CCUK’s Top 10 Games of 2021
2021 is over and it is certainly been a good year for all of the gamers around the world. With a great number of both reveals and games that I am sure many of you cannot wait for. With 2022 now here, I have gone back and taken a look at the top 10 games of 2021. And it is a really close call.
There are many games that you can argue deserve to be in the list, and I will include a little honourable mention to some of these that missed out at the end.
Tenth place is probably the hardest choice I had to make for this list. There are so many games that I think can be at tenth. But after a lengthy decision process, I have picked The Ascent. This game was just so much fun to play that I had to put it in my top 10.
The Ascent left me wanting to play more from the moment I finished it. Pretty much everything was just top level. And there aren’t enough words for how much I loved this world. The detail, the lighting, the alien life, the landscapes, the camera angles, it was all just mind-blowing. This world is breath-taking and you will see from the moment you get into the game.
You can play solo or cooperative, and both are just super fun. And that goes for both gameplay and story. The story and events are very interesting and the characters are all great. But the gameplay is where it really shines. I found the combat quite deep and very enjoyable. The enemy types keep you on your toes and force you to change how you play. If you are taking cover, you may be forced out by ranged enemies, if you are rushing in then you may be pushed back by melee enemies. And there is so much that you need to keep into mind while playing.
Weapons and augments play a massive part too. And not only are they really useful, but I found myself having a lot of fun with them. You have weapons including submachine guns, burst rifles and a range of grenades that are simply epic. And the augments only add to that, giving you abilities that help to give you the upper hand.
The Ascent was a blast from start to end for me, and it definitely shows off some really amazing features. And I recommend this game greatly. Just be aware that it is an Xbox and PC exclusive.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was a massive surprise for me, and I am sure it was the same for many of you. I had low expectations when this game first released because of the issues that the Marvel’s Avengers game had. And not only did Guardians of the Galaxy prove that my worries were misplaced, but it is also one of my favourite games of the year.
Guardians of the Galaxy improves in many of the areas that previous games and entries suffered in. Starting with the gameplay you will be experiencing. As you go in, you will see that the abilities and weapons all felt very versatile. Although you play as Peter Quill throughout the whole story, being able to command the other characters and have them use unique attacks was a welcome addition. At points it had me thinking of different ways to approach combat and what was most effective.
When it comes to the narrative, you are just getting a truly epic experience. Seeing the group come together, learn about their past and overcoming new threats are all just done wonderfully in this game. And the story is only made better by the absolutely beautiful worlds that you will get to visit. If you are playing on next-gen you will get the best experience, of course. But even on current generation consoles, you will get a breath-taking visual experience.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was an absolute delight to play. If you are a Marvel fan, then it is a must play game. And it definitely deserves a place in the top 10.
Many of you may not even know what Inscryption is, and neither did I before I played it for the first time. And I was amazed at how entertaining the game was. Inscryption is roguelike horror deck-building game, at least that is the best way to describe it.
The idea of a card game may have lost some of your interest, but you should not let it. I truly recommend giving this game a go. Everything worked incredibly well together and made for one of the best gaming experiences I have had this year, ranging from the atmosphere to the alternating game nature.
Inscryption is made up of three acts, and as you enter each section you will see the nature of the game change. Though the base mechanics remain the same, you can feel the atmosphere change and the game becoming more intense.
The game is set in a dark cabin that is full of a number of puzzles that you can solve throughout the game. But the main focus is the card game. You play against a dark and mysterious figure in this game, where if you lose you are sacrificed and turned into a death card. A card you can use in later runs. This dealer will not only play against you, but as you go through different rounds, he will tell stories of the player and impersonate characters using a number of wooden masks. These stories and characters are just delightful and really take the game to the next-level.
Though I did not know anything about this game going in, or even that it was releasing at all, it blew me away. This is definitely one of my favourite game experiences of this year and I was pleasantly surprised by what it had to offer.
Metroid Dread is worthy of a spot on this list. I am not a massive fan of 2D games, but Metroid Dread pleasantly surprised me. From beginning to end this game was an absolute thrill and kept me constantly entertained.
Easily the best part about this game for me was the gameplay. Throughout the game, the combat remains enjoyable. And when combined with the enemies and bosses that are scattered in the game too, it makes for a very entertaining experience. But that is only one piece of the puzzle, all of the levels, weapons and abilities and so much more combine to create such an amazing gameplay loop.
