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Jonnas

Favourite games of 2021?

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Yeah, as the title says, what were your best gaming experiences this year?

Normally, a lot of outlets just assume everyone played that year's big releases (or at least a substantial amount of new releases), and I don't think that's the best question to ask. We often go through our backlogs, or decide to replay old favourites, or keep playing that one multiplayer favourite. As such, I'll pose the question in three parts:

  1. What were your favourite games released in 2021?
    What yearly GOTY discussions usually talk about, what were the best 2021 games for you?
     
  2. What were your favourite games played in 2021?
    Once you include older games you played this year for the first time, what are your favourites? Do they surpass this year's releases? Feel free to include replays and such, it's your opinion.
     
  3. Any 2021 release that you wish you had played?
    I mean, surely we didn't buy every new game, right? Any game(s) you feel like you missed out on?
     

For my personal answers:

Spoiler

Ranked, my 2021 games are:

  1. Metroid Dread
  2. If on a Winter's Night, Four Travelers
  3. Huniepop 2 - Double Date
  4. Horned Knight

Metroid Dread was the obvious favourite (I did review it, check it out), but Four Travelers turned out to be quite the surprise as well. Very nice experience.

At the beginning of the year, I thought for sure Huniepop 2 would be the only 2021 game I would play, which meant that would be my GOTY. Not so, but the game wasn't bad either. Had a good time with it.

Horned Knight is here by default. It was a game that I played. And reviewed.

Spoiler

This was a hard question to answer, truth be told. I feel like I mostly played short, experimental stuff this year, but highlights include:

  • Four Travelers and 1979 Revolution were the best Point&Click games of my year. The former was a "creepy cozy" sort of game, while the latter was a really good way to showcase a real event;
  • Metroid Dread was still the best game. Outside of that one, Hitman: Blood Money was likely the best "traditional" game;
  • Castlevania Bloodlines was the best 2D platformer (once again, outside of Metroid);
  • Fire Emblem NES was one of the more enjoyable experiences, surpassing even Steamworld Heist (also a pretty good one);
  • Huniepop 2 still manages to be among the Top 10 of 2021;
  • Last Blade and Samurai Shodown II are also notable highlights of the year.

Honourable mentions to Three Houses, Furi, and Smash Bros., which are also favourites, although as replays/revisits. Their spotlight was had in previous years.

Spoiler

New Pokémon Snap and Bravely Default 2

I'm sure I'll get to Snap 2 eventually (just one of many games I'll be patient for), but I'm sad about neglecting BDII. What I played of it was great. I'm hoping to rectify that in 2022.

 

Share your own gaming takeaways from last year.

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I think Mass Effect Legendary Edition is the only game released in 2021 that I actually bought. I don’t buy nearly as many games as I used to. Still though, the Mass Effect trilogy was always one of my absolute favourite gaming experiences so it probably would have been my game of 2021 regardless.

I was thinking about ordering Hitman 3 earlier with the Epic Store coupon so I might be able to add that.

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Posted (edited)

Righto.

Spoiler

I'll do this from least good to best.

Metroid Dread - This game upsets me. It's fundamentally ruined by the E.M.M.I's. Someone's done a mod that automatically counters them for you, and that's likely the only way I can stomach playing this.

Bowser's Fury - This Mario 3D World expansion was OK. But it's yet another game bogged down chasing a big open world. Visually speaking, it's kinda dull too. Music was on point though. Basically the same issues I had with Mario Odyssey.

WarioWare: Get it Together - WarioWare's first HD outing is just as barmy as you'd expect really. I really dig the new gimmick of directly controlling the WarioWare workers as it adds quite a bit of variety to chasing high scores. The risk of being lumped with Kat or 9-Volt is half the fun!

Pokémon Shining Pearl - Solid Pokémon games let down by a thoroughly unambitious remake. They could've been so much more, but instead, we're left with a game that's just good. Gen 4 fans really got done dirty.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin - Compared to the first game on the 3DS, this doesn't do anything new with the idea of Monster Hunter RPG, good thing that concept is solid, then, isn't it? A fun little RPG that rewards pattern recognition and has absolutely adorable death machines to play with. Kinda miraculous it even happened, really.

Bravely Default II - Oooh! This game was solid! That battle system is still amazing to play with and the new jobs are quite imaginative! That said, it doesn't quite reach the heights of Bravely Second, due to some weird choices with the counter system.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles - Technically speaking, it is two games. But this is the first time they released here, so I'm counting it. And good thing too, because together, this really might be the best Ace Attorney has ever been. The characters, the plot, the music, it all comes together to make an amazing adventure game! Seriously, Capcom were on fire this year!

Monster Hunter Rise - A bit of a rocky start with the multiplayer ending having to be patched in didn't stop this game from winning my Game of the Year! The Wirebugs make hunts so dynamic! Palamutes are a fun compliment to Felynes and the new monsters are really great, design-wise. This game is amazing, nothing more. Bring on Sunbreak!

Spoiler

I'm gonna put the titles released this year that I mentioned above in brackets between games here to give you an idea of what my full rankings would be. Again, worst to best.

Final Fantasy XIII - Very much a playthrough fueled by principles more then enjoyment. There's so much I need to say about this, but I'm going to save that for my Gaming Diary entry. It's very crap though.

Yakuza 0 - The second game I gave up on. I love the insane side quests, but it wasn't enough to save the rest of game, which is dull, dull, dull. A shame too. Still wanna try Like a Dragon though.

(Metroid Dread goes here)

(Bowser's Fury goes here)

AI: The Somnium Files - A fun little visual novel/puzzle game that gets really weird. Then again, it's from the guy who wrote Zero Escape, so weird is standard fare here. Very much looking forward to the sequel.

Sin & Punishment - Fun, old-school, arcade on-rail shooting action. Story makes no sense, but who cares? It's a Treasure game, blow stuff up! It's better then Lylat Wars, yeah, I said it!

(WarioWare: Get it Together goes here)

Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention - The first entry of Sega's take on Fire Emblem is definitely more my kind of Strategy RPG. The option to grind is always something I appreciate. It also has playable werewolves and steam-powered armadillos, which is always a bonus.

Sayonara Wild Hearts - I managed to sneak this one in before 2021 ended. A very cool, very trippy, rhythmic runner kind of game. It's totally worth the 6 quid I spent on it.

(Pokémon Shining Pearl goes here)

Kero Blaster - Another last minute 2021 game. It's a great Mega Man style run and gun from the creator of Cave Story, it's a lot more straightforward then that game though. Noteworthy for starring a working class frog in a tie and for having the cutest shopping music ever.

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory - It's basically Theatrhythm: Kingdom Hearts. And that's just great. The RPG elements are not as in-depth as the Final Fantasy entries, which is a pity, but it's still a good time.

(The rest of the new titles go here)

Spoiler

All I can think of is Shin Megami Tensei V. I got a lot of games in that sale though, so I'll likely wait for a sale on that.

 

Edited by Glen-i
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Mass Effect Legendary Edition probably my pick of this year's releases. I was a bit down for a couple of days after I had finished 3, now that it was all over. An amazing experience. Honourary mentions to Metroid Dread and Immortals Fenyx Rising, both fantastic games.

Didn't get around to playing TOEM: A Photo Adventure and Death's Door, but will get on that soon!

