In 2021 I tweeted out about how excited I was for all the big AAA games releasing in 2022, including images of God Of War Ragnarok, Elden Ring, and even Starfield (Thinking back, I was very naive to think that would ever release in 2022 lol) but I never thought that the games that would impress me the most would be mostly made up of indie games.

I think 2022 was the year when I truly started appreciating Indie games and had my eyes opened to so many different stories and worlds that I may not have experienced otherwise.

Here’s a list of my top 5 favorite games of the year.

Pentiment

You play as Andreas Maler. You’re serving an apprenticeship in an old abbey and working alongside monks who are scribing religious texts in a very religious, small town called Tassings. You get to know the people around the town, you learn about their families, and their jobs, and before you know it, you start to grow connections with them. That is until someone in the town gets murdered. Your friend is blamed and it’s your job to clear their name and find the real killer. Suddenly everyone becomes a suspect.

Pentiment was a game that really surprised me. I bought it because I had seen some very strong reviews for it and thought it couldn’t possibly be as good as everyone is saying.

For the first hour or two, I was overwhelmed by the information being thrown at me. There was so much historical and religious history. I was constantly opening up the glossary to explain every other word to me. I felt like I was missing something but I continued on. I finished Chapter 1 and had to leave for work. Suddenly I couldn’t stop thinking about the game. I couldn’t wait to get back to it. I had to know what happened next. I devoured the rest of the game and it just kept getting better. A slow burn but so worth it.

Inscryption

Inscryption is a rogue-like card game with some D&D and puzzles thrown in. That sounds like a lot but believe me, that just scratches the surface.

You’re trapped in an old cabin. You don’t know how you got there and there’s a creepy, sinister-looking character at a table waiting to play a game with you. You sit down opposite him and are introduced to the game Inscryption.

You soon discover that the figure across from you has some tricks up his sleeve and doesn’t always play fair. It’s your job to figure out how to beat him at his own game.

Inscryption is one of the most imaginative, fun, and bizarre games I have played in my entire life. I’m not very good at card games so I struggled at first with the game but once I had the rules down I couldn’t get enough. Although the game was maybe a little too dragged out at the end, I was genuinely upset when it ended and I had no one left to play against. If you’re looking for something outside of your comfort zone and a game that rewards well-thought-out strategies, I think you might really love this one.

Ender Lilies

(Ender Lilies was released in the Summer of 2021 but I only got to experience this game in 2022 and I will take any opportunity to talk about it.)

Ender Lilies is a 2D side-scrolling Metroidvania-type adventure game with combat similar to Hollow Knight. With strong themes around death and loss, it still is one of the most hauntingly beautiful-looking games with a stunning soundtrack accompanying it.

Following the main character Lily, it is our job to purify the kingdom of an affliction called Blight. The Blight has driven the people of the Kingdom mad which results in dangerous enemies and terrifying bosses.  Lily does not fight but instead, she gathers the help of spirits who have unique powers and weapons to protect her on the journey.

Through Lily’s journey, the player will unlock new abilities, new upgrades, and relics which will not just make the combat easier but will also unlock new paths to explore.

Ender Lilies was one of my favorites of the entire year of 2022 with gorgeous environments and character designs, I was completely captivated by the whole thing. If you’re a fan of games like Hollow Knight or even Souls-like then I would highly recommend it.

Signalis

Throughout 2022 I was itching for a good Survival Horror game. I had (mostly) gotten over my fear of scary games and played through many of the Silent Hill and Resident Evil games back in 2021 and had developed a taste for the genre.

I had seen Signalis on the Playstation store many times, writing it off as some weird outer space anime game. It wasn’t until I was bored one day that I actually got told to sit down and give Signalis a go and was told it wasn’t “a weird anime game” but instead a “weird outer space survival horror that will mess with your head.” And that’s exactly what it was.

Your spaceship crashes onto a seemingly empty planet. You awaken from hypersleep with no memory of what has happened, and you leave the ship in search of your missing companion. You find an underground facility and in the search for answers come face to face with horrifying truths and obstacles. How you decide to play the game will determine the outcome of how it ends.

With just a two-person dev team, Signalis is a love letter to all Survival Horror fans. A top-down third-person shooter with some brilliant puzzles, limited inventory space, nerve-rattling music, and a tense atmosphere throughout, Signalis takes everything you know and love from the classic survival horror genre and still manages to keep it fresh. The story can at times feel complicated and even incomprehensible but you’re lost on this journey just as much as the protagonist. Figuring everything out together is part of it and what you get in the end is a heart-wrenching story about friendship and trust in promises.

Elden Ring

I don’t think anyone will be shocked by this one.

Elden Ring was by far my most anticipated game of 2022. FromSoftware has created almost all my all-time favorite games and even before release, I knew Elden Ring would be no different. A big selling point for the game was that George R. R Martin would be writing the basic outline for the story and worldbuilding with Hidetaka Miyazaki filling in the missing details. Although I personally would have loved to see fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson (a huge SoulsBorne fan) writing alongside the FromSoftware team, I admit I was still very intrigued by what George R.R. Martin would bring to the table.

If you’ve played a SoulsBorne game before then you’ll know what to expect with Elden Ring.

A third-person action-adventure game but with a blessed jump button and trusty steed this time. The game takes place in the Lands Between where demigods rule and in classic George R.R. Martin fashion, there’s lots of family drama and everyone’s actually related.

You play as a Tarnished. You must travel the realms, and defeat anything that comes your way. Repair the Elden Ring and become Elden Lord.

With 18 million copies sold, there’s really no reason for me to explain any further. Chances are you’ve already played the game and already know whether you loved it or not.

Personally, FromSoftware continues to impress me and I will always be a huge fan of anything they make. I think Elden Ring has some of the best boss designs I have ever encountered and even after all the hours I put into the game, I never once tired of it. I’m at my happiest when I’m exploring the worlds they create, interacting with the interesting and at times, unnerving NPCs, walking through fog walls or traversing the mist and seeing a huge boss on the other side and feeling the adrenaline pumping through my body. I love it all. It was truly wonderful to play Elden Ring and have it all at my fingertips once again, even if only for a short while.