Just like 2020, 2021 was a year that found most people spending a lot more time inside than usual. While many video game releases were delayed due to COVID-19, the year still brought many new ones to the table that are sure to live on (though 2021 can stay in the past where it belongs).
The year saw treasures for every type of gamer and some games that are likely to become treasured classics that fans will enjoy for years to come. Here are the best video games that 2021 brought us.
Shadowverse: Champion Battle
It’s been a while since a major card-battling game focused on a single-player campaign has come out. Shadowverse: Champion Battle has been hailed as a triumphant return to the single-player-focused card game video game. The game itself spins off of the Shadowverse anime, which itself is an anime to promote the Shadowverse mobile card game (meaning it has a lot of content to pull from to solidify its design). The gameplay is amazing, taking the well-loved Shadowverse card game and focusing it only on a few sets with tons of combinations and varieties to play in decks without any need to spend real money. The characters are fun and the story of the Shadowverse Club is compellingly simple, making it perfect for players of all ages.
Deltarune Episode 2
Toby Fox has done it again, making a game that took the internet by storm and is now equipped with a dev team that can assist the ambitions of the games. The second episode of the beloved Deltarune series of games elevates the gameplay, comedy, cast, and scope of the original game, truly setting it up for the following games while also being enjoyable on its own. Kris, Susie, and Ralsei dive into a cyber dark world this time around, facing off against the silly main enemy of this chapter, Queen. The game is start-to-finish funny with non-stop goofs paired with an improved version of the already exciting Undertale/Deltarune gameplay that allows for all party members to also take actions towards a pacifist win. It elevated two existing side characters and managed to make two new characters that have also skyrocketed in popularity. This is sure to live on in the internet’s hearts for years to come.
Guilty Gear -Strive-
“Heaven or Hell, Too Hard, Let’s Rock!” Guilty Gear made a huge splash in the fighting game community this year. The game blew people away with its visual design and amazingly solid opening roster of 17 characters, each with tons of detail put into them. The exciting blend of old and new characters has given players of all kinds someone to latch onto. The revamped designs make every character feel new even if they had been with the series since game one and the stylish gameplay is as stylish as ever. It’s truly exciting to sit down and fight other players in this wonderful title.
Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil Village is a rare game in which many people who have never played the game know all about several of its characters and have a love for them. Not only does it have iconic characters, but it’s also an incredibly designed action horror game, perfect for any fan of the spooky. Vampires, werewolves, creepy dolls, messed-up circuses ⏤ it’s practically a perfect Halloween game paired with mechanics that feel very responsive and allow players to engage the action and horror without being at the expense of the other.
This long-awaited sequel finally graced our screens this year. The title brings the sense of humor, art direction, and soundtrack that people loved and makes it that much better by following the hero of the first game as he learns that perhaps his dream job wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, all while trying to stop a great evil. The platforming is better than ever while capturing that classic Psychonauts feel, jumping around and moving things with our hero’s mind has never been so fun with how easy it all feels to do. That ease is also extended by this game offering an expansive collection of accessibility features, allowing gamers of all kinds to enjoy it. It truly feels like a love letter to fans of the series while not resting its laurels on “I remember that” moments.
Life is Strange: True Colors
This game takes a deep and personal look at the emotions, empathy, loss, and community that captivated so many this year. The game presents small-town life in a way that most games don’t, with the bad and good both on display, allowing the players to take in the beauty while facing the ugly side. Alex is a protagonist many are likely to find relatable even if they were never put into the foster system or had magical empathy powers. The game presents some interesting moral choices with the empath powers and really uses those feelings to go to amazingly imaginative places. The game’s protagonist has two love interests, each of which feels like they had similar levels of love and care put into them. It’s a game where even though you are being funneled toward a few endings, it feels like all of the choices matter with all the little bonuses that reflect the choices you made along the way.
Unsighted may very well become a classic indie game. It follows Alma, an automaton in a world running out of Anima, the resources that gives Automatons their sentience. Alma’s friends are turning feral and it’s nearly impossible to save them all from becoming mindless killing machines. The game is intense, with tons of ways to fight, an extreme challenge meant to be done in multiple play-throughs and much drama for the player to deal with. This game is a one-of-a-kind experience that can be played over and over again to see all the wild variation possible and bonus modes included. It’s hard to believe that this game was made by such a small group of people and is well worth checking out.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
After years of fans begging for the localization of these two games, they have come bundled as one game to English-speaking countries. The two games combined tell one complete story full of twists and turns as the truth of a case from long ago interlinks with a web of cases that our heroes Ryunosuke Naruhodo and Susato Mikotoba must uncover in their long stay in England. They are joined by Sherlock Holmes as they weave through the wild court cases and uncover mystery after mystery. The cases are some of the best in the whole series and the characters each have their own charm to them. Plus it’s totally unattached to previous games, making it perfect for people new to the Ace Attorney series.
After years of early access, this imaginative tactical RPG made its official release. This game is a platform for storytelling, allowing people to create their own characters to tell stories or enjoy pre-built stories and randomized characters. There are all sorts of wild things that can happen to characters, ranging on the far end with death but expansively to gaining raven features, becoming corrupted, becoming a magical protector, and much more. The game even has remote play, allowing the players to play with their friends in that style without needing to purchase another copy of the game. Magic has a unique system of enchanting items on the battlefield, gaining different effects depending on what is being linked to the mage and giving a style of play unlike any other tactical game.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
This game is at the very top of the monster-taming game charts. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a dream for anyone who wants to befriend cool, cute, or fun monsters. The game allows you to ride the monsters you befriend on your quest to stop a blight making monsters go totally feral. The game has a delightful cast of characters to meet, each with their own Monsti and history in the world. The gameplay is solid, with an easy-to-play, hard-to-master style that allows the more basic gameplay to work for younger audiences and that extra layer of depth for those who dive into the game’s deepest and hardest areas. The game is presented in a lovely art style, which makes the massive amount of trainer customization even more exciting with nearly every enemy you defeat being able to produce some type of armor for the player and almost all of that armor being able to be re-colored to some degree to make it feel like it’s you. The customization doesn’t stop at your character, though, with the monsters also having a deep level of customization possible in altering their abilities, skills, and damage types.