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Spoiler

I'll just limit this to 5 choices for the sake of brevity.  Outside of one obvious standout choice, the rest come in no particular order of preference and are largely interchangable...

Metroid Dread:  It's almost everything I wanted.  It's not perfect, and I'll explain in more detail when I eventually get round to my diary writeup.  But it did something almost impossible, it actually managed to live up to 19 years worth of expectations.  For that? There's no way it can't be my number 1 game of 2021.  Alongside Luigi's Mansion 3? It's the best game on Switch; and something that finally justifies the console's existence for me.

Wario Ware Get it Together:  The first brand new Wario Ware game in 15 years, and it doesn't disappoint! It's incredibly impressive that they managed to come up with such an original take on the formula without a new control gimmick to latch onto; and it's mad fun! I'm super pleased with how this game turned out, lack of unlockable minigames/toys aside.  It's exactly the kind of game I had hoped to see on Switch, and while it has taken far too long for the platform to start actually getting some interesting 1st party titles that aren't just warmed up Wii U leftovers or Wii/GB/GBA remakes? I'm glad we finally got there in the end.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (GAA 1 & 2):  I'm not finished with this collection yet (just about to beat GAA 1 and will be starting GAA 2 very shortly), but I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far.  GAA Adventures is kind of a glorified prologue for the second game, but it's still very enjoyable in its own right regardless.  The Jury System has been a long time coming for the series, and I'm very happy with how they've integrated it into the series' signature gameplay!  Probably should go into the other list, since these games technically released in 2015 & 2017 respectively for the 3DS in Japan, but screw it; it's going here.

Monster Hunter Rise:  It's the Monster Hunter Switch game I always wanted.  It comes ridiculously late and overdue within the Switch's lifecycle, but at least it's finally here at long last.  It absolutely succeeds at washing out the bad taste of Monster Hunter World from my mouth, and it pushes the series forward in a bold new direction, without destroying what makes the series so enjoyable to begin with (unlike MHW).  Cracking game, can't wait for the Massive Expansion in my pants Sunbreak.

Famicom Detective Club TMH & TGWST:  Awkward acronyms aside, this was an absolute treat! Hard to believe that we actually got the FDC games in English after over 30 years of waiting, but hey! It's real! Really enjoyed my time with these games, both because of, and in spite of, some dated design choices (...).  This is a genuine slice of Nintendo history, and I loved the experience.  The production values are also absolutely top notch; was absolutely wonderful to experience Nintendo's deeper Famicom origins.  Wait... doesn't that mean that I technically now have 7 games on my list instead of 5? Shut up! Nobody cares!

Mario Party Superstars:  Absolutely sensationally good! It's an incredible package that does an amazing job of breathing new life into classic minigames and boards; they finally fixed Tidal Terror!!! Holy crap!!! I can't heap more praise onto this game if I tried, and as a longtime Mario Party fan? This game is everything I could've asked for... well, maybe a few more DLC boards couldn't hurt...

 

And now for the pile of shame...  The 5 worst new games of 2022! This time, from worst to best

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania:  Absolute shite.  A mockery of two of the best SEGA games ever made.  A fucking abysmal remake, made with a budget of about 50p, that fucks up basically everything that I loved about the original games.  From the controls, to the visuals, to the new music (where you have to pay a ransom to have the old tunes back), to the pathetic excuse of still images that constitute "cutscenes", to the absolutely game destroying decision to remove lives (making challenge mode completely pointless now); this remake is utterly inferior to the original games in every respect and actively damages the original game's reputation in the process.  So insulting to SMB fans in fact, that SEGA couldn't even be bothered to remove the default Made With Unity logo splash screen on startup.  I hope this version rots in hell, and that SEGA hangs their head in shame.

The Gunk:  Just junk.  Not even worth it for free on Game Pass.  Very disappointing game from Image & Form who can, and have, done much better with the Steamworld series.

Panzer Dragoon Remake:  Transplant pretty much everything I said about Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania here; though it's not quite AS bad.  The developers did clearly try here, and the remade cutscenes are actually not bad at all really; it's a fairly respectable effort considering that this is essentially an indie team that worked on this.  But ultimately, this is a disappointing and pointless remake that is inferior to the SEGA Saturn original in every respect; there's no reason for it to exist when it completely fails to recapture what made the original game great.

New Pokemon Snap:  Now this game isn't bad per-say; it's rather just very disappointing for me.  As I had feared, the game ended up being let down by its lackluster level design and lack of environmental interactivity.  You just don't have the myriad of secret paths, hidden photo opportunities and secret ways to get Pokemon to interact with each other; hell, the Pokemon barely even acknowledge your existence!  There's no meaningful high score system in place either, instead replaced by a dull & repetitive Exp grind.  Namco just didn't understand the appeal of the N64 original game and made a sleepy Pokemon safari photography game, instead of the arcade Pokemon Photography Rail Shooter that the original game was.  It's fine for what it is, but when the original game was basically Star Fox Photography? It's hard not to be let down when the follow up is so sedate that it puts me to sleep.

Mario Golf Super Rush:  This one hurts, because it actually is a good game... but for me, it is ruined by one absolutely crippling flaw... The inability to zoom the camera into the terrain.  Why the hell Camelot decided to remove this feature (a feature that literally every single game in the series has had since the beginning) is beyond me! It makes putting an absolute hellish nightmare and tee shots an exercise in frustration, as I simply just can't read the lie of the green for the life of me!!! Might as well just be shooting totally blind.  A real shame, because there's a great game of golf hiding right underneath that one game breaking flaw :(

 

Spoiler

This time I'll put them in order, from worst to best...

Perfect Dark Zero:  Fuck this game.  I'm not writing up about this shite again, you can read me tear this game a new one here if you're interested.  Dear LORD it is every bit as bad as you think it is.  Utterly fucking horrendous.

Superman 64:  Yes I played this most famous of disasterpieces this year after I got it for Xmas last year.  Yeah... it's pretty dang dreadful! I do somehow feel more fulfilled and complete as a person for having actually played it though; so it does have something over Perfect Dark Zero at least.

Stick Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania right here, near the bottom, where it belongs.

The Gunk and Panzer Dragoon Remake can go here next.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon: Yes, I actually did play through the Unholy Triforce of Zelda games on an actual CDi this year! It's... actually better than I thought it'd be! The music is surprisingly good! It's funky fresh and totally inappropriate for a Zelda game, but it's a certified bop! The gameplay is pretty horrendous and janky... but somehow that jankiness was oddly enjoyable; like the game is actively reveling in how terrible it is.  Oddly entertaining... shame that the CDi console's save battery packed in before I got to finish this game and Faces of Evil; guess I'll just have to replace the console's save battery... wait... you have to do WHAT to install a new battery!?!?!? Fuck the CDi and screw these games!

Plonk New Pokemon Snap here.

Mario Golf Super Rush can go here next, it's better than Pokemon.

Psychonauts 2:  Good game, but I lost interest partway through.  It's too talky for its own good and not as funny as it thinks it is.  It doesn't know whether it wants to be a platformer or a point n' click adventure game.  Amazing production values though!

Hotel Mario:  This game is... much better than I was expecting! It's not a bad little game at all, and is far better than its reputation (and hilariously terrible cutscenes) would suggest.  It's not amazing or anything, but it's actually decent fun.  You could certainly do a lot worse, especially on the CDi.

