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GOTY 2021

2021 was so bizarre I'm pretty much frozen here trying to write an introduction.

After 12 1/2 years with my wife we divorced in January. That pretty much defined my entire year. I was officially reclassified as a teleworker at work so I bailed out of the Twin Cities (screw that place) and spent much of the year traveling around the USA. I ended up back in the PNW to be close to friends and family for a bit but can't imagine I'll stay here long-term.

Top-to-bottom, the last two years have been the hardest of my life. Here are some games that got me through 2021.

List items

  • The top three games have more to do with community and connecting with other people than they do with actually being the technically best games of the year.

    Nothing last year rivaled the fun I had on a shared Valheim server with a bunch of online buds. I loved seeing everyone work together, the creativity of the buildings and decorations, and the excitement of exploring a new biome. I can't wait for the next major content update so we can get back in there... together.

  • We played this regularly before the movie night we were doing on a discord server I'm on. So much fun, all the modes are fun! Some of the best clips of the year came out of our multiplayer madness.

  • A work friend and I kept each other updated on Slack while the Blaseball universe slowly imploded over the last season. Sharing that nonsensical world with its bizarre lore with my buddy was a highlight last year.

  • On a completely opposite note, this was 100% a solo and personal achievement for me. I beat that damn game... then I beat it 49 more times. I got my runs consistently to around 12 minutes and I dipped below 10 minutes a few times, which was my personal goal. An amazing game.

  • Like a Dragon edged out Yakuza 0 as my favorite Yakuza game. They were masterful in handling how they tied the Kiryu universe in with the Ichiban world. The turn based gameplay was compelling and fun, the story was good, most of the side-missions were excellent. I hope they go a little more over-the-top silly with their side-missions on the next game, but otherwise this was almost a perfect Yakuza game for me.

  • I was completely enthralled by the world they built. Sure there were tons of plot and world-building holes, but I just shot then stuffed enough crappy rich assholes in them until I didn't notice anymore. Shooting felt good, the abilities were fun, the story was interesting, the voice acting was great. Also, it led me to play Prey which I had bounced off of previously. Ends up, Prey was a fun game too!

  • I don't want to spoil a single thing about Inscryption. What an excellent experience that game was. One of the games of the year I wish I could forget so I could play it again for the first time.

  • I was waiting to play Satisfactory but a clan-mate said Update 5 was a great place to insert into the game. They were correct. What fun! If you're into optimization and automation...

  • It was not the amazing, fantastic, wonderful experience the first Subnautica game was, but it was still great to get back under those waters. Everything was smaller in scope and the above-ground portions weren't super compelling. Still, it made my top ten for the year so it wasn't like it was a bad game at all. The modular sea truck thing was a fun substitution for the Sea Moth and Submarine.

  • Unique! It absolutely overstayed its welcome but I loved my time with it until I had enough and stopped playing.

  • I love Klei's games. The world they built here is gritty and mean and kind and merciless and merciful and beautiful. It is an interesting and fun take on a card system. Another game I burned out on fairly quickly, but one I can see myself coming back to at some point.

  • I'll never not put this game on my top 10 list (top 13 this year). So what if I haven't played it since 2018? This and the original Subnautica hold all-time top spots for me. Do yourself a favor and let this "game" suck up all your free time, it is well worth it.

  • Shine on you crazy Diamond.