There were a lot of great games that were released in 2021. There were big-budget, triple-A titles and numerous indie hits, but some real treasures flew under the radar. It felt like there were a lot of sequels and spin-offs of already established series, so it was refreshing to see so many new IPs this year.
It was hard to narrow down to just five with so many options. So, in no particular order, here are my favorite top 5 games that I was able to play in 2021. If you haven’t tried any of these yet, consider picking any of these up.
This was one of my first surprises of the year. I was captivated by the hand-drawn style of this game. Sort of a walking horror simulator with a lot of depth and character. This Swiss-style sepia-toned mystery was a breath of fresh air. Puzzles, exploration, and a creative fear-based system that damages your health are all woven seamlessly into this indie hit. Mundaune is an unforgettable adventure on Switch, PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
4. Rising Hell
Another surprise hit for me this year. This retro-inspired, gorgeous, pixelated- vertical platformer was immensely addicting. Although relatively short, this arcade, button-smashing delight had me loving every second of the climbing mayhem. There are powerups, multiple characters, and difficulty settings, along with a killer heavy metal soundtrack. This is a great deal for a $9.99 digital game that’s available on all platforms and will keep you entertained for hours if you are one of those that must have the physical edition of this game, Strictly Limited offering a pre-order of the game for $34 that should be shipping around May of 2022.
3. Steel Assault
A 2-D side-scrolling action platformer with an electrified whip lets you omnidirectional zip to platforms? Intense shooting action and boss fights? Yes, please. This retro-inspired; arcade masterpiece is a joy from beginning to end. Tight gameplay, beautiful, pixelated graphics merge to create this indie hit. The fluid mechanics and multiple difficulty settings will have you re-playing every level of this game. Steel Assault is available on Switch and PC.
2. White Shadows
This 2-d Moody side-scrolling platformer was a sure treat. A dark, noir-inspired dystopian story that felt like the lovechild of The Matrix and 1984. Fun platforming and charmingly unique puzzles made the gameplay feel unique and fresh. It’s another relatively short game, but the ending had your brain spinning like the first time you finished Bioshock Infinite. White Shadows is available for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC for $19.99
1. Naraka Bladepoint
A ninja melee battle royale, This online 60 player, action-packed brawler re-invented online competitive multiplayer—fast and fluid ninja action with tons of weapons. Gratifying combat and fluid parkour with grappling hook traversal in a massive open world make the game a blast to play. There are multiple modes, including 3v3 royale action and solo deathmatch. This is a must-play for any multiplayer royale fans. Naraka Bladepoint is available for PC and PlayStation 5.
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