2022 Community Game of the Year

The holiday season is nearly upon and it's time to launch the GOTY thread! That's right, time for the 2022 Community Game of the Year thread. I'm counting on you, the community, to tell us why the games you played mattered to you, what made them special. Spread the love around, and share the joy that gaming brings us!

TLDR version, you, the GWJ community members vote for your favorite games of the year, games you played for the first time in 2022, whether they were released this year or not. It must be new to you. And, this is important, if you change your mind before the deadline, PLEASE, for the love of Stan, do not edit your post: make a new one and specifiy you've changed your mind.

Polls will be closing on January 1st, 2023, 9am GMT+1 (that's 3am EST, or midnight PST).
Complete guidelines in Q&A form in the post below, and final results will be out whenever the heck I manage to write it all up.

Below are the "Official" Rules of the 2022 Community GOTY Voting Thread, Q&A style.

  • What games can I vote for? Any game you played for the first time in 2022. Say every one had been telling you how awesome The Sims is and you picked it super cheap and loved it? You can absolutely put it on your list. But if you're into your third playthrough of Horizon Zero Dawn and already made it #1 on your list last year, then you don't get to vote for it again. Voting this year is still open to any game on any platform from any year.
  • How do you know if I really played it for the first time this year? Despite all evidence to the contrary, I don't have psychic powers. That'll be between you and your conscience, so we're on the honor system. But really, why would you try to rig a forum poll?
  • What if I didn't finish it yet? That's just fine. If you feel you've played enough of this game for it to surpass others you've played this year, go ahead and put it on your list. Sometimes, we don't have to play more than 5 hours of a game to know we're going to love it (not to mention that some games are really suuuuuuuuuuper long: you might not have finished it, but still know it's awesome).
  • Why are we doing it this way? Because we're all busy and free time is a precious commodity. GWJ is a community mostly populated with mature, adult gamers with jobs (it's right there in the name of the site), family obligations, hobbies, and other things that take up our time. And we can't all afford the new hotness as soon as it's released. Most of us have piles (see 2022 - 12 Month Pile Program, now run by our very own trueheart78), and though we try to play through them, we don't often get a chance to say that we really love something even if it's a bit older.
  • What if the top game ends up being from 2002 or something? In over ten years, that's never happened. I'd be very, very, very, very surprised.
  • So how are votes counted? Games in the top spot on a list get ten votes, second place gets nine, et cetera, et cetera, with tenth place getting a single vote. If your list is out of format (lists that aren't ranked and/or lists that go over ten), games on your list will get one vote each for the first ten games only. If you do not abide by the format, I'll make an executive decision and sort it all out.
  • Can I vote for an expansion pack? For the purposes of vote counting (and my sanity), votes for expansions are folded into votes for the base game. So for example, a vote for The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine is counted as a vote for The Witcher 3.
  • I played a game before, but this year I played the remastered Director's Cut with new content on a new platform. Can I vote for it?
    Nope. Again, the spirit of this thread is to vote for things that were new to you this year, and replaying a game you love with spiffier graphics runs contrary to that. Most famously Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is technically not eligible.
  • Can I list a game multiple times so that it gets more votes?
    Absolutely not. That's annoying, an asshole move cheating not fair to other people and other games. And why would you want to rig this? It's just a community based poll, after all.
  • When does voting open? When does it close?
    You can vote now. Yes, now. Right now. As soon as the thread goes up. So post your list if you want to! Or wait until the holidays if you're holding off for new releases! Voting will close on January 1st, 2023 (9am GMT+1, 3am EST, midnight PST).
  • Are you going to do anything really neat and special with the results?
    If everything goes according to plan, you'll not only find the traditional community's top ten list, but also a few special mentions. Your posts could very well contribute to the front page too!
  • What if I change my mind after I posted my list?
    As previously mentioned, under no circumstances should you edit your post. Simply post a new list indicating you've changed your mind (it happens, no worries!). Editing will majorly mess up the tracking of new posts and make my life more difficult.

