David Smith’s Top 10 Games Of 2022

David Smith’s Top 10 Games Of 2022

I can put it off no longer: it’s time to talk about my Game of the Year picks for 2022 (he said, swigging heavily from a bottle of seasonally appropriate spiced ginger beer). 2022 has been a year in which production under COVID conditions finally caught up with the industry, scattering the usual Q4 heavy hitters across loose dates in 2023. But there were still a lot of good releases this year. What that’s meant for someone like me, whose job is to play a lot of games and then talk about them at length, is getting to play way more cool, weird little indie games than usual. It’s been a delight.

I’m not numbering my list of favourite games. I don’t believe that ranking them is of any serious benefit to the reader, beyond a kind of categorisation. Titles on my list are placed in no particular order. My selection criteria is also fairly straightforward: I’ve listed the games that resonated with me most. Games that stuck in my heart and mind, the ones that I’m still idly thinking about today.

My list may differ from yours in some significant ways — Elden Ring is notably absent because it didn’t resonate for me the way it did for others. That might be shocking, but I’m sure Elden Ring will recieve the love and praise I genuinely think it deserves from many other outlets this year. But it didn’t move me and so, to put it on my Game of the Year list for 2022 would have been little more than pandering, and I’m not gonna do that to you. I like you more than that.

Ok, enough with the disclaimers. What did make the list?

Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors is one of 2022’s great success stories. A small developer taking their game from itch.io to Steam and finding stratospheric success. A small game with a powerful loop, already often imitated but rarely recreated. A game that charges shockingly little for the depth and amount of video game it can offer the player.

It couldn’t be more simple: move your hero around a large map while hordes of demonic enemies close in around you. As you kill encroaching enemies, they drop blue orbs. Picking up the blue orbs contributes to levelling up your character. Every level-up allows you to pick new abilities that enhance your mosh pit murder potential. The goal is to see how long you can last before the ever-increasing number of enemies overwhelm you. Then, you try again. The game encourages experimentation with every run, letting the player try different builds. It never punishes you for failure, but success is its own reward.

Magnificent stuff. My personal Game of the Year for 2022.

It’s on Game Pass!


God of War: Ragnarok

Some might accuse me of recency bias for putting God of War: Ragnarok on my list but I think it deserves the spot. I reflected on the other PlayStation exclusives of the year — Gran Turismo 7, Horizon: Forbidden West, and The Last of Us Part I — and though I loved them all, GOW:R was the clear standout. Ragnarok does what every good sequel should do — recognise the strengths of the original and refine the aspects that worked best, but (in my opinion) it also tells a far better story than the 2018 reboot.

Indeed, there’s enough story here to fill two sequels, effectively handing the audience God of War 2 and 3 in one fell swoop. From a gameplay perspective, it seems to understand that the 2018 reboot nailed its most important verbs. Thus, the sequel doesn’t stray far off that centre line, preferring to refine those parts that were already good into something better. Not every facet of the game works — larger environments are of The Last of Us Part II‘s school of faux-open-world design, and some of the Berserker boss fights are patently and awfully unfair — but when God of War Ragnarok resonates, the vibrations are deeply felt and reverberate for weeks after. Sony does it again.


Marvel Snap

Between this and Vampire Survivors, I’m lucky to have had time left over for other games this year. Ben Brode’s triumphant return to form after departing the Hearthstone team at Blizzard, Marvel Snap is a smart, snappy take on the CCG genre that promotes clever synergies and the kind of three-moves-ahead strategic play that has kept Hearthstone humming for so many years.

The game board is divided into three randomised land cards, each with unique stats and modifiers, revealed across the first three turns. Across a total of six turns, you must play your cards into each land column, using each to your advantage while also synergising the cards in your hand. The game then becomes a best of three — the player that controls two land columns is declared the winner.

Simple, elegant, and after my money with a drive usually exhibited by people who work in debt collection. In a year stacked with great gear on mobile (not you, Diablo Immortal), this was my favourite mobile game of the year for 2022.



Immortality is an FMV mystery game from Sam Barlow about the mysterious career of Marissa Marcel, an actor that appeared in just three films, all lost. Your role is to play editor and historian. Sitting before an old viewfinder, you must slowly piece all three films back together, watching each scene, along with unused takes and extensive behind-the-scenes footage, to construct a timeline of what happened to Marissa.

To say any more than that would spoil one of the most interesting and compelling interactive experiences I’ve had all year. A brilliant game full of brilliant performances. It’s on Game Pass!


