Presented in no particular order (kind of chronological?), the games that I have played this year:
A * indicates game is not beaten
Control: The shooting felt finicky, and the worldn’t didn’t feel all that ‘realized’. It was very tell don’t show except for the Ashtray Maze when the game finally came into its own, for much too short of a time. Worth the low sale price it goes for, and the RTX stuff looks beautiful if you can run it.
Half Life Alyx: Best VR experience in a long time. More horror based than Half Life’s usual genre, but very fun and intense. Even the process of reloading mid firefight is stressful. A must have for VR owners, glad that I played it.
Serious Sam 4: A fairly large disappointment after 3. At the end of the year I don't recall anything special about this game, any spectacle, set piece, or weapons. Shame.
Doom Eternal: More Doom is good, but it doesn’t quite live up to the hype of the 2016 reboot. Not to say it’s bad, but the formula isn’t as fresh, and there were some extra features that muddied the waters a bit. Still very fun, and definitely a high point of the year, just not stellar.
Hades: An excellent roguelike. Not much more to say. Love this game and had to break the addiction to in order to play other games.
Freakpocalypse: sadly not worth the price point as the game is insultingly short. It is a good point and click game at its core, with humor that made me laugh. Looking forward to more of the story, but probably on sale.
Code Vein: Very mixed feelings about this game. At the end, I was pretty high on it, but it has some rough patches. Overall it mixes up the souls formula just enough to have its own identity, and I wouldn’t mind trying again with a different build someday.
Dead By Daylight: PVP fix. I broke my addiction after 300 some hours because the grind was just too much. Could be fun while it lasted, but mostly it was a timekiller and a streaming game.
Phasmophobia: The core gets stale quickly, but in short bursts the game is very fun. The less you know the more entertaining it can be.
Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor*: Just noped out. Not for me at all. Boring gameplay loop and not enough loots and skills to keep me involved.
Final Fantasy 6: Still good, but has aged worse than I thought it might. Many strange decisions as far as optional characters, and a couple of obtuse directions on where to go which is helped by the mobile port. I still like it, but it used to be my ‘holy grail’ of good Final Fantasy games, and it has fallen ever so slightly.
Gears Tactics*: Nothing about this game is bad, but there also wasn’t anything compelling enough for me to finish it. The missions maybe got same-y, which usually isn’t an issue for me. The first act is good?
Raft: a fun game to play with friends. Very much the Minecraft / Stardew Valley loop of automating increasingly complex problems so you can manage harder goals. Liked it, but wouldn’t play it solo I don’t think.
Loop Hero: I beat this game out of spite. I don’t think it was that great, as the difficulty only comes in your ability to grind out things to buy upgrades so you can grind harder to buy more upgrades. Victory is inevitable. It was fine to play while waiting for a queue in another game or to kill five minutes, but not something I really enjoyed playing as its own stand on.
Halo (1,2,3): Played on the MCC. All still hold up very well, and I had a ton of fun playing through these again.
Final Fantasy 1 Pixel Remaster: Very fun. The new music is very good. The art is fine. They changed some things that I didn’t enjoy that are very nitpicky. Still one of my favorite Final Fantasy games.
Monster Train: What an excellent roguelike, with many, many challenges. Hearty recommendation for any fans of Slay the Spire or similar games.
Resident Evil 7: The horror reboot. Some things irritated me with padded health bars, and the last boss was kind of a wet fart, but overall I enjoyed it and am looking forward to RE8 when it goes on a deep enough sale and I have time.
Back 4 Blood: Really fun with friends. I don’t have friends. It’s good with randoms, but not as good, so I dropped off hard at 75 hours. I enjoyed it, and would recommend it, but after beating the 2nd tier of difficulty didn’t feel compelled to keep grinding at it. Hope to return someday for some more casual play.
Dota: Still addicted.
Dead Cells: Game looked too up my alley so I didn’t get it for the longest time. It is good. The increasing difficulties feel insurmountable at first, but are ultimately very achievable. Well made game.
The Forgotten City: nice story, cool concept, high price. Recommend trying it out if you like story based games for sure.
Celeste*: I only put in two or three play sessions, but it was very enjoyable. The Super Meat Boy loop doesn’t sound appealing to me on paper, but this really worked for me. Should beat it some day, but I’m lazy.
Resident Evil 3: Not nearly as good as 2, but a fine game in its own right. Played it, beat it, forgot it.
Final Fantasy 8: How did this get so bad after 7? Second worst mainline game, just in front of 15 by the virtue of being an RPG and not an action game. The story is bad, the writing is bad, the mechanics for the most part are bad. Do not like.
Dark Souls*: my other annual addiction. Did some for Extra Life, but my muscle memory with an Xbox controller makes playing on the switch difficult, plus a small amount of lag from the capture card.
They are Billions*: My brain just cannot comprehend this game still. I’m just awful at it.
Alien Isolation*: Made it further than I had been before, had a depressive episode, quit playing it. Should pick it up again someday.
Nier Replicant*: Daddy Nier still best, but this is a fine coat of paint. Likely to beat early in the year if not this year after this blog is published.
Xenoblade Chronicles*: A single player MMO. Quests are the banal ‘find X items, kill X enemies’, and the main story is standard JRPG so far. That being said, it's a good game for me to play while I’m doing other things. Feels like it's hitting me at the right time.
Top 3 Games played in 2021:
3rd Place. Persona 4 Golden: I had Satan in my party no less than 4 times, and that was pretty neato. Has a very ‘old school’ RPG appeal with collecting demons, grinding out dungeons, risk reward for staying too long. There were some minor complaints - annoying anime tropes abound, the entire character of Teddy, and some views that weren’t as problematic as they were when the game first released. With those out of the way, I enjoyed the experience quite a bit, and look forward to playing 5 if it ever comes to something I own. Oh, and Yukiko is best girlfriend.
2nd Place. Tetris Effect: unexpected late game hit. I purchased the game as a VR test a while back and not much else, then I saw Game Grumps playing an updated version which had a 3v1 PVE minigame so I jumped back in and wow, this game is great. The combination of music and visuals, great customization options, and incredibly varied amount of game modes got me really into tetris. I raced to get my 40 line clears under 2 minutes, I completed the game on Normal (Hard gets very hard) and worked my way up into “competent”. The ending of the game actually feels very emotional despite it just being Tetris, but the music and visuals take you on a global journey of music of multiple genres that have such wonderful optimism baked into them. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Tetris this year, but it sure did happen. It's a steep price point for a game everyone has played on everything, but at least for me, 100% worth it.
GOTY Resident Evil 2: I’m not a Resident Evil guy. I had only played 4 on the Gamecube and then the Wii, and less than half of 5 on Xbox. I did some Mercenaries on the 3ds because I was desperate for games. On a lark, I played 7 on my stream and decided to keep going after and play the remake, and uh…it's good. Really good. I wound up making a cheat sheet with the puzzle solutions so on my 5th or 6th playthrough I could go for an S rank to get the infinite gun. I found all the collectables for the infinite knife, so I could try for an S rank on Hardcore (which I never got around to). I almost never do this on games. I also almost never play horror games, but the presentation, the gameplay loop, and the feel of the game is just excellent, and it only gets better as you play more and update your routes. Loved this game.