Okay I dig that the Respawning team are doing the top ten thing again this year. However! I’m not a fan of countdowns, bit too restrictive to me and my constantly shifting brain! So, rather than rack my fragile mind with trying to list my favourite titles of the year in order of how much I enjoyed them, here are just my 10 absolute favourite games of the year 2021!
Resident Evil: Village
This one shocked me a little bit, being that I’m a massive wimp who cowers at anything even vaguely called horror. That being said, I can normally stomach the spooks if I’m given the comforting weight of firearms to panic shoot at any shadow that makes me jump. Resi 8 is a direct follow up to the game-changing 7, putting you back in the fancy shoes of Ethan Winters, the man with the apparently immortal wrists. Ethan goes through a lot to rescue his baby girl and the journey is excellent, I was hooked for the entire 8-hour run, even as I was forced to play hiding behind a protective wall of cushions as a band of Lycans hunted me down.
Forza Horizon 5
I used to put hours upon hours into racing games, but as I got older, I got less interested in burning dust and making people eat my rubber. This all changed when Forza Horizon 5 appeared on the…Horizon? The open world racing series has long been a favourite among genre fans and this fifth entry seems to be universally adored, I had a go myself and what felt like 10 minutes of gameplay was later revealed to have been about 4 hours. I had a blast flying about the Mexican mountains and plains even as I went spinning off the road at 200mph because I was distracted by spotting a barn on the… Horizon… get it?!
If there was going to be any title this year to be my Game of the Year, Deathloop is it. Like Groundhog Day with guns, Deathloop is a fantastic mixture of style and substance as you traverse a 60s inspired island trying to murder 8 “Visionaries” all before the day ends and everything resets back to the morning again! I couldn’t stop myself playing this one and managed to complete the storyline within just a few days. Colt is a fantastic and hilarious leading man and the constant fear of another player taking control of Julianna and coming to hunt me down when I’m just trying to complete my mission made the whole game that much more exciting!
It Takes Two
This one is odd as I only have about 2 hours invested in it. I downloaded It Takes Two when it appeared on Xbox Game Pass as something to play with my girlfriend, hoping this would finally be the game to get her into my pastime. What transpired was 2 hours of me having a wonderful time hopping about a gorgeous environment as the husband character using wonderful changing gameplay mechanics to find my way towards my daughter, all while Hayley desperately tried to follow me and continuously messed up double jumps… fun for me, stressful for her, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Okay so hear me out, I didn’t actually play this one, as I’m missing a Switch to play it on, But I’m a massive fan of Metroid so I made sure to keep abreast of it. Dread has been a project Nintendo have had planned for over 10 years, and finally it came out and was everything fans of the series were waiting for. A claustrophobic 2D dungeon crawler with terrifying chase sequences and incredibly satisfying power progression for iconic heroine Samus Aran.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
My first PS5 game. Ratchet & Clank had a lot to prove with this one, being a flagship franchise for Sony, but boy have they turned it into sheep and knocked it out of the park! Rift Apart is one of the most fun platformers I’ve had the pleasure of playing in years. With the usual array of fancy gadgets and destructive weapons, Ratchet bombs his way through levels and then passes the baton onto new character Rivet in a very organic way. In fact, if the next title in the series was a solely Rivet game, I wouldn’t be disappointed, she’s a fantastic character who I can’t wait to see more of.
Guardians of the Galaxy
I knew I’d enjoy it, and I was right. Square Enix seem to have learned a hard lesson from the solid critical panning of Avengers to come back stronger was a tight, colourful and interesting single player action game. Stepping into the rocket boots of Star-Lord, you and the Guardians travel the cosmos to stop a powerful cult with a deep love of the colour yellow from wrecking everything. Combat can get a little repetitive after a while, but the story is engaging, and the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic!
Now this was a surprise. Dark cyberpunk isn’t really my thing, yet here I was settling down to smash an isometric top-down shooter with deep and dark cyberpunk wrapping paper! The Ascent is something I wasn’t expecting to show up but the time I gave it was rewarding and chock full of mystery. The combat does take a little getting used to when what you think to be an ADS button is actually crouch… but a little practice in and you’ll be messing up cyborgs left and right.
Back 4 Blood
Ah co-op, we have a rocky relationship at best, yet here I am trying again all for zombie murdering. A spiritual successor to Left4Dead, B4B picked up almost everything L4D put down years ago and carried on. With the in-game director setting up where and how many zombies you encounter and plenty of characters and cards to choose from, Back4Blood is a great way to invest some time with your friends, and if you don’t have any of those then there is still always the AI you can use to soak up a few bullets.
My final new game of 2021, and it climbs right up to make it on this list. A triumphant return for the Master Chief and a successful foray into an open world. Infinite employs a Bioshock ‘tell don’t show’ style of story telling as you make your way across Zeta Halo trying to put together the pieces of what has happened on the ring over the last 6 months. Gameplay, environments and music are all outstanding and with the most humanizing turn out for the big green human weapon, Halo Infinite might just be a lot of peoples favourite Halo yet.