Happy New Year! I’m beginning 2022 with my favorite video games of 2021. It wasn’t a particularly great year for either gaming or movies, but I found a handful of solid releases. I’ll give you a brief synopsis about each selection. Check it out and have fun!
New Releases in 2021
Aliens: Fireteam Elite
I’m probably the only fan of this co-op game. The latest Aliens game features three futuristic marines who are wiping out a colony of deadly aliens to avoid a full blown invasion on Earth. It’s a straight forward, pure, and authentic experience for anyone who enjoys the Alien film series. The plot takes place many years after the most recent movie, but it literally feels like you’re in the middle of Aliens, Prometheus, and other entries in the franchise. Your team will blow away Xenomorphs, androids, and a few new enemies at a frantic pace. I don’t usually play multiplayer games and fortunately, this release offers a single player mode with bot teammates. It actually works pretty well, even on single player mode.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes
Narrative horror games are rare, but House of Ashes is a really good example. It’s much better than the previous Dark Pictures games with solid animation, a decent mystery, and a cleaner QTE system. I’m sorry to report, this game isn’t scary, but it has plenty of excitement, atmosphere, monsters, and action scenes. Your choices make huge consequences, so choose wisely. House of Ashes also has better replay value than the average narrative adventure.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles
I fell in love with the Demon Slayer anime series, which means playing this fighting game was a logical decision. The Hinokami Chronicles might not be the greatest fighting game by any means, but it’s a faithful adaptation of the show’s first season. It’s genuinely fun and the combat system is pretty good. I wish this game had difficulty settings because the challenge curve is really weird, but I’m pretty sure you can have infinite continues upon defeat. If you like the anime, this game might be a smart choice.
The Forgotten City
This narrative mystery was a criminally underrated title from 2021. It barely had any attention. The protagonist is an adventurer who travels back in time to the Roman era and loops through the same day eternally. This game has a remarkable story with a convincing mystery and plenty of unexpected twists. The characters have excellent development and the time loop elements are interesting rather than annoying. It’s a fabulous blend of storytelling, exploration, puzzles, and occasional combat. The Forgotten City requires players to wear their thinking caps and I really appreciate it.
Don’t let this game fool you. It’s probably the most difficult game I played in 2021. KeyWe is a co-op puzzle and speed run game with kiwis who work at the post office. Keep reading because this game is actually good. The kiwis have to mail packages, type letters, and complete other tasks before the timer runs down to zero. You have a very limited time to complete each mission. The gameplay can be really frustrating, but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s probably easier to play with a friend, although I stayed with the single player mode. KeyWe is a nice option if you enjoy puzzle games and a good challenge.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
Surprisingly, I like this game better than the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. That’s very high praise! It’s a linear adventure game with a unique combat system, a great story, excellent humor, and lovely animation. I encountered quite a few bugs and glitches, but they didn’t ruin the experience. This game doesn’t have a direct connection to the MCU films, although it treats the source material with respect. I think many gamers dismissed this release because Marvel’s Avengers was so disappointing, but you should check it out. It’s probably my second favorite game of 2021.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
The remakes of Diamond and Pearl aren’t getting the best reception from critics or Pokémon fans and I don’t understand the problem. Both games seem like faithful adaptations and they’re really fun to play. The environment includes a large quantity of pokémon to catch and training them isn’t a particularly huge grind. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl also have a new dungeon map called the Grand Underground, where you can catch high level pokémon, rare items, and more. I find the chibi character mods a little freaky, but that’s a small gripe.
Resident Evil Village
If you really like horror games, I highly recommend Resident Evil Village. It’s an utterly terrifying experience with less frustrating elements than the average survival horror title. Village is atmospheric and entertaining with a unique cast of villains. The gameplay mechanics are excellent and the inventory management is fair. In general, this game feels brutal in an oddly pleasant way. It provides a smorgasbord of monsters and the plot is probably a little better than the average Resident Evil game. This title reinvents the franchise while remaining faithful to the hardcore fan base. Resident Evil Village is definitely my favorite game of 2021.
Here’s another gem that fell through the cracks. I don’t think anyone played this game. Scarlet Nexus is a JRPG that’s based on the anime series of the same name. It has really fun gameplay, a sprawling skill tree, well crafted characters, and a handful of entertaining side missions. The plot is confusing sometimes, but the game is still a real treat in most ways. Scarlet Nexus has an unusual variety of monsters and really cool cyberpunk elements. This game is available on Xbox Game Pass, so you should totally give it a chance.
First Time on Physical Media
The following games aren’t new on the market, but 2021 was the first year distributers offered them on physical media. That’s good news for people like me who enjoy collecting games. You can purchase these games from Amazon, Best Buy, Target, GameStop, and other retailers.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Originally, the Great Ace Attorney series was only available in Japan. Now you can play several of the games on a single save file in the United States and other regions. The series is a courthouse drama takes place in Victorian England. You might find the premise boring, but it’s actually really interesting and amusing. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles takes influences from narrative adventures, mysteries, and soap operas. It’s a really entertaining form of gaming, even though each title is probably too long for comfort. You can also turn on an automatic mode and watch it like a movie. Break out the popcorn!
This rogue-like game was a tremendous hit in 2020, but it wasn’t released on physical media until Spring of 2021. Hades is a hack and slash game with anime style visuals and a story that focuses on Greek mythology. Inevitably, you’ll die and restart from the beginning many times. Never fear because you’ll become stronger with upgraded weapons and other permanent items that will make the game progression easier. Death is actually an important part of the story that opens new chapters, opportunities, and conversations with other characters. It’s a really fun adventure and one of the most memorable indie games in recent memory.
Samurai Jack: A Battle Through Time
You might not recall the Samurai Jack television show on Cartoon Network, but it was really good. Limited Run Games released a physical copy of this adaptation some ago and now it’s available through Best Buy. It’s a straight forward, linear adventure game that features a time traveling samurai. This game isn’t very complex, but it’s a fun and faithful adaptation of the animated show. It also plays really well on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode. If you’re looking for something a little shorter and less convoluted, try the Samurai Jack game.
West of Dead: Path of the Crow
Here’s another rare title from Limited Run Games. In fact, only five thousand copies of the Switch version were released worldwide. It’s somewhat like Ghost Rider in the Wild West. The protagonist is a dead gunslinger who’s making his way through Purgatory by fighting zombies, monsters, ghosts, and other entities. It’s a slow burn like most westerns, but the combat works really well and permanent upgrades are part of the story progression. West of Dead was released during the rogue-like craze and it’s an effective system. After all, the protagonist is already dead, so it doesn’t matter if you die and start at the beginning again. You can also take different paths and weapons on each run to add variety. A digital download is probably the best option for most gamers, but hardcore collectors can find physical copies on eBay and Amazon.
That’s the end of my list! What were your favorite games of 2021? Are you still catching up on a backlog of games? Honestly, I don’t have a lot of plans for this year because the pandemic is still running amok. Most likely, I’m not returning to conventions, traveling, indoor dining, movie theaters, or concert halls any time soon. This COVID-19 situation needs to be a lot more manageable before I go back to my pre-pandemic activities. Fortunately, I have plenty of topics to discuss on my blog. Eventually, I’ll break down the 2021 movie slate. It might take a while for me to see everything digitally, so be patient. I’m also planning to have more Q&A sessions with people in the steampunk and writing communities. Stay tuned for more updates throughout the year. I’m sure 2022 will be a rollercoaster for everyone, so remain opened minded. Enjoy the New Year and have a good week.
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