Another main point to talk about is the story. The gameplay is the clear focus of the game and it is clear. That isn’t me saying the story is bad, as in reality I thought it was quite good. The characters that do appear in this game are all done very well, and the same goes for the story. I truly recommend playing Metroid Dread, especially if you loved the previous entries.
Visually, I was stunned by the beauty of this game. The levels and views that you get to experience are simply outstanding.
Halo Infinite takes the number 6 spot on the list. Despite being a recent release, it has proved that is definitely one of the strongest games of this year. After the underwhelming releases of Halo 4 and 5, Halo Infinite brought a spark of life back to this game series.
Praises first to the campaign. The new open world approach is certainly a nice addition to the game, especially considering that we have not seen it before in a Halo game. And alongside that world came a really entertaining and enjoyable story and gameplay experience that is definitely worth playing if you are a Halo fan. The characters, both new and old, are all well-played and very interesting.
But the greatest part of the game is definitely the multiplayer. Not only is it free, but it is simply a ton of fun. Though progression and microtransactions were poor off the start, the changes being implemented are making these issues far less prominent. But the game really excels in terms of gameplay and replay ability. The game modes are all very enjoyable to get into and there are only more on the way, while also paving a way for both casual and competitive gameplay.
Halo Infinite is a game that most players can sit back and enjoy every time you get online, while also being a game you can easily come back to at any point and enjoy it.
Jumping into the top 5 now, starting with the PS5 and PC exclusive, Deathloop. Another great entry from Arkane studios and a really enjoyable game for those who love their action, stealth and incredible powers to tear your targets apart.
Everything about this game is simply fun, from the versatile weaponry to the powers that you can use alongside them. Ranging from short range teleportation to being able to throw enemies into the air before sending them flying off cliffs or crashing into the ground. These abilities and weapons are a staple to Arkane games, and there are some here you may recognise and others that are new. The gameplay all-around is just brilliant.
And along the campaign comes an entertaining multiplayer invasion mode. At random points through your game, if you choose to, you may be invaded by another player. And this player will invade as Julianna, who attempts to kill you and prevent you from breaking the loop. This invasion mechanic works quite well for the game and does connect to the story.
On the topic of the story, Deathloop has a very enjoyable one to tell. And a big part of that is thanks to the characters. All of the characters are likeable, well written and help make the story that much greater. And the plot is definitely worth mentioning as well. Once again, it is just very entertaining all-around. They do a really great job at building the world, the story around the loop is quite strong and the connected looping mechanic makes it all that stronger.
Psychonauts 2, the long-awaited sequel to the original finally released this year and it was well worth the wait. And it even improves on all of the fields that were set in the first game. And it is very worthy of the number 4 spot.
Obviously one of the big points is the story, and it doesn’t disappoint at all. The storyline is really fun and honours its predecessor very well, while also staying fresh. And the characters are all great here as well, they are all very likeable and just all-around well written. On top of that, the humour often lands as well. Story wise, this game is superb.
The gameplay definitely plays a big part in the success in this game. Every level is truly unique. Visually they all look stunning, but it is the unique mechanics that really make it whole. You will always be doing something different with every level, and this makes every level feel fresh and completely avoids repetition. These mechanics are also present in a lot of boss fights, along with a few new mechanics for you to get the hand of. And they work incredibly well, making every boss feel amazing to face.
Psychonauts 2 is very worthy on a spot within the top 5. I have almost no complaints about this game, and the ones I do are very petty and I can look past them. It is definitely worth playing. And if you loved the first game, you will enjoy it even more.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart comes in at 3rd place. Insomniac have been on fire recently and the new Ratchet and Clank game is certainly one of the best games to have released this year. And as a PS5 exclusive, you expect that it has a really high-performance power. And it does not disappoint.
This game really makes the most of the PS5, with a level of graphical beauty and performance power that are simply unmatched. The worlds you get to explore are just extraordinary. With the rifting mechanic you can swap between worlds in an instant, and I cannot describe how amazing it is.
And this performance is accompanied by a great story and strong characters. If you have played any of the previous games, you will recognise most of these characters. But there are also a lot of new characters that you will meet. And they are all played extremely well. Not only are the characters well written, but the story is too. Everything about the story is very entertaining and Insomniac has done extremely well with it.
The gameplay with Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart is just magnificent as well. A big shout goes to the weaponry that you can get your hands on. Every weapon has a purpose and feels truly unique, and they get even better as you upgrade and face new enemies.
Everything about this game just works phenomenally well, from the beautiful worlds to the unique gameplay. It all combines to make one brilliant game that truly defines next-generation gameplay.
