Ruby’s Top 10 Games Of 2021

Ruby’s Top 10 Games Of 2021
Image: Ruby Innes / Kotaku Australia.

I personally believe that video games were released this year. You may not agree with me on this, but I believe it to be true. 2021 was quite the eventful year in the video game world in terms of scandals, lawsuits, and big stinkers making the industry smell bad. Was it an eventful year in terms of major releases? Eh.

Unfortunately, it almost feels like the bad-news cycle never ends to a point that the good games that have come out this year have been cast to the side. It’s always easier to talk about the Doo-Doo-Dogshit games, right? In saying that, the end of the year is my favourite time of the year because we get to look back at the great games that blessed our screens.

Having started in this position quite late in 2021, this is my very first “best games of the year” list. Of course, this is obviously not a list of THE best games released this year, but rather a reflection of my tastes and how they align with 2021’s video game releases. What I found difficult about making this list was that I ended up spending a good amount of this year catching up on old releases. Trying out old Nintendo 64 games, replaying old games in the form of remakes, and spending a ridiculous amount of time lying on my bed with a 6-hour YouTube deep-dive playing in the background while I get through level after level of Nonogram Galaxy on my phone as my brain rotted away.

However, I love video games, and luckily there were still a few games released this year that I enjoyed, not to mention there ended up being some fantastic Australian-made games that I loved as well. Getting on with it, here are my top games of this year in no particular order with some personal gaming moments illustrated for effect.


The Wild At Heart

Image: Ruby Innes / Kotaku Australia.

This game was so much fun. I’ve said time and time again that little guys in video games is a huge win in my books, and I stand by it with The Wild At Heart. I’ve loved everyone Pikmin release thus far and playing this game was pretty much like playing a cottage-core Over The Garden Wall rendition of Pikmin.

The explanation of these guys called Spritelings dying also feels a lot more forgiving than Pikmin considering it’s just their spirits returning back to nature. There’s definitely a lot less guilt when you fuck their shit up.

Grow: Song of the Evertree

TWO Bingus? In this economy? Image: Prideful Sloth.

You can read my review of Grow: Song of the Evertree here, but short and simple is that I really enjoyed this game. Playing it in between Hades and Death’s Door was a welcome relief to give my worm-infested brain a rest.

There’s something very rewarding about seeing the fruits of your labour in real time, and this game does so through the world around you noticeably improving as you take care of it. This is a reminder to please, for the love of God, water your plants. They are so thirsty.

Unpacking

Image: Ruby Innes / Kotaku Australia.

Having moved quite suddenly back into my parent’s house this year, I really felt this game in my heart. I know that Unpacking has shown up on a LOT of best game lists, but I think it’s entirely justified.

I’m a real sucker for good pixel graphics and stellar foley work, and Unpacking ticks both of those boxes. It’s hard to get a message right in a simple puzzle game, but this one really hits the mark.

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!

Image: Team Salvato.

Alright, I know Doki Doki Literature Club didn’t come out this year, but the console version with extra stuff did and I played and loved it. The depth that they go into with the backstories of these characters really makes the main story all the more depressing, and it was well worth it.

The general idea with talking about the game is that you should NOT talk about the story, so I won’t. All I’ll say is that there’s a lot more than meets the eye here.

Death’s Door

Image: Ruby Innes / Kotaku Australia.

Death’s Door was one of those games that I probably will never forget and will recommend to anybody who will listen. Not only was it one of my favourite games this year, but I’d comfortable say it was one of the best releases of this year objectively.

I do not claim to be good at video games, but any time I successfully did anything in Death’s Door I felt like I was the best video game player in the world. The challenge the comes with this title feels rewarding, and there are also funny little fellas present (which is, once again, a big win).

Hades (Xbox Series X)

Image: Hades / Supergiant Games.

Like Doki Doki Plus!, Hades also did not come out this year, but it was released onto the Xbox Series X/S this year. I didn’t give this game a chance when it came out because I am a Huge Dumbass, but waiting until it came out on the next-gen consoles was worth it.

Jesus Christ! I finally understand what everyone was talking about. This game is incredible. Deserving of everything it won.

Happy Home Designer for Switch

Image: Ruby Innes / Kotaku Australia.

IT COUNTS, OKAY! IT COUNTS. The Happy Home Designer DLC for Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released this year, even though the base game was not. As an avid fan of the original game on the Nintendo 3DS, I was keen to jump on the DLC (and was relieved that it wasn’t released as an entirely full-price separate game).

I love the lemur. I love the dugong. This DLC was a great way to whittle away the hours and distract myself from impending doom.

The Artful Escape

Image: The Artful Escape / Beethoven & Dinosaur.

Generally, walking simulators can be pretty hit or miss. If you don’t add something to make it stand out from the rest, it feels like a pithy attempt at some kind of statement. The Artful Escape, on the other hand… Added a lot. And it rocked.

There was so much going on in this game but it didn’t feel overwhelming. The art direction and the sound direction complimented each other so well that The Artful Escape could easily be called a masterpiece and a work of art. I mean, it’s in the name.

Garden Story

Image: Ruby Innes / Kotaku Australia.

Unlike Death’s Door which almost feels like it implies that you’re going to die a lot, Garden Story felt deceptively difficult. Regardless, I had a fucking ball playing this game.

Everyone you meet is an absolute treat, everything you pick up seems to have a purpose, and the art style is so adorable that everywhere you look is a scenic delight. Added bonus is you are literally an evil-fighting grape.

Deltarune: Chapter 2

She is my favourite villain ever. Image: Deltarune / Toby Fox.

I know I’m biased here because Undertale is one of my all-time favourites, but this is also my personal list of games this year that I loved so it’s absolutely fine and normal. Chapter 2 of Deltarune introduced the world to easily one of the best video game villains to exist, Queen. She is a cold hard bitch and I’m gagging for her.

The continuation of the Deltarune story doesn’t miss a beat. It’s an addition that’s got me excited for the rest of the game to unfold.


Unfortunately, Scary Baby in Horror House did not make this list as I could not find the time to play it. I did not experience the Horror Baby Story, and I did not Take Care Of Scary Baby. I’m sure if I did play it, it would’ve been Game Of The Year.

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