We’ve made it through the busiest part of the early video game calendar. While the idea of a “slow season” for gaming is a thing of the past, with must-play titles coming out every month, what really defined the early parts of gaming in 2022 were all of the AAA releases. Among those were a handful of indie darlings that could easily compete for game of the year at the end of 2022, but there will surely be more contenders to come.
We understand that keeping up with every game that comes out is really difficult, so we rounded up the five best games of 2022 so far. These are the can’t miss titles of the year through the first three or so months, and whether you’re the person who plays every game they can or only plays one or two, we think these should be given an honest try — some of them are even available on services like Game Pass.
Everyone has heard about Elden Ring by now. It was the first smash hit of the year and immediately took the internet by storm with its mix of intensely difficult combat, endless world, and memes. While it was maybe not the most approachable game, despite its reputation, the majority of people who have played Elden Ring have come away elated. There’s something about this world that hooks you in and makes it really difficult to leave.
Elden Ring is the early favorite for game of the year for most people, but that’s not why you should play it. It’s a world with endless potential and those who are willing to dive into it and spend numerous hours bashing their head into its challenges are going to receive a reward that many of us are still seeking. Elden Ring isn’t for everyone, but for that lucky few there are few games they’re going to love more than this one.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Kirby and the Forgotten Land was the promised 3D adventure that many fans of the series have been asking for since the Nintendo 64. While the game is still largely linear, and candidly doesn’t take advantage of its 3D environment enough, it is still a fantastic adventure and one of the best Kirby games to date. What’s wonderful about Kirby and the Forgotten Land is that, despite its change in style, it is still a Kirby game at heart. That means it’s welcoming to newcomers, but has a level of depth that will make Kirby fans want to 100 percent the game.
As a result, while Kirby and the Forgotten Land has a lot of missed potential, it’s also one of the best games of the year simply due to how well it nails the transition to 3D. It has a really fun pick up and play co-op option with Bandana Dee, and the explorers among us aren’t going to rest until we find every secret each level has to unlock. Play this game on your own, with a significant other, family member, sibling, or really anyone. It’s going to be endless fun no matter what and is one of the best games of 2022 so far.
Infernax came to us with a simple goal: Take inspiration from games like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, put a modern spin on them, then watch as it becomes one of the best retro-inspired games in recent memory. Infernax takes everything that was unique or creative about those two games, but does them in a much improved way. The combat is snappier and the movement is better, but it doesn’t lose any of that original challenge that makes retro games feel so memorable. Of course, for anyone that finds it may be a little too hard, there is a less difficult option to give these players an opportunity to experience the entire game.
This is great, because finishing the game is only one part of the journey for Infernax. The game has multiple endings, including a few secret ones, and even cheat codes. One of the best cheat codes involves the Konami Code, and while we won’t spoil it here, we strongly suggest putting it in at the start menu. It’s worth it for any longtime fans of retro gaming, which is what makes Infernax one of the best games of the year so far. It’s a love letter to the NES era in a way that all of us can appreciate. It’s also available on Game Pass for anyone that wants to try it.
Tunic is going to make you yell “AH HA OF COURSE” more than any other game on this list. That’s because Tunic is a game where the entirety of the fun comes in exploration and discovery. The player’s main goal, besides completing the main quest, is completing a map that shows shortcuts and alternative routes for the player. The fun of Tunic is that all of these shortcuts are available from the start, but they’re hidden in plain sight. If the player is exploratory, they might even stumble upon a part of the game they’re not supposed to be at yet very early on.
This level of exploration has made Tunic a quick favorite and it’s already receiving comparisons to other huge hits like Dark Souls and Death’s Door. One aspect that separates it from the Souls-inspired games its being compared to, though, is that Tunic has a no-fail mode. Having a hard time with the bosses and combat? Just turn that on and enjoy exploring the game. It’s plenty of fun with that option alone. Tunic is spectacular and a great game to scratch that exploration itch. Try it out on Game Pass!
NORCO is the most well-written game of 2022 so far. As a point and click adventure, this is obviously a game that was going to live and die on its writing, but the subtlety of its themes alongside a gripping and emotional story is going to have players hanging on every word. Joining them on the journey is also one of the most beautiful games you’ll ever play. The southern gothic art style of the very real Norco, Louisana fits the game’s themes perfectly.
While NORCO wasn’t completely out of nowhere — it was shown off at a couple of games showcases and was the first game to win an award at the Tribeca Film Festival — it caught a lot of the gaming community by surprise. Even some of its biggest supporters before launch are surprised at how much it is resonating with them. It’s early surprise and it’s available on Game Pass for anyone that wants to play it.