Super Princess Peach:  I know, random game to replay right? It's... fine.  It's a perfectly ok 2D platformer, nothing special.  Visuals are nice though.

Twelve Minutes: I know that this game has its detractors, and it does require a lot of patience for such a short game, but I genuinely enjoyed my time with this one.  I always appreciate a novel gameplay concept and a novel approach to story telling; and for all of its flaws, it absolutely delivers on the novelty front.  Well worth experiencing, even if you don't end up enjoying it all that much; it's very unique.

Bowser's Fury:  It's an open world game that isn't completely terrible! I actually enjoyed it a lot more than Mario Odyssey, despite its flaws (and 3D Sonic quality camera).

New Super Mario Bros 2:  Much better than Bowser's Fury though.  It's also much better than New Super Mario Bros U! (Though not as good as New Super Mario Bros WiI or New Super Luigi U).  It's basically a glorified rom hack of New Super Mario Bros Wii, but it's a good 'un.  Speaking of which...

Newer Super Mario Bros DS:  An excellent fan-game; one of the very few fan-game hacks I genuinely enjoy.  Was absolutely blown away at the sheer number and quality of new & completely original gameplay mechanics that they managed to add to the original DS game (more new mechanics than what NSMB2 brought to the table actually!).  It is absolutely retail quality and could easily pass for an official Nintendo release.

Sabrewulf (GBA):  Solid puzzle platformer; fun in short bursts over a long period of time.  Enjoyed this one much more than I thought I would.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond:  Great Pokemon game, very janky & buggy remake.  Makes for hilarious speedrun material though!

Ace Attorney: Justice for All:  Even the weakest Ace Attorney game is still a good time.

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes:  A bit late, but I finally caught up on this one.  Despite being repetitive as hell, I still enjoyed my time here.  You can immediately feel the difference when Suda51 is back at the helm, it really, really shows.

Actraiser Rennaissance:  Not as good as the original SNES version, but still a fun take on the original; and I like most of the new mechanics & tweaks.  I just wish that the sim stages weren't dragged out so long.  The music is absolutely SENSATIONAL however and well worth the price of admission alone!

Clockwork Aquario:  An excellent arcade game from Westone that was previously cancelled back in 1993... and only just revived and released all the way in 2021! That makes Metroid Dread look positively quaint by comparison!

Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder:  At long last it got a home release on the Astro City mini! And it's pretty dang great! While I would still say that Streets of Rage 2 is the best beat 'em up SEGA ever made? Revenge of Death Adder is a close second.

Ghosts N' Goblins Ressurrection:  A great addition to the series, but I don't think that the difficulty is balanced very well.  Legend mode is way too hard, even by the series standard (I mean, even The Mexican Runner, the world record holder for the GnG series, struggles with this game FFS!); while Squire feels like cheating with its mid-level checkpoints.

Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind can go here.

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir can follow up right ahead; I slightly prefer it to TGWSB.

The Great Ace Attorney Adventures can go here next; haven't started Resolve yet, but honestly? It's basically part 2 of one big GAA game anyway.

Killer 7:  It's completely insane, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Paper Mario Sticker Star:  Way better than people say it is.  While Color Splash was a big improvement from this one, Sticker Star is a very solid action adventure game (NOT an RPG!) with some great puzzles and some hilarious sequences.  I'll gladly defend this game, much better than getting yet another remake of Paper Mario 64!

Tales of Game's Presents Chef Boyardee's Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa:  I'm genuinely sad that the sequel will never see the light of day (and no, Space Jam 2 isn't good enough of a follow-up!)

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney:  The first Ace Attorney is still one of the best in the series.

Pilotwings 64:  The most stressful chillout game you'll ever play! (Well... maybe the second most, the SNES game is still harder I reckon).

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light:  I still can't believe that this game came out in English! Amazing! It's clunky and slow as hell, but thankfully the Switch re-release gives it the boost of nitro it so desperately needs.  Enjoyed it so much that it literally rekindled my love for the series after Awakening, Fates and Three Houses destroyed it.

Kirby's Dreamland DX:  It's Kirby's Dreamland... now in colour! Always fun to blast through this one in a cool 15 mins or so; was nice to experience it with a (literal) new coat of paint.

Actraiser:  The original is better than the remake.

Super Monkey Ball Deluxe (Gamecube Mod):  This is an incredible feat of engineering and it completely shows up SEGA's pitiful remaster in every single way.  I do ultimately think that SMB1 & SMB2 are better off as seperate games though, but I still thoroughly enjoy this wonderful Frankenstein's Monster of a mod!

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon:  Cracking Metroidvania, and now it's even better with the 2021 Castlevania Advance version that fixes the game's biggest flaw; now showing you how and where to get the DSS Cards in-game! (Shame I replayed it on GBA before that new collection was announced...)

Sonic Delta (Sonic 1,2 and 3&K Combined!):  Take all the MD Sonics and slam them together into one giant MD Sonic marathon.  33 Zones back to back in one giant, seamless game! It's brilliant! (Though I don't think the game really needed the Beta Sonic 2 stages added on top... we have enough Sonic here as it is!).

Super Mario 3D World (Switch Version):  Very good 3D Mario game, with a bunch of controversial gameplay tweaks & changes from its original Wii U counterpart.  I'm very torn on this version, but it's still a great game regardless.

Monster Hunter Rise can go here I reckon.

Paper Mario: The Black Pit:  Paper Mario 64 is a great game, but you know what it really needs? It needs a Pit of 100 Trials! With all new enemies, bosses, badges and gameplay mechanics! (including Stylish moves, unlockable partners and more!).  That sounds amazing right? You know what would make it EVEN BETTER!? Let's also turn the game into a Roguelike! Yes!! This mod is incredible! If you have the means of playing N64 mods on real N64 hardware, I strongly reccommend you give this mod a whirl.  It's brilliant! :D

Metroid II: Return of Samus:  An excellent, misunderstood and underappreciated entry in the Metroid series.

Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations:  It's probably the best Ace Attorney game.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (MSU-1 Switch Remake Music Edition):  It's Link's Awakening DX for the original Game Boy... now with music from the Switch remake! What's not to love?

Terranigma:  The best SNES RPG that you've never played.

Wario Ware Get it Together can go here.

Then Mario Party Superstars can go here.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Randomiser:  Absolutely insane fun! @Glen-i will attest to the absolute mad laughs we had with this randomiser :laughing:

Dicey Dungeons:  Excellent, excellent game.  Seriously! Guys! Get this game!!!

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance:  This is the best Fire Emblem game, bar none.

Metroid Dread can go here.

Metroid Fusion:  (Normal Difficulty, Any% casual playthrough) AND Metroid Zero Mission (Normal Difficulty, Any% casual playthrough).  Screw it! They can be joint No 1!

 

Spoiler

Bravely Default 2:  I actually did buy this game, but I just can't bring myself to play it.  Same deal as with Octopath Traveller; have had it ever since it came out in 2018, but I just can't bring myself to play it.  I don't think I can stomach a 100 hour RPG anymore; I simply have no appetite for them.  The very idea of even starting the game is just intimidating and soul sucking...

Neo: The World Ends With You:  Again, I have little desire to play modern RPGs anymore really.  I did buy the game, it looks good; but I just can't muster up the enthusiasm to actually play it.

