My Games of 2021

Ugh. What year is it? 2021 is over, so now I can talk about the games I played throughout the year. I was originally going to rank the games that I came out in 2021 that I played, but I ended up playing a lot of uninteresting titles. If you want me to talk more about Mario Golf: Super Rush again I can try, but that was already a struggle previously. So, this year I am going to shake things up and talk about my top ten favorite games that I finished this year. There is a good mix of new and old titles in here and it makes for a more interesting write for me. To give you an idea of how slow I am with things, here are two honorable mention list with games I wanted to play and games I started but haven’t finished.

Games Released in 2021 That I Had Interest Playing, But I Never Bought

Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
Pac-Man 99
Poison Control
Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139…
Returnal
Resident Evil: Village
Chivalry 2
Cris Tales
Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir
Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind
Legend of Mana (Remake)
Pokemon Unite
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Psychonauts 2
No More Heroes III
Sonic Colors: Ultimate
WarioWare: Get It Together!
Cruis’n Blast
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Metroid Dread
Far Cry 6
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles
Voice of Cards: The Isle of Dragon Roars
Forza Horizon 5
Dungeon Encounters
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition (For the lols)
Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX
Super Robot Wars 30
Wildermyth
Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator

Games That Came Out In 2021 That I Played, But Didn’t Finish

Persona 5 Strikers
Bravely Default 2
New Pokemon Snap
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Scarlet Nexus
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition
Back 4 Blood
Shin Megami Tensei V
Yu Gi Oh! RUSH DUEL: Dawn of the Battle Royal!!


Top Games That I Finished This Year

10. Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City

“Hie thee to the ocean city… To the Yggdrasil Labyrinth. A journey to the blue depths… To conquer the shadows of night. Though you know not what this means, you go towards Armoroad. What awaits is time’s end; death’s demise. A tempestuous dream… To push away the unfathomable dark and bring light to Armoroad… A stormy adventure begins…”

Creating my list was hard, but I knew I wanted to include this game. Etrian Odyssey III was one of the hardest games I have on the DS. My gaming knowledge was new to dungeon crawlers and understanding party compensation.10 years later, I have become an adult with a better understanding of how things work. I went from not understanding how certain abilities could be helpful to finding ways to make my party unstoppable. The mix between dungeon crawling and finding treasure out in sea made the game enjoyable for many hours. The game left such a big impression on me that I went out and got the other games in the series to slowly play through the story canon games in the series. I will report my thoughts when I finish the series twenty years from now.

9. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

The trend this year was finishing games that I’ve put off for years. I was really excited to play through this game when it first came out, but I found myself playing chunks at a time since I had started grad school at the time. Motivation went south fast when the definitive versions came out and sour my mood when I learned that you couldn’t transfer your progress to the newer, shinier version. So instead of starting all over, I chipped away at the base game and finally finished it this year. 

Dragon Quest XI is a comfort game for JRPG players. It is simple and friendly for newcomers while also engaging for series veterans. The story and setting make this an adventure worth playing while never feeling stale. There is always something to see, something to do, and challenges around every corner. I still need to finish the post game and eventually play through the definitive edition one day, but that won’t be until a while from now. I did write a post about this game back in October.

8. The World Ends With You: Final Remix / NEO: The World Ends With You

Yeah I’m cheating with this one. I couldn’t decide on which game I liked more over the other since they both have their high and low points. Ultimately I decided that if you put both together, you get a great game. The World Ends With You took me places that I wasn’t ready to go. The themes of your world ending when you refuse to live in it struck a chord that I never really thought about. It opened a new viewpoint that I was unaware of and kept the optimistic flame in me going. It’s sequel doesn’t do the theme justice, but it did deliver an improved gameplay formula that irritated me in the formal. Both games had me playing them whenever I had the free time to do it, and that’s coming from someone who ignored the original game when it came out. I am sad that NEO didn’t do well enough to Square’s expectations, but here’s hoping that the series can continue with new characters, locations, and a stronger emphasis on its theme.

7. Castlevania Advance Collection

I’m still cheating! When I learned that the Gameboy Advance Castlevania games were being rereleased, I got excited. Symphony of the Night is one of my favorite games and the advance trilogy share the same formula. While most games in the collection were better than others, I enjoyed my time playing through all four games. If you would like a more of my thoughts on the games, I wrote a post about them last month.

6. SaGa: Scarlet Grace – Ambitions

This was a surprise to me when I was looking over my options. The more I thought about this game, the more I remembered my playthrough and the adventure I went on. SaGa: Scarlet Grace has the charm and formula of a SaGa game that is also friendly for newcomers. The almost endless possibility of how your journey could play out makes finding and making decisions fun since you have to figure it out yourself (almost literally since there are not many guides). My journey with Urpina was a daunting one, but rewarding in so many ways. The other three protagonist are still waiting for me to take them on, but I am in no rush to get through theirs (especially since I started playing other games in the series). I wrote about my experience with the game back in August, so you can get the full read there.

