I remember going into this year thinking that it might be quite a slow one in terms of game releases. Looking back, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s been over six years since I joined God is a Geek, and every year it keeps getting better. Not only do I get to play games for a site I dearly love, I’ve made friends across the country with guys I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Our GOTY deliberations are just a small part of why I adore this job. Coming around to do this list, however, is perhaps the most important thing I do all year. Games are so important to me, as they are to most of you. Compiling this list is a pleasure, because I can look back on the games that made me happy and gave me an escape when I needed it the most.
2021 has been one of the worst years of my life. I’ve faced challenges like never before, and have had weeks where I didn’t think I could ever move on from. I’ve been so low, and felt so alone. Saying that, many of these games have kept me going. Kept me moving on and helping me to focus on something other than the heartbreak I’ve had to endure. I don’t mean to get heavy this early on, but I have so much to thank video games for. Much like I have the guys at our site to thank for. They’ve been a rock to me in the hardest of times. Finally, I have to thank you guys, the readers, viewers, and consumers of our website. Without you, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. Anyway, I’ll wipe away the tears and stop being so sappy because I want to celebrate a fucking glorious year of gaming.
Hitman 3 was one of the first games I played this year. While it doesn’t really do anything different, it gave me new environments to play with, and new targets to assassinate. The story wasn’t particularly special, but who cares when you’re electrocuting snotty old women and drowning scumbags in vats of wine? I adore the gameplay in Hitman, and the final entry in the trilogy was as outstanding as the other two, if not more so.
Life is Strange: True Colors was not a game I thought would make the honourable mentions by the time 2021 rolls out. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the original. However, I kind of fell off them. I didn’t feel the same connection as I did with Chloe and Max, and seeing the trailers before release, I thought it’d be a similar thing with Alex. Thankfully, True Colors was exceptional. The story was gripping, and the characters all felt important, especially Alex.
Resident Evil Village didn’t quite live up to the hype, but I had tons of fun with it. Resident Evil 7 was a fantastic return to form for the series, and while Village was more action-orientated, I still had a blast. I’m not keen on where the story went, and those Chris Redfield moments towards the end were so out of place. Despite the hiccups, it had some great puzzles, and the setting was one of the best so far.
Little Nightmares II felt like a much-improved version of the first game. The puzzles were well-executed, and the visuals were gorgeous. I remember at the time feeling surprisingly moved by the story, and some of the scenes were powerful and reflective of today’s society.
Shin Megami Tensei V was one of my first forays into the series. From the dark yet gripping story to the addictive combat, Shin Megami Tensei V was a magnificent JRPG. At times it provided a steep challenge, but the progressive party system and colourful cast of characters gave me plenty of hours of enjoyment.
My obsession with Monster Hunter Rise lasted for a solid month. In that time, I woke up and turned my Switch on, then played it for hours. As other games game out, I fell off pretty hard. However, in that time, I adored everything about it. I’m not a big multiplayer guy, but I would join strangers to slay the array of monsters on a daily basis. Capcom might not have reached the levels of quality seen in Monster Hunter World, but that addictive gameplay loop was back once again. With some magnificent combat and a constant craving for the hunt, Rise’s hold on me may have been short, but I loved every second.
It may have been rough around the edges, but Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was such an enjoyable game. The way the characters interacted throughout and grew as a team. The diverse combat among the whole cast. The acting. The story. The entire experience. With it’s surprise drop at E3 2021, I honestly thought it would be an average step into the Marvel universe, but I was happy to be proved wrong. Star-Lord’s journey from space pirate to fearless leader was accompanied by some of the finest storytelling ever seen in a Marvel game.
I had never played Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U, so when I finally got to play on Switch, I could see what all the fuss was about. It came at a time when I needed Mario the most. It had a host of colourful and creative levels, with a perfect balance of challenge and fun. Playing Mario Mondays with the team made full use of it’s bonkers multiplayer, and it gave me some great times with the gang. Bowser’s Fury was a new game that made me wish it was much longer. It blended 3D World with Odyssey, and it gave me hope that the future of Mario is looking bright.