Monster Hunter Stories 2:  I really enjoyed the original... but like the above, I just can't bring myself to play a modern RPG anymore... especially when it's 100+ hours long.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword HD:  It's one of my absolute favourite games in the Zelda series and the remaster is excellent... but sadly the shitty Joy-cons and their constant wireless disconnection issues literally render this HD Remaster completely unplayable for me right now... Until I can move out into a new house that isn't smothered in wireless interference, I literally cannot play this game :(

No More Heroes 3:  Travis Strikes Again took this game's slot; it was well overdue a playthrough.  I'll be playing NMH3 in 2022 though, just need a bit of time inbetween TSA and NMH3 as a bit of a pallette clenser I reckon.

Deltarune:  I don't think I will bother playing any of the individual chapters until the game is complete.  I'm sure it's great, and I loved Undertale, but I just don't see the point in playing it piecemeal.  I'd rather just get a complete experience when the game is finally finished in 5 odd years time or whatever.

Doom Eternal:  I have the game on Switch and on Xbox Gamepass.  I want to play it at some point, but I haven't felt the burning desire to jump in and rip & tear just yet.  The time will come though when the mood inevitably strikes...

Miitopia:  I have it on 3DS and have never played it.  I now have it on Switch and have never played it.

Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon:  To be fair, it HAS only just come out a couple of weeks ago or so.  Gimme a break!

That just about covers it I reckon.  I need to get that Gaming Diary thread updated at some point!

Edited by Dcubed
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I think I only played two games in 2021.

One of them was brilliant, and the other one was Superliminal.

So I think that Hades becomes my favourite game of 2021, but it was incredible, so it's deserving of the title anyway.

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My top 3 games of 2021 would be Monster Hunter Rise, Metroid Dread and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury. Monster Hunter Rise is an amazing instalment in the series, it improved in all the right places while keeping the good bits of the franchise. Especially the ease of playing online is a godsend. Metroid Dread is a great Metroid title, and although I've only played through it once, I still feel I got my money's worth from it. Finally, SM3DW+BF; it was the first time I got to experience 3D World and I enjoy the more level-structured approach it has. The game looks, sounds and plays so well. Bowser's Fury is a good addition and a nice experience and I enjoyed going through it.

If I take games played in 2021 into account, three games stand out for me. On PC, I really enjoyed my time with Jurassic World Evolution. I actually played most of it in 2020, but I finished it in January. It's not the deepest sim game but the gameplay loop was addicting enough, plus dinosaurs. Immortals Fenyx Rising is a game I can recommend to any Switch owner as it can be picked up cheap quite often. The presentation is really done well, and although it doesn't play as fluently as BOTW, the gameplay is more than adequate, plus you have an amazing moveset you can use. I really enjoyed my time with this. And finally Dark Souls Remastered. I bought it at the end of 2018, played it for some hours but stalled. A couple of months later I started it again, and stalled again. This year I started it for a third time, and after hours of perseverance (and the help of a guide here and there), I finally finished it on January 1. I'll talk about it more in detail in the Gaming Diary thread, but finishing this was one of my highlights of 2021, and possibly ever.

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Spoiler

Here's my ranking of all the games I've played that were released this year:

  1. Mass Effect Trilogy Legendary Edition (PS4) - I already loved these games, and this version made it even better, especially the improvements made to the first game, with the gameplay now being much more fun than it used to be.
  2. It Takes Two (PS4) - An amazing co-op experience. Each level introduced a new element, and then utilised the element in multiple ways. The minigames and things in the level that were there to play with were also fun. 
  3. Psychonauts 2 (XSS) - A brilliant platformer, with some really interesting levels and really fun combat. Story was also very interesting.
  4. Sonic Colours Ultimate (XSS) - An improved version of one of my favourite Sonic games
  5. The Forgotten City (XSS) - An incredible time loop game. The mystery kept me invested all the way through, there are some useful things the game does to avoid being too repetitive and multiple ways to do some things.
  6. Rain On Your Parade (XSS) - The concept is simple: you are a cloud and you rain on people to ruin their day, but the entire game is just incredibly charming and filled with funny moments.
  7. I Am Fish (XSS) - A difficult platformer with some really adorable moments. I don't usually like "frustrating controls" games, but because you are controlling a fish pushing around objects they're inside, it translates really well and the controls made complete sense.
  8. Jackbox Party Pack 8 (PC) - More fun party games, I really like all the games in this pack. Especially the stupidness of Job Job, a game where you answer prompts using words supplied by other people. 
  9. Exo One (XSS) - A really unique game with interesting movement mechanics. You play as a spherical space ship and can "increase" the effect thar gravity has on it. Using this, you use hills to build up momentum and send yourself soaring across the planets you land on.
  10. Lake (XSS) - A very relaxing game. You play as a programmer in the 80s who is fed up with her job and spends a holiday covering for her father's job - a postal delivery driver in a small town. There's no time limits or anything, you just drive around at your own pace and talk to the residents. 
  11. The Artful Escape (XSS) - A simple platformer with some "Simon says" sections. Gameplay isn't anything special but the style and atmosphere of the game is stunning. 
  12. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania (XSS) - Probably the best Monkey Ball game there is, the removal of lives makes it immensely better.
  13. Going Under (XSS) - I'm not usually a fan of roguelikes, but as the levels have and end point and the dialogue was entertaining, I enjoyed it.
  14. Evil Genius 2: World Domination (XSS) - A sort of theme hospital for bond villains. 
  15. Forza Horizon 5 (XSS) - Core gameplay is great, but spoiled by the "game as a service" aspects of the game.
  16. Sable (XSS) - A beautiful looking game, but has a lot of bugs and glitches.
  17. The Gunk (XSS) - A charming game, but short with fairly basic gameplay.
  18. The Good Life (XSS) - The gameplay is clunky, but the mystery of the small town and the odd encounters kept me interested. 
  19. Unpacking (XSS) - An immensely interesting game, as it tells a story in a very unique way. You're following someone's live and learning their live story though unpacking their boxes. 
  20. The Matrix Awakens Experience (XSS) - A very impressive tech demo.
  21. Townscaper (XSS) - A neat toy where you create a town, but the simplicity also means it's difficult to build what you want.
  22. Genesis Noir (XSS) - Wonderful visuals, but the gameplay actually detracted from the experience. Would have been better as a film. 
  23. SkateBIRD (XSS) - A humorous take on skateboarding, unfortunately its clunky and glitchy, and your speed/jump height is linked to a "skate" meter and feels horribly artificial in how it works.
  24. DEEEER Simulator (XSS) - An attempt at a Goat Simulator type funny game. It's incredibly short and lacks both fun and humour (although it has one or two neat designs).
  25. Backbone (XSS) - Started out great, a game where you felt like a detective in a point and click adventure. However, the puzzle/detective elements slowly fade and the story just stops with no resolution, it was like they spent all their money on the first section and just went "ah, that'll do".
  26. The Medium (PC) - So incredibly dull. The split screen aspect is so underutilised and it never felt like a puzzle. A lot of the "obstacles" in the game are because the main character is an utter idiot. 
  27. Twelve Minutes (XSS) - A time loop game that has none of the wonder of The Outer Wilds or The Forgotten City. It gets annoying very fast, and requires you interacting with things in a very specific way (for example, there's a point where you have to show someone something, but picking up the item and giving it to him causes you to fail - then a later section where you have to give him an item because the dialogue option about it isn't there). Also has the worst plot I've seen in a game.

