2022 is coming to a close, a year that feels like it both went by unbelievably fast and lasted for five additional human years. Can you believe the Microsoft/Activision thing, Wordle and the Metaverse all happened in the same year. Can you believe Ghostwire Tokyo came out this year? There was a whole month-ish before Elden Ring! Jesus Christ, so much has happened and I’m sure some goofballs out there are still workin’ on their “was 2022 a bad year for games?” headlines. Meanwhile I’m over here drowning in tremendous new backlog debt like the US government arguing over the debt ceiling before shutting down. We survived though, and as we head to 2023 I find myself looking back on some favorites. And not just because it’s kind of a work requirement.
The Best Games of 2022 – Prima Games Senior Staff Writer Lucas White
10. The King of Fighters XV
I’m no good at the King of Fighters games, so I can’t really speak to them on a serious level. But as a fighting game released in 2022, KoF XV was one of the most complete and fleshed-out releases in a long time. It makes Street Fighter V look super bad in comparison, with the amount of polish and amount of stuff to do ready to roll on day one. It’s also a joy to play even on a casual level, with lots of flashy movements, high speed fundamentals and a huge roster. SNK fans ate well this year.
MultiVersus has consistently been a surprise for me. Originally I kind of latched onto it for a work thing out of stubbornness, because I would rather die than keep up with most live service games. But being the “beat writer” for MVS was a blessing in disguise, because I ended up genuinely loving this strange, scrappy little fighter. From the way each character is lovingly adapted from their source material to the transparency and responsiveness of the developers, there’s a lot to love about MultiVersus. Even when its problems can absolutely ruin my day if I let them.
8. Star Ocean The Divine Force
I’ve always been fascinated by Star Ocean but it was never one of the top JRPG pillars for me. Part of that seemed to be a struggle to really hone in on and refine an identity on Tri-Ace’s part. But The Divine Force goes all out to do exactly that, offering the familiar fantasy/sci-fi hybrid but putting a lot more energy into combining those elements both literally and philosophically. The way Divine Force interrogates the Star Trek “Prime Directive” thing Star Ocean has also used for decades was a breath of fresh air and an excellent springboard for all kinds of shenanigans.
7. Little Noah: Scion of Paradise
I had no idea this game existed until it showed up on a Nintendo Direct, but the moment that footage rolled I knew I needed to get my hands on it. This is a gacha-style action platformer-slash-roguelite that isn’t free to play, therefore isn’t begging you for money the whole time. Instead, it uses those ideas for a game that doesn’t need to grind you to death until you desperately reach for the wallet. The end result is a compelling collector that doubles as a surprisingly creative brawler that has you constantly customizing your attack combos based on what you find during your runs.
I practically tripped over this game, and I’m so glad I did. Soulstice is very similar on a surface level to the likes of Devil May Cry, even using super familiar basic mechanics and the whole orbs for upgrades thing. But its central gimmick, having a ghastly partner helping you at the same time, expands the options well beyond what you’d expect. And that gimmick is also central to a seriously well-written story that’s held up by equally strong voice performances. Can’t recommend this one enough to fans of character action games, or dark fantasy anime along the lines of Berserk or Claymore.
5. Vampire Survivors
It’s Prima’s overall GOTY, and somewhere in the mix on my personal GOTY. Vampire Survivors is pure lizard brain stimulant, throwing so much information at you with such speed it’s hard to do anything but drool and marvel at the incomprehensible nonsense on display. It’s a whole subgenre now, which is indication enough of the impact this game has had and will have on gaming going forward.
4. Sonic Frontiers
I never would have guessed a Sonic game would end up on not just my personal GOTY list, but one for a whole website as well. Truly, 2022 had many curveballs in store for the gaming community. Sonic Frontiers is a messy game for sure, but it’s one that hits its core conceit so cleanly it’s impossible to give a shit about the jagged edges. Zooming around the open world, doing ridiculous Dragon Ball Z combat moves and hangin’ out for some chill fishing vibes with Big the Cat add up to a Sonic game that is definitely a confused act of desperation, but one that’s so much fun to play.
3. Live A Live
I’ve said it a million times already but it bears repeating once more. It’s unbelievable this game exists. Live A Live was an experimental release even on the Super Famicom, and never had a single shot at a localization. Even with a fan translation that’s been around for years, Live A Live has been firmly in the sicko category of Square Enix IP. But here we are in 2022 with a full-on HD(2D) remake, published by Nintendo and given a full retail release. Aside from its novel existence, Live A Live is really great on its own right. Using an anthology style approach to its storytelling, this game uses an array of disparate genres to approach its concept from several angles, then brings it all together at the end.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Shredder’s Revenge would easily be GOTY in a year that didn’t also have Stranger of Paradise getting in the way with its bizarre energy. This is about as straight up of a home run as a game can get, perfectly capturing the magic of the games it’s inspired by and adding to it with a competence and enthusiasm that you can feel through the controller in your hands. Honestly just go read the review on this one, it’s one of the few 10s I’ve handed out all year.
1. Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin
I don’t know if Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is the “best” game I played all year. But that’s only if we’re looking at games through a specific lens, and that lens sucks sometimes. This game has stuck with me like no other, easily settling in as the most memorable and impactful game I played this year bar none. It’s full of distinct systems you can tinker with for hours, absolutely bizarre storytelling that subverts your expectations and knows it did, and it’s all wrapped up inside the original Final Fantasy in a way that’s weird and impressive at the same time. I dare another AAA game publisher to take a swing like this in 2023.
And now for my final sentence on Prima Games of 2022. This one, I mean. Ah, shit. Oh well.