As far as we’re concerned, Google Stadia is a severely underrated service. In essence, it allows you to game without the expensive hardware usually required to get decent performance; all you need is a browser, a controller, and a stable internet connection. There are now suggestions that Stadia will switch to a white-label solution that lets other businesses stream their games, which makes sense from a business perspective, but makes us sad when we consider the excellent Stadia library. Here are the best Google Stadia games you can play in 2022.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
In simple terms, Disco Elysium is a CRPG in the vein of Planescape: Torment or Baldur’s Gate. That’s underselling it hugely, though; this isn’t a fantasy game full of swords-and-sorcery combat. Instead, it’s a sharply-written character study with an incredible emphasis on choice and consequence. When games say “your choices matter”, this is usually an embellishment of the truth, but in Disco Elysium, which skills you level up will affect how you respond to conversations and thus how the story proceeds.
Resident Evil 7
After many years of circling the drain of creative bankruptcy, Resident Evil 7 was an electric shock to its ailing franchise. It stripped back many of the elements that caused the bloat to which Resident Evil had fallen prey, refocusing the narrative on a new character in a new setting. What follows is around 6-8 hours of unrelenting terror and tension, mixing first-person exploration with resource-based combat and puzzle solving. Things fall off a little towards the end, but by that point, Resi 7 has built up so much goodwill that it hardly matters.
There are plenty of major AAA games that Stadia offers, but we want to fly the flag for an underappreciated indie. SteamWorld Heist is a turn-based tactics game akin to something like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but it takes place on a 2D plane and features manual aiming mechanics. It’s also got that iconic SteamWorld steampunk aesthetic and a surprisingly involving upgrade system, so if you love tactical games and you haven’t tried this one yet, give it a shot (pun intended).
2016’s Doom lit a fire under first-person shooters once again. After years of lacklustre military-themed corridor shooters in which players could barely interact with the set pieces on offer, Doom reminded us how brutal and visceral shooters could feel. The sequel, Doom Eternal, adds a bunch of new mechanics and sharpens up the level design, and although it also adds some unnecessarily complex storytelling, the action is fast-paced and frenetic enough that you can forgive it this small transgression.
Far Cry 5
Ubisoft’s Far Cry series is an odd duck. After two instalments that could charitably be described as “niche”, Far Cry 3 streamlined some of the more harrowing mechanics, turning the game into a compelling open-world adventure with a strong narrative at its core. Far Cry 4 was an adventure in redundancy thanks to its recycling of Far Cry 3’s basic premise, but Far Cry 5 tries some new things, namely a non-linear narrative and a genuinely unsettling ending.
Assassin’s Creed Black Flag
Before Assassin’s Creed was a watered-down RPG with a boring loot system and far too many gameplay hours for its own good, it was an exciting pirate adventure set during the Golden Age of Piracy. Central character Edward Kenway is affably unconcerned with the ongoing Assassin-Templar conflict, but he’s drawn into it anyway, and so begins an adventure full of sailing, stealth, and climbing around shanty towns looking for new songs for your crew to sing.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Kickstarted spiritual successors to classic games are always a worry. Failures like Mighty No. 9 have taught us that it’s better to go into games like this with a sense of apprehension, but Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is the good kind of Kickstarter project. Creator Koji Igarashi combines all of the good ideas in the latter period of the Castlevania series (not Lords of Shadow, don’t worry) into a greatest hits package that feels like classic Castlevania updated for the modern age.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is proof that the games industry shouldn’t abandon traditional single-player adventures quite yet. Its hero, Cal Kestis, is an endearing everyman Jedi on the run from the Sith during the Order 61 purges, and it’s up to him to rebuild the Jedi Order while also assisting no-nonsense pilot Cere Junda with her quest. The gameplay is a mish-mash of Uncharted-style climbing and platforming with Souls-esque combat, but the game pulls it all off with panache.
Saints Row 4: Re-Elected
While Saints Row 4 can miss the mark at times with its “so wacky and random” humour, its Crackdown-inspired gameplay is the real deal. This is a game that understands the fundamental appeal of sandbox gaming; it gives you ridiculous superpowers to experiment with, making the usual sandbox race and base-clearing missions feel all the more compelling. The narrative is, at this point, complete nonsense, but Saints Row 4 is great fun on a moment-to-moment basis.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
This list would not be complete without a true Soulslike, and that’s exactly what From Software’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice offers. It’s a brutally difficult samurai odyssey that takes you to the snow-capped mountains of Ashina, a country recovering from a brutal civil war. Its heroes may be long gone, but the shadows of its monsters are still long, and as the titular Sekiro, you must recover your kidnapped lord and master and uncover a sinister conspiracy into the bargain.