GameCentral celebrates the best graphics, music and storytelling of 2021, as well as the format of the year and the worst game ever.
The full effects of the pandemic are finally being felt in the video game industry, as new titles begin to see the majority of their development happening while people are working from home or under other restrictions. The result was an increasingly tightened release schedule and many delays, but the year still had plenty of laudable games, as our 2021 Top 20 shows.
Each year we also like to highlight specific elements, especially for games that might not otherwise make the top 20, as even flawed titles can sometimes have aspects worthy of praise. Although that is not really the case this year where all of our major rewards are won by games which are also very good on their own.
If you agree or disagree with our nominations you can, as always, let us know via comments or emails, but there will also be the option to vote in the Top 20 Readers of late 2021. January. As usual, we will be very interested to see where opinions diverge, but for us these are among the most successful games of 2021 …
Winner: Guilty Gear
That price is going to be hotly contested in the years to come, as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X finally begin to release next-gen-only titles, which really push the capabilities of their hardware. For now, the only one that has really made it in 2021 is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (The Matrix Awakens doesn’t count because it wasn’t really a game). While it’s curious how quickly you got used to the amazing visuals, in part because the game hasn’t really done anything very imaginative with them.
On the other hand, Guilty Gear Strive is as jaw-dropping in 20 Hours as it’s the first time you see it. Developer Arc System Works has been experimenting with cartoon-inspired 3D visuals for some time – most notably with Dragon Ball FighterZ – but Guilty Gear Strive takes it one step further with much more complex and varied character designs. When the 3D camera swings around what is otherwise a one-on-one 2D fighter, the effect is simply stunning.
Finalist: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Winner: Forza Horizon 5 (XO / XSX / PC)
Fans will be used to Microsoft and Sony competing for the best hardware, the best graphics, and the best exclusive games, but in recent years they’ve both tried to align on the issue of accessibility – which is. extremely beneficial for all who can. Don’t play games using their default options, which traditionally are often the only ones.
There are many games that could have won this award, but the one that impressed us the most, for the tremendous effort that must be put into it, is Forza Horizon 5’s promise to add onscreen sign language to the cutscenes of the game. It will need to be added later as DLC, but the game already has an in-game narrator, customizable subtitle options, as well as high contrast and color blind modes. Ignoring the irony of the “story” being by far the worst part of the game, these are features that should be in every game going forward and hopefully Forza Horizon will help ensure they are. .
Finalist: The Vale: Shadow Of The Crown (XO / PC)
Winner: Xbox Series S
Given how difficult it has been to get your hands on a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X this year, and the few first-party releases from a console maker, this is a category that has been lost rather than gained. 2021 certainly hasn’t been a banner year for Nintendo, whose only major release was Metroid Dread, and while Sony started off strong they found themselves without new releases over Christmas and no new premieres either – in fact. , they’ve barely said a word in public since the summer.
Microsoft’s year has been the other way around, starting summer with Microsoft Flight Simulator and Psychonauts 2 and then Christmas with Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite. Cloud gaming and the Game Pass also gave them a piece of wit they hadn’t appreciated since the Xbox 360 era. Plus, unlike the Xbox Series X, the cheaper and more affordable Xbox Series S. digital only, is a console that you can actually buy and buy relatively easily.
Remake of the year
Winner: NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… (XO / PS4 / PC)
Yoko Taro is clearly a fool who knows nothing. He predicted the now classic NieR Automata would be a flop, then insisted that its surprising success was just luck and that the NieR Replicant remastering ver.1.22474487139 … would, like most of its games. previous ones, ignored by the general public. He was wrong.
How something as deliberately bizarre as NieR became a globally successful video game franchise we have no idea, and it’s clear neither does Yoko Taro. But that’s a pretty good surprise as both titles are some of the best action role players of the modern era, with deceptively thoughtful storylines backed up by wonderfully peculiar characters. Best of all, the success of both games means that a new third is now almost guaranteed.
Runner-up: Resident Evil 4 (Oculus Quest 2)
Winner: Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy (XO / PS4 / NS / XSX / PS5 / PC)
We were as surprised as anyone to find Guardians Of The Galaxy so high on our list of the best of 2021, but there’s no denying that it’s a really good game with some really high production values - and that includes a licensed soundtrack that is absolutely the equal of the movies.
Normally we would consider this to be cheating, as far as video game soundtracks go, but the game takes it a step further by including a brand new ’80s style rock album created just for the game, which, too, is cheesy. as it sounds, is actually really good. Seasoned composer Richard Jacques has worked on the orchestral elements and helps ensure that the game has one of the most varied and carefully researched soundtracks of recent years.
Finalist: Neo: The World Ends With You (PS4 / NS / PC)
Winner: Wildermyth (PC)
Guardians Of The Galaxy was no slouch in the storytelling department either, but it was one of the few AAA titles to have excelled in it this year, with most of the best work done by independent titles. . So much so that it is the most contested category among all the awards. It’s Wildermyth who is the winner, not only for the quality of its storytelling, but also for the innovative way it is constructed.
In terms of level design, procedurally generated content can often lead to very bland and generic layouts, but when Wildermyth applies some of the same technology to story generation the end result is endless array. of unpredictability different characters and scenarios that manage to captivate every time.
Finalist: The Forgotten City (XO / PS4 / NS / XSX / PS5 / PC)
The worst game
Winner: eFootball 2022 (XO / PS4 / XSX / PS4 / PC)
The only positive thing we can say about eFootball 2022 is that it’s so clearly the worst game of the year that it means SWERY’s deeply disappointing The Good Life is avoiding “winning” the category. A train wreck that everyone saw coming except apparently Konami, fans are suddenly happy that they changed the name of the series to Pro Evolution Soccer, ensuring that the big name hasn’t been tainted.
Incompetent on a barely comprehensible level, eFootball 2022 is not only the worst game of 2021, but of the decade, and possibly beyond. It instantly became the lowest-rated Steam game of all time, with horribly broken gameplay and physics, endless bugs, terrible menus, and graphics so bad that laughing at them almost made the game so. bad that it is good.
Finalist: The Good Life (XO / PS4 / NS / PC)
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