 

My top 10 overall:

 

Spoiler
  1. Banjo-Kazooie (XSS) - My personal favourite game of all time.
  2. Mass Effect Trilogy Legendary Edition (PS4)
  3. Outer Wilds (XSS) - A wonderful experience of discovery. I loved finding out every single detail about what was happening and trying to piece it together. 
  4. Gravity Rush 2 (PS4) - I loved the first Gravity Rush, and the sequel improves upon it in every way. Very satisfying combat and a lovely world to explore.
  5. It Takes Two (PS4)
  6. Sonic the Hedgehog (MD) - Still a timeless classic.
  7. Psychonauts 2 (XSS)
  8. Ori and the Will of the Wisps (XSS) - A brilliant Metroidvania game, with incredibly smooth and fluid movement mechanics.
  9. Sonic Colours Ultimate (XSS)
  10. Moving Out (PC) - Another great co-op game about moving furniture. I like that it requires co-operation, but isn't as hectic as Overcooked. 

My massively long ranking of all the games I've played:

Spoiler
  1. Banjo-Kazooie (XSS)
  2. Mass Effect Trilogy Legendary Edition (PS4)
  3. Outer Wilds (XSS)
  4. Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)
  5. It Takes Two (PS4)
  6. Sonic the Hedgehog (MD)
  7. Psychonauts 2 (XSS)
  8. Ori and the Will of the Wisps (XSS)
  9. Sonic Colours Ultimate (XSS)
  10. Moving Out (PC)
  11. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (PS4)
  12. The Forgotten City (XSS)
  13. Gravity Rush (PS4)
  14. Rain On Your Parade (XSS)
  15. GoldenEye (PC)
  16. Sonic Generations (PC)
  17. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (XSS)
  18. Sonic Mania (PS4)
  19. Sonic Rush (DS)
  20. The Secret of Monkey Island (PS4)
  21. I Am Fish (XSS)
  22. Concrete Genie (PS4)
  23. Jackbox Party Pack 7 (PC)
  24. Transistor (PS4)
  25. Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed (PC)
  26. Puppeteer (PS4)
  27. Jet Force Gemini (XSS)
  28. Sonic Rush Adventure (DS)
  29. Sonic Adventure 2 (XSS)
  30. Blast Corps (XSS)
  31. Psychonauts (XSS)
  32. The Saboteur (360)
  33. Firewatch (XSS)
  34. Untitled Geese Game (Switch)
  35. Sonic Advance (GBA)
  36. Jackbox Party Pack 8
  37. What Remains of Edith Finch (XSS)
  38. A Plague Tale: Innocence (XSS)
  39. Alice: Madness Returns (XSS)
  40. TimeSplitters: Future Perfect (XSS)
  41. Bioshock Infinite (PS4)
  42. Saints Row IV (PS4)
  43. Exo One (XSS)
  44. Bulletstorm (PS4)
  45. Halo 3 (XSS)
  46. Dark Void (PS4)
  47. Lake (XSS)
  48. Kameo: Elements of Power (XSS)
  49. Maneater (XSS)
  50. ABZU (PS4)
  51. The Artful Escape (XSS)
  52. Bioshock: Minerva’s Den (PS4)
  53. Bioshock: Burial at Sea (PS4)
  54. Star Wars Squadrons (PS4)
  55. Sonic Adventure (XSS)
  56. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (PS4)
  57. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania (XSS)
  58. Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing (PC)
  59. Bioshock Remastered (PS4)
  60. Little Nightmares (PS4)
  61. inFamous First Light (PS4)
  62. WET (PS4)
  63. AI: The Somnium Files (XSS)
  64. The Gardens Between (XSS)
  65. Going Under (XSS)
  66. Sonic 4 Episode 2 (XSS)
  67. Donkey Kong 64 (Wii U)
  68. Halo (XSS)
  69. Sonic Unleashed (XSS)
  70. Sonic and the Secret Rings (Wii)
  71. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PS4)
  72. Evil Genius 2: World Domination (XSS)
  73. Good Job! (Switch)
  74. Anthem (XSS)
  75. Forza Horizon 5 (XSS)
  76. Sable (XSS)
  77. The Gunk (XSS)
  78. Sonic Pocket Adventure (NGP)
  79. Last Stop (XSS)
  80. Grabbed By The Ghoulies (XSS)
  81. Marvel's Avengers (PS4)
  82. Sonic 06 (PC)
  83. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (WiiU)
  84. The Good Life (XSS)
  85. Conker Live & Reloaded (XSS)
  86. Red Faction Guerilla (PS4)
  87. Sonic Jump (Android)
  88. Day of the Tentacle (PS4)
  89. Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge (GBA)
  90. SegaSonic the Hedgehog (Arcade)
  91. Team Sonic Racing (PC)
  92. Unpacking (XSS)
  93. Bioshock 2 Remastered (PS4)
  94. Saints Row: Gat out of Hell (PS4)
  95. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4)
  96. Flower (PS4)
  97. Grim Fandango (PS4)
  98. Jetpac (XSS)
  99. TimeSplitters 2 (XSS)
  100. The Procession to Cavalry (XSS)
  101. Bound (PS4)
  102. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (Wii)
  103. Conker's Bad Fur Day (XSS)
  104. Sonic the Hedgehog (SMS)
  105. Battletoads (Original) (XSS)
  106. Sonic Lost World (3DS)
  107. Battletoads Arcade (XSS)
  108. Sonic Advance 2 (GBA)
  109. Rain (PS4)
  110. Hades (XSS)
  111. Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)
  112. Digger T Rock (XSS)
  113. Doodle Champion Island Games (Browser)
  114. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PS4)
  115. Sonic Generations (3DS)
  116. Kill it with Fire (XSS)
  117. Halo 2 (XSS)
  118. Sonic Triple Trouble (GG)
  119. Star Wars Racer Revenge (PS4)
  120. The Matrix Awakens Experience (XSS)
  121. Sonic Chronicles (DS)
  122. Superliminal (XSS)
  123. Call to the Sea (XSS)
  124. American McGee's Alice (XSS)
  125. Flicky (Arcade)
  126. Cobra Triangle (XSS)
  127. Ori and the Blind Forest (XSS)
  128. Atic Atac (XSS)
  129. RC Pro-Am (XSS)
  130. Townscaper (XSS)
  131. Gunfright (XSS)
  132. Sonic the Fighters (XSS)
  133. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (DS)
  134. Art of Rally (XSS)
  135. Sound Shapes (PS4)
  136. Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse (Switch)
  137. Snake Rattle and Roll (XSS)
  138. RC Pro-Am II (XSS)
  139. Sonic Rivals (PSP)
  140. Sonic Riders (NGC)
  141. Tokyo Jungle (PS4)
  142. Sonic Heroes (NGC)
  143. Darksiders (PS4)
  144. My Friend Pedro (XSS)
  145. Genesis Noir (XSS)
  146. Perfect Dark Zero (XSS)
  147. Sonic 2 (SMS)
  148. Killer Instinct Gold (XSS)
  149. Sonic 4 Episode 1 (XSS)
  150. Superhot (PS4)
  151. Lunar Jetman (XSS)
  152. SkateBIRD (XSS)
  153. Solar Jetman (XSS)
  154. flOw (PS4)
  155. The Crew 2 (PS4)
  156. Sonic Labyrinth (GG)
  157. Sonic X (Leapfrog)
  158. DEEEER Simulator (XSS)
  159. Backbone (XSS)
  160. Slalom (XSS)
  161. The Falconeer (XSS)
  162. Tails Adventure (GG)
  163. Knack (PS4)
  164. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (DS)
  165. Sabre Wulf (XSS)
  166. Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis (GBA)
  167. Sonic Pinball Party (GBA)
  168. Knight Lore (XSS)
  169. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (PS4)
  170. Remnant From The Ashes (PS4)
  171. The Medium (PC)
  172. Sonic Blast (GG)
  173. The Witness (PS4)
  174. Twelve Minutes (XSS)
  175. Underwurlde (XSS)
  176. Sonic Jam (GameCom)

 

Out of games I really want to play from 2021, Metroid Dread is the main one. 

