Michael Leri’s Top 10 Games of the Year

Michael Leri's Top 10 Games of the Year


Best of 2022 is ComingSoon’s weeklong celebration of the entertainment that made this past year so memorable.


While I didn’t quite beat my number from 2021, I still played and completed a ton of games last year. And going through so many games demonstrated the staggering breadth of experiences available throughout 2022. For example, Supermassive Games made a disappointing horror adventure with dead-eyed mannequins with The Quarry in June and then the same team also developed a disappointing horror adventure with dead-eyed mannequins in November’s The Devil in Me. All joking aside, 2022 is probably my favorite year ever for game releases because of how many different titles there were and how hard it was to choose a top 10. Regardless, here are my favorite ones from 2022.

10. Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope

I was late to the party, but I fell very, very hard for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle earlier this year and came out on the other side thinking it was Ubisoft’s most creative game in quite some time. Not only was it not an open-world collect-a-thon stuffed with microtransactions, it was something the Mario series had never quite seen before and a fresh take on the strategy genre.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope lost only a small amount of that luster, but it is still one of my favorites of the year for many of the same reasons. I already enjoyed its tactical combat and adding more movement and customization options only made it more engaging (even if it generally wasn’t quite as difficult as the last game). The talking characters were annoying (shut up, sassy Roomba!) and the game’s lack of level scaling deflates my will to revisit older levels, but Sparks of Hope is a great sequel despite these small stumbles and still only Ubisoft’s second-most creative game in quite some time. Rabbid Mario is also hilarious and should have been the star of the upcoming Mario movie.

9. Metal: Hellsinger

Metal: Hellsinger is not a complicated shooter with tons of modes and a sprawling multiplayer component. It’s rather simple and straightforward, but its focus is why I loved it so much; I had it wrapped and Platinumed within just a couple of days.

Blasting to the beat is just a fantastic core concept that made me pay attention at all times. Every small decision is important and I appreciate it when games try to make every second count. I am not even a big metalhead and I was still able to fall in love with this game because of how it infuses its head-banging music into its gameplay. But I can only hope The Outsiders is developing Hip Hop: Hellsinger next to better suit my tastes.

8. Neon White

After Donut County, one of the best indie games to release in the past few years, I was on board for whatever Ben Esposito was cooking up next, especially if it was centered around raccoons. Neon White is decidedly not about raccoons, and that sucks and is almost disqualifying. However, Neon White is great enough to be one of the best games of the year despite that oversight. 

Neon White points out what I love about games since it uses its level design and enemy placement to guide players naturally. This sort of organic pathfinding is satisfying and only made greater by its emphasis on speedrunning since clarity is key when moving quickly. I’m not the one to continually climb leaderboards, but I do like being efficient, so trying to figure out how I could shave off more seconds in order to grab the gold medal was rewarding. This process was always evolving, too, since it expertly doles out new mechanics to learn and challenges to overcome.

Neon White is a special and totally unique game, one that seems like it escaped from the Dreamcast and was only just uncovered. I never owned a Dreamcast, but if Neon White was on in, then I might have considered getting one.

7. Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe

Except for extreme examples like 2019’s Resident Evil 2 remake, I try not to put remakes or rereleases in my top yearly Game of the Year lists. So even though I had a hell of a time playing The Last of Us Part I, it is weird to prop an older game up against the year’s newest titles. I initially held off on putting Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe in my top 10 for the same reasons, but it slowly and unexpectedly dawned on me that it was a new enough game to warrant a spot on this list.

The kicker is that it is incredibly aware that players like me will judge it like that and uses that to cleverly set up some of its best jokes. That gulf between expectations and reality is why comedy works, and that is baked into Ultra Deluxe’s very premise. I cackled at its absurd gags, appreciated its clever fourth wall breaks, and endlessly admired its commitment to the bit. Ultra Deluxe is not a rerelease nor a sequel, but it’s kind of both and goes all the way with it and then some.

6. Signalis

Signalis infected my mind when I wasn’t playing it. It’s a strangely alluring title with an unnerving story only told in chunks, notes, level design, and small vignettes that are almost like non sequiturs. I couldn’t stop thinking about it because it presents itself in a way where there are always layers upon layers of questions. And as such, I can’t wait to replay it, dig more deeply into its surreal narrative, and inevitably get trapped in this cycle again, albeit with slightly more information.

Signalis is also quite scary, as I found myself slowly wandering around the save room to prolong the protection it provided. It also doesn’t derive its tension from bad controls, either, which has been one of the main things keeping me from the horror classics it is inspired by. The puzzles are also, for the most part, exceptionally well done since they fit into the world and keep the game moving at a steady pace. There’s no need to drop the orange juice down a garbage chute and being able to move forward at a consistent rate is something I prioritize in horror games. Signalis was a surprise like few other games in 2022 and being blindsided like this always feels great.

5. Kirby and the Forgotten World

Kirby and the Forgotten World is the only Kirby game I’ve played, but I feel a strange amount of confidence saying it is the best one or at least very high on that list. Forgotten World isn’t all that challenging, which is odd because I love a lot of games on this list because they are difficult, but it works here because of the whimsical tone. Its joyously vibrant visuals and gameplay mechanics are always changing, meaning it never stagnates.

And all of it is an absolute joy until the very end where it kicks into bonkers hyperdrive and is a big reason why it is very high on my list. It is one of the better video game endings this year and had me hollering like a lunatic. I’ll never forget that bananas finale, and that doesn’t overshadow the rest of the game; it just provides an excellent endcap to it.

