As I always say at the start of these things , I never know how to properly start. Especially this time since by the time you read this (if you read this) it will be way off schedule.
At this point I'm writing this more out of tradition rather than informative purposes but I guess you can feel free to be informed. From where I stand , I think many people had seen 2021 as the year they would dust themselves off from the mess that was 2020 and just move on. Myself and some others would agree that by the end of the year moving on or recovering is not quite there yet. So while everyone argues on when(if) things will go back to normal , let me tell you about some video games I've played.
Strafe [PC version]
I would say most people recall the marketing for this game that advertised it to be some sort of Quake II clone , in reality it is a roguelike with retro FPS aesthetic. Like other roguelike games , finishing the game becomes a combination of getting good RNG and learning how everything works. After it had been patched up , I think it's a good time.
Opinion: For the best experience set the graphics to the lowest and play some Slayer in the background.
Welcome to the game
You could call this a twist on the crappy unity horror game for sure , really playing on the mystery surrounding the dark web or dark web urban legends. The experience is something I would describe as mentally draining since this is one of those games that really forces you to break the game if you want to finish it. There are mechanics at play but due to little to no consistency with how they work you either have to hope you will be lucky enough to see the next day or just break the game.
Opinion: There is no way you could get me to replay this.
Hitman 2 ( World of assassination trilogy) [PC version]
Most reviews for what is essentially Hitman season 2 say it's just more levels for Hitman 2016 and that it's not a bad thing , I have to agree. The whole sandbox stealth levels works fine for at least one run through the levels. The presentation is questionable as cutscenes are not fully animated this time around. The issue with me is that when given the freedom to approach contracts in different ways , I end up just sticking with what works and the game gets boring for me . It's more fun when they give a degree of freedom but with some restrictions in regards to how you can approach , that makes you mix things up.
The whole ghost mode PVP could have been something special but it did not seem to catch on. I hope one day they will have a proper PVP mode for hitman where 2 players have to basically blend into NPC crowds.
Opinion: Man, it sure is great that they have you get a whole bunch of Account XP in Hitman 1 (2016) and Hitman 2 (2018) on Steam only to have Hitman 3(2021) be an EGS thing.
Doom: Eternal Ancient gods DLC (Parts 1 and 2) [Xbox One]
After finishing the main campaign , I couldn't say that I was for the new loop they had went with for Eternal and I found myself wanting a Doom 2016 like approach. For the ancient gods DLC they doubled down on the gameplay loop in a way that forces you to use all the tools at your disposal. Part-1 on Nightmare difficulty with sharpen your skills from start to finish , I recall one of the arenas taking me about a week to get through and I was a sobbing mess at the end of it. Part-2 oddly enough slows down and lets you breathe with the most of the challenge limited to these gore nest challenge things which are 2 tiered ( 1 tier for sake of progression and the second if you feel like getting some rewards).
Just a FYI , I'm going off memory here so some Mandela effect may have worked its way in. Anyways, the DLC also wraps up the story in Eternal but I can't say everyone is going to be happy with the conclusion. If you haven't played Doom : Eternal at all up to this point , I would recommend getting the deluxe edition(the one that has the main game and all DLC) on sale.
Opinion: I am really weirded out but how much Ancient gods part-1 reminds me of the conduit 2.
Death stranding [PS4]
This game has to be some kind of proof that Hideo Kojima can get you to play anything as long as his name is on it. A large portion of the game feels like the most advanced walking sim I've ever played with factors such as terrain and weight load taken into account. The rest is a drawn-out cinematic chore with some shooting sections to make sure you're still awake. If you get the impression that I did not enjoy the game , that is because I did not enjoy the game.
If I had to explain, I would say the whole point of it is to create a social gaming experience with the point being that we all need to work together to get through hard times. Since structures built or gear left behind by other players could show up in your game. With all that said it just has the same issue Metal Gear 5 did with just drawing it out too much and really beating you into submission via repetition , there are at least 3 points where you will be sure you are at the end only for the game to make you do more.
Opinion: I forced myself through this , highly not recommended. Wait for the next Kojima game.
Days gone [PS4 - free via PSN+]
Considering that I only decided to play this when it was free with PSN+ , I don't recall having high hopes. What you have here is a fairly standard third person action game (shooting and stealth) tucked into an odd open world. Normally I would be against using UE4 to power an open world game but given that it's post-apocalyptic , you can explain away not many people being around. Maybe it's just me but I liked playing as the douche biker guy , the story isn't groundbreaking but it will keep you going from point A to point B.
The mission system stands out since while you will have missions finished , they will be finished to a certain point and you can continue with a mission to its full conclusion. This will give you extra story or closure I guess. The other impressive feature would be the mega zombie hordes , the way their AI navigates through an area and stays on you is both neat and scary. It's easy to say the mega hordes are the reason most people will stick with the game.
Opinion: A good choice as far as open world zombie games go.
Resident evil 8 [Xbox One]
A contender for most polished and complete AAA game of 2021 and probably my personal GOTY. If you enjoyed RE7 you will pretty much find more of the same here but less grounded with more fantasy elements , the decision to focus on different types of horror does not always click. Some parts of the game would be all combat and other parts would be all walking but on some level it works just well enough to keep you going until the end.
Opinion: I wonder if (hope) they will try to use a mother figure to sell the next game too.
