Since we're a little more than halfway thru the year, what are your favorite games of 2021 so far?

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MocBucket62

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As the title implies, we've reached mid July already and I'm asking the community what their favorites video games of 2021 are right now? If you haven't played many 2021 games or have spent your time playing older games this year, you are welcome to mention what those games are here on this thread if your favorite game of 2021 is something that released from previous years.

For me, my personal GOTY is Chicory: A Colorful Tale. This game was an instant "SIGN ME UP" deal when I learned that this game was being designed by Wandersong developer Greg Lobanov as well as having music composed by Lena Raine (the game's Soundtrack is phenomenal btw). But when playing the game, I got an incredibly charming Zelda-style adventure where I got to color in and paint a monochromatic world to my liking. Chicory is a game where it encourages you to be creative with the paint mechanic as you can use a joystick or a mouse on PC to color in multiple black and white screens, which were once full of color by the titular character/brush wielder Chicory until one day the colors vanish. There's also plenty of clever puzzles that implement the magic paint brush in ingenious ways while also not being too overtly difficult. There's also PLENTY of content in the game as you will find yourself busy doing other side quests from taking art classes where you draw your interpretations on certain subjects to delivering mail to Picnic Province's vivid cast of NPC's and learn more about them. Chicory also has a story that frankly got me emotional invested as it tackles topics such as self-doubt and imposter syndrome and does it in a genuine manner without being too preachy. I honestly don't know if another game will overtake Chicory for GOTY this year.

However, I do want to give a few more shoutouts to a few other games I really enjoyed. I have spent a good chunk of the year playing the Hitman World of Assassination Trilogy. I got to play all the maps in Hitman 1 and most of the Hitman 2 maps and it was a blast finding different ways to eliminate these cruel targets whether it be thru the story missions or of my own doing. I had spent time with the starter pack of Hitman 3 this year, but finally got the whole package on sale this year and it has been really fun thinking of different traps or set ups to get my targets where I want them and take them out. I'm a sucker for getting them with non-lethal items such as newspapers and clothing irons and hope that those attacks lead to a death. If not I just finish them off.

New Pokémon Snap was a delightful time too. I never played the original Pokémon Snap on N64 so I came into this experience blind of the Snap experience. But what I got was an enjoyable and soothing experience taking pictures of different Pokemon out in the wild and trying to get them to act irregularly in order to get those elusive 4 star pics. Also I just really like the selection of Pokemon they brought to this game from older classics like Blastoise, Onyx and Furret to newer gems like Crabrawler and Toucannon. No Arcanine though, sadly.

And lastly, Dark Side of the Moon. Its technically not much of a "game" per say as its gameplay loop is simply going to different areas, click an item in your inventory in hope that it triggers a scene, replying back to other characters and 1 late game puzzle. But if you want some amazing FMV acting from the likes of Rupert Booth and Anarosa Butler of Contradiction fame, look no further than Dark Side of the Moon. The story definitely goes some places but it does so in a crazy and exciting way. Not to mention this game has 5 different endings for a game that's 2 hours long, so its not like its a huge grind to see what all the endings are.

Anyways, go on with your picks for favorite games of 2021 thus far, GB community.

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fisk0

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#2 fisk0  Moderator  Online

I've only played two 2021 releases so far, Imagine Earth (a bit of a Off-World Trading Company meets Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri-lite, real time planetary colonization and company management game with a half-implemented environmental simulation going on) and Eastern Exorcist (a Chinese sidescrolling soulslike with a pretty good 2.5D/2D-on-3D-backgrounds aesthetic going on), enjoying both, though both are pretty flawed, but I'm probably leaning towards Imagine Earth being my favorite of the two.

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brian_

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Not a whole lot going on for me in the first half of the year. There's a couple things I haven't gotten around to yet, like Chicory and RE 8, that I expect would go pretty high up on my list, but as for stuff I've played so far, The Wild at Heart is at the top. It's just a nice indie take on Pikmin, and I had a pretty fun time with that, even as someone that wasn't especially into Pikmin.

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Nodima

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I almost always wind up dropping MLB The Show in the middle of my favorites list out of deference to the fact it's hugely iterative, but this year's Diamond Dynasty content has been so consistent, player-friendly and bountiful that I'm beginning to wonder if this is the year I just outright call the game I put 800-1,100 hours into year in and year out is also the best game I played. This game has found such a perfect balance of putting the carrot on the stick but not at all leaning into the capital side of it - I am completing every task and collecting damn near every card other than the ones locked behind a skill wall I'll never surmount for the first time in four years of heavy DD play. It's amazing that a game designed around a microtransaction system is also so completely disinterested in incentivizing that market over just straight up playing the game in any way.

