The video game industry has kicked off 2022 with a bang. While Elden Ring was delayed beyond January 2022 and AAA shooter Rainbow Six Extraction was a stinker, plenty of fantastic games still came out in January.
From the most ambitious Pokémon game yet to an indie game that mastered the art of progression, there are five January 2022 games in particular that you should not miss out on.
The Pokémon series is a popular franchise that often gets a lot of flack for not taking enough creative risks. Pokémon Legends: Arceus looks to change that with gameplay that resembles Monster Hunter more than classic Pokémon. Players slowly survey and catch Pokémon old and new around an ancient version of Diamond and Pearl’s Sinnoh region.
While Digital Trends didn’t love the visuals, we still had plenty of positive things to say about it in our review. “Pokémon Legends: Arceus takes a lot of experimental swings — and many of them are successful,” Digital Trends Gaming Editor Giovanni Colantonio writes. “The pivot to research-driven gameplay does a better job at rewarding players for every little thing they do. The quality of life changes it brings to the table are excellent across the board and feel like they’ll become standard in the series going forward.”
Players who have gotten tired of the Pokémon formula in recent years will undoubtedly find Pokémon Legends: Arceus a refreshing and engaging experience. It’s the best AAA game to release this month and the latest must-play for Switch owners.
Players looking to have some exhilarating arcade fun with friends can’t go wrong with Windjammers 2. This flashy sports game is a sequel to a 1994 NeoGeo arcade game where two players wildly throw a disc back-and-forth while trying to score points in their opponent’s goal.
While the gameplay hook is simple and the arenas are small, the variety of characters and special moves players have at their disposal mean that no two matches feel the same as the disc zigs, zags, and bounces all around the arena. This sequel’s fluid animation and online play give the classic experience a modern feel, and a close match can feel even more tense than Rainbow Six Extraction.
If your friend group enjoyed Knockout City, Windjammers 2 is a much more bite-sized but just as engaging take on a similar formula. Windjammers 2 is the best multiplayer game to release in January 2022 and worth downloading and trying if you have Xbox Game Pass.
Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is the best shooter of January 2022. That comes as a surprise considering that this is a stand-alone expansion to the disappointing Serious Sam 4. While Serious Sam 4 from the series creators at Croteam was rife with technical problems and had terribly designed levels, Siberian Mayhem was made by the fans-turned-developers at Timelock Studio and fixed all of Serious Sam 4’s worst problems.
Most notably, the level and enemy encounter design are a lot more engaging. Instead of confusing maze-like arenas, Siberian Mayhem’s five stages are interactively designed, have fun set pieces, and encourage constant movement and combat. The story is a lost cause at this point as this is an interquel to a prequel of a prequel (Serious Sam lore is weird), but that doesn’t matter much as your character spouts cheesy one-liners while blasting through hordes of enemies. The game even features co-op play.
While it isn’t as revelatory as Sonic Mania, Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is yet another game that demonstrates how some series are better in the hands of fans than the developers who created them.
Expeditions: Rome is a meaty strategy RPG for history fans and hardcore PC gamers. Set during the height of the Roman empire, Expeditions: Rome follows a legatus (high-ranking Roman military officer) sent away from Rome after his family is betrayed and his father is murdered. The game features lengthy turn-based strategy battles where choosing the right gear, positioning, and moves for your characters is essential.
There’s a surprisingly detailed story between fights that features characters like Julius Caesar and is full of player choice. It certainly can get overwhelming, especially for those less familiar with the genre or Roman history. Still, this is a strategy game for fans of history that will keep you enthralled for dozens of hours.
It’s not for everyone, but PC gamers who love deep, nuanced strategy games and classic computer RPGs like Baldur’s Gate will find a lot to love in Logic Artists’ and THQ Nordic’s latest.
If there’s one game you play this month, make it Nobody Saves the World. This indie game from Guacamelee and Severed developer Drinkbox Studios is one of the most charming games I’ve played in a long time and a master class in keeping the player engaged. While games such as Rainbow Six Extraction draw out XP-rewarding missions like a mobile game, Nobody Saves the World takes that formula and overwhelms the player with things to do.
You can change into 17 different forms, and each form has its own ranking, special moves, and challenges to complete to level up. There’s a big world and several dungeons for players to explore, and players can swap passive and active abilities between forms at a whim. There’s always something you can do or progress on in Nobody Saves the World, so it never gets boring.
Combine that with witty writing, a gorgeous art style, and combat that’s simple but satisfying, and Nobody Saves the World is a game that’s hard to put down once you pick it up. It’s the best game of January 2022 and a must-play on Xbox Game Pass.