Despite this year’s many game delays — God of War Ragnarok, Hogwarts Legacy, Horizon Forbidden West, Gotham Knights, and many others were pushed into next year — 2021 has thus far been a great year for video games.The first full year of the PS5 and Xbox Series X |S era has brought us over 70 games (so far) that IGN awarded a review score of 8 or higher.
As we enter the final quarter of the year, we’ve compiled a list of every such game — new, standalone releases (no DLC) that received an 8 (“Great”), 9 (“Amazing”), or 10 (“Masterpiece”) from IGN.Click through the gallery below or continue scrolling for our full list of 2021’s 73 best games, ordered from lowest score to highest.
Note: This list will be updated through the end of the year if/when a new game receives a qualifying review score.
The Best Games of 2021 74 IMAGES Review Score: 8 (“Great”) Age of Empires 4 From our review: Age of Empires 4 plays it safe a bit too often, but really excels when it wanders outside of its very traditional comfort zone.The expansive campaigns and offbeat factions like the Mongols and the Rus are major highlights, even when it loses some of its sharpness to a small unit cap, frustrating pathfinding, and relatively unimpressive graphics for a 2021 game.I’ve been enjoying it a lot as a whole, but it also sometimes makes me question how much room I have in my life for this age-old formula these days, when real-time strategy has come such a long way thanks to the innovations of other franchises.
– Leana Hafer
Have you played Deathloop?
YES NO Developer : Relic | Platform : PC | IGN’s Age of Empires 4 Video Review
The Artful Escape From our review: The Artful Escape is a truly joyful musical journey through outer space in which the performances of its cast and the quality of its soundtrack are every bit as stellar as the eye-popping celestial realms it crisscrosses through.It’s not for those who’re after a traditional platforming game challenge, and if listening to indulgent ‘80s-style guitar solos doesn’t appeal to you then Francis’ nonstop noodling may well get on your nerves.But if you’re up for an infectious mix of goofy good humour and brazen guitar worship, then there hasn’t been a musical adventure as excellent as The Artful Escape since Bill met Ted.– Tristan Ogilvie
Developer : Beethoven & Dinosaur | Platforms : Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s The Artful Escape Video Review
Back 4 Blood From our review: Between its stellar card augmentations, excellent campaign, and jovial tone that creeps into every facet of its design, Back 4 Blood puts some exciting new spins on a familiar genre.Its flippant difficulty spikes and unbalanced versus mode prove not every experiment works out, but its co-op zombie-fighting manages to forge its own identity.
Back 4 Blood confidently marches to the beat of its tune rather than lifelessly shamble after distant memories.– Kyle Campbell
Developer : Turtle Rock Studios | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Back 4 Blood Video Review
Blue Fire From our review: Blue Fire provides an impeccable platforming experience with the just right balance of abilities to master and challenges to test you, making its bleak and corrupted world a joy to explore.
Its Zelda-like dungeon experiences may end a bit too soon before it begins relying on overly familiar backtracking, but it doesn’t dull the fun of dashing around obstacles and fighting enemies alike.And even when the pacing of its main path falters slightly, the irresistible lure of its inventive challenge rooms kept me coming back for more.– Brendan Graeber
Developer : Robi Studios | Platforms : PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Blue Fire Video Review
Boomerang X From our review: Boomerang X is a wonderful twist on a single-player arena shooter with excellent environmental story-telling, an interesting weapon, and a buttery smooth combat system.Even though it’s completely linear, it still has the strongest Metroid Prime vibes I’ve felt from a game in ages, and I loved battling through each area as I moved deeper into its mysterious island.
I just wish it were longer, because I was having such a great time playing it.– Seth Macy
Developer : Dang! | Platforms : Switch, PC
Bravely Default 2 From our review: Bravely Default 2 is a long, familiar journey with excellent customizable combat and jobs systems that let you make your party and your playthrough truly your own.Its character and enemy art that was excellent on the 3DS doesn’t translate all that well to the higher resolution of the Nintendo Switch, but the beautiful backdrops and environments get a massive boost from and look fantastic.And while the grind is real and repetitive fetch quests abound, it’s so easy to pick up and put back down that it feels like less of a grind and more of a constructive way to kill some time.With plenty of old-school sensibilities and tons of improvements on the formula, Bravely Default 2 is almost everything I crave from a JRPG outside of a grand story.– Seth Macy
Developer : ClayTechWorks | Platforms : Switch, PC | IGN’s Bravely Default 2 Video Review
Cyber Shadow From our review: Cyber Shadow is a wonderful merging of old-school aesthetic and modern design sensibilities, much like Shovel Knight was back in 2014.Sure, its story is forgettable and some of its checkpoint placements are far enough apart to make me hesitant to apply a “tough but fair” label without caveats, but the way it evolves and changes over the course of its seven to eight hour campaign thanks to excellent level, enemy, and progression design is exemplary.Combine that with what’s an early contender for best soundtrack of 2021, and it’s easy to see Cyber Shadow as the start of something great for both Mechanical Head Studios and Yacht Club Games.
– Mitchell Saltzman
Developer : Mechanical Head Games | Platforms : PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Cyber Shadow Video Review
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes From our review: In many respects, you know exactly what you’re getting with The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes.It’s a QTE-filled horrorfest that is often stretching against the limitations of its budget.The script could use some polish and the characters could be a little more outside the box.However, the claustrophobic scares work effectively, and the central mystery of House of Ashes signifies a return to what fans loved about Until Dawn.
It gives us a tantalizing look at what could be coming in the future.– Ricky Frech
Developer : Supermassive Games | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s House of Ashes Video Review
Eldest Souls From our review: Though it wears its overly obvious influences on its sleeve, Eldest Souls is an incredibly satisfying boss rush that still manages to set itself apart.
Its brilliant combat is complimented by a smart skill system and some incredible pixel art.Designed with replayability in mind, it’s a little bit of a bummer that its impressive customization doesn’t really blossom until partway into your first playthrough.
