It’s nearly the end of 2021, but before the New Year I have assembled my Game of the Year list. 2021 was a pretty quiet year for me regarding games. There were quite a lot of big-budget games like Deathloop, Halo Infinite, Hitman 3, Forza Horizon 5, and Resident Evil Village, all of which I didn’t play. Independent games such as Loop Hero and Fights in Tight Spaces continue to show that you don’t need a large budget to make unique games.
This year I played a mixture of new and old games on PC and Xbox One, and I had more gaps in the year where I didn’t play games but focused on more creative projects.
Like last year I posted my Game of the Month entries throughout the year on my Twitter page (@kingtoko), but this time I gave a short review of my experience with each. My GOTY list below contains these reviews with a few more words for the games featured.
You can see the original tweet thread here: GOTM 2021.
Note: For a game to qualify for GOTY, I must have played it in 2021, though they don’t have to be from 2021.
Here are some games that I played that were enjoyable but didn’t make my top ten list:
(I) The Forgotten City (Xbox One)
This game aims big while trying to hide the feeling of jank and brokenness. The story is interesting at times but isn’t well told, and it can be completed in a minute with the gun. You might like it.
I haven’t played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim mod this is based on, but for some reason, I feel it would be more fun than the standalone version. It needed more polish or time in development. Even though it took years to make.
(II) The Procession to Calvary (Xbox One)
A unique renaissance art style point and click game. I like how you can kill everyone or not. I feel it tries too hard to be funny. You should try it, it isn’t very long.
The developer is currently making the third in this style. Instead of making shortish games, I would like to see a much longer and larger version based on the art style and gameplay loop used. It would be good to see your choices make an impact on a grander scale, similar to the Walking Dead series.
Games of the Year
Without further ado these are my top games for AD 2021:
(10) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo Switch)
I jump into this occasionally. I usually just capture Spirits which is still fun. New characters are expensive and not worth getting. Ultimately I wish the Spirits had detailed information like they did in Melee.
I loved Super Smash Bros. Melee and while it had a smaller roster had a more fun overall package. Ulitmate has more of everything, and it all just feels like filler and most, if not, all the paid fighters aren’t worth paying for. Who wants to play with Sora? I don’t.
I want history and information concerning the Spirits you earn, not just an early non-fungible token (NFT) prototype.
(9) Gordian Quest (PC)
This game mixes several genres into one. Features familiar concepts from deckbuilding and turn-based strategic combat games of recent years. It has a campaign and a traditional run based mode. However, I wish the loot was more interesting.
This is a game that has been developed since Slay the Spire became a smash hit. Like other games in the genre, they haven’t learned what made that one good.
(8) The Raven Remastered (Xbox One)
An enjoyable adventure game with logical puzzles and an intriguing story with a twist. The ending was pretty bad, but the rest is well done and worth playing through. The protagonist is likeable as well.
It reminded me a lot of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. It would be interesting to see more games with the characters featured from the Raven. It suffers like other adventure games in that it has zero replay value.
(7) Max Payne 3 (Xbox One)
The third outing isn’t the best in the franchise, but that is saying a lot. The Brazilian angle is interesting if far from the noir style of the past. It’s a shame that the multiplayer mode doesn’t work. I rather have a longer story.
Max Payne and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne are great games in general and some of Remedy Entertainment’s finest. The first two are the closest to classic film quality in video games. The third has its moments.
(6) Battlefield 4 Premium Edition (PC)
I played this for the first time recently, it still holds up. It looks impressive, the campaign is enjoyable if nuts and the multiplayer still has an active community. Worth checking out when on sale.
The continued downward trajectory of DICE and the disaster of Battlefield 2042 has only helped Battlefield 4’s popularity. It also helps that it still looks good and runs well.
(5) Stoneshard (PC)
Stoneshard can be a hard slog of a game, more like a solo Battle Brothers. It’s called a roguelike despite not feeling like one. Promising so far while being far from finished and lacking content. I have had a lot of fun with it so far.
It has a controversial save mechanic that requires you to sleep to save. What makes this worse is that there are plenty of beds that you can’t use to save. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is similar in many aspects to Stoneshard and has a similar save mechanic. However, it has an item you drink to save anytime you want. I can see Ink Stains Games doing the same.
If you want to play something comparable I would recommend Battle Brothers. It has a similar survival and combat gameplay tone.
(4) Borderlands 3 (Xbox One)
This game has some of the worst main antagonists. They are so annoying it verges on genius. Despite being made by Gearbox, it is the best game for shooting and looting. Worth it if you don’t mind a bit of monotony.
I dislike Gearbox Software, but Borderlands 3 still manages to be a fun shooting and looting game. If they do make Borderlands 4 they will need to do a lot more to update the game as the story is terrible with the gameplay loop getting tedious.
(3) For The King (PC)
A fantastic game to play alone or with others. It combines board games and video games into one grand adventure. The death mechanic may put some off, but it has customisable settings. I would like to see more content.
It combines tabletop and RPGs into a satisfying combo. Like I said in the past, it needs more content or DLC to give it more replay value.
It always fascinates me when developers decide to move from a game instead of expanding it and making it legendary. It’s like if Mojang stopped developing Minecraft when version 1.0 came out and moved the team on to making Scrolls (Caller’s Bane), it would be good but not as good as 1.18.
(2) Hades (Xbox One)
I finally played Hades and was pleasantly surprised. Often hyped games disappoint, and this didn’t. Great visuals, story, sound, game design, and music. I felt emotional when I heard “In the Blood” on the boat. I am still playing Hades.
This is the first Supergiant Games’ that I have played. It has the familiar style of the developer’s previous games. I like how they are consistent in their vision.
(1) RimWorld (PC)
It didn’t invent the colony sim as Dwarf Fortress did. However, it brings it to the masses and introduced an AI and a Sim-like system to make you care more about your settlers. A game that gets better with DLC, even without mods.
I appreciate that Ludeon Studios continue to develop it and add meaningful DLC. I like how you can play it like a roguelike, despite it taking so much of your time to play it that way. As it doesn’t really work as a game for a quick fix.
That’s my 2021 Game of the Year feature all done. It took longer than I wanted to, but it’s done now. I will continue using Twitter to post my Games of the Month in 2022 as it helps me write my Game of the Year list.
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on these games, as much as I did playing and typing about them.
2021 has once again been a bad year for many people for various reasons. At least now you don’t hear people say how bad their year was. Every year. May 2022 be a good year for all. Covid-19 is tilted on the ropes at this point.