurling mystery is such that the game draws you into its world ever so slightly, you’ll barely realise how deep you are into it before it snags you in its binding.
Pentiment is currently available on PC and the Xbox family of devices as well as Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming on select devices.

9. Weird West




It’s not uncommon for games in the modern era to be supported past their release date, but in the case of Weird West from WolfEye Studios, an incredible community and a transparent developer, always willing to listen to feedback and take on critique, has helped foster the base game -- which already scored a 9/10 with us for review -- to even loftier heights. To say the game is better as we write this would be an understatement, and with full mod support now allowing creative punters to play with the game in their own way, fully supported by WolfEye, Weird West is an entirely new “must play”. But if you need to know more, we’ve got you covered…

From Our Review:
Weird West, from WolfEye Studios -- the developer’s debut game -- is a Weird Western that embodies the very concept of the subgenre. It is mystic and dark, and brooding and horrific. It plays with concepts of the unseen and the grotesque, the macabre and the dazzling. Shapeshifters and ghosts, wraiths and zombies and sirens and… pigmen. All and more are part of the functioning and accepted makeup of the world of the “West” -- a place of desperation and despair, but also one of hope and faith. It’s a place where you can help a fellow in need, or bury him deep beneath snakes -- the choice is yours.
Weird West is currently available on PC, PS4, PS5 and the Xbox family of devices.

8. Grounded





Obsidian is a studio known for creating both iconic and traditional western RPGs with a focus on narrative and choice. Grounded is an experience that sits firmly outside of this realm; a departure along the lines of the excellent Pentiment, which also made our Top 10. A ‘Survival’ game akin to Ark or even something like Valheim, filtered through the inviting setting that’s basically Honey, I Shrunk The Kids: The Survival Game. On default settings, the large backyard you get to explore is fraught with danger, surprise, and tense giant spider-filled moments. Thankfully the team at Obsidian also offers up the tools to tweak things to the point where playing Grounded can become meditative and relaxing, perfect for those more interested in building large multi-storage structures made of grass or mushroom brick. One of the best co-op games in recent years, and something that truly evolved into something special after its bare-bones Early Access debut.

From Our Review:
Grounded is an impressive entry in the survival game genre and one where the setting of being tiny in a suburban backyard amplifies its strengths as well as the stuff that we’ve all seen before in other titles. There’s just something fulfilling about hacking away at a thistle stem and using the falling debris to craft arrows - and then using said arrows to take out fireflies at night and then using those materials to create a makeshift mining helmet equipped with a torch.
Grounded is currently available on PC and the Xbox family of devices as well as Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming on select devices.

7. Total War: Warhammer III





The Total War series from Creative Assembly is one of the few high profile strategy franchises on PC still delivering and pushing the genre forward with each new release. As per its namesake Total War: Warhammer III is the third entry in the previously “history only” Total War series; dipping its toes into the high-fantasy waters of Warhammer. There’s a level of confidence and detail here that is commendable. How it weaves various factions, its huge world, and races into the cataclysmic story is impressive, but its lengthy cinematic tutorial might just be the most engaging and accessible entry point into the complex Total War series to date. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the post-launch addition of the Immortal Empires update that stitches together every bit of content from all three games in the trilogy. An ambitious undertaking that just so happens to be one of the most impressive design feats of 2022.

From Our Review:
Best of all, as complex as it gets, thanks to the wonderful in-game wiki and streamlined design for things like managing provinces, siege warfare, and Lords and Heroes, it never feels like a slog. It saves that for the strange and often brilliant foes you come across, like say, Slog the leader of a group of Ogres looking to mess with a Grand Cathay caravan. Deep, complex, and approachable, Total War Warhammer III is an intense, engaging triumph.
Total War: Warhammer III is currently available on PC.

6. Cult of the Lamb





Cult of the Lamb had us by the short shanks as soon as we saw its deceptive art style and learnt from its devs at Massive Monster that they went all in on researching cults and the occult. That it was being made by Aussies with Devolver paying the bills just added to our want for it, and when it landed we couldn’t have been happier. Some teething out of the gate with aspects in performance and minor bugs meant it wasn’t smooth for everyone, but much of that has since been addressed and the game is now in a steady state of readiness for anyone keen on submitting themselves to its glorious will.