Card Shark

I have been thinking about Card Shark ever since I first played it. Card Shark is, at its heart, a narrative-driven RPG about hustling people at cards. Plucked from obscurity by a swindler with an eye for talent, your character slowly accrues the skills to hustle at the highest levels. Tricks, sleights-of-hand, misdirects all come into play as you expand your repertoire and make a play for bigger and bigger pots. Interestingly, it got in with an art style inspired by romantic era art several months before Pentiment would do the same.

Card Shark is a brilliant idea, masterfully constructed. There is a melding of concept and execution here that I find so impressive. I look forward to seeing what developer Nerial produces next.



A wild fusion of point-and-click adventure, cyberpunk dystopia, and grimy Southern Gothic pulp fiction, Norco carves out space in your head and refuses to give it back. It settles in, like something dark and malignant, and you find yourself playing with its threads as you drift off to sleep. Visually stylised, but in a way that communicates dread without embellishment, allows the player to read details into characters and dialogue that may or may not be there. I think this is brilliant, thrilling storytelling and its exploratory loop keeps you on the hook, leaving you excited to read the most mundane of hand-written notes. It’s on Game Pass!



I mentioned Pentiment earlier in this piece, and here it is again. A new narrative-driven RPG by genre stalwart Obsidian, Pentiment is one of the year’s finest pieces of mystery fiction. While it takes a few hours to get moving, the artistry and creativity on display here is beyond anything I’ve seen Obsidian pour into its work before — and when you look at its back catalogue, that’s saying something. The devil is in the details here, so many small flourishes that leap out, fly under the radar, or suddenly clarify themselves in a shock of realisation. Your character, a Bavarian artist, finds themselves at the centre of a macabre mystery and must use every ounce of cunning to solve it.

Brilliance. Obsidian is still at the top of its game, and with a title I can hardly believe Xbox let it make. When you’re owned by a megacorp like Microsoft, a game like Pentiment feels like an idea that would get laughed out of the boardroom. But here it is, on Game Pass.


Tunic is a brilliant isometric action RPG and puzzle game about a little fox on a big adventure. I know that the shorthand for Tunic is that it was made by people who really loved old Zelda, and I think that’s appropriate, though doesn’t entirely describe the experience of playing it. For one thing, Nintendo helpfully translates Zelda games into multiple human languages. Tunic is written almost entirely in a secret in-game language that must be deciphered in order to proceed. This is a game that had me pulling out a notebook and jotting down runes, trying to crack its alphabet. This journey understand, to comprehend, sits at the heart of Tunic‘s design. A game I wish I could play again for the first time.


The Quarry

I don’t think I’ve had a better multiplayer experience all year than I did with The Quarry. A fun and often silly horror romp, The Quarry is a game about a group of 20-somethings that help run a summer camp. With their tenure over and the camp is closing for the year, our heroes are saying their goodbyes and preparing to head home. When vehicle problems delay their departure, they resolve to spend one last night at Hackett’s Quarry summer camp. What could go wrong?

Naturally, things move fast in an ugly direction from there.

Its breakout hit Until Dawn taught Supermassive Games an important lesson in how people were interacting with its games: they were gathering around the TV to play through its photorealistic horror games by committee. In some cases, they were taking ownership of specific characters — as the game moved the player POV around, so too would the controller be passed from person to person. Supermassive includes the Pass The Controller multiplayer mode here that appears in its Dark Pictures Anthology, and I truly believe this is the best way to enjoy The Quarry. Play it with friends. Discuss your options. Who do you like? Who do you hate? Brilliant, chill, wine-with-friends entertainment. Essential play.


Metal: Hellsinger

There are several games in the rhythm shooter space that beat Metal: Hellsinger to market after its announcement. It is, however, the best of the lot. The premise is simple: DOOM, but make it a rhythm game. Indeed, you may have already been playing Bethesda’s DOOM reboots this way already. The metal thrums in your ears, the beat driving you forward. You time every hop and shot to the roar of the bass drum.

In Metal: Hellsinger, that’s the whole game. A centered reticule displays clear prompts for when to fire to stay on beat. Staying on beat raises your score multiplier. The higher your score multiplier rises, the more layers are added to the song blasting in your ears. In this way, you are rewarded for excelling with a more complete sonic experience. The resting heart rate of the song is usually a basic riff, drums, and a bass line. Each multiplier — 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x — adds another layer of audio, with the 16x layer being the song’s primary vocals. It is a propulsive, addictive game, and perfect for the metalheads in your life.

Game of the year deliberations are always hard. I hate killing my darlings, I really do. But don’t worry if you don’t agree with my list! Over the next week, we’ll have guest lists from some old friends, including James O’Connor, Alice Clarke, Junglist, Fergus Halliday and Alex Walker for you to judge as well!

Alright, you are now free to hang me out to dry in the comments. What do you agree with? What do you think I overlooked? What else should I play before the year is out? Let me know down below.

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