If you are so inclined, you can check out previous years!

Love this! More exciting than Christmas!

Hooray! I doubt anything will top Spiritfarer for me this year, but we'll see!

already! oh no! *panic*

Do I even HAVE 10 games for the list this year!? (Well yes, but still)

Mixolyde wrote:

Hooray! I doubt anything will top Spiritfarer for me this year, but we'll see!

I'm not sure it will make my top 10 for being too long but we'll see.

Uh Eleima, your dates... There's a 2022 still and a 20223 also.

Nice. How exciting. I may have already put a little thought into my list.

I checked the big ones I was thinking of

Elden Ring - feb 25 2022
Forbidden West - feb 18 2022
God of War 2 - nov 9 2022

In case you wondered if they were this year or not. I know after 30 years of gaming they tend to blend together

My body is not ready.

As usual, the game I will be playing in December is the tug-of-war between, "I want to show off my list" and, "I want to wait and see about games I haven't played yet."

Agathos wrote:

As usual, the game I will be playing in December is the tug-of-war between, "I want to show off my list" and, "I want to wait and see about games I haven't played yet."

Yeah, same — but also, a bit tighter window for me this year since we’ll be on vacation at the end of the month.

Oh, yay. I always look forward to reading this thread every year. I doubt there will be much if any 2022 games on my list but I'm going to enjoy putting it together. Now if I can finish a few games before the end of December..

Best thread of the year, every year! I always end up getting convinced to pick up games I probably would have passed over otherwise.

Stele wrote:
Mixolyde wrote:

Hooray! I doubt anything will top Spiritfarer for me this year, but we'll see!

I'm not sure it will make my top 10 for being too long but we'll see.

Uh Eleima, your dates... There's a 2022 still and a 20223 also. :D

I don’t know what you’re talking about. ^^
Spiritfarer might’ve been number one for me if not for a particular set of circumstances. And I absolutely 100%’d it.

Pay no attention to the woman behind the edit button.

No matter how much I prepare for this, I never feel ready when the thread begins

Awesome.
I'm just glad there is so so much time left to finish all the games.

Yes, like others, I suspect December will yield a few more contenders as a) festive season kicks in and work shuts down, and b) Goodjer enabling from other GOTY lists spurs me to go on a final stretch of spending spree...

I also need to create a personal GOTY cloud file for my list so I don't include previous entries into the current list!

Bfgp wrote:

I also need to create a personal GOTY cloud file for my list so I don't include previous entries into the current list!

I just use the site to PM myself a list every quarter or so as I finish stuff. And link to previous years posts after I post them. Helps me build the list every year without ever leaving GWJ.

Since I gave up on backloggery a while back.

I spend all year thinking about whether a game will be in my top ten or not.

The time has come.

Oh, great, I already have my list of... **counts**...14 games! Damn!

Cool. I will probably have to scrape around for a top 10 myself but love this thread. Reading through I always pick up a couple indie unknown to me gems to enjoy in the new year!

I'm almost definitely not going to play any new games for the rest of the year, due to taking on two enormous games at once, so I'm starting my list now.

Quick question - does Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury count as one game? Because I've played 3D World before this year, but Bowser's Fury was new to me. They're packaged as one game, but technically play as two different games. Or do I just do whatever?

halfwaywrong wrote:

Quick question - does Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury count as one game? Because I've played 3D World before this year, but Bowser's Fury was new to me. They're packaged as one game, but technically play as two different games. Or do I just do whatever?

I'm planning to count Bowser's Fury as a separate game.

In my entirely uninformed opinion, I'd say they count as different games.

...Games that might interest my boys, so thanks for that! ^^

Is it really this time again already? I have no idea what my list will look like except that it will include a bunch of Switch games since I got one of those this year and Vampire Survivors.

I have needed laughter this year. Thus, there can only be one pick for my GotY:

No reason to have anything else on my list, thank you.

