The 10 Best PlayStation Games of 2022

Games Lists best of 2022
The 10 Best PlayStation Games of 2022

Do exclusives still sell systems? I’m sure God of War Ragnarok moved a lot of PlayStation 5 units, even though it also came out for the PlayStation 4. Sony’s still struggling to meet the basic demand for the two-year-old next-gen console, though, so I don’t know if any single piece of software can get the credit for driving consumer interest. Meanwhile only a few of 2022’s best games are exclusive to any one platform; you can play our game of the year on almost any hardware, including both the new and old PlayStations, and there are few PlayStation or Xbox games that aren’t also playable on PC, the Switch, or each other. The only system that probably sells on the basis of its exclusives is the Switch, and that’s because it’s the only place to play new Nintendo games. This all might change over the next few years, with Microsoft gobbling up major publishers and Sony doing whatever it can to combat them, but 2022 has reinforced that, when it comes to playing the best new games, you don’t need to own a specific console. Our list of the best PlayStation games of the year is proof: only two of these games are exclusive to the PlayStation. The lines between the PS4 and PS5 remain fuzzy, but all 10 of these games are playable on either system, so you won’t be shut out of the best of 2022 if you haven’t tracked down a PlayStation 5 yet. And if you are looking for big name exclusives for your console of choice, we’ll start you off with one of the best PlayStation exclusives of the year—an excellent game that got a little overshadowed by coming out one week before Elden Ring.

10. Horizon Forbidden West

Horizon Forbidden West proves the open world genre doesn’t have to be as creatively bankrupt as it currently is, even while sticking close to the genre’s conventions. With the right focus, the right setting, and the right storytelling, a game can remain in thrall to a familiar format and still feel inspired. It isn’t a game that will surprise you or make you rethink the possibilities of what games can do, but it’s proof that games can still be really fun even if they don’t try anything new, and that’s something we don’t often see from big budget corporate games like this one. And that’s why it’s one of the best of 2022.—Garrett Martin

 


9. OlliOlli World

The third in Roll7’s series of arty, lo-fi skateboard games follows the typical trajectory of a videogame series: everything is bigger, longer, deeper. Beefier, even. It has characters. A whole story, even. At its heart it’s still the thumb-aching, quick-twitch trick machine that OlliOlli has always been, but with the narrative and world-building elements expanded so thoroughly that it doesn’t always feel like the elegant puzzle engine it used to be. That’s neither good nor bad—it comes down to your personal tastes—but it’s all done with the same charm and the same cool aesthetic that the series is known for. And given that it’s been seven years since the last time we dipped into a new OlliOlli, this is very cool World is a welcome one indeed—and one of the best of 2022.—Garrett Martin

 


8. I Was a Teenage Exocolonist

teen_exocolonist.jpg

I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is a narrative-oriented life-sim that thoughtfully handles its wide range of ideas, full of sharp commentary and earnestly portrayed characters. As a member of the first generation raised on a distant planet, you witness political tumult and the dangers of your new home as you grapple with the universally awkward experience of growing up. Although its colorful aesthetic may make it seem like a “wholesome game,” it fully engages with the perils of its setting while still communicating the warmth of its characters and their relationships. It envisions what a better future can look like, rendering a post-capitalist commune where its characters question Earth’s regressive practices, but it avoids devolving into utopianism by grappling with the moral ambiguities of this colonial project, as well as the ever-present threat of right-wing reactionism. While its deckbuilding elements become a little stale by its conclusion, it foregrounds substantive choices that directly impact its characters’ fates, placing you at the center of political strife and interesting sociological questions. It’s thoughtful, kind, and just about everything I value in science fiction.—Elijah Gonzalez

 


7. Soul Hackers 2

soul_hackers_2_screen.jpg

Even with all the side quests and demon grinding I did, Soul Hackers 2 was only 32 hours. A 30 to 40 hour JRPG is almost unheard of at this point. And it’s breathtaking. Sure, there’s little room for walls of explanation and expository dialogue. There’s no hidden lore fragments to collect. The character side quests are straightforward to resolve and clearly telegraphed. Soul Hackers 2 tells a good anime story about rivals to friends, AI learning about humanity, and dealing with trauma, and wraps it up in some of the best dungeon crawling Atlus has put together in over a decade. It’s condensed and digestible, perfect for a modern gamer who has way too many things in her backlog. It’s rare that I review a game and want to go back to it. Even if I love it at the time, I’m usually so wiped from the process that I need to delete it from my PlayStation and just not think about it for a good while. Soul Hackers 2 is graceful and breezy enough, while still being a meaty monster-collecting dungeon crawler, that I’ve been thinking about my return to it the entire time I wrote my review.—Dia Lacina

 


