The Finger Guns Games Of The Year 2022
Looking back over the last 12 months, trying to quantify the gaming world’s progress and changes, is a fascinating exercise. Before the year began, the long shadow that the
global bastard COVID-19 pandemic had cast was still causing delays. Many of 2021’s biggest names had slipped and that meant that 2022 was shaping up very nicely. Some of those games are still some way off from release…
Despite a year of uncertainty, of record breaking acquisitions, of streaming services closures and of new hardware launches, one thing remained consistent. The video games. While 2022 isn’t likely to be held in as such high esteem as the likes of 2003, 2007 or 1997, it has been a terrific year of gaming to live through. Now it’s time to decide which of those games were the best of the best.
Much like the previous 4 years (I can’t believe this website is 5 years old now), we do things a little differently here. Rather than try to pick just one “Game of the Year”, we like to acknowledge that that title might be bestowed upon a different game by any of our writers given the chance. We’re not a hive mind and rather than try to argue for just one game, we celebrate our differences and the games we individually like.
We have changed one thing for this year however – in 2022, we’ll be choosing just one game each to honour. Picking multiple games each was all fine and well when the Finger Guns team was just 3 people. Now we’re 11 strong. The introduction of Greg, Toby, Kat, Miles, Josh, Tom, Jon and Andy mean that it makes sense to restrict ourselves to just one game-a-piece. We do like a challenge, after all.
These are the Finger Guns Games of the Year 2022
I didn’t think that Santa Monica Studio could outdo 2018’s God of War. The return of Kratos was astonishing, simulations reframing the Ghost of Sparta’s grizzly past while exploring a new mythology in its own emotional arc. It is among my favourite ever games. Top 5 at least. Ragnarök would have to do something really special just to match the experience of its predecessor, never mind exceed it.
But Ragnarök is special. Very special. Every element, system and mechanic of this game has been tightened up since its predecessor. Combat is more fluid. There’s a bigger variety of enemy types. Gear progression and upgrades are easier to understand. It’s visually astonishing. Mechanically, the whole game is more user friendly, approachable and accessible.
But what the God of War games have come to be known for these days, rather than their gruesome deicide, is the storyline. Ragnarök’s tale is fantastic, to put it bluntly. Leaving the Greek past mostly behind it, the game focuses on relationships, the present and inevitably the future. The twisting battle of Atreus and Kratos battling against destiny, expectation and the All Seeing God that’s obsessed with Fate had me enraptured. By spinning the myths and legends to tell their own narrative, Santa Monica Studio created a beautiful culmination to their Nordic chapter and teed up whatever they want to make next. In my opinion, God of War: Ragnarök deserves the 10/10 score that Toby gave to it in his review. Of all the games I played in 2022 – more than 170 in total – Ragnarök was undoubtedly the best in my opinion.
The late Coolio once said, and I quote;
‘Power and the money. Money and the power. Minute after minute. Hour after hour…‘
It’s an apt quote, as the lyric refers to the repetitiveness of day to day existence. How each day is exactly the same but it’s all leading to something great. That something great? Well, we do keep spending most our lives living in an Arcade Paradise.
My review can do most of the talking on this one but it ended up being an easy decision. No other game this year had me coming back to it like Arcade Paradise did. The monotony of its gameplay cycle was oddly comforting, the promise of what was to come and how hard I had worked to achieve it was the cherry on the cake. How much time I put into the launderette in order to fund my underground arcade adventures ensured was perfectly balanced, as all things should be. Arcade Paradise became an obsession.
The joy of knowing just around the corner something massive is about to happen to your gameplay loop is such a fantastic hook. Eventually you’ll be able to stop picking up laundry, putting it in the machine, taking it out, putting it in dryer and repeating this process ad infinitum.
That promise of dedicating all of your time, money and effort into your kick ass backroom arcade is what keeps you motivated and moving throughout. It just works. It’s absolutely brilliant.
Did I mention you can play every single machine you buy for your arcade?
Don’t miss it. Just don’t.
Choosing a Game of the Year has been tricky for me. Not because there haven’t been any great games – I mean you’re reading about some of the best. No, it has been tricky because I’ve not had the time to play as many games as I would have liked (damn you powers that be that stopped me choosing Cyberpunk 2077 for the third year running). But then I remembered that this summer, I had the delight of reviewing Green Hell VR on the Meta Quest. It turned out this was a game changer.
To be honest this isn’t a great game. It’s a good game, but not great. It’s too buggy to be classed as a great game. But there was something about being stranded, literally with nothing to your name, not even a tutorial, armed with nothing but a will to survive. Survive the harsh environments, the poisonous critters scurrying around the jungle floor, and find the food that’s safe to eat by trial and error (mainly error). But once you grasp the mechanics, build a camp, find clean water, and discovered which mushrooms won’t make you vomit, you end up having so much fun. The VR aspect worked great with the in-game actions copying their real-life counterparts pretty well, like wrapping a bandage, or pulling back a bow string, but best of all chopping trees down with your axe. The feeling of immersion it gave the game was epic.
