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Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: The best games of 2021

With the year now half over readers discuss the best new games so far, from Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart to Monster Hunter Rise.

The games had to have been released new this year and we wanted to know how many you’d bought in total and how well you feel publishers have coped with the problems caused by the pandemic.

The most popular titles were Resident Evil Village, Monster Hunter Rise, and Returnal but in general most people seemed to think companies had done well, given the situation, with plenty to look forward to in the second half of the year.

Under the skin
By far my favourite game of the year so far is Returnal, it’s a game that really gets under your skin. It’s not for everyone but it’s become one my favourite games of all time. The gameplay is fantastic, with some of the best shooting ever, the music (by the Haxan Cloak) is exemplary, both creepy and alluring.

I think it makes the best use of the DualSense out of any game so far, really adding to the immersion and also helping you play the game well, with all the sounds and vibrations giving you critical gameplay cues. All added together it’s one of the most absorbing and satisfying gaming experiences I’ve had.

Honourable mention goes to Disco Elysium: Final Cut, another game that gets under your skin, with its fantastic storytelling and atmosphere.
Mud

More to come
This was easy for me as I have only played the one game released so far this year, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. It was exactly what I have come to expect from the series. A fun game with plenty of shooting. I would give it 8/10.

As for the rest of the year. My birthday is coming up and I will be getting Resident Evil Village. I will also be purchasing Overboard! at some point. I like old school murder mysteries and this one looks like a nice twist to the genre.

Second half of the year doesn’t look too bad with Deathloop, House Of Ashes, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania, Call of Duty, Life Is Strange: True Colors, Hot Wheels Unleashed, Stray, and Back 4 Blood all scheduled for 2021.
Tony—1975 (PSN ID)

Satisfied purchases
I’ve bought two new games this year and loved both of them: Monster Hunter Rise and Guilty Gear -Strive-. As a big Monster Hunter fan I was a little worried about Rise as I thought it might end up being dumbed down but while some things have been streamlined there’s plenty of other new stuff on top and I’ve really been enjoying. Top work by Capcom and looks really good on the Switch.

As a fighting game fan I’ve also really enjoyed the new Guilty Gear too, especially with the just jaw-dropping graphics. It was never going to be a big seller but I at least saw a bit of coverage in the mainstream and it got in the top 10, so that’s great.

I’ve also been enjoying Kazuya in Smash Bros., which I think they’d done really well. I wish Guilty Gear could be in Smash but I recognise it’s just not big enough for that and I’m actually satisfied with the fighting game reps they do have.
Halbert

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A thoughtful tale
I hadn’t bought any new games this year until I saw the GC review of Chicory: A Colorful Tale and thought I’d give it a punt as it’s so cheap. It’s a really clever little game and I can totally see the Celeste influences there, as there a serious story underneath all the cute little talking animals.

I often find indie games are far more imaginative than AAA games, and usually better at telling a story too, so I always try and keep an eye out for little gems like this. In fact, this reminds me that I meant to try Genesis Noir, although I don’t have a Switch or Xbox so that’s a bit trickier. I’ll see if my PC can run it though and somehow I don’t think it’s much of a CPU hog.
Chancer

Subscription play
Thanks to Game Pass I haven’t actually bought any new games this year, although obviously the lack of new releases is part of that as well. We all know the pros and cons and the service (it’d be a whole lot better if there were actually some Xbox exclusives worth a damn) but the value for money is incredible.

This year I’ve played Outriders the most, I think, out of games that were released new this year but of course now we’ve got this promise of at least one new first party exclusive a month, which is pretty crazy. I’m not actually sure when that’s supposed to start but it seems to include both Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite this year.

I haven’t necessarily stopped buying new games though and would have got Resident Evil Village if it had reviewed better. Now I’ll wait until a bit later and it’s on cheap.

I’m definitely looking forward to Far Cry 6 and Battlefield 2042, which I will pay for but also Psychonauts 2, which I won’t have to. All in all I think publishers have handled the pandemic pretty well, as this Christmas is actually pretty busy. If everything goes back to normal next year it’ll be fine.
Denbun

Super start
I’ve only just got Mario Golf: Super Rush but that’s definitely looking like a good one, pretty much exactly what I was hoping for and a lot of fun so far.

Other than that the only new game I’ve bought this year is The Pedestrian, after the GC review. It’s a really nice little puzzler, that I’ve never heard mentioned anywhere else, and I’d really recommend it to anyone.
Gannet

Small recommendation
This will have to be a short one as I have only played one game released this year, because graphically it did not need a PlayStation 5 or a decent PC to play. I am waiting to get a PlayStation 5 to play games like Resident Evil Village and Returnal! Basically, I want the best experience playing these anticipated titles, so indie game title Mundaun, which was rated very highly on Steam, will have to do for 2021 releases.

This is a black and yellowish coloured horror title which could remind you of Amnesia or titles from that same type of vein. It’s set in a Swiss village, which feels more like an Eastern European village from the past and all the dialogue is subtitled. It uses a first person perspective and you must climb up a mountain in an indirect way, solving puzzles and avoiding enemies – or taking them on with basic lanterns and stuff while keeping your sanity meter healthy.

The villagers are a weird and very off-putting bunch to look at, with a unique eerie art style matching the unsettling countryside around you. The gameplay is very formulaic but very progressive in the way notes with lore and vital information make the unusual story worth following. The puzzles have a very funny way of using scenery/item mechanisms to unlock the next clue or a new route.

it’s worth a go and it’s not an overly expensive or long game. Plus, it gives you a break from the usual big releases that also came out this year.
Alucard

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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