2021 offered us a vast range of games to add to our ever-growing libraries. Darcy reflects on the year with his top 10 games!
10. Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart
One of the first (and only) truly next-gen experiences available on the PS5, Rift Apart doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel when it comes to its story or gameplay, but it more than makes up for it by being a jaw-dropping visual, audio, SSD and haptics showcase.
9. Resident Evil 4: VR
This will be the blueprint for revisiting classic games in VR from this point forward. Just an absolute delight to go back to one of the best games of all time, only this time you’re about as immersed as you can be without actually being torn to shreds. Only in VR would the biggest jump scare come from turning around to see dead-eyed Ashley standing mere inches from my face.
8. The Forgotten City
A Skyrim mod turned fully-fledged standalone game, The Forgotten City is a shot of originality from a promising new Australian studio. Imagine a really interesting Elder Scrolls quest with similar time loop mechanics to The Outer Wilds set during the time of the Roman Empire, and you’ll have some idea of what to expect.
The latest rug-pulling, genre-defying effort from the Master of Meta Daniel Mullins. While Inscryption undoubtedly does the ‘haunted game creepypasta’ thing very well, it’s also just a really fun rogue-like deck builder. It’s best to go into this one as blind as possible, so I will say no more!
6. Death’s Door
An utterly charming and creative isomeric action game that merges the magic of Ghibli and Zelda, adding a dash of Souls to round things out. An indie darling that deserves all the praise it gets.
5. Metroid Dread
As purely Metroid as a Metroid game can be, almost to a fault. I had a blast playing this game and was thrilled with how seamlessly more modern conventions (cinematic cutscenes/camera angles, dialogue, 3D backgrounds) were so carefully and effectively implemented. But getting 100% at around 8 hours of playtime left me wanting more. The likes of Hollow Knight have changed Metroidvanias forever and while I can’t fault Dread for being exactly what I would want a modern 2D Metroid to be, it still managed to feel like a relic of the past.
Arkane Studios are known for making games with easy to learn, difficult to master mechanics and none of their games leans more into this than Deathloop. Oozing style in every facet of its design, from the animated cutscenes right down to the UI, Deathloop was a merry-go-round that I didn’t get off until I had seen everything the various loops had to offer.
3. Psychonauts 2
A sequel 16 years in the making and it doesn’t disappoint. Stunning visuals, superb level design, and a wonderful story that manages to expand the world of Psychonauts without losing focus. Just an all-around sensory delight and a fantastic platformer to boot.
It really speaks to how the passage of time seems different post-COVID that Valheim, with its meteoric rise in popularity and subsequent cooling off, released in 2021. The game is beautiful despite the somewhat simple visual style and provides the sort of immersion that only a building sim can. I had enormous amounts of fun playing this game for as long as its current content allowed, although there was a clear drop-off when our group of friends took out the last boss. Hoping 2022 sees some meaty new stuff added.
Before we move on to my favourite game of the year, I’d like to honourably mention some honourable mentions. These games are all deserving of a spot on this list and yet at the end of the day numbers are numbers and cuts had to be made.
Age of Empires 4
Little Nightmares II
Hell Let Loose
And now… for my number one game of the year…
1. Resident Evil: Village
A roller coaster I didn’t want to end. This game wore its influences on its sleeve and yet used them to create something new. A little bit of RE4, a little bit of Bloodborne, a little bit of PT. The graphics, art style, sound design are all phenomenal and while the tension isn’t maintained for the entire duration, certain sequences won’t be leaving my memory for quite some time.