My Top 10 Games of 2021

Another year, another Top 10 Games list that only JUST made it to 10. Well, actually if I’m honest Number 10 is a bit of a cop out I put in because “Top 9” just sounds stupid. Still, given I’ve played a lot of older games this year it’s no surprise that I nearly fell short… Anyway, with that out of the way (and another reminder that I’m not a professional outlet and therefore if a game you think should be best isn’t on here it’s more likely that I just haven’t played it yet, if ever, than I think it wasn’t worthy) let’s take a look!

Told you Number 10 was a cop out. Yes, Legendary Edition is a collection of three games that were most certainly NOT released in 2021. That being said I spent a good while on the remaster of the original Mass Effect so I’m happy to put this in spot number 10 because, if nothing else, it was a top game I played in 2021, even if it technically doesn’t count… (My review of the Legendary Edition of the original game can be found HERE)

Right, on to actual 2021 games then, but starting off rather small. I’ve had my eye on RetroMania Wrestling for ages, back before it was officially tied to the old WrestleFest arcade game and was simply just trying to emulate it. As each new roster addition was given weird artwork I looked forward to finally playing it more and more, and when I got it I had a great time… for a few days. Being very much like the Arcade game there isn’t a great deal of replay value at the moment, but things are still going on behind the scenes, hopefully when the “Wrestling Game Rundown” marathon reaches this I’ll have more to say on it…

Ah, what would a Top 10 games list on this blog be without some sort of Warriors game on it? Samurai Warriors 5 rebooted the Sengoku Era game and gave it a fresh redesign and focused on the first half of the time period, therefore excluding some fan favourite characters all together, plus added a few little changes to the gameplay formula. At the end of the day is it “more of the same”? Yes, but I like the gameplay system and the fresh coat of paint was at least a little different, if not a little weird at times… (My review of Samurai Warriors 5 will be coming next year… hopefully.)

Guilty Gear games are always stunning eye candy and an amazing soundtrack first, fun gameplay and weird-as-hell story second, and Strive manages to tick all four boxes very nicely. It’s one franchise that I’m sure if I played online or on a stream in front of people they’d all simultaneously face-palm as I’m clearly not at any kind of expert level at it, but I still have great fun playing it, so who cares, really? (No idea if I’ll get round to reviewing this, fighting games are always hard to write about, especially as they frequently evolve for their first year or two…)

I had no intention of playing Neo: The World Ends With You, I can just about stomach the long Super Robot Wars RPGs I’ve been playing the past three years without another long J-RPG to climb through, but when Anime UK News got a review code for the game and I was asked to tackle it for the website’s first (and at this point, possibly only) game review I was happy to do it. The game has a unique visual flare and a really unique (to me) combat system that made it really fun to slowly peg my way through, even if some of the story fell flat for me due to having no experience with the franchise before this point… (My review of Neo: The World Ends With You can be found on Anime UK news HERE)

If we were creating this list based on how many hours I’ve played a game then MDickie’s Wrestling Empire would be at Number 1. My Switch told me a few days ago that I’ve put nearly 110 hours into this game in the past year. What is it? It’s a wonky take-off of the old N64 AKI wrestling games with a freely flowing and absolutely bonkers career mode and a hook of unlocking altered versions of real wrestlers and then renaming them / tweaking their look to make them match their original counterparts that I couldn’t get enough of. It very quickly became my go-to game to play when I have nothing else to put on, or if I’ve just finished a big game and don’t know what to move onto next. To make things better Mr. Dickie has been constantly adding to the game via free updates, including whole new modes and with no sign of stopping, so I’m sure when the Wrestling Game Rundown reaches this game it’ll be in a completely different shape than it is now…

Metroid Dread is something fans of the franchise had long since accepted was an old abandoned sequel that never saw the light of day. So to see it not only suddenly exist but to be of such a high quality is something very special indeed. I’m never a big fan of 3D-on-2D platformers, they always look cheap, that is with the exception here as it looks extremely polished and often beautiful, and with some classic Metroid gameplay to go with it. If I’d got this game on release instead of for Christmas and therefore had more time with it I wouldn’t be surprised if it would’ve climbed higher, but there you go. That’s timing for you… (My review of the game will appear early next year!)

Resident Evil VILLage was an odd one, it had times of properly top-class atmosphere and scares but also times of extreme action to the point of nearly being a straight up FPS. It had locations extremely different from each other and a plot that was a bit… weird. It was a lot of things, but what it was throughout all of them was entertaining, sometimes even straight up a great experience. At its eighth official titled entry but far, far further along than that, I’m just happy when a Resident Evil game manages to be decent, VIII being this good was a triumph. (My review of Resident Evil VILLage can be found by clicking HERE)

With a license this popular it would’ve been easy to just slap a Guardians of the Galaxy coat of paint on a basic game and call it a day, or just loosely adapt the first and super-popular film into a game and watch the money roll in, but instead Guardians tells its own story with some great use of both MCU lore and comics lore to make a truly great piece of narrative work. Thankfully the actual gameplay is good as well, if not a tad repetitive (and yes that’s coming from someone who plays a lot of Warriors games…) to make an overall great package. (My review of Guardians of the Galaxy can be found by clicking HERE)

Speaking of Warriors games, though not really, Persona 5: Strikers takes my top spot for 2021 games, and I’ve had the feeling it would somewhere around the halfway mark of playing it. Mixing the Persona 5 story, artwork and style with a Warriors-like combat system, itself mixed with the Persona system, created something truly special. If I didn’t enjoy the mix of dungeon (or Palace) crawling with sudden outbreaks of Warriors combat I’d still rank this high due to its story, taking place after the original Persona 5 and acting frankly as a full-blown sequel. The character Zenkichi and his struggles as a single father, a police officer and as a member of a group of other-dimension-battling teens who is very much out of his depth in all three really spoke to me and made me want to see him succeed at the end of it. It was that rare kind of game that I came home from work genuinely excited to put it back on and I was very sad when I realised I didn’t have anything left to do on it. An easy #1 this year! (My review of Persona 5: Strikers can be read by clicking HERE)

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