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

I probably played more video games in 2021 than I have for most of my adult life. Pandemic gave me more free time, which meant more reviews, and finding a PS5 helped too. Here are five games that stood out, be sure to check out the full reviews.

5. World End Economica Complete

World End Economica

Noisy Pixel is all about visual novels, and World Economica Complete was the first one I ever reviewed for the site. As someone with an economics and finance background, this was easy for me to dive into. However, more than just the clever stock market jargon set to the backdrop of a functioning economy on the Moon, it was the excellent writing and compelling chemistry among the cast that won me over. In addition, having all the episodes in one place on Nintendo Switch made for some immersive nightstand reading.

4. Heaven’s Vault

Heavens Vault 3 1

Heaven’s Vault is one of those games that belong on a “Best Game No One Played” list. Indeed, there are just far too many video games to keep up with these days. Still, if you found yourself playing Heaven’s Vault among all the big releases of 2021, then you probably felt better off having played it. This was a great experience on Nintendo Switch, with its dynamic narrative flow and the fascinating mystery surrounding a cryptic language. Anyone who grew up playing classic adventure titles like Broken Sword would feel right at home here.

3. Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi

Undernauts Labyrinth of Yomi 6

Experience Inc. is one of Noisy Pixel’s favorite developers, and why not, given their well-established niche in Dungeon RPGs. Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi is the developer’s most ambitious and complete DRPG experience yet, encompassing years of experience developing games in the genre (see what I did there? not once but twice). As tried and tested as the genre may be, fans will be surprised as the game has several novel mechanics that enhance the level of design and exploration.

2. Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Kena Bridge of Spirit 2

An indie game with the lavish presentation of a AAA title, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, was the debut effort of a team of just 15 individuals. The result was easily among the must-have titles for PlayStation 5 in 2021. This honestly could have been the perfect launch title back in 2020. Still, even now, I couldn’t help but enjoy a cinematic showcase of fantastic art and presentation. Thanks to meaningful game variety and a stunning game world to lose yourself into, the game itself was focused and engaging.

1. Guilty Gear -Strive-

Guilty Gear: Strive

You can make a case for a lot of games in 2021 that served as the ultimate next-gen mantlepiece, but to me, that honor belongs to Guilty Gear -Strive-. Unless Capcom does something truly remarkable with the fabled Street Fighter VI, the title of premier next-gen fighting game decisively belongs to the latest by developer Arc System Works. It was back in 2001 when the developer set the new standard for 2D graphics on SEGA Dreamcast, and two decades later, they have created a stunning showcase of how 3D assets can be used to create stunning anime quality visuals. The game completely revitalized the series’ fighting system more than just looks, which melded perfectly with the hard-hitting soundtrack.

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Jahanzeb Khan

Old SEGA games will go up in value... you'll see!