Yet another crappy Unity horror game but well thought out. Janky stealth combined with item hunting and learning the ins and outs of the house , it is one of those games that's frustrating but you keep going back for some reason. I recommend playing the PC version over the mobile version , the controls are better and you don't get ads.
Opinion: All granny wanted was some proper health care.
Dread X collection : The hunt
I really enjoyed the concept here , what you get is a game containing 7 separate games. Every time you beat one of the 7 games you get a code that will allow you to progress in the main game. Originally I was going to list all 7 but I would rather just mention the ones I enjoyed the most.
Opinion: A nice collection but not everything here is for everyone , an issue since you may have to force yourself through a game just to get the code to progress the main plot. Definitely recommended when discounted.
Lost in vivo
On the surface LIV looks like a first person survival horror game with heavy Silent Hill influences. While the SH influence part is true , the survival horror bit not so much.
This feels more like a walking sim with puzzles and combat being thrown in for the hell of it , the reason I say this is mostly because you have regen health. All that said there is a general sense of tension as you make your way through the different environments and the aesthetic is used to the fullest. Should you find yourself looking for a 90s PSX horror throwback , I would recommend this when it's on sale.
Opinion: The place smells like a morgue but you gotta find the corg.
The division [PC version]
Going back to my prior writing shows me that my playthrough for this started back in 2018 , the gist of what I wrote before is that based on what I played the game has great environmental story telling. After finishing the main story missions (none of the DLC was played) I can say that point still stands. Other things like cover shooting and character progression are also well executed but the last missions really drag.
The real shame about it is that you have this tactical cover shooter with some neat presentation but it's been drowned in always online syrup , some missions were an absolute chore due to disconnections midway. All in all , finishing the story missions is doable but you need a bunch of time to level up.
Opinion: It sure is a ridiculous scenario that a virus spread via contact sends New York into chaos , I mean surely that would never happen in real life.....
Battlefield V - War stories [PC version]
While I wanted to play BFV sooner , the early launch mess ups had me waiting to see what happened. I guess I eventually forgot about the game until it became 5 dollars in a steam sale and by that point it had been patched up. The war stories are a genuinely good time , they switch up the pace with each campaign. You will have those open levels that you would have seen if you played the BF1 war stories , you have more linear COD style action set piece levels and general cinematic vibes. The German campaign is surprisingly the most hard hitting in my opinion , as you are playing as the bad guys essentially but you still somehow hold out hope that the tank crew will pull through.
Opinion: As of writing these lines Battlefield V is now considered a good game because BF 2042 is a complete fuck up.
Twelve minutes [Xbox one - Played via game pass]
The premise behind this smaller title is definitely interesting , trying to figure your way out of a time loop with a story that twists and turns. What they don't tell you is how many times you will be repeating the same actions to test the results of your actions. The controls and how you interact with things can also make this process rather frustrating. I would be able to forgive this if not for the case that the plot twist is completely out of nowhere in the worst way possible.
Opinion: After knowing what I know , I cannot recommend this.
Back 4 blood [Xbox one- played via game pass]
One can only wonder how some of the design decisions in this game came to be. The card system , uninspired PVP and bad menu design are some issues that come to mind. Many will bring up how they don't like the characters or the dialogue but even if they were more likable the game would still be a mess. What they do get right is performance and weapon handling. Even on an Xbox One S , once tweaked right they game plays smoother than I expected. If the game is going to be made closer to Left 4 Dead that's going to be a ways down the road and the question is will anyone be interested by that time. It was already worrying that they were trying to charge for an annual pass way after free post launch content became the norm. I think some fun can be had with this but in the long run it's just not L4D 3.
Opinion: Store brand special infected star in a rather unenthusiastic zombie apocalypse.
Call of duty: Vanguard [Xbox one]
An unwanted return to WW2 that was met with an expected level of disappointment. That said , I personally think this is sledgehammer's best COD. The campaign has a good flow to it and I did care for the characters , they use the whole special abilities schtick to spice up the gameplay but in the end it's still zoom it or shoot it. Multiplayer is you wondering how you got killed but this time select walls can be destroyed.
Opinion: The veterans are probably old enough to think this is what actually happened.
Agony [PC - unrated]
As I was busy through December , this was the last thing I was actually able to play through before the year ended. Getting the bad out of the way , Agony has poorly explained mechanics along with an extremely nonsensical save system. Some guess work will be required if you at all care about making it to the end of some of the sections , stealth usually does not seem to work.
With all that said , I have some sort of strange fascination with this game , this is a vision of hell that you just need to play through to truly comprehend. How they were able to come up with this imagery is beyond me , if you’re feeling extra edgy the unrated version throws in exposed genitalia along with demons banging humans in the distance.
There is an actual story being told here (not in the best of ways) and if you stick with it to the end , you will either be surprised that the story even went in that direction or very upset about the time you will never get back.
Opinion: Horny demons and horny demons.
As of finishing this up in February of 2022 , the effects of COVID are still very apparent when it comes to AAA games. Development is highly compromised and release dates are more of a suggestion. With it being early in the year I really don’t know what to expect but the status quo appears to be bigger companies buying all the developers they can.It is truly disheartening to see this hobby being absolutely taken over by greed and bad decisions , I guess the silver lining is that no matter how bad things get there will always be something worth playing. I suppose what’s frustrating is actually figuring out what is worthwhile.
All I can say for now is take care of yourself.