Memorable Games of 2021

With a lot of games out there in the wild, I often don't get the chance to play these games until years after the release.

Games listed here aren't limited to games that came out this year, but essentially games that I have played mostly for the first time ever, that has made an impression on me that I would recommend to others.

List items

  • For a person that's not a big fan of rogue-likes and souls type, this game blended enough mix of interesting narrative around a game structure with very tight game design that gives you one of the tightest and satisfying moment to moment gameplay.

    Someone said it pretty nicely where the game mixes in great blend of Metroid Prime, Castlevania, Rogue-like and Souls-like mechanics.

    Suffice to say I didn't have high expectation for this game as there were few visual elements that didn't click with me, however despite that, it's given me quite a bit of addiction to try better my luck risking and learning more.

  • PS5 Inc Intermission

    While the PS5 re-issue gives you the feeling "this is the game it should've been" with exception of enhancements made possible thanks to the hardware, the package still gives you the chills and thrills "expanding" the meta that is Final Fantasy VII universe.

    Intermission DLC to an extent feels rather inconsequential depending on your investment in the game and your entry point - e.g. you played original VII, or you only started from VII Remake - but it does give you a rather interesting combat mechanics enabled by a new character.

  • HD Version

    Having to play it and finish it once when it first came out on Wii (leaving an impression enough for it to stay as top Zelda game I've played), I was surprised how much of the game I have actually forgotten.

    This actually worked out for the better for me as other than the introduction parts and couple of key moments of the game, rest of the game came as a fresh surprise as if I was playing it again for the first time.

    Considering this was the Zelda game I've played since putting in a lot of hours in Breath of the Wild, Skyward Sword's focussed narrative structure that almost feels like playing Metroid somewhat - that majority is critiquing it as linear structure and repetitive use of levels - was certainly what I missed most while playing Breath of the Wild.

    It is clear my preference is to games that gets you to experience a crafted narrative rather than create one yourself within an open world.

    Nintendo time and time again shows game design and presentation that outlasts test of time - and Skyward Sword is no different. The HD visuals let's players better appreciate a deliberate dreamy and water-colour presentation aesthetics combined with orchestral soundtrack that manages to craft cinematic moments without the heavy usage of cinematics and voice acting.

    This time around I have decided to dedicate the play using button and tick controls.. and while the controls work, as well as making some elements much easier, I feel the additional immersion is lost playing it in this way.

    While it is good to have this alternative scheme, if you able to, playing it with motion controls is the way to go - considering it does work a lot better with Switch.

    Zelda is a remarkable franchise that I tend to deliberately only play once to finish. Having to revisit this in HD matched up to my nostalgia as well as a great retrospective on why I still regard this as one of the best Zelda games I'll remember having experienced - although it seems to be a minority opinion.

  • + Bowser's Fury

    Slight change to the main 3D World game makes the game far more fun and challenging at the same time. More easier way to enjoy multiplayer is a definite plus.

    Bowser's Fury component while shows familiar trope to Mario Odyssey it still has a unique take of its own which I hope Nintendo decides to explore more with the future iterations.

  • While the core game mechanics haven’t changed much, refinement and maturity over many years and iterations over the series gives very well rounded & paced game that uses the new gen tech to give you a great blend of cinematic visuals and story that takes hold of you from start to finish.

    When you take away the visual flare, you might be disappointed slightly, but as a whole package, this gives you one of the most beautifully crafted comfort food of 3D action platform adventures.

  • Had the game for a while, but for some reason only have decided to touch it recently while moving from few series of lengthy games.

    And oh boy what a good decision that was.

    This game is full of charm, drawing just enough inspiration from recognisable games while infusing it with it's own character and charm to create its own thing.

    Story starts simple, and it's really up to the player to discover and go through the journey looking for meaning in themselves.

    Minimal yet signature visuals and audio wraps together what is one of the most memory experience you get a rush for in a seating or two, and likely chances are, you won't complain that the game is too short, nor too long because the end experience it provides gives you a satisfying book-end to the journey you've been together.

  • + Octo Expansion

    Multiplayer suite of the game have evolved pretty nicely from the first especially with the inclusion of the Salmon Run. Main single player campaign left a lot to desire for, until a paid Octo expansion hit the game while after release.

    Expansion focusses more on the single player experience by creating unique and varied challenges that puts different weapon and players skills to test.

    Here's hoping they'll explore these type of things further for Splatoon 3.

  • Game forgoes wonky floaty physics from the original Little Big Planet giving it much better focus in game design and builds a better universe around it.

    Game clearly draws a lot of inspiration from Super Mario 3D World, and perhaps is a better example of someone who's applying right elements of that game design to their world.

    Game may get overlooked by people's assumed perception of game style from LBP era, but this is a pretty strong 3D platformer that excels even more in multiplayer.

  • Despite the childish visual presentation, the actual theme of story is quite mature. Game ultimately seems much more appropriate for adults.

  • I feel the game has a lot of things working against what it a very competent open world adventure RPG. Overall story could've been a bit more meaningful if they have dialled down the fourth wall breaking dialogues and jokes that misses more than it hits. I found the animation style didn't necessarily match the art style the game conveyed.

    Even with all these flaws however, overall game mechanics and the world was intriguing enough to give me immersion to complete the game and go for platinum too.

    While I'm not expecting this game to get a sequel, but if it does, I hope they are able to find a better balance where each parts are adding to the game rather than detract from it.

