2021 has been an odd and difficult year, but it was superb for gaming. With the announcement of the Game Awards nominees, I realized I played more great games this year than perhaps any other year in my life.
2021 was a year that broke our brains just a little bit. You don’t need me to tell you that, and I’ve already spoken about this elsewhere anyway. I finished fewer games this year than any other year in recent memory. As a critic, I’ve generally believed that I should at least make a valiant effort to complete a game before judging it – the more of a work you’ve seen, the more informed your reaction to it will be.
With 2021 gone, it’s time to reflect on the experiences it brought — especially as a gamer! I played 70 titles in 2021 (yes, I actually spent half an hour counting them for you!) and I’m here to introduce my top 10!
If you’re a frequent and longtime reader of GameCritics, you may have noticed that my output has dried up significantly over the past year. Take a look outside and I don’t think you can blame me. While the hope for a better tomorrow was what kept me running (albeit mostly on fumes) in 2020, that better tomorrow never came, leading to a 2021 in which energy-sapping depression seeped into every aspect of my day-to-day life, right down to my gaming habits. Up became down, hot became cold, and I got way into an MMO for the first time in my life while stuff that would have grabbed me under normal circumstances failed to gain any traction.
Another year, another top ten.
2020 was much easier to break down in terms of games that were my favorite to play, and the number one was such a standout. 2021 was a very different year. While a lot of players complained about a lack of meaningful triple-A titles early on, I found myself overwhelmed by exceptional smaller games — I really struggled to pick which I liked the most.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat — 2020 was a lousy year, particularly if you lived in the United States, and particularly if, like me, you live in New York. I spent most of the year inside (when I wasn’t working six jobs) looking for something to distract myself from the dystopian hellscape that is the real world.
I originally planned to go all-out and include some superlatives and other categories for this list. After some pondering, I would rather keep it simple but sincere. I mean, that’s basically been my M.O. for the past 9 months I’ve been writing at GameCritics.