But one thing that’s there from the start is that feeling of immense glory after every hard-earned victory: Ceremoniously slumping onto the living room floor, clutching the carpet for dear life with one hand while exhaustedly flipping off the television with the other.– Joseph Knoop
Developer : Fallen Flag Studio | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Eldest Souls Video Review
F1 2021 From our review: F1 2021 is the best-looking and most customisable instalment of the long-running Codemasters series to date, and the ability to tinker under the hood of the core career experience and play co-op with a friend is very welcome.With the addition of Braking Point it’s also arguably the boldest F1 game so far.The characterisation is a little underdone and the E for Everyone approach means it’s quite an airbrushed take on the F1 world compared to Netflix’s tense and profanity-laden Drive to Survive, but injecting a story mode into the F1 series was a risk well worth taking and I’m certainly looking forward to more of it.
– Luke Reilly
Developer : Codemasters | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s F1 2021 Video Review
Far Cry 6 From our review: Far Cry 6 is some of the most fun I’ve had with this series in nearly a decade.Its cast delivers strong performances across an enjoyable story, even if it’s also a fairly predictable one that doesn’t always land the bigger swings it tries to take.And despite some faltering new inventory mechanics and a handful of bizarre design choices, its creative weaponry means taking down an outpost, ransacking a convoy, or even just taking a ride with a buddy has never felt better.– Jon Ryan
Developer : Ubisoft | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC | IGN’s Far Cry 6 Video Review
Game Builder Garage From our review: I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed learning as much as I did during my time with Game Builder Garage.
Game Builder Garage is a powerful game design tool overflowing with charm and personality.Anyone with a little patience and desire to learn can start creating games with its robust system of Nodons.No coding knowledge is required, but you’ll learn concepts like evaluations and conditional statements without even realizing it.I do wish it allowed you to look under the hood and see the actual code, but not being able to see all those lines of boring text don’t detract at all from the fun of making games.The tremendous variety of Nodons available make it possible to pull off some really complex stuff and I’m really looking forward to seeing what creations the Game Builder Garage community cooks up.
– Seth Macy
Developer : Nintendo | Platform : Switch | IGN’s Game Builder Garage Video Review
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection From our review: Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is an old-school action platformer that’s not too cruel to compromise, allowing you to fine tune its challenge level relative to your individual skill and tolerance for pain.Its seven-level story mode may be slightly short, but it packs in plenty of variety and unique challenges to navigate, and bolsters its replay value with the addition of the alternate Shadow levels that unlock after your first playthrough.If Capcom had added further flexibility to Arthur’s movement and attacks – and maybe had some fun with the story – this would have been a truly sensational second coming, but regardless Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is still a supremely spirited comeback.
– Tristan Ogilvie
Developer : Capcom | Platforms : PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Ghost ‘n Goblins Resurrection Video Review
I Expect You to Die 2 From our review: I Expect You To Die 2 is a clever, surprising, and fun escape room-style puzzle game that’s certainly worth exploring.You’ll need to stomach a lot of restarts to see it through to the end, but its best interactive moments and its focus on comfort and ease of access make doing so worth dying over and over again for.
Regardless, once I’d unraveled everything there was to see across the three-hour campaign, I was left without much to do except hope that an actual spy came along and flashed my memory, Men In Black-style, so I could play the whole thing again with fresh eyes.– Gabriel Moss
Developer : Schell Games | Platform : VR | IGN’s I Expect You to Die 2 Video Review
Kena: Bridge of Spirits From our review: Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a wonderful first game from Ember Lab, combining its outstanding pedigree in art and animation with some really solid combat, fantastic world design, and a great balance of action, platforming, puzzle solving, and exploration.The result is an open-world action-adventure that harkens back to the days of the N64/Gamecube-era Zeldas, Okami, and Star Fox Adventures, while also adding some modern sensibilities and a distinct personal touch.It is elegant in its simplicity, though sometimes that simplicity left me wanting more options to vary up my combat approaches, and I never got to know Kena herself as well as I wanted to.Even so, outstanding enemy variety and intense, memorable boss battles more than carry it through its nine-hour adventure.
– Mitchell Saltzman
Developer : Ember Lab | Platforms : PS5, PS4, PC | IGN’s Kena: Bridge of Spirits Video Review
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD From our review: Skyward Sword remains as charming as ever, even if it’s also still dominated by clunky controls and odd gimmicks that are exactly as weird as you remember them.
The characters and story have aged like fine wine, the quality of life improvements help alleviate some of the Wii-era wonkiness, and the improved graphics and performance make this version look and play better than ever.Unsolved control issues aside, this airborne adventure is everything you might expect it to be, for better or worse, and playing through it again had me grinning ear-to-ear the whole way through.– Travis Northup
Developers : Nintendo, Tantalus | Platform : Switch | IGN’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Video Review
Loop Hero From our review: Shockingly creative in its fantasy fiction setup and addictive in its largely automated gameplay, Loop Hero is something new and interesting in the realm of RPGs and it does not disappoint.It stops short of being revolutionary though, and its reliance on a tired grind and dull stats is weak in comparison to roguelikes that emphasize trying unique new builds over optimizing existing combos.
That gives it a shorter lifespan than many of its contemporaries – but there’s nothing quite like it.– Jon Bolding
Developer : Four Quarters Team | Platforms : Switch, PC | IGN’s Loop Hero Video Review
Lost in Random From our review: This sprawling action adventure has way more meat on its bones than you may first expect if you’re only looking for a quick dive into a Tim Burton-esque wonderland.Lost in Random is loaded with tons of side quests, interesting lore, and a decent semi-real-time, semi-turn-based combat system that ends up getting bogged down by dumb enemy AI.Beyond that, the five worlds that follow the relatively drab intro section each offer their own unique quirks, struggles, and characters that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
– Gabriel Moss
Developer : Zoink! | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Lost in Random Video Review
Mario Party Superstars From our review: Mario Party Superstars is more than just a collection of excellent boards and minigames from the series’ past: It’s a complete return to form for the Mario Party series.