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How can you have Slalom at 160, and Backbone at 159?! They should clearly be the other way around.

Utterly ridiculous, I can't take the rest of your list seriously.

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Spoiler

1. Metroid Dread (Switch) 8/10

It is hard to choose between the top three but I think I have to give the nod to Metroid Dread. There aren't many games that I complete 100% and, apart from one or two of the shinespark puzzles, it was a joy collect everything in Dread. Mercury Steam really outdid themselves, building on the great work they had done with Samus Returns to create a wonderfully atmospheric adventure with some truly brutal boss fights. 

2. Life Is Strange: True Colors (PS5) 8/10

It's crazy to think that the Life Is Strange series has only been around since 2015, in that time Dontnod and Deck Nine have released 4 full length entries, all unique and interesting in their own ways. True Colors is stripped back in terms of scope but tells a more affecting narrative than Dontnod's 2019 effort, with Deck Nine creating a standout protagonist in Alex Chen. Visually it's the most stunning entry yet and if the Remastered Collection due out in February has the same detail and fidelity as True Colors then fans of the series are in for a real treat. It's just a shame they didn't localise the title for the PAL release. 

3. Little Nightmares II (PS4) 8/10

Where Life Is Strange was scaled back from its predecessor, Little Nightmares II offered a much broader scope than the 2017 original. Following a similar set up to the first game, you are placed in the shoes of a child and tasked with navigating the twisted and terrifying world of a monstrous society, doing your best to avoid detection while you try to escape their clutches. It's hard to think of a more atmospheric 2.5D game, Tarsier have created a truly unique world to explore and there is still plenty of scope for future entries in the series.

4. Lost Words: Beyond the Page (Switch) 8/10

5. Monster Hunter Rise (Switch) 8/10

6. Last Stop (Switch) 7/10

7. Bowser's Fury (Switch) 7/10

8. Mario Golf: Super Rush (Switch) 6/10

9. The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience (PS5) 6/10

10. Sky: Children of the Light (Switch) 5/10

Re-releases & Compilations 

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (Switch) 8/10

Super Mario 3D World (Switch) 8/10

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania (Switch) 6/10

Spoiler

1. Hades (Switch) 2020

Although Hades definitely annoyed me at times, I think the sense of accomplishment I felt from completing it puts it a notch above Outer Wilds in my estimation. Supergiant have perfected the rogue-like formula, the way the mechanics feel like a natural extension of the world, and the numerous interactions with its cast of characters mean that even when you die for the 50th time you still feel like you're progressing. One of those games that will live long in the memory.

2. Outer Wilds (PS4) 2019

Another one that will live long in the memory, albeit for different reasons, Outer Wilds awed me with its dense, clockwork gameplay, offering a sense of exploration that I haven't felt too often in gaming. The ending didn't wow me as much as I had hoped but the journey of unravelling the mysteries of the Nomai consumed me for hours, and was well worth the price of entry. 

3. The Missing: JJ Macfield and the Island of Lost Memories (Switch) 2018

Despite not knowing too much about the actual mechanics, the reception that The Missing received in 2018 was enough for me to put it on my list but it took me until 2021 to finally get around to playing it. The gameplay isn't exactly revolutionary, offering up your usual 2D platforming fare, and the performance definitely has issues on Switch but the narrative was so emotional and affecting that it more than makes up for those shortcomings. The characters and plot were so relatable for me, especially as someone who has experienced many of the issues covered, Swery and White Owl's sensitive and thoughtful handling of the subject matter has to be applauded. 

4. Kentucky Route Zero (Switch) 2020

5. Deadly Premonition Origins (Switch) 2010/2019

6. Gone Home (Switch) 2018

7. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS4) 1997/2018

8. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA) 2004

9. Resident Evil 3 Remake (PS4) 2020

10. Astral Chain (Switch) 2019

Honourable Mentions: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Switch) 2020; Telling Lies (Switch) 2020; Metroid: Other M (Wii) 2010; Dead Space (PS3) 2008; Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (Switch) 1991; Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS) 2006;

Spoiler

Castlevania: The Adventure (Switch) 1989

More of a prototype than a real game, its technical shortcomings can be excused to some extent but as a handheld iteration of classic Castlevania it really misses the mark. A real slog to play through with the horrific framerate, thankfully the sequel was a huge improvement. 

Mario Kart 64 (N64) 1996

Perhaps not as laborious to play through as Castlevania, Mario Kart 64 was so much of a let down that its hard to give it a higher rating. Rubber banding has never troubled me too much in the past, but its so blatant in this that its hard to look past it - added to the pretty bland courses and presentation I'd have to say its the worst Mario Kart game so far.

Heavy Rain (PS4) 2010/2016

While issues with the other two titles can be excused down to hardware limitations or being early experiments on new hardware, the problems with Heavy Rain are much more fundamental. I could excuse the irritating gameplay if the story and the characters were in any way interesting but the writing is so poor that I have to rank it as the very worst game I played in 2021.

 

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Realise I'm a bit late on this, think I've started typing this up a couple of times before but lost both of my drafts. So here we go, third time's the charm! 

Favourite games released in 2021? 

I only played the 5 games released in 2021, so I'll just be ranking those. 

 

1. Ghost of Tsushima - Iki Island DLC

Ghost of Tsushima was one of my favourite games of 2020, so it probably isn't that surprising that I was over the moon when the DLC get announced. Getting to return to what I think is one of the most visually beautiful realistic open worlds was a blast, I took a stupid number of screenshots like I did the first time around. 

It did just about everything I think a good piece of DLC should set out to do, with story of the DLC adding a great deal of depth to Jin's backstory, fleshing out key moments of his story presented in the base game, adding some new mechanics to gameplay (you can ram people with your horse and get awesome horse armour, need I say more?) as well as the Director's Cut as a whole polishing the game further (they finally added a lock-on). Music was great once again, and Iki Island felt surprisingly unique in its colour palette when compared with the base game (a lot of purple, lighter blues, and creams). 

If you enjoyed the base game, I can't imagine you not liking Iki Island. It's more of the same, which in my view, is a great thing. 

 

2. Returnal

I've said a lot about Returnal in the game's dedicated thread, so I'll keep it brief here. 

