DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2021 -- Rachael’s Top 10
If you thought my 2020 list was jam-packed, wait until you see the host of games that kept me sane through another turmoil filled year and I’ve never been more thankful for the existence of video games.
2021 has been yet another unpredictable year with so many things still left completely out of our control due to the pandemic. Even though these past two years might feel utterly hopeless, there’s one thing you can rely on and that’s the escapism into some stellar games.
This year, I’ve been very lucky to review some of my most anticipated games. Although, it’ll always be a hard task to only pull ten out from a stacked year of exciting releases but let’s take a look at some of the ones that captivated me the most.
10. Twelve Minutes
Starring James McAvoy, Daisey Ridley, and Willem Dafoe, Twelve Minutes caught my eye due to its star-studded cast and intriguing narrative. Having already received a sneak preview during the Tribeca Festival, the Hitchcock inspired game left me wanting more.
I loved how I had to really dig in and study these characters to unearth secrets, clues and how the hell to get out of this small flat but what I enjoyed the most is how the game draws you in as if it’s really you that’s in danger and experiencing this awful situation. Although it received quite a bit of controversy on its release because of its dark and twisted endings, Twelve Minutes was a compelling adventure that deserves a place on my list.
Check out our review of Twelve Minutes right here.
9. Death’s Door
Show me one person who wouldn’t want to play as a cute little crow with supernatural powers? I was first drawn to this game by Acid Nerve because of its colourful retro vibes. The environmental puzzles and top-down combat reminded me of the early The Legend of Zelda titles but in reality, Death’s Door was more of a love letter to its previous influences than a copycat.
It doesn’t try to imitate other classics but more so honours them and while remaining familiar, the title expresses its own unique approach to the classic genre that provided me hours of fun and adventure.
8. The Sims 4: Cottage Living
If you’re looking for the perfect place to escape to, The Sims 4: Cottage Living will have your mind too preoccupied with cottagecore loveliness and cute animals for you to think about anything else.
There’s honestly nothing like taking care of something else when you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps and seeing it flourish, or even designing the perfect cosy home when the thought of doing anything around your own home is too overwhelming.
Cottage living offered me a safe place where I could be anything I wanted while rewarding me and showcasing my process for doing so. Who could want for anything else?
Check out our preview of The Sims 4: Cottage Living right here.
7. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids
I was already in love with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla having stacked at least 80 plus hours into the Ubisoft title but when the Wrath of the Druids DLC came out this year, I just had to explore my homeland through the medium of a video game.
Being able to stroll around strange yet familiar locations that I had been to many times in real life was mindblowing if not slightly unnerving. The locations around Ireland, north and south, were lovingly crafted that I would just spend hours on my horse trotting around taking pictures to show my non-gaming Irish friends.
Check out our review of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla right here.
6. It Takes Two
There’s nothing that I enjoy more than playing some good old fashioned couch co-op games. Gone seem to be the days where offline gaming with a friend was the norm and now it’s more like a rare treat.
It Takes Two, along with Hazelight’s other title, A Way Out, completely focuses on the partnership and guidance of two people and in an online era, it makes for some really special moments. Being able to actually see the reaction of joy or shock on your gaming partner’s face and not having to fiddle around with a mic that’s already hurting your head is something I didn’t realise I missed so much until I experienced it again.
I can’t wait to see what Hazelight bring out next and I’m so happy that they are sticking to their co-op gaming roots.
I’ll be honest, when I heard there was an entire game dedicated to taking stuff out of boxes and placing them around the home my initial thought was “My God, how boring. Whatever will they think of next?!”.
I soon had to eat my words because, naturally, I gave it a shot out of curiosity. This incredibly satisfying title by Witch Beam offered me some of the most tranquil and meditative moments in a game that I haven’t experienced in quite a long time. Unpacking also, surprisingly, had an emotional undertone to it as you play along with the movement and times of another person’s life as well as their belongings.
It really was a fantastic little game and I really hope there is more planned content arriving sooner rather than later.
4. Far Cry 6
Far Cry 6 was everything I wanted from a Far Cry title. Personally, I didn’t need the formula changed up as that’s why I fell in love with the franchise to begin with. It’s the perfect blend of fun, chaos and silliness tied up neatly in a stunning environment.
There are no real rules to follow which I love. You can, of course, follow the narrative until the end without blurring the lines but where’s the fun in that? I think Far Cry 6 feeds into my inner chaotic nature and allows me to do things like taking out helicopters with an EMP Grenade Launcher or running around burning crops with my kickass flamethrower while laughing evilly.
Check out our review of Far Cry 6 right here.
3. Life is Strange: True Colours
Since 2015, Life is Strange has held a place in my heart; mostly due to how well sensitive topics are written and how emotionally invested it makes its players. This time, although with a different team, True Colors provided meaningful characters, dialogue choices that offered more depth and complexity and fantastic pacing.
As much as I loved the setting of Arcadia Bay, Oregon for the original LiS and the nature-fueled environments of Seattle in LiS2, Haven Springs is probably the best location I could have asked for. Life is Strange: True Colors did everything right in the exploration of a troubled teenager as she waded through trauma and the complex lives of those around her. If this is how high Deck Nine have set the bar, roll on their next instalment into the franchise.
Check out our review for Life is Strange: True Colours right here.
2. Resident Evil Village
I’ll be honest here, I never completed a Resident Evil game until Village. That’s not to say I didn’t try but I’m just a big old scaredy-cat to truly experience the franchise. That was until this year, of course.
Like everyone else, the draw of coming face to face with the delectable Lady Dimitrescu was just too much of a draw for me to miss out this time and, not to be completely shallow, the environments looked stunning, too. I loved every moment of it and I’m so glad I put on my big pants to see it through. Although, that horrendous baby scene will haunt my dreams forever – I’m fairly sure the echo of my screams can still be heard somewhere to this day.
Check out our review for Resident Evil Village right here.
1. Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Sometimes when you see a trailer for a game and fall in love with it, there’s always that doubtful voice in your mind that it might not be as good when you actually play it. That’s what I was initially worried about with Kena: Bridge of Spirits.
Even though I ended up previewing an hour of it, that slice of time isn’t always a guaranteed indicator that the rest of the game will be great. Thankfully, I was proven wrong and Kena ended up getting a great big fat 10/10 from me when I reviewed it.
Kena is visually out of this world. Exploring every corner of the vibrant environments with my adorable rot coupled with solving puzzles was satisfying, imaginative, and rewarding. I loved this game a lot and still can’t get my head around that this was the studio’s very first gaming title. Bring on their next game!
Check out our review for Kena: Bridge of Spirits right here.
Check out the rest of DualShocker’s staff Top 10 lists below and our Offical Game of the Year Awards winners:
December 30: Sam Woods (Managing Editor and EIC)
December 31: Game of the Year Awards 2021 Official Winners Revealed