5. Xenoblade Chronicles

The award for the game that took the longest time for me to beat this year goes to Xenoblade Chronicles. In hindsight, I could have finished this game a long time ago, but similar to Etrian Odyssey, my dumb young brain didn’t understand how to play the game logically. Xenoblade mimics a MMO game style where understanding how abilities and status modifiers matter. Once I understood this, the game became much more enjoyable to play and finish. It was a bit bittersweet to finally cross this game off my list since I was really feeling it. My advice if you want to play the game is to get the definitive edition on Switch. It is a really good game and worth playing. And yes, I did write about it as well as part of Love Your Backlog month.

4. Dark Souls Remastered

This is one of my proudest gaming achievements. I had no intention of finishing this game anytime soon, but the more I played and got into it, I was determined to see it through. I’m glad I did since the reward was definitely worth it and I felt accomplished. The original Dark Souls may not be my personal favorite out of the series, but it is now the one I am most comfortable with. There are parts in this game that I dread doing again, but I’m not afraid of facing them anymore. It is somber that I finally get to cross this off my list, but with other games in the series to keep me busy for the next four to nine years, I think the experience will make me a better player.

3. It Takes Two

There is a reason why this game won Game of the Year. It is a well-developed game. I played this with Kat the entire way though to the point where we couldn’t stop playing it. Everything felt well designed from the locations to gameplay to how everything relied on how cooperative you and your partner had to be. The story still irks me in several places, but certain moments make it up for being heartbreaking or hilarious depending on the type of person you are. I wish the game had more to do after the campaign since Kat and I were eager for more. If Hazelight Studios can expand on this gameplay and create something more inline with this, then it would be an instant buy from me.

2. Monster Hunter Rise

A new year, a new Monster Hunter game to play through. For me personally, I enjoyed Rise way more than I did with World. Rise fixed a lot of my personal issues with scaling down the bloated environment and making them smaller and more interesting. I like exploring the maps in Rise since there are things to discover like artifacts from the previous era and remnants of epic battles. My favorite is the Frost Islands where you can explore a destroyed ship and follow the skeletal remains of the monster it was fighting throughout the entire map. It’s details like this that I wish existed in World to make my time getting lost more interesting.

Besides the map, the mobility and how fast the game plays now made for interesting hunts. The Wire Bugs are one of my new favorite additions to the series and offers a lot of elements in and out of battles. I felt “meh” at first with the Wyvern Riding mechanic at first, but once I figured out how take advantage with the controls, it became fun to use. Rampage quest are still a struggle for me. The idea is to have multiple people with you during them, but my lonely self had a hard time maintaining everything that was going on. They do present a nice change of pace and strategy, but it does feel like it was meant to be played with others.

Other than that, the new monsters introduced had their fun gimmicks and quirks. I thought the Magnamola would be a pushover since I had no real difficulty up to it, but it quickly put me in my place when it decided to fly all of a sudden. The two new elder dragons are no pushovers either since they utilize Rise’s gameplay and your understanding of them. They are neat fights and made me say a swear or five. Outside of all of that, I’m happy Rise brought back interesting and creative designs for weapons and armor. It was something I was missing and happy to have back.

I never did write a post on Rise for one reason or another, but there is a lot that I can talk about. I originally didn’t have this game high on my list, but after replaying it this month, I feel in love with it all over again. On the fence if I might double dip and get the PC version when it comes out. I may actually finish Sunbreak when it comes out. The offer still stands if anyone wants to play online.

1. Tales of Arise

Tales of Arise is not a perfect game. If I had to rank it with the rest of the series, I would put it as maybe my fourth or fifth personal favorite. The game has a lot of good qualities in it, but there are glaring issues that hold it back from being up there for me like Symphonia and Vesperia. So why is it my number one game this year? From beginning to end, I could not stop thinking about this game. I wanted to explore everything this game offered and complete each difficult challenge that was available. I tend to avoid doing ridicules challenges in Tales of games, but Arise kept me engaged throughout. I didn’t find the characters annoying outside of battle and their struggles kept me invested. Even though I felt the story wasn’t on par with other titles, it did through me off guard at times and only decided to get complicated at the last minute.

Even as I write this, I still find it hard to explain why this was my favorite game I played and finished this year. There is something to say here about acknowledging all the faults it has while still finding some enjoyment out of it. I may never write about this game because I can never find the true words that I want to say. The best I have is that it is good despite its flaws. Rather that is good or bad is left to the individual. All I know is that Arise was my favorite game that I finished and completed this year.


So that’s all I got. Sorry if it is not the follow-up from last year’s presentation, but there wasn’t a lot of excitement from my gaming bubble. Let me know what some of your favorite games were this year that you finished.

Backlog Tale – It Takes Two

Its not often that I get to play and finish a new game within a month that it comes out, but Kat was really excited to play this with me. From the first trailer that was shown last year, it looked interesting and promising, but I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it. Not only did the game exceed my expectations, but so far it is one of my favorite games that I have played this year. Playing it couch co-op with my wife and streaming the entire game on her channel made the experience even better.

