As per normal, the awards are based on games that I played this year, rather than ones that were released this year – so don’t complain about anything released before 2022, alright?
There are ten awards in total, encompassing five miscellaneous categories at first, and then moving onto the five main ones. All ten are excellent, so regardless of their award they’re all worth checking out!
Let the show begin!
Kicking off the GOTY awards this year with bang, we have Neon White. A game so damn cool that for almost the entire year I was certain it was untouchable as the Indie GOTY. With its high octane action and cool as frick characters, you can’t help but feel like a pro gamer while playing it.
What really makes the game so awesome is not just the cool card-based mechanics that have you either shooting heavy weaponry or discarding them for movement-based abilities, but how the game is effectively designed to get people into speedrunning. Levels are designed to play smoothly and you are rewarded for beating it fast. There are even shortcuts that the game will point out to you in order to help you get a faster time. And for the pros? Well, if you’re good enough you can even grab special secret medals to show off just how fast you are.
And if the gameplay wasn’t enough, the music certainly will be as every tune is banger after banger – with the music for Violet’s sadistic side-quests being one of the best gaming music I’ve heard this year.
Buy Neon White.
From coolest to cutest now, and there have been a bunch of adorable titles this year. The one that particularly stood out to me though due to its childlike charm was Lost in Play.
Starring two young siblings, the game (unsurprisingly) sees them getting lost while playing together and they have to find their way home. Of course, all of this plays out in their imagination so they’ll be facing off against evils goblins, building a rideable dragon, and so on.
Whether you regard cuteness as the stunning visuals, the charming scenarios, or just the adorable interactions that the characters have with each other, everything is just absolutely spot on. Regardless of the heavy competition, there could have been no other winner for this award.
I think it’s really important to not only highlight videogame masterpieces, but also to show off when a developer has learnt from their mistakes and grown a lot as a creator.
RunicCodes really does put a lot of heart and soul into the games he creates, but prior results have been somewhat mixed. The previous year saw multiple Red Colony games release on the Switch and – whilst better than expected – certainly had their issues. The second entry saw an improvement over the first, but the ambitious third entry also suffered from many issues and I found it to be the least enjoyable of the three.
Which is why I was really surprised that his next title, KnifeBoy, was actually really damn fun. Sure, it certainly has its fair share of jank and has a real problem with explaining some things to the player, but it’s also really addictive once it gets its weird claws into you. In particular, the movement and awesome upgrades feel very satisfying to play around with and the bosses are not only incredible in their own right, but some of the best bosses I’ve fought this year.
KnifeBoy is easily the developer’s best game by far, and it’s one of the most enjoyable experiences that I’ve played this year too and as such is very well-deserving of this award
A game doesn’t necessarily have to have a multiplayer mode in order for it to be a god multiplayer game. Think about those games you played couch co-op with as a child and how many actually had a proper multiplayer mode.
Madorica Real Estate 2 is a puzzle game, but more importantly it’s very much an escape room experience – something that traditionally is enjoyable to solve with friends. This is no different other than taking place predominantly on your TV screen.
What makes the game so enjoyable to play with others is that it requires you to print off the floor plans and use them in conjunction with the game to solve the many types of problems the game throws at you. You’ll be cutting, folding, colouring in, tracing lines, and so on as you try and destroy the evil spirits lurking within. Having extra minds on the job to help work things out certainly helps, but it also makes the game incredibly more fun too!
We all know the quote about stories in videogames by now, and whilst that was certainly true back in John Carmack’s day, it’s something that doesn’t necessarily hold up these days. A game doesn’t need a good story, but narrative games with a good story can create a different kind of gaming experience.
At its heart, Citizen Sleeper tells the story of a ‘sleeper’ – a human consciousness trapped inside a human body. You’ve found refuge on a Space Station known as Erlin’s Eye, and you really just want to get by and live your own life. Of course, things aren’t as easy as that as the company that made you wants you back.
It’s an oppressive society and there are scumbags all around, but really they are in the same position as you: they all just want to survive. It’s a very human tale and you can make your own path through the game to determine your own fate.
Things won’t be as simple as that though, since the game part of Citizen Sleeper requires you to use dice rolls to perform actions. Higher numbers may offer better odds of success, but sometimes you may just have to risk it. If your body degrades, you’ll have fewer dice, so you’ll have to make sure that you prioritise your survival above everything else.
It’s a really well told tale and the gameplay mechanics only help make it even more engaging and demanding – even if the game isn’t really as difficult as it appears to be.
If that wasn’t enough to make it deserving of the award, the developers are also releasing a stream of extra content to help add even more to what is already a decent sized story!
Now we’re getting to the real big hitters. These final five awards are for the best in their class and all five games are masterpieces in their own right that every Switch owner should have in their library.
Starting off with the best of the budget titles, and we’re looking at games that cost less than €5 to buy. Unfortunately, games that retail for this price usually end up with the stigma of being mere shovelware, but that’s actually quite far from the truth with many Switch titles. In fact, some games this year probably could and should have asked for more money but didn’t.
Lunistice is one of those games. Not only is it a 3D platformer in a beautiful 32 bit visual style, but it’s also remarkably well-designed too. The opening level starts out a little generic, but every subsequent level introduces great new gimmicks and offers some really good platforming to play around with.
The game’s length isn’t especially long, particularly if you like to blast through stages using the great movement mechanics, but there’s still plenty to do in order to increase your playtime. From secrets, to collectibles, to even new characters that play completely differently from the main protagonist, it gives you plenty of reason to come back.
Lunistice provides such great value for money, as well as being just genuinely a glorious time, that it far exceeded my expectations and is well-deserving of this award.
