We all have our favourite gaming franchises that we can rely on for a great time. Heck, this year has seen some fantastic additions to long-running series like Halo, Resident Evil, Hitman and more – but there’s no greater feeling for a gamer than coming across an undiscovered gem.
And this year has certainly delivered in this regard with brilliant games in every genre coming out of nowhere to surprise us. Now, in partnership with Fanatical, we want to hear from you. Which games took you by surprise this year? Will it be a high-octane shooter or an indie puzzler?
Before we get to the nominees, a quick word from our sponsor. Fanatical is an online retailer and as such is operating a massive sale this winter, with discounts all across its store. To stay in the loop on the latest deals, you can sign up for their newsletter via the widget below:
Returning to the awards, you can cast your vote via the widget at the bottom of this page, and anyone who votes and provides their email address will receive a free gift from Fanatical, including huge games like Resident Evil Village and Outriders. But before you do, let’s go through the nominees and remind ourselves why they were so fantastic. And if you missed any of these surprise gems, you can pick them up with some sweet savings in the Fanatical Winter Sale, or through the Fanatical Assistant, which keeps track of every deal on the site for you.
Hell Let Loose
Hell Let Loose does what few shooters can – it accurately portrays the feeling of being in a real war. Its high learning curve can be frustrating, but for those that put the time in to learn its systems, there’s no FPS that’s quite this rewarding.
Hell Let Loose Hell Let Loose $39.99 $25.19 Buy now Network N earns affiliate commission from qualifying sales.
The survival genre has exploded in popularity in recent years – so much so that we were sure that we had seen everything the genre had to offer. That’s why we were so thrilled to discover that open-world Viking adventure Valheim was an absolute treat.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Let’s be honest, licensed games don’t have the best reputation, so when Square Enix announced they were working on a Guardians of the Galaxy adaptation, we weren’t sure what to think. Thankfully, this enjoyable romp not only captures the tone of the comics and movies, but also looks and plays brilliantly.
Inscryption is a truly original indie game that combines a deck-building card game with first-person horror. It’s dark, twisted, and we’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Inscryption Inscryption $19.99 Buy now Network N earns affiliate commission from qualifying sales.
It had been quite a few years since a truly great new MMO had arrived on the scene, so Amazon Games’ New World was a welcome addition to our gaming libraries. With an imaginative and original game world to explore, tonnes of customisation options, and an engrossing story, we’ll be playing this one for a long time to come.
Fans of Tactical RPGs like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics will find a lot to love in this endearing pixel-art adventure.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Whether you’re a newcomer or an Ace Attorney devotee, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a fantastic time. The game’s distinctly Japanese interpretation of Victorian Britain adds novelty to another entry in a series that rarely puts a foot wrong.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles $39.99 $32.79 Buy now Network N earns affiliate commission from qualifying sales.
Halo with portals. Need we say more? We couldn’t get enough of Splitgate’s fast-paced action, with the addition of portals adding new layers of strategy to the FPS experience.
Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles
This playable adaptation of the hit anime and manga series Demon Slayer brings the series’ beautiful visuals to life with accessible combat. The game even retells Tanjiro Kamado’s engrossing story in a compelling way that will appeal to fans and non-fans alike.
Little Nightmares II
After the excellent Little Nightmares, it shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise that the follow-up was just as creepy, atmospheric, and heartfelt as the original.
Little Nightmares 2 Little Nightmares 2 $29.99 $20.99 Buy now Network N earns affiliate commission from qualifying sales.
It Takes Two
Josef Fares’ follow-up to A Way Out is platforming perfection that uses its co-op mechanics to tell a sincere and moving story.
Death’s Door is a gorgeous top-down dungeon-crawler combines the adventure of The Legend of Zelda and the thrilling challenge of the Soulsborne games to great effect.
Now that you’re all caught up on the nominees, it’s time to cast your vote. Remember to check out the Fanatical Winter Sale for amazing deals on the latest and greatest games from triple-A blockbusters to indie darlings.