Top 5 Best Games of 2021

Video Version

2021
has been another fantastic year for gaming. From Metroid Dread to It Takes Two, there’s a game everyone was excited about this year. I played a lot of games this year but I didn’t finish all of them (most of them being Nintendo games, now that I’m looking at it). Before we jump into it, here are my honorable mentions: Mario Golf: Super Rush, Mario Party Superstars, Metroid Dread, New Pokémon Snap, Nickelodeon All Star Brawl, Pokémon Unite, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, and WarioWare: Get It Together. I could’ve included Nickelodeon All Star Brawl and Pokémon Unite in my list since they don’t have an “ending” but that wouldn’t make this a Top 5 list.

#05 — Sonic Colors: Ultimate

Clearly, if I played more games this year, this wouldn’t be on the list. I loved Sonic Colors when it came out on the Wii in 2010. It was what fans of the series wanted after Sonic Unleashed and it was received well by critics. Now, with Sonic Colors: Ultimate, it’s a bit rough around the edges. The gameplay is more or less the same from what I can tell. Some changes here and there but nothing too crazy. The new wisp power, the Jade Ghost, didn’t need to be added since it actually doesn’t favor the level design at all. Sonic Colors isn’t as good as I remember it and the tech issues don’t help either. From pre-launch to the actual release, this game is littered with glitches and bugs. I still had an overall good time playing Sonic Colors: Ultimate but it wasn’t the ideal remaster. My Review of Sonic Colors: Ultimate (Medium/YouTube).

#04 — Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game — Complete Edition

Infamously known as the clear example to keep games physical rather than digital, fans can finally experience once again Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. After being taken down on Xbox Live Arcade & the PSN store due to the license expiring, the game makes its return on next gen consoles and PC. It’s as good as I remember it. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is a retro styled beat’em up while re-telling the story of the original graphic novel. In order to date Ramona Flowers, Scott has to defeat her 7 evil exes. It’s rather grindy for a beat’em up game but I don’t mind because of the super fun gameplay. Seriously, this is one of the best beat’em up games of recent years. Additionally, the music is fantastic along with the sprite work. An actual piece of art when you really look at it. My Review of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game — Complete Edition (Medium/YouTube).

#03 — It Takes Two

Taking home this year’s Game of the Year award, It Takes Two lands in my #03 spot. I’m a huge fan of Hazelight Studios’ last game, A Way Out, a co-operative story driven action adventure title. Sticking to the co-op required gameplay, It Takes Two is a platformer with a much lighter tone visually. A majority of the game is in this fantasy-like scenario where Cody and May take on the form of dolls. They’re about to file for a divorce but Dr. Hakim steps in to hopefully repair their marriage. The importance of relationships and how Cody and May fix theirs is beautiful to watch. The platforming is spot on and the co-op element is smartly executed. Overcoming obstacles and puzzles requires both players to communicate with one another. Because of this, the gameplay is extremely satisfying to pull off. Hazelight Studios’ games are the only ones where I have the most fun in a co-op environment for gaming. Truly a unique platforming experience that’s worth checking out. I can go on and on about this game but there’s a reason why it won this year’s Game of the Year award. It Takes Two, despite not being my personal Game of the Year, is still one of the best games of 2021. My Review of It Takes Two (Medium/YouTube).

#02 — Life is Strange: True Colors

Life is Strange is a franchise that I’ve been following since 2017. I instantly fell in love with Max and Chloe and wanted to see more from the series. My disappointment with Life is Strange 2 lies within the characters, the power, and the abysmal release schedule. Thankfully, when Life is Strange: True Colors was announced, it was going to be released all at once and have a grounded approach for the story. Somewhat bringing back vibes from the first game, DeckNine made sure they didn’t mess up their first attempt at an original Life is Strange game. The character of Alex Chen and solving the murder mystery of Haven Springs, Colorado may seem familiar to fans of the series but personally, I don’t mind. Alex Chen is a memorable character and does a good job leading the game’s narrative. The cast of characters surrounding Alex are super interesting and worth interacting with in all five chapters. The grounded approach for the story works amazingly well for the series and it shines here in Life is Strange: True Colors. Alex’s power to read people’s emotions isn’t crazy like telekinesis in Life is Strange 2 but it’s just right to change certain parts in the story or maybe unlock more interactions with certain characters. It’s a subtle power which is why I like it so much. I really loved playing Life is Strange: True Colors. It does feel a bit familiar due to its similar story approach compared to Life is Strange (2015). Regardless, Life is Strange: True Colors is a return to form for the series and I hope DeckNine continues to create more Life is Strange games in the future. My Review of Life is Strange: True Colors (Medium/YouTube).

#01 — Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is my Game of the Year. I got into this franchise thanks to my best friend and co-host of our podcast, Damian, who showed me these games around 2009. I’ve been following the franchise since those days and I can safely say Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is by far the most polished Ratchet & Clank game and technically the most impressive PS5 game I’ve played. Because Insomniac Games didn’t want to alienate new fans coming into this title, the story is simple while making hints and references to past games. It’s not my favorite Ratchet & Clank story but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like Rivet. She’s super fun and a refreshing character for the series. She is an alternate version of Ratchet, so it’s kind of hard to mess that up but they really went above and beyond making her a new lovable lombax for fans to enjoy. I hope we get to explore her character more in future games. Gameplay wise, it’s the best Insomniac Games has crafted to date. The new dash mechanic adds an extra movement ability for Ratchet/Rivet. It’s crazy that Insomniac Games still have ways to keep this series refreshing after nearly 20 years. Traveling from one area to another instantly is so seamless. This really wouldn’t be possible on previous console generations. Graphically, this is the most detail the franchise has seen so far. It’s come a long way since the PS2 days and the photo mode demonstrates that nicely. Playing Ratchet & Clank at 60fps is definitely a treat as 60fps console gaming is still relatively new. How smooth the game runs at 60fps without skipping a frame is fantastic to see. It didn’t come home with any Game Awards this year but Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has left an impression on this platformer fanatic. My Review of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Medium/YouTube).

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Travis “tvsonic” Vuong
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Travis Vuong

A games journalist & YouTube content creator. Written game reviews & other editorial pieces will be found here. All my socials: allmylinks.com/tvsonic