Games I Finished in 2021

I feel like this might be a big backlog year for me, we'll see. I'm not terribly enthused about the new consoles at the moment, and there aren't a lot of new games I'm truly looking forward to in 2021 besides Ys IX and Shin Megami Tensei V. (But as always, I'm sure some surprise games will catch my eye here and there).

List items

  • This game is pretty neat! It's like they made a full 3d platformer out of Super Monkey Ball, but also what if you could turn into some cool golems as well?

  • This puzzle game with a Game Boy aesthetic is deceptively difficult, and I ended up really enjoying it. It requires you to really think a few steps ahead with regards to your routing, as you basically have to pick up numbers from the level to give yourself additional moves. The game slowly stacks up extra wrinkles on this premise and gets pretty complex by the end.

  • This is a delightfully goofy RPG about a theme park where you are an employee that guides customers on quests and dungeon crawls. From that premise, the story goes to some weird and interesting places. There's a lot of really funny writing and the game strikes a very unique tone. The battle system is interesting as well, it feels like a mix of like Final Fantasy 12 and a Grandia game; your party members will act on their own, but as the theme park employee, you can make suggestions to them as well every so often. It's a lot of watching meters and trying to time everything out perfectly, even with indirect control. It ended up being more engaging than I thought. My only big complaint is the gameplay is pretty repetitive, you just run dungeons over and over. This was a game I basically would throw on for an hour at a time over the course of months, and just finally finished it (it's fairly long, took me about 50 hours).

  • A truly delightful, funny, and clever (non-)game - even heartfelt at times. There were more interesting ideas in this 5 hour game than most 50 hour games. It truly goes some places, both mechanically and narratively.

  • I saw some folks mention this on their 2020 lists, it was 45 minutes well spent. Basically Sokoban crossed with a story about recruiting a harem of demons, all with a bumpin' soundtrack. It's very fun and tongue in cheek. Well worth the time to play (it's free on Steam!)

  • A pretty plain looking tower defense game with a LOT of writing, none of it that I found that interesting. But the actual mechanics of the game are well-thought out, and kept me playing until the end. It's satisfying to get a perfect layout of your units setup, crank the game speed to 16x, and watch your engine of destruction power through a level in like 30 seconds.

  • Apparently this is the year of playing games where your avatar is a ball rolling around (see item #1, Skully). The game is very cute, but gets shockingly hard by the end, with some tricky platforming that puts your mobility to the test.

    I got a bit obsessed with beating the speedrun times for each level as well, they are no joke. A lot of the levels are made up of groups of disparate platforms, and some of the speedruns require you to do things like huge level skips by making wild jumps, death warping, and really paying attention to the cycle times of moving platforms and such.

  • This licensed platformer for the SNES is not a good game, but I did waste 45 minutes or so of my life beating it. I could not tell you why.

  • I'm a sucker for the LEGO games, this is probably one of the top-tier ones though. The puzzles/levels are well designed, and there are a lot of nice dialog cues between the family to help you understand your goals. All the superpowers lead to some fun and unique gameplay mechanics and teamups as well. As a bonus, I've now basically seen the second Incredibles movie too!

  • Really enjoying this game, there's a lot of fun characters to play as and the narrative focus is nice to see in a Musou game for once (see also: Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada). I've put a good 40 hours or so into it, but now a bunch of post-game stuff has opened up, so continuing to play :)

  • I don't care for superhero stuff all that much, but I have a fondness for the first Ultimate Alliance game, as well as X-Men Legends. I ended up being more into this game than I expected, it is surprisingly long and has a dizzying array of characters to play as.

  • I think this game got a bad rap, it does an admirable job of converting Pikmin into a 2D platformer (we call that reverse Metroid Priming). The framerate is a bit chunky on an OG 3DS (even for someone like me who is normally not all that bothered by it), but I still enjoyed the game quite a bit. It still has a lot of the great writing in the item/enemy descriptions that is a hallmark of the series, and it actually uses amiibo to great effect as well (even less utilized ones), and gives them all funny descriptions when converting them into collectible items in-game.