There’s a really great mix of classic and more modern minigames, the overall quality of which is top-notch, even if some of them are a bit redundant.It really could have used one more board, and the balance of the 1v3 minigames isn’t the greatest, but with solid online play acting as the icing on the proverbial Peach’s Birthday Cake, it’s easy to say that this is the best Mario Party has been in at least a decade.– Mitchell Saltzman
Developer : NDCube | Platform : Switch | IGN’s Mario Party Superstars Video Review
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy From our review: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy nicely balances a goofy, action-filled adventure with some genuinely heartfelt story moments, and the choices you’re given can add some surprising personal twists to your particular playthrough.Its combat and level design are relatively simple if still consistently entertaining, but it’s the relationships and banter between its characters that keep everything fresh as they evolve.It isn’t going to set the world on fire, but Guardians of the Galaxy is still another convincing example of how much fun a linear, no-frills, single-player campaign can be.
– Tom Marks
Developer : Eidos Montreal | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Guardians of the Galaxy Video Review
Mass Effect Legendary Edition – Mass Effect 1 From our review: The Legendary Edition’s version of the original Mass Effect updates the first game of BioWare’s amazing sci-fi RPG trilogy enough that a modern audience can play through it and enjoy its spectacular story and characters without being asked to suffer much for the privilege.Combat and driving sections are still lackluster, but a universe this dense with rich lore and consequential decisions is a pleasure to come back to and to welcome newcomers into.
After replaying, I’m surprised at how much I’m looking forward to diving into the next two games – stay tuned for those reviews.– Dan Stapleton
Developer : BioWare | Platforms : PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Mass Effect Legendary Edition Part 1 Video Review
Mass Effect Legendary Edition – Mass Effect 3 From our review: As far as the remaster goes, Mass Effect 3 Legendary Edition doesn’t go above or beyond but it does what it’s supposed to do.Textures and models are improved to the point where they’re not distractingly behind the times as it tells its story.
When you’re into it – hopefully from having played the first two parts first – this is a very strong action RPG.At the same time, Mass Effect 3: Legendary Edition is not a tour de force relative to the rest of the Mass Effect Trilogy, and it’s a shame that multiplayer was cut entirely, but it does hold its own.Its combat is better than its ever been thanks to its enemy variety and it wraps up the vast majority of its stories – both galactic and personal – in satisfying ways, but the ending fails to make the choices we made in the previous two games really matter when it comes down to the fate of the galaxy.– Dan Stapleton
Developer : BioWare | Platforms : PS4, Xbox One, PC
The Medium From our review: The Medium uses a unique reality-shifting ability to bring a new dimension to some tried-and-tested genre puzzle-solving mechanics.It presents an intriguing mystery to unravel and adds a tangible sense of urgency to your investigations by placing a truly memorable villain hot on your heels.
It isn’t able to play with perspective as effectively as some of Bloober Team’s other work, but it’s brilliantly paced and palpably tense.An absorbing and nerve-racking journey from the shriek of its first jump scare to its very last gasp, The Medium delivers a psychological horror adventure that’s all thriller and no filler.– Tristan Ogilvie
Developer : Bloober Team | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC | IGN’s The Medium Video Review
MLB The Show 21 From our review: MLB The Show 21 does a great job of opening its pristine baseball simulator to a brand-new group of players as it arrives on Xbox for the first time.Much like MLB The Show 20 before it, it still plays a bit too safe in most instances, only offering marginal gains over its predecessor with things like menu organization and improved customization.Nearly everything is visually nearly identical.Meanwhile, it kneecaps one of the series’ key continuity features by cutting off save transfers from previous games.That’s a puzzling decision, but it’s hard to believe it’d be a deal-breaker for long-time fans in the face of additions like the flexible new Stadium Creator, cross-platform multiplayer, and awesome DualSense support.MLB The Show 21 might not be an all-star but it’s still far and away the best baseball game you can pick up and play on any platform.
– Gabriel Moss
Developer : SIE San Diego Studio | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One | IGN’s MLB The Show 21 Video Review
Monster Hunter Rise From our review: Monster Hunter Rise mixes classic Monster Hunter ideas with some of World’s best improvements and a whole bunch of clever new mechanics of its own.Not all of them are slam dunks, but they are all fun – and the introduction of Wirebugs and the mobility they bring to every fight is so great I never want to give them up.The post-launch updates Capcom is already teasing can’t come soon enough, but Monster Hunter Rise is still a thrilling step forward in the series’ evolution toward the new normal World so boldly introduced.– Tom Marks
Developer : Capcom | Platforms : Switch; PC (January 12, 2022) | IGN’s Monster Hunter Rise Video Review
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin From our review: Minor oversights and frustrations certainly wore away at me over the 80+ hours I spent with Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin — during its campaign and beyond — but the journey was well worth taking despite the frequent grains of sand in my shoe.
Its mercifully free, gacha-like monster hatching loop is always exciting, and its combat and customization are both accessible but still intricate and rewarding.Its story is enjoyable if a bit cliche, but exploring this gorgeous world from the backs of my favorite monsters is an absolute delight.– Casey DeFreitas
Developer : Capcom | Platforms : Switch, PC | IGN’s Monster Hunter Stories 2 Video Review
Naraka: Bladepoint From our review: While the idea of another battle royale was an initially tiresome thought, Naraka: Bladepoint ended up being the refreshing take on the genre that I’ve craved for years now.Mastering the intricacies of its combat and movement systems will keep me happily busy for weeks and months to come.
