An unexpected standout, a long-awaited instalment and a timeloop or two. In a year of many, here's the video games we've enjoyed the most.
For the gaming industry, 2021 was slightly lacklustre. After the pandemic led to multiple delays and a thinned out release calendar, the year ahead left little to anticipate. Famed titles like God Of War, Rainbow Six and Horizon all saw multiple setbacks. As for Halo... we've only just got the chance to play it.
Working in the depths of a global lockdown came with multiple difficulties. But, in despite of the blockbusters that we've missed, 2021 still had some 'next-gen' standouts. From Marvel's Guardian's Of The Galaxy to Returnal, fresh, terrifying and humorous titles continued to see the light of day. Here's our year's best!
6. Marvel's Guardian's Of The Galaxy
After Square Enix's flop with Marvel's Avengers, we had low expectations for a Guardians Of The Galaxy game. Yet, the surprisingly moving narrative and captivating visuals took us by surprise. The combat isn't groundbreaking, and there have been complaints about technical issues on PC. But the intimate parallels with the movie were ideal; somehow, the satirical humour transferred almost flawlessly. And all in all, it was enjoyable to play. For our low expectations, and high reaction, Marvel's Guardian's Of The Galaxy is number 6 in our best video games of 2021.
5. Forza Horizon 5
Forza as a franchise is enough to sell the Xbox on its own. One of Microsoft's crowning jewels, it's no surprise that the long-awaited instalment was a hit with fans, including us. It's thrilling, featuring the biggest open-world map yet, with near-flawless graphics and picturesque scenery. And though it doesn't hold a groundbreaking narrative or plot, it isn't suppose to. Forza Horizon 5 is a trailblazer in its niche, taking the 5th spot in our best video games of 2021.
4. Resident Evil Village
For long, the Resident Evil series had taken a disappointing turn. Rather than horror, it took on the persona of an action thriller, with a handful of mediocre jump scares. But in 2017, Capcom returned to their roots; Biohazard was a terrifying, horror survival game with great character development and a satisfying narrative. Village followed in its prequel's footsteps, with a well-thought and engaging plot, excellent character arcs and sublime graphics. Victorian monsters replaced zombies, an eerie village replaced Raccoon City, and nods to Ethan's everlasting hand were even built into the story. For its return to horror, Resident Evil Village takes number 4 in our best video games of 2021.
Responsible for Prey and Dishonored, Arkane Studios were bound to impress with Deathloop. A master of first-person shooters, their titles have seen haunted spaceships and steampunk dystopias as stomping grounds. In Deathloop, a frozen, burnt orange Nordic Island plays host to a (you-guessed-it) timeloop narrative. It's stylised, with impressive technical flourishes. But aside from that, it's endlessly entertaining, with brilliant lead characters, a captivating narrative and the option for multiplayer. Ultimately, it's an entertaining all-rounder that deserves its spot in our best video games of 2021.
2. Metroid Dread
Metroid Dread exceeded every one of our expectations. The first original Metroid game in nearly two decades went through multiple changes before being shelved by Nintendo, almost indefinitely. Its revival is eerie and magnificently visual, with impressive combat, sinister threats and an ever-changing map. It's a game that doesn't hold your hand, leaving you with a feeling of 'Dread' at every corner. For long suffering fans, the Metroidvania genre may be inescapable, but there's nothing quite like the formula itself. If anything, the exploration alone deserves the 2nd spot in our best video games of 2021.
When we look back on the games we've played over the last year, Returnal remains at the forefront of our thoughts. On par with Deadspace, Housemarque's most ambitious effort yet is richly atmospheric, deeply thrilling and dark. Set in a timeloop, the narrative takes a different approach to Deathloop, representing personal trauma and existential horror. Seline, the title character, is all-engrossing and the scenery, supported by next-gen visuals, is breathtaking. The game even showcases the PS5's DualSense controller to the best of its abilities, mimicking haptic feedback from an alien planet. For this, and so much more, Returnal takes the top spot in our best video games of 2021.
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