Game of the Year 2022 - The Winners

Game of the Year 2022 - The Winners

8
XBA Staff

When we look back on 2022, I’m fairly sure we’ll all come to the same conclusion: 2022 was a pretty solid year with some absolute standouts, but thanks to game delays galore - more than likely a knock on effect from the COVID-19 disruptions in 2020 - it was perhaps one of the quietest years in recent memory. That said, 2022 did have some absolutely fantastic titles. Titles that would have competed in every end of year awards for the past 10 plus years. We have no doubt about that.

By now you’ll have seen the nominees that we dropped on Christmas Eve - like we always do - but it’s about time we ran you through the actual runners up, and more importantly, the winners. Even with a year as quiet and sporadic as 2022, this year was not easy. There was a lot of conversation behind the scenes, thinly veiled threats and bouts of rage, but after more than a few hours of constant back and forths, we finally have a list of 2022’s best Xbox games. The best games of 2022. The reason why we all do this.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, we’d like to take a second to wish everyone a happy new year, and thank everyone for their support. We’re looking forward to what we can accomplish together next year.

Anyway! Rather than waffle on any longer, let’s just get on with the show and get down to what really matters, and that’s heaping praise on 2022’s best and brightest games. What a treat!

 

Runners-Up:

A Plague Tale: Requiem

There are few stories in 2022 that are as emotionally charged and as heart wrenching as Asobo Studio’s A Plague Tale: Requiem. The follow up to 2019’s sleeper hit, A Plague Tale: Innocence, picks up not long after the events of the first game in the relative peace and tranquillity of Provence’s outer lying regions, but it’s not long before things start to escalate and the world starts to fall apart again. The evolution of the main character, Amicia, and her relationship with her brother, Hugo, is truly one of the Requiem’s highlights - more so than it was in the original. To see the darkness seep into Amicia’s demeanour as she struggles to cope with the woes that her younger brother is going through adds another dimension to the desperation that she’s experiencing. It’s genuinely hard not to be gripped by the twists and turns of Amicia and Hugo’s relationship and their adventure throughout France, with more trials and tribulations than you can throw a stick at. With buckets of intrigue, drama and some absolutely captivating performances, especially by Charlotte McBurney and Logan Hannan, Requiem’s narrative and story is easily one of 2022’s best packages.

 

Pentiment

Obsidian have spent the better part of 2 decades hand-crafting RPG epics with incredible depth, but its latest offering, Pentiment, was one we did not see coming. Pentiment is so much more than a point-and-click adventure game that plays out as a tapestry of sorts; it's actually a wild ride of culture and consequence. You play as Andreas Maler, an artist, who gets unwittingly pulled into a spiralling murder mystery that takes place across decades in a small Bavarian village. Armed with nothing but your wit, you must unravel the unnerving conspiracies of a small divided community. Pentiment is a game that keeps you guessing and even when you think you've figured it out, its narrative whisks you down another dark alley. It's clever, it's gripping and it's so wonderfully written that you can't help but love Pentiment's characters and its incredibly savvy narrative. That said, it's its shades of grey that make it such a fascinating story. You'll often be stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to unravel a series of tricky situations. While its pacing might struggle at times, it's the strength of its narrative that will keep you hooked until the very bitter end.

 

Winner:

Immortality

Immortality, the latest title from Sam Barlow and Half Mermaid, tells a fantastically gripping story of Marissa Marcel, a French-American actress who gets her big break in the 70s in a film called Ambrosia. Starting with nothing but one clip, it's your task as the player to piece together and unravel Marcel's story and find out what became of the young inexperienced actress. In typical Barlow style, the game gives you breadcrumbs, and you bounce from clip to clip as you start to dig deeper into the mysterious goings on. It's a fascinating story from the get-go and its intrigue gets its claws in in a matter of moments. The complexity of the characters and the depth of the mystery only grows as you work your way through the actress' career. The most impressive aspect is that you're effectively given nothing to start your investigation, but it's the strength of the narrative and the characters that will have you hooked and wanting to know more. Throw in some David Lynch-esque twists and it's clear why Half Mermaid and Immortality are worthy winners this year. Immortality is storytelling at its finest, and perhaps more impressively, it’s delivered using one of the least traditional delivery methods that exists in games. The fact its obscure delivery methods only have you wanting more is a testament to the strength of its characters and narrative.

 

Runners-Up:

Charlotte McBurney as Amicia in A Plague Tale: Requiem

Charlotte McBurney’s performance in A Plague Tale: Requiem in 2022 was nothing but outstanding. Reprising her role as Amicia, a young girl battling her own emotions and inner demons as she tries to protect her brother, McBurney takes her performance to the next level in Requiem. McBurney's role as Amicia in The Plague Tale: Requiem has an incredible amount of range and is truly one of the highlights of Asobo Studios’ follow-up to 2019’s A Plague Tale: Innocence. Sure, Amicia has lost that French accent that we adored so much in the original, but McBurney’s emotionally charged performance throughout Requiem makes that nothing but a distant memory. Seeing McBurney portray Amicia was one of 2022’s true pleasures, and seeing her go from caring sister to letting the rage and anger take over is fascinating viewing, and McBurney deserves all the credit for bringing that to life.

