Here we are, the final entry of me talking about video games in 2021. But by far no the final post of lists I plan on writing this year. I kind of felt like this year was a tough one to pick a top ten for. Mostly because, as I’ve already said a few times, the games I most enjoyed this year were actually games that didn’t come out in this calendar year.
If you want to check out my list of my top ten video games that didn’t come out in 2021, then click this link here and see what I had to say. Spoilers; my actual favourite Video Game of 2021 was Hades. And would have easily topped this list as well had I not made the effort to give it its own category.
But here is the game that snatched the number one slot for 2021. And Snatched is appropriate considering I could have very easily given any of the top three this slot on the list:
#1: Metroid Dread
Played on Nintendo Switch | 8th October | Developed by Mercury Steam
I wrote a pretty comprehensive review of Metroid Dread back shortly after it came out. I was super impressed with how it turned out. The game is the first one since Metroid Fusion to actually drive the timeline forward, a video game that came out in 2002.
If anything this game is a direct sequel to that one, dealing with the continued ramifications of the X Parasite being reintroduced into the universe, as well as the extinction of the Metroid species at the hands of Samus Aran. It might seem kind of ridiculous to some for me to be invested in story and lore of the Metroid series.
But I really am. I was swept up in it.
Part of this might come from the fact that Nintendo have finally decided to just offload the Metroid franchise to an outside studio, rather than making them internally anymore. Mercury Steam, the developer behind the Metroid 2 remake for 3DS a few years back returned for this one. Driving certain key elements of story and gameplay forward while also introducing a few new elements along the way.
Some of which are contentious choices to say the least.
So yeah, as the game’s title might imply, there is some element of fear driving events within this Metroid. Namely, the EMMI. Huge, near indestructible machines that stalk around certain areas of the map and kill Samus instantly if they catch her. Unless the player can complete a near impossible quick time event to stop them.
The stealth elements getting around these EMMI introduce into the series are the least welcome additions new element Mercury bring to the franchise in Dread. They didn’t ruin the experience for me, but they ended up being mechanics I ended up ignoring and trying to charge through over and over rather than interact with them how they wanted me to.
Other than that though, I don’t have anything bad to say about this game. Free aiming, a new slide mechanic and the return of the counter ability from their previous game make this Metroid the most fast paced and action driven of any in the franchise. And I loved it.
While older games in the franchise felt a little more methodical in their approach to exploration and combat, Dread throws things at you constantly that necessitate you to really get used to using those three key abilities I mentioned before on the fly in order to get around the world without getting blown uo.
Which is a real concern, because this game is difficult. A subject of contention for a lot of people I’ve heard talking about this game. Personally though, in hindsight of having finished this game myself, I didn’t mind the difficulty of the game. While Bosses feel like they do unnecessary amounts of damage compared to the game’s forgiving respawn system, it just made beating them all the more satisfying.
Otherwise though, this is another classic Metroid game in all the ways you want it to be. One half of the namesake for a genre that every indie developer can’t keep their hands off of lately. But it’s done to near perfection, with even the bad bits being little more than annoying rather than ruinous for me personally.
Plus, as I mentioned in my review for the game, the ending to Metroid Dread contains a super cool revelation that really could mean a major change in the dynamic and direction of the new one or two video game in the franchise compared to the classic story of the franchise before Metroid Fusion.
This game did sell well enough that I have no doubt Nintendo will let Mercury Steam make another one. Which I’m very happy about, not to mention Retro’s Metroid Prime 4 is still apparently being worked on “somewhere”. Maybe.
But yeah, as a huge fan of the Metroid franchise, I’m glad Nintendo decided to let someone do something with the series even if they themselves didn’t want anything to do with it. If Prime 4 doesn’t get restarted again, the future is looking pretty bright for Metroid.
And there you have it, my top ten video games of 2021. There were some games I would have liked to have played before finishing this list; Deathloop, Guardians of the Galaxy and to have finished Halo Infinite. But I can only talk about what I managed to spend time with.
From looking at the next three months though, I feel like 2022 is going to be a much more impressive year for video games than 2021 was. We’re super packed in the front part of the year. I just hope my poor bank account can manage it.
Anyway, happy new year everyone. see you in 2022!