Action was 2022’s middle name, at least it seems to be with this incredible selection of action games we have been playing. Either way, kicking off 2023 with the awesome action games on this list is leaving me hopeful for the year to come.
Action games come in many forms, and this best action game 2022 list has some heavy hitters. Notable mentions included A Plague Tale: Requiem, but it didn’t quite make the cut against these other nominees.
Here are the nominees for Best Action Game 2022:
Writer: Chris De Hoog
Console: PlayStation 5
In this reimagination of Norse myths, a great war has left Odin wounded in battle with the aesir Fenrir, and Ragnarok, the end of the world, is nigh. To prevent this, he creates Valkyrie, an imaginatively named Valkyrie (like making a human named Human). She is to go forth and purify the lost souls left in the war’s wake, and prepare her own personal band of Einherjar, or dead souls who fight alongside her. Odin will grow stronger as Valkyrie purifies the world and hopefully prevent Ragnarok from coming to pass.
Thus, Valkyrie goes forth into a beautifully sullen world. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Elden Ring, given the latter’s predominance, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one—however, it’s not exactly fair to compare it to Valkyrie Elysium. While I vastly prefer this bleak fantasy world on the brink of apocalypse to Fromsoft’s, this is the kind of world that the Valkyrie series has been presenting us for twenty years, not the first of an inevitable wave of imitators.
Soleil did a great job of bringing that world to life in full 3D, crafting environments that are interesting for action-RPG combat, feel related to the previous 2D games, and honour the mythology that’s being adapted. This isn’t the kind of game that’s going to make you burst out laughing, or feel happy for story-related reasons—it’s the end of the world, and you’re recruiting the noble dead to fight alongside you, after all.
Trek to Yomi
Writer: Zubi Khan
Console: PlayStation 5
As the name may imply, Trek to Yomi is a gradual descent into madness. Following the life of the game’s protagonist, Hiroki, an orphan taken in by a well-regarded samurai, whom inevitably rises to the occasion after his village is left in ruin by opposing forces. The game uses this tried and true setup and splits itself into several parts that feel heavily inspired by classic Japanese cinema, denoting both the passage of time and significant events within the narrative as it unfolds.
Despite its short length, Trek to Yomi offers good replayability, particularly for those who like a good challenge, thanks to the inclusion of the Ronin difficulty, the hardest mode of the game, one in which a single blow results in a game over. In general, however, Trek to Yomi is a well-balanced game in terms of difficulty, partially due to well-placed shrines that heal Hiroki and act as checkpoints.
Writer: Preston Dozsa
Console: Nintendo Switch
Bayonetta 3 is utterly ridiculous, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the Bayonetta franchise at large. From its bombastic set pieces to its reality-hopping story to its devilishly fun weaponry, you can’t say PlatinumGames is holding back with this sequel. Bayonetta 3 is a fantastic action game, one that shines despite technical hiccups and pacing issues.
Eight years in the making, Bayonetta 3 is an utterly ridiculous action romp from PlatinumGames that blends sublime controls with over-the-top set pieces that fans have come to love. And while pacing and technical issues hold it back, it’s a fantastic sequel that fans of the franchise will love.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
Writer: Dayna Eileen
Many people questioned the launch of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, thinking it was just going to be a Borderlands DLC. Many of the search terms surrounding the action game question whether it is a standalone game. I’m here to say it is, and it’s a damn good one at that. Combining parodies of RPG tabletops with the style and universe of the Borderlands franchise, the game comes out strong and remains engaging and entertaining throughout
Obviously, with a voice cast like this, there is bound to be humour. A lot of it is silly and juvenile. For instance, a unicorn character named Queen Butt-Stallion, but they do it in a way that works. I actually likened it to the voice acting and script in the Fable series. I found a lot of similarities between that and the comedy in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Again, this is something that could be too much for some, but for me, it was just right.
Writer: Ridge Harripersad
From the preview to finally completing Rollerdrome, I was enthralled by the bloodsport game I was not expecting to love as much as I did. There were not any major or minor downs—plenty of ups and sick tricks and grabs in the air. For those who have not seen our preview of Rollerdrome, check it out first to get a more detailed background on the game. The developers of the OlliOlli games, Roll7, were essentially able to create OlliOlli World mixed with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and SSX on steroids with lots of slow-mo shooting fun.
From the banger 80s synth-wave music to the nostalgic colours, Rollerdrome excelled on every level. The plenitude of various game levels, the blend of simplicity and complexity and the focus on the fun aspect for all gamers from all accessibility backgrounds was sublime.
WINNER: Best Action Game 2022 Sifu
Writer: Clement Goh
Console: PlayStation 5
In traditional Chinese, Sifu (see-foo) means master. A teacher garnering respect through years of any discipline. More importantly, someone who accumulates knowledge with repetition. In the roguelike genre, Sloclap brilliantly incorporates this as a design philosophy into martial arts gameplay. While Sifu somehow does more to satisfy than frustrate players at the end.
Sifu breathes new life into the roguelike genre and makes dying a reward in itself. Sloclap crafts a real love letter for martial arts with a proper video game for it. Combat is fully taken advantage of through faithful choreography that makes every encounter a treat. Lethal and swift combos only add to a player’s experience. While Sifu rewards those willing enough to keep improving themselves. In the process, Sloclap has created a game character who matures as much as players do.