It Takes Two
A few months ago, I made another blog explaining why I believed It Takes Two was the best game of the year so far. Everything about this game is simply spectacular and the fact it is available on all platforms is a big factor in this. But it has only missed out on that top spot by a small margin. The choice between It Takes Two and my game of the year was an extremely close one, but I will talk about this later on.
It Takes Two, to put it lightly, has a spectacular narrative that is full of emotion. And as you go through you really feel for the characters and what they have been through. Though it is a cooperative game, only one player needs to own it for two to play. And that was a top move, a true passion project that delivers a simply wonderful experience.
And it isn’t only the story that is outstanding, but the gameplay is both unique and extremely entertaining. With every level you will get to experience new mechanics and environments that work flawlessly. And throughout every level you will also find mini-games that are just really fun. Some are simple, some are more complex but they are all just top notch.
This game has everything you want with a narrative, and I honestly cannot think of anything that I do not enjoy about it.
As said, the gap between 1st and 2nd is extremely close for me. I loved every moment of It Takes Two, but Returnal is the game that just beats it to be my game of the year. As challenging as Returnal may be, it is an absolute blast. The fact Returnal is a PS5 exclusive may be unappealing to some players, but for those who have made the move to next-gen, it is a must play.
Returnal is as brutal as it is entertaining, with a phenomenal gameplay loop that goes along with it. The gameplay is simply superb. The weapons, enemies, bosses, environments and death cycle are all done immensely well. As you may already know, Returnal is a roguelike game where every time you die, you start again. But what is truly special about Returnal is the fact that the environment changes every time you restart, giving you a unique experience every time.
And I just want to take a moment to praise the bosses and enemies in the game. Not only are the designs just stunning, but the abilities and challenges they present are just unmatched. And you will feel the enemies becoming far more brutal as you go along, and that really grants a feeling of accomplishment when you finally beat them.
Though the gameplay is the clear focus point of the game, the story included fits the game very well. Throughout the game you find out why you are on this alien planet, why you are in the loop and the moments in your past that led to this moment. Alongside the gameplay, this story is just a joy to experience.
But what pushes Returnal into the number one spot for me is the Returnal 2.0 update that released not too long ago, and the suspend cycle that was added alongside it. Before this update, if you left the game for any reason then you would have to restart completely. And with crashes or limited time, this was a very frustrating issue. But with the 2.0 update, we got exactly what the game needed. With the suspend cycle you could safely exit the game and pick up exactly where you left off, which was a change that was desperately needed.
This game was one of the first to truly get utilise all of the features of the PlayStation 5 and the DualSense controller. Putting adaptive triggers and haptic feedback within the PS5 controller to full use. And thanks to these features, you get a really unique and amazing feeling with every moment. And of course, you get a tremendous performance. The high FPS and wonderful graphics make the world complete.
Those That Missed Out
As I said at the beginning, there are a lot of games that were in contention for this top 10. And this made the decision extremely difficult. So, I thought I would quickly mention some of the games that missed out and why so.
Resident Evil Village was also another big contender, and after the masterpiece that was Resident Evil Biohazard, I was excited for it. Though the game is enjoyable, especially on the gameplay front, it lacked the horror and terror that I would have liked to see more of. And so, it missed out.
Forza Horizon 5 is another game that sits out on the top 10. This game delivers a level of beauty and performance that is just extraordinary, and I am sure that a lot of players who love their racing games will love this. But the game lacked quite a bit when it comes to new additions and so missed out on the top 10.
Hitman 3 kicked off the year in fashion, taking players back into the world of assassination and delivering a fine conclusion. Being able to use everything at your disposal to your advantage, and with a VR mode being introduced soon, it is only going to get better. And it was very close to getting into the top 10, but I felt that the improvements compared to Hitman 2 were very minimal.
Little Nightmares 2. I am sure many of you forgot or didn’t know that it released this year, but it was definitely one of the best games that we have seen this year. The encounters and levels were all very impressive and disturbing, really sticking to what was made in the first. But as it has a short duration, it just misses out on the top 10.
And that sums it up for my top games of 2021. A very tough list to make, especially with all of the games that have released this year. Want to add your own thoughts? Then just leave a comment below.
2022 looks like it is going to be another big year for gaming, with dozens of games already announced and releases set for next year. And if you want to find out what we are looking forward to the most, our upcoming games to look forward to in 2022 blog is full of useful information.