2021 Quarterlies! Vote for Qt3’s Best Game of 2021: “All these worlds are yours. Except Europa. Attempt no landing there.”

We’re doing this.

The Quarterlies are the Quarter to Three Year-End Awards for Best Game of [the year that just ended]. We are now a nanobot in which I gesture hypnotically while @arrendek runs a script behind a curtain that tallies everything and basically does all the work. I’m fine with that. Here is how it works:

Rule 1 : Just list your top 5 games of 2021. @arrendek’s superamazing script will keep track of them. Put your picks in order* (see below), so that this is a weighted choice. Your first pick will get 5 points, your fifth pick will get one. Popularity will be aggregated to come up with a final set of winners. Please provide commentary on your picks if you are at all inclined to do so. I will quote them in the wrap up for the winners.

Rule 2 : Any game–console, PC, mobile, etc–released in 2021 is eligible. Early Access games are eligible if they were “released” by going to version 1.0 in calendar 2021. Boardgames are fine. Tabletop RPGs are fine. If it’s a game, it counts, as long as it was first “released” in 2021. (Sorry, no “these are the games I played the most in 2020, even though some came out in 1998.”)

Rule 3 : Revisions to your original post are fine. Revisions as subsequent posts are not fine because the script will only pick up the first one. Only your first post with votes counts, so don’t make a new post to change your votes. Don’t separate your list into multiple posts.

That’s it. I expect orderly queuing.

Voting closes at 23:59 Pacific Standard Time (États-Unis) on Friday, January 21st.

(*)HOW TO VOTE

[a] All in a single post, you must post your votes on separate lines, with a number next to the place in your list you are assigning it. Please put a period and a space between the number and the bolded title.

[b] Bold your choices.

[c] You can put other stuff in your list, including discussion/explanation (which is encouraged) and stuff like platform but please do not bold anything other than the name of the game. Don’t even bold the platform, like (PC) . Here is an example from @jsnell that works great. It is now known as The @jsnell Post. It can be bolded because it is famous.

For reference, the “Year in gaming” article on wikipedia has been used before to clarify what was released in the calendar year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_in_video_games

