Evil Uno has played A LOT of video games in 2021.

Here are the best of them:

Honorable mentions: Ratchet & Clank: Ryft Apart, Deathloop, Death’s Door, Fights In Tight Spaces

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13 Sentinels is a sci-fi mystery game focused around the day gundams show up and start a war that ends the world. It’s partially a top down RTS game, where you try to position your combatants and their mechs to survive as many waves of enemies as you can. While I enjoyed the combat, it’s the visual novel portion of the game that really sucked me in. You play as 13 different protagonists, each character advancing the story incrementally, each slowly giving you more information & unraveling more mysteries. The story takes a few wild turns that genuinely surprised me. It’s filled with interesting characters, incredible music (Seaside Vacation is my jam) and a bat-shit crazy plot. This game was released in 2020, but I only got around to playing it in January of 2021, so thank you Jan for putting this in your GOTYs list last year, or I would have never picked this up.

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I have never played the first Chivalry game, so the only thing I knew about the second one was that it was a game I could play online with my friends. I quickly learned how fun a multiplayer medieval battle is and what followed was a good 3 months of guttural screams over the chat while my friends and I chopped off limbs and bashed-in heads. I really enjoyed setting my warrior to random and making the best of whatever weapon I was given (my personal favorite is the shovel). I’m very excited to see what the addition of horses will do to the combat and overall gameplay.

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I don’t typically play racing games, it’s never really been my thing, but there’s just something about Forza Horizon 5 I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s the expansive open world, maybe it’s that it’s graphically stunning, maybe I am just getting old and need to unwind with something mindless. Whatever it may be, I have loved every minute that I have played Forza Horizon 5. I don’t know how it compares to other Forza games, but the gameplay is just so smooth and easy to pick up. It’s the perfect game to get competitive or just turn your brain off and drive the countryside.

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Mechanically, Bowser’s Fury is very much the same as Super Mario Odyssey but with an added night & day mechanic that changes the world around you every time Giga Bowser makes his appearance. The sky goes black, rain starts pouring down, and the electric guitar kicks in. The shift in ambience really sets the tone for some great challenges as the obstacles in the world change drastically and add pressure to everything you are doing. It all eventually culminates into some exciting boss fights between Giga Bowser and Giga Cat Mario. The soundtrack is pure Mario bliss; Plessie’s Ride still pops into my head every now and then.

Super Mario Odyssey is a masterpiece, Bowser’s Fury is also a masterpiece, although a much, MUCH shorter one. You can likely complete the game at 100% in one sitting (I did), which is the only bad thing I can say about this stand-alone expansion. Overall, one of the best games of the year, hindered only by the fact that I wanted so much more of it.

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I officially LOVE first person RE games. I found Resident Evil Village to be more of an action-focused game compared to its horrifying prequel, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. While it does still have lots of puzzles and some notably terrifying moments (the dollhouse), it’s also filled with intense chase sequences, and impressive boss fights. At every turn, you face a new kind of enemy: vampires made out of flies, a man-fish, werewolves, and so much more. The map is gigantic, with a wide variety of collectibles and battles that you can easily miss if you aren’t paying attention. I thoroughly enjoyed this game and I can’t wait to see where the next iteration in the Resident Evil series will take us.

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I want to say as little as possible about Inscryption, as it’s a game best explored by yourself.

At its core, though, it’s a very strong roguelike deck building card game set in a creepy, dilapidated cabin. The atmosphere is, well, spooky.

The card game has a surprising amount of depth: some are offensive cards, some are defensive cards, some cards need a sacrifice for them to be played, others can only be activated when enough of the cards on the board have been murdered, some cards multiply upon death. You get the gist of it. Victory is given to whomever can tip the scales with enough teeth. You get to keep whatever teeth fall off the scales and trade them in for new cards, upgrades, or trinkets. After every battle you must choose your path forward and each path has its own pros and cons. Do you sacrifice one card to make another one stronger? Do you gamble for a chance to earn a more powerful card? Every victory gets you closer to facing and defeating The Game Master, who has imprisoned you in this cabin.

And yet, this game is so much more than a card game. Go play it now.

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No. This is not a joke. I absolutely love PowerWash Simulator. My household has played a LOT of it in 2021. It’s a perfect companion game to music, podcasts, or to Twitch stream.

There is something so satisfying about meticulously stripping dirt off objects. A true feeling of peace. Zen.

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They made a Metroid game! A real Metroid game!

The series takes a leave from competitive soccer and return to its 2D exploration roots. The world is a gorgeous labyrinth, filled with interesting shortcuts and secrets. Movement is incredibly fluid and looks phenomenal in 60fps. I’ve yet to play this on the new Switch OLED, but I’m excited to see it displayed to its full potential.

While the combat is snappy and precise, it can also be unapologetically difficult at times. Not good at QTEs? F*** you then because the bosses are going to mess you up. The EMMI battles slow you down and turn the fast action combat into a cat-and-mouse stealth game with a killer robot. While infuriating at times, it was also incredibly satisfying to complete them and acquire the new abilities used to explore further.

Metroid Dread is straight-up a great friggin’ Metroid game.

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I’ve accepted that Judgement and Yakuza are my comfort games. No matter what, I can go back to these games, play in Kamurocho for a few hours and feel at home. A lot of what I have to say about this is the same I’ve said about Judgment, Yakuza 6 and Yakuza 7 in the past. I like the overly dramatic main story but am in LOVE with the weird side stories. I haven’t even finished Lost Judgment yet. I’m too busy challenging the local motorcycle clubs to races or boxing teenagers at the gym. I would love to tell you the story is an epic, can’t miss adventure, but I honestly don’t know. I’m too preoccupied teaching students dance routines so that we can win the nationals. What I’m saying here is I’ve put in almost 50 hours into this and have somewhat lost track of what this game is actually about: solving a murder case. I will get to that, right after I’ve completed the baseball challenges for the 4th time.

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The first Psychonauts game was unlike any other mascot platformer at the time. It had an insane premise, it had interesting characters, it had bat-shit crazy levels, it had wit, and it was my favorite game at the time. It turned me into a fan of Tim Schaefer’s writing, made me retroactively play every point-and-click game he wrote and made me support all future Double Fine titles. I was hooked and I couldn’t wait to know more about the Psychonauts universe. When they announced the sequel, I immediately crowdfunded it.

Then… I waited. The game would get delayed, and delayed, and delayed again. Doubt eventually seeped into my brain; how could it ever be as good as the first game? Would this be my next Shenmue 3? Did I waste my money again? I had convinced myself it would be a disappointment.

Then finally, 15 years after its predecessor, Psychonauts 2 was released. AND IT WAS GOOD! Like, really good. It plunges you further into the lore, having you learn more about Raz’s family lineage and explore the history of the psychic team known as the Psychonauts. Mechanically, it felt better than the first game. There were new powers to explore in combat, more variety to the enemies, and a barrage of interesting characters played by fantastic voice actors (like Jack Black & Elijah Wood). This game lets you explore some truly mind-blowing worlds that are colorful, vibrant, and wacky. The soundtrack is incredibly catchy (especially the songs attached to PSI King’s Sensorium), and of course, Tim Shaeffer’s witty writing was present in full force.

It’s so refreshing to be excited for something for so long and have it turn out to be as good as Psychonauts 2.

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