Yeah, boring bot matches and finicky servers can drag it down at times, but both are already becoming little more than a fleeting memory.If you fancy a challenging battle royale free of build wars and machine guns, Naraka: Bladepoint provides a genuinely clever spin on the genre’s familiar formula.– Kyle Campbell
Developer : 24 Entertainment | Platforms : PS5, PC | IGN’s Naraka: Bladepoint Video Review
New Pokemon Snap From our review: After a 22-year gap, New Pokémon Snap is a successful modern reinvention of all the best ideas of Pokémon Snap, with more courses, more Pokémon, and more reasons to revisit familiar spots in pursuit of the perfect shot.Some of its supportive systems, like its photo scoring and tutorials, can drag down momentum or even frustrate at times.But at the end of the day, some artificial grade is utterly secondary to the clever environmental storytelling you’ll experience as you level up courses, the fun of discovering surprising photo opps, and the sheer joy of observing a moving ecosystem of believable, personable, and lovable Pokémon.– Rebekah Valentine
Developer : Bandai Namco Studios | Platform : Switch | IGN’s New Pokemon Snap Video Review
NieR Replicant Ver.
1.22474487139 From our review: As a “Version Up” of the original Nier, Replicant Ver.1.22 does a respectable job of updating the graphics and combat of the 2010 cult classic to a more modern standard by dramatically improving its environments, animations, and performance, while also going the extra mile and adding excellent voice acting to every single character in its world.
It definitely shows its age in its combat and quest design, however, and while the improvements to combat certainly help smooth things out it still suffers from repetitive enemies, mundane sidequests, and a lack of evolution over the course of the 35 to 40-hour adventure you’ll need to complete to see all the endings.
Just push through it and get to what’s truly excellent about Nier Replicant: its story and characters, both of which are still among the strongest I’ve seen in the genre.– Mitchell Saltzman
Developer : Toylogic | Platforms : PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139 Video Review
Old World From our review: Old World can be vexing at first given how much more there is to manage on top of the usual 4X concerns we’ve gotten used to in the past decade or so, and the UI can feel cluttered as you’re trying to piece it all together.But crucially, none of that added complexity comes without added rewards.The richness and human element that mortal characters and noble families bring is well worth coming to grips with all of the extra mechanics they introduce.Limiting your ability to give orders not only cuts down on long turn times in the late game, but opens up new strategies for playing tall or making the most of a less than great start position.It’s a fine balancing act, and while Old World doesn’t really become a “Civ killer,” I don’t think it’s trying to be.
For those who have the patience to master it, it’s a satisfying and deep 4X that could generate interesting stories for ages to come.– Leana Hafer
Developer : Mohawk Games | Platform : PC | IGN’s Old World Video Review
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous From our review: Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous has to live up to the expectations of being a Pathfinder adaptation, a sequel to the fascinating if messy Kingmaker, and the next big ambitious isometric RPG.Perhaps shockingly, it succeeds at meeting those expectations, thanks largely to taking the step of implementing a turn-based mode from the beginning.
It may take as long as organizing a tabletop campaign to actually finish, but the journey’s still worthwhile.– Rowan Kaiser
Developer : Owlcat Games | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous Video Review
Persona 5 Strikers From our review: Persona 5 Strikers’ main story is every bit the direct sequel to Persona 5 that it seems, making this summer road trip with the Phantom Thieves essential for fans of the original (and probably pretty confusing for anybody who hasn’t played it).Its lack of Persona’s signature social and calendar systems are the only places its spin-off status becomes a bit of a letdown, but even replacing turn-based combat with real-time action doesn’t stop it from recapturing the feel of its predecessor overall.Its structure is far closer to action-JRPGs like Kingdom Hearts than the musou’s Omega Force is best known for, but the varied playstyles of each character and the story that pulls them along made the fairly simple act of hacking through shadows enjoyable to the very last surprise.
– Tom Marks
Developers : Omega Force, P Studio | Platforms : PS4, Switch, PC | IGN’s Persona 5 Strikers Video Review
Psychonauts 2 From our review: Psychonauts 2’s weird and wonderfully written story is full of interesting, nuanced characters that I instantly fell in love with.
Most of its fresh ideas go a long way toward elevating the Psychonauts formula into the modern era, though its enticing new equippable pin system can be a little too stingy.Double Fine has also done a great job of expanding this universe toward both grander and more intimate threats without losing the joyous childhood adventure vibes of the original.It may bring a bit of that mid-2000s action-platformer clunkiness along with it, but Psychonauts 2 is still just about everything I could have hoped for from a sequel to one of my favorite games.– Tom Marks
Developer : Double Fine Productions | Platforms : Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Psychonauts 2 Video Review
Resident Evil Village From our review: Roaming the streets of Resident Evil Village is like visiting a disturbing and deadly Disneyland, where every attraction is a house of horrors.I got just as big a thrill out of revelling in its frenzied violence as I did retracing my steps through the gradually revealed recesses of its sizable village setting to uncover the darkest story secrets of its monstrous main cast.Boss fights are a bit of a letdown but the great variety of enemies throughout keeps things tense, especially on Hardcore mode.The fact that it’s very much a throwback to the fast-paced action of Resident Evil 4 also means it largely takes a step back from the slow-burn scares of Resident Evil 7’s excellent opening hours, which may well disappoint those who prefer more psychological dread to blowing off heads.But if you have an itch for action-heavy survival-horror, then Resident Evil Village will scratch it like a fistfull of Lady Dimitrescu’s freakish fingernails.
– Tristan Ogilvie
Developer : Capcom | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC | IGN’s Resident Evil Village Video Review
Returnal From our review: The moment-to-moment gameplay of Returnal is sublime, with a great selection of weapons that each have a wide variety of interesting possible traits, meaningful strategic decisions that can either keep a run afloat or doom it to sink, and punishingly challenging yet rewarding gunplay that is consistently exhilarating.Even with all of this focus on action, it never drops the ball on the story.
Its big issue is that runs last way too long, and there’s no way to save progress outside of putting the PS5 in rest mode.That saps the desire to immediately return and try again after a failure, though not enough to grind it to a halt.Even so, Returnal is an incredible roguelike, and one of Housemarque’s best games to date.