Synopsis

Welcome to the life of Cody and May Goodwin, a couple that is about to enter the next exciting moment of their lives; divorce! May is a hard working engineer who sends a lot of time working to provide for the family. Cody…does things I guess (I don’t remember what he does), but he spends time at home being a stay at home dad. They also have a daughter named Rose who is the only good character in this game. When the future divorcées tell their daughter that Christmas is going to be awkward this year, Rose summons the dark ones to help her parents become friends again. The devil that answers this call is The Book of Love by Dr. Hakim. Cody and May’s souls are transported into dolls that Rose made, and now the two have to co-op their way through challenges to get their bodies back and get that sweet divorce they are craving.

What I Enjoyed

The story setup is nice and the toy perspective works to the games favor. Each area that you visit is a place around the Goodwin home, but the perspectives are quickly changed to these dreamlike places that make for visually appealing levels. What was once a child’s room is now a magical kingdom where the toys live and ruled by the child’s favorite toy; or a tree that is in the middle of a war between squirrels and wasp where you have to take out a rouge operative who is imposing as the wasp’s queen. These imaginative worlds and scenarios is what kept us hooked on the game to see what crazy world and plot we would be encountering next. It is one of the highlights of the game.

The second highlight of the game is the gameplay. I am normally terrible at platforming games, and would probably rage if I kept messing something up. With the exception of one level, there were hardly any points where I felt frustrated with the gameplay. The game makes it clear that none of the stages can be done alone, and you will always need your partner’s help to clear obstacles. There are some actions that only your character can do, so no one person is left with feeling like they are doing the “difficult” job. To spice up this idea, every chapter throws a new gameplay mechanic that gives a new action to each character. In the first chapter, May is given a hammer to smash things and platform with, while Cody is given nails that he can toss to hold things in or help May get over gaps with her hammer. This feels like peak co-op gameplay since you have to rely on each other to get any progression done. When new elements are introduced, it is always fun to see how the game will incorporate each ability and how they are used together with your partner.

This doesn’t mean that you have to play nice with each other the entire game. You can always find ways to torture each other by messing up things on purpose just to get the other killed. There are also little competitive minigames that you can find throughout each level. These range from races, shooting galleries, button mashing, endurance games, skill games, etc. These are nice distractions to get any aggression out and show that there are things that the other might be better at than the other. It is the complete representation of the hard work that goes into a stable relationship. We each have things that we are good at individually, but are unable to get past roadblocks without the other’s help.

What I Didn’t Enjoy

Right of the bat, I hate Cody and May. I was interested in their characters at first and see how they would try to fix their relationship, but they argue back and forth with each other. I’m not saying that that’s not normal in any relationship, but the only times they agree with each other is when it comes to getting their bodies back so they can get the divorce. This is evident when they come to the conclusion that in order to get their bodies back, they have to come up with a way to make their daughter cry and her tears will reverse the spell. They are so narrow minded at the beginning of the game that they fail to see what horrible parents they are. There is one scene in particular that was completely upsetting that it actually made Kat cry and me looking up the number for Child Protective Services. I was onboard with the divorce after that scene.

Another thing that left a mixed taste in my mouth was the ending. After the last chapter of the game, I was sure there was going to be one last stage that showed the full potential of their teamwork, but that didn’t happen. They just share a kiss and then bam, they get their bodies back and the game is over. It definitely felt abrupt and loose ended. You don’t even get to see what happens to them at the end. I guess the developer wanted to leave it vague for you to decide what happens afterwards. If that is the case, I hope they still went with the divorce, but stayed as friends as to be there for Rose. Would that defeat the purpose of the entire plot of the game? Maybe if you see it that way, but it takes until the second half of the game for them to start relying heavily on one another to the point of remembering why they liked each other to begin with.

Also, **** that book!
I found him entertaining a little, but he creeped me out ever since he first appeared. I know he is the councilor in all of this, but he is an ass at points and believes his methods will always work. The only time I was on the divorce team was when they would argue with the book and call out his BS.


Other than that, I can’t recommend this game enough. It is one of the best co-op games that I have played in a long time, and one that Kat and I have actually finished. The game can only be played with another person, so the developers found ways to address this. Not only can you play the game either locally or online, but only one person needs a copy of the game in order to play online. That to me is a great deal for the amount of content and enjoyment you can get out of this game.

I will say that this game is highly recommended with mild replayability.

If you are looking for a co-op game that is heavy on the co-op portion of the game, then this is the title to play. The visual, gameplay, and little details are enough to keep you invested throughout the entire game. Minus achievement hunting (which is not hard to get them all as long as you are exploring) there isn’t much reasons to play after the credits roll unless you want to switch characters or speedrun the game. I can see replayability happening if you are playing it with someone different, but it is not the type of game you will be playing over and over again. It is great to experience, and I hope this post will peak your interest a bit to try it out.

Thanks for reading,

DanamesX