It’s been an odd old year for video games. In particular, the typically bountiful end-of-year harvest of AAA games was much sparser than usual. We got the old regulars – a new Call of Duty, a new FIFA, even a new Pokemon game – but there was little else in the way of Big Treats, as it were. It seems the knock-on effects of Covid slowing the production of big-budget games are still being felt. And it does make you wonder which big-ticket games that may have tentatively been pencilled in for 2022 several years back might now emerge in 2023, or even later.
But we’ll talk about those another time. Right now, it’s time to look back at the games we’ve been playing in 2022 – and as you’ve no doubt come to expect from our humble website, indie games are very much front and centre. And it’s been a very good year for those, as you’ll see…
A lovely, atmospheric decision-‘em-up, where the narrative never stops branching. Hiding out on a dying space-station, you have to thrive and survive while helping others do the same (or not). A reflective, zen-like experience which has a neat little dice mechanic which adds a little extra jeopardy to your choices. Perfect for huddling into on a cold winter’s day. James Keen
Dorfromantik came out of Early Access towards the start of the year, and it’s a game that I find myself coming back to time and time again. It’s just so relaxing: as you lay tile after tile, pleasing agrarian landscapes emerge as if by magic, and extending your rural idyll reveals tantalising new tiles to unlock in the white wastes beyond. The perfect way to unwind after a stressful day at work. Lewis Packwood
The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow
There have been some really fantastic point and click adventures over the past few years, and The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow is one of the most intriguing and unique. It follows the misadventures of Thomasina Bateman, a Victorian antiquarian who is invited to excavate a mysterious burial mound in a remote Yorkshire village, but naturally, all is not what it seems. If you’re fan of folk horror, this is an absolute must play. LP
Sam Barlow has done it again. Or rather, done it even more. Does that make sense? What I’m trying to say is that whereas Her Story and Telling Lies proved that Barlow’s clever FMV-clip formula works wonderfully, Immortality takes that formula to a whole new level. It’s brilliantly acted, utterly compelling, and has some deliciously unexpected twists and turns that will keep you hooked to the end. LP
Lost in Play
A brilliantly funny and engaging puzzle adventure with simply gorgeous animation – it’s like watching a Saturday morning cartoon come to life. Lost in Play tells the story of two siblings who dream up a grand adventure, Muppet Babies-style, and it’s full of excellent visual gags that make ideal to watch as well as play. The perfect pass-the-pad adventure for a cosy night in on the sofa. LP
Microsoft has been busy buying studios over the past few years, but so far, relatively few games have resulted from those purchases – and Pentiment from Obsidian is one of the more unlikely ones. But what an unsual delight it is. Set in Renaissance Bavaria, it captures the enormous social change going on in that era, from the radical teachings of Martin Luther to the peasant revolution, all set against the backdrop of a complicated murder mystery. LP
I had a great time with this dystopian, roller-skating arena shooter. It looks lovely, the soundtrack is excellent, and pulling off long-range, slo-mo headshots while doing a backflip never gets old. I still like to hop back in to try and tick off a couple more level objectives. Give it a try. JK
Silt is not a perfect video game by any means. Many of the puzzles are a trifle too simplistic, and it’s disappointingly brief, clocking in at around four hours. But it’s also one of the most atmospheric games I’ve played in a long time, and its brand of underwater black-and-white horror remained stuck in my head long after I finished playing. It hints, rather than tells, and I’m still scratching my head over some of the bizarre things I saw. LP
What an unexpected treat this game is. Its release on Steam has been generating positive word of mouth for months, and I finally tried it for myself when it received a mobile port at around the time of the Game Awards. I was instantly hooked. How to describe it? Essentially, it’s a twin-stick shooter with only one stick (shooting is done automatically), but you level up your character and weapons near constantly. This means that by the end of one of its 30-minute levels (if you can survive that long), the entire screen is completely filled with bullets, knives, axes, spells and explosions, and enemies are throwing themselves at you in endless waves. It’s delightfully over the top, and it’s packed with endless characters, weapons and other goodies to unlock, meaning you can keep dipping in to discover something new. Plus it’s only a couple of quid, or free on mobile – so there really is no excuse not to try it. LP
Follow A Most Agreeable Pastime on Twitter and Facebook, if you like.