– Mitchell Saltzman
Developer : Housemarque | Platform : PS5 | IGN’s Returnal Video Review
Riders Republic From our review: Riders Republic is an ambitious, captivating open-world sports game that had me laughing, sweating, and cheering more the longer I played.It borrows quite a bit from other open-world racing games like it and still has some kinks to work out with the stability of its online service – but it’s astounding just how much Riders Republic manages to successfully pack inside itself, with enough consistently entertaining variety to keep me playing for a very long time.– Travis Northup
Developer : Ubisoft | Platform : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC | IGN’s Riders Republic Video Review
The Riftbreaker From our review: The Riftbreaker is a fantastic blend of real-time strategy and bullet hell combat that provides an intense challenge and an addictive RPG loop.Its story and characters are aggressively forgettable and its numerous bugs leave it feeling a bit unpolished, but it succeeds at so much during its 50-hour campaign that I’ll remember it for a long time to come… once I recover from the various panic attacks it induced.– Travis Northup
Developer : EXOR Studios | Platform : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC | IGN’s The Riftbreaker Video Review
Road 96 From our review: Road 96 is a fascinating and frequently tense adventure, one full of oddball characters and offbeat diversions that made each trek I took feel unique and totally worthwhile.A few graphical and interface shortcomings and the occasional disconnect between story sequences provide some unwanted distractions, but I found them easy to ignore in favour of the many entertaining surprises I enjoyed along the way – a bit like turning up my favourite radio station in order to drown out the bickering of kids in the backseat.– Tristan Ogilvie
Developer : Digixart Entertainment | Platforms : Switch, PC | IGN’s Road 96 Video Review
Scarlet Nexus From our review: It’s understandable to take a look at Scarlet Nexus and write it off as “just another anime game,” but doing so would be a big mistake.
This is an ambitious undertaking from Bandai Namco, one that attempts to blend the two disparate genres of character-action game and large-scale JRPG, and achieves an impressive level of success.Its combat and thin enemy variety don’t hold up all the way to the end of the combined 40 hours of its dual campaigns, but its story and characters absolutely do, and make for a surprise breakout hit of 2021.– Mitchell Saltzman
Developer : Bandai Namco Studios | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Scarlet Nexus Video Review
Shin Megami Tensei 5 From our review: With extensive and satisfying party customization, excellent combat, and challenging enemies, Shin Megami Tensei V never left me feeling bored or burned out across its epic length.Exploration and platforming sections lend some much-needed variety when you’re fighting so many similar battles in a row.I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this was Persona without the heart – without the unforgettable companion characters, the potent personal story, the incredible soundtrack, and the jaw-dropping twists and turns.
Still, if you’re looking for a meaty, demanding, endlessly deep, and overall outstanding JRPG to sink your teeth into, Shin Megami Tensei V has heaping portions of it.– Leana Hafer
Developer : Atlus | Platform : Switch | IGN’s Shin Megami Tensei 5 Video Review
Skul: The Hero Slayer From our review: Skul: The Hero Slayer is an original take on a well-established genre, using its novel head-swapping mechanic to put a plethora of unique playable characters front and center.Though both its story and boss variety leave something to be desired, the quirky characters and satisfying, fast-paced combat had me eager to bone up on my skeletal skills even after the credits rolled.
– Travis Northup
Developer : SouthPaw Games | Platforms : Switch, PC | IGN’s Skul: The Hero Slayer Video Review
Sonic Colors: Ultimate From our review: As a remaster, Sonic Colors: Ultimate throws in a decent amount of new stuff, but nothing beyond the frame rate and resolution bump really add up to anything that elevates the experience beyond what it was on the Wii.That said, it was already great in 2010, and still holds up as one of the best modern Sonic games to date thanks to its imaginative level designs, a laser focus on the things that make the series fun, and the addition of power granting Wisps that add a ton of variety to each level without compromising the speed that should define a Sonic game.– Mitchell Saltzman
Developers : Sonic Team, Dimps | Platforms : PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Sonic Colors: Ultimate Video Review
TOEM From our review: TOEM is a short, satisfying little photography adventure packed with witty writing, goofy yet grounded characters, and a wealth of interesting, picturesque moments to capture.Though simple to complete, its diorama-like maps, cartoon style, and pleasing music and sounds make it an inviting world to stay in long enough to uncover all its secrets.
Unpretentious and clever, TOEM encourages its audience to elevate the most seemingly mundane encounters through the scrupulosity of a camera lens, splashing its world with enough myth, humor, and joy to turn every moment into a photographable phenomenon as intriguing as the one in its title.– Rebekah Valentine
Developer : Something We Made | Platforms : Switch, PC | IGN’s TOEM Video Review
Twelve Minutes From our review: It’s difficult to convey my enthusiasm for Twelve Minutes’ time-loop mystery without discussing what happens at the end, but like Inside, I’d be doing you a grave disservice by giving anything away.What I can say is that the payoff is worth it, and the clever way in which writer-director Luis Antonio flips the traditional point-and-click adventure on its head makes for a compelling bit of unconventional storytelling that could only have worked as a game.Throw in great performances from three respected actors and the result is a memorable crime worth solving.
– Ryan McCaffrey
Developer : Nomada Studio | Platforms : Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Twelve Minutes Video Review
Unpacking From our review: Unpacking’s greatest achievement is that it tells a story without any of the tools we’d usually consider essential.There’s no dialogue, very little text, and no visible characters.All you have to work with is a series of rooms, dozens of boxes, and the year in which each stage takes place; it’s up to you to put everything together as you see fit.Not only does it work, it’s actually quite moving (pun intended).
It certainly made me think about all of the things I’ve packed and unpacked over the years, as well as what they say about me.– Sarah LeBoeuf
Developer : Witch Beam | Platform : PC | IGN’s Unpacking Video Review
Warharmmer 40,000: Battlesector From our review: Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector beats the pants off of other recent 40K tactical games, making a run at skirmish wargame greatness.
