|Are ya winning, son? I don't know.|
Considering that I spent most of last year playing through some extremely long games, it's perhaps not a surprise that this year I gravitated towards games that offered a more condensed experience. Not necessarily games that could only be completed in a couple of hours (though there are a few that fit that description), but ones that you can pick up for 20-30 minutes, and then walk away feeling like you got something out of the experience.
That preference for shorter experiences explains some of the major absences on this list, so let's get them out of the way: I did not play Elden Ring, God of War: Ragnarok or Horizon Forbidden West. In part that's because they're all very long games and I was not in the mood for that this year, and partly because I have either a lack of experience with the previous games in those series/genres (I keep meaning to play the Soulsbourne games, and maybe this will be the year) or a lack of interest (I found the 2018 God of War pretty boring and not fun to play so didn't feel the need to run out and play the sequel). As such, those three behemoths of the year in gaming will not be on this list.
Before we get to the top ten, I have a few honourable mentions, which this year are a mix of older games that I played for the first time, games from this year that I really liked but just missed the cut, and ones that I didn't spend enough time with, but was impressed by what I saw.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon (PlayStation, Xbox, PC)
|Grizzled Yakuza is about to have an extremely bad time|
I picked away at this spinoff from the main Yakuza/Like a Dragon series over the course of the year and finally finished it just days before the new year started. While it didn't quite hit the same highs as Yakuza 0 did for me, it's easily one of the best games in the series and the shift from the beat-em-up combat of the earlier games to turn-based RPG mechanics worked fantastically well, adding an extra layer of over-the-top ridiculousness to a series that has always gone big and delivered. I'm glad that I'm all caught up on the mainline series in time for the next installment, the remake of Like a Dragon: Ishin! that comes out in February.
Pentiment (Xbox, PC)
|If you ever wished the Bayeux Tapestry was a game, that's pretty weird, but also Pentiment will suffice|
I played some of Pentiment when it came out in November, but didn't really get into it enough to include it in the top ten, but it's a beautifully-realized and engrossing game about history, not just as a setting but as a theme to be explored through point-and-click adventure mechanics. One of the most distinctive games of the year and I'm looking forward to playing it more in 2023.
Super Kiwi 64 (Switch, PC)
|This looks so bad and so good at the same time|
A delightful hit of nostalgia that mimics the style and feel of N64-era collectathons like Banjo-Kazooie, which does not overstay its welcome since it takes literally an hour and a half to finish. Not a deep experience by any means, but a really excellent recreation of a specific style and vibe.
So now, here are the ten best games that I played in 2022.