I’m choosing Green Hell VR because of what it has done for my gaming habits. Before Green Hell my attitude to survival craft games was… meh. I don’t have the time or inclination to make sure I’m hydrated all the time, or fed and bandaged if injured. It’s not what I like about gaming, hell, I struggle with those tasks enough in real life! But playing Green Hell in VR changed all that, it bought out my inner Bear Grylls and now survival craft games are my new favourite genre (at least according to the PlayStation wrap-up stats). My top games played this year were Green Hell and the Forest, another survival craft game. That left GTA Online in lowly third place. And if you know how much of a fan I am of GTA Online then you know its a big deal to have that game place third.
So Green Hell may not have the big budget of say God of War or Horizon, but it had enough charm and fun gameplay to make me change my gaming habits. Probably forever.
It was hard to pick this year, with Sifu being the strongest contender for a while. But what it boiled down to was: “Which game have I played more of?”. When it comes down to it, OlliOlli World has had me going back and forth so many, many times. Be it a quick ten minute blast or an hour of repetitive challenge grind, it has me hooked.
You can find out more about it in my deeper dive review, and it’s subsequent DLC reviews. But the abridged version is that it’s a simple-looking game and concept that quickly evolves into one of beautiful frustration. And that’s just finishing the story, let alone its many challenges along the way.
Looking like a Cartoon Network special, OlliOlli World is a slice of gorgeously simple magic that will have you giggling and yelling at your TV in equal measure.
This year some of my favourite games from the last generation got their well-deserved and incredible sequels. But it’s not God of War or Horizon that I want to make sure gets their place on this list – it’s the rat tsunami that is A Plague Tale: Requiem – improved in virtually every aspect from it’s unique and award-winning predecessor. Streamlined gameplay elements, bigger, bolder set-pieces, a wider scope of options in how you tackle stealth situations and multiple routes to your goal, but mostly it was the story.
Somehow Asobo took a relatively small-scale story, and managed to deepen and widen its scope, while at the same time not losing track of its very human central characters. A Plague Tale: Requiem takes cues from TLOU Part 2 and really delves into the descent into violence that’s possible if someone is driven by a strong enough goal and conviction. I was blown away by a masterclass of narrative game design – everything here – from stealth, to crafting, to tools to progression – is in service to the story, and making the first experience of that story one to remember.
No player will forget 2022 was the first time they waded through rotting flesh, the first time they saw a rat tsunami coming at them, the first time they realised just how deep and dark this story goes – these things will stay with me long after the credits rolled. A Sony exclusive in quality if not name, Requiem was a revelation.
Never have I ever played a game purposely slowly so I didn’t discover things too quickly because I wanted to be saturated in all a games glory. Puts hand up. I was so excited for the run up to Horizon Forbidden West. I remember squealing like Babe the Pig the day we saw the title screen at the PlayStation showcase all those years ago. It is criminal that Horizon Forbidden West went home from Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards empty handed this year.
The sequel does everything a sequel should, but we must remember this is a trilogy. So think, Harry Potter and the Death Hallows Part 1. Reunited with old yet familiar faces, jampacked, full of information, a continuation of an already intriguing and battle packed story, but the best is likely yet to come. It’s a worthy sequel that built on everything great about the original game. The fact the best might be yet to come is wild to me, because I enjoyed the absolute bones of HFW. The art-design is breath-taking (COME ON HAVE YOU SEEN THE WAVES?!), the world is vast, and that sense of adventure oozes out of it, even through every side quest. I can never get over how bloody gorgeous this game is. There is such attention to detail within every nook and cranny of this ginormous game. She even sweats in the desert.
I think it’s biggest downfall was being so closely released to the highly anticipated Elden Ring. It breaks my heart that many people left the sea, sands and desert of the Forbidden West to visit the lands in-between, and have not discovered the full magic of Horizon Forbidden West. I have not enjoyed a game as much as I did with HFW this year. I have not played as diligently and smiled so frequently during my playtime other that here.
I am a small gaming fish in a large gaming pond, but Horizon Forbidden West takes my Game of the Year award.
Way back in June I was dead certain of Neon White eclipsing everything else as my game of the year for 2022. Amongst the Horizon’s, Elden Ring’s, Ghostwire Tokyo‘s and everything else this phenomenal gaming year has bestowed upon us, it sat well above them all for me. That was until Saturnalia snuck into my life.
Saturnalia did something this year I’ve rarely experienced in the last few years: it surprised me at every turn. From the incredibly designed, claustrophobic and terrifying rendition of a Sardinian village to its signature nightmare creature chasing you without remorse, it had me hooked.
Just as I would catch my breath and start feeling comfortable, Saturnalia would up the stakes by adding a new layer to this horrific town’s hideously clever tricks. The introduction of rogue-like mechanics into a horror game was such a revelation, addressing the one core issue the genre always faces: when you know what’s coming and where you’re going, what’s left to fear?