From Our Review:
To get the mechanics out of the way first, Cult of the Lamb is perhaps best described as both a farming sim and a roguelike dungeon crusades-crawler, with tangential sim components and just a smidge of deck-building. But it’s also so much more than that. As the game’s titular lamb, now in charge of amassing followers to build a cult, you essentially take ownership of a rundown site that once belonged to another cult leader, who was also in the employ of the same god now commanding you. For reasons not fully revealed, he’s a bit washed up but hands over his overgrown estate to you and leaves you with enough parting words to make for a handy Tutorial. Then from there on out, the floor is essentially yours and Cult of the Lamb dishes up an on-the-fly learning experience where both trial and error and sacrifice and hard work go a long way to making you the best darn farmer cult leader around.
Cult of the Lamb is currently available on PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and the Xbox family of devices.

5. Vampire Survivors





For many, 2022 was the year of jumping in and out of the hit indie gem Vampire Survivors. A roguelike action-RPG bullet-hell thing that kind of plays itself. All you need to really focus on is dodging enemies as attacking is automated, no matter if it’s a whip or a spinning wheel of holy books. From there collecting the gems dropped by fallen monsters grants experience, and putting together a build that will help you last the 30 minutes until the Game Over screen becomes a heady mix of numbers and abilities building on top of each other. It’s addictive and hard to put down once you get into its particular groove, a mix of so many roguelike designs and action-RPG concepts that it’s something of a masterpiece.

Vampire Survivors also happens to be one of the most original releases of the year, with a simplistic pixel-art presentation that is part Castlevania, part rare SNES oddity. What really makes it special though, is how the progression keeps throwing new weapons, items and concepts into the mix. New stages, characters, modes, secrets and elements expand the depth and scope in such a way that even after a dozen or two dozen hours, long after you finish that first 30-minute run, there’s still something new and cool right around the corner.

Vampire Survivors is currently available on PC, Mac, Mobile (Android, iOS) and the Xbox family of devices as well as Xbox Cloud Gaming.

4. Tunic





Tunic sprung seemingly from nowhere but proved the strength and influence Game Pass can have on relatively unknown, Indie-style gaming. And beneath its cute Zelda-like marketplace thumbnail rests a game not only brimming with design confidence, but one willing to take bold risks and entrust players and their collective gaming wits to find their own way. Near flawless in almost every aspect of its design, Tunic’s fourth-wall breaking inclusion of nostalgia as a gameplay system elevated it to heights that certainly cements it in the top four on our list, and finished out the year as not only one of our most beloved experiences of 2022, but in our whole history of playing games.

From Our Review:
There’s also an economy tied to combat and that save/reset mechanism. And two: not everything here is as it seems.

That second point becomes the game’s carrot on a string moment, exemplified by the first page you discover from its manual. An old-school videogame manual, that you find... in-game. It’s an incredible moment when you realise there’s a quasi fourth wall-slash-meta element affixed to what you initially assume is the game’s tutorial. But when you realise the manual is a part of your journey; a part of your purpose and discovery, and that piecing it together is an integral aspect of the gameplay loop, that’s when Tunic really becomes something else.
Tunic is currently available on PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and the Xbox family of devices as well as Game Pass.

3. Elden Ring





One of the most played, talked about, and celebrated games of 2022, Elden Ring felt like a monumental breath of fresh air alongside presenting one of the most surprising and engaging open world adventures in years. In many ways, the modern open-world action RPG has become predictable and by the numbers. Linear. Elden Ring is challenging like Dark Souls, but its original fantasy world - penned in collaboration with George R R Martin - serves up memorable locales, bosses, and more through the simple, pure, and dangerous act of exploration. An experience that will be talked about for many years to come.

From Our Review:
95 hours after I began Elden Ring, the credits rolled. I haven't finished it, not by a long shot. I know for a fact there are three bosses I haven't beaten marked on my map with a little 'skull' to remind me of where to go when I want to feel bad about myself. Who knows what they might lead to, once defeated.