While I did have some issues with it - as my first roguelike not to rhyme with Blistery Luncheon, I thought it could have explained some of its mechanics much better, for instance; and that the length of runs could be streamlined so that they weren't always 40+ minutes long - the game feels insanely tight to play as what is essentially a third-person shmup, jumping and melee feels great, the DualSense enhances the variety of weapons on offer and the game's environments greatly, and the bosses are all top tier, with some being amongst my favourites in recent memory. The game does such a great job with its visual and sound design too, with every biome feeling extremely alien and dangerous, and once the story starts to play it's cards around halfway through, that is only heightened. 

Give me a Boss Rush mode please! 


3. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond

Look, this is a list of my favourites, not what I think were necessarily the best games of last year, because if I were making that last, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond would be at the bottom. I said in the game's thread if I had to score it that I'd give it a 5/10, and I would still stand by that: it is so comparatively weak when compared with previous Pokémon remakes that it's laughable, the game is buggy as hell, launched with major issues and a MIDI soundtrack not on the cart, and misses more than it hits in remixing one of my personal favourite Pokémon OST's. 

But that being said, this was the most engaged I've felt with Pokémon for years. Yes, the game was an absolute cakewalk 99% of the time as the EXP Share is broken beyond belief, and the trainer composition wasn't changed in any significant way to reflect this, meaning you'd be overpowered from basically the first gym onwards, but it made for a surprisingly relaxing return to Sinnoh, a region which takes me back to the innocent days of childhood (helped a lot by me playing with animations turned off 95% of the time). But on the flip side of that, despite it being completely broken, Cynthia was hands down the toughest battle in the game by some margin, and probably the toughest main story battle in a main series Pokémon game since the original Diamond & Pearl, so I'm glad she gets to provide a new generation with PTSD. The Grand Underground was an excellent step up from the original Underground, it felt nice not having a linear path or loop to follow as we've had since Gen V, actually needing to do some backtracking which made me realise just how well HM's used to be utilised. And despite the soundtrack as a whole being a miss, there were some great individual track remixes, like Team Galactic HQ. 

It's far from perfect, but a stress-free return to Sinnoh and a land of nostalgia was surprisingly more than I expected going in, so I came away happy. I hope ILCA get more time to polish the next game they work on, and would love for them to remake HeartHold and SoulSilver with the lessons they've learned from this. 

 

4. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

I kind of railed on the 2016 remake of Ratchet & Clank when I played it last year, so I was picking up Rift Apart mainly because I've played the Spider-Man games which Insomniac have put out over the last few years and adored those, so my hope was that they'd have something new to bring to the table that I could latch onto. 

And boy did they deliver on that hope of mine. The game is a stunner, some of the set-pieces are insanely fun (both in terms of cinematography and gameplay), the expanded arsenal is so much fun to use, and the worlds feel less like levels in the typical sense this time around, and a bit like living and breathing places. A particular world makes great use of the PS5's SSD, and the DualSense once again just added another layer of enjoyment to the game for me. 

Biggest knock against it? Probably that Ratchet and Rivet have identical movesets and weapon sets, which is crazy to me considering that Rivet has a mechanical arm. They could have done so much more to differentiate between the two! 


5. It Takes Two

I played A Way Out with my younger brother and loved it, so any game from Hazelight moving forwards that's built on their current focus of couch co-op is absolutely a game I'll be checking out with him. So first and foremost, I'm grateful to this game for allowing me to share time with him, which COVID and moving out have got in the way of a whole lot over the last year and a half or so. 

It's a great game, with a lot of fun ideas. Every level feels unique, and that's whether it comes to its visual appearance or the way you traverse that level; coupled with both players being given unique tools and abilities to use in each level, you and your playing partner of choice will actually feel needed, which is so important in a game like this. In a nutshell, this game is about variety, even giving you mini-games to play against your co-op buddy, which definitely gave us a few good laughs. 

However, while I think the game has rightly picked up a number of awards over the last few months, I don't think it's without issue. For one, it kind of just abruptly ends? And when coupled with its story about a failing marriage, it kind of feels like it fails to deliver. When you add to that the context that myself and my brother can't really relate to the difficulties of the two protagonists (at least not any more than we have, for example, films tackling the subject), I came away wanting a bit more than I think I got. 

So, while a great game and well worth checking out, I don't think it quite delivers on its promise as a story, at least not to the extent that I thought A Way Out did. 


Favourite games played in 2021? 

1. Red Dead Redemption II (2018)

I'm really picky when it comes to open world games: they're typically too long, storytelling and pacing oftentimes take a backseat, and the writing in some of them can be pretty dismal. 

Red Dead Redemption II, however, takes some of my problems with more traditional open world games and aims to show they should be done -- and then delivers by the spadeful. The world is gorgeous (some of the prettiest skies in a video game so far, in my opinion); the characters are incredibly well developed throughout the course of the game; it's surprisingly well paced considering the game's length (and when it does slow down, it feels intentional, outside of something that happens around the halfway mark); the sound design is absurd; and it's one of the few games I've personally played where I've been presented with choices that actually end up mattering, either in the context of the overall story and it's direction, or perhaps more importantly, to me on a personal basis. Side quests are for the most part really well done, your camp feels like a tightknit family with plenty to do and help out with, and the writing of some of the dialogue should be recognised up there amongst the best in gaming. Red Dead II does a splendid job of rewarding players of the first game (which I also played for the first time last year), too, which I'm always a fan of, and it might be one of my favourite prequels in any medium. It also has one of the best Western soundtracks I've listened to, period -- I'm not just talking video games, I mean this could just as easily pass for a Morricone soundtrack. Oh, and some of the most badass moments I've been a part of in a game in recent memory, meaning there were several times where I found myself audibly gasping, "hooooooo boy"-ing, or punching the air. 

Despite all of this, it's not without its issues. For everything that came out about crunch on this game being especially brutal, I went in expecting a bit less open world junk than I think is typical, but no, it's still to be found in this game in a lot of places. I'm not saying that the effort put on during crunch by the team went to waste, but I just think it goes to show why such reportedly brutal crunching can be seen as such a futile endeavour, because even in a game of the scale and budget of Red Dead Redemption II falls victim to needing just that little bit more polish. It's also tough to love this game as much as I ended up doing knowing that some of the staff had it real rough in the later stages of development. 

This doesn't take away from my love or enjoyment for the game, however. It's my #1 on my list for good reason, and absolutely deserves to be here. It's taken Ghost of Tsushima's spot as my favourite traditional open world (kind of wiped the floor with it, actually), and makes the idea of returning to God of War (2018) ahead of Ragnarök's release an even more enticing proposition -- what would my 2018 GOTY have been? 


2. Metroid: Zero Mission (2004)

I can keep the rest of these a bit shorter, as I've said my piece on them elsewhere, which wasn't really the case for Red Dead II. In Zero Mission's case, it's a game surpassing very lofty expectations set by a great many Nintendo fans, here and elsewhere on the internet. 

I think my only legitimate criticisms of the game are the last "level" can be poorly paced the first time you play through, and a couple of the bosses are complete misses just by being damage sponges. Seriously, I think that might be it. 

Otherwise, it's pretty much flawless from my experience with it. As my first Metroid game it had a lot riding on it, and it delivered, from the atmosphere, to the soundtrack, to the story told through the world, and beyond that with the immensely satisfying sense of progression and discovery through exploration. 

Phenomenal game. Looking forward to checking out it's sequel in some form in the next few months! 

 

3. Super Mario Galaxy (2007)

I still hate the camera at times, but yeah, another one that like Zero Mission where I have very little to otherwise complain about. 

Because, my goodness, that orchestra and the fun mastery of simply jumping around is just a ridiculously good combo. Had a lot more focus on level design than I thought Mario 64 did, which felt more focused on the mastery of Mario's movement, and I personally preferred that, because it meant seeing such an insane variety of ideas squeezed into this game. I had a blast! 

I've picked up Mario Galaxy 2, so it's a toss up between that and Sunshine for my next 3D Mario I think. 

 

4. Dark Souls (2011)

Said it in my last Gaming Diary update of 2021, but this was a real game of two halves for me. I think the game is pretty much untouchable until you leave Anor Londo, and then it's pacing is completely shot, some of the remaining bosses kind of suck (ahem, Bed of Chaos), and the hooks which were digging so deep into me in the first half of the game just loosened up. I really enjoyed my time with Dark Souls, don't get me wrong, but I can't help but imagine how I could have enjoyed it even more if not for how things are handled post-Anor Londo. 

God tier OST and all of the other good stuff I came to expect from Demon's Souls outside of that, though. Going to try to get back to it to play through Artorias of the Abyss before Elden Ring at the end of the month, we'll see how that goes! 

 

5. Suikoden II (1998)

I have very little to add on this outside of my Gaming Diary update last year, to be honest. It's flaw, like with the first game, is it's missable Stars of Destiny, but everything else is top notch. If you enjoy JRPG's, I can't recommend this and the first game enough. 

 

6. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)

This is the most Kojima of the Kojima games I've played so far. I personally had a blast, because warts and all, it's top tier fan service with some bosses and story moments up there with the best in the series. 

 

7. Suikoden (1995)

Wow, a trio of Konami games for my #5 - #7. 

Well, just shows how great they once were, and all I've got to say is about Suikoden is that you should go play it. With a Stars of Destiny guide. It's a jolly time. Highly recommend. 

 

8. Yakuza 5 (2012)

This might be the most circumstantial entry on my list for 2021, but nonetheless, I think it deserves to be here, because the ability to pick someone up and make them smile when they're feeling down is something Ryu Ga Gotoku's games do better for me than maybe any other. I sunk tooth and nail into Yakuza 5, and I had a blast doing so. 

 

9. Red Dead Redemption (2010)

In hindsight, playing this before Red Dead Redemption II almost seems like a necessity, it added that much to my enjoyment of Red Dead II it's insane. I'm sure it works the other way too, I just don't know if I personally would enjoy the step down in mechanics and polish, because boy did this game run rough on a PS3. 

Like it's prequel, though, it has an insanely good soundtrack, pretty sky boxes, and an excellent cast of characters matched with some great writing. It's more Spaghetti Western than it's prequel (which is more of an Americy Western), which I greatly enjoyed too. 

Just remake this in the Red Dead II engine already Rockstar, you fools. 

 

10. Ghost of Tsushima - Iki Island DLC (2021)

See above! 

 

And that was 2021. So, back to playing games in 2022! 

Edited by Julius
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Favourite Games Released in 2021:
Persona 5 Strikers
Saga Frontier Remastered
Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster
NEO: The World Ends With You

Favourite Games Played in 2021:
The above plus you will be able to see what I enjoyed from the list below.

2021 Releases You Wish You Had Played?
Still yet to unseal SMT V.

2021 Releases You Wish You Hadn't Played?
Super Mario 3D World (Switch), Mario Golf: Super Rush and Game Builder Garage download version as they later announced the packaged version which I would have gladly waited for.

I've been reflecting back on 2021--mainly those disappointments--and have been wondering if in future years I might be better getting a non-Nintendo console. I wasn't expecting either of those Mario games to be less than stellar, never mind both (thankfully, the bonus game Bowser's Fury was really good stuff with bags of potential). The Switch is a beast for third-party support which has been immense for me... but if I'm enjoying rough and ready ports more than Nintendo's output...? Well, it has had me wondering. Then last week I activated a free week of NSO and the SNES app reminded me of that Nintendo magic. Phew. So in future, I can buy a year of NSO again instead of a different console.

Here's a list of what I played in 2021. Games I went back to are included, demo's are not. I compiled this list by ordering the games on Switch by last played and estimated where December 2020 became January 2021. Is there an easier way? ::shrug: Zelda comments were posted in the BotW thread (I went back and finished it 20-something%) and the Zelda 35 thread.

DARKSNOWMAN'S 2021 IN GAMING: DEFINITIVE EDITION
Agent A: puzzle in disguise -- Fun! Looking forward to the follow-up.
Among Us -- Surprised there are no N-E nights on this as it has that mafia game feel.
Dead Cells (NSO Game Trial) -- Seemed good.
Scarlett Mysteries: Cursed Child -- Decent!
Endless Fables: Dark Moor -- Decent!
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition -- Really solid. Still need to go back and see it out.
Crypt of the Necrodancer -- Always fun to go back to for a quick run. 
Dragon Quest Builders 2 -- Went back to this for a weekend.
Super Mario Bros. 35 -- Really fun. Wonder if there will be a Kirby 30?
Enigmatis 2: The Mists of Ravenwood -- Decent!
Ys Origin -- Still need to go back to this.
Persona 5 Strikers -- Thoroughly enjoyed!!
Collection of SaGa -- A really good package.
Saga Frontier Remastered -- Unconventional.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past (NSO)
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (3DS)
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (3DS)
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch)
The Legend of Zelda (NSO)
Sega Ages Outrun -- Five mins of bliss every time.
Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch -- Bit of a slog by the end but really good overall.
Game Builder Garage -- Really cool but I hate that they later announced the packaged edition.
Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line -- Classic that I was playing off and on.
Part-Time UFO -- Simple gameplay with catchy music.
Metro Last Light Redux -- Pretty good. I remember looking around for ammo but the game wanted me to keep moving forward. The visuals were very (too?) dark.
Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster -- Tremendous.
Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD -- Totally okay for what it is.
Sky: Children of Light -- Nice and relaxed but I don't expect to ever play it again.
Mario Golf: Super Rush -- They forgot how to do rock-solid golf mechanics. 
Pokémon Unite -- Felt slow and heavy. Not my cup of tea.
Tetris 99 -- When there was an event I was playing.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition -- I still revisit this.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons -- Took up the lions share of my playtime. I've taken a break from island life since after summer when I failed to find the final insect I need and my NSO ran out. I'm okay being out of it but might go back in the summer months again...
Super Mario Maker 2 -- One of my favourites on Switch. I would play it all the time if I could.
NEO: The World Ends With You -- Fantastic.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury -- Years of Wii U hype for this? Bowser's Fury was top stuff and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with the concept.
Horizon Chase Turbo -- Always fun to go back to. The bonks are brutal.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe -- I became a sales statistic. Great game as expected.
Castlevania Anniversary Collection -- I still fire it up for ten or fifteen mins on Super Castlevania IV.
Paper Mario: The Origami King -- Thought I knew what to expect but it is still lacking. Good, but not very good.
Dicey Dungeons -- Really fun little game.
Fortnite -- Sometimes I give in to friend requests to squad up.

 

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