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Midyear progress report: Here are the best games of 2022 so far

We’re already nearly halfway through 2022, and it’s been an unusual year when it comes to new video game releases. The first quarter of 2022 was loaded with massive hits that eclipsed 2021’s holiday season. Major releases slowed to a drip after March though, creating a front-loaded year for gamers. Even with a slower cadence, however, each month has brought some excellent new titles — some of which were easy to miss.

The midway point of any year serves as a good excuse to stop and take stock of what’s launched so far. You likely already know the biggest releases (such as the Radahn-sized elephant in the room), but there’s a whole sea of vibrant games worth catching up on during this slow summer. Here are the best games we’ve played so far this year.

Elden Ring

Split image of author George R. R. Martin, Elden Ring promo still, and HBO Max logo.

Let’s get this out of the way up top: Elden Ring is the game of 2022. Even if it’s not your favorite game that’s launched this year, it undeniably produced the biggest moment for the industry as a whole. FromSoftware’s open-world epic perfects the company’s signature Dark Souls template, creating the most approachable entry in an otherwise impenetrable franchise. That’s helped introduce more players than ever to FromSoftware’s dark, alluring style of RPG action. Even if there are better games that launch this year, nothing will impact the next decade of gaming as much as Elden Ring. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

Horizon Forbidden West

Aloy swimming underwater.

Horizon Forbidden West had the misfortune of launching right before Elden Ring, which left it lost in FromSoftware’s shadow. However, we can’t write Sony’s standout open-world game off. Aloy’s second adventure is even better than her first, giving players another gorgeous, postapocalyptic world to explore. With better combat and impressive environmental puzzle design, Horizon Forbidden West is easily one of the best exclusives of the current console generation. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Kirby drills a mole in Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

Taking design cues from Super Mario 3D World, Nintendo’s Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the pink puffball’s first fully 3D outing. Kirby and the Forgotten Land has all of the charming character and level design we’ve come to expect from Nintendo’s cutest series, but isn’t afraid to get a little bit sinister toward the end of the journey. Check out Kirby and the Forgotten Land if you’re looking for a fun and approachable 3D platformer during a year that thoroughly lacks them compared to 2021. ~ Tomas Franzese

Neon White

A player shoots a rocket at an enemy in Neon White.

Neon White’s odd mashup of first-person shooting, platforming, card-based abilities, and a heavenly setting doesn’t seem like it would work well, but it absolutely does. This godly adventure about forgiveness is one of the best-written games of the year, and it’s also extremely fun to play for fans of intense platformers like Clustertruck. Neon White has an unexpected but perfect mix of gameplay and narrative concepts that you just won’t find in any other games this year ~ Tomas Franzese

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

rapheal and casey jones high five tmnt shredder's revenge.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge isn’t a radically subversive beat ‘em up. It’s just a darn good one. Thanks to fluid action and tons of Easter eggs pulled from TMNT’s previous TV shows and video games, this is a satisfying romp for fans of TMNT and arcade beat ‘em ups alike. With co-op multiplayer that lets six players take on the Foot Clan at once, its one of the best games to play with friends this year. ~ Tomas Franzese

OlliOllli World

The player character and his friends overlook Radlandia.

No other game released this year plays as smoothly as OlliOlli World. This skateboarding platformer wants players to skate, grind, and ollie to their heart’s content through colorful otherworldly environments and utterly succeeds at that goal. OlliOlli World is a joy to play, making it one of the most satisfying games of the year. Its quirky cast of characters and varied levels will also stick in your mind long after you beat the game. ~ Tomas Franzese

The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe

A framed photo in The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe celebrates the original game.

The less you know about The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe heading into it, the better. From an outside glance, the game looks like nothing more than a console rerelease of 2013’s seminal indie The Stanley Parable. That’s selling it short by design. Ultra Deluxe brings more new content than you’re probably expecting and it’s not just a few extra endings. Without saying too much, the game is secretly a satire on the current media era that lampoons fans’ constant hunger for more content. All you need to know is that there’s a bucket involved and it’ll make you cry. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

Nobody Saves the World

A Magician attacks enemy swarms in Nobody Saves the World.

One of the first big indie games to release this year has also proven to be one of its best. Nobody Saves the World is about an ugly, pale character who must locate a powerful wizard and save the world with the help of a magic wand that gives them the ability to translate into 18 different forms. While not many games execute having multiple playable forms well, Nobody Saves the World does by allowing players to combine the abilities of every form and by constantly giving players some form of progression, so it never feels like the adventure is over. ~ Tomas Franzese

Rogue Legacy 2

A hero fights an eyeball boss in Rogue Legacy 2.

It’s been a tremendous year for early-access games that finally got a 1.0 release. Case in point: Rogue Legacy 2. The sequel to one of the most influential roguelikes of all time is an improvement in just about every way. It brings plenty of creative ideas to the table, from better progression hooks to more hilarious “traits” that turn each run into an unpredictable comedic joy. Like Hades did in 2020, it’s a game that proves how valuable an early-access approach can be, giving fans the power to help shape a perfect game. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

Strange Horticulture

A table filled with papers in Strange Horticulture.

If you’re looking for a deep hidden gem to play, don’t sleep on Strange Horticulture. The unique puzzle/plant shop management game has players helping customers cure various ailments by identifying the right plant for the job. That alone would make this one of the most unique indie games released this year, but there’s an occult element on top of that, which turns the game into an engrossing, witchy mystery. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

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