 

Josh Duhamel as Jacob Lee in The Callisto Protocol

You might be more familiar with Josh Duhamel portraying Tad Hamilton, or Captain/Major Lennox from the Transformers films, and in general, being a star of the big screen, but 2022 was the year Duhamel finally dabbled in the video game space. And he made that transition with incredible ease. In Striking Distance Studios’ debut game, The Callisto Protocol, Jacob Lee, played by Josh Duhamel, finds himself stranded on the prison planet, Callisto, at the time of a devastating outbreak. Duhamel’s performance in The Callisto Protocol is captivating from start to finish, and really adds to the tension of the proceedings, which helps in a game that is so reliant on creating tension. It helps that Duhamel is surrounded by fantastic performances from both Karen Fukuhara and Sam Witwer, and their dynamics are really brought to life by their excellent portrayals, but it’s the evolution of Jacob Lee, who turns out to be an incredibly complicated character, that would not have been as believable without Duhamel’s excellent performance.

 

Winner:

Manon Gage as Marissa Marcel in Immortality

Usually to win Best Performance in our Game of the Year awards, the actor in question needs to absolutely nail one role, and bring that character to life before your very eyes. Immortality's Manon Gage not only had to bring 1 character to life this year, but she had to do it with 5 characters, and she did so with such passion it's hard to see anyone but her pick up this award this year. Gage flawlessly portrayed 5 ridiculously complex and ever-changing characters with such ease and elegance, that it's hard to take your eyes off her. Her performance oozes charisma and personality from the first to the last minute, and is perhaps one of the greatest performances in a video game for quite some time. And that's not hyperbole in the slightest, her performance was completely mesmerising and elevates Immortality to a level that would not have been possible without her portrayal of the actress, Marissa Marcel. A truly world class performance from a fledgling performer, who we hope to see grace our screens sooner rather than later.

 

Runners-Up:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II

Modern Warfare 2’s campaign might have been a little disappointing compared to some of the best Call of Duty campaigns of recent years, but the multiplayer? Yeah, this year’s multiplayer offering has been excellent once again. With plenty of callbacks to maps from previous Modern Warfare games, and the promise of more to arrive in the future, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 does a good job distilling down what players loved so much about the games that put Call of Duty on the map as the multiplayer titan it now is. 

 

Gotham Knights

As a single-player game, Gotham Knights is a tad disappointing. It doesn’t quite live up to the high standards set by the Arkham games that came before, with a focus on RPG progression and gear collection that makes the combat feel less impactful than you’d like. Luckily, all of the extraneous systems that Gotham Knights includes in its single player mode really come into their own in multiplayer. This is where Gotham Knights shines, as you leap over the rooftops of Gotham City with a friend, as your very own dynamic duo. You can perform team takedowns on your foes, and finally make use of those momentum abilities that boost your allies in combat. With a gorgeous new interpretation of Gotham City to explore, and a friend alongside you to beat up baddies, Gotham Knights really shines as a co-op experience.

 

Winner:

MultiVersus

The last couple of years has seen a massive boom in the number of Super Smash Bros. imitators that have hit the market. From indie titles like Rivals of Aether and Brawlout, to bigger budget crossover games like Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, there’s been plenty of competition. None, however, have managed to capture that true crossover fighter feel like MultiVersus. Warner Bros waded into the crowded waters with not only a multitude of IP to draw from, but a really solid fighter to build upon, and the budget to make it all work. The result is a multiplayer title that’s a joy to play, with its co-op focus giving it a different feel to Nintendo’s own fighter. The art style is excellent, somehow making characters like Arya Stark and Bug Bunny look like they exist within the same world, and the voice acting really elevates the presentation. Add on the fact that it’s an addictively enjoyable fighter in its own right, and you’ve got one of the best multiplayer games of the past year.

 

Runners-Up:

A Plague Tale: Requiem

There’s a lot to love about Asobo Studio’s visuals in A Plague Tale: Requiem. Whether you want to talk about the environments they brought to life - or the incredible diversity in each of them - or the phenomenal rat technology, A Plague Tale: Requiem is a feast for the eyes. Requiem takes you from the countryside on the outskirts of Provence and abandoned villages, to bustling marketplaces and eerily quiet temples, and each environment is as hand-crafted and alive as the next. Whether you’re running through meadows, sneaking through the woods at night, traversing through caves, trudging across the beaches of France, or exploring one of the game’s large towns, each environment feels fresh and different from the last. And then there’s the rats. The millions and millions of rats. Okay, maybe not millions, but as you’re being chased by a wave of them, it certainly seems like that many! The rat technology in A Plague Tale: Requiem is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before, and will terrify you to your wit’s end… which is nothing but a good thing, of course.

 

Elden Ring

Elden Ring might not win any awards for best animations or best visual fidelity, but when it comes to artistic vision and creativity, it’s second to none - which will come as no surprise considering FromSoftware created it. The latest offering from the Dark Souls developer takes their traditional formula and goes open-world with it, to incredible effect. And best of all, they’ve still managed to maintain their usual levels of diversity. With catacombs to explore, swamps to wade through, lakes to traverse, deserts to get lost in, and so much more, you can’t help but fall in love with Elden Ring’s open-world. The game truly shines in its more mystical environments too, like battling through Nokron, the Eternal City; fighting on the branches of the epic Haligtree; or avoiding the dangers in the Crumbling Farum Azula. Each of them epic in their own right, and just a few examples of a game whose open-world and its diversity will be celebrated for years to come. Throw into that FromSoftware’s usual phenomenal enemy design, along with its trademark gothic architecture, and Elden Ring’s Lands Between is easily one of the best and most memorable open-worlds of recent times.

 

Winner:

Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal might be a port of a 2020 game, which happens to be a new 1.5 version of a 2016 game, but even then, it’s still managed to elevate itself to the top of the visuals charts in 2022, thanks to its incredible style, swagger and charm, all of which are still ever-present. We’re not kidding when we say this, but Persona 5 Royal is one of the most stylish games of all-time, and we’re incredibly thankful it’s now on Xbox. So much of Persona 5 Royal oozes style, whether you’re talking about the menu transitions, the shop transitions, the All-Out Attacks, the post-mission screens, the sexy anime-style cutscenes, and so on and so forth, every single aspect of Persona 5 Royal is an absolute visual treat! There’s no disputing it, Persona 5 Royal is one of the coolest looking games, and as we said, despite this being a port from 2020, you wouldn’t be able to tell. Not at all. It’s most definitely a worthy winner of 2022’s Best Visuals award.

 

Runners-Up:

A Plague Tale: Requiem

Olivier Deriviere, the main composer for Asobo Studio’s 2022 outing, has done an absolutely fantastic job in creating the perfect complement to A Plague Tale: Requiem’s world and characters. Perfectly encapsulating the vibe of 14th century France, the orchestra-heavy soundtrack combined with the angelic voices of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, is the perfect combination for Requiem’s tension-filled set-pieces and its emotionally-charged voice acting. While the main track, ‘A Plague Tale Requiem’ might be one of the most iconic compositions of the year, the likes of ‘Siblings’ and the frankly beautiful ‘Reunion,’ ‘Fragile’ and ‘The Holy Child’ compositions is where the original score truly shines. Every track heightens its accompanying scene perfectly, and is the true example of how a brilliant music arrangement can elevate a game ten-fold.

 

Elden Ring

An emphasis of FromSoftware’s Souls-like games for the past ten-plus years, has been firmly placed on its musical arrangements, and Elden Ring is no different. The five-strong composer team, made up of Tsukasa Saitoh, Yuka Kitamura, Shoi Miyazawa, Yoshimi Kudo and Tai Tomisawa, not only this time around have to contend with the usual epic scores for their long-list of boss fights, but because of the open-world nature of Elden Ring, needs to include more ambient music. Everyone will remember the truly moving ‘Godskin Apostles’ track from the taxing fight with the boss duo, as they do with most boss fight compositions from a Souls game, but equally this time around, the open-world ambient music, like ‘Limgrave,’ ‘Eternal City,’ ‘Atlus Plateau’ and more, are equally as impressive and atmospheric. It takes one skillset to create epic boss fight compositions and another to create ambient open-world music, and it’s clear with Elden Ring that FromSoftware has both in abundance.

 

Winner:

Persona 5 Royal

If you’ve played a Persona game over the last few decades, you’ll be very aware that if there’s one area where they excel and put their competition to shame, it is with its original scores. And ladies and gents, Persona 5 Royal is no different. Persona 5 Royal boasts an absolutely phenomenal set of compositions from Shoji Meguro, the long-time Persona composer for the last 20 plus years, who decided to opt more for a jazz-styling in Atlus’ latest mainline Persona game. And you know what, folks? It bloody works! We’re not kidding when we say that the Persona 5 Royal soundtrack doesn’t have a weak spot. Even after 120 hours, you still won’t be able to get enough of it. From the more subdued social tracks ‘Beneath the Mask’ and ‘Tokyo Emergency’, to the more battle-centric compositions like ‘Last Surprise’ and ‘Rivers in the Desert,’ the soundtrack has it all! Even the new Royal-exclusive compositions like ‘Kichijoji 199X,’ ‘Throw Away Your Mask’ and ‘I Believe’ are absolutely iconic tracks. There truly is no weakness in its 100 plus strong tracklist and we recommend everyone listens to it, even if they don’t play the game.

