5. Death’s Door
2021’s Indie Summer hit captures that 2D Zelda vibe, but it also adds its own unique style to the mix. The cartoony designs of the characters contrast with darker themes of abuse and loss that take the player by surprise. While the combat doesn’t feel totally new, the level design is a delight to explore, and enemy encounters prove both challenging and rewarding. Death’s Door is the type of game that needs to be played to appreciate the craft that went into it.
4. The Forgotten City
While Machine Games’ Indiana Jones title is still early in development, fans of mystical ancient cities and escaping deadly traps can check out The Forgotten City. Originally a mod for Skyrim, Modern Storyteller’s The Forgotten City gives players an ancient Roman town, still full of citizens, to explore. Combat and exploration aren’t the only things to do, however. There’s also an interesting decision-making hook that you’ll just have to discover for yourself.
Pixel art games may seem a dime-a-dozen nowadays, but the care and beauty put in Eastward make it stand out. Mixing Earthbound-esque mechanics with traditional top-down gameplay and a heartfelt story, Eastward is the pleasant surprise of the year.
The real attraction to Eastward comes from its details. The world is crafted in a meticulous, Ghibli-inspired manner that quickly draws the player in. Little environments and characters’ quirks elevate Eastward beyond your traditional indie pixel-art game.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
Although Guardians of the Galaxy came out to critical praise and has been nominated for Game of the Year awards, many people still might have missed out on this surprise hit. Coming off the generally negative reception of Marvel’s Avengers, audiences had a well-founded pessimism towards Square Enix’s second shot at a Marvel title.
Upon release, many people began praising Guardians for having a tight narrative, and all-around solid gameplay. No microtransactions, no live service, just a rare example of a $60 dollar narrative-focused single-player game that delivers exactly what’s advertised.
1. Little Nightmares 2
Little Nightmares 2 perfectly captures why smaller games are still worthwhile. A horror-themed puzzle-platformer, this title provides players with a chilling atmosphere to backdrop the gameplay. LN2’s primary mechanic is a series of somewhat unsettling puzzles to solve. While there are some combat encounters peppered throughout, the game achieves its intended effect on players by forcing them through oppressive and intimidating environments.
One of the greatest accomplishments of this game is how it scares. While some games may rely on cheap jump scares or gore, LN2 rejects that concept. Instead, players must propel themselves forward through increasingly disturbing areas and encounters. This type of game design is virtue itself and should be one of many reasons you should experience a Little Nightmare before Christmas.
What did you think of this 2021 video games you may have missed list? What 2021 video games did you miss? Tell us in the comments below.
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