Voter List as of 1/22/2022 1:02AM EST
Voter username Vote positions counted
Balasarius 1,
Pedro 1,2,3,4,5
SadleyBradley 1,2,
Sonoftgb 1,2,3,
NI1 1,2,3,
DeepT 1,
krayzkrok 1,2,3,4,5
Dissensus 1,2,3,4,5
newbrof 1,2,3,4,5
VogonPoet 1,2,3,
sharaleo 1,2,3,4,5
TimJames 1,2,3,4,5
AK_Icebear 1,2,
Matt_W 1,2,3,4,
forgeforsaken 1,2,3,4,5
Alistair 1,2,
orald 1,2,3,
Scotch_Lufkin 1,2,3,4,5
JonRowe 1,2,3,4,5
Spect 1,2,3,4,5
stusser 1,2,3,4,5
TommyTutone 1,2,3,4,5
LockerK 1,2,3,4,5
moss_icon 1,2,3,4,5
ooomalley 1,2,
lostcawz 1,2,3,4,5
rhamorim 1,2,3,4,5
eliandi 1,2,3,
Paul_cze 1,2,3,
wavey 1,2,3,4,5
Profanicus 1,2,3,4,5
Thraeg 1,2,3,4,5
PasqualePeluso 1,2,
CF_Kane 1,2,3,4,5
Kyrios 1,2,3,4,5
SamS 1,
Calelari 1,
Brad_Grenz 1,2,3,4,5
easytarget 1,2,3,
anonymgeist 1,2,3,4,5
AWS260 1,2,3,4,5
HumanTon 1,2,3,4,5
DarrenO 1,2,3,4,5
Nightgaunt 1,2,3,4,5
geewhiz 1,2,3,4,5
Strollen 1,2,3,4,5
Razgon 1,2,3,4,5
ReptileHouse 1,2,3,
MrGrumpy 1,2,3,
Left_Empty 1,2,3,4,5
TurinTur 1,2,3,4,5
vinraith 1,2,3,4,5
abrandt 1,2,3,4,5
Hotfreak 1,2,3,
Brooski 1,2,3,4,5
TundraToad 1,2,3,4,5
dtolman 1,2,3,4,
Gordon_Bleu 1,2,3,4,
Equisilus 1,2,
pizzasheets 1,2,3,4,5
Ex-SWoo 1,2,3,4,5
Inverarity 1,
FinnegansFather 1,2,3,4,
tylertoo 1,2,3,4,5
triggercut 1,2,3,4,5
Chris_Gwinn 1,2,3,4,5
mjgreeny75 1,2,
Madmarcus 1,2,3,4,5
geggis 1,2,3,4,5
Jorn_Weines 1,2,3,4,5
copeknight 1,2,3,4,5
tomchick 1,2,3,4,5
thatdudeguy 1,2,3,4,5
Dirklectisch 1,2,3,4,5
Malkael 1,2,3,4,5
jsnell 1,2,3,4,5
Charlatan 1,2,3,4,5
Knightsaber 1,
Kolbex 1,2,3,4,5
lordkosc 1,2,3,4,5
Telefrog 1,2,3,4,5
Chappers 1,2,3,4,
Douglas 1,2,3,4,5
robc04 1,2,3,4,5
NuclearWinter 1,2,3,4,5
milspec 1,2,3,4,
ArmandoPenblade 1,2,3,4,5
arrendek 1,2,3,4,
Rock8man 1,2,3,4,5
_aaron 1,2,3,4,5
Jack_Howitzer 1,2,3,4,5
Vesper 1,2,3,4,5
Tohree 1,2,3,4,
Chronic 1,2,3,4,5
Relayer71 1,2,3,4,5
Soren_Hoglund 1,2,3,4,5
Pod 1,2,3,
liminal 1,2,3,4,5
Editer 1,2,3,4,5
Alphabetical List of Games That Were Voted For

7 Wonders: Architects
A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism
Adios
Age of Empires IV
Aliens: Fireteam Elite
Ankh
Arboria
Arid
Astalon
Astronarch
Back 4 Blood
Balan Wonderworld
Beast Breaker
Before Your Eyes
Bonfire Peaks
Boyfriend Dungeon
Bravely Default II
Brutal Orchestra
Caster of Magic for Windows
Castlevania Advance Collection
Cats in Time
Chernobylite
Chivalry II
Clap Hanz Golf
Cloud Gardens
Control Ultimate Edition
Cruelty Squad
Curious Expedition 2
Curse of the Dead Gods
Days Gone
Death’s Door
Deathloop
Demeo
Demon Roots
Diablo II: Resurrected
Disciples: Liberation
Disco Elysium - The Final Cut
Dorfromantik
Drox Operative 2
Dungeon Encounters
Dying Light Platinum Edition
Earth Defence Force: World Brothers
Eastward
Echoes of the Eye
Elder Scrolls Online
Endzone A World Apart
Espgaluda II
F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch
Faiyum
Farming Simulator 22
Fights in Tight Places
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
Football Manager 2022
Forza Horizon 5
Ghosts of Tsushima Director’s Cut
Gloomhaven
Gods Will Fall
Griftlands
Gunfire Reborn
Hades
Halo Infinite
Haven
Highfleet
Hitman 3
Humankind
Imperial Steam
Inscryption
It Takes Two
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Lake
Legion TD 2
Life is Strange: True Colors
Loop Hero
Lost Judgement
Manifold Garden
Mario Golf: Super Rush
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition
Metroid Dread
Midnight Protocol
Mini Motorways
MLB The Show 21
Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Monster Train: First Class
Mundaun
Mushihimesama
Necromunda: Hired Gun
New World
NieR Re[in]carnation
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection
Nioh 2
Northern Journey
Oath
Old World
Olija
Out of the Park Baseball 22
Outriders
Overboard
Oxygen Not Included: Spaced Out DLC
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
Pawnbarian
Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
Pro Strategy Football 2022
Psychonauts 2
Quake Enhanced
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth
Remnants of the Precursor
Remnants of the Precursors
Resident Evil 4 VR
Resident Evil: Village
Returnal
Rift Wizard
Rocketmen
Sable
Sands of Salzaar
Scarlet Nexus
Shamans
Shin Megami Tensei V
Slipways
SNKRX
SOLAS 128
Solasta: Crown of the Magister
Starmancer
Stella: Dixit
Subnautica: Below Zero
Sunless Skies: Sovereign Edition
Super Auto Pets
Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania
Surviving the Aftermath
Tainted Grail
Tales of Arise
The Artful Escape
The Ascent
The Forgotten City
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante
The Long Dark, Wintermute : Episode 4
The Riftbreaker
Total War: Rome Remastered
Trials of Fire
Tux and Fanny
Unpacking
Unplugged: Air Guitar
Unsighted
Urtuk: The Desolation
Valheim
Vampire Survivors
Wanderhome
Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector
Wildermyth
Wordle
World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox
Yugo Puzzle