 

Runners-Up:

Elden Ring's 'Spirit Summons'

Summons in Souls-like games aren’t exactly considered a fresh new gameplay feature, but the Spirit Summons in 2022’s Elden Ring took the Souls-like summons to a new level. In previous games players could summon spirits/NPCs at certain spots in the world to assist with boss fights and the like. However, in Elden Ring, Spirit Summons actually come in the form of spells that players could use, to assist wherever and whenever they wanted (for the most part). That meant boss fights, some open-world encounters and more were now less lonely affairs. And on top of that, players could upgrade them as well. They ranged from jellyfish and spectral warriors to wolves and mimic tears, and were more than useful companions for your adventures throughout the Lands Between. Along with magic, the Spirit Summons allowed players not too technically advanced or new players to the franchise to have an easier time of it, and anything that allows more players to experience FromSoftware’s latest masterpiece is okay with us. The best thing is, they’re purely optional too, so the Souls-like purists don’t need to worry about them if they don’t like them, while at the same time they open up the game to new players. This full evolution of the Spirit Summons in Elden Ring is why they are deserving as a runner up in this year’s Best Fresh Gameplay Feature category.

 

Immortality's 'Match Cut System'

At the core of Immortality, the latest game from Her Story’s Sam Barlow and Half Mermaid Productions, was something the developers called a ‘Match Cut System.’ The Match Cut System allowed players to click on one aspect in a video that was playing, say a candle, and then the game would match that candle with another candle elsewhere in another clip - this was the main mechanic in Immortality that allowed players to unlock new videos. The system allowed players to pretty much click anything of note in a scene, whether it’s an easel, a key, a snake, a bowl of fruit, whatever, and then discover a new clip that they might not have uncovered yet. This new addition to Half Mermaid’s FMV-style games definitely allowed Immortality to take on a new life of its own, and is a mechanic unlike anything we’ve ever seen before in not just 2022, but in video games full stop, and is well worthy of the runners up spot. We’re excited to see how this evolves in Half Mermaid’s next title.

 

Winner:

Tunic's 'Instruction Manual'

Remember those halcyon days, when you were a kid in the nineties or noughties, buying a brand new game, and immediately digging out the instruction manual for the ride home? Tunic taps into that nostalgia with its very own in-game instruction manual. The brilliance, however, comes from the implementation. The manual itself is collected page-by-page in the overworld, slowly increasing your knowledge of the game’s mechanics as you find them. Oh, and it’s in another language too, making the deciphering of it itself into a little puzzle. The fact that there are entire game mechanics available to you right from the start, that you won’t discover until you find the corresponding manual page much later, is a little slice of genius, and makes Tunic and its in-game instruction manual feel like one of the freshest games and gameplay features to come out of 2022.

 

Runners-Up:

The Callisto Protocol

There are a few games from 2022 that when you look at them, you can’t help but just see the incredible amount of potential seeping out of them. One of those brand new IPs, oozing with hidden possibilities is Striking Distance Studios’ The Callisto Protocol - the debut game from the studio who is head up by Dead Space veteran, Glenn Schofield. “It’s a bit too much like Dead Space,” we heard people scream. Well, we’re in the opposite camp: “It wasn’t enough like Dead Space” for our liking. The Callisto Protocol was a beautiful looking game with a great cast of characters, and was an enjoyable experience (for the most part) from beginning to end, but what a new IP needs to succeed is untapped potential. The Callisto Protocol laid down a great foundation and built a rich and interesting world chock full of potential. Now, just imagine it with a whole range of creative weapons that come with some sort of body dismemberment that Dead Space became synonymous with. That’s why The Callisto Protocol was one of our Best New IPs of 2022.

 

Deathloop

Easily one of this year’s Best New IPs is none other than Arkane Lyon’s smash hit, Deathloop, a game that was previously a PlayStation exclusive and this year found its way to Xbox. Deathloop ticks all the boxes for what we want from a new IP these days, and that includes a smattering of brand-new fresh ideas that we’ve truly not had the pleasure of experiencing, in a fancy new world with a cast of zany characters. Throw in some Dishonored-style abilities, a fantastic art-style and some Hitman-style unique assassinations, and that all combines for one of not only this year’s Best New IPs, but a fantastic experience to boot. Deathloop has all the makings for a successful new IP for both Microsoft and Bethesda. It’s got experienced developers with a pedigree of making fabulous games behind it, it's got some truly unique hooks that set it aside from the competition, and it’d be the perfect Game Pass game as well. One that would tempt people to the platform and to the service. What’s not to love there?

