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GOTY 2021


I’ve been playing a surprising amount of Halo Infinite multiplayer but it's not listed because I've not had much time with the campaign. Back 4 Blood and Twelve Minutes are games I expected to be on this list. 12 Minutes being an enormous letdown and Back 4 Blood making me really appreciate the restraint of Left 4 Dead. A quick note on games I'm sure I would love but didn't have time to play: Death's Door, Loop Hero and Chicory all look Extremely My Shit and I am sure I will get to them eventually. Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon is also shaping up to be a made-for-me classic but there is more digging to do. So...

1. Metroid Dread

The obvious choice. I replayed Metroid 1-4 in preparation for Dread. An amazing series. The legacy and build-up of a Metroid 5 was colossal. The very fact that they did it at all. I expected a box-ticking game that satisfied the ‘2D game enjoyers’ before they moved onto the ‘main’ game - Prime 4. Happy to report that they went further beyond. Dread is what I wanted. I poured over 100% of the map on normal and hard. Cut a speedrun down to around 2 hours. It's Fantastic! Samus is SO cool. It sits with the other 4 games as complete gems. I'll return to it plenty. If this is the end of the mainline/2D Metroid series then what a way to end.

2. Monster Hunter Rise

My most played game this year and my most played game of all time on the Switch (passing the 300 hours I spent with Animal Crossing in 2020). I think if you are not sold on Monster Hunter this won’t change much. However, if you’re willing to get on the complicated treadmill and grind away then you’ll be swinging around like Spider-Man with giant swords. The last time I jumped in I was fighting a giant cat/bat hybrid with a spiky tail while Live & Learn from Sonic Adventure 2 played in the background.

3. ElecHead

This is my most ‘you should play this!’ game of 2021. ElecHead is a short, confident and exciting puzzle game from a solo developer and it’s a delight. Making you feel equally dumb and smart with surprisingly tight platformer controls that demand something of you when you are willing to push past the initial ending. I’ll say no more. Go play it!

4. Deltarune Chapter 2

Go forth young child and become a [BIG SHOT]. Who knows when the actual game will come out. Who cares? Deltarune Chapter 2 - just like Chapter 1- is a complete experience with gameplay depth, incredible writing, great characters, banging tunes and it’s FREE. When these things drop. It feels like my reality totally shifts. It’s always for the better.

5. Unpacking

I didn't expect to feel so many things virtually doing chores. I moved this year so that probably helped. A meditation of a video game and a pleasure to play. I don’t have much else to say. I loved it.

6. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

Super Mario Baby. 3D World is already an incredible game. Releasing it on Switch alone would be enough for me to moan about - and then immediately give Nintendo £50. Bowser’s Fury is a taste of what Mario’s future could be. More so than even Odyssey. It’s playful, tight, smart, filled with unrelenting joy and knows exactly when to move from one beat to the next. It’s an absolute master style showcase from Nintendo and proof that Mario is king.

7. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

I played and finished a 100-hour Japanese turn-based RPG about an action game series that I had already poured hundreds of hours into this year... and - it was really good! Seriously surprised by how much the story kept me engaged and the combat systems felt like what I wanted out of modern Pokémon games.

8. Exo One

The coolest sci-fi screensaver ever. Another one that I will simply say: Go play this. It’s short, satisfying and the vibes are immaculate.

9. Forza Horizon 5

Playground Games really named themselves aptly. Horizon 5 is pure fun. I’m not huge on cars but I’m huge on arcade racing and bombast. It’s got plenty of all three. As a side-note: Getting games like this, Halo, Unpacking and Exo One all for ‘free’ via Game Pass is nuts. What a [DEAL]. How come I never C U drift???

10. New Pokémon Snap

A new Pokémon Snap game could have been my number 1. I have a massive connection with the original and revisit it often. I could go into the many reasons why it’s special but I’d rather just end by saying that New Pokémon Snap isn’t bad. It captures some of the magic of the original but I can’t see myself going back. I suppose this is a fun bookend to this list - compared to Metroid Dread, an amazing return to the series. New Pokemon Snap is the basic boxtick-now-go-away version.

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