gamerevolution game of the year 2021

GameRevolution’s Game of the Year 2021

Another year draws to a close in a terrifying blink of an eye, meaning that it’s time to name our Game of the Year 2021. It was a tough one this year, with there being no clear-cut winner among a ton of great games. With the PS5 and Xbox Series X kicking into gear, Nintendo Switch still pumping out terrific exclusives, and PC gamers continuing to have a vast selection of new releases both big and small to enjoy, there were several candidates. Fortunately, we managed to surgically separate the wheat from the chaff, coming up with our top ten for the past year. Here are the games we feel were better than the rest in 2021.

10. Biomutant

biomutant goty

We predict that history will be kind to Biomutant — an unusual game that threw so many ideas at the wall you could be dozens of hours in before accidentally discovering a flying mount, or an easily overlooked item that monumentally elevated its combat. It’s Biomutant’s scrappiness that makes it so charming, with Swedish developer Experiment 101 not exactly providing a refined open world, but one stuffed to the brim with ideas that you keep finding even when you think you’ve explored all of its nooks and crannies.

Critics (aside from GameRevolution) weren’t too kind about Biomutant’s rough-around-the-edges design. But in a world of dime-a-dozen open-world games with boring empty landscapes lifted straight from the Ubisoft playbook, it was refreshing to journey into a sandbox so peculiar. Punching weird raccoon mutants in the face was great fun, as was diving into its various different biomes and vistas. We’d bet good money on Biomutant eventually becoming a cult favorite, with Experiment 101’s odd design choices destined to be revered by those sick of big-budget RPGs, and desperate for something brimming with the creativity that’s often lost upon the genre.

Read our review

9. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

guardians of the galaxy game of the year

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the true dark horses of 2021. Fresh off of disappointing mostly everyone with its Avengers game, Square Enix enlisted Eidos Montreal to take on Marvel’s other, less-accomplished rag-tag superhero group. Somehow, despite all pre-release footage suggesting otherwise, Guardians of the Galaxy was exactly what many wanted?— a tight, old-school single-player campaign set in the Marvel universe.

Perfectly embodying the spirit of the Guardians of the Galaxy with its humor and constant banter between characters, Eidos Montreal told a surprisingly impactful story by putting its focus on Star-Lord. Unlike Square’s The Avengers, which gave us dime-store versions of the MCU’s cast of characters, GotG was a great mix of the Guardians’ film and comic book counterparts. As arguably the best Marvel game outside of Insomniac’s Spider-Man series, this was a must-play for fans.

Read our review

8. Deathloop

deathloop game of the year

It was quite on the nose that one of 2021’s best games was a story about a man repeating the same day over and over again. Deathloop saw developer Arkane Studios move away from the gothic Dishonored and into the retrofuturistic island of Blackreef, where protagonist Colt was forced to replay a day repeatedly. Basically Groundhog Day, then, but with way more guns.

Arkane eschewed the boredom that could accompany this repetition by making Deathloop all about taking down its enemies with perfect precision. Colt replaying the same day also meant that players would wind up learning its world in detail, knowing exactly when and how to take down enemies and progress. Again, it’s like that bit in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray reveals he knows all the intimate secrets of the people in the diner… but with way more guns.

Read our review

7. Psychonauts 2

psychonauts 2 game of the year

How do you follow up a game that people have spent 16 years begging for? It turns out you pick up exactly where you left off. Psychonauts 2 is a direct continuation of the events of the first game, letting fans of the 2005 cult-favorite comfortably slip right back into its 3D platforming.

Since the first Psychonauts, plenty of games have explored mental health in various capacities, even big-budget blockbusters like The Last of Us 2. However, rather than presenting a brutal portrayal of these themes, Psychonauts 2 opts for a far more optimistic approach, that is more concerned with the positive impact of focusing on one’s demons and overcoming them. Complemented by improved platforming and combat over the original, though still retaining all of its charms, this sequel achieved the impossible and lived up to expectations despite the lengthy wait.

Read our review

6. Resident Evil Village

resident evil village game of the year

The past year has seen people divided more than they’ve been united, except on one thing?— their attraction to Resident Evil Village’s “tall dommy mommy,” Lady Dimitrescu.

The giant villainous vampire became an instant meme upon Capcom’s unveiling of the character, to the point where her and her particularly large hat threatened to overshadow the game she represented. Fortunately, Village was a damn good Resident Evil game, and while it didn’t quite match the highs of its predecessor Resident Evil 7, it was still a roaring ride for RE fans with terrific environmental design and a great cast of antagonists.

Read our review

5. Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart

ratchet and clank rift apart game of the year

If you could get a PS5 in 2021, then chances are you were excited for Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart. Repeatedly used by Sony to advertise the console’s increased power, the instantaneous switch between dimensions was unlike we’d anything we’d seen before in a game. The end product was more than just a flashy gimmick, though, with the titular heroes returning to what they do best?— blowing stuff up with ridiculous weaponry.

A Rift Apart was a true return to form for the duo, providing the PS5’s most accessible exclusive yet. While the likes of Demon’s Souls and Returnal may be the platform’s most acclaimed titles, Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart presented platforming fun for the entire family, and there’s a lot to say for that.