 

Winner:

Elden Ring

I absolutely cannot wait for the sequel to Elden Ring. Will it ever happen? It’s hard to say, as FromSoftware is a studio that seems as prepared to venture into the new, as it is to revisit the old. But with the Dark Souls trilogy seemingly wrapped up, according to creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, Elden Ring came along this year and completely blew our collective minds. The open-world completely changed the feel, and made the game far more accessible to newcomers, while the story, co-created by Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin, has so much room for expansion in a future game. Of all the new IP that released over this past year, Elden Ring is the one we’re most excited to see more of. Now, where is that DLC, FromSoftware?

 

Runners-Up:

Destiny 2

Destiny 2 had another big year in 2022. Developer Bungie got things going at the beginning of the year with The Witch Queen DLC, one of the biggest expansions to come to Destiny 2. This offered up loads of new story, brand new locations, weapons, gear, and even a tasty new raid for players to get stuck into. The year continued with brand new seasons of content as well, with returning fan favourite events, and we even got the announcement of Lightfall, the next big expansion, just before the year was up. Over five years on from release, Destiny 2 is still going strong. Let’s see what the future will bring.

 

Fortnite

It should come as no surprise to see that Fortnite had another very well supported year this year. Perhaps it should be expected, given the huge amount of money that it brings in for developer Epic Games, but it’s impressive nonetheless. This year brought with it the additions of giant lizards, tornados, a zero build mode, tons of crossovers, and even a brand new chapter for the game. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that Epic Games donated all of its proceeds from the first two weeks of its new season to humanitarian relief for Ukraine in March earlier this year, raising a whopping $144 million in the process. How’s that for support?

 

Winner:

Dead Cells

It’s hard to think of many non-live-service games that are as well supported as Dead Cells, and 2022 proved to be the action roguelike’s biggest year yet. Developer Motion Twin kicked things off in January with the release of The Queen and the Sea, the biggest DLC that Dead Cells had seen since it launched in 2018. More updates came, including the Breaking Barriers update, which added tons of all-important accessibility options. A free Boss Rush mode followed, and the game also got a big indie game crossover, with the likes of Shovel Knight and Hotline Miami, before finishing off the year by announcing an exciting Castlevania crossover. No microtransactions, no battle pass. Just quality, well priced DLC, and excellent free updates. What more could you ask for?

 

Runners-Up:

Marvel's Midnight Suns

Sure, XCOM and Civilization developer, Firaxis, are world renowned developers, but when we heard they were doing an XCOM-style Marvel game that had a card and deck building system at its core, we were pretty baffled. Surely that couldn't work… XCOM could definitely work with Marvel, even though you'd surely lose the permadeath mechanics that make XCOM so treacherous, but to throw a card game on top. Nope, that's too many competing systems. Oh boy were we wrong - and we're more than happy to admit that! Marvel's Midnight Suns not only works as an XCOM style game, but the card game at its core actually adds another level of depth and complexity to it that just really works. On top of that Firaxis managed to deliver some really interesting RPG and social mechanics, and a massive Abbey and its grounds to explore - chock full of mysteries to solve - and Marvel’s Midnight Suns was truly one of 2022’s biggest surprises.

 

Bright Memory: Infinite

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and similarly, it takes a developer the size of a village to make a game these days, especially if you want it to have triple-A visuals and performance. That is unless your name is Zeng Xiancheng, AKA FYQD Studio, the solo creator of the genuinely impressive Bright Memory: Infinite. As development tools get more and more accessible, one-person created games are seemingly becoming more and more prevalent, but to create a first-person shooter with the production values of a triple-A studio, that is by no means an easy feat. In fact, it’s a seemingly impossible feat, but FYQD managed that with such style and grace that you’d assume he’s been doing this for decades. Spoiler, he has not. That’s what makes Bright Memory: Infinite so impressive, and it’s not just a game that relies on visuals and performance either. From a gameplay perspective it’s a genuinely fun and action packed experience, thus making it one of 2022’s biggest gaming surprises, and we’re excited to see what FYQD cooks up next. If it’s half the game Bright Memory is, we’re in for a treat.

 

Winner:

Pentiment

Obsidian's Pentiment is truly one of 2022's success stories. From completely out of nowhere, Pentiment was announced at E3 this year, with a trailer that was so charming we were absolutely sold from the offset, despite not knowing what we were getting ourselves into. What it turns out we were actually getting into was a point-and-click adventure game of sorts, where you played a 16th century artist plunged into a life of crime-solving after getting wrapped up in a series of murder mysteries that play out on a rich colourful tapestry. Pentiment is an incredibly charming game, one with depth, deception and conspiracy around every corner. One where everything is shades of grey and there is seemingly no right choice. And one where every single choice, no matter how big or small, could have the upending consequences. It's brilliant for that very reason. It's Pentiment's uncertainty and its storytelling that makes it one of 2022's biggest surprises, and a more than worthy winner.

