Well that time sure flew by. While The Young Folks’ staff cranks the AC down low and stock our coolers full of icy drinks, we’ve come to a moment in the summer where we reach out mid-year checkpoint, and chart our favorite video games of 2022 so far.
We’re going to be trying out something a little different this year, however. You could say we’re saving our progress, in a sense.
We’re looking to actively update this list as the rest of the year goes on so that our favorites from the year’s first half don’t become obscured by the big releases by the time fall blockbuster titles come around. Because of this new list convention, these are not in a ranked order.
If you haven’t yet, check out some of these highlight games of the year that we genuinely enjoyed, and if we missed any of your favorites, we’re sure they’re on our to-play list and haven’t gotten to them yet! But nag us about them anyway, because we do know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredder’s Revenge and Deltarune Chapter 3 is going to be someone’s game of the year on the TYF staff.
Evan – TYF Gaming Editor
A splendid mishmash of a wide variety of complimentary influences, Tunic is above all else a love letter to the storied history of top-down action-adventure games. While aping most directly from the original Legend of Zelda titles and wearing that influence proudly, the game also keeps things fresh with an added dash of modern flourishes borrowed from the Souls series, Hyper-Light Drifter, Fez and, probably the most succinct comparison, Devolver Digital’s Death’s Door. Featuring some genuinely challenging combat and amazing map and level design, Tunic’s most unique aspect must be its in-game journal that functions as a treasure trove of maps, concept art, and the only means of learning the game’s mechanics.
What makes that journal so memorable is that each page must be discovered in tucked away places that require more than a little bit of effort in exploration. Similarly, the fact that everything in the game is written in a made-up language that might be decipherable but for the most part requires some critical inferring skills. The sense of discovery presented is one unmatched in recent memory, creating a unique game that is a must play for any fans of the genre looking for something that feels like a perfect balance of both old and new. [Quinton Parulis]
Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate Daemonhunters
Chaos Gate is a fantastic little tactics game that has very successfully punched well above its weight. The Warhammer 40,000 franchise has a bit of a running curse about it, where only one in every five games are actually any good, but the tactics games seem to have the best luck so far. Chaos Gate is an X-COM-like squad tactics game, where you take a team of Grey Knights: The universe’s equivalent of medieval knights, but each with an array of psychic powers and an over the top arsenal of space weaponry. The Grey Knights are on a quest to defeat a local plague outbreak brought on by the Chaos god of disease, Nurgle. Chaos Gates’ setting is a refreshing change for the W40K franchise, one that usually focuses more on the standard space marines against a rotating rogues gallery of Orks, Bugs or Chaos space marines, with the seclusive Grey Knights taking center stage, and my favorite plague god faction, the Death Guard, as the primary antagonists. Chaos Gate is an absolute must play for X-COM fans looking for something new, and easily secures the silver medal in my heart for best 40K game, just behind the other best known 40K X-COM style title, Mechanicus. (Starring my personal GOAT faction, the Adeptus Mechanicus. Glory to the Omnissiah, babyeeeeee!) [Miles Stanton]
Defining what Citizen Sleeper is may be a big task. To put effectively, this game is small and nuanced but hits like a truck when the pieces fall into place. This indie release is one of many amongst a surprisingly large class of proper sci-fi exploration strategy games. There isn’t a badly written word across stretches of Citizen Sleeper’s winding TTRPG style gameplay, each detail and line crafted to pull at your own sense of self. While the world of Citizen Sleeper is a futuristic capitalist hellscape, it is not so far away as to feel fictional at all. That may indeed why it is so hard to define Citizen Sleeper: it is too real. [Travis Hymas]
Mario Strikers: Battle League
If you’ve been itching for another Mario sports game for your Nintendo Switch, Mario Strikers: Battle League is here! Following very closely to the ideas and style of the previous installment of the series back on the Wii and the GameCube, this new Mario Strikers entry gives fans the fast paced and wildly rule breaking sci-fi charged soccer gameplay that only Mario could pull off. If you’re expecting a FIFA clone or traditional soccer game, this may not be for you. However, Battle League continues the tradition of being one of the most energetic and stylistic games in the Mario franchise with incredible cooperative and competitive multiplayer. With throwable hazards and a super strike option for goal scoring, this is far from your usual soccer game. If you’ve been a fan of the series and, like me, you were dying for another game, Battle League is your game for the summer season, and it does not disappoint! [Tyler Carlsen]
Coming from the pedigree that it did, I had a lot of expectations going into Ghostwire: Tokyo, and it honestly subverted them in ways that I really enjoyed. The main characters’ banter is more frequent and lighter in tone than I would have anticipated, but it just pulled me further into this well-crafted microcosm of a contemporary Tokyo overrun by a myriad of ancient spirits and demons. The enemy designs hauntingly reflect those iconic creatures, and the combat against them is tight, if not a little samey after you’ve gotten acquainted. If you’re into the ever-expanding popularity of of J-horror game genre, where rumors and mythos become spooky reality, this is an easy title pick-up and get sucked into. [Aaron Reyes]
Rogue Legacy 2
Creating a follow up to 2013’s Rogue Legacy was always going to be tricky. Released around the start of the resurgence of the Rogue-Lite genre before modern staples of the genre started pushing it into exciting new directions like Hades, Slay the Spire and Crypt of the Necrodancer, the original game was all about refining what wasn’t broke; the traditional formula of a randomly generated map with numerous branching paths, a simple and addictive upgrading system, and perma-deaths that make you start the whole thing over again. What made it stand was its class system where upon every death you chose the next member of your family tree to brave the dungeon, each coming with delightful hereditary traits that change the gameplay in some wild ways, like colorblindness taking the color out completely, or gigantism that forces you to rethink approaches to the platforming elements.
