The time has come! After a long and arduous year, it’s time to look back on some of my favourite games I played in 2021. My last blog post served as a bit of a run up, but we’re here now! Strap yourselves in because here are my favourite games I played in 2021! Keep in mind, these are not games that released in 2021, but I just so happened to play them this year.
Shantae & The Pirate’s Curse
The Shantae series is one that’s been quietly chugging along since the late 90s, and its growth in popularity has been slow but steady. While it debuted as a late release in the Game Boy Color’s lifecycle, the series has gained more traction as the newer releases have expanded onto major home consoles.
Shantae & The Pirate’s Curse is what I consider the pinnacle of the series (from those I have played) due to how well rounded it is as an experience. It has as fun a story as you could ask from a 2D Metroidvania, its platforming/puzzle gameplay remains the perfect amount of challenging, and it looks gorgeous too, despite releasing in 2014. As it retains the original’s gorgeous pixel sprite art style, as opposed to the newer games cleaner, sharper, vector art.
They look nice too, but there’s just something about next level pixel art that I’m a sucker for. Also, you play as a genie and whip people with your hair. What’s not to like?
The original Bayonetta left me with a lot of mixed emotions. I think I enjoyed Bayonetta as a character more than I enjoyed playing the actual game.
So approaching the second instalment cautiously, I was blown away due to my low expectations. The game looks incredible, the story had characters and stakes that I actually cared about this time around, and something just clicked for me regarding the combat. The sole thing that I couldn’t get my head around that stopped me from fully embracing Bayonetta the first time around.
Racking up massive combos makes you feel cool, and that’s a feeling helped by the fact this game just oozes style. One second you’re strolling through gorgeous Italian inspired markets alongside glistening canals, the next you’re breakdancing in Hell as you shoot demons with guns attached to your high heels. Greatest game of all time? Probably.
A Hat In Time
Way back in 2017, two 3D platformers released around the same time and I had a decision to make.Do I buy either Super Mario Odyssey, or A Hat In Time? I went with the former, and after finally playing A Hat In Time earlier this year, I realise I had made the wrong choice.
I like Odyssey fine, but A Hat In Time just has so much personality it’s impossible to hate. Playing as Hat Kid, you travel in your spaceship (that I can’t help but think resembles a McDonalds’ playground) to different planets helping the citizens with their dilemmas. As you’re trying to acquire the scattered Time Pieces to help power your ship to get you back to Earth!
These hijinks might include you trying to squash the beef between two rival film directors vying for an award, or helping the cat yakuza aka Nyakuza in a bustling metro. It’s all hilarious stuff, but the platforming is certainly no joke.
Despite being a Kickstarter game, A Hat In Time boasts a level of polish that rivals that of AA developers. It controls like a dream. An experience made even better as it looks gorgeous on PC, has such a fun and bubbly soundtrack, and writing that will leave you with a big stupid grin on your face.
Sorry Mario, but my heart has been won by another hat wearing, backflipping do-gooder.
Life Is Strange: Before The Storm
From what I heard about the original Life Is Strange, it sounded like the kind of game I would hate. Edgy teens, twee and quipping writing, just thinking about it would make my skin crawl. It looked like “I’m Not Like Other Girls: The Game” and I wanted to stay as far away from it as possible.
However, upon hearing that a prequel game would be released by a different studio and thus, a different writing team, I decided to give it a chance. And what do you know; I ended up really enjoying it!
I’m pretty hit or miss on narrative choice based games, but this one just did it for me because of how relatable it was. Bored teenagers growing up in an otherwise unremarkable town, a lot of this game was sincere and human.
It also felt like my choices really mattered and impacted the overall narrative, and there were a few major decisions where I had to put down the controller for a few minutes and mull it over, because of how difficult they were.
If you think you’re too cool to play something like this, please give it a chance! You might just end up really caring about these awful, edgy teens.
Deadly Premonition: Origins
Every fibre of my being is telling me to dunk on Deadly Premonition: Origins. It’s so jank. It’s so busted, so camp. It feels like it’s barely holding together. Not even with tape. We’re talking clag.
However it’s so earnest in its small town supernatural mystery that I can’t help but adore it. It’s just so wonderfully weird. You’d think an old school “whodunit” would’ve lost its edge by now, but it was my investment in this very question that let me overlook all its ugly flaws. Its characters and story constantly beckoned me to keep steamrolling ahead. And I legitimately can’t tell if its writing is abhorrently awful or absolutely brilliant. I think it swings between the two at will.
Now it does borrow a lot from the television series ‘Twin Peaks’, but it does enough to separate itself from every other video game. Could you name another that has an adult man protagonist that talks to an imaginary friend? Who gathers clues from staring into their coffee? I think not!
So, what did you think of my favourite games I played in 2021? A snazzy list of games, eh?
If you think I missed an absolute classic from this year, be sure to let me know in the comment section below! Otherwise, feel free to check out some of our other gaming blog posts here, or check out some of our other content over on our YouTube Channel.
Happy Holidays everyone!