 

Runners-Up:

FromSoftware

You can’t make a game like Elden Ring, and not be in the running for the Best Developer award. FromSoftware is a studio that really hasn’t missed in recent years, with the likes of Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, and Sekiro all proving to be GOTY contenders in their own rights. And not only did FromSoftware release one of the very best games of the year in 2022, but it continually supported it well throughout the year. From smaller patches, adding in new quests and NPCs, to balance changes for the competitive side of things, and ending on the addition of free PvP DLC, FromSoftware has had a cracking year with Elden Ring. The Japanese developer even went on to announce a brand new Armored Core game earlier this month. All we need now is a nice big Elden Ring expansion to round things out, but even without that, it’s hard to argue that FromSoftware hasn’t had a cracking year.

 

Asobo Studio

Some studios love to stick to their wheelhouse and create games and genres that they know best, while others, like our runners up, Asobo, love to dabble in a bit of everything and have more variety in their slate of games than a Christmas selection box. Asobo Studio have spent the last decade plus making an open world racing game, dabbling in ports, creating a flight simulator game and more recently creating some memorable action-adventure games. It's safe to say that recently, 2022 especially, they've elevated themselves to a new level. 2022 was the year they launched their highly anticipated follow-up to their cult hit, A Plague Tale: Innocence, in A Plague Tale: Requiem, a game with incredibly high production values that not just boasts one of the year's best scores, but also one of the year's best stories too. A captivating game that puts the studio's franchise on the cusp of greatness. On top of that though, Asobo spent 2022 building upon the impressive foundations laid down in 2021 with their Microsoft Flight Simulator title as well. A pretty fantastic year all round for the French developer, I'm sure you'll agree. And long may it continue.

 

Winner:

Obsidian Entertainment

Obsidian has spent the best part of 20-years putting its heart and soul into some of the most iconic RPGs that have existed in video games. Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Pillars of Eternity, and more recently, the excellent The Outer Worlds. 2022, however, was a year of change for them. One where they grew outside the confines of the RPG genre and tried their hands at something fresh and new. And oh boy did they nail it. 2022 saw them not only drop the final release version of their survival game, Grounded, but they also dropped the wonderfully creative, Pentiment, an adventure game for the ages too. Not only were both games wonderfully received, but they proved to the world (not that they needed to, mind) that they were not a one-trick pony. Each game was well received by their respective fanbases and offered something new and unique to the games industry as a whole, but also elevated Microsoft's Game Pass’ offerings, something that Microsoft will be over the moon about following their 2018 acquisition. 2022 was a hell of a year for the studio, and the future looks pretty bright too, with them planning to launch Avowed and The Outer Worlds 2 in the hopefully not too distant future. All we need now is for them to make Alpha Protocol backwards compatible and all will be right in the world. Hint hint.

 

Runners-Up:

EA

It’s fair to say that EA had a relatively disappointing year in 2021, thanks in part to Battlefield 2042’s lukewarm reception. 2022, however, has been a different kettle of fish, thanks mostly to its wonderful year on the race track. This year was proof that buying Codemasters last year was a savvy move for the mega-publisher, as it was clear that they wanted to corner as much of the racing market as they could. In 2022 the publisher launched not 1, not 2, but 3 excellent racing games - and not all Codemasters games as well! First out the gate was GRID Legends in February, an excellent racing game from one of Codemasters’ newer but still highly sought after racing franchises. Next up was the yearly iteration of their F1 titles, F1 2022, which as always was “another superlative Formula One game, and a damn fine racing experience in its own right” according to our own Rich Walker. Perhaps the biggest surprise though, was Need for Speed Unbound, which saw Criterion Games head up development duties once again for the long-established franchise, and they absolutely knocked it out of the park. On top of that Apex Legends had another solid year, while their other sports titles did okay in terms of critic scores. 2022 was also the year that they announced the comeback of Dead Space with a remake, but perhaps more importantly, they announced and unveiled Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which is coming in March 2023. All in all, not a bad year at all… especially if you’re a racing fan. 

 

2K

There’s no doubt about it, 2K had a pretty damn good year in 2022, a year where they tried some new things, brought to life the game of a tried and tested developer, but perhaps more importantly for the sports fans, brought around a much needed return to form! They kicked off their year with a twisted take on their Borderlands franchise with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, a game that tried something new with an established franchise and was a whole lot of fun. The summer saw them take a punt on the always reliable Supermassive Games with The Quarry, another great entry in their choice and consequence teen slashers genre that they’ve honed over the years  - even if Dan did hate the way the ending was delivered. Then came the return to form for their two sports titles. After the disastrous launch of WWE 2K20 and the subsequent cancellation of WWE 2K21, it was great to see WWE 2K22 bring back its A-game. The same could be said for NBA 2K23 too, which hadn’t scored above 80 on our sites since 2018! Well, that was until 2022, of course. While the New Tales From The Borderlands title wasn’t incredibly well received, Marvel’s Midnight Suns absolutely was. Who knew that mixing XCOM-style mechanics with Marvel characters and a deck building card game would turn out so well?! Firaxis and 2K did, apparently. As you can see, it was a pretty good year for 2K. Here’s hoping 2023 sees more of the same from them.