Read our review

4. Metroid Dread

metroid dread game of the year

Nintendo has kept the Metroid series in a state of dormancy for a while now, and in that time a slew of Metroidvanias have made the rounds. Hollow Knight, Ori, Dead Cells?— how could Metroid Dread come in and regain relevancy? It turns out we should have never questioned developer MercurySteam, who combined a bunch of 2D Metroid’s best ideas?— Fusion’s SA-X being transformed into the equally terrifying EMMIs chief among them?— and ended up creating the best Switch exclusive of the year.

The ‘Dread’ in the latest Metroid’s name is no joke; while it doesn’t quite contain the same haunting atmosphere as Super Metroid, the threat of the lethal EMMIs ramp up the tension considerably. This, coupled with some of the series’ most bombastic and exciting boss fights yet, provided a Metroid sequel that not only pleased long-time fans, but created a whole bunch of new ones, too.

Read our review

3. Returnal

returnal game of the year

Returnal saw the roguelike genre go big-budget, with developer Housemarque (Resogun, Alienation) backed by Sony to create this stellar PS5 exclusive. Previously the domain of indie developers, roguelikes were seen as too risky a proposition for larger studios, but Returnal provided an entry in the genre with all the good looks of a “AAA” release while keeping its unique?— and divisive?— quirks.

In Returnal, when you die, you die. This means that runs can be brought to an end in a soul-crushing instant. It also means that learning its secrets and improving your skills pay off monumentally. This satisfying loop is all brought together by an engrossing story, kept ambiguous and told through its world rather than its cutscenes, putting the cherry on the top of arguably the best PS5 exclusive yet.

Read our review

2. Forza Horizon 5

forza horizon 5 game of the year

Forza Horizon 5 functions like a well-oiled machine. If you’re familiar with the series, you know what you’re getting: an expansive open world, an exhaustive selection of cars, and a myriad different race types and events to take on. The latest Horizon festival may not have been as big a step up over its predecessors as the series’ trip to the UK, but it was absolutely the best entry yet.

There is so much to do in Forza Horizon 5 it’s almost overwhelming. Showcase events, extensive customization options, mini-games, and custom races and modes?— as soon as you get behind the wheel, you’re treated to a litany of activities from the get-go. But that wouldn’t count for much if the driving itself wasn’t much fun, and Forza Horizon 5 kicks things up a gear with sublime controls that make each car unique. While each Horizon game has featured a wide range of vehicles spanning multiple manufacturers and eras, Forza Horizon 5 truly gives each car a personality. It’s impossible to have just one favorite here, given how many different strengths and weaknesses each car has, not to mention the implementation of deep tuning options that basically let you create your perfect drive. A must-play for anyone with even a passing interest in racing games.

Read our review

1. It Takes Two

it takes two game of the year

In a year that drove many people apart, It Takes Two brought plenty of couples together. Branded the first-ever rom-com video game by developer Hazelight Studios and its charismatic founder Josef Fares, It Takes Two provided a co-op experience where players must work together to progress, all against the backdrop of a story involving two parents attempting to reconcile their differences after announcing their impending divorce to their daughter. But given that this is a platformer with a Pixar-esque aesthetic, both parents are naturally shrunken down to the size of small dolls, where they must navigate the perils of their house from this new miniature perspective.

Despite the emotional subject matter, It Takes Two rarely takes itself seriously. Instead, it focuses on fun levels with inventive ways for players to interact with one another. You’ll be given the opposite ends of a magnet, with both parents either pushing or pulling objects. You’ll stick enemies with goo that can be exploded with your partner’s special gun. You’ll have snowball fights, RC car races, and fly a plane while your significant other shoots angry wasps from a turret. Rarely a moment goes by where It Takes Two isn’t getting its two players to engage with one another in an entertaining way.

Hazelight Studios provided the ultimate date night game with It Takes Two, but it was so much more than that?— its adeptness at creating fun new mechanics, then confidently doing away with them before moving on to the next idea, rivaled Nintendo at its very best. As such, it’s our Game of the Year for 2021, and we can’t wait to see what imaginative new concept for a game Hazelight and Fares whips up next.

Read our review

Upcoming Releases
Inspired by the beauty of the natural world around us, Everwild is a brand-new game in development from Rare where unique and unforgettable experiences await in a natural and magical world. Play as an Eternal as you explore and build bonds with the world around you.
Kindred Fates is an open world monster battling RPG, and a love letter to the monster battle genre. Our goal is to evolve the genre, and finally bring fans what they've been asking for.
Embark on an inspiring mission of human connection beyond the UCA. Sam — with companions by his side — sets out on a new journey to save humanity from extinction. Join them as they traverse a world beset by otherworldly enemies, obstacles and a haunting question: should we have connected?
Star Citizen is an upcoming space trading and combat simulator video game for Microsoft Windows. Star Citizen will consist of two main components: first person space combat and trading in a massively multiplayer persistent universe and customizable private servers (known as Star Citizen), and a branching single-player game (known as Squadron 42). The game will also feature VR support.

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