4. OlliOlli World

I booted up OlliOlli World probably more than any other game this year. It’s the perfect game to play just for a few minutes or hours because of how its nearly perfect controls can work for short bursts or long runs. Sometimes I’d load it up and just clear some challenges on one level, and other times I would knock out a whole bunch of the hardest ones. 

While I always loved its level design, I grew to love it even more as I dug deeper and started finishing all of its challenges. Roll7 masterfully gets players to take different routes and pay attention to each detail the team poured into the game. It’s easy to appreciate the courses the first or second time through, but skating through them multiple times — which is heavily encouraged through the aforementioned challenges — is where the true genius becomes evident. Seeing how levels loop around or hide different paths just shows how well OlliOlli World is put together and is why I will be playing it well into 2023 in my arduous climb to 100% it.

3. Horizon Forbidden West

While everyone else was scampering all over Hyrule in Breath of the Wild in early 2017, I was too busy rustling with Thunderjaws in Horizon Zero Dawn. I was enamored with the world Guerrilla Games had created and was pumped for Forbidden West, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how much I would love this new sequel

The step up from Zero Dawn is incredible, a gulf I was more able to appreciate after replaying that debut earlier this year. Combat is smoother and more responsive, but still keeps the “strategic dismemberment” that I found so gratifying in the first game. Guerrilla almost could have aped the Dead Space marketing phrase for it because it’s so similar in practice; carving off a necromorph’s bladed arm is as rewarding as tearing off a Tremortusk’s Plasma Cannon.

Learning more about the world is more engaging since the improved animations make it easier to pay attention to and absorb the carefully crafted post-post-apocalyptic world. Its Photo Mode made me appreciate Guerrilla’s craft even more, as I spent so many hours lining up beautiful pictures that are some of my favorites of the year. This higher general level of polish also means the side missions are better and worth completing since these characters emote like humans and not like, well, side mission characters. 

While I would have liked it to take more from Breath of the Wild’s playbook in terms of surprises and exploration — one of my only true knocks on the game — Forbidden West improves upon everything that was in Zero Dawn. Its stunning cliffhanger ending already has me giddy to see the next entry, but I’m also more amped to see how much better Guerrilla can do after this. And hopefully the studio can release it during a period where it can breathe and doesn’t get overshadowed by, say, an all-consuming FromSoftware or Nintendo heavyweight.

2. Sifu

I’ve been chasing that rush that Batman: Arkham Asylum gave me since it came out. Rocksteady Studios’ subsequent Batman games were deeper and better, but I was waiting for some other team to find that magic melee formula that is endlessly engaging and simple, yet hard to master. Sifu is almost exactly that game I’ve been waiting so patiently for.

Its combat checks off just about everything I’d want in a game like this: It’s responsive, dynamic, rewards skill, and has plenty of moves with different properties. It’s a golden blueprint that means fighting always looks, feels, and sounds incredible. I ran through the game multiple times and even got the Platinum trophy in the PS4 and PS5 versions and would gladly do it again if it somehow makes its way to some other PlayStation platform down the line. 

It’s also a punishing game and while I appreciate the easier mode Sloclap added after launch, that high difficulty meant that I had to learn the game and get good. That process of gradually getting better and eventually overcoming was thrilling and worked because of the smooth controls. I am not only thrilled that Sloclap is still adding more to Sifu, but I’m even more excited to see how the studio builds on this in future games.

1. God of War Ragnarök

I’ve never given a 10 before, but I couldn’t think of a game that deserved it more than God of War Ragnarök. Just about every part of this game is masterfully done and worthy of that extremely high, almost hyperbolic praise. It’s hard to even narrow down exactly why this game is as stunning as it is with any brevity because skipping over something is glossing over some incredible, genre-defining feat. 

Combat is wildly entertaining because of how it sits at the perfect nexus of fast character action games and the methodical pace of a soulslike where lengthy juggles and playing defensively rule equitably. Hard mode also made me appreciate its depth even more since Ragnarök requires that players utilize its many intricacies to come out ahead in a way that is only optional on lower settings. I cannot wait to play it on Give Me God of War in a few years to truly test my skill with all of its tools.

Its narrative always kept me enraptured, too, and constantly guessing. I was never clear on what was going to happen, which is ironic since it is all about inevitability and fate. That speaks to how Santa Monica Studio was also able to weave such an intricate tale while also deviously foreshadowing what the big beats were going to be.

Almost every character also has an arc, flaws, varying tones, and foils, all of which point out how incredible and thorough the writing is. Kratos particularly sticks out, as his journey from the 2005 original to Ragnarök has to be the most drastic swing in any game. But it works because of how well Santa Monica Studio wrote the character and Christopher Judge’s nuanced portrayal of him. It’s been astonishing to see Kratos go from a brooding monster to a slightly less brooding person trying to do good, especially for such a massive God of War fan like myself.

I could go on and on to the point where I’d just be regurgitating my review, but it’s just difficult to only mention a few standout aspects of God of War Ragnarök. And while I can sit and stew on this game for some time, I truly do not know where the series goes from here. But I applaud Santa Monica Studio for making a masterpiece that lives up to and exceeds the titanic heights of the last entry, creating one of the most satisfying two-part sagas in the medium. It’s not just easily the best game of the year to me, but also one of my all-time favorites.



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