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Steve Kim's Top 5 Games Of 2021

Steve Kim breaks down a year of guilt-free gaming.

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2021 was a hell of a year for me. My life went through innumerable changes and challenges; some good, some bad. One of the good ones was a return to guilt-free gaming. Just being able to enjoy a hobby without feeling bad about it is a powerful and healthy thing and what a great year it’s been for games. Here are the top 5 games, in no particular order, that I played in 2021.

Metroid Dread

Just when I thought I was done with Castletroid games, Nintendo goes and releases this banger. Nintendo is infamous for letting their IPs languish and wither away and Metroid is definitely one of the big ones fans have wanted a return from. And we got it. I had a great time with Metroid’s first person Retro games but it was great to see them take another crack at 2D and succeed. Thoroughly enjoyed playing this game from start to finish. Nintendo is really good at hiding the hardware limitations of the Switch and delivering something that just feels right. Hoping they see the positive reception of this game and push the series further in Samus’ next outing.

Demon’s Souls

I can not believe… I finished… a souls game. I’ve tried playing pretty much every entry in this series, on every platform they’ve been released on, and have never got further than a few hours in before turning them off. This time around though, FAQ in hand, I plowed through the entire game and was left wanting more. The graphical overhaul definitely helped but I think the REAL difference was the load times. They’re non-existent. I die, and I’m back to playing within seconds. Not having to spend an eternity loading between failures was what kept me firmly in the gameplay loop. Demon’s Souls is good. It’s so damn good. I can’t wait till they update some of the other games to run on current gen systems with current gen loads. I know I’m incredibly late to the party but I’m here now and this game rocked so hard I’m looking forward to Elden Ring.

Hitman 3

Another series I was never able to appreciate until this year. I always respected the concept behind the recent Hitman games but bounced completely off them every time I tried to play. I think it was my inability to wrap my head around the stiff feeling controls and lack of focused direction. I’m the type of gamer that when given too many options, chooses not to do anything at all. I wouldn’t say I was driven by the story but the scenarios Agent 47 was put into were more motivating than I remember in past games I’ve tried. Once I got into the flow of the clockwork worlds, I was hooked. I get it now. Hitman is good and fucking hilarious.

Resident Evil Village

A year of surprises. I picked this game up expecting to play it for a bit before moving on but ended up binging it from start to finish. It felt like the perfect mix of action, puzzle, and bonkers ass story with callbacks to greater Resident Evil lore without oversaturating it to the point of feeling like blatant fanservice. It constantly felt like something new was going on and threw you at a fun set of bosses to fight. I’m back on board and looking forward to where the series goes next.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale

A perfect game in so many ways for where I was in my life. My daughter loves to play games with me but since she’s 5 it’s difficult to find games she can have agency in without being overly complicated or difficult. The co-op mode in this game was perfect for her because she constantly had the ability to paint the world as we progressed through the story. And what a fantastic story it tells. There isn’t any voice acting so that job fell on me and I did my best to give each character a unique voice as we spoke to everyone we came across. Her favorite character was Chicory (of course) with mom and dad a close second. Every time we’d see a phone booth, she’d have me pick up and call for help. The look of the game is bright and colorful (once you paint it in) and the music is lovely and perfect. Easily one of the best games I played this year.