Isaac’s 5 best games of 2021… and 5 he still needs to play

Games of 2021

I’m sure many of you will agree that 2021 wasn’t the most fun year, though it did at least have some solid game releases overall. And, as with most years, my backlog got even bigger, and there were many titles that I didn’t end up picking up at all.

With that in mind, I decided to take a different approach to my “Best games of 2021” list. Instead of just listing my favourite releases this year, I thought it would also be appropriate to mention some of the games I still want to try out once 2022 rolls around.

Best games of 2021

Monster Hunter Rise

Best games of 2021: Monster Hunter Rise

While I had tried a few of the portable Monster Hunter titles from Monster Hunter Freedom Unite onwards, it wasn’t until Monster Hunter World that I really got invested in the franchise. It managed to modernise some parts of the franchise without completely simplifying things. However, I still wished I could have this modern take on Monster Hunter on a portable platform, despite understanding that getting the game to work on the Switch would be a big undertaking.

Enter Monster Hunter Rise. Its visuals took a hit in the move to Nintendo’s console as expected, but it still looks great — in handheld mode anyway. The wirebug mechanic also adds in some extra depth to hunts in a much more enjoyable way than Monster Hunter World: Iceborne’s clutch claw.

I’ve ended up playing over 100 hours of Rise across the year, both solo and with friends, so it’s fair to say that in terms of sheer playtime this was one of my best games of 2021. And yet, I can’t help but wish there was even more. Unlike World, seasonal events add very little content, and most of the game is far easier than previous entries. Hopefully the upcoming expansion Sunbreak will bring some of this much needed content and difficulty.

Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…

Best games of 2021: Nier Replicant

An absurd name for a well thought out update of the original Nier. It improves the character models, adapts some of the content from Grimoire Nier, and reworks the clunky battle system into something more interesting, though still simplistic.

This update was so well handled that I can’t help but hope that Drakengard will get a remake at some point, though it’ll definitely take a lot more work to make that game enjoyable to play for many.

Deep Rock Galactic

Best games of 2021: Deep Rock Galactic

The only non-Japanese release in this list, Deep Rock Galactic is an incredibly fun multiplayer FPS that scratches that Left 4 Dead itch. New content is constantly added, making each revisit feel fresh despite putting in around 70 hours during the first half of 2021 alone.

Honestly, it’s probably the co-op game I’ve spent the most time on in recent years, outside of a certain MMORPG. With the game being added to PlayStation Plus in January, it’d be nice for cross play to implemented so I can party up with non-PC players.

Shin Megami Tensei V

Best games of 2021: Shin Megami Tensei V

It may have taken more than four years, but Shin Megami Tensei V was more than worth the wait. It’s another challenging adventure through the post-apocalypse, filled with lots of demon recruitment and inevitable game overs.

The Press Turn System adds some tension to boss battles, while also making grinding faster if you take advantage of weaknesses. Being able to customise the protagonist for each encounter also means that you’re never stuck unprepared.

If there was one thing holding Shun Megami Tensei V back, it’s the Switch itself. The console struggles to run smoothly in most larger areas, and sometimes I wonder if the game would have been better off using less detailed models and environments.

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker

Best games of 2021: FFXIV Endwalker

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker had some big shoes to fill after Shadowbringers, but it managed to deliver on most fronts. Its story has many memorable moments, building upon previous expansions (and even A Realm Reborn and 1.0) in ways that I didn’t expect.

Visiting locations like Old Sharlayan that have been teased for years was worth the wait, even if some of the other zones weren’t as large as I’d hoped (I’m looking at you Thavnair).

With so many story threads reaching their conclusions — and some continuing with the 8-man raid Pandaemonium — it’s hard to see where the game will go during the post-expansion patches and beyond. Then again, maybe a more chill journey is what the Warrior of Light needs after Endwalker.

Games I Missed

SaGa Frontier Remastered

Best games of 2021: SaGa Frontier Remastered

The SaGa series is one that I’ve always wanted to get into, which has been made easier in recent years thanks to various ports and updated releases. My first impressions weren’t exactly the most positive when it came to the first European release of the franchise, Unlimited Saga, though the games I’ve tried since have been far less obtuse.

No More Heroes III

Games of 2021: No More Heroes III

I think I should really play the first two games again before playing No More Heroes III, since it’s been such a long time since No More Heroes II originally released (and I didn’t really find 2019’s Travis Strikes Again that memorable).

With such a long gap between mainline releases, it’s hard to say whether I’ll actually enjoy NMHIII, though I really want to try it either way. No More Heroes was such a memorable game for me during the Wii era that it only feels right to play III, regardless of how well it turned out.

Neo: The World Ends With You

Best games of 2021: NEO The World Ends With You

Neo: The World Ends With You is another long-overdue sequel to a favourite game of mine. It sorta released at a bad time, and I never got round to buying it. The demo was promising at least, and I really like what they did with the visuals.

Square Enix did a bad job at advertising the game too. Many people didn’t even know the game had released, and those that only played the DS version of TWEWY will likely be confused due to Neo taking place after the additional story found in Final Remix. Why this wasn’t adapted by the anime I do not know.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

Best games of 2021: Monster Hunter Stories 2

Monster Hunter Stories was a neat spin-off to the mainline series, so I’m looking forward to giving the sequel a shot. The main reason I’ve been holding off playing Monster Hunter Stories 2 in particular is due to the Steam Deck being delayed to 2022. I want to play it portably, without having to deal with the Switch’s ageing hardware.

Metroid Dread

Best games of 2021: Metroid Dread

Metroid is an odd franchise for me. I’ve never actually played any of the games on their original hardware, instead experiencing them through re-releases on later consoles. I haven’t even played the Prime series outside of Metroid Prime Hunters, which should show how much I’ve missed out on.

Because of this, it only seems right to finally pick up a Metroid title while it’s still fresh and learn some of the more advanced techniques. The series has always had some wild movement options that you don’t really see elsewhere, which should be fun to learn in Dread.

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Isaac Todd
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