2021 Ranked: Games

As we move onto the year ahead that will be 2022 (please don’t be the sequel everyone expects it to be), I always like to look at the past year and see what caught my attention. Let’s look at all the games I played in 2021. Keep in mind these didn’t all come out that year. Meanwhile I’ll rank them all.

#16 — Spiritfarer

I dig the universe for this game. I think there’s a lot to like. That being said, I found the game far too grindy. The combination of excessive travelling and backtracking killed it for me. I’m going to keep an eye on the studio though and see what else they make.

#15 — Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

It’s the Scott Pilgrim game that everyone loved. Not much else to say. I’m glad it’s getting a port for modern consoles. Personally I think it’s fine, not my cup of tea.

#14 — Super Mario 3D World & Bowser’s Fury

A fun Mario game, fine enough. This game came out before Odyssey though, and it shows. It’s not even in the same league. They tried to solve that by including the “Bowser’s Fury” expansion, which does an admirable enough job of trying to make 3D World into a hybrid of Odyssey and Breath of the Wild.

I don’t like how in order to 100% the game, you need to play every single level 4 times (or play with 4 friends once). I had a hell of a time making a dent in the final level (World Crown), and couldn’t do it. Knowing that I’d have to do it another 3 times just knocked the wind out of my sails. I like to 100% my Mario games, they’re usually a lot of fun to do. Not this time.

#13 — Paradise Killer

Even though this game has elements of my favourite games, it didn’t grab me in the way I thought it would. I gave up on it pretty quickly, but want to go back and try it again. Maybe something didn’t click right away…

#12 — Gunpoint

I’m an avid follower of Tom Francis (the developer of the game). It took me a long time to finally sit down and play through the entirety of it (which is about 2-3 hours). I absolutely loved the rewiring mechanic. It allows for a ton of flexibility while fitting within a set of rules. It’s got just the right about of spy flick and film noir mixed together. A perfect amount of camp. For $10, you could do worse.

#11 — Catherine: Full Body

The game piqued my interest but didn’t grab me all that strongly. I do want to go back and give it an honest shot though. I didn’t get too far in my first playthrough. The puzzle mechanics were brain teaser fuel.

#10 — God of War

One of the reasons I bought a PS5 was so I could play games like this at 60 FPS. I will complete this game. It’s a lot of fun. I keep getting distracted right as I’m in the middle of it though, so I keep restarting from the beginning months later. But I will do it!

#9 — Miitopia

A surprisingly fun and humorous RPG. I had no idea it was a 3DS port. I spent a surprising amount of time crafting Miis from Star Trek to Seinfeld to fit into my whacky universe. And my friends too of course.

#8 — No More Heroes III

I first played this at a friend’s board game get-together. Everybody could not handle the wild-ass bullshit that goes on in these games. It’s classic Suda though. I didn’t end up finishing it this year, but I want to go back.

I’m not entirely sure why they brought the open-world stuff back though. I think the 2nd game made the right call ditching it.

#7 — Stardew Valley

The coziest of couch games. One of my favourite games on the SNES is Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley is that game but better. In every way.

I had a lot of fun playing this and lost many hours tending to my farm. Something else caught my attention which drew me away, but I’m eager to get back and finish the story.

#6 — Hades

What else can I say that hasn’t been already? The game is fantastic and has even won a Hugo award. If you haven’t, play this game.

I decided to revisit the game after my initial playthrough and get all of the extra content. I shared my original thoughts in this post, and mentioned it again later in 2021.

#5 — Diablo II: Resurrected

I don’t have a lot of faith anymore when studios announce a remaster or remake of an older game. That being said, I cannot believe how well Blizzard pulled it off. Well, the game part of it anyway. The multiplayer has had issues since it launched, but I have faith they can fix them.

I am impressed of the dedication their team to get the details right.

