The Best Games I Played in 2021

2021 is almost over, I have played quite a lot of games this year; some good and some that were quite a disappointment. If there is a pattern to the games that I have played, it would have to be RPGs especially the japanese variety. JRPGs are fast becoming the genre of games that I am most drawn to because I find my self craving an engaging story, likeable characters and an interesting world to explore; JRPGs give me that. So let’s stop the waffling and get into the games that stuck in the memory most.

Just a quick caveat though, I do not believe that game of the year round ups (as least from a personal perspective) should be released this year so there will be games that were not released in 2021 here.

Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV

Definitely the game I was looking forward to the most this year and it did not disappoint. Technically the game was released in 2020 but it came to Steam this year. Having played the first three Cold Steel games the conclusion of the Erebonia arc was eagerly anticipated and I can say the conclusion to the story was extremely satisfying. I just had such a good time basking in the world they have built and following the development of each and every character in the game, and I can honestly say that I don’t think there was a character I disliked in the games.

Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 1 - 3

After I completed Cold Steel IV I wasn’t ready to leave the Trails world behind so I decided to go back and play the earlier Trails in the Sky series which I hadn’t yet played. I’m glad I did because I actually like these games more than Cold Steel. The third game does feel like a fan made spin off which doesn’t make it a bad game by any means, just different. While Cold Steel is very much about the world in which the characters live, Trails in the Sky is more about the characters and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Estelle and Joshua on their quest to become senior bracers in Liberl.

Scarlet Nexus

This one kind of came out of nowhere, it wasn’t on my radar until it actually came out. It might have been a YouTube video that made me want to check it out but I don’t really remember. The story is divided between two characters and you can complete separate but intertwined playthroughs with each, and there is a varied cast of characters, each with unique abilities, to help each on their quest. Combat is extremely fast paced and very satisfying to play with a lot of different systems going on. It is a cliche but the combat is easy to learn but will take a little more to master. I still think this game has the most unique monster design that I’ve ever seen in an RPG as well.

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox

The follow up to Ys VIII and another highly anticipated game, and the game that confirmed my opinion that Ys is definitely a better JRPG franchise than that other long running JRPG franchise (Final Fantasy). Probably a heretical opinion but there it is. Ys IX does not quite reach the heights of Ys VIII but it is still a fantastic game with all the charm of the Ys franchise. As ever we have a story that will keep you hooked, characters you will feel attached to and some of the abilities you have in and out of combat are great fun to play. If you are new to Ys I would say start with VIII and then play this one. You will want to go back and play the others.

Tales of Arise

After playing Tales of Berseria I would say Tales of Arise was my second most anticipated game and, oh boy, this one certainly did not disappoint. When you play a Tales of game you expect a great story and a cast of characters to care about; Tales of Arise goes even beyond that in this regard. I was hooked from start to finish. One area of disappointment in past Tales of games has been the combat. Bersersia improved it quite a lot but Tales of Arise really perfected it. It took me a while to adjust to my basic attack being the right trigger but once I did it just became second nature. The abilities and coop attacks with your party made combat a lot of fun and the animations were none too shabby either.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

Pokemon monster taming and JRPG like turn based combat in a Monster Hunter game. Not something I thought I wanted but its a good time. The story in Monster Hunter Stories 2 is pretty a standard JRPG story but its engaging enough. The fun is in meeting the quirky interesting world, exploring monster dens, finding and hatching monster eggs, and then levelling your ‘monsties’ through battles. The game also has an interesting gene system where you can take traits from one monstie and give it to another monstie. Its an interesting way to make monsties stronger for battle and give them new abilities.

Last Epoch

Yeah, this one again. I still spent a lot of hours playing Last Epoch and I still love the game. Eleventh Hour games have continued the trend from 2020 of making the game better and better with each update. Endgame systems could do with a little work as they do get repetitive after a few hundred hours but I think just making the areas procedurally generated would help a lot with that. I can’t wait to see what 2022 brings for Last Epoch.