I typically don’t write video game reviews like I once did, and that’s a shame. I wish I had the time. Instead now I typically just blurt out my thoughts in real-time during my weekly updates, when and where I can. But I do still like to do a year-end review, of sorts.
One reason I do this is to remind myself exactly what I played. At any given time I usually have a few games on the go, and I don’t replay games as a rule, one and done, on to the next. So I burn through a couple dozen games each year. And its nice to look back every now and then.
So the following list is the big games I played in 2021. Doesn’t necessarily mean they were released in 2021, as some games can sit on my shelf for years before I find the time/motivation to start them. In most of the case I have beaten the game or abandoned it, sufficiently happy with my time/money invested.
A large part of 2020 I was invested in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, and that’s the game I wrapped up 2020 with and started 2021 with, so that’s a good enough game to start the list.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (2018) – G 1395/1850
When AC: Origins (which is set in 49BC Egypt) came out, it introduced a lot of new gameplay elements into the AC series. Cosmetic gear, and gear stats. New weapon types, and experience levels. This was one of the biggest shake-ups in the AC series in a long time. Odyssey (Which is set in 430 BC Greece) expanded on that more, and is basically AC at its very best and deepest ( I say this without having played Valhalla). They, as in the game designers, also gave you the option at the start of the game to play either as a Male or Female, as the game is based around two siblings. In AC Syndicate you had the option to switch back and forth between the male and female protagonist, but this time around you have to pick. It is also a huge game, and there have been some complaints thrown its way that maybe its too big. Unnecessarily big and bloated. That Ubisoft, in an attempt to keep you in its game longer than warranted, adds too much and is not respecting their player’s time. AC Valhalla has also had this said about it, but I haven’t played Valhalla yet to verify. All I can say to this is, if you think its a waste of time, stop playing. You don’t owe the game anything. I didn’t have the patience to playthrough the 2 DLC expansions.
Little Nightmares (2017) – G 1050/2200
I honestly don’t know how this game slipped through the cracks, and I didn’t even know it existed until it’s sequel was announced, and this one was added to GamePass. Because I really like these 2.5D side stroller puzzle games. Like Limbo, or Inside, or others I’m forgetting to mention. I ended up buying it outright, with the DLCs and just adore it. Its dark and twisted. Haven’t gotten around to all of the DLCs yet, or the sequel yet.
Donut County (2018) – G 1000/1000
Honestly I played this game for the achievements, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. You play as a hole in the ground. Yep.
And kind of like Feeding Frenzy, or inverse Katamari Damacy, you grow bigger as you consume more stuff. Start small and grow bigger. Each level has its own set of puzzles to overcome. The story is pretty funny too. Its about a Trash King raccoon trying to acquire trash by sending holes to swallow everything above-ground, disguising it as a pizza delivery app.
The Touryst (2020) – G 1000/1000
The Touryst is an adventure/puzzle game with a blocky art style. Almost like 3D pixel art. This Minecraft but gorgeous. Fully rendered and with lovely lighting. Its set in a vacation setting with a few different islands to travel to, and you are trying to unravel a strange mystery. There is platforming and some puzzle / action elements.
Fortified (2016) – G 480/1000
Illestrader initially bought this for my birthday and he intended to buy himself a copy, but never did. So I waited and waited, and never played it. Until I bought it for him for his birthday a few years later. Then we finally did. Its an Indie Tower Defence game where you play as one of four character types with their own unique powers, against waves are alien invaders. Its kind of a crap game, but fun enough with friends to play with in co-op.
Generation Zero (2019) – G 135/1390
We spent a few nights playing this game in co-op. Its a large map FPS where you are fighting against machines. Its more of a survival strategy game as you have limited resources, and there’s crafting, etc. Not my style of game and we didn’t stick around. 5 hours or so and that allowed us through the “Intro Missions”. That was enough for me to say I wasn’t interested in the tedious grind. We actually tried it recently again but the multiplayer was broken after a recent update and whenever we tried to create a multiplayer game it would completely freeze. So, yeah… Its a shame too, because it was made by Avalanche Studio, we were hoping for more.
Just Cause 4 (2018) – G 690/2500
The fourth game in the Just Cause series and its about what you’d expect. Lots of guns and explosions. Planes and cars, and parachutes, and wing suits. This time around they added some more weather elements, like a lightning storm, sand storms, and the big seller was the tornado. These weather elements are actually story related and not just a cool thing in the game. You can also do more with the grapple hooks, but more doesn’t always mean better, and arguably, I enjoyed Just Cause 3 more due to its grappling simplicity. I own all the DLC but was burnt out after completing the game and haven’t tried them out yet.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War (2020) – G 395/1210
Another fourth game in the series, but Zombie Army is more of an expansion or mod of the Sniper Elite series as they are the same design/gameplay/developer/engine. Just with a Zombie overlay. The Zombie Army games are a lot of fun though, especially in co-op. This game we are still playing through, but a lot of co-op games keep coming out and we have a short attention span on our weekly co-op game night.
Rain on Your Parade (2021) – G 1250/1500
This game is a silly little rain and weather puzzle game. You play as a rain cloud. And as you progress through the levels, you unlock lightning, snow, and wind. Levels have their objectives to be met, but they’re all pretty easy to accomplish. I got this an an easy achievement game, but ended up 100% it and looking forward to the DLC. My son enjoys the game too as it turns out to be pretty fun to play a cloud raining on people.
