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GOTY 2021

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  • Every time a new fighting game comes out I buy it, hoping that'll be the game I really click with. Most of the time, I bounce off them quickly, usually because the combos (aka the cool stuff in fighting games) are too difficult for me to perform.

    At this point I have put over 120 hours combined into Strive between the PS5 and PC version. Strive finally gave me what I've wanted out of a fighting game for so long, and most of it comes down to the Roman Cancel system. With one button you can turn any stray hit into a full combo if you have meter. This means even people like me who are bad at the mechanical part of a fighting game can pull off good damage combos. This opened the door for me to learn how to really play the game. For the first time in my life with a fighting game I was able to stick with one character and really learn how best to play him. I even went so far as paying fighting game legend Justin Wong to coach me. And all of that effort was rewarded with what was easily the most powerful moment in games for me this year, the first time I hit Celestial.

    Celestial is the top rank you can earn in the ranked tower mode in Strive's online matchmaking system. You climb up 10 levels of a tower, and once you hit floor 10 you start playing for a spot in Celestial. The first time I made Celestial was one of the happiest moments of the year for me. It felt like all the effort and time I put in grinding Strive was worth it. I was absolutely ecstatic when I made Celestial, I have never hit the top rank of any ranked online game before.

    And I did it all with my boy Ky Kiske. He's been my main since day 1, almost all of those 120 hours have been spent playing Ky. So far in Strive he's never been a high tier character, but he's easily my favorite.

    I love Strive so much, it is easily the most important game of 2021. I believe I will keep playing it into 2022 as well.

  • Halo is great again!

    It feels so amazing to be able to type that, Halo has been good for a while, but 343 finally nailed it with Infinite. The multiplayer portion of Infinite is the best Halo has been since 3. I adore it, they managed to get perfectly right how everything feels in Infinite's multiplayer. The BR feels great, and honestly, that's all you need to sell me on a new Halo game. But 343 didn't stop there, they also added a bunch of cool new stuff to spice up the sandbox. Everyone loves the grapple hook, for good reason. All the equipment is very fun, adding great variety to each match. The multiplayer in Infinite is just so much fun, I hope to be playing it for a long time.

    The campaign was also very enjoyable, I think it gets a little samey by the time it's over, but using that grappling hook to zoom around that pseudo open world. The story also feels like a reset, with everything from 5 being wrapped up by the time Infinite begins. The campaign was very fun though, well worth playing through.

  • Rift Apart is a PS5 showstopper, it feels like the first big hurrah for the new generation of consoles. I loved Rift Apart so much. I've always been a fan of the Ratchet series, and this might be my favorite one. Rift Apart looks just jaw droppingly incredible. The story it tells is heartwarming and fun. The action is consistently enjoyable the whole way through. I've loved the Ratchet series since the PS2, and I'm so happy that they still make them.

    Rift Apart might be the most straight up fun I had playing a game this year. It was a blast all the way through.

  • The Life is Strange franchise always appears on my lists, every time they put one out, and True Colors is no different. They made another great story based adventure, it is heartwarming and heartbreaking. Honestly, there's one thing I want to talk about in this text, the relationship between Alex and Steph.

    Steph is so awesome in this game, she is one of my favorite characters of the year for sure. Seeing their relationship develop over the course of the five episodes was so important for me. There's a moment where Steph and Alex reveal their feelings for each other that is so well done, I had tears running down my face, it is so touching and uses the game mechanics to reveal something about the characters in that moment!

    Just incredible, I loved this game a lot.

  • Resident Evil Village feels like a direct sequel to Resident Evil 4. RE:7 is slower and more focused on maintaining a very tense tone, much like the older RE games (1-3). Village takes much more after RE:4, it's much more of an action/shooter than a survival horror game. RE:4 is one of my favorite games of all time, so I was primed to love this as well, it did not disappoint.

    RE: Village has an unforgettable setting and cast of characters, and it was super fun for the whole playthrough.

  • What a surprise!

    This game came out of nowhere and somehow landed in the 6th spot on my list. Like everyone else, I thought Guardians looked pretty mediocre based on what they showed pre-release, but boy was everyone wrong. Guardians feels almost like a Mass Effect game at times. You get to spend time talking to members of the crew on Star-Lord's ship, which lead me to learning a lot more about these characters than I knew from just the movies.

    There's one reason this game got this high on my list though, and that is the massive amount of heart this game has. The storytelling in this game is top-tier, from the voice acting to the writing, Guardians is clearly the work of people at the top of their game. There are moments in this game, specifically with Drax and another character named Nikki, that I will always remember. I never would've guessed a Guardians of the Galaxy game would be so focused on grief, and loss, and the ways in which found family can help someone deal with those emotions.

    Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy really surprised me this year, I had to knock something off this list to make a spot for it.