Noisy Pixel Picks: Azario’s Top Five Games of 2021

I guess it’s my turn to end our coverage for personal top five best games of 2021. The year was very strange for gaming. I reflect on it and am left impressed that these studios managed to release anything considering the global pandemic and how difficult it must have been to find new ways to make progress remotely. This is why we saw a lot of remasters, I’m sure, but I’m not complaining.

My favorite games are games that stuck with me after they launched. I love games that leave an impact on players and have you thinking about them months after the credits roll. So let’s get to it.

5. Fuga: Melodies of Steel

Fuga Melodies of Steel 1

An emotional RPG that has players experience war through the eyes of a group of children. Their innocent interactions are interrupted by their responsibilities to save those closest to them, but that also leaves them with a deadly choice. Their only weapon is a tank, equipped with powerful weaponry, but one weapon requires the soul of a character to use. This is a permanent decision, though, and changes the outcome of the story.

This game put emotional weight on me as I made my way through the many battles. During intermissions, you get to learn more about the characters, which does the act of sacrificing one that much more difficult.

4. F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch

F.I.S.T. Forged In Shadow Torch

I had assumed I was in a Metroidvania burnout. The genre just has no ends. However, my love for the genre and an original adventure was ignited in F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch. I couldn’t put this game down for a second from beginning to end. The roll-out of new weapons that are also used to traverse to different parts of a massive map and the smooth combat mechanics made it addictive. It’s a game where you’re okay with saying, “Okay, one more hour just to do this.” And before you know it, four hours have gone by.

3. NieR: Replicant Ver. 1.22474487139

NieR Replicant

To me, NieR packs a load of nostalgia. I used to play the original PlayStation 3 release with my friends over the weekend. I crave this feeling at times, but I don’t think I was ready for the emotional punch NieR: Replicant had in store. The memories of playing games with friends during a time when I couldn’t really see my friends were tough to grasp. So the memories that this game provided me may be different for you.

Still, this game is fantastic. The soundtrack, characters, action, boss battles, set pieces, everything. Play NieR: Replicant.

2. Eastward

Eastward 2

In my search for adventure, Eastward was there for me. I found this experience to be like no other from this year. We meet two characters who face some challenging obstacles that reveal more to a much bigger mystery. Gameplay revolves around navigating dungeons and towns, meeting quirky characters, fighting various monsters, and simply being a part of this world. The game’s pacing takes things slow in some aspects, but I feel like this only gives us more time to connect with the cast. I think about this game often, and its conclusion and feel like those who play it will be left with a similar experience.

1. Tales of Arise

Tales of Arise

The Tales of series means a lot to me. During a time in my life where COD was taking over my group of friends, I was being consumed by Tales of Xillia. Fast forward many years, and Tales or Arise managed to take me right back to that moment. Every character, interaction, dungeon, and system in this game provides a true Tales of experience. However, it also stands out as a unique entry in the series with updated combat and exploration systems. Did I cry? Of course, I did, but although the story can be emotional, I think I shed a tear for the end credits because it felt like I couldn’t hang out with a group of friends anymore. Anyway, I digress. This game is excellent.

Honorable mentions: SaGa Frontier Remastered and Legend of Mana Remastered. Just play them, they’re great

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.