Coming in right at the end of the year, Halo Infinite was the perfect stamp on a packed 2021. It gave me chills, and presented the fluid and tight gameplay the series was known for. Even though 343 didn’t make Halo 3, it put me back in that game and made me feel the same way I did back then. Infinite made me fall back in love with Halo. The grapple hook was perfection, and the gorgeous level design gave me hours of happiness. Not only is the campaign exquisite, the multiplayer did the honour of making me look good. I always thought I was pretty decent on Halo, and spending hours battling strangers around the world only strengthened my belief. All in all, Halo infinite was a solid return to form for the series, and a fitting narrative for Master Chief.
I wouldn’t say I was particularly excited to play Deathloop, but after a few hours, I was hooked. My God, what a game. It felt so good to play, and the concept felt fresh. Not only was it so enjoyable, the back and fourth between Colt and Julianna was brilliant. The range of Arcane powers made each new loop feel different to the last. Playing as Colt gave me hours of fun, but even the multiplayer component was a blast. I always got frustrated when someone entered my game, but the feeling I had when eliminating Juliana was unmatched this year.
I’m a sucker for Ratchet & Clank. Rift Apart not only looked incredible, but the gameplay was so damn good. There were so many different guns to unlock. Every time I got a new one, it gave me a brand new way to play. The platforming elements offered tons of different challenges, and many of the gun fights were varied and exciting. The portal mechanic was another cool feature that was never used too much. The story might have been pretty basic, but I loved Rivet. She had a heart-warming narrative that gave the whole game a boost.
4. Far Cry 6
Far Cry 6 came at a time when I needed a big distraction, and boy did it deliver. I’ve always loved the Far Cry series, and Dani Rojas’ journey in Yara was fantastic. The missions offered huge explosions and plenty of gun fights. Roaming around and finding side missions and other stuff to do took up so much time that I’d be on it until the early hours of the morning, completely losing track of time. The story might not have reinvented the wheel, but there were some fantastic performances, especially from Giancarlo Esposito. Ubisoft created a stunning setting with plenty to keep me engrossed that I still play it now.
While I do review a lot of racers, I rarely continue playing after I’ve slapped a score on them. Forza Horizon 5 was perfect. The handling of each car offered just enough difference to make the 250 plus vehicles feel different. There are tons of races and challenges, an awesome soundtrack, and a great sense of community few games get right. The setting of Mexico was stunning, too. It was the perfect game to dive into for twenty minutes or twenty hours. You could spent as much time as you wanted with it and always find something to do.
I’d not even heard of Scarlet Nexus at the start of the year. However, it was almost my favourite game this year. It offered two branching stories that intertwined with one another. The combat consistently evolved throughout the campaign and made full use of the controller. Every time I thought they’d perfected the fighting, something new was introduced. Not only is it so good to play, the story and characters felt fleshed out and so well-written. I was hooked until the credits rolled, and never felt bored. Not only that, but the monster design and environments were some of the best I’ve ever seen. I’ll champion this game forever, and it’s going to take something special to beat this as my favourite action RPG of all time.
1. It Takes Two
Where to start with It Takes Two. I honestly can’t praise this game enough. From the moment I played through the preview with Adam Cook, I knew this was going to be something remarkable. It never faltered with its platforming. Every joint mechanic felt important and fresh right until the end. Whether I was fighting off hordes of bees, trying to kill a stuffed elephant, or taking in the sights of a ski resort in a snow globe, It Takes Two gave me hours of memories. I’ve not seen this calibre of platforming since Super Mario Odyssey, and even then, this beats it hands down.
The story was at times heart-breaking, but it was also filled with a lot of hope. Divorces can be painful, especially for the children involved. Hazelight were sensitive to this, and highlighted how tough it can be for the children involved. As for May and Cody, their relationship evolves throughout It Takes Two. You see their flaws, their strengths, and that love that once burnt bright between them. To make such a remarkable game that can both be funny and moving takes real talent. It Takes Two deserves all the praise, and it fully deserves to sit at the top of many GOTY lists.