  • I thought this was a less traditional Kirby game like Mass Attack, but it's very back to basics with the added mechanic of thieving mice trying to steal your stuff. Fun!

  • I've been playing this game daily for months now, figure it deserves a spot on the list. It's been my chill out game for quite a bit and have finished most of the in-game challenges, but they patched in a daily run that randomizes parts of the courses, which is really neat and has given this game legs for me.

  • Just a fun, lighthearted brawler with a very pretty color palette. It also takes the scoring system of the dev's last game (Graceful Explosion Machine, which was a shmup) and applies to a completely different genre, which is novel. Sorta reminds me of the game The Club, which I have an unexplained affection for.

  • I like the concept of this game (sorta Hotline Miami-esque 1 hit kills, and you can basically use any object to attack), but it was a real slog to get through, really had to force myself to finish it. The game is just too loose and imprecise and ends up being more frustrating than fun a lot of the time. I did like the writing though!

  • This is a deceptively well-designed and deep platformer/puzzle game/Metroidvania, especially based on its simple looks. I was not prepared for how expansive and well-designed the game is, honestly. Every time you get a new upgrade, it feels like you are breaking the game in some essential way, but in actuality it is designed for you to utilize these very powerful tools.

  • Been on a shmup kick these past few weeks; this game is of the horizontally scrolling variety, and just the right amount of challenge (the dynamic ranking/difficulty system certainly helps with that). It has a decent amount of replay-ability between having to unlock most of the stages and a wide variety of interesting challenges to tackle.

  • Really enjoyed this chill, atmospheric little game, finished it in like 2 sittings. It combines the vibe of just traveling along with the occasional frantic nature of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, running around your huge vehicle to manually operate all the machinery. You also get some quaint little puzzles and nice set pieces dotted throughout the game's runtime as well.

  • Alex has talked about this game quite a bit, I also ended up liking it. It is a neat deconstruction of a brawler morphed into a quasi-turn based game - clever idea, fun to play, and well-executed. There's also a significant amount of pretty funny and incisive writing focused on making fun of the over-privileged and topics like exposing the issues of the gig economy. I was mainly bummed that I got to the end and was greeted with: "episode 2 coming in 2020!!!"

  • I thought this game improved on its predecessor across the board (and that game was already pretty great). 100 percent-ed this bad boy :)

  • I was morbidly curious about this obscure PS2 game based on a graphic novel that inexplicably got a remake. I played through the 10-hour or so campaign and had a decent time; it is definitely of its era, but actually has some interesting mechanics and tools to play with (like your multi-use gun that you can turn into a turret anytime and also has a laughably OP sniper rifle functionality).

  • This is a chill pleasant little game that is part adventure game / part 3D platformer / part rhythm game. It has nice music, nice animated cutscenes, and just an all around pleasant demeanor. I wish there was more of the rhythm game stuff, there's just 5 boss battles that use that mechanic, but they are neat.

  • Been going down the ol' shmup hole lately, I'm glad M2 keeps putting out perfectly emulated modern versions of old shmups. This one is really great, just the right amount of challenge, great soundtrack, an interesting gameplay hook, and a well designed practice system.

  • This game knocked my socks off, there is way more to it than just being a hard 2D platformer. It truly goes some places, both narratively & mechanically, all while telling a heartfelt story of an naive robot developing a sense of self while exploring the world of humans.

  • This is like a poor man's Assault Suit Leynos.

  • This game really goes for it, and I very much appreciated it.

  • Really ended up enjoying this one. Cool story, cool character designs, cool mobility abilities. My only complaint is that the soundtrack was not nearly as memorable as Ys 8.

  • I ended up liking this quite a bit! The trippy visuals do a good job of conveying being inside someone's mind. The music is great, and there is some inspired voice acting that it seems like people were having fun with. The puzzles were just challenging enough, although I wish the combat was more than just mashing attack.

  • A quite fun, challenging platformer with cool sneezing mechanics.

  • Love the vibes of this game, but I wish the puzzles were more engaging. They always felt very passive. I actually really liked most of the chase sequences, surprisingly!

