sifu protagonist

2022 has been an excellent year for video games. "God of War" jumped to PC, and long-awaited titles such as "Horizon Forbidden West" and "Elden Ring" finally released, but the year isn’t over yet — and those are just the AAA games that got the most attention and marketing bucks. However, they aren’t the only games in town.

Plenty of video games either fly under the radar or are quickly forgotten after launch. One might assume these games don’t receive much attention because they aren’t great, but in many cases, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are numerous non-AAA games fun, polished experiences that belie their smaller budgets and studio sizes, but many of these titles surpass their AAA brethren — not that many people notice. These gems can often remain hidden from the larger gaming community and attract far less attention than they deserve. Does that really sound fair when multi-billion dollar AAA titles such as "Battlefield 2042" get all the ads, only to release in buggy and unplayable states that players hate?

Here are some of the best hidden gems that have been released this year.

Nobody Saves the World

nobody saves the world aliens skeleton

Have you ever thought "The Legend of Zelda" could do with some classes and RPG progression mechanics? For example, did you ever want Link to be able to use a bow, but not his sword (or vice versa)? Nintendo has yet to produce a game like that, but DrinkBox Studios, the team behind "Guacamelee," did.

In "Nobody Saves the World," players control a nobody — literally. The protagonist has no distinguishing features or memories; they’re a blank slate. Their only ability is the power to shape-shift into various forms and learn associated skills, and only because they "stole" a wand. "Nobody Saves the World" is filled with the kind of humor gamers have come to expect from DrinkBox Studios, but these forms are the game’s main draw.

As players progress through the game’s procedurally generated dungeons, they unlock new forms, each with their own quests associated with the new shape’s abilities. The game provides a constant feedback loop of earning a new form, acquiring quests, and rewarding players with still more forms and powers. Gamers can even mix and match forms and abilities to create wacky and overpowered builds.

In most games, once a quest is complete, players earn rewards that only stay relevant for a while, but in "Nobody Saves the World," new quests are the rewards, which is more fun than it sounds.

  • Release Date: January 18, 2022
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG
  • Game Modes: Single-player, local multiplayer, online multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 79 (PC), 84 (Nintendo Switch), 79 (Xbox Series X), 76 (PS5)

Shadow Warrior 3

shadow warrior 3 lo wang zilla hoji mask

If you were to ask a gamer to name an FPS franchise that’s existed since the 90s, most would probably answer "Doom" and "Wolfenstein." However, these aren’t the only options. "Shadow Warrior" is also a viable response, and while the original version never received as much attention as the other two, its 2013 reboot ironically has. It even did well enough to greenlight two sequels.

"Shadow Warrior 3" is a fast and furious shooter that stars Lo Wang (yes, that is a double entendre). The game thrusts players into a wide selection of levels where they have to shoot all manner of demons. Mobility is the name of the game, as players have to stay on the move to stay alive. Plus, many arenas are littered with booby traps that can be shot to tear through demonic hordes — or players if they aren’t careful.

"Shadow Warrior 3" shares some DNA with "Doom Eternal," but it isn’t just an overblown clone. For instance, Lo Wang is the exact opposite of the Doom Slayer; he’s cocky, headstrong, and talks more than Deadpool. But at the same time, Wang is an excellent (and relatable) protagonist because he’s vulnerable and makes mistakes. Plus, he can rip out demons’ innards and use them as weapons.

To put it bluntly, anyone who enjoyed "Doom Eternal" will probably love "Shadow Warrior 3."

  • Release Date: March 1, 2022
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, FPS
  • Game Modes: Single-player only
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