Marvel’s Avengers (2020) – G 500/1000
One of the bigger releases of 2020 was Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix’s Marvels Avengers. From a strict gameplay/story perspective, this game I enjoyed quite a bit, but from a fully realized game, this one was a bit of a dumpster fire. Poor, buggy launch and not fully realized end-game. Its good looking, and its a fun action/combat game where you play as all the Marvel’s Avengers, with the story perspective focusing on Kamala Khan’s Ms Marvel with her stretchy body parts. The Wakanda expansion is supposed to be really good too. The game is very messy and convoluted from a menu design perspective though and it can be hard to actually start the game, or figure out what you’re supposed to be doing. They basically throw too much information at you and its hard to filter out what you want. I’m excited to try the Guardians of the Galaxy game though, as that it supposedly just linear story focus and a blast.
NieR: Automata (2018) – G 255/1000
This game is very unlike anything I would typically play. Its part hack and slash, with some RPG elements, and Gundam-like spaceship battles. This game also requires multiple playthrough’s to get the complete story, but I was content enough with just once-through perspective. I also played this game on easy mode, with the auto-combat enabled so I didn’t rally have to do much heavy lifting during the fights. Overall I enjoyed it for what it was. Interesting story about a proxy-war between alien-created machines, and human-crafted androids. Main story focus’ on the character 2B, which is a very popular cosplay character ;).
Super Lucky’s Tale (2017) – G 615/2000
I originally tried this game when it came out as a free Xbox Games with Gold title, but after 1 level I had had enough. “Too childish. Too easy. I have better things to play.” It wasn’t until my 3 year old son got more interested in games that I picked this up again as it was a game suitable for him to watch and play on his own. Its a simple yet challenging-at-times 3D platformer, and you play as a brave fox. I was steadily playing through all the chapters unlocking achievements when my son started a new game, erasing all saved data. I have since uninstalled that version and installed New Super Lucky’s Tale, which is a re-release of the same game, just updated and modernized a bit. He’s been playing through that on his own this time.
Outriders (2021) – G 730/1045
Whoa, a AAA game that came out in 2021 made the list. Impressive. This is because it was a surprise Day 1 launch on Game Pass. Sold. It also wasn’t that bad. Just bland. Post apocalyptic 3rd-person shooter made by People Can Fly, who previously made other 3rd-person shooters like a Gears of War title, and Bulletstorm. The change this time is you have special powers as well. Overall a decent title, just a little unpolished and with pretty bad writing. And the in-game map was awful.
Boomerang-Fu (2020) – G 900/1000
Oh Boomerang-Fu, my son’s favourite game. I got this game back in August and 90%’d all the achievements within the first day. It is still on my console and played daily. Its a fun party game where you play as food with boomerangs killing other food with boomerangs.
Twelve Minutes (2021) – G 1000/1000
Twelve Minutes is a time-loop game where you play a boyfriend returning home to his condo and girlfriend. And then a cop shows up and starts interrogating you, and he either kills you, or the girlfriend or both, and you need to play through the story and dialogue on a 12 minute loop to find out the true story behind this abrupt interruption to your evening. The whole game takes place from a top down perspective in a 3 room condo in 12 minute loops, or quicker if you try and leave through the door. The ending kind of ruins the whole game, but it was an interesting game nonetheless.
Surgeon Simulator 2 (2020) – G 440/1000
I don’t think I played a game that simultaneously caused me to laugh at the ridiculousness and also scream at the technical glitches that ruined the fun. Surgeon Simulator is a physics operation room game. You play as a surgeon and you have control of one arm trying to perform increasingly complicated surgeries. From arm transplants, to lungs and heart, to brain. You can pull the appendages out by hand but this causes excessive bleeding, so you have to use hammers or saws to do the work, but as I mentioned, only one hand, and all the buttons on the controller control individual parts of the arm and hand. Like Octo-Dad. Its fun, but when you play in co-op, the network technical glitches caused more problems as suddenly the character and tool physics will go haywire and suddenly you’re left with a decapitated body bleeding everywhere, then you’ve failed the level.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite (2021) – G 185/1000
Aliens: Fireteam Elite had a lot of good things going for it, but I think underwhelming or anti-climactic would describe the overall experience. The levels and mission structure was fun, but short. And the slow grinding upgrade system encouraged, no, required repeated playthroughs, but honestly who has the time? My co-op nights are once a week for a few hours. I’m moving on as soon as I see the credits. Hoping for an expansion down the road.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (2017) – G 715/1500
I found myself in between large open-world type games after Assassins Creed and Outriders, and didn’t want to jump into another Ubisoft game like AC Valhalla or Watch Dogs. So I went back to the game that’d been sitting on my HDD for what felt like a lifetime. It filled the void I was looking for, but it wasn’t satisfying at the end. Wasn’t as memorable as its predecessor so I haven’t even looked back or thought about the DLC.
Morkredd (2020) – G 175/1000
Played this in co-op as a Marital Madness Twitch night with the Wife. A decent puzzle game that I wanted to go through before it expired off Game Pass. Enjoyable, but a weird ending. A shame its off GamePass as I’d like to go through it again to clean up some outstanding achievements.
Dirt 5 (2020) – G 1800/1800
Gotta have at least one annual racing title. Its either Need For Speed, Dirt, or Forza on rotation. Dirt 5 had the honour in 2021 and while it was gorgeous as a launch title for the Xbox Series X it lacked a little something. Its courses were interesting enough, but it lacked diversity. Codemasters tried to sell that the courses had variety because of weather or night time/ day time variations but it just didn’t have enough variety, and it started to feel very repetitive as you progress through the career path. I have 100%’d the game and its 4 DLC expansions so it obviously did some right. But really I wanted it cleared off my HDD so I can move onto Forza Horizons 5.
My honourable mentions below are games I currently have on the go, either solo or in co-op but don’t have enough to say for a quick review. These I will save for 2022’s Quick Reviews Done Quickly:
Watch Dog’s: Legion
Forza Horizons 5
It Takes Two
Thank you 2021, another year with games having been played.