The Switch has seen its fair share of miracle ports over the year, but 2022 has seen a lot of dreadful ones too. As the years go by, we start seeing more and more failed attempts to bring titles to the Switch that border on unplayable. Some say that the Switch just needs to be more powerful, but then a developer comes along with some technical genius showing off a game that looks like it shouldn’t run just to prove the doubters wrong.
Bugsnax originally came out around a year ago on the PS4 and surprised a lot of people with its monster hunting charm and pretty visuals. It offered a really charming game with very unique mechanics and an assortment of beautiful Snax to capture and consume. People really doubted that this gem would make its way to the console since they didn’t think a port would end up being even close to playable.
… but it really is. Sure, the loading screens are definitely a little longer than they should be, but it’s still absolutely gorgeous that still really pops with its visual charm. Whether you’re playing in handheld or docked, it looks and plays absolutely fantastically. Sure, concessions have been made here and there to help things run smoothly, but if you’ve never played any other version then you’re likely not to even notice.
Young Horses did a great job bringing it over to the Switch, a place where the game really feels at home!
There are so many games now that harken back to times past, and we’ve reached a real golden era where pretty much every nostalgic period gets a look in. We have the commonplace 16 bit 2D platformers, of course, but we also have PS1 horror games, old school point and click adventures, 3D platformers, and so on. There’s so much here to make elderly gamers like me feel like a child again.
This year has seen a lot of good titles that fall into the retro throwback category, but the one that really takes the cake is Signalis. A game that came out of nowhere and surprised everyone by being just so damn good with its beautiful music and visuals, and stellar gameplay. In fact, it even stole the Best Indie Game of 2022 award from Neon White… which it maintained right up until the very last moment before losing it to another.
Signalis is a throwback to the old school survival horror games of yore, albeit set in a horrifying futuristic word that has been ravished by a strange infection rather than the usual mansion or town. The story, which has you looking for your partner, is non-linear and Lynchian, but is comprehensible enough for you to feel like you’re piecing things together as you make your way towards the end.
What makes Signalis work so well, apart from its fantastic storytelling, is the great modernisation of the classic formula so that it feels a bit more playable to a modern audience. Save rooms are here, but have unlimited use, and combat encounters can be avoided by a bit of tactical sneaking around. It feels just like the games you remember except without a lot of the archaic hassle that makes it difficult for non-veterans to play nowadays.
The game takes classic survival horror and almost refines it to perfection. Whilst I am slightly disappointed that it didn’t get the Indie Game of the Year Award, it’s still well deserving of this one.
Despite releasing in December and being a pretty lengthy game, Inscryption almost missed the window for a nomination in the 2022 GOTY Awards. It was only due to how addictive the game was that it managed to make it in time as once I started playing, it was very difficult to stop.
Daniel Mullins has a great legacy so far, with some great early work that – whilst visually quite basic – offer a great experience that throws in surprises around every corner. With Inscryption being his most ambitious project yet, it had a lot to live up to – and it works like a charm. Sure, we all know that the game will try to subvert your expectations (like all his other titles), but the fun lies in seeing just how he manages to do that.
What really helps make this game stand out as the Best Indie of 2022 though is that at the core of it all is a really well-thought out deckbuilder that evolves as the game progresses. Whilst the main game may not necessarily be the roguelike card game that you were expecting, it will certainly prepare you for the roguelike card game that you unlock after beating the game. Taking the central mechanics and adding more random elements, unlockable cards, starter decks, challenges, lore, and so on, this mode could easily take you another 20 or so hours to get through!
With so much content and replayability on offer, it’s hard not to recommend the game and quite deservedly wins this years Best Indie award.
Normally I place the Best Indie Game at the top of the list due to the site’s focus on mostly indie titles. However, this year the top spot well-deservedly goes to Hitman 3 since it is not only my favourite game this year, not only is it the best game in the franchise, but it’s probably my second favourite game of all time and I cannot stop playing it.
What makes the game so special is that it takes the Hitman concept and refines it to a tee. Whereas before there was a certain degree of clunkiness in addition to the usual slow pacing that most stealth games suffer from, Hitman 3 (and the World of Assassination trilogy as a whole) introduced an almost-perfect stealth system that goes at the pace that you want to go. Accidentally blow your cover by shooting the target in full view of an NPC? No problem, either silence the NPC or find yourself a new disguise. It’s a breath of fresh air when compared to other titles that either have you waiting endlessly for fear of causing an all-out firefight.
Another change present in these modern Hitman games is the level design. Every location is essentially a mini-open world for you to play around with and do as you please, and the countless challenges and escalations only serve to give you more reason to come back. Done with all them? How about the contract creator mode where you can make your own targets for others to play. There’s so much to do here, and you can even import the entire modern trilogy into the game to give you even more to play. I’ve clocked almost 500 hours into the game and still haven’t got anywhere near 100% completion.
The only real issue with Hitman 3 on the Switch is that it is the cloud version. Whilst I find it to be mostly pretty stable, especially when hooked up via an ethernet cable, there are still times when the servers are packed and things start to slow down. It’s infrequent enough for it not to be a dealbreaker for me, but it’s still an annoyance that you’ll have to accept if you want to play it on the Switch.
Regardless of your thoughts on cloud gaming, if you have no other way to play the game then I would suggest checking out the demo to see how it runs for you. If it plays well, then I urge you to grab it. It will change your life.
Great job! Now there about 3 more games I want to buy….although I do disagree with the port, personally I’d say nier or persona 5….or maybe ff7 crisis core
It’s only from games I played this year. As someone who doesn’t care for RPGs in general, I’ve not played any of those!
Which three games did you add to your wish list?