Oh, and the game plays really well, too. The expansion onto XBox has also diluted the playing field in, I think, a very positive way, as the people who are unholy demons at this game are further sequestered in their gilded towers but there are also many more easy wins out there for the mid-level guys like me!

I've only played one other game that came out this year this year, and even that game technically came out last year: Disco Elysium: The Final Cut. I wrote about this quite a lot in the first couple weeks the game was out because it truly ran like hot trash on PS4, but after six or seven patches the game pretty much worked as intended and last I touched it seemed to be totally pristine. There's a world where I got totally obsessed with this game and cruised through it in a matter of days, unfortunately the combination of way too many daily sports and news podcasts in the rotation right now and that damned carrot on the stick over in baseball land means I only get in a couple hours with this game every few weeks. I'm near the end of the third day and have really, really enjoyed what I've seen so far, it just requires a level of attention I'm usually not ready to offer.

Otherwise, my pre-The Show game list included Shadow of War, which was absolutely playable until the siege stuff really started to open up and I realized how vapid the whole thing felt to me. I also played Injustice 2 for the story, which didn't exactly have the charm of the first game but made up for it by staring Justice League's convoluted narrative right in the face and making it its bitch, John Romero style. I also played Burly Men at Sea which, eh. Seemed like an iPad game. I also played Kentucky Route Zero TV Edition, most of it in a single sitting but then the final chapter about a month later; I can see why fans of that game felt a little flat by the time it was over, and I kind of wonder if I should have just gotten right to Chapter V so I felt a little more...present in it? Lastly, I played the last 70 hours of Yakuza Zero and all of Nier: Automata in the early winter of 2021, which between those and 13 Sentinels/Genshin Impact last year have me frequently hovering over Persona 5 and Scarlet Nexus in the PS Store these days...

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Efesell

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#5 Efesell  Online

Scarlet Nexus is real high up there for me.

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chaser324

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#6  Edited By chaser324  Moderator

I haven't played some of the heavy hitters yet like RE8 or Ratchet & Clank, but there are at least a few standouts that I know will by on my list at the end of the year.

Astalon: Tears of the Earth really clicked with me. I'll give any decent "search action" game aka Metroidvania a shot, and this is a very good one with the additional hook of roguelite elements, switching between multiple characters, and some surprisingly decent writing.

Wildermyth also did a great job of pulling me in. No video game can ever truly recreate the endless possibilities of an actual tabletop session, but this game does a great job at giving you a similar vibe. You really grow to love every character in your randomly generated party as they go through their own unique set of experiences over the course of the adventure, and seeing your legacy heroes in successive campaigns feels great.

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FacelessVixen

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The Steam version of Nioh 2.

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Yee1992

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Returnal

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut

Ratchet and Clank

Hitman 3

RE8

Control Ultimate Edition

Mario Golf

Knockout City

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MeierTheRed

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Monster Hunter Rise and Hitman 3 are my top picks.

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PeezMachine

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#10 PeezMachine  Online

Haven't played a ton of 2021 releases, but Griftlands sits easily atop the list.

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Ramone

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From this year I've played Hitman 3, Griftlands, RE8, Loop Hero and Valheim.

I'd probably go with RE8 as my favourite of those so far.

Need to get round to Chicory and Wildermyth soon.

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monkeyking1969

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I have not played anything new this year, ist all been backlog.

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eccentrix

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I've been playing Phantom Abyss every day since I got it. I never play games that consistently and the experience has only gotten better as I've played more, even without any updates yet in its Early Access.

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hermes

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Chicory is probably the closest to a goty I could name right now.

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snaketelegraph

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I've been backlogging pretty hard this year so far and none of the new releases I have played have done much for me other than Gnosia. It's a scifi werewolf style game that leans more space opera than most things out there these days, with a clever story to explain the looping and some really fun characters. Even with a couple of upcoming games I'm stoked for I think it'll be a contender for my top 10.

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deckard

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Since I've literally played one new game so far this year, I guess Resident Evil Village is GOTY!

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JD-D2

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#19  Edited By JD-D2

Got a few potentially off-beat ones:

Bowser’s Fury: it’s a joy and throws out good idea after good idea for 4 hours.

Olija: unusually strong world-building and atmosphere for a 2D action platformer.