  • It's tad disappointing that while there's an awesome game here - which builds on nicely from Watch Dogs 1 and still excellent Watch Dogs 2 - leap in setting (not a big fan of cyber punkish London and very uneven presentation of characters and its associated voice acting ultimately detracts from what is a fun game to mess around with.

  • Great blend of old-school coin eater design mixed with eye popping visual design mixed with appropriate music.

  • Great atmosphere and sense of isolation within the land of deep mysterious past gives you sense of adventure. However perhaps the indie scope leaves a lot to desire for the game of this scope.

    There were a lot of opportunities I was hoping to be filled, but wasn't - ultimately making the game feel a lot more hollow than it was.

  • Game certainly has a style it goes for and banks all-in at it. For that commitment and its complementary production values makes it an experience that's worth taking.

    While the overall length of the game could leave a lot to desire for, for what the game is, I personally feel it would end up feeling like an unnecessary filler instead.

  • HD Remaster

    I've never really played a SMT game before despite owning few related entries. Closest I've gotten to play was a little bit of Persona 3 and Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE.

    At first I wasn't the biggest fan of the art style, however after giving it a go for an hour or two, the style married with the theme and narrative it's shooting for quickly gave a great complementary aesthetics drawing me more into the game more I played it.

    Story, setting and characters can seem overly dark and depressing given subject matter, but within it I found the depth of demon fuses and combat strategy engaging enough to say near 70 hour journey felt swift but very enjoyable.

    Also playing a JRPG that branches based on player decision was rather refreshing (especially considering when this game first came out).

    There are some technical downfalls which is tad disappointing to see the game haven't addressed, however that in itself fuses a bit more nostalgia for a game that came out so many years ago.

    Finishing this game certainly heightened my anticipation for SMT V, not to mention looking possibly playing SMT IV on 3DS before V comes out.

  • Not so much a game, but more an interactive novel. Very down to earth coming of age story for the characters where I was instantly engaged and invested. Whole presentation package comes together nicely where not one aspect detracts from you whizzing through short, simple but a very calm story where it hit me more in early 2021.

  • Jumping into this playing in order of 3 -> Zero -> Kiwami -> Kiwami 2, I feel there are quite a lot of familiar tropes that makes the game feel a bit less special compared to what made Zero especially special.

    Overall story at times feels a bit too soap opera-ish, but it does give you a payoff as you play through the game.

    While the real-time brawler combat made the game feel special in the midst of all the turnbased RPGs, lack of any evolution on the combat itself does quickly wear the mechanic out a lot quicker than any other series to date.

  • Overarching premise, characters and overall narrative was compelling enough to get through what is a rather repetitive design.

    From game design perspective it does little to advance the franchise forward, however overall story, cast and acting saves the package overall.

  • While more streamlined and speedier combat is a big plus, what they have decided to add in terms of story and character context is lacking.

    It felt very similar to the epilogue added to the XC Definitive Edition which only added very little new meaningful context it to the overall story and lore.

    However the charm of the focussed cast of characters and while very mundane tasks, the story that fuels the side quests further expands the investment you would have had from XC2.

    While it's touted as a prequel to XC2, I would not recommend this game to be played before XC2, as a lot of emotional payoff and character nostalgia will not have the same impact.

  • I believe this is the first ever Shin Megami Tensei game I've played, and I feel bad that I haven't played more of the game.

    While the overall setting and narrative focus wasn't that much interesting - while different to other JRPGs - I was very engaged in simpler nature of the battle and grind that kept me coming back for more.

    While overall story was far too cheesy and kids anime for my own liking (maybe I would've dug it more if I played it when it first came out?) there were some cuteness to the overall character interactions that ultimately made it entertaining to finish.

  • Game was pretty aggressively OK. With the imbalance of what to update Vs. what to maintain faithful, game doesn't quite land the landing outside of the story itself.

    Overall mafia story was intriguing enough to continue playing in a rather straight forward open world design. Wasn't a big fan of the voice acting which worked against the mood of the game it tries to great more often than not.

  • *Remastered Edition*

  • *Remastered*

  • Latest Shantae game is speedy and much coherently constructed to give you a better connected work to explore and secrets to uncover. Visually, I personally loved they have decided to keep the background and level blocks to also use drawn objects rather than using 3D objects in the previous game.

    While better than the previous iteration (which was more structured into levels) this was probably one of the easiest Shantae game I have played and have the least memorable music in the series yet.

    Shantae 3 still comes out being the best in series so far.. here's hoping their next outing can get closer or exceed what they were able to do on 3.

  • Didn't realise it was a remake of the first and second game. Given the source material, it was pretty clear what the remake was gunning for, and I feel it's reached what it set out to achieve - although it may not quite meet the standards of group outside of the existing fan base.

    Character presentation hits gold, but all other parts will leave a lot to be desired for. Level designs are very simple - which is faithful to the budget nature of the original games - but the combat mechanic is rather satisfying with depth you can dig into that fuses timing and button combiation.

    Character and their respective weapon variety also gives more depth and desire to grind to slide and dice pretty brain dead enemies.

    There's a great potential here. If they do intend to carry forward on assets they have redesigned, I think all they need is better connected and expanded level design and story to give it a bit more character and universe depth.

  • Rather simpler RPG that doesn't try to over burden you with mechanics, grind nor overly complicated story. To some this might come as a turn off, but for me, while in mix of playing other meaty RPGs, this was a good pedestrian game to enjoy.

    Given rather lower budget of the game, they pulled off something charming from visual design perspective.