Games: The best of 2021, from Deathloop to Psychonauts 2
Best games of 2021
IN CASE you missed it, this year has been bloody awful. Yet, despite what was going on outside your window, the virtual world has never been in ruder health – making that joypad a rock in our lives.
With one more sleep till Santa, it's time to cast a beady eye over the games that slapped a much-needed smile on my mug in 2021...
:: PSYCHONAUTS 2 (Multi)
A LONG-overdue sequel to arguably the greatest platformer not made by Nintendo, Psychonauts 2 is another insane-in-the-membrane adventure where young psychic Raz invades the noggins of various not-the-full-shilling types, using his noodle to cleanse theirs.
Loaded with personality, genuine warmth and belly-laugh gags, it's a psychedelic – if unapologetically old-school – trip 16 years in the making.
:: LOST JUDGMENT (Multi)
TAKAYUKI Yagami – the private dick who's good with a kick – puts more ruckus into justice in a sequel to 2018's Judgement, once again mixing the fisticuffs of Yakuza with legal shenanigans.
Investigating a murderer with the perfect alibi, our Far Eastern flatfoot roams Yokohama's seedier side as a private eye, solving cases and punching faces. With mini-games and side stories galore, Lost Judgment is one for Japanophiles to lose themselves in.
:: RESIDENT EVIL VILLAGE (Multi)
THE eighth mainline Resident Evil continues the tale of Ethan Winters, battling monsters in an olde worlde village plagued by supernatural goings-on. With zombies staying six feet under, Village goes all-out with the Hammer Horror tropes, and its Mittel-European setting boasts a veritable compendium of horror stocks-in-trade.
Returning to Europe for the first time since the mighty Resident Evil 4, it feels most like a re-imagining of that 2005 blockbuster (due to get its own re-make next year). Gorgeously appointed, Village may simply be more of the same, but that didn't stop it picking up Game of the Year at last month's Golden Joystick Awards.
:: HALO INFINITE (Xbox)
TWO decades on from the first Halo putting Xbox on the map, Microsoft's flagship shooter has been retooled for a new generation. The sixth in the mainline series, Master Chief once again brings some shock and awe to the cosmos in an intergalactic smackdown with tight combat and an entire alien army to corpse up.
An open-world dynamic and the game-changing grapplehook help freshen up the formula, though its bones are a welcome throwback to the series' heyday.
:: DEATHLOOP (PS5)
A GROOVY riposte to uber-serious time-loop games, Deathloop spins Arkane's Dishonored formula into a rip-roaring sci-fi actioner. Set on Blackreef Island, where feuding assassins have been offing each other since forever, players slip beneath the leathers of an amnesiac lug doomed to repeat the same day over and over, lest he line up the game's eight main targets like deadly dominos across a one-day murderthon.
A blistering blend of action and sci-fi nonsense, Deathloop is a whip-smart romp stuffed with funky-fresh Groundhog play – and for my money, the game of the year.