Video games give people a sense of power during a powerless time


Kiefer Ely

2021 has had a slew of fantastic new video-game releases.

by Kiefer Ely, Reporter

As a year of on and off quarantine and amazing video games comes to an end, everyone has struggled with a feeling of powerlessness and an inability to affect the problems we’re facing. Playing video games can allow a sense of power that the pandemic has stolen from us. These are my ten favorite video games to escape from the troubled year of 2021.

New World: 6/10

Amazon Games’ new MMO New World had more excitement and anticipation than any other game on the list. It promised a modern take on a grindable multiplayer survival experience akin to the likes of the infamous Runescape. Unfortunately, on release it suffered from many bugs and server issues, making many people not able to experience it for days on end even after spending $40, more than most games of its type. Even after those were fixed, the experience and gameplay didn’t reach the partially-unrealistic expectations. Although it’s still a good game with engaging combat and fantastic graphics compared to other popular MMOs, it was ultimately a letdown.

Resident Evil Village: 7/10

The famous Resident Evil series continues with Capcom’s Resident Evil Village, sequel to 2017’s Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The game gives the player control over Ethan Winters as he finds himself in a rural village filled with mutant creatures. This game differs from previous entries, providing more action-focused gameplay and really upping the thrill. As someone not previously interested in the Resident Evil series, I enjoyed the change, and thought it kept me far more engaged.

Life Is Strange: True Colors: 7/10

The third entry in Deck Nine’s Life is Strange series of choice-based adventure games continues to use the same formula of rich stories with little gameplay, but who can blame them with how well it works. You play as Alex Chen and use her empathic powers to solve the mystery behind her brother’s death. Just like past entries, the story presents the player with many choices they can make that directly affect the outcome of the story. My experience was great, though I did ultimately end up with one of the worst endings. It may not be much of an improvement over past entries, but yet another fantastic story keeps it worthwhile all the same.

Guardians of the Galaxy 7.5/10

As superhero games continue to flood the market following the highly successful Batman Arkham and Marvel’s Spiderman series, Eidos-Montréal’s Guardians of the Galaxy was an unexpected joyride that combines an in-depth storyline with unique mechanics to allow you to take control not only of main character Peter Quill but also of the entire Guardians team, despite the divisive choice to allow only one playable character. Combat was not my favorite element of the game, sometimes feeling too fast-paced to an almost uncontrollable degree. However, the enthralling and funny story sequences makes up for the combat’s flaws.

Subnautica: Below Zero: 7.5/10

Sequel to 2018’s terror-filled survival game SubnauticaSubnautica: Below Zero developed by Unknown Worlds Entertainment continues to expand on the original’s premise in a new frozen setting while adding many new features and ideas. The more shallow, friendly areas have a fantastical feeling, even just to swim around in. As someone with Thalassophobia, the fear I felt while exploring the deeper frozen ocean depths kept my heart beating fast with thrill throughout the entire experience.

Far Cry 6: 8/10

Set on the fictional Caribbean Island of Yara, in Far Cry 6 you play as freedom fighter Dani Rojas as they fight against the dictator Anton Castillo and his son Diego. The sixth main entry in the Ubisoft’s Far Cry series takes a step back from a formula that had begun receiving criticism for lack of change, and makes a successful effort to enhance and change the framework without removing from the familiar experience that each game delivers. My personal favorite change, skill-trees being exchanged for a gear system. The customization it allows is more enjoyable to use, and feels like you’re actually choosing your own method of liberating Yara.

Crysis Trilogy Remastered: 8.5/10

Infamous for its impact on the gaming community with the phrase “But can it run Crysis?” The Crysis Trilogy Remastered developed by Crytek has been a long awaited release to allow a modern experience of a beautiful game series that puts the player in the driver’s seat of a powerful exoskeleton suit in the face of corrupt military and alien invasion. While the gameplay might still be dated, and the graphics may no longer be groundbreaking, as someone who played the series years ago in their original forms, the Crysis trilogy is simply too crucial to gaming history to ignore the opportunity to play its improved release.

It Takes Two: 9/10

Developed by smaller company Hazelight Studios, It Takes Two delivered a cooperative experience with a realistic family story turned upside down (sometimes literally!) with a fantasy twist. In It Takes Two you exclusively play with a single partner, both of the players taking control of one of the two members of a married couple. My friend and I played through the game over the course of a few weeks, and every play session continuously put us into completely different scenarios from the last with even core game mechanics changing. Even if not for the gameplay, the story and feel-good ending were enough to leave us on the verge of wholesome tears.

“As a fan of multiplayer games, It Takes Two checked all the boxes when it came to teamwork, gameplay, and just something overall new,” said Jack Hetrick, my partner while playing the game.

Valheim: 9.5/10

First Minecraft, now Valheim, the swedes return to make another huge leap in the survival game genre. Valheim, developed by Iron Gate Studio, puts the player in a co-op procedurally generated world to begin living their Viking fantasies with their friends. Not a single moment in Valheim bored me, not even the most tedious of tasks, and the graphics bring back a strange nostalgia to some of the earliest RPGs. Build a settlement in immense detail, craft weapons and armor, and defeat terrifying bosses to be remembered as the most famous Viking that ever lived. 

Deathloop: 10/10

This year let us hit rewind with Arkane’s newest release Deathloop. Built on a framework of Arkane’s hugely successful Dishonored series, Deathloop is a fast paced looter-shooter where the player takes control of the highly trained Colt Vahn as he fights his way through a time-loop. The game takes place on a fictional island with a stylistic 1960s setting that keeps it distinct from other games. The player must make their way through multiple targets, only able to do so much in a single day. They must learn their movements, motivations, actions and reactions. Only then will they be able to kill them, and the player’s crazy ex-girlfriend, all in a single day to break the loop. I loved this game. The original idea and the polished execution deliver a fantasy that no other game has ever created, and the experience of putting together the clues to figure out the perfect way to eliminate a target is simply unmatched.

Each of these games regardless of rating have earned their spot on the list, and I recommend that you check each of them out for yourself to form your own thoughts!

Which of these games were your favorite this year?


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