So, there’ve been a lot of specific end of 2021 games threads, but I wanted to write some stuff about 2021 from my perspective overall, since I’ve been keeping notes.
I played 34 games over 2021 [counting Quake map packs as 1 entry, for “Quake” - if I picked each map pack separately, I’d be over 45 and a good 25% of my games would be just map packs for Quake].
Of these, I played 9 games I’d previously played - Noita, VVVVVV, CK2, CK3, Shenzen I/O, Quake (map packs, not the original campaign), Doom (map packs, not the original campaign), Audiosurf and Super Hexagon.
I played 3 games from actual 2021 - Loop Hero, Get in the Car, Loser! and Inscryption. I really enjoyed one of them - Loop Hero. The others, I found super flawed and could not finish.
I also played several games which were GoTY or very critically lauded in their time, which I didn’t get on with: The Witcher 3, Outer Wilds, Journey, and arguably the likely GoTY for a lot of people this year, Inscryption. (Of these, I still think Outer Wilds is a good game, just not one I personally can bring myself to complete.)
(This will mark the second year in a row, probably, where I disliked the game that was the critical darling - I didn’t get on with Hades, in the end, either, last year.)
Speaking of SuperGiant Games, this is also the year where I realised that there’s actually only one game of theirs that I really like - I love and loved Transistor, but on playing Pyre this year, it left me as cold as Bastion did back in the day, although for different reasons. (I really do not like their sportsball implementation. At All.)
I also reinforced my feeling that I just do not get modern FPS games, even retro ones. This year, I played Amid Evil (headache inducing), ULTRAKILL (far too fast paced) and bounced off of both of them - although not as hard as I bounced off of Doom 2016 back in 2017.
Similarly, I think I realised that there’s a brand of “slightly meta”, “very internet” games - Undertale [which I played the demo of and strongly disliked years ago], Doki Doki Literature Club, Inscryption (both from this year) - which I just am psychically allergic to or something. They all just rub me up entirely the wrong way, and leave me grumpy and completely uninclined to give them any benefit of the doubt.
My big favourite games of the year were all games that had relatively simple interfaces - Sayonara Wild Hearts often reduces to a single button press or a direction, Heaven’s Vault is “select highlighted point of interest”, even Loop Hero is pausable-click-and-drag most of the time. They also all had relatively deep narratives in one way or another, with gameplay that didn’t get in the way of that.
(A runner up on games I should mention I played this year - A Short Hike - also does this kind of thing well; whilst Pyre and Get in the Car, Loser! felt like they had promising narrative and an annoying mechanic that wanted to get in the way of that too often.)
Shout outs also to surprisingly big-news (even to the author) Doom 2 level pack, Thatcher’s Techbase. It wasn’t the best Doom 2 level pack I’ve played, but it was definitely “on theme”, with a huge amount of 80s/early90s references, and the true level of real anger you’d want from a game about the UK Prime Minister who made greed good.
Oh, and I played the only game that’s ever tempted me to get VR to play it better: Polybius. (Beat Saber might tempt me if I ever played it, but since you need VR in the first place to play it…)
2021’s been a weird year for all of us, and it’s been an unusual year for video games for me. But, I think I’m also realising a lot of things about how I interact with games, and what games I want to play. So, that’s progress?