Saturnalia is what’s left to fear. The way the village contorts into new variants, the way every alleyway lures you into a deathtrap, the way the suffocating darkness of the mines envelopes you. It’s just phenomenal.
Throw in an immersive story filled with organic learning for the player, a gorgeous art style that’s unique from any other and a constant slew of scares and it just had to be my pick. Very few games succeed in surprising me to this degree and very few horror games can match the ingenuity of Saturnalia’s systems at creating real tension. Such an amazing game it was, I bought it on PS5 after reviewing it on PC just to suffer it all over again.
2022 has been an excellent year for gaming. I’ve played several games that could’ve been my pick for game of the year if they hadn’t been released the same year as the one game that has to be my pick: Elden Ring.
I’ve been a fan of FromSoftware’s games since Dark Souls was released, and I’ve played through each one since. Elden Ring is Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoft’s magnum opus. The culmination of nearly three decades of experience, cherry-picking the best elements of their best games. The result is a game so genuinely impressive on every level that I truly believe it will shape the future of game development.
People joked about it being “Open World Souls” in the run-up to its release, and honestly, that is a big part of Elden Ring’s design. But taking the immersive sense of discovery, wonder and trepidation that their Soulsborne titles are famed for and dropping it into one of the most densely packed open worlds of all time is an immense achievement.
If there’s one thing I’d love for other studios to take away from the success of Elden Ring, it’s the willingness to trust their players will want to explore a game world instead of being told to.
It’s not just my game of the year; it’s my game of the generation.
Looking back at 2022, there’s so many to choose from when thinking about my Game of the Year. Whether it’s epics from AAA Studios, or understated gems from a team you count with one hand. All have delivered an excellency that has made 2022 one of my favourite years in a long time. But one game in particular has made me think long after playing – Signalis.
Developed by the two-person team at Rose-Engine, Signalis has repeatedly kept me pondering over the ambiguity of its story telling, the themes and my own emotions when digesting the game. Signalis is a top-down survival horror set in a dystopian retro tech future. It takes huge cues from the PlayStation One era of games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill; though Signalis plays closer to something from this generation, making it less derivative and more innovative.
With an emphasis on item management and multilayered puzzles that see you backtracking through the horrors; Signalis makes light work of creating a tense, thick atmosphere that leaves you on edge from start to finish. This is of course because of the gameplay, but the inspired art direction provides such a unique sci-fi spectacle whilst not being afraid of it’s anime/manga influences (Blame!, Ghost in the Shell). Signalis tells a story of letting go, bereavement and having autonomy of one’s choices. That was my takeaway at least, but as the developers have said, you can form your own meaning from the game. A bold stance in an age where everyone needs an answer, but it’s what has kept me stewing over Signalis and why it’s my Game of the Year.
2022 was quite the eclectic year for me. I primarily play strategy games, but the biggest strategy titles that came out this year had large amounts of bugs and launch issues, and a lot of the smaller ones just didn’t quite have the quality to make my GOTY shortlist.
My second love, however, is shooters: FPS’s, third person, top down; all are something I enjoy. Zero Sievert falls into the latter category and although its still in early access, its cemented itself as my favourite game released this year overall. I used to play a lot of Escape from Tarkov, but I’ve slowly become less willing to play highly competitive shooters in MP. Instead, I’m a suck for a great single player experience, and Zero Sievert delivers that in spades. Using Tarkov-esque systems from a top down perspective, a charming pixel art aesthetic and a well implemented sound design, on top of what is just a fun gameplay loop. For those reasons, Zero Sievert is my game of the year for 2022.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. I mean…this really wasn’t supposed to happen. For the first time in nine years, my Game of the Year was going to belong to a FIFA, because FIFA 23 is genuinely great.
But then you all started banging on about this game called Vampire Survivors, so I checked it out when it came to Game Pass, and…damn you people, why did you have to make me play it?
In a year where ‘ray tracing’ became this year’s hot new phrase (despite tanking performance on absolutely any hardware you throw at it), and pixel art fatigue became very real, it would have been easy to dismiss Vampire Survivors on looks alone. It’s basically original-Castlevania-meets-Gauntlet (to be very clear, I personally do not consider that to be a bad thing), but that graphical simplicity hides Mariana Trench-levels of depth.
Trying to pigeonhole a game like Vampire Survivors is surprisingly difficult. It blends a number of genres that will be familiar to anyone who has played games in the last decade, but does so in an entirely unique and thoroughly enthralling way. It’s a bullet-hell game, but you’re the bullet hell. It’s a survival game, where you will always die eventually. It’s a systems management game, but a roguelike one that means no two runs are ever the same.
The first time I killed a Reaper is – without question – the most exhilarating moment I’ve had in a game in years. That alone would have made it a contender, but add in a ton of charm and near infinite replayability – as well as an almost criminally cheap price – and you have a game absolutely everyone should play once. But good luck just playing it once.
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