Let’s be real; in a lot of ways, this is my real Video Game of the year list for 2021. Between my feeling that 2021 has been something of a dry year for major Video Game releases, combined with the fact that I’ve had limited time, money and access to the new platforms with which to play these new video games.
Thus, I’ve had a lot more enjoyment in playing older games in 2021. Both old favourites and games I never ground around to till this year.
For the past few years, I feel like I’ve been bending my personal rules for what qualifies for my Top Ten lists at the end of the year. Over the course of the past few months, I felt like this was going to be the year where I just went ahead and broke the rule entirely, simply listing the ten games I had the most fun with of the course of the preceding 12 months. Regardless of when they came out.
In the end though, I didn’t want to lose sight of the original purpose of my top ten “Best of Year” list and decided to split the lists into two and talk about both of them. It’s only fair considering there are 4 games on this list that would defiantly make their way onto the main list given the opportunity.
Rather than write about these games once per day, I’m going to break them into chunks and then dedicate more time to the games I feel I need to. So let’s finish off this list:
Old Game #1: Hades
Played on Nintendo Switch & Xbox One X | Released September 2020 | Developed by Supergiant Games
Real talk? Hades is my actual favourite game 2021. Old game or not. I’m shocked it took me till this year to play Hades. But from the moment I picked it up I was engrossed. Then when it came out on Game Pass for Xbox months later, I grabbed it again and was engrossed all over again.
Part of the reason I decided to make an “Old Game” list this year was to avoid putting a game from the previous year on top of what was supposed to be a celebration of 2021. Because again, this would have been it.
I’m kind of embarrassed I haven’t played more of Supergiant’s games, this being the first one I’ve put hands on since Bastion in 2011. And honestly I feel like I owe them to go back and play Transistor and Pyre next year because from what I hear, everything this small developer puts out is pure magic.
Because that’s the best way to describe Hades in my eyes. Combining the looping gameplay and procedural stage generation of a roguelike with the narrative and character development of a more traditional story driven game. Something I’ve seen other games attempt, but none manage to pull it off as expertly as Hades does.
Playing as young prince Zagreus, the player tries over and over to escape his father Hades’s realm, only to die and return to the house each and every time. However, with the encouragement of an amazing supporting cast of friends and allies, as well as boons from his eccentric godly relatives up on Mount Olympus, Zagreus eventually does escape and meet his mother.
And that’s only really the beginning of the game and the story it has to tell.
Escaping Hell is really just the first step in uncovering the real story behind Hades, Persephone and the reasons behind everything that happened leading up to Zagreus’s birth. It’s so compelling, and difficult to not jump straight into another run immediately after finishing or failing a prior one.
Which, considering they end up taking between 20 and 40 minutes a pop, it’s easy to lose hours to this game without realising it. Helped immensely by how cool and varied the combat ends up being.
Played from an isometric perspective, players have a number of different weapons to pick from, each of which have a number of aspects that alters the way they work. Then as you progress through the layers of hell, you collect items and boons that further alter the way you play, making each run very unique from the previous one.
Sure, once you play the game enough, you start to settle into your favourite builds, but the game also does enough to encourage you to mix it up, giving you rewards for upgrading the house back when you die or progressing B-plots involving the supporting cast.
It’s all so charming, so sexy and so damn addictive. There’s a reason pretty much everyone was talking about this game towards the end of 2020, and I have no idea why I sat on it for as long as I did before eventually picking it up this year. I’m glad I did though, even if I was late to the party.
So yeah, I’m probably the last person in the world to say this, but Hades is a phenomenal video game, one I’d recommend everyone go out and play right now. I just wish Supergiant would go back and just put a little extra content in there. Nothing much, just add two or three more set of boons from the left out Gods and a new weapon maybe.
I’d take less than that. Absolutely any excuse to go back and play Hades again: My real favourite video game of 2021