2021 has been a… weird year. There have been some big letdowns and some interesting surprises. So, without further ado, here is our GOTY 2021 list. Do note that these are the games we enjoyed the most. They are NOT the most optimized PC games of 2021. Our list for these games will, most likely, go live tomorrow.
Spencer‘s GOTY 2021 – Psychonauts 2
A sequel I’d been awaiting for some time and was somewhat concerned about given it’s origin as a crowd funded title (pour one out for Shenmue 3). I think many of us who enjoyed the first Psychonauts went into Psychonauts 2 with baited breath. Prior to Microsoft’s buy-out of Double Fine I know I was worried about the studio’s ability to make a worthy sequel within such a tight budget. Those concerns would have proven out without Microsoft as it was confirmed that without Microsoft’s funding a significant amount of content would have hit the cutting room floor.
Instead the game we ended up with was imaginative, a strong 3D platformer with clever level design in its own right and some of the more fun I’ve had with boss fights in the genre since 2017’s Super Mario Odyssey. I binged the game across 3 days on a vacation and while I don’t play video games for their writing one would be doing a disservice to bring up Psychonauts 2 and not mention the game’s excellent sense of humor and storyline — still unique 20ish years later. Now we need that Brutal Legend sequel.
Nick McCaskey‘s GOTY 2021 – Nioh 2
Nioh 2 harkens back to a time of pure action gameplay, with the most technically rich and rewarding combat system. Throw in great level design, varied enemy encounters, and a delicious loot system. Anchor it with an optimized game engine, smooth framerates, and nice graphics. Then there’s the Far East mysticism narrative and plenty of ninjas and samurais for style points. On top of all that, you get a trove of content with gameplay modes, extra playthroughs, and a deep end game.
For all the reasons above, Nioh 2 has been my go-to game for 2021 when I want to lose myself for an hour or two in a brutal but fair world that punishes me for sloppiness and pushes me to play smarter and be better. That may not sound relaxing to some, but there is a joy in going at my own pace, knowing that each level conquered is something achieved because of my dedication to learning, growing, and overcoming.
In summary, many games coddle and pamper players. Nioh 2 is like a good martial arts instructor: it grips you to your core and calls you to be more than you were before. I bow to you, masterful Nioh 2!
Pieter Naude‘s GOTY 2021 – It Takes Two
Two-player co-op games have seen remarkable progress over the last decade as several studios have become exceedingly creative in terms of story, gameplay and player interaction. These developers have produced games that feel more like a true adventure you can share with another player, and Josef Fares proved himself as one of the key visionaries pushing those limits of the genre.
His newest masterpiece, It Takes Two, made a concerted effort to incorporate everything we have come to love about taking on a game with a companion and gave players a variety of worlds to explore in glorious detail. Believe me when I say that this shining gem was packed to bursting point with hours of fun excursions. In fact, when Fares and his team at Hazelight couldn’t come up with a story-based reason to include a mini-game, it was added as an optional side activity anyway so boredom is simply out of the question in It Takes Two.
This is why It Takes Two is without a doubt the best game I reviewed in 2021 since it is extremely rare to see this level of polish and refinement go hand-in-hand with so much variety in gameplay. Get your copy, grab a friend and prepare yourselves for something truly special.
John Papadopoulos‘ GOTY 2021 – Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
To be honest, I’ve played and enjoyed a lot of PC games this year. While Halo Infinite had numerous tech/optimization issues, its single-player campaign was great. Similarly, Guardians of the Galaxy and Kena: Bridge of Spirits were pleasant games. Resident Evil Village and Hitman 3 were also some really great games. And, if there wasn’t one particular game, Tales of Arise would have been my GOTY 2021. However, nothing came close to my experience with Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.
Yes, this is basically a remaster of an older game. However, this is the first time that Yakuza 6 comes to the PC. As such, we can consider it a new game. And, the fact that an old game has better characters and storyline than almost all the latest games speaks volumes about its quality.
Yakuza 6 is an incredible experience and I really don’t want to spoil anything about it as it’s, more or less, the end of Kiryu’s saga. It has numerous side-quests, interesting characters, and an amazing story. It also plays great with the Keyboard & Mouse, so that’s a big plus for the PC version.