Table of Contents Hide
Horizon Forbidden West – not the best game but it did have the best graphics (pic: Sony)
GameCentral hands out awards for the best graphics, soundtrack, and storytelling in 2022, as well as the best format and worst game of the year.
2022 has turned out to be a much better year for video games than many would’ve expected, with our Top 20 of the year brimming with amazing games across a wide range of genres. There’s always some that get left out though, or which only excel in one particular area, and so we also like to give out these mini-awards as well, to recognise more of the year’s best games.
Sadly, the easiest award to give was for the year’s worst but we had more trouble when it came to questions of which has the best visuals (which absolutely does not mean most realistic graphics), best soundtrack, and best storytelling. There were at least half a dozen contenders for each category, and that is a very healthy sign.
As ever, do let us know if you disagree via the comments or the usual email address, but we will be running the Reader’s Top 20 of 2022 vote at the end of January, to see what you thought were the best games of the outgoing year. For now though, this is what we think…
Winner: Horizon Forbidden West
As we always try to emphasise, good graphics are not necessarily any indication of a good game. Plenty of bad games look amazing and lots of amazing games look bad, and it’s been that way since the dawn of gaming. Horizon Forbidden West is a great game in many ways, but we don’t think anyone would argue that its best feature isn’t its visuals.
There are still precious few games that only work on next generation consoles and most of those are published by Sony. That doesn’t include Horizon Forbidden West, though, which also launched on PlayStation 4. Which makes you wonder what developer Guerrilla Games will be capable of when they’re released from the shackles of the last gen.
The reason Horizon Forbidden West wins in this category is that it’s not just a technically impressive game but has some excellent art design, especially in terms of all its various robot animals. They make even the most absurd concepts (robot kangaroos?) seem almost plausible and there’s an impressive cohesiveness to the designs that still gives each robot its own individual look.
There are already whispers of a PS5 Pro and Switch 2 and we’re no doubt going to hear more about both in 2023, but even with a company as unpredictable as Nintendo there’s one thing you can pretty much guarantee about any new console: it’s not going to have a crank on the side.
That’s the gimmick with the Playdate, a bizarre portable console with a black and white screen and 24 exclusive games from a variety of top indie developers. Many, arguably most, weren’t entirely successful but the fact that people actually decided to go ahead with such a peculiar idea, for the express purpose of inspiring new ideas that would otherwise have never happen, is extremely admirable.
The Playdate has seemingly been a huge success and we’re only surprised that a second season of downloadable games hasn’t been announced yet. Or perhaps their next plan is to make hardware that’s even weirder, just to see what kind of gameplay innovation it can inspire.
It’s still got it (pic: Nintendo)
Format of the year
Winner: Nintendo Switch
Although in most years there’s usually one device that stands out above the rest in 2022 it was more notable how much Xbox and PlayStation didn’t push themselves to the fore. Microsoft and Sony announced almost nothing new and seemed to actively resent the idea of showing off any of their games before their release – and so in most cases didn’t. More importantly, their release schedules became increasingly threadbare as the year went on, with Sony only having one major Christmas release and Microsoft none.
By comparison, Nintendo has been surprisingly open all year, announcing many games further in advance than they usually do and having a busy year full of great releases, including two mainline Pokémon games, Kirby And The Forgotten Land, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, the record-breaking Splatoon 3, and two great third party games in Bayonetta 3 and Mario + Rabbids Sparks Of Hope. There are questions about how much life the Switch still has in it, but while the tech may be getting long in the tooth the quality of the games has never been better.
Remake of the year
Winner: Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration
We never include remakes and remasters in our Top 20 of the year, to ensure new titles get a chance to shine, but while previously full remakes – which are essentially brand new games – used to be rare Resident Evil has made them increasingly fashionable and there’s a dizzying array planned for 2023 and beyond, including Dead Space, Resident Evil 4, Lollipop Chainsaw, Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time, Splinter Cell, The Witcher, Silent Hill 2, and Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth (although we’re dubious as to whether Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Advance Wars will ever make it to release).
In 2022, though, there were surprisingly few of note, so instead we’ve given this year’s award to the excellent remaster compilation Atari 50, which not includes every notable Atari game ever made (including some that were never even released) but is an excellent interactive retrospective of the whole company and a gold standard for how retro compilations should be presented in the future.
Runner-up: Tactics Ogre: Reborn
Winner: Xenoblade Chronicles 3
With veteran composer Yasunori Mitsuda, whose credits date back to 1995’s Chrono Trigger, leading the charge, Monolith Soft’s musicians might have achieved the best soundtrack yet in a Xenoblade game, or any role-player, with Xenoblade Chronicles 3.
From the mournful tune of the off seers to the invigorating guitars of the chain attack music and the overwhelming tension of the Moebius boss themes, this soundtrack covers a wide array of emotions, elevating almost every scene and moment to near perfection. Its epic scale and occasional throwbacks, to songs from the previous games, befit its role as the grand finale to this current trilogy of titles. Not to mention its obsession with flutes has ensured fans will always be in tears whenever they hear one.
Runner-up: Elden Ring
The Last Of Us and other similar narrative based titles, such as this year’s A Plague Tale: Requiem, are great games but we do balk somewhat when they’re held up as examples of interactive storytelling. They’re not interactive at all, they’re entirely linear stories over which you have no control – it’s the gameplay in-between that’s interactive.
The most interesting story-based games are the ones that put you in charge, either through branching narratives or by presenting the story in such a way that would only work as a video game. You can just film The Last Of Us as a movie or TV show, without changing a thing – and they are – but sifting through reams of archive footage, trying to discover the fate of a forgotten starlet in Immortality, is an experience unique to video games and far more immersive and personal as a result.
Runner-up: Citizen Sleeper
Loser: Babylon’s Fall
Not only was Elden Ring the obvious front-runner for game of the year but it’s equally obvious which was the worst of 2022. Babylon’s Fall is an incomprehensibly bad game but even more so because it’s by developer PlatinumGames, who this year also released Bayonetta 3 – one of the best games of 2022 and winner of Best Action Game at The Game Awards.
What went wrong behind the scenes we do not know, but it’s clear what the faults of the game itself are: everything. Babylon’s Fall is a co-op action role-playing, that seemed to be trying to carve out a place as a melee-based alternative to Destiny 2. Or at least that’s the kindest way to explain the brain-haemorrhaging amounts of repetition.
However, there’s no excuse at all for the tedious combat, bland artwork, terrible graphics, awful level design, and boring loot. On top of all that the game is riddled with microtransactions, or rather it would be if Square Enix hadn’t shut it down six months after it launched.
Runner-up: Ghostwire: Tokyo
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment below, and follow us on Twitter.
Follow Metro Gaming on Twitter and email us at email@example.com
To submit Inbox letters and Reader’s Features more easily, without the need to send an email, just use our Submit Stuff page here.
For more stories like this, check our Gaming page.