Danreb’s Top 10 Games of 2021

This year, we had some hints of normalcy, but with another COVID strain plaguing the world, it seems like we’re back in the bad part of the pandemic again, and it sucks.

But at least I lost 50 lbs since the beginning of my weight loss journey that started in February of 2020.

That aside, gaming remains in sort of a flux. Not only did we not get a Switch 4K like people hoped, but people still can’t get their hands on either a PS5 or an Xbox Series X. Because of this, my first world annoyance of a lack of exclusive titles for either platform also plagues the gaming world, which continues to make things weird.

That being said, gaming was still pretty great though it’s pretty clear we have a lot of assholes to get rid of in the industry. *cough*

Onto my favorite 10 games that released this year.

10. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (Switch, PS4, PC)

I’ve always been a huge Ace Attorney fan. It was one of the few IPs that immediately had my attention as I was getting through college. While it was different playing it on a console as opposed to a handheld (which was my doing as I chose to play it on PlayStation for trophies over the Switch), it came to be both familiar and engaging. I wish it was shorter than the 60 hours it took to finish it, but I was entertained by every minute I spent playing.

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9. Monster Hunter Rise (Switch)

While the series definitely found new life when it was released on the PS4 and Xbox One, Monster Hunter just feels like it belongs on handheld. Thankfully borrowing a lot from what made Monster Hunter World one of the best live games last generation, Monster Hunter Rise definitely played like something meatier albeit a tad less impressive in the visual and performance departments. Be that as it may, Monster Hunter Rise offers literally everything series veterans appreciate most from it and really could’ve been the best Switch game of the year.

8. Returnal (PS5)

When Housemarque announced that they’d no longer do any of the arcade shooters they’be become synonymous with, it felt like a punch to the gut, but if you told me they’d come out with Returnal, it’s a wonder why they didn’t do this any sooner. The first “real” exclusive on the PlayStation 5, Returnal has renewed Housemarque’s respect as a studio and I look forward to what they do next… I just wish I sucked less at this game.

7. Halo Infinite (Xbox, PC)

Last year’s delay of Halo Infinite out of the Series X launch was nothing short of a disappointment. A lot of us believed (and still believe) that the Series X needed Halo, and well, now it’s here and while you can say what you want about its campaign without co-op, it’s serviceable, and the multiplayer IMO is easily the best stuff you’ll see out of a shooter that came out this fall/winter. Master Chief is back, and it feels good.

6. Psychonauts 2 (PS5, Xbox, PC)

Psychonauts 2 is actually a late entry into my Top 10 simply because it came out at a crowded time. Another reason why I de-emphasized it was due to the fact that I never got a chance to really get into the original. I tried earlier this year, but it just didn’t age well.

Luckily, Psychonauts 2 pretty much goes over the original’s events right from the get-go and drops you into Double Fine’s insane yet hilariously smart world. The platforming is solid and though I had issues getting into the story at first, the gameplay and environmental storytelling really helped put it over for me.

5. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5)

Another platformer makes the list. Unlike Psychonauts 2, I was already well oriented with the world of Ratchet & Clank, and while I’ve never played every game in the series, it’s easy to see that Insomniac went out of their way to show that they’ve been learning from every entry. The result is a game with dynamic gameplay, an easy-to-follow story, and something that’s just plain fun. I still stand by my statement of wishing the PS5 actually launched with this game, because it truly is a killer app and demonstrates just how awesome Insomniac is right now. They’re simply hitting on all cylinders with PlayStation.

4. Life is Strange: True Colors (PS5, PS4, Xbox, Switch, PC)

If you follow me, you know I love my walking simulators, even though we know exactly what it is we’ll get every time.

But True Colors was different.

Sure, you get the tried and true Life is Strange gameplay, but it wasn’t about a high school, and it wasn’t even about being a good sibling. It wasn’t even really about the game’s main mystery. It was about considering the way people think, and how it affects your own way of thinking. That’s really what made it interesting to me.

Throw in the fact that you have an Asian-American like me as a protagonist, and I was all in. Representation matters, and True Colors is easily the best game in the series.

3. Metroid Dread (Switch)

Metroid Dread was a game that hardcore Nintendo fans knew about for a while but wasn’t sure if it was real. Lo and behold, it was, and it actually came out the year it was announced.

Developed by MercurySteam, the same folks who brought us the 3DS remake of Metroid II, Metroid Dread once again brought fans back to Samus’ 2D origins, and in a time where everybody is craving for Metroid Prime 4, it had to deliver. And boy did it hit so good.

Metroid Dread is unapologetically Metroid. My screenshot above is fake, but that dialog truly encapsulates what this series has always been, and it’s good to see that it’s back and better than ever.

2. Death’s Door (PS5, PS4, Xbox, Switch, PC)

It hasn’t reached the cult status that Hades did last year, but Death’s Door was undeniably the best indie game I played this year. It’ll draw comparisons to Zelda because of its combat and Souls games because of its difficulty (though this is nowhere near as hard), but this combination along with its storytelling and mysteries just by taking a closer look at things really make this game memorable.

1. It Takes Two (PS5, PS4, Xbox, PC)

Once again, I have to preface this by saying that I work at EA. That said, I’ll once again mention that this game shipped prior to my company getting bought out by EA and my employment with the company in no way affects my love for this title.

It Takes Two was nothing short of phenomenal. I actually just spent the last day at my cousins’ house watching the two beat the game. It has a sense of Nintendo-esque polish that really made it fun to play with my brother, and Fares’ team at Hazelight have simply perfected their multiplayer adventure system. A Way Out was great, but It Takes Two simply blows it out of the water, and the imaginativeness and attention to detail put into the game along with the way it so seamlessly and mechanically switches gameplay genres on you is just a master class in development.

As soon as I finished it in March, there was hardly a doubt in my mind that It Takes Two would be my Game of the Year, and here we are.

That’s it. That’s my Top 10.

As for next year, with the pandemic it’s hard to know what to expect. Games like God of War: Ragnarok and Horizon: Forbidden West are definitely titles I’m keeping on my radar, but I’m definitely not gonna hype anything until we know they’re actually coming because anything can happen.

I just look forward to hopefully being at my work desk. Working with my co-workers in person. Please. I didn’t bust my ass for 20 years to get into this industry just to stay at home.