Game of the Year is an award given to games that have excelled expectations in a number of ways, with respect to their narrative, gameplay, presentation, and design. While the most prestigious of ceremonies that hand out this award is The Game Awards, other award shows also dish out this title.
The Game of the Year award is the most distinguished recognition a video game can be granted, earning it a place in the history of gaming. With 2022 at its mid-point, a handful of games released thus far stand a good chance at being Game of the Year contenders.
Scattered across the last six months have been some truly fantastic video games, which have wowed fans and critics alike and showcased the best that the video game industry can offer. Here is a look at five of the best contenders for Game of the Year 2022 so far.
Note: This article reflects the writer's opinion.
5 game releases in 2022, which can compete for Game of the Year
1) Horizon Forbidden West
Guerilla Games’ sequel to its hugely successful Horizon Zero Dawn had a lot to live up to. However, upon release, Forbidden West not only lived up to its predecessor but also excelled in areas that it had lacked in. Released on February 18, 2022, the game arrived on PS4 and PS5, much to the dismay of PC users.
Horizon Forbidden West continued the story of Protagonist Aloy as she took on the role of a protector of her tribe and ventured out into the wild lands of the Forbidden West. After the destruction of the AI known as GAIA, Aloy searches for a backup, something also sought out by a new mysterious group of technologically advanced humans.
The game retains much of the excellent gameplay from the previous title and improves upon it with certain modifications, mild changes, and simple quality of life adjustments. The UI is scaled down, combat is much smoother, and climbing is no longer a chore. Forbidden West is definitely an improvement upon a great game and possibly qualifies for the Game of the Year award.
2) Elden Ring
Speaking of great games, one that is definitely in the running for the Game of the Year award is Elden Ring. FromSoftware is a studio that is well known for its Dark Souls games, along with Bloodborne, Demon’s Souls, and Sekiro, but Elden Ring was going to be their first attempt at a truly expansive open-world game.
While doubts persisted when the game was in production, they were all put to rest when it launched. The iconic feeling of playing a FromSoftware game was ever present, even in this completely open setting. Despite possibly being the most accessible game in the developers' catalog, it didn’t reduce the game’s difficulty curve nor its penchant for hiding crucial lore in item descriptions.
Boss fights were as tough (if not more) as they had always been. The gameplay has been smoother than ever before, allowing a much more flexible build system. The addition of a jump button only meant that falling and dying could no longer be always blamed on the level design. Many speculate that Elden Ring is the game to beat for the Game of the Year award.
This indie action-adventure game was a surprise for many, as it turned out to be great. Developed by Andrew Shouldice and published by Finji, Tunic was released across various platforms on March 16, 2022, and was greeted with fabulous reviews. The game’s design and gameplay were praised greatly and saw much adoration due to its homage to older games.
While indie games are rare for Game of the Year nominees, as of July 2022, Tunic stands as one of the year's highlights. Set in a fantastical world full of dangers and hostile creatures, players take control of an anthropomorphic fox as it heads out on its journey.
Presented in an isometric world, players must guide the fox across various areas of the game while fighting enemies and collecting items. It features many soulslike mechanics as well as a Metroidvania-like level design. This is one of the two best indie games out this year.
4) LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
LEGO has managed to hit the nail right on the head with this year’s Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Even fans who have not been happy with the recent movies from Disney will be delighted to get their hands on this take on the entire nine mainline movies in the Star Wars universe.
Set across three sagas, this is one epic tale, which is done so spectacularly in LEGO’s style that it would be surprising to see it missing as a nominee in the Game of the Year category. Players can start the story in any of the three sagas, from which they can play through the many events shown in each trilogy.
The hub world consists of a wide range of explorable planets and sees players travel to and explore in. This LEGO game consists of more iconic Star Wars landmarks than any other Star Wars game alone, which in itself is an achievement worthy of the Game of the Year award, to be honest.
Developed by BlueTwelve Studios, Stray is a game where players take on the role of a cat and explore a wide open-world set in an alternate cyberpunk future. Published by Annapurna Interactive, this game was released on July 19, 2022, and is available for Playstation 4 & 5 as well as PCs.
Informally known as the "cat game," Stray has achieved something that no other game before has: properly capturing the essence of this domestic feline species. As a cat, players have the option to be as composed or chaotic as they wish with the environment, the latter of which is more realistic, of course.
The controls are simple and intuitive, with a dedicated “Meow” button. Traversal and puzzle solving are the main gameplay loops. However, the story centers around the star feline finding a way back to its cat family, locating various items, talking to NPCs, and figuring out clues.
While Elden Ring is a great game, Stray will obviously beat it for Game of the Year because it has something Elden Ring does not: an adorable cat.
Note: This list is subjective and reflects the writer's own views.
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