While it’s limited in places and the interface can struggle, the tactical combat is well worth the time it takes to learn and the Momentum system rewards your strategic prowess with more capacity to dish out pain.From the diverse campaign missions to the straightforward skirmishes, I not only recommend Battlesector, but hope that it does well enough to warrant the addition of many new factions in DLC and expansions.– Jon Bolding
Developer : Black Lab Games | Platform : PC | IGN’s Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector Video Review
WRC 10 From our review: WRC 10 is a great rally game and a lovely, if a fraction flawed, ode to the… 49-year history of the World Rally Championship.The end result isn’t streets ahead of the already impressive WRC 9 – and it’s still making some of the latter’s minor mistakes – but WRC 10 is another successful example of KT Racing’s commitment to fantastic stage design and frantic, fast-paced, and occasionally unforgiving fun.– Luke Reilly
Developer : Kylotonn | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s WRC 10 Video Review
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox From our review: The more I played Ys IX, the deeper I fell for it.It looks, plays, and sounds similar to Ys VIII, but its emphasis on story and new movement abilities like grappling, gliding, and wall-running gives it a flavor of its own.
Better still, action RPG fans who’ve long been “Ys-curious” can jump into Ys IX without fear of missing out on the ongoing story.The Court of the Crimson King welcomes all adventurers, new and old.– Nadia Oxford
Developer : Nihon Falcom Corp | Platforms : PS4, Switch, Stadia, PC | IGN’s Ys IX: Monstrum Nox Video Review
The Worst Games of 2021 7 IMAGES Review Score: 9 (“Amazing”) Chicory: A Colorful Tale From our review: Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a pristine little adventure with fun puzzles and smart, cute writing, all overlaid with an extremely clever and surprisingly rich paint mechanic that replaces the need for combat and enhances a genre I was already familiar with.Its characters are pleasant and fun to spend time with, and its world has the exact right amount of secrets, art features, and collectibles to appease those who want to explore for longer without overwhelming.All that on its own would be enough to recommend it, but the story that colors its play is disarmingly real, difficult, and heartfelt.Its world, writing, and gameplay work seamlessly together to challenge Chicory’s audience not on grandiose hypotheticals, but in smaller, more personal feelings that may hit painfully, beautifully close to home.– Rebekah Valentine
Developers : Greg Lobanov, Lena Raine, Em Halberstadt, Alexis Dean-Jones, Madeline Berger | Platforms : PS5, PS4, PC | IGN’s Chicory: A Colorful Tale Video Review
Chivalry 2 From our review: I am having a ton of fun with Chivalry 2.
The maps, outside of a few balance issues, are a total blast – everything from the shining armor to the soaring castle walls looks great and there are a huge range of objectives to keep things interesting.Whether I’m swinging a sword or plucking away with a bow, combat hits that elusive sweet spot between accessible dumb fun and rewarding, skill-based mechanics where the wheat is separated from the chaff.When you respawn and everyone around you is spamming the battle cry button as you rush headlong into certain death, you just know you’re in for a rockin’ time.I don’t think I’ll be putting away this sweaty coat of mail for a good while.– Leana Hafer
Developer : Torn Banner Studios | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Chivalry 2 Video Review
Curse of the Dead Gods From our review: Even without the curses themselves, Curse of the Dead Gods would be a standout roguelite with excellent combat, a smart structure that eases you into its difficulty, and a great variety of enemies, traps, and bosses across its three distinct temples.That strong foundation is only made better by the fun randomization curses bring to each run, on top of the added strategic element that comes with having to balance the need to gear up quickly with the fear of taking on more corruption than you can handle.Its between-run progression systems didn’t do much to hook me compared to the simple drive to best its hardest challenges, but even without that carrot on a stick, Curse of the Dead Gods is a blessing in disguise.
– Mitchell Saltzman
Developer : Passtech Games | Platforms : PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Curse of the Dead Gods Video Review
Death’s Door From our review: Death’s Door is a must for those looking to scratch the itch of a classic Zelda dungeon-delving game, with the added bonus of impeccable combat against waves of foes in a creepy world.Secrets are plentiful enough to offset the low variety of rewards, and the cohesion of puzzle-solving and combat encounters worked terrifically to challenge me in all the right ways.While I wish the adventure didn’t end so soon, as a reaper of souls I should know: nothing lasts forever.– Brendan Graeber
Developer : Acid Nerve | Platforms : Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Death’s Door Video Review
The Forgotten City From our review: The Forgotten City is an incredibly unique and self-aware adventure game that does a fabulous job of exploring complex ideas stemming from a basic question: “what is objectively good?” If you’re expecting a full-blown action RPG that spans dozens of hours, this 10-hour jaunt and its fairly simple combat may only whet your appetite, but it still sports an impressive ensemble cast of likeable but flawed characters who each have something interesting to say.And without spoiling anything, there are moments where the writing is so good it’s practically leaping out of your screen, standing up there with some of the best moments in any RPG.– Gabriel Moss
Developer : Modern Storyteller | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s The Forgotten City Video Review
Griftlands From our review: This ingenious blend of RPG mechanics, visual novel-style storytelling, and deck-building roguelike gameplay is a beautiful recipe for a kind of game I never knew I wanted.Even though I’ve already spent the past week getting through each of Griftlands’ campaigns multiple times, I’m still looking forward to my next run – and the run after that.
Campaigns are short and challenging, making them highly replayable and memorable adventures that reward your time.It’s kinda absurd that such an eclectic group of mechanics work together in such harmony, but once you’re bitten by their charms it’s quite hard to put Griftlands down.– Travis Northup
Developer : Klei Entertainment | Platforms : Switch, PC | IGN’s Griftlands Video Review
Grime From our review: Grime is an exceptional Souls-inspired take on the 2D Metroidvania.
