Featuring a fun and slightly silly setting for this genre, Grounded comfortably provides the basics that allow it to create an engrossing and at times horrifying survival experience. Add a good amount of worldbuilding and a narrative that compliments the gameplay nicely and you have a cooperative experience well worth your time, even if a few bugs (and not the good kind!) have stuck around throughout its pre-release period.
Wylde Flowers is what you get when you take a farming/life sim, such as Stardew Valley, and focus more heavily on the narrative and characters. A constant shift of events and huge amounts of voiced lines brings this world to life, even if that focus does mean the simulation aspects of the gameplay are reduced. With a lovingly detailed world and equally lovely examples of diversity, you could do a lot worse than spend your week playing Wylde Flowers.
The Last of Us Part I finds a way to make an already incredible game even better. It may not be the most needed remake in the landscape of gaming, and I can't fault anyone for not wanting to pay full price for the experience, but it's undeniable just how much work has gone into this release. Phenomenal graphics, superb sound design, immersive DuelSense controller features, beneficial gameplay tweaks, and the best suite of accessibility features found in gaming. The Last of Us Part I is a must-play title for anyone still yet to experience Joel and Ellie's story.
Cult of the Lamb doesn't just surprise and delight with its visual prowess and unflinching cultist motifs, it also hooks you with its addictive and adaptive gameplay loop. There's not a dull second as you move through two equally important and varied genres of game that mesh beautifully together to create a unique and captivating experience. A lack of end-game content may disappoint some colony sim fans, though it ultimately does little to sour what is a genuinely novel game that knows exactly what it wants to be.
A lusciously dense world of natural beauty colliding with cyber-future grimness is ready to be explored from a uniquely tiny perspective. Stray tells a surprisingly emotional tale that instantly grips during its opening moments and doesn't relent until its closing scene. A standout release so far this year, Stray proves to be so much deeper than just a cat adventure game.
Though Raft may lack content once you’ve reached its closing moments, the lead-up to that point is a surprisingly delightful and novel experience. The basic gameplay loop of collecting and crafting keeps you busy, whilst a set of on-foot areas to explore keeps the gameplay ever-evolving and gleefully varied. An absolute solid co-operative choice, there’s an ocean of content to be found on this humble raft.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is ultimately a very impressive release. It takes the best elements of the base game and finetunes them to incredible success. The marriage of tight gameplay and fun narrative animations in an impeccable and memorable aesthetic is undeniably powerful. The DLC may not be as long as some may want, but should your expectations remain in check, you’ll find a superb addition to an already phenomenal game.
The Quarry proves to be a worthy successor and a notable release within Supermassive’s lineup of branching-path slasher games. A frightful narrative full of tense moments creates a satisfying experience for horror fans, made even better when played alongside others. An ambitious amount of choice proves to be a double-edged sword as the game teeters on the edge of quality and quantity, with one particularly egregious mechanic dampening the experience for those who don’t like to replay large chunks of a game. Though, despite its obvious shortcomings, there’s a level of campy fun that’s undeniable as the game engages from one freaky sequence to the next.
Rogue Legacy 2 learns from its lineage and presents a superb sequel with a huge amount of depth of content. With so much replayability and meaningful progression, the game will have players hooked on its delightful gameplay loop for hours upon hours. Built with both style and substance, Rogue Legacy 2 is a tremendous success for fans of the original and the genre. It may not be a game for everyone, but for those willing to take up the challenge, a truly splendid journey awaits.
Trolley Problem, Inc is a decent exploration of morality and philosophy, culminating in a provocative experience that will likely linger beyond its rather short playtime. It’s cleverly presented, even if it can verge on the side of overly simple. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t maintain the same level of intrigue generated by its opening questions, failing to include real-world politics in a satisfying way. It stumbles one too many times, with moments of brilliance being met in equal measure by disappointing shortcomings.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands surprises and delights with its evolved gameplay and stunning world. There’s a confidence and charisma here that goes beyond what came before it, with spells and class abilities weaving themselves effortlessly between the cathartic gunplay. A cast of likable main characters and a storytelling technique that’s unique and smart both go a long way in creating a world that’s just fun to be a part of. Minor glitches and a rather unfortunate online matchmaking system do hurt the title, but the successes here far outweigh any inconveniences. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands stands out as a great title, even amongst the many we’ve seen already this year.
The hype behind Elden Ring was always going to be a challenge to match, yet the game succeeds in almost every way. This detailed and exciting world is full of wondrous moments and brutal fights as the excellent Souls gameplay finds itself being utilised in a freshly open-world format. The variety of ways you can approach combat and the sheer volume of viable tools you can use to take down gruesome and frightening foes makes for an experience that never gets old. A game unwavering in its vision, Elden Ring stands out as a monumental 2022 release.
Bright Memory: Infinite will go down as a largely impressive game held back by glaring shortfalls. The frenetic and uniquely compelling shooter/hack ‘n’ slash combat as well as the breathtakingly realistic visuals make for a worthy experience alone. Unfortunately, that narrative is told in a less than elegant way and the quick sprint to roll credits hold Infinite back from reaching its true potential.
With deep strategy elements found both inside and outside of combat, Ruined King: A League of Legends Story makes for an undeniably engaging and challenging adventure. Fans of League of Legends get to see the world of Ruenterra from a new lens and will be hooked by the endearing character moments found within the game’s story. Ruined King may not find the wide appeal that other League properties have managed, and some of the interactions found outside of combat are admittedly cumbersome, but it’s hard to deny the excitement and depth of content found within the turn-based battles of Ruined King.
DEATHLOOP is a cathartic blend of stealth, gunplay and powers that culminate in a satisfying gameplay loop as you explore the eccentric island of Blackreef. Whilst the narrative payoffs don’t always live up to the intriguing premise, there’s an undeniable sense of style and substance that help carry the game into really favourable territory. Knowledge really is power in DEATHLOOP and there’s a pleasurable novelty to much of the game’s design that allows it to feel engaging even when the player’s hand is held a little too tightly. Even within a year of time loop releases, DEATHLOOP stands out as its own unique beast worth experiencing.
Lost in Random depicts a stunningly unique and eccentric world filled to the brim with character and personality. The Tim-Burton visuals and the kooky cast of characters you’ll meet in each distinctively different region means there’s never a dull moment to this journey. Clever strategy card elements help to mask the game’s rather unremarkable real-time combat, with some control issues that hurt the overall experience. Yet despite its flaws, Lost in Random still brings the goods and had me engaged from unlucky start to triumphantly random end.
Death’s Door crashes onto the scene stylistically with an amazingly detailed, interconnected world full to the brim with personality and secrets. The game introduces great characters that bring with them charisma and humanity as it lovingly juggles both the morbid and the beautiful sides of its narrative. With simply phenomenal sound design that lovingly accompanies and amplifies the visuals and atmosphere, Death’s Door presents one door absolutely worth knocking on.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is another action adventure triumph for PlayStation and Insomniac Games. It’s got a world that’s so full of colour and life, lovable new characters who bring clever diversity to a well-established cast, and an ever-changing gameplay loop that’s downright fun and engaging. Even if the game panders a little too heavily to a younger audience for my taste, it still excels in enough areas to make this an easy recommendation for nostalgic fans and newcomers alike.