Best Indie Games of 2022

A citizen, immortal, vampire, fox, and a lamb all walk into a bar...

It’s the end of the year once again, which means award season here at Twinfinite. Throughout December, we will look back on the best smaller titles of the year, as the year featured some amazing surprises. These are the best indie games of 2022.

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Honorable Mention: Citizen Sleeper

Citizen Sleeper

Reviews Editor Zhiqing Wan: It’s all fun and games in your everyday, typical life sim until you’re hit with the realization that you’re just a cog in the capitalist machine, and it’s either be a slave to the corporate world or literally shut down and die. That’s Citizen Sleeper.

Welcome to Erlin’s Eye, an interstellar space station where you can start a new life for yourself. Things are hard enough for us regular humans, but you play a sleeper, a digitized human consciousness in an artificial body that belongs to an evil corporation, and you can bet that corporation wants you back at all costs. Citizen Sleeper eases you into the daily cycle of life’s mundanities easily enough, as you work odd jobs to maintain your body, buy food, and eventually earn your way into living in the fancier parts of the station while evading the corporate goons.

It doesn’t take long before Citizen Sleeper starts to reel you in with the compelling backstories of its various denizens. Whether it’s the gruff mechanic who pretends he doesn’t care about you or the sketchy hacker who seems like he’s trying to rope you into selling illegally obtained data, there’s always something to uncover around every corner of Erlin’s Eye.

Citizen Sleeper is very much a slow burn that can take time to really get going. But once it does, there’s no getting off this station.

Honorable Mention: Immortality

Staff Writer Jake Su: An investigative thriller that continues the excellent work of developer Sam Barlow, Immortality is an experience that simply must be experienced to behold. Feeling less like a game and more like a voyeuristic lens into the fictional life of French model and actor Marissa Marcel’s filmography, the question to players is simple, what happened to her?

Obviously, what follows is far from straightforward, with imagery rarely ever being what it seems. The devil is in the details, as they say, and Immortality is a game that loves playing with your expectations and then delivering a payoff when you least expect it.

Part of the magic comes from the fact that Immortality takes its time, slowly opening up with measured restraint, so the audience is constantly on the edge. It’s also helped by the innovative way gameplay is presented, such as the match cut technique of editing that matches similarly composed images, helping you to build out a narrative that would be dismissed as just random scenes that happen to look alike.

Diving down a rabbit hole in Immortality is highly encouraged, and even if you end up without making real progress, it lends a new appreciation of the way editing can be used in both films and games.

The actors and actresses involved in Immortality are also well worth a mention, delivering believable performances that dive into significant and serious topics, which makes the game more of a conversation piece as well. It must be played to behold its full greatness, and Immortality is simply Sam Barlow’s best work yet and an excellent debut of Half Mermaid.

2nd Runner-Up: Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors Yellow Sign Header

Associate Editor Dylan Chaundy: Possibly the most unique selling point of Vampire Survivors is how arrestingly addictive it is. Combining minimalist auto-shooting with a deep assortment of permanent progression upgrades, all wrapped up in an attractive 8-bit art style, Poncle’s indie hit is the perfect experience for those hankering for a meticulously crafted throwback to those retro arcade games of yore.

Sure, it may be a simple pleasure, but hoovering up those gems in your bid to grow ever more powerful really fills my ol’ lizard brain with warm and fuzzy feelings. And then there are the hugely satisfying weapon evolutions, which add an extra dimension to how the perpetual horde mode plays out.

With an impressive roster of 41 unlockable playable characters, a handful of compelling secrets, and a gameplay loop that will steal hours from you – even if you don’t want it to – Vampire Survivors is an exquisite encapsulation of that just-one-more-go feeling that gamers hunger for. Seriously, once you’ve been bitten by the bug, you’ll fall for it hook, line, and sinker. You’ve been warned!

1st Runner-Up: Tunic

tunic ps4 and ps5

Managing & Guides Editor Chris Jecks: Tunic is a prime example of why I often champion indie developers in this industry. While the mainstream developers and publishers play it safe with cookie-cutter live-service games, microtransactions aplenty, and sprawling, stunning open worlds for players to lose themselves in, indie developers often push the boundaries of innovation. Tunic is 2022’s finest example of that while also paying respect to one of the OGs of the gaming experience – the instruction manual.

You see, Tunic doesn’t litter your screen with quest markers, nor does its foxy protagonist scream a very obvious verbal clue on what to do next. Instead, you must explore this mysterious land, gathering pages for a digital instruction manual that, bit by bit, will hint at where to go next, what to do, and how to uncover – well… most – of the mysteries that the game has to offer.

While it may look cute and cuddly on the surface, Tunic’s challenging combat and head-scratching puzzling isn’t for the faint-hearted, but once it sinks its teeth into you, you’ll find it incredibly difficult to put down. Also, its endgame puzzles and ‘secret language’ are some of the most ingenious gameplay mechanics I’ve seen in a game in the past decade. Oh, and did we mention it was developed by just one guy? Kudos, Andrew Shouldice; you released not just my favorite indie of 2022 but one of my favorite games of the year, period.

Winner: Cult of the Lamb

Features Editor Andrew McMahon: Sometimes an indie game comes around with a concept that is so bizarre that you just can’t take your eyes off of it. More often than not, those kinds of titles end up being rather milquetoast, or even complete trainwrecks, failing to build up anything worthwhile around their interesting concept. Thankfully, Cult of the Lamb delivers.

Cult of the Lamb is a hilarious cross between cute and sadistic, placing you in the shoes of an adorable Lamb that lives in a land known as the false prophets. As the last of its kind, your character is to be sacrificed by The Four Bishops of the Old Faith in a ritual, something that happens a lot in these lands.

Luckily, instead of dying, The Lamb is brought before a mythical creature in chains known as “The One Who Waits.” In exchange for your life and servitude, you’re tasked with starting a cult and taking down The Four Bishops in order to free your new master in a roguelike-style crusade throughout five randomly generated regions.

You can’t simply barge into these lands, though. No, to unlock each region, you must amass followers that help you tend to your farm and worship you. In return, their faith grants you items, powers, and skill that will help you level yourself and your home up so that you can become more powerful.

As any good cult leader knows, you need to take care of your flock for them to worship you properly. This means you have to keep each member happy by completing objectives, feeding them, and even cleaning up after them. This results in an interesting and deeply intricate system that is completely separate from the combat portion of Cult of the Lamb that also feeds into its progression.

Eventually, you’ll be able to create a self-sufficient society, leveling up your followers to take care of the cult and one another, letting you focus on the bigger picture while also doing the necessary blood ritual here and there to keep people in line. Cult of the Lamb is truly a special game, managing to blossom not only as a roguelike but as a farming simulator as well, making it an easy pick for the indie game of the year.


Congratulations to Cult of the Lamb and developer Massive Monster for winning Twinfinite’s Best Indie Game of 2022 award. We’ll be releasing more awards in the run-up to Twinfinite’s Game of the Year award, so be sure to keep checking back to see which games won our most coveted annual prizes.


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Author
Andrew McMahon
Andrew was Twinfinite's Features Editor from 2020 through until March 2023 and wrote for the site from 2018. He has wandered around with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications sitting in his back pocket for a while now, all the while wondering what he is going to do for a career. Luckily, video games have always been there, especially as his writing career progresses.