6. Stray

Stray absolutely understands what it’s like to be a cat—at least from a human’s perspective. This cat will scratch on rugs, walls, and furniture. This cat will nonchalantly knock glasses, vases, and even open cans of paint off shelves. This cat will get its head stuck in paper bags, hang out in empty boxes, or idly swat balls back and forth, if you want it to. This cat will even jump onto a table in the middle of a game of dominoes, knocking the pieces all over the floor. It’ll also purr and meow, rub itself lovingly against the legs of those it likes, and even snuggle up against a robot as it takes a nap. Stray captures the mischief, aloofness, and sweetness of a cat, while also uncannily recreating the way they look and move. The cat gets the hype, but it’s the cat’s robot friend that ultimately makes the biggest impression. If B-12 was just a typical guide—a hint system and blinking arrow in character form—Stray wouldn’t work. B-12’s journey of self-discovery is the main emotional through line in the game, the wire upon which the entire experience hangs, and even if you can tell where that story is going before the drone can, it’s told with a clarity and forthrightness that adds to its power. The cat game might be less about the cat and more about the existential crises facing mankind and the artificial intelligences that will be left behind, but at least there’s a dedicated meow button—Garrett Martin

 


5. Cult of the Lamb

cult_lamb_screen.jpg

From the very moment Cult of the Lamb begins, players embark on a rollicking, deceptively cute, but ultimately sinister journey through the lands of the Old Faith, and it never lets up. Within seconds of gaining control of the game, the player is executed for being a potential vessel for The One Who Waits, a god who’s been bound by chains. This fallen god saves the player before charging them, a literal sacrificial lamb, with taking up a crown and restoring them to power. From there, players engage in a lot of frankly dubious behavior, indoctrinating dissidents of the Old Faith into a cult and deciding how best to exploit them.

Cult of the Lamb’s greatest strength might be its honesty. Action games are about this absolute physical dominance over other things and people around you, and management sims have always been about pulling on threads and watching systems big and small do your bidding. In a sense, Cult of the Lamb is this wholly self-aware marriage of two distinct, but intrinsically tied, genres about the order of things, and just immediately inserts you at the top of that hierarchy, laying it all bare. It drops all pretenses and weaves conquest and violence of various forms (spiritual, physical, and systemic) into its systems and simple story very satisfyingly. At the end of the day, your cult leader is little but an avatar for destruction masquerading as a hero. How much more of a videogame could you be at that point? And for that frankness alone, Cult of the Lamb is more than deserving of high marks, and of making our list of the best of 2022.—Moises Taveras

 


4. Tunic

tunic_678.jpg

You know what’s just full of respect? Andrew Shouldice’s Tunic. That’s what. This one-man adventure jam doesn’t go easy with its puzzles, having faith that its players will be able to think their way through every tricky scenario presented to them. It also has a deep and overt respect for ‘80s Nintendo games, specifically the original Legend of Zelda; that’s evident not just in the game’s isometric view and general environment, but also in its in-game manual, which isn’t just some mystic, sacred text the adorable fox hero has to seek out, but also a recreation of an NES-era instruction booklet. Tunic sifts through the shared experiences of our gaming past to create something new and unique enough to exist outside the easy allure of nostalgia.—Garrett Martin

 


3. Signalis

Signalis

While Signalis fits into a larger trend of games that emulate PSX-era survival horror, its bold aesthetic choices and spellbinding storytelling help push it past its influences to create something singular. Its gameplay successfully channels some of the usual suspects like Resident Evil(2002) and Silent Hill 2 as your forage for keys, avoid Crimson Head-esque reviving zombies, and repeatedly backtrack to solve puzzles. However, its greatest selling point is that it has one of the most compelling videogame narratives of the year, its ruminations on death, identity, and accepting loss conveyed through cryptic symbolism and recurring cycles of pain. By constantly switching settings, artistic styles, and perspectives, it creates a disorienting headspace that emphasizes the confusion of its protagonist, slowly revealing the meaning of its recurring images until the horrible weight of it all comes crashing down. It’s a brainworm of a love story that I can’t get off my mind, and one of the best of 2022.—Elijah Gonzalez

 


2. Elden Ring

Elden Ring

You’d be forgiven for thinking Elden Ring was the only game that came out this year. For a solid three months it seemed to be the only thing anybody talked about, wrote about, or even played. From Software blew its signature RPG formula up into one of the largest open world games in memory, which makes it more accessible than their earlier Souls games, but also even more mysterious and unsettling. Its massive, secret-filled world is clearly influenced by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but with the brutality and subtle approach to storytelling you expect from a Souls game. It might be a little too big, and devolves into a bit of a slog in the late game, but Elden Ring remains an almost unthinkable achievement. I’m dumped over 170 hours into it and still occasionally pop in again to look for any caves or ashes I might’ve overlooked. Elden Ring has a way of setting up camp inside your head and refusing to leave that few games can match.—Garrett Martin

 


1. Norco

Norco

As a Southerner I don’t really trust anybody to write about the South unless they, too, are from here—or at least have lived here long enough to truly understand what makes it great and awful in equal measure, and how the ways in which the South is actually fucked up often diverge from the ways in which outsiders think it’s fucked up. Norco, a smart narrative-driven game about the unique ways in which institutions like religion and big business have exploited the South, its people and its land throughout history, is clearly the work of people who understand this region and its fundamental defects. It’s an unflinching, occasionally surreal glimpse into an only slightly exaggerated version of Louisiana, with its mythical and allegorical flourishes only highlighting the aimless mundanity and real-life degradations of the modern South. If you only play one game from this list, make it Norco—the best of 2022.—Garrett Martin

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin