Here we go! Another year is closing and there’s always a quiet rumbling of award posts and shows that tends to start after The Game Awards on the 9th. Last year was a truly humble affair (read about that here) and I’ve always held my awards back until other people post theirs but with 2021 pushing for strong ‘rake in the lake energy’ it’s time to buck the trend and go first. The most important awards on the planet. Not influenced by corrupt CEOs. No NFTs and definitely no fancy Unreal Experiences tied in. Just you, the fantastic reader (have I mentioned how cool you are for looking here?) and me. Expected a grand total of Zero World Premieres as we get on with the best awards the internet has to offer.
The ElderlyGoose End of Year Awards starts, Now!
The “Wow! Did it really come out this year?” award of 2021
WINNER – Resident Evil Village
Runner Up – Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
Already winning a few Golden Joystick awards and the big one for PlayStation Game of the Year, Resident Evil Village was reviewed this year on the Xbox Series X (check that out here) It’s wild that despite Capcom facing a $12m lawsuit over alleged stolen art involved in the making of this game and various past hits they’ve still won numerous studio awards this year. I suppose plagiarism appears quite minor over the Activision/Blizzard/Ubisoft dealings this year. The accusation hasn’t stopped Capcom from scooping up awards for various hits and I have to admit I didn’t expect Village to be such an enjoyable FPS experience. Resident Evil Village’s launch in May created a mass of viral memes and press but somehow feels much further in the past than halfway through the year.
I ordered a fancy physical physical edition for reviewing Disgaea 6 but it kept getting delayed and now the game itself is taking a lot longer than expected to get into. Be sure to keep an eye out for some content in 2022 regarding it. I’ve a fair bit I need to get written up about that particular game and it’s definitely a work in progress.
The Best Games from past years that got a slight upgrade in 2021
WINNER – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Runner Up – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition
I’m a massive Star Wars fan (the original review here goes over that at length) yet somehow I never got around to playing Jedi: Fallen Order. I’m not great with From Software games and typically struggle to find the rhythm in them that everyone else enjoys so much. With difficulty modes, an incredible story and gameplay to match this has been the first Souls-style game that I’ve really wanted to see to the end and made the effort to. It’s visually superb, packed with great moments and full of breath-taking scenes that shine even more with the simple adjustments. What has been only a small upgrade to bump the settings to high in line with the PC resulted in a cracking game getting even more polish to shine brighter.
I’ve always been pleasantly surprised with how well past games run on the Series X. Essentially it’s a decent gaming PC in a box, making older games play at a buttery smooth framerate and loading becomes a breeze. Despite trying to play Skyrim since its very first launch on the 11th November 2011, this is the first time I’ve clicked with Skyrim and now I finally get it. Not sure I’ll finish it before the next version of it is released but it’s the closest I’ve gotten.
The biggest disappointment in 2021
WINNER – Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles
Runner Up – Guilty Gear Strive
Disappointing doesn’t quite cut it on this one. I nearly considered stopping my rental of it, making plans to send it back and pretending I hadn’t played it for review. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing the potential for greatness and having it blocked over and over. Since the review (which is over here) I’ve gone to various fighting game YouTube channels to look at top tier players of the game and it looks just as messy and unbalanced as it did when I played online. There’s a great game in Demon Slayer and huge potential to the point where if they make a sequel it could knock this out the park and make a 10/10. As it stands it’s just not there yet and probably won’t ever be. Thankfully the anime has just started its new arc so there’s always that instead.
Don’t get me wrong about Guilty Gear Strive, once I’m into a game and playing it’s bloody fantastic. The fighting is slick, the netcode is mind blowing and I’ve played the music so much it popped up in my Spotify wrap this year. That being said, it still takes minutes to get from launching the game to even get to the simple text title screen. The PS4 version of the game feels like the only updates are now going to be stability with the PS5 being the focus and it’s just a shame there’s no Xbox port as this would be dynamite on a faster system.