Once I take my rose-tinted glasses though, I can see that even a passionate remaster can’t solve the game’s underlying problems. The end-game is boring. It turns into a months-long grind (if you’re lucky though, it might be shorter). In all the years that I played the game I never got far enough to be considered “in the end-game”, and now that I’ve gotten there… there is nothing left but grinding. Play the same map over and over and hope that RNG gives you what you need. This is typical of the genre, but more recent titles (say Diablo III) won’t make you grind for months. You can wrap up a Season of Diablo III in about a week with casual play.

In summary: best remaster I’ve seen. But a remaster can’t solve a game’s underlying problems (unless it changes things, which tends to go against the spirit of a remaster). That being said, Blizzard have expressed their intentions of adding new runewords and quality-of-life features. I plan to check those out eventually.

#4 — Yuppie Psycho

I never expected a 2D, topdown game to frighten me so much. I was unsettled in almost every moment playing this game. It’s balanced well with genuine moments of humour. The levity takes the edge off between horrifying encounters. There are plenty of delightful jabs at office culture while navigating the heights and depths of Sintracorp.

#3 — Metroid Dread

The fact that this game even exists blows my mind. Us Metroid-heads have been hearing the “Dread” name ever since it was hinted at back in Metroid Prime. That was for the GameCube! There have been rumours for years, but nothing materialized. Then literally out of nowhere, a new 2D Metroid title emerges, and it bears the Dread title!! 20 years later we finally got it.

This game wins my totally-not-made-up-category of “Best Game That I Didn’t Finish”. I do intend to go back, though.

I like the game and gameplay. The Dread part of the title fits in well as I do dread going up against the EMMIs (a stupid name though). The game is plenty hard without being punishing. It rewards skillful play without requiring it.

#2 - Valheim

This game got its hooks in me fast and deep. I was sucked in for a month straight. I would eagerly await the end of the work day so I could play more Valheim. I’d spend the whole weekend glued to my monitor. And I got to play it with friends! We made a great castle near the end of the game as we neared the end (of the content at the time).

The game was in early-access at the time (and is still as of this writing), but as far as an early-access game goes it felt full-featured. Rough around the edges and clunky in spots, but the core experience was enthralling. So much so that I wrote about ittwice! I look forward to going back once there have been more updates.

#1 - The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles

I’ve been a fan of the Ace Attorney series since the DS days. In that time the series has accumulated a ton of “cruft” — backstory, lore, whatever you want to call it. It’s gotten to the point where it’s starting to feel like a Kojima game… ridiculous stories that don’t make any sense.

Capcom did the best thing they could at this juncture. They threw it all in the bin and started from scratch. A new cast of characters to build with. The core of the game is more-or-less the same: you investigate crime scenes, and defend your client in court. Oh, and topple the country’s government, dethrone a queen, solve a decades old murder, and burn a courtroom down. Which of those are actually true? You’ll have to play and find out.

What they got right was so much. The Logic and Reasoning spectacular were my favourite sections. They brought a lot of life to the Investigation section of each trial. I wish there were even more! I can tell the designers had a ton of fun in these sections. The spotlights added a ton of flair.

They’ve absolutely nailed the 3D part of the game in terms of character animation. It feels like the older 2D games but with the flexibility of 3D. They can create dynamic scenes with exciting camera movement. Characters can face each other, or look at spots in the world. It creates a believable world that feels alive and makes the characters spring forth with life. My favourite character without a doubt is Lord Barok van Zieks. Pray forgive the discourtesy for not suggesting the main character.

I was impressed with the story. Each case felt like it’s own complete arc, but various threads start to tie them all together into one giant, bombastic finish. I didn’t see the conclusion coming, and felt like Ryunosuke when I finally pieced it all together.

Without a doubt the best music for the entire series. I've been humming various tunes to myself since starting playing the game, and regularly look for "extended versions" of songs on YouTube.

It’s not only a great game, it’s a great sequel. These days that’s hard to pull off. I hope Capcom hasn’t given up on the series and will give us an all new Ace Attorney game.