Lol

  1. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

    As I approach 900 hours into this game, having completed it nearly eight times, I’d say I got my money’s worth. And I bought the $300 tier. The replay-ability is through the roof for a CRPG of its magnitude due to its ten mythic paths, each of which change the game in significant ways. I’m already thinking up character ideas for my next two playthroughs.

And that’s about it for 2021. Honorable mention would be Deathloop, I guess, but it’s not actually worth going on the list.

  1. Gloomhaven

    Many words have already been written, so I won’t add my own thoughts.

  2. Solasta: Crown of the Magister

    Many, many words.

  3. The Long Dark, Wintermute : Episode 4

    I’ve been much more of a fan of The Long Dark’s survival mode than its story mode, but this is the point at which they start to come together for me. Hinterland have historically struggled with applying a narrative within the survival framework, but they did really well here. It’s the penultimate episode in the Wintermute story mode, so hopefully they can end it strongly. (NB some of this vote is definitely influenced by the continuing brilliance of survival mode, which I returned to following completion of the episode).

  4. Arid

    This is the ‘student game’ which received so much acclaim last year, and is free on Steam. It’s a little shonky at times, but I went into it expecting a 2-hour breeze-through, and ended up loving the whole ten-hour, extremely sophisticated experience. Day-night cycles, with associated environmental effects, a really deep crafting system, beautiful environments - just a really well executed survival game with very few missteps.

  5. Sable

    This just pushed out Imposter Factory for me, possibly due to having played it more recently. Its principal draw is obviously the graphical style, and within that there are a bunch of fairly mundane puzzle platforming and fetch quests. But I loved how the world was realised - just enough to hint at things and let your imagination do the work. Also, you could decide when you were done with the game, and get the end credits early, which I really appreciated.

  1. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
  2. Monster Hunter Rise
  1. Old World
  2. Gloomhaven
  3. Slipways
  1. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
    An improvement over Pathfinder: Kingmaker - a game which I loved. So much stuff to do and less buggy than P:K was at release. Just fix the damn Loremaster prestige class already!

  2. Mass Effect Legendary Edition
    A chance to replay some of my favorite games with updated visuals.

  3. Solasta: Crown of the Magister
    Nice tactical combat and a welcome introduction to the 5th ed rules for me. Let down by the plot and the characters.

Dishonorable mention: Elite Dangerous: Odyssey. An expansion that made the base game worse - at least at release and for the first few months after.

  1. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
  1. Northern Journey - an unforgettable experience that has far fewer flaws than you might expect from a solo developer’s first game. They tell you not to make that overly ambitious first game that’s in your head because you’ll invariably fail. This is what happens when you don’t fail.

