February 2, 2023

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The 10 best and cruelest games of 2022

In Blue Twelve Studios’ post-apocalypse, the humans are gone and the cats are left to roam the neon-lit ruins. Stray, a puzzle platformer where players control an orange tabby traversing a cyberpunk world, is straightforward in its approach: you are a lost cat. You can meow and scratch and be endlessly annoying while carrying a cute little backpack. Not having thumbs is hard. But what is ostensibly a homecoming story is surprisingly emotional, touching on themes of injustice and existentialism. There is a certain loneliness in his world and his silence that distinguishes Stray.

Also, being a cute cat is really fun. I can’t stress this enough.

tunic

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Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4/5, Xbox Series X|S, PC

The tunic draws heavily on old-school Legend of Zelda vibes. There is little explanation to be found in its ethereal world, instead challenging players to sort through their journey with few clues. As a (very cute) fox, players will venture deep into forests, dungeons and more, solving puzzles and battling enemies as they carve their way forward.

It’s a pleasure to explore the game. You have some clear objectives – one of the first is to find a hidden sword, for example – and it’s even possible to complete the entire game in under an hour. However, speed is not the point. It unlocks every new mystery the game’s clever design holds. Tunic isn’t big or bombastic like many other games of 2022. It’s peaceful. Sit back, enjoy the dreamy soundtrack and try to figure out why you missed this street at first sight.

Vampire Survivor

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Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PC, iOS, Android

Luca Galente’s “Vampire Survivors” is the sleeper hit of 2022. While the initial early access period drew little fanfare, the game finally found its footing earlier this year, followed by its full release later this fall.

The game looks undeniably cheap – think graphics befitting a Super Nintendo – and fairly simple in its gameplay. You have a gun and hordes of monsters to kill with it. A deceptively simple premise quickly gives way to chaos as the pace reaches the frenzy of screen-filled monsters. As you level up, you can select upgrades to make the runs a little easier, but no less hectic.

Vampire Survivors is a perfect pick-up and quick-play game, although it can be hard to put down. Best of all, it launched for mobile devices just this month.