I said it to start off this review, and I'll say it again — you don't know what you don't know in Elden Ring. The last time the map expanded on me, the last time it delivered me, wide eyed, to yet another area filled with still more terrifying enemies — that was five hours ago. At the 90 hour mark, Elden Ring still had surprises left in store for me.
Elden Ring is currently available on PC, PS4, PS5, and the Xbox family of devices.

2. God of War Ragnarök





Where to begin? Well, God of War Ragnarök is a sequel that delivers upon most fan expectations in that its continuation of Kratos and Atreus’ story delivers an epic tale for the ages. It draws upon Norse myth in unique and creative ways, not at all dissimilar to how the series has forever handled its Greek mythology components. And in Ragnarök, we get an even more expansive look at Santa Monica Studios' version of the Nine Realms and all of its inhabitants. Yes it plays very, very similarly to the first outing, but that’s okay because what was initially presented was already Game of the Year material anyway, and so if it ain’t broke…

From Our Review:
You’ll be able to realm hop as you did in the first game, also. However, early on the game’s desire to go all berserker on its story means you’re kind of stuck following the beats Santa Monica Studios has laid out for you. It’s not a bad thing and there’s actually a lot of differences in gameplay, beat-to-beat. Whether that’s playing as Atreus in solo missions without Kratos, or with a supporting character along for the ride, the first two-thirds of the game truly serve up disparate experiences for the player and keep things fresh, while also making sure the series’ staple, combat, is persistent in its import, regardless of the moving nature of any given tangent or story moment-slash-path.
God of War Ragnarök is currently available on PS4 and PS5.

1. Return to Monkey Island





Living up to its namesake, Return to Monkey Island sees series and genre veterans return to a franchise that helped define and shape the traditional point-and-click adventure game back in the early parts of the 1990s. One of the biggest surprises of 2022 on account of Monkey Island being decades old, Return is much more than a simple throwback or nostalgia trip down LucasArts lane. It features a hilarious and heartfelt story, great puzzles, and wonderful voice acting. Naturally, it’s an experience that takes cues from modern design, but more importantly, it presents a tale where story and characters remain at the forefront of it all.

From Our Review:
One of the reasons why games like the original Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle still hold up comes from stories, dialogue and jokes holding up decades later. Return to Monkey Island is consistently funny, clever and in lock and step with this philosophy. How it combines logic and absurdity to create puzzles is genius and textbook Adventure Game Design 101. Stuff that not only makes sense but creates a sense of fun and genuine laughter when solutions carry an air of discovery and meaning to the comedic story. There are a few mazes for the sake of mazes, but thankfully you don’t have to be stuck if you don’t want to be.

Return to Monkey Island is also so much more than sheer fan service. So much more than a cheap nostalgia trip into familiar territory. There are callbacks and familiar faces aplenty, but the story is original, engaging and chock full of humour and warmth. It spans multiple islands and several well-realised locations. The fourth-wall breaking makes a return, as do a few tried and true story beats, but it still manages to feel every bit as original and timeless as what LucasArts delivered back in the day.
Return to Monkey Island is currently available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series X|Sas well as Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming on select devices.

/End



That's it for another entry in our OG, annual AusGamers Top 10 Games of entry, capping off a wonderful 2022. 2023 is already shaping up to be something special, and we're only in January. Thanks to our readers for sticking by the countdown each day and for your feedback. This entry's list might actually be one of our favourites for its diversity and creativity, and for being able to hopefully mix up expectations and deliver something different to every other GOTY list out there.

Stick with us through 2023 as we gear up for an exciting year and one we hope we can bring you some amazing content for.



Latest Comments
samatt
Posted 01:58pm 08/1/23
Might give Tunic a run at some stage, good list so far guys :)
Hogfather
Posted 03:47pm 08/1/23
I haven't played any new games this year I think, unless the dragon expansion for wow counts.

This will be interesting
samatt
Posted 05:25pm 08/1/23
Would love to play Elden Ring, the time investment and outdated PC put me off. One day, have to do the tax time write off for *office work* haha.
Hogfather
Posted 05:26pm 10/1/23
I love Elden Ring from afar, but I'm self-aware enough to know that I shouldn't play Souls games!
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