An intricate, stone-carved world full of mysteries provides a sure-footed foundation for deep, finely-balanced combat and breathless, devious platforming.Best of all, it’s a Souls-like that forgoes punishment in favour of encouragement, happy to lend a helping hand whenever you fall.– David Wildgoose
Developer : Clover Bite | Platforms : Stadia, PC | IGN’s Grime Video Review
Guilty Gear Strive From our review: Guilty Gear Strive is a milestone 2D fighting game that raises the bar for anime-like fighters in terms of its visuals, online netcode, and sheer creativity found in all aspects of its design.It’s definitely a different flavor of Guilty Gear, with a heavier focus on fighting in the neutral and a slightly slowed down pace, but it maintains the series soul with absolutely wild character designs, flexible combo system, and a level of creativity both in its presentation and mechanics that is second to none in the genre.– Mitchell Saltzman
Developer : Arc System Works | Platforms : PS5, PS4, PC | IGN’s Guilty Gear Strive Video Review
Hitman 3 From our review: Rich, rewarding, and highly replayable, Hitman 3 is a superb instalment of IO’s idiosyncratic but much-loved stealth series.The fundamentals haven’t changed since 2016 but its collection of outstanding maps makes for a refined, reliable, and robust curtain-closer to the current Hitman trilogy.Six maps may sound slim but each one is huge and designed to be played several times over – and even then it’s very unlikely you’ll have uncovered all of its creative and surprising assassination opportunities.There really isn’t a weak one in the bunch.
This barcoded butcher has made a lot of appearances over the past 20 years, but Hitman 3 is definitely one of his best.– Luke Reilly
Developer : IO Interactive | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC | IGN’s Hitman 3 Video Review
Hot Wheels Unleashed From our review: Fun, fast, and damn near photorealistic at times, Hot Wheels Unleashed is a surprising and brilliant arcade racer.Carefully detailed, highly customisable, and buoyantly uncynical, this toy racer defies all expectations with remarkable attention to detail, excellent track design, and an accessible handling model that still rewards high skill.The racing may be tiny but make no mistake: this game is enormous fun.
– Luke Reilly
Developer : Milestone | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Hot Wheels Unleashed Video Review
Inscryption From our review: Inscryption is a surprising and delightful meta-twist on the digital card games that have exploded in recent years.Its unsettling story is the perfect vehicle for its ever-evolving mechanics, which constantly keep the simple but entertaining card game at its heart fresh.It’s a wonderfully strange game, but Inscryption is truly excellent because it’s also a genuinely fun one – and like Pony Island before it, you should probably go in knowing as little as possible.– Tom Marks
Developer : Daniel Mullins Games | Platform : PC
It Takes Two From our review: It Takes Two is a spectacular co-op adventure that lays down a path of great gameplay ideas and uses it to play a giddy game of hopscotch.It’s beautiful, breakneck-paced, and bubbling over with creativity, and playfulness and experimentation are rewarded at every turn.If you have any kind of co-op partner in your life, be they spouse, friend, sibling, or other (even a child, though the themes might be too mature for them), It Takes Two is a truly joyful trip you really need to take together.
– Tristan Ogilvie
Developer : Hazelight Studios | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s It Takes Two Video Review
Knockout City From our review: Knockout City is one of the best team-based PvP games to come out in years.It’s a fresh take on the American schoolyard staple that proves that lowering the mechanical bar for entry doesn’t have to come at the cost of deep tactical gameplay.Every match has the potential to be a dynamic “combat” experience that even the most hard-boiled shooter fan can appreciate, all thanks to the clever balance between throws and catches, exciting special balls, and well-designed maps to brawl through.– Jarrett Green
Developer : Velan Studios | Platforms : PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Knockout City Video Review
Life Is Strange: True Colors From our review: Life is Strange: True Colors is a fantastic game that offers a great story with solid pacing, and unlike previous games in the series it left me with the feeling that every choice I made mattered.In picking up where Dontnod left off, Deck Nine has gone above and beyond to create the best game in the series to date and I am excited to see what the studio does with it next.– Taylor Lyles
Developer : Deck Nine Games | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC | IGN’s Life Is Strange: True Colors Video Review
Mass Effect Legendary Edition – Mass Effect 2 From our review: Mass Effect 2 Legendary Edition remains the highpoint in an amazing trilogy, and its 4K makeover allows its graphics to hold up nearly as well as its strong gameplay, excellent story, and fantastic characters.
With the DLC smoothly integrated into the flow of the campaign, this epic sci-fi RPG contains dozens of hours of exciting missions that explore the interesting backstories of your teammates and their respective alien cultures.The final couple of hours of the campaign are a truly brilliant culmination of the emotional connections we’re led to build with them.If you’ve played it before it’s more than flexible enough to give you a different experience this time, and if you haven’t you absolutely should.– Dan Stapleton
Developer : BioWare | Platforms : PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Mass Effect Legendary Edition Part 2 Video Review
Metroid Dread From our review: Metroid Dread gets so much right after so many years that I almost feel resentful that we didn’t get this game and a few sequels in some steady cadence starting in 2005.But instead, I’m incredibly happy to play a Metroid that is back at the top of its game.Even though it’s the latest in a decades old series, Dread has just enough clever innovation to balance its familiarity.
The universally recognizable mix of tough puzzles, tougher boss fights, ever-evolving exploration options, and intricate level design that recent games like Hollow Knight and Ori get so right has an origin point: It’s Metroid.I love those games, but the Metroid team, a mix of old and new developers now, have shown that they know how to do it best.
– Samuel Claiborn
Developers : Nintendo, MercurySteam | Platform : Switch | IGN’s Metroid Dread Video Review
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart From our review: Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is a stunner.It not only gives the latest generation of consoles a game that looks as beautiful as the improved tech promised, but it’s also a fantastic experience to play.Insomniac has been around the Ratchet and Clank block plenty of times before, but Rivet and other new characters add so much charm, wit, and heart to a franchise I’ve loved for most of my life.That’s coupled with series-best action-platforming gameplay and incredible art and sound design across the board.Rift Apart may not be the biggest adventure around, but its big heart, wild weapons, and incredible detail easily make it one of the most memorable of the year so far.– Jonathon Dornbush
Developer : Insomniac Games | Platform : PS5 | IGN’s Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart Video Review
Resident Evil 4 VR From our review: Armature has put a lot of love into making Resident Evil 4 VR a fresh action-horror experience.From the reworked and extremely flexible controls to making puzzles less of a chore and more fun to interact with, the thoughtful changes here make it an easy recommendation for anyone who owns an Oculus Quest 2.That’s true whether you’ve played it multiple times across different hardware generations already, or if it’s the first time you’ll be experiencing this modern classic.
Given that it wasn’t originally designed with VR in mind, it’s truly remarkable how well Resident Evil 4 has been adapted.– Taylor Lyles
Developers : Capcom, Armature Studios | Platform : VR
Subnautica: Below Zero From our review: Subnautica: Below Zero is another big, frosty bite of one of the best open world survival games to come along since the genre’s inception.
It might not be as massive as the original, but there is so much style and substance packed into each trench, cave, and bloodthirsty shark-squid-thing that it’s hard to complain.New vehicles, new gadgets, and across-the-board tune ups to technical performance and quality of life round out the experience skillfully.Whether you were ravenous for more Subnautica like me, or don’t even know what you’re in for, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.– Leana Hafer
Developer : Unknown Worlds Entertainment | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | IGN’s Subnautica: Below Zero Video Review
Tales of Arise From our review: I’m very pleased to say that Bandai Namco has hit the mark in reinvigorating the 26-year-old Tales RPG series.Tales of Arise brings to life a beautifully realized world with a story that isn’t afraid to tackle heavy subjects and knows when to take its foot off the gas for a bit.Its characters feel real and relatable even in fantastical situations, and a fresh and fun combat system livens up their battles.
Combined with plenty of quality-of-life improvements ironing out some of the series’ long-standing frustrations, this is an easy recommendation to not just fans of the long-running series but anyone interested in diving into an expansive action-RPG.– Terence Wiggins
Developer : Bandai Namco Studios | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Tales of Arise Video Review
Valheim (Early Access) From our review: Whether I’m fighting for my life, plundering forgotten barrows, or just watching the sun play across the water in a calm moment of respite, Valheim has created a world I’m consistently joyful to live in and discover more of.It’s definitely a traditional survival game at heart, which means the further in you get, the more you have to put up with some tedious grinding before you can get back to the good parts.But even at its early access launch, those good parts are already very good, especially when you get to take to the seas or test your skill against its imposing bosses.
And the simple but exceptional art and music create a strong sense of place in which to do it all.
Grab some mead and come join me by the fire.I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.– Leana Hafer
Developer : Iron Gate AB | Platform : PC | IGN’s Valheim Video Review
Wildermyth From our review: The magic of Wildermyth is that it loves stories so much that it builds its entire structure, from graphical style to prose to combat to campaign structure, around its characters becoming legends.It then cements those ideas in place with a Legacy system that turns those legendary characters into stories again, weaving design and storytelling together throughout.Wildermyth gives the impression of being charmingly ramshackle, but surprisingly flexible and tight under the hood, which all adds up to a truly special experience.– Rowan Kaiser
Developer : Worldwalker Games | Platform : PC | IGN’s Wildermyth Video Review
Every Modern IGN 10/10 25 IMAGES Review Score: 10 (“Masterpiece”) Deathloop From our review: Despite its seemingly endless complexities, Deathloop is one of the most confidently designed games I’ve ever played.Arkane Studios has crafted a world made of ideas linked by meaningful connections; time influences space, space influences tactics, and tactics influence loadouts.
Its unique, high-concept ideas around time loops and non-linear investigation work are implemented with elegance, making its systems feel effortless to navigate, learn from, and ultimately master.A new high watermark for Arkane and developers of similar games to aspire to, Deathloop is a game like no other.– Matt Purslow
Developer : Arkane Studios | Platforms : PS5, PC | IGN’s Deathloop Video Review
Disco Elysium – The Final Cut From our review: Disco Elysium is a unique blend of noir-detective fiction, traditional pen-and-paper RPGs, and a large helping of existentialist theory.
Its twisting plot, cast of memorable characters, and sheer depth of choice combine to create an experience that begs to be savoured.
It hits on every single one of the marks it sets out to achieve and left me yearning to spend more time in its world.Removing any of the minor gripes I had with the original by adding new quests and a full cast of well-voiced characters, The Final Cut elevates Disco Elysium from an already phenomenal RPG to a true must-play masterpiece.
– Simon Cardy
Developer : ZA/UM | Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC | IGN’s Disco Elysium – The Final Cut Video Review
Forza Horizon 5 From our review: Forza Horizon 5 is a deep and nuanced car nirvana for revheads and auto geeks to endlessly collect, tinker, and experiment.It’s also an extremely accessible buffet of racing spectacle open to everyone, from Deluxe Edition diehards to Game Pass nomads – no matter their driving skill or mechanical knowledge.
It’s an occasionally goofy but always earnest Valentine to Mexico’s world-famous culture, and a romantic ode to the magic of road-tripping through postcard-perfect vacation vistas.It’s a long haul, MMO-inspired racer that’s exploding with more races, activities, and event types than can comfortably fit on some parts of the map – and yet it still always feels relaxed rather than daunting.It never locks you into something you don’t want to do and steadily rewards you for however you choose to play it.It looks beautiful, it sounds magnificent, and it is glorious to play.
Yes, Forza Horizon 5 is a lot of things.Above all, however, it is the result of a racing studio at the peak of its craft and the best open-world racing game I’ve ever played.– Luke Reilly
Developer : Playground Games | Platforms : Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC | IGN’s Forza Horizon 5 Video Review.