Best Games of 2021 thread

Building games: Were there any great ones this year? This is my favorite genre, too. I feel like they’re all in Early Access. (I wonder if that dampens their impact when they actually release. Like, if Timberborn is out next year and is great… will everyone overlook it because it made its splash in 2021?) I played Endzone a bit, but personally I don’t see that being up there among the best of the year. Townscaper is a beautiful toy, but would be hard to make the case for it, either.

Strategy games: Board games and card games have kind of swarmed this space. Loop Hero is a good one that has made it on some lists! I haven’t played most of the big 4Xes like Humankind and Old World, so maybe they should be more recognized, but I assume the barrier to entry is higher than most other games.

RPGs: Wildermyth is a strong contender, and I feel like it’s gotten a lot of due attention. I’ve seen Crimson Nexus on a number of lists, and Monster Hunter Rise. What else came out this year? I feel like the western RPG genre is in a post-Disco Elysium stupor…

I guess it wasn’t the strongest year for these segments of gaming, but if I’m wrong, I look forward to learning about some overlooked games in the Quarterlies!

Excellent list, and great blog overall. I’ll have to dive through the archive here, thanks for posting

Solasta and Pathfinder both came out this year. BG3 is coming out sometime soon(ish).

Kena getting a lot of love.

And we’ve got Yahtzee’s list! Of the best, worst and blandest.

I wish I had the ability to listen to Yahtzee for more than one minute, but I can’t. I just… can’t.

I find him amusing because I share his cynicism about the quality of most games.

I do think he’s slowing down though in his old age, he used to talk a lot faster.

My GOTY is a game from 20 years ago - Metroid Prime. I only played it for the first time a few weeks ago so I cannot tell a lie here; it’s my game of the year.

I believe you. Did it release on anything else, because I remember playing it on the GameCube? I loved it so much, so I’m glad it holds up.

My warning would be to stop there. The intro to Metroid Prime 2 completely killed my interest. Because I played no more after that, I can’t say if actually the trilogy doesn’t keep delivering greatness. Maybe it’s fantastic.

It was released for the Wii in the Prime Trilogy collection in 2009 with updated controls and a few QoL enhancements. However, I played it on the best platform of all - a special build of the Dolphin wii/GG emulator on PC called PrimeHack with much higher resolutions and including HD packs. It was beautiful and ran at the full 60FPS with barely a baby burp. It convinced me that emulation on modern PCs is the way to go for these old games. Same thing with Demon’s Souls on the PS3. Why bother playing these early console exclusives on old creaky hardware when you can kick it up a few notches to the modern gaming era?

Haha, yeah, that looks like the way to do it. (Though I’m too invested in the simplicity of put-the-disc-in or download-and-go.)

Prime 2: Echoes is, or was, my favourite of the trilogy but it’s been a long time since I played them. I don’t remember much of the intro–I recall it being an atmospheric slow burn, which is right up my street and very much in the spirit of Metroid. Contrast that with Prime 3: Corruption’s derivative and misjudged intro… hooo boy, what a stinker. Took quite a few hours for the game to recover from that and get its bearings! I recall The Geek Critique doing a series on the Metroid games and also liking Echoes a lot too.

Oh shiny. It always looked so good on Dolphin.

I don’t know for sure if it was 2 or 3. I lost interest after walking in all geared up, having that gear be blown off me, and then realizing I’m just going to gather the same stuff back. C’est la vie.

I’ve only played the first Prime briefly, but the same thing happened in the first game. It was really off-putting to me, but my friends assured me that it happens in every Metroid game and that I should embrace it.

A top-ten indies list that includes some games I hadn’t heard of (and also Beast Breaker <3)

Definitely had Circuit Superstars and Wytchwood on my radar and wished I’d gotten a chance to try them!

Oooh, those indies do look good. Wytchwood released just a month ago, so that author is on top of things.

I had really enjoyed the few titles from the earlier Kotaku top 10 RPGs I played, so I ordered several more of them. But, I think I made a mistake. RPG is too small a genre to expect a top 10 per year to fully work for me.

CrisTales had me excited, eager, and happy in the first twenty minutes and then angered me for the succeeding four hours. This might be old-person syndrome, and maybe I need to learn how to deal with it. I recall guidance that in reviewing people’s performance, don’t undo every observation with something in the other direction. Let negatives or positives stand on their own. I ignore that advice and present a slurry now.

  • I adore the art style, but objects need a better interaction distance, and I need faster movement. The second town has an agonizingly long stairway. Ys pls.
  • I like turn-based battles and real-time events for bonuses, but I need better timing and animation clues to when the event should occur. That’s partly on me, as towards the very end I realized there’s a 0.1 second flash during the correct timing. CrisTales should explain that very aspect during the introduction. It’s also remained annoyingly individual for each attack and spell.
  • I was surprised and delighted that all the lines are voiced, but the writing is so childish I want to skip it all. And the button to skip has no effect until maybe a second into the line. I’ve already read the whole thing and am waiting, pressing, urge to kill rising.
  • Why would the boss fight cancel all side quests? What’s worse, it looked like necessary characters gathered in the location for the fight, so I couldn’t complete side quests before doing the fight.
  • Boss fight that went on too long because it mind controls a character to heal it. And we just trade turns that way. Awful.

Uhh… back to best games. Scarlet Nexus looks promising?

I still can’t believe that Wytchwood is by Alientrap who made Cryptark. But then again, they did Apotheon so… they’re versatile!

Hmm, I recall seeing Dap on Steam at some point! Will have to look into that a bit closer.

Man, The Ascent was super repetitive to me, but then so are ARPGs in general. I expected the twin-stick shooting to keep me going longer than it did though. Even with friends it didn’t have the legs. I will say though that the environments were incredible to behold and wander around. I think I got more enjoyment out of that than doing the missions to be honest.

I find it interesting that all the major sites tend to list the exact same games from a pool of maybe 15-20 games, whereas if you look at the Quarterlies there’s a huge variety in what people loved. It makes me trust major sites even less, because where’s the personality, the individuality? Nobody likes all the same games! So I’m always down with indie sites that list a bunch of things I’ve not heard of.

I also loved The Ascent and the environments were a big part of it, but the shooting was on point. A lot of APRGs are just sending out waves of bullets and mowing shit down, I find that tedious. This goes much more heavily into tactical combat, you need the right weapons against the right enemies, some enemies pop straight away but many need a more careful approach, and dashes with iframes will always get me going. ;)

But again, nobody likes all the same games. Thankfully.

Agreed. This year feels particularly disconnected, doesn’t it? Maybe because the AAA offerings that appeal to a broad swath of folks feel particularly weak? Or maybe the lack of a prominent RPG?

Actually, wait… I dug back in history and…

2020: Hades
2019: Disco Elysium
2018: Battletech

I can’t find older votes than that, but I remember Witcher 3 won Game of the Decade, so…

I know we’re PC-predominant players at Qt3 but… Are we just RPG fanatics around here? It’s looking like the vote this year will bear that out. And the critics just weren’t super enamored of the RPGs that came out in 2021. (I didn’t play Pathfinder or Solasta, etc, so I don’t know if they’re all just blind or what.)

The forum basically is an RPG after all. We’re stuck in a long and amusing dialog tree with a cast of wacky NPCs :)