  2. Death’s Door - my GOTY before Northern Journey came along, a superb rendition of classic Zelda gameplay brought up to whatever date was necessary to perfect this homage to exploration, combat and discovery.

  3. Arboria - I’m all about the weird this year, and this game turns the weird up to 11. It’s still basically an action RPG with more thoughtful action, influenced as many now are by the Hades metastructure, but with solid combat and that addictive loop of exploring rooms connected by corridors, with all manner of strange surprises within.

  4. Demeo - Currently VR-only, but some of the best times I’ve had gaming this year was in this virtual D&D style tabletop game where you fly over, around and into the boardgame dungeon, moving your pieces and throwing dice to overcome puzzle-like enemy combinations as a team, with all the shenanigans you’d expect when playing with a group that feel like they’re sitting around the same actual table.

  5. The Ascent - There are several games vying for the coveted fifith spot, so this may change. But right now I’m hot for The Ascent, which feels like a more open world version of Synthetik, one of my favourite, punchy twin-stick shooters. I guess this is Diablo with guns, then. Whatever, it’s stylish, has the most incredible futuristic city I think I’ve ever seen from an inclined 45 degree angle, and satisfyingly punchy combat.

Other games that I really enjoyed and keep thinking about… Necromunda: Hired Gun, Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector, The Gunk, Halo Infinite, Fire & Steel, Chorus, Unsighted, Sable, Cosmodread.

  1. Inscryption
    Worthy of the hype. Structured around a pretty solid card game, it throws enough game and story twists at you to keep you invested throughout its very reasonable length. Great to experience.

  2. Shin Megami Tensei V
    Demon collecting and fusion in the ruins of a near future apocalyptic Tokyo. Tangle with gods, get condescended to by angels, hang out with demons. All told, a solid 1:1 recreation of the high school experience.

  3. Old World
    This would likely be higher if I had started it earlier in the year (got into it after picking up GOTY Inscryption for a fiver on EGS during its winter sale). It’s chock full of nifty design choices that should revolutionize its genre, at least when it launches on a more popular gaming store. (Edit: tinkered with this some more that past week and am moving it up. Still haven’t got a full grasp of it and spent much more time with the games ranked above it.)

  4. Mario Golf: Super Rush
    After the disaster that was Mario Tennis: Aces, here’s a competent Mario sports title that, sure, has flaws but does enough right that it became a favorite ‘chill and decompress’ game for me.

  5. Wildermyth
    I played it more in EA in 2020 than in full release in 2021, but it’s a great little RPG with customizable campaign lengths and tons of other options to help you tailor the experience to your liking.

  1. Gods Will Fall One of the rare games I actually finished. And it was worth it, such a great little game.

  2. Resident Evil: Village not as good as RE2 Remake or RE4, and I don’t think it has enough replay possibilties, and it is not campy enough, but it has good momentum and some very creepy parts and amazing visuals and a good variety of setting, atmosphere.

  3. Rocketmen by Martin Wallace. I love this deckbuilder, mission to orbit, moon mars management game. Rock solid! You thin your deck by placing your cards on your launch pad. That’s brilliant.

  4. Aliens: Fireteam Elite It’s Aliens with a big heart.

  5. Manifold Garden Very elegant puzzles.

I wanted to add The Ascent but I am stuck in a mission, where I get swarmed by elite enemies. Need to go back at some point, I really liked what I played.

  1. Tainted Grail for the best, most thematic, boss fight music of all time

  2. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous love alt-ism

  3. Solasta while the graphics are primitive I enjoyed the combat system

Yikes, Valheim seems like so long ago, but it remains the best ‘OMG this is amazing’ buzz I had this year, especially in co-op. Also, I swear I thought it actually released last year, but appears still in early access, so is ineligible! Oh well!

  1. Monster Hunter Rise
  2. Dungeon Encounters
  3. Wildermyth
  4. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
  5. Astronarch

Pretty weak year for me. Three ports and an indie darling that hasn’t swept me away in the first 5 hours. [EDIT] And I just bought Vampire Survivors so it can join the list!

