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Jeff Grubb's Top Games of 2022

These are Jeff Grubb's Top Games of 2022!

I’ve never written a Giant Bomb top 10, but I’ve definitely always taken inspiration from the many lists I’ve read on the site over the years. It’s always a strong reminder that game tastes are varied and also that more stuff comes out than any one person could ever play. With that in mind, I’d like to give you a snapshot of my year with 10 or so games that were great for me.

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10. Mario Strikers: Battle League

I know a lot of people weren’t happy with Mario Strikers, but the game had almost everything I needed from it. Very few people complain about the mechanics of recent Mario sports games because, on that front, they are almost always solid. And in the case of Mario Strikers, the core soccer (or strikers, as it’s called) action is nonstop fun with space for strategy and mayhem. I wish it had better online support, but it’s still one of the best sports games of the year.

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9. Pokemon Legends Arceus

They made a Pokemon what plays a bit like Breath of the Wild, and I found it very fun. For me, Pokemon has always been about collecting the little pocket monsters rather than the late-game battling. Arceus emphasizes the former, and it results in something I found much more engaging than Scarlet and Violet.

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8. Tinykin

Game developers burnt out on making collectathon platformers years ago, and I get it, Donkey Kong 64 hurt a lot of people. But I’m glad that indie devs are stepping into this space – especially when it's with a game that feels as good to play as Tinykin. You can grind on rails with your soap bar skateboard or glide across the map to hard to reach places. And it’s as instantly playable and fun as any Rare game ever was.

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7. Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Kirby is a multigenerational superstar in my life now. I remember getting Kirby’s Dream Land for the Game Boy as a kid. My dad took me to the Sweet 16 NCAA basketball tournament in St. Louis and picked the game up for me as a present. And now, decades later, Kirby is a huge part of my life again because of how much my kids enjoy Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Don’t get me wrong, I also love it on its own terms. It is a fun game that starts with a ton of cuteness and charm, and then it gets more challenging and intense the further you go. But nothing is going to beat going through the levels again and again with my kids who are now full on Kirbyheads.

6. Hardspace: Shipbreaker

I’ll never get over the first time I accidentally sliced through a pressurized haul in Hardspace: Shipbreaker during its early access release. That mistake led to a massive explosion that caused my character to go flying off into space while my beefy computer struggled to render the ensuing thermonuclear meltdown. The 1.0 release of Shipbreaker maintains all of that, but it adds a more varied and balanced game on top of the satisfying slicing action.

This is one of the best blue-collar games ever made.

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5. Atari 50

This is it. This is what all classic game collections should look like from now. They should act as a thorough and comprehensive retelling of the people and culture that brought the products into the world in the first place. Atari 50 does that with a presentation that still feels like a video game. And while the history lessons and the interviews with people who were there are the best parts of Atari 50, it also does a great job preserving a time in games that is slowly (but surely) falling out of discussion and memory.

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4. Pentiment

Pentiment is a game that plays you more than you play it. Sure, you make choices and investigate murders, but that’s so the game can manipulate you into considering its themes. Should we dwell on what we’ve lost in the past? Is it shameful to build something new on the atrocities in our personal lives and in our communities? Pentiment has an answer to those questions, and that makes it one of the most powerful games of the year.

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3. The Case of the Golden Idol

I’m a sucker for a game that makes me feel smart, and The Case of the Golden Idol did that immediately. This is a detective game where all of the evidence is in front of you. All the game requires of you is to look at how the details of the scene interact with one another in a logical answer. And connecting those dots was the most rewarding moment of the year for me.

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2. Elden Ring

There is something magical about exploring a world that feels like it doesn’t want you there. Elden Ring will punish you no matter the direction that you choose to go in, but that doesn’t matter. The fact that you think you might be able to find a secret, easier path around everything is enough to keep most players going. Instead, that false hope leads to players actually getting better at the game and surviving its traditional FromSoft skill checks. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this is the most astonishingly well-realized fantasy world in any game ever – and maybe across any medium ever.

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1. Neon White

I like games that feel good, and Neon White was the best-feeling game of the year. I never actually saw credits on the game, but it doesn’t matter. The joy I found in the game was in going deeper on levels than anyone else. It’s a true sick thrill to start up a stream, promise your audience you’ll make some progress in the game, and then go full goblin mode on a single level for 4 hours.

Only the best games are capable of drawing behavior like that out of me, and that’s exactly what Neon White is: the best game of the year.

Jeff Grubb Grubb on Google+