Prederick wrote:

I have needed laughter this year. Thus, there can only be one pick for my GotY:

Trombone Champ

No reason to have anything else on my list, thank you.

Please somebody say this is coming to switch or PS4!

This was such an incredible year of gaming. I was surprised how many VR titles made my list considering I still get motion sickness and my feet/knee injuries keep me from having extended sessions with the headset on. Despite this, the VR experiences I had in 2022 were some of the best gaming moments I've had in my entire life. At first, I thought this was my excitement with new hardware, but upon reflecting on the time spent with these games, I've never before felt so amazed by gaming as I did with VR in 2022.

Otherwise, this year had some incredible "big" releases which I'm sure are going to be on many people's lists, but I was more impressed by the smaller mobile or time-wastery games that punctuated each big release. Vampire Survivors, Marvel Snap, SNKRX, Isle of Arrows etc. I also got very into throwback shooters (i.e "boomer shooters" if you prefer). So, very much a varied list!

10.

Spoiler:

Resident Evil VIII

Refreshingly short!

I know that’s a strange reason to include a game on a GOTY list, but there was just never any downtime. Every play session felt wildly different from the last and I was always excited to see what would come next. The game was over the top, returned to some of the silliness of RE4 and felt wonderful to play. REVIII cemented this series as one of my favourites.

9.

Spoiler:

Resident Evil 4 VR

It is an absolutely unreal experience to play through one of your favourite games of all time, but to be there in person. I felt like I was walking around a theme-park made entirely for me! Playing in first person/VR changes the entire feel of the game, but it just works. Perhaps due to how fast-paced and silly RE4 is, or perhaps due to the smart VR controls that have been implemented.

This is the best way to play RE4, and it’s a travesty that it is locked behind the Meta/Facebook store. It is an essential VR experience, and far easier to recommend compared to the other RE VR experience (VII) which can be too terrifying for some people. RE4 is just plain fun with some goofy spooky vibes.

8.

Spoiler:

Half Life 2 VR Mod

Take everything I said about Resident Evil 4 VR and apply it here. Stunning project, I'm so thankful for modders who create this sort of thing. I'm amazed how well HL2 fits VR play with minimal adjustments. It feels like it belongs in VR and I'm amazed this isn't an official product. I genuinely enjoyed this more than HL:Alyx

7.

Spoiler:

Walkabout Minigolf (Jim Henson’s Labyrinth DLC in particular)

I still haven't overcome my VR sickness so my play sessions are limited. However, this game is as close to perfect as I've seen. It sets out to do one thing, and does it incredibly well. It's the perfect mix of realism with silly minigolf shenanigans only possible in videogames. The physics are spot-on, the graphics are clear and vibrant, and the DLC is fantastic! The Labyrinth DLC in particular was such a nostalgia hit, and lovingly represented one of my all-time favourite movies. It was an absolute delight to putt around those fantastical scenes. Another essential VR game.

6.

Spoiler:

Marvel Snap

An unexpected delight. Trims down a lot of typical mobile gaming nonsense and provides a fantastic quick distraction. Lovely ratio of luck to strategy and the “locations” system keeps every game unique. Due to this, matches very rarely begin to feel repetitive. Mechanics match the theme of the characters, and the art is wonderful. Monetisation is fair, and the only issue I really have is some of the random progression which is being smoothed out next patch. An all-round amazing mobile game that is an easy recommend.

5.

Spoiler:

Neon White

Takes me back to my old Counter-strike Surf days. This game has it all; incredible level design, attractive visuals, amazing soundtrack and the friendly competition kept me coming back for hours on end. I think this game will appeal to a very specific type of person, those who grew up on games like Unreal Tournament, Quake, Counter-Strike 1.6, but is approachable enough with it’s interesting story and hint system that it’s an easy enough recommend to anyone who thinks it looks intriguing.

I’ll remember Neon White for a long time due to the leaderboards. Staygold and I had a small rivalry which kept me coming back to old levels over, and over, and over to shave off milliseconds from my runs!

4.

Spoiler:

Vampire Survivors

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Vampire Survivors is the golden ratio of game design. It’s a rough looking game with a simple premise, but everything it does, it does so well. The slow growth of power, the way enemies scale, the meta progression and unlocks…It’s hugely addictive and essentially kicked off a whole new genre of “VS-Likes”. This year had some amazing large-scale games, but it’s the huge amount of smaller high-quality time-wasters that I think I’ll remember 2022 by (Vampire Survivors, Marvel Snap, Super Autopets, Nova Drift, 20 Minutes Til Dawn, SNKRX etc.)

3.

Spoiler:

Dusk

Holy crap I love oldschool shooters, and Dusk is everything I love about them and more.
Oldschool shooter sensibilities. Never feels like it's too closely copying the classics. Quake meets Half-Life with some horrifically good level design. From industrial horror to nightmarishly abstract impossible geometry. Music is fantastic too.

2.

Spoiler:

Elden Ring

This could be the best game I've ever played. There's nothing like your first time experiencing Dark Souls...Until now. Elden Ring is everything I loved about the original Dark Souls, filled with so much more wonder. It's the culmination of a decade's worth of game design, splashed with devious surprises that ask you to discard what you thought you knew about the franchise. By leaving the "Dark Souls" name behind, Elden Ring is free to build new lore and present a wholly unique dark fantasy world.

The performance leaves a lot to be desired, but the game is so good that I was able to eventually overlook the weird frame rates and occasional hiccups. Patches have helped a lot.

1.

Spoiler:

Hedon Bloodrite

Fired this up expecting another Dusk, Amid Evil, or Ion Maiden. While it is still very much a Doom-esque oldschool shooter (indeed, it runs in a modified Doom Engine), it is so, so much more than other retro throwback shooters.

Hedon mixes the fast and loud shooter sensibilities of the 90s with some amazing exploration-heavy gameplay. Intricately designed levels yield satisfying puzzle solving and require a far more cerebral approach than similar games in the genre. These puzzles require you to read through found information in search of hints and some well-written lore. It is not uncommon to spend upwards of 30-40 minutes in a single stage as you forge tools, craft spells, and uncover hidden keys to progress. This gives each level a real sense of scale. Each level feels as though it serves a purpose in the story, fleshing out the game world with environmental storytelling and context for the greater plot.

I bounced off the game at first due to my incorrect expectations and doubt about the art-style, but all of that melted away after the first few stages. There is just so much love and care poured into this game, and it's one of the best things I've played since the original Half Life, System Shock, and GoldenEye. Hedon easily stands up against the games that helped define the FPS genre, and in some ways, exceeds them.

An easy 10/10 and my personal GOTY.

Honourable mentions.

I won’t write descriptions for all, but some deserve it.

Spoiler:

Etrian Odyssey V

Nobody Saves the World

Isle of Arrows

I’m almost sure this would have made my top 10 if I had more time with it. I lovely mix of auto-chess mechanics with tower defense. You place tiles which can either be towers or an extension of the path monsters must take to reach your castle. This is complicated by the random cards you receive each turn – hold, reshuffle, or take a sub-optimal card to increase your chances next turn? Lots of cool decisions. One of the freshest takes on the genre and the only game to pull me away from Bloons TD5 on my mobile.

Age of Darkness: Final Stand

A genuinely great "They Are Billions clone" that does a lot to forge its own individual flavour. Not as punishing as its inspiration, as destroyed buildings don't spawn additional enemies and horde paths are indicated clearly before they arrive. Despite this, Age of Darkness is still satisfyingly difficult and incredibly hard to put down once you start playing. It plays a lot "wider" than They Are Billions, requiring you to build more sprawling bases that are connected by light sources, and I feel this contributes to how different it feels to the rest of these base defense games.

Some odd design choices have popped up during the early access development which I'm not sure how to feel about, putting this in honourable mentions rather than my top 10, but it was very, very close to making the list.

Citizen Sleeper

I loved the setup and overall theme of the game. It had some wonderful story moments, but despite enjoying dice-based gameplay, it became more tedious than interesting to play. I eventually broke the economy in the game and this resulted in me having to simply spend time clicking on things rather than making interesting decisions.

I’d have preferred more focus on the narrative and less busywork with the dice, but understand what the intention was. I also know I’d not have looked twice at this were it not for the dice, so pros and cons.

It still very much deserves a mention for the art and story!

Dead by Daylight

I lost hundreds of hours to DBD this year. I love creating new and interesting killer builds. It’s an interesting game which rewards strong meta knowledge and prediction. Regular bugs, balancing issues and uneven power levels keep it from reaching my top 10, but that’s also part of the charm. There was a big perk rework a few months ago and I haven’t played too much since then as I feel I’d have to learn everything all over again. Even still, this game at up so much of my time and I genuinely loved it.

Super Auto Pets

y’all know it. sh*t’s so good

SNKRX

What do you get when you take the addictive economy and gambling of auto chess and mix it with snake? SNKRX! It’s a weird little game but works like a treat. Available on mobile and Steam for a few bucks. Go on, you know you need it .

Live a Live Remake

This game has its ups and downs. Not every chapter is great, but none are bad. Every chapter is at least interesting. I didn't have fun 100% of the time, but I felt enriched after every play sessions. It's a fascinating piece of history and every JRPG fan should give it a try.

I particularly enjoyed how experimental it got with RPG mechanics. Some things are fun for 2 hours, but I wouldn't want a 30+ hour JRPG doing those things. It was a breath of fresh air. I particularly enjoyed the final chapters! It's also gorgeous.

List in short form for tallying purposes:

Spoiler:

Resident Evil VIII
Resident Evil 4 VR
Half Life 2 VR Mod
Walkabout Minigolf (Jim Henson’s Labyrinth DLC in particular)
Marvel Snap
Neon White
Vampire Survivors
Dusk
Elden Ring
Hedon Bloodrite
[/list]

Personal story time bonus round:

Spoiler:

My mental healthLeague of Legends

A game that deserves its own category for me this year. It's not a top 10, it's not a honourable mention. This game taught me a lot about myself and these lessons coincided with my diagnosis of ADHD and the following medication.

I've had a rocky history with MOBA games. I get too invested, I get addicted, and I let them destroy my mental health. Before my diagnosis, they were one of the few styles of games that would hold my interest. They preyed on my mental state and need for immediate satisfaction. I installed and reinstalled League of Legends many times over the last 2 years in frustration and relapse; realising it wasn't a good game for me, but unable to give it up due to the time and money sunk into it.

Once medicated, my relationship with the game changed a lot. I was a lot more relaxed, I could stop playing when I wanted to, and started to simply enjoy the game rather than being fixated on ranked wins and losses. I've acknowledged that I do just love this sort of strategy and the colourful visuals and character designs appeal to me a lot! I love it in different ways than before.

I've learned that it is an addictive game designed to keep players online for long periods of time, and I've met those design hooks with my own mental effort to moderate my investment. I might get frustrated at times, but I never get mad any more. I don't lash out, nor do I let it affect my mental health for the rest of the day.

It's just been an overall amazing experience seeing my relationship with a problematic aspect of my life change with the correct mental health help. It helped me understand a lot about my brain and provided a more immediate form of feedback compared to my performance at work or study.

^I love this post as a fellow LoL-addict *and* ADHD sufferer who has learned to calmly dip into the game and not gorge himself unto sickness.

Also, I just installed HB and almost tossed it away, as it were. Great to know I wasn't seeing it for what it was.

I reinstalled LoL recently due to all the amazon prime gaming free stuff. But I haven't really got back into playing it. With 2 kids under 5 I can't really be unavailable for 40 minutes at a time.