It’s that time again. Yes, the time where everyone writes about their favorite games of the last year!
My nominees for writing this post are:
– Games that I completed in 2021. The release date/year doesn’t matter. Different people have different definitions of “complete” but for these end of year posts, I’ll consider a game eligible if I see the credits roll.
However, this year (and years moving forward) I need to add another stipulation.
– Only one game per franchise allowed.
I needed to add this rule because I played 2 (technically 3) different Ace Attorney games and finished off another for a total of 3 (or 4). Two of them ended up being my all time favorites in the series, but I’m not going to sit here and have Ace Attorney clog up a list with only 5 things in it. That’s just lame.
I’m also going to self advertise and link to relevant posts for each game because I can do that around here haha.
5. Persona 5 Strikers
To be honest, I still don’t know if I liked this game enough to put it on a list like this, but I kept trying to think of another game to put in the #5 slot and kept circling back to Persona 5 Strikers and could not think of anything else. So, I guess even if it’s not a favorite of the year, it’s certainly one of the most memorable of the year. It somehow manages to be even more extra and stylish than Persona 5 (in my opinion). It’s also my first “Dynasty Warriors” game so that was interesting. Admittedly, mowing down giant hoards of enemies is pretty fun.
I’m not sure what the general consensus on the pacing is, but I thought it was pretty good. The reason I bring this up is because once you decide to leave an area to proceed on with the plot, you can’t go back. In that sense, I consider the game to be broken up in “stages” and I liked that more than I thought I would. It’s definitely fun going on a road trip with the Persona 5 crew. I had a good time.
My gripes with the game mostly lies in the story, which I have very complicated feelings about. Also, the PC version was a buggy mess on release. And, as fun as the Dynasty Warriors formula can be, I don’t think it’s for me.
4. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
I really liked the first Ori and the Blind Forest. I put it as my number three of 2020. I enjoyed Ori and the Will of the Wisps more. I think it took everything I liked about the first game and then really expanded on it. While the first game’s primary major obstacles were platforming and escape sequences, Will of the Wisps adds in some boss fights that are pretty fun. It felt larger and less linear as well, and the areas were more visually distinct and interesting. In general, I think there’s more content here as well.
The music and aesthetics are still top notch, and the movement as well as the new combat mechanics are pretty smooth. I quite enjoyed the story as well.
I played Ori and the Will of the Wisps in the first couple months of 2021, and to be completely honest, I don’t remember very much about the game since my playtime was also pretty short. Maybe I’ll go back to it one day, but I don’t feel a huge urge to do so.
3. Metroid Dread
I don’t think anyone expected a brand new 2D Metroid game to release in 2021, but I’m very glad it did and that it did it well. I had a lot of fun with it. The combat and movement are excellent. I found the boss fights to be quite memorable. In general, I had a blast exploring my way through the map and it makes me really hope that MercurySteam and Nintendo keep going forward with the Metroid series after it sat in the dust for so long.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the E.M.M.I sections, but the rest of the game made up for it. Though the feeling of relief when I finally cleared an E.M.M.I zone was satisfying. I still have mixed feelings on the linearity of the game, but it wasn’t bad enough to deter me from enjoying the game.
I wrote a post on Metroid Dread recently that’s much more elaborate than this short snippet in this post, but the tl;dr of everything is just that I really like Metroid Dread.
2. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Now in terms of unexpected 2021 releases, I still can’t believe we actually got an officially localized version of Dai Gyakuten Saiban, aka. The Great Ace Attorney. I think everyone assumed that Capcom had entirely shelved the series and/or DGS was too complicated to translate. Well, I’m very glad we were all collectively wrong.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles remasters both Dai Gyakuten Saiban and Dai Gyakuten Saiban 2. Despite the game telling you that you have two games with five cases each, I would really recommend just thinking of the duology as a single game with ten cases.
I wrote a post after finishing the first game and praised the characters, the Dance of Deduction gameplay, and the graphics and animations. I should also note that I think the localization was exceptionally good and very “Ace Attorney style” in this game. At the time though, I did not consider it to be one of my favorites because of the pacing issues. I also felt like there were a lot of loose ends at the end of the first game that were left unexplained and made me very confused. The payoff in the second game though was very well worth it. The pacing is so much better in the second game, I fell in love with the characters so much more, and all the loose threads and build up is resolved in such an insane way with so many twists and turns along the way.
That’s why I recommend thinking about The Great Ace Attorney as one singular game instead of two.
I could probably go on and on about everything I liked about the duology (and mostly the second one), but I will spare you the time and spoilers.
This year I also finished up Investigations 2 and played through Spirit of Justice, and both of those were really good too. I wrote a post after finishing Spirit of Justice as well (I made a tier list).
Hades is a really good game. I know at this point it’s been over-hyped up by literally everyone, but it’s still a really good game and a very worthy personal #1 Game of the Year.
It was just so addicting to play. I’m usually not super into rogue-lites because they tend to feel repetitive after a while, but even when I felt like Hades started feeling repetitive, I still kept playing. There was a very strong “just one more run” mood.
The combat and gameplay are just so smooth and fun, and there was a fair amount of variety in weapons and in boons/power-ups. Hades also makes dying not feel as bad as dying in other rogue-lites because it basically builds its entire concept around death and retrying. I think the plot is lighter than I thought it would be but oh my god there is so much dialogue and characterization. I still have unique dialogue from some of the members of the House of Hades somehow after 100+ hours of the game.
Also, the characters were very fangirl worthy, and that’s what I’m best at around here.
It’s one of very few games in which I decided to go and get all the achievements (and wrote about that here). It was difficult but never felt entirely impossible.
Honorable Mention. Genshin Impact
Okay I feel personally obligated to put Genshin Impact on this list because I have dumped an insane amount of hours into this stupid game, like I’m legitimately glad that the game isn’t launched through Steam because I really don’t want to see how much time I’ve spent.
The reason I put it in honorable is because the game can’t really be completed? Every 40 days, a new update patch drops that adds new characters/events/quests/explorable areas/plot/a lot of stuff. I think this would be considered a “live service” game? This is my first time playing a continually playable game like this since MapleStory back in middle school. It’s also likewise become a very social experience because I have a bunch of friends that play too.
Anyway, I dove deep into the rabbit hole and I don’t regret it and I still think it’s a good game despite all it’s problems. I, like many, jumped into it to scratch the Breath of the Wild itch, and I think it succeeded in that, but that’s only one of many parts of the game. This is also my first foray into the concept of “theorycrafting” (which is a word I actually had to look up because I’d never heard of it before).
Even though I foresee myself playing it a lot and enjoying it in 2022, this is the only year I’ll put it in a list since this is the year I started playing. That’s why I’m including it here at least once.