  1. Nioh 2
  2. Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection
  3. Vampire Survivors
  4. Death’s Door
  5. Espgaluda II

Bring on 2022. It’s going to be amazing.

I think I only played 2 new releases last year, but both were excellent.

  1. Hitman 3
  2. Oxygen Not Included: Spaced Out DLC

I think my gaming has been more limited than usual in the past year, I’ve mostly played older releases, and I find my attention span is shorter so things I would’ve loved 5 years ago just can’t hold my attention. So here are the 3 games I played this year that I loved.

  1. Hitman 3
    I’ve loved the whole new 2016+ Hitman franchise and this year’s addition is no exception. This is one of the few games I return to over and over again. Hitman 3’s story is deeper than previous entries and it has some of the best murder sandboxes in the franchise: a nightclub run by a biker gang in Berlin, a high rise apartment complex hiding an expansive lab using unwilling human subjects for bioweapons experimentation in Chongqing, and a commercial vineyard in Mendoza with wine making equipment presenting interesting assassination opportunities.

  2. The Forgotten City
    Strangely this is not on Wikipedia’s list, but was released as a stand-alone game in July 2021. A really good time-loop mystery game set in an underground Roman villa. I really liked everything about this game: the voice acting, the mystery, the conversations, etc.

  3. It Takes Two
    My son and I have a blast playing through this zany co-operative adventure. The highlight was escaping from the bees using a glider made out of boxer shorts.

  4. Unpacking
    Added this one as a late edit. How could I forget? A really nice contemplative game that manages really strong, but subtle storytelling by having you unpack boxes. I love this kind of game.

Honorable mentions:
Overboard - I didn’t play this in 2021, but am playing it now on mobile and I really like it. Really great accretive protagonist (antagonist?) story told in Inkle’s signature style. Really cool that it’s precisely a reverse murder mystery.
Escape Simulator - Another 2021 game that I’m playing in 2022. Really fun as a co-op game. Expect to feel dumb compared to your friends.

  1. Returnal Easily my favorite of the year.
  2. Kena: Bridge of Spirits a bit old school but hit just right for me.
  3. Bonfire Peaks At times made me feel like a genius
  4. F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch A metroidvania I enjoyed more than Metroid Dread
  5. Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth another metroidvania I enjoyed more than Dread

Honorable mentions: Chicory, Unpacking, Death’s Door, Psychonauts2, Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart.

  1. The Forgotten City Smart entertainment that began as a mod.
  2. Days Gone Another interesting Sony title that made PC last year. All these benefit from the production values apart from anything else, as well as not being sequels. Yet.

It was a pretty weak year for me. Played a lot of older stuff and went through the Epic freebies etc.

  1. Remnants of the Precurors
    Ray Fowler’s labor of love that updates Master of Orion. Folks can check out the dedicated thread. Icing on the cake, it has a manual written by Tom Chick. Shame that RotP does not support multiplayer as this would be a great game for a Tom v Bruce

  2. Wildermyth

  3. Caster of Magic for Windows
    I think that this counts as a 2021 release. Fantastic AI added to one of my favorite old games.

  1. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
  2. Wildermyth
  3. Trials of Fire
  4. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
  5. Solasta

Disco Elysium wasn’t on my original top 10 list in the previous thread because A) I didn’t realize it had come out this year until I saw @SadleyBradley vote for it and B) until yesterday I hadn’t even launched the game since it first came out and I wrapped it up (my last save game was late Oct 2019). But now I’ve gotten a chance to get back into it and it’s just so fucking good and my previous top five was the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster, which I loved but I have to admit this would bump that down a notch, and thus off this list.

I’m so freaking happy to see Pathfinder and Solasta on so many lists - both are a huge part of what made 2021 one of the best years in gaming for me, I love them both dearly (for somewhat different reasons).