  • Was inspired to play a bunch of the light gun games on the PS3 (there is a surprisingly robust library, makes sense in terms of supporting the Move), and decided to pick this up before the PSN store goes kaput. Apparently this is the only home port of this game from the arcade, sad that it will be disappearing :(

  • Only took me 13 years to clear this from my backlog, haha. Decided to revisit this game, it is surprisingly clever and fun and chill. Finished up all the levels this time around, and even created a few myself (forgot this even had a level creator!).

  • I had a surprisingly good time with this game! Nice art style, fun puzzles, fun mobility abilities and combat. I also appreciated it was on the shorter side (for a Ubisoft open world game).

  • Clever bit of swapping mechanics, game is a bit short though.

  • Love my bullet hell games to also be moody and depressing. In all seriousness, I enjoyed this game - definitely challenging, but there's a decent amount to do and explore between fights (which is nice when you get frustrated, haha).

  • This is an okay (if not absurdly short, like 2 hours?) little puzzle game. I liked the art style quite a bit, which is what drew me to it, but other than that, it just feels like a smattering of random puzzles thrown together with some loose abstraction imagery tying them together.

  • I REALLLLLLY liked this game, and sadly, it seems like no one has played it. (Trying to 100% this has been a pain, there is basically no help online available, feels like 1998 all over again). The core mechanics of the game are genuinely unique, it is weird and gross and fun, and each world of the game layers even more interesting mechanics onto the proceedings. I might write up something on this game, I feel like more people should check it out.

  • Chill, beautiful ocean exploring with a nice soundtrack. *thumbs up*

  • I originally bounced off this game, but decided to give it another shot years later. A lot of the design is messy and maybe a bit overcomplicated, but there is still a lot to enjoy about the game once you wrap your head around the mechanics. And it really is a great homage to the Super Sentai aesthetic that it clearly has great reverence for. (Also, it is weirdly long for a Platinum action game, like 25 hours or so? To be fair, there are a lot of cutscenes, but I like the writing and voice acting)

  • Pretty cool DOOM-like!

  • I was surprised to learn there was a new Amanita Design game! This one feels like a more "traditional" game than their other efforts; it's a more focused puzzle-platformer with neat mechanics. Still has trademark visual style and cool sound work of their game. Liked it a lot!

  • My new favorite shmup, this game rules.

  • Never realized until playing through it that this game is just fancy Frogger. I always thought it was a 3D mascot platformer of some sort!

  • I didn't really love the perspective change and emphasis on mashy combat in this one. XXL 2 was more fun.

  • This game was real up and down. Some cool levels, but also weird buginess and frustrating sections.

  • Played through that Bowser's Fury expansion on Switch, very cool! Hope they make a whole new game in that style. A lot of very good music tracks as well!

  • Broke out my Wii U to finally play through this weird expansion/side game. It gets surprisingly hard by the end, but I liked the more fast-paced levels (since you only ever have 100 seconds!). It also made going back to collect the star coins more enjoyable since the levels are shorter across the board.

  • This game has more interesting gameplay mechanics (including a pre-Souls Souls-esque risk/reward system) than I expected. Your characters are surprisingly mobile, with jetpacks that feel good to use, and the backtracking is made more fun by the spaceship you are on constantly transforming into different configurations that change the layout of the rooms dramatically.

    On the negative side, all the cool interesting stuff is almost completely undone by how horrendous some of the fixed camera angles are. The one saving grace is that you can go into first-person to look around and shoot, which definitely came in handy.

  • Yet another weird and interesting OG Xbox game. The first-person melee combat is not as in-depth as something like Zeno Clash, but still pretty fun. And it actually sets up a pretty interesting little sci-fi mystery that keeps you hooked and is explained by the end. There were definitely some frustrating sections where I was dying and retrying a bunch, but I liked the game enough to power through.

  • Parts of the game in the car: good. Parts of the game not in the car: ...not as good. The Rock doing dumb quips and doing wrestling moves on them: good.

  • Really enjoyed all the variation of modes in this game, really fun!

  • This game knows what it wants to be - classic styled 2D platformer a la DKC with an emphasis on speedrunning - and is very successful at executing on it. Very pretty game as well, with great pixel art. Gladly 100%-ed this one :)