Ports of 2020 games that deserve awards for still being 10/10s in 2021
WINNER – Spelunky 2
Runner Up – Hades
The Switch was made for Spelunky 2. Just as the PSVita was the best way to play Spelunky 1, the Switch is just the best way to enjoy this rogue-like make of solid gold. Every time there’s a chance to just fire it up and have a quick run is always a frantically fun moment. Despite the Switch not having the best internet structure the multiplayer runs fine but as per the review (over here) the main strength is how well refined the single player experience still is. Wake up the Switch and your moments away from another failure and another ‘one more go’ attempt of hundreds. It has been such a joy and I want to go back for more!
Hades is still Hades. I’m surprised that so far it has missed awards this year as the ports to PS4, PS5, Xbox One & Series X/S have been fantastic. It’s still the perfect hack and slash rogue-like and the polish in the Series X version is superb. I still find myself popping on every now and then to try for the 7th or 8th epilogue scene and it’s just as fun and tense as it was from the start.
Indie titles that are worth a go from 2021
WINNER – The Forgotten City
Runner Up – Summer Gems
Now that The Forgotten City is on Game Pass you really have no excuse not to give this really unique game a go for yourself. It’s really something special and since review (which you can check out over here) I’ve found out it was adapted from a Skyrim mod and this somehow makes the game even more impressive. Memorable characters, moments that will surprise you and a neat well paced package that can be completed in a weekend. Unlike 12Minutes the four endings are incredibly satisfying and worth seeing for yourself. A great game to pop on and enjoy.
Considering Summer Gems is less than an hour to playthrough it’s not the most typical recommendation to play. Given its E2.50 price tag it’s not exactly going to break the bank and it’s even included in the World Land Trust Bundle. Summer Gems is an enjoyable little experience about making a friend on the beach over Summer. You talk to a frog about items found and exchange letters to tell a really enjoyable little story. If you want to check it out it’s over here.
The Game My Partner Most Enjoyed in 2021
WINNER – Animal Crossing New Horizons Happy Home Paradise DLC
Runner up – The Sims 4: Cottage Living
With over 1400 hours of Animal Crossing gameplay under her belt it would be easy to simply write up Animal Crossing as another game of the year and be done but with Happy Home Paradise DLC it has created a new lease of life for ACNH. Having discussed it with her, 2021 has been a year of expansions making the biggest impact to gaming for El. You can see that for yourself on her streams (and past streams) Extra Spiritfarer content has been played through to completion and a lot more games have been given that extra life for longer play. The Happy Home Paradise DLC has been played the most out of all of these expansions. From the moment of launch and even as I write this page now, she has been happily making animals dance with delight. You can check out her previous streams on Youtube or check out her Twitch!
We were both surprised to find that Cottage Living launched in July 2021 as with most Sims 4 DLC it feels like everything came out years ago. Playing the Sims is committing to a loop of waiting for the announcement of Sims 5 and waiting for a sale for the many, many, packs and extras. Cottage Living added an extra English flair to Sims life and most importantly rabbits. That alone nearly made it GOTY over everything else.
The ElderlyGoose GOTY for 2021
WINNER – Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Runner Up – Psychonauts 2
Here’s the thing, Chicory: A Colorful Tale deserves a bigger award than one from this site. It’s being largely overlooked by a lot of indie awards this year for titles that had a lot more money thrown at them and if you’ve missed it yourself you’re missing out. There hasn’t been a game that has succeeded in looking at such serious topics this well in years. The gameplay mechanic of painting colours not only gives you a feeling of creativity and wonder but has so many layers to the experience you’ll be left completely blown away by it all. It’s deep, rich and packed not only with content but emotions and the best writing of 2021 by miles.
Psychonauts never really appealed to me, I gave it a go back in the day and it never really impressed or wowed. With the sequel being on Game Pass I popped it on the Xbox and was blown away. A completely different game with no need to go back to the inferior first entry, Psychonauts 2 really is the big flashy Mario rival that surpasses it at times. An incredible game that was only really beaten by Chicory: A Colorful Tale by the tiniest of margins. The review goes into more detail (over here) but if you’ve the chance to play it Psychonauts 2 is absolutely stellar stuff.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale deserves a lot of fanfare and if you need more convincing go and read the original PS4 review but if you only take away one thing from this site it’s this; Go and play Chicory: A Colorful Tale.