Now that we’ve hit January, it’s time to take a look back at the past 12 months and think about the best games that we played throughout 2022. As an added twist, we’ll be looking specifically at indie games, or indie-adjacent, if only just so we don’t have to address the Elden Ring vs. God of War Ragnarok elephant in the room.
THE EXCAVATION OF HOB’S BARROW
Publisher Wadjet Eye has always had a fascinating portfolio of gorgeous point-and-click adventure titles, and its latest release The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow is no exception. Set in the isolated moors of Victorian England, you play as Thomasina Bateman, an antiquarian summoned to the small village of Bewlay to excavate the almost-mythical Hob’s Barrow.
The standout aspect of Hob’s Barrow is its haunting aesthetic, taking on the bleak visuals depicted in Victorian gothic novels of the time. If you’ve read Wuthering Heights or any Edgar Allan Poe, you’ll find many similarities here. On top of that is an enchanting mystery and clever puzzles that always leave you wanting more.
FAR CHANGING TIDES
If the popular reception of its predecessor Far: Lone Sails wasn’t anything to go by, Changing Tides is a great example of how to do a good sequel. It brings back the core gameplay concept from the first game of keeping a moving vessel running through a series of puzzles and resource management mechanics, while also presenting it in a brand new way: on the sea.
This also gave way for more creative opportunities: now you can dive below your ship and search for items at the ocean floor, and there are plenty more environmental puzzles. And without spoiling it, as a fan of the first game too, the ending made me scream.
A LITTLE TO THE LEFT
A Little to the Left is a cosy puzzle game that has you organising everyday household items into their proper place. But of course, there’s a mischievous cat on the prowl that seeks to cause chaos to these pleasing arrangements. With a simple art style, an approachable manner to every puzzle and a wholesome aesthetic, A Little to the Left became an indie darling at the end of 2022, and it features situations relatable to many of us cat people.
It feels like once a year or so we get an indie game that seemingly comes out of nowhere and completely takes over the gaming conversation for several weeks. In 2022, that game easily had to have been Vampire Survivors. The concept is simple: you move around on a 2D screen as monsters chase you. You automatically attack them, meaning no combat buttons are necessary, and gain new powers and abilities as you collect experience points.
As mentioned, the premise is so simple. You’re only moving around a screen picking up experience orbs. But the loop can be quickly addictive, as proved by the dozens and hundreds of hours people have picked up since launch. Its roguelike nature, meaning you can pick up permanent upgrades with more coins, also adds to this enticingly-repetitive nature. And the developer seems to not be shy about making quick changes and adding new content, including a brand new DLC in December. You can currently play Vampire Survivors on Xbox Game Pass.
Signalis is billed as a “classic survival horror experience” and that is true in every sense of the word. In a dystopian future, the solar system is ruled over by the oppressive Eusan regime, who controls everything through propaganda and observation. You play as an android named Elster who awakens from cryostasis in a wrecked vessel, who sets out on a journey of cosmic proportions.
It’s difficult to really specify what makes Signalis such a gem, at least without delving too much into spoilers, but its dedication to its atmosphere, as well as the perfected nature of its survival horror mechanics, made it a must grab for indie fans on the tail end of last year. It’s also currently available on Xbox Game Pass.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: SHREDDER’S REVENGE
Growing up in an era in which arcades were far more prominent than they are today. Well, at least arcades that featured actual video games and not slot machines. That generation brings back many fond memories.
One of the arcade games at the forefront of those fond memories is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1989 arcade game. Nothing in my opinion beats spending hours in the arcade, trying to beat your favourite games to earn your place on that top 10 leaderboard. Albeit, arcade games were notoriously difficult to ensure that your coins were gobbled up.
That being said, little has quite replicated my fond memories of the TMNT’89 arcade game. That was until the arrival of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge from Tribute Games. TMNT Shredder’s Revenge mixed old-school pixel-art visuals with the gameplay of yesteryear. But yet, it felt nostalgically modern. Oh, and it had an awesome soundtrack to boot!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is charming, and fun and also does well to replicate the arcade multiplayer of days gone by. This delight of a game is not only one of my favourite titles this year but also in recent years. If you haven’t played Shredder’s Revenge yet, it’s one that is a must-have on your to-do list.
Do you have a particular indie game from 2022 you’d like to shout about? Let us know on our social channels.