 

Winner:

Atlus

It feels like in the last few decades that Xbox and its players haven’t really existed when it comes to Atlus (and certain sections of its parent company, SEGA). That feeling is starting to slowly evaporate with SEGA’s recent releases of Yakuza on the console (and on Game Pass too), but for us, 2022 was where Atlus and SEGA made their biggest statement yet, by launching the best JRPG of the past 10-years, Persona 5 Royal, on Xbox. And it did with a bang too! Not only that, they’ve also committed to Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden for January 2023 too. For those reasons, and the fact that the Persona 5 Royal port was outstanding, we’re giving Atlus our Best Publisher of the year award for 2022. Let’s just hope that the positive reception on Xbox is enough to tempt them to release the Persona spin-off games (Dancing All Night, Persona 5 Strikers, etc.), Catherine Full Body and future Persona games on the Xbox platform too. We can imagine a day-and-date launch with other platforms would see that reception and its sales performances on the platform improve dramatically too. Wink wink.

 

Runners-Up:

Tunic

First announced back at E3 2017, we’ve been waiting an awful long time for Tunic. Luckily, the Zelda-inspired adventure didn’t disappoint. Quite the opposite, in fact, it went on to exceed all of our expectations. Starring a cute fox protagonist, and a wonderfully stylised world, Tunic could have been a simple top-down adventure where you fight baddies and beat dungeons, and we still would have had a good time with it. But Tunic is deeper than it appears on the surface, and with its ingenious instruction manual collectibles, the game becomes one big puzzle box that you need to unravel. With the way Tunic slowly drip feeds the player information, you’ll never be able to experience it the same way again after your first playthrough, but that makes it all the more special. Tunic really was worth the wait.

 

Vampire Survivors

Just missing out on the top spot this year (and we do mean just) is Poncle's (also known as Lucas Galante) Vampire Survivors, a mesmerising and massively addictive roguelike. There is one objective in Vampire Survivors: survive against increasingly more and tougher enemies. The joy of Vampire Survivors comes from its sheer amount of variety in its builds and its pick up and play gameplay, meaning that almost every attempt can be wholly different from the last. If you want to create a magic build complete with magic wand and the lightning ring, you can. If you want to build a close range build with an axe, you can do that too. How about a projectile build? Yup, you can do that too! The list of options goes on and on. Fewer games in 2022, especially indie games, are as addictive as Vampire Survivors, and its relatively simple premise allows players to jump head first and just experiment to their heart's content. Vampire Survivors is one of those games that everyone just has to try at least once, and when they do, they'll be hooked. As far as worthy runners up go, Vampire Survivors is exactly that, and easily one of 2022's best indie games.

 

Winner:

Immortality

We’ll be completely honest, Half Mermaid’s ‘Telling Lies,’ an FMV-game in the same vein as Sam Barlow’s breakout hit, Her Story, didn’t really resonate with us one iota. We found it a bit dull, in truth. We perhaps thought that maybe Barlow and co’s story telling wasn’t for us, which is okay. Different horses for different courses and all that. Half Mermaid’s next title though, Immortality, completely blew away our expectations in 2022. We had no idea going into Immortality how much we’d buy into the whole ‘what happened to Marissa Marcel?’ thing, especially considering the game just gives you a random clip of your choosing from the outset. But that one clip dug into our psyches from the get-go, and wouldn’t let go until we’d seen every clip of every movie, every secret clip and all the subverted footage too - which was David Lynch levels of fascinating, and we sure do love us some Twin Peaks. Sure, it helps that you have a sublime performance from your leading lady, Manon Gage (who won our Best Performance of 2022 award) and a really cool mechanic like the Match Cut System (the runner up in our Best Fresh Gameplay of 2022 award category), but Immortality is so more than that. It’s also a fascinating tale of mystery and intrigue, which is actually why it won our Best Story of 2022 too. You get the point. The truth is, it’d be hard to give Best Indie Game of 2022 to any other game this year, because Immortality was just sublime across the board. From the gameplay mechanics and performance of Gage and her co-stars, all the way through to the fascinating story, Immortality is just one fantastic piece of game development that you simply need to play.