Clap Hanz Golf: it’s a good Hot Shots Golf! on my phone!

What the Dub?: the best Jackbox game and it’s not even made by Jackbox.

The Longest Road on Earth: deeply pretentious but equally beautiful narrative game that doesn’t compromise.

I need to play a ton more, including many games mentioned above. Others I‘m liking but still working my way through include Dorfromantik, Returnal, and It Takes Two.

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SethMode

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I'm going to do that thing where I use a lot of 2020 games, because so far 2021 has mostly been catching up on those (particularly on PS4, since my the HDMI port on my Xbox decided to bite the dust). I did start Resident Evil 8 (but on Xbox, so didn't get to finish it), love Griftlands (but have been playing since last year in EA), and love Disco Elysium (but played the original game). Actually, one game that I did play that I was SUPER pleasantly surprised by was Immortals: Fenix Rising! I really enjoyed the look, and the game, while not as good as BOTW, did do a lot of things better than BOTW.

As for my catch up list, my favorites have been:
Yakuza 0
Yakuza Kiwami
Yakuza Kiwami 2
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
And likely my GOTY so far even though I'm only in the 3rd area: Nioh 2.

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infantpipoc

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Hitman 3 and Mass Effect Legendary Edition.

Combine the former's sneaky spy simulator and the latter's death commando tours of duty, it's basically the James Bond experience.

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sparky_buzzsaw

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It was released at the tail end of last year but I'm counting it anyways. Right now, that's Sakuna. I liked the art style in previews and thought it sounded interesting, but I wasn't expecting to be this hooked on a rice growing simulator (with grindy action elements). It's a fantastic, original game and I wish more people got eyes on it.

A very close runner-up is Disgaea 6. Don't like the art style as much as in previous games and I think it might be a little too streamlined, as odd as that sounds, but it's still a really fun game with a huge amount of stuff to do.

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LonelySpacePanda

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Returnal: One of the most awe-inspiring game experiences I've had in some time. I was totally obsessed for a week or two. I don't see anything else topping it this year, unless Psychonauts 2 or Dying Light 2 really deliver.

Cybershadow: Every year seems to have a game like this where it's a simple, well done indie action game that you can zone out to for a couple days. Nothing new but very well done.

Griftlands: I had hoped this would have a Hades effect given it was also early access on Epic. It's a lot of fun as it combines Slay the Spire with Fallout. It's really neat how you can cross someone and later on in the run they may show up and get payback when you least expect it.

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DoctorFaust

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tatsuyarr

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Capcom has probably become my favourite publisher/developer because my list, for now, includes Monster Hunter Rise, Resident Evil Village, and Monster Hunter Stories 2 (not finished but I'm loving every minute of it). I can't get enough of their art style and character design.

A nice surprise is Root Film from Kadokawa, I am usually bored by visual novels but it was very interesting.

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styx971

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#26  Edited By styx971

off the top of my head i've only played a couple new releases this year . ratchet and clank and loop hero. i got gamefly to play R&C and i'm happy i did cause while good that feels more like a $40 game imo. and loop hero i loved. the gameplay while minimal had a good depth to it and the music was great to the point it was Not a podcast game.

this is excluding early access stuff.

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mackdack

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@ramone: Loop Hero was this year!!??? Wow...I also thought a similar thing about RE8.

This year feels like it doesn't exist.

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frustratedlnc

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Honestly, this year has bummed me out videogame-wise. I'm looking at 2021 as one of the top two worst years for my personal gaming taste (2014 was up there). I finished Village and Ratchet and Clank without much enthusiasm. I did spend a hot second with Griftlands but was done with it when I finished the first storyline. Death's Door seems cute and Imma check that out next.

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mellotronrules

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#29  Edited By mellotronrules

Wildermyth is super rad! but having completed 2/5 of the campaigns...i feel like i might have seen all the game has to offer (though i could be totally off base there).

regardless, certainly worth your money if you like turn-based strategy with the 'x-com' esque aspect of curating a grizzled party of characters that change and evolve over time.

...and that is the only title i've played this year that also was released in 2021.

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cikame

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Not sure i've played any 2021 games yet, this was the year that i discovered how good WRC8 is due to a sale, best rally game since Dirt 3, but for the most part i've been playing Snowrunner since it was released on Steam. I LOVE Spintires and Snowrunner is basically more of the same, it's a bit faster with less extremely boggy terrain (so far), but with a hell of a lot more content in every area, 118 hours in and i'm probably around half way through the base content.
I've played some other games, but those are the two i remember.