This year’s excellent sequel continues down the path laid by its predecessor by sticking to what is essentially the exact same structural format but refined to the point of airtight polish. The gameplay feels as tight as a 2D action platformer can get, upgrading your skills and watching your castle grow is incredibly addictive, and the introduction of a larger variety of locals to hack and slash your way through keeps things from feeling like too much of a retread. Sometimes the best games are ones that remind you of why you fell in love with a genre to begin with, and Rogue Legacy 2 is the best example of this in the Rouge-Lite you’re going to find this year. [Quinn Parulis]
Strangers of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins
So, Team Ninja’s newest hack and slash is very much a guilty pleasure. While I was 100% onboard after seeing the introductory bonkers “We have to kill chaos” trailer, I genuinely didn’t know what to expect from Strangers of Paradise. The gameplay looked like a Souls-like, but the tone was all over the place; from the anime man screaming about how he needs to kill the devil to the Fred Durst needle drop, I had no Idea what was going on. And now, after putting in over 30 hours into the game, I have even less of an idea of what’s going on. The segmented gameplay contains loosely strung together action set pieces with the VERY occasional cutscene thrown in to confuse the plot even more, and the presentation value is so rocky you could swear it was out of an early PS3 Square Enix game. However, the gameplay loop is so solid, you can easily forgive the game’s story shortcomings. SoP is easily in the runnings for my favorite janky games of all time, very close to unseating my all time favorite Earth Defense Force. Hopefully the upcoming DLC will give it that little push enough to take it over the edge. [Miles Stanton]
Horizon II: Forbidden West
Following the success of a new IP in Horizon: Zero Dawn back in 2017, Guerrilla Games released their follow-up, Horizon Forbidden West for the PlayStation 5 this past winter. This time around, Aloy is on an even more intense journey into the Forbidden West to locate important pieces to a puzzle that could change the fate of her broken world. Building upon the successes of Zero Dawn, here we receive a slew of new weapons and creatures to fight and ride. With insanely detailed visuals, an intriguing story that keeps you guessing, and some excellent combat and traversal options, this game raised the bar and showed off what the PS5 can do! [Tyler Carlsen]
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
In a moment when the Pokémon franchise could really use a shot in the arm, Game Freak delivered just that by giving a much needed refresh with Legends Arceus. Ironically, the series’ first foray into a more open-ended gameplay style focused more on the basics rather than being packed full of content. The Pokédex actually matters for the first time in generations, the battle system is a bit more dynamic, and it uses an existing region to do it all in. Even as Game Freak is planning on going full open-world at the end of the year, this game is going to be hard to top. [Travis Hymas]
After years of training and years of waiting, I’m thrilled to say that Elden Ring is the pinnacle of FromSoftware’s work in fantasy RPGs; a magnum opus drawing inspiration from all of their work up to this point. The game is the most accessible from the modern era FromSoft, as well as the most intricate in its potential complexity. Even after investing 150 hours into my first playthrough alone, combing through every inch of the map, I look forward to plenty more follow-up runs to come. This is my personal game of the century, let alone game of the year, and I don’t expect any for the rest of the year to dethrone it. I would elaborate further, but if you have not yet been exposed to the wonders of The Lands Between, we urge that the best way to experience Elden Ring is by going in completely blind. And you should experience it. Right now, go! [Aaron Reyes]