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Another year has come to an end, and another rather challenging one at that. As usual though, we could rely on video games to provide us with hours of comfort, catharsis, competition, collaboration and all-around entertainment in 2021.
As we do every year, the Press Start team put our heads together to come up with what we felt were the ten best games of the year, eventually narrowing it down to one ultimate winner to be recognised as the annual Press Start Australia Game of the Year. You can follow the entire journey and read about each nominee in full here, but we’ve also compiled a quick list below so you can see which ten games the team collectively dubbed as our favourites among a year packed with excellent titles.
You can read about how we decided on these ten titles in the first of our GOTY features right here. We’ve also included some honourable mentions at the end for the games that just quite didn’t make the cut.
Release Date: April 30
Why We Loved It: “With some doubt at the front of people’s minds, Returnal is a shushing finger across the lips of detractors as well as a tremendous example that PlayStation’s middle line titles can still offer as much value and entertainment as its tentpole exclusives. Housemarque achieves an atmosphere like few can and set up a universe ripe for expansion while marrying it to a grind — which is more forgiving than most of its kind but will still alienate some—that’s both brutal and gratifying all at once.”
Why We Loved It: “Some minor missed opportunities aside this Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart is an unforgettable, unbelievably gorgeous, and downright addictive game and easily the best entry in the fan-favourite franchise.”
Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Why We Loved It: “While Resident Evil Village channels the best bits of several Resident Evil games, it stands on its own to be something never done before in the franchise. A macabre potpourri of European, gothic-inspired styles of tension and horror, Resident Evil Village is a worthy follow-up to Resident Evil 7: biohazard and one that any self-respecting horror fan shouldn’t miss.”
Why We Loved It: “Deathloop redefines what a shooter can be, and the developer has used their entire toolkit to get there. Satisfying action, world-building that’s second-to-none, style and substance, and a genuinely enthralling riddle at the centre, Deathloop delivers it all.”
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch, Mobile, PC
Why We Loved It: “Unpacking is proof that a pixel tells a thousand words. Through simple, zen gameplay and a startling attention to detail, a story unfolds in this tiny, pixelated world in a way that just wouldn’t have been possible in another medium.”
Why We Loved It: “Psychonauts 2 brings together classic platforming, an engaging story, and well realised combat in a package that feels reminiscent of the best platformers of decades past. Even better, it does this with a visual flair that’s unmatched by its contemporaries.”
Why We Loved It: “Though it’s iterative in a lot of ways, Forza Horizon 5 is a near-faultless open-world racing experience that’s so sure of itself and its offerings that it goes the extra mile to sprinkle in the kinds of fan service that people go wild for. As a game it’s tremendous, but it’s also a brilliant, interactive postcard for a culture that is passionate about few things more than their country and their cars.”
Why We Loved It: “With an adventurous campaign, complete with a sandbox that’ll still be there when your friends can join the fight, and a multiplayer suite that feels like a note-perfect revival of the Halo of old, Halo Infinite feels like the complete blockbuster sci-fi shooter we’ve been waiting for from 343 Industries. It hasn’t happened overnight for the team, but the mantle passed to them, at last, feels earned.”
While the above ten games made it through the team’s internal voting process to be crowned our collective favourites for the year, there were some unlucky outliers that were incredibly close to sliding in but just missed out. We felt they deserved a shout out as well: