As we approach the fall release season, 2021 is shaping up to be a big year for innovative new video games. Remakes and remasters are going head-to-head against independent studios’ unique creative visions, with the two categories dominating Metacritic’s top releases of the year.
It’s a tight competition for Metacritic’s highest ranks. The beloved Mass Effect Legendary Edition, a remake of Bioware’s original space opera RPG trilogy, hasn’t breached the top five. While Tony Hawk Pro Skater’s remaster and Microsoft Flight Simulator dominate the list, two indie games join them to push Mass Effect down to the sixth spot.
The two indie classics dominating Metacritic
Chicory: A Colorful Tale was developed by Greg Lobanoc (Wandersong), Lena Raine (Celeste), Em Halberstadt (Night in the Woods), Madeline Berger, and Alexis Dean-Jones. Chicory released on PC, PS4, and PS5 in June to critical praise, and is now Metacritic’s fifth highest ranked game of the year, with a Metascore of 90 and User Score of 8.3. It’s a novel game about painting in a monochromatic world with a magical brush, filled with cute animals and saccharine themes of friendship while grappling with serious issues like creative burnout.
The definitive edition of the 2019 RPG, Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, is currently the second highest rated game of the year on Metacritic, with a Metascore of 97 and User Score of 8.3. Disco Elysium was a sprawling, narrative-focused RPG revolving around an amnesiac police investigator. Launched across PC and consoles, the update includes voice acting, new quests, and technical improvements to the original.
What about number one? Originally released on PC in 2016, The House in Fata Morgana—Dreams of The Revenants Edition is a Switch port of the Japanese visual novel. While the PC and later PS4 version still have not gathered enough reviews to be ranked on Metacritic, the VN was already highly regarded by fans of the genre when the Switch port was released in April. The House in Fata Morgana—Dreams of The Revenants Edition became the first game in the site’s history to hold a perfect score. While it has since lost a couple points, the VN remains the 4th highest rated game of all time on Metacritic’s board and has a User Score of 8.3.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition may not be in Metacritic’s top five, but it still remains one of the best games of the year. The game received the site’s coveted “must-play” award and averaged a 90 among critical scores. While user reviews remain divided, with a near 50-50 split between positive and negative receptions, the game has not received a single negative nor mixed review among Metacritic’s aggregated professional reviewers.