02 Februrary 2022
In 2021, 56.9 billion dollars were spent on video games. 2021 was a prosperous year for gaming. With the pandemic, and people staying indoors, created the perfect time for video game developers to release big game launches and demos. 2021 became a banner year for excellent games to play. In no particular order, here are some of my top favorites from 2021.
–Final Fantasy 7 remake (Playstation, PC)
Image Courtesy of: square-enix-games.com
The dark slums, the hazy green lights, and the extensive steel factories, are the setting of the original Final Fantasy 7, the blighted world of Midgar, reimagined and modernized in 2020 in the Final Fantasy 7 remake. The handcrafted diorama environments and visual effects by Hinobu Sakaguchi and Square Enix gives the rusted environs of Final Fantasy an eerie beauty. Soaring through the smoggy skies, staring at the vast expanse of humanity below, the player gets a feel for the large, expansive story, and the competing conflicts between the lower classes and the elitists.
Each district, only referred to by its numbered name, evokes other cyberpunk dystopian metropolises, such as CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk 2077 with its seven districts of night city. It’s a city with a unique layout: from a central pillar extend eight different plates. Shinra employees, and the elitists live on the plates, while the lower class is in the slums below.
The remake is more than just a visual and narrative overhaul. The developers at Square Enix have also modernized much of the gameplay as well, including the combat. The 1997 version of the game was a classic, turn-based RPG, where the player and its enemies take turns attacking, healing, and casting spells. The remake is much more action-oriented. Battles happen in real time. The player can use basic attacks, but every action — using items in the inventory, casting spells, pulling off special attacks — is on a timer. This creates more strategy when deciding when to heal or make a blow.
Up until a point, the story has been contained in the walls of Midgar, but suddenly, you leave the city and realize just how expansive, complex, and visually stunning the environment is. Final Fantasy 7 remake has successfully captured the initial feeling, the clean cut scenes, the smooth game play, and top notch character designs. Now, it is up to the player to explore the rest.
-The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt (PC, Playstation 4, XBOX)
Image courtesy of: wallpaperaccess.com
Unlike its predecessor, the Witcher 3 Wild Hunt doesn’t plunge headlong into a story of intrigue and fascination. The main quest comes off as mundane, even off right boring at times. But stepping off the main path to blaze on side quests and form a unique trail, turned the game into a wild, exhilarating fantasy adventure, giving the player an opportunity to make use of the excellent combat, and elemental castings.
It is difficult to express just how expansive the world is, the rolling fields dotted with swaying dandelions, weeds, and huckleberry of every shape and size fill the space between distant townships where townsfolk struggle to scrape by. A full day/night cycle and dynamic weather complete the environment, cementing the wilderness and medieval landscape. The minimap checkpoints may seem like a crutch, but without it one could expect to get lost in the endless fields of towns and pastures.
The plot begins as a search for Geralt’s long-lost lover Yennifer, and Ciri, his former apprentice. Though my critique of the plot is that it is overly long, and is entirely just Geralt running errands for people in exchange for information on Ciri’s whereabouts and currency to progress in his journey. At times, the game feels like a wild goose chase than an intriguing mystery to unravel like Frogwares game, Sherlock Holmes Chapter One.
Aside from the sometimes mundane main quests, there are lairs, camps, and locations, generously littered with monsters for Geralt, the Witcher, to pursue. Monsters can range from ethereal wraiths that can disappear in smog when provoked, to botchlings, deformed human fetuses who are vulnerable to axii and yrden signs.
It is not a surprise the game won multiple game of the year awards and is considered, still in 2022, to be a masterpiece in gaming.
-Apex Legends (PC, XBOX, Playstation, Switch)
Image courtesy of: wallpaperaccess.com
Apex Legends, formally called the “Fortnite killer”, is an ever evolving battle royale. The heart racing action of jumping, sliding, and dodging enemy bullets while finding the perfect time to quick scope in a 1v1 duel and revive your teammates never gets old. Mobility, and teamwork combined with a rewarding feeling creates an experience unlike any other.
Traditionally in battle royales, your role is defined by the gear you acquire, but in Apex Legends there are 19 legends that have their own set of special abilities and strength. Many of the Legends abilities are cooperative. For example, if Bangalore spawns smoke bombs, Bloodhound can use his ablities to see through the smoke and highlight enemies and enemy trails.
But Apex relies on personal skill, precision and strategy, rather than abilities, especially when compared to other legend based shooters like Overwatch.
Apex Legends has largely become my go to game when it comes to a merge between fun and competition. Being able to try out different strategies in combination with the legends abilities, as well as the satisfying champion banner when you win a round, creates the ultimate combination of challenge and satisfaction. While the audio and server issues can be withdrawing, I still find myself easily spending hours queuing up one game after another.
-Twin Mirror (PC, XBOX, Playstation 4)
Image courtesy of: wallpaperaccess.com
Waking up after a night at the bar with a shirt covered in blood and the memories from the previous night shrouded in mental fog, is how the game, Twin Mirror, begins. There is no shortage of intrigue following the life of an investigative journalist named Sam trying to uncover the mystery surrounding his friend’s death, and in this, getting caught in the actions of a drug ring, and a corrupt police officer. Though the game is largely a whodunnit, the game has many interesting conflicts. The tension between Sam and the local coal mining industry, and his fragile mental state, personified by an imaginary twin who serves as a devil or angel on his shoulder, steering and influencing his choices throughout.
The most interesting aspect of this game that sets it apart from Dontnod Entertainment’s game Life is Strange, which has a similar feel, are the shattered fragments of Sam memory in his ‘mind palace’, which is a realm similar to the Polish game, Superhot. Though the realm has the feel of a safe haven, as the game progresses and Sam’s anxiety intensifies, the realm merges into an inescapable hellish void.
Although the game can end frustratingly fast, what kept me latched on was the shattered, complex mind palace together with Sam’s twin double.
A public survey was held asking students’ what their top favorite games of 2021 were. The 16 respondents of the survey answered with these games as their top favorite:
–FNAF Security Breach (PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5)
–Minecraft (PC, IOS, Android, XBOX, Switch, Playstation)
–Friday Night Funkin (PC)
–A Hat in Time (PC, Playstation 4, Xbox, Switch)
–Madness: Project Nexus (PC)
–Taiko no Tatsujin (Nintendo Switch)
–Roblox (PC, IOS, Android, XBOX, Switch,)
–Genshin Impact (PC)
–Baldurs Gate Shadows of Amn (PC)
–Sonic 06 (Playstation 3, XBOX)
–Rainbow Six Siege (PC, Playstation 5, Playstation 4, XBOX)
–Warzone (PC, IOS, Android, XBOX, Playstation)
–2k (PC, IOS, Android, Switch, XBOX, Playstation)
–Madden (PC, Switch, XBOX, Playstation, Google Stadia)
–Apex Legends (PC, XBOX, Playstation, Switch)
–Overwatch (Playstation 4, XBOX, PC)
–For honor (Playstation 4, XBOX, PC)
–Hunter Call of the Wild (PC, XBOX, Playstation 4)
–Mortal Kombat 11 (PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, XBOX)
–Marvel Puzzle Quest (IOS, Android)
–Celeste (PC, Switch, Playstation 4, XBOX)
–Dead by Daylight (PC, Playstation, XBOX)
–League of Legends (PC)
–Among Us (PC, IOS, Android)
–Fortnite (PC, Switch, Playstation, XBOX, IOS, Android)
–Delta Rune Chapter 2 (PC)
–Psychonauts 2 (XBOX, PC, Playstation)
–Before Your Eyes (PC)
–Hitman 3 (Playstation, XBOX, PC)