 

Runners Up:

Persona 5 Royal

It’s a testament to Persona 5’s stopping power and quality, that 6-years after the original game’s release (2016), and 3 years after the traditional Persona 1.5 edition launched (2019), that it can stroll onto Xbox in 2022 and even be considered for this award. But it can. And it did. With relative ease as well. Still, after all this time, Persona 5 Royal has withstood the test of time and we can safely put our hands up and say it’s still the best JRPG released in the last 10-years. By far. In fact, it’s perhaps the best JRPG released on the Xbox ever, and yes, I’m taking into account the brilliant Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon as well. That’s how good Persona 5 Royal is. By now you’ve probably gathered it’s a pretty stylish game (Best Visuals) with an unbelievable soundtrack (Best Audio), but the game itself is pretty damn addictive too. With a wonderful cast of characters, some seriously cool dungeons, traditionally great Persona battle sequences and boss fights, some pretty damn cool story beats and a host of social-oriented gameplay to adore, there’s very little to dislike about P Studios’ Persona 5 Royal. It’s an absolutely stellar game, one that everyone should play. Especially if you want Atlus to release Persona 6 on Xbox consoles when it drops in the next decade or so.

 

Deathloop

In a similar vein to Persona 5 Royal, Arkane Lyon's Deathloop, originally a PlayStation 5 exclusive in 2021, made its way to Xbox in 2022, and it proved to be just as damn impressive on Xbox as it was on PlayStation. It'd be rude of us to discount the 2022 Xbox release of Deathloop from the Game of the Year awards just because its first appearance was last year on an entirely different ecosystem. After all, it's not the game's fault! And the truth is, there were fewer things more satisfying this year than that final day run in Deathloop. Watching all the pieces come together, pieces that you’d worked so hard to assemble in the preceding days and attempts, was truly a delight. I’d argue there's nothing more satisfying in games in recent years than finally seeing the bigger picture come to fruition in Deathloop’s finale. Arkane Lyon's latest game was an action game so unique and fascinating in its delivery, that it's worthy of its runner's up spot in this year's Game of the Year awards.

 

Winner:

Elden Ring

Could it really have been anything else? Elden Ring is an extraordinary game. Taking the Dark Souls formula that FromSoftware had perfected, and putting it in an open-world, was always a recipe for success, but it was shocking just how perfectly suited the two ideas were for each other. The challenging bosses from Dark Souls are still here, but now, rather than bashing your head against a tough fight, you can wander off in any other direction and discover something new. And there’s always something to discover in Elden Ring - a beautiful subterranean city, a rotting lake of blood, or a lovely NPC who’s almost certainly doomed to die. Exploration in Elden Ring is always rewarding, and it’s a stunningly beautiful world to explore. You could play for 100 hours, and there will still be something new to discover. The combat is incredibly varied, with plenty of different play-styles to try out, and feels absolutely brilliant, to boot. A worthy winner.

Comments
8
  • There are definitely some choices in here I don't necessarily agree with but gotta hand it to you on Tunic's instruction manual.

    What a magical game that is, and the manual is central to the experience.
  • Elden ring game of the year was the correct choice!
  • Wow, Lotta nods to Plague Tale, but no wins. It was My favorite game of the year, but then I adored the first one too. Also Immortal, downloaded but haven't tried it yet. Gotta get on the one some time soon. Keeping hearing good thing, but I can't shake Night Trap and Sewer Shark from my mind. Admittedly I loved those games. Hehe, I expectations are tainted though.
  • Drugs are bad, mmmk?
  • I guess I better check out Immortal then. Imma be mad if it's shit! :D
  • Good to see Persona up there. for me (just finished) the zero escape games both: the nonary collection and zero time dilemma. both of which released on Xbox last year. the story is so great and cathartic by unlocking the true endings. highly recommended.
  • Persona for best visuals...haha you're kidding right? I played around 5 hours of P5 and to be honest, I just don't get the hyperbole surrounding this game. I think it's great that these games are finally coming to xbox but Persona has been a massive letdown for me, especially considering the neverending accolades that fans pour over it. Maybe my expectations were too high, i dunno it just does nothing for me.

    Regardless, and i realize it is just my opinion, Persona certainly doesn't have anywhere near the best visuals of any title released this year.
  • I don’t necessarily like Persona being on the list because it’s a game that is 3 or 4 years old at this point, and only porter to the Xbox. That being said, Personas praise and your letdown have nothing to do with too high of expectations. 1. Persona has taken a traditional rpg system and done much to innovate it, with several complex systems and lots of depth. This is the opposite of finally fantasies dumbing down of traditional rpgs mechanics to pull in a wider western audience. 2. A decent story made better by its great characters and their personal stories. 3. And what really makes it stand out is its great visual style. We aren’t talking about graphics here, but the style, which it is overflowing with. From art design, to character design, to animation style, to music style, it’s got more thought into every detail of its style than any game I can recollect.

    Traditional rpgs may not be your thing, and that’s okay, it doesn’t mean this game is missing anything.
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