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Overall Game of the Year 2021

Overall Game of the Year 2021 - Article

by Evan Norris , posted on 20 January 2022 / 6,941 Views

For all its great games, 2021 still felt like a year of transition. With two new home consoles — Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 — on the market but far from firmly entrenched, and with Nintendo content to punt most of its heavy hitters into 2022, the year seemed like it was ramping up toward something to be delivered at a later date. Even the titles of 2021's finest games seem to point toward that sensation of growth and anticipation: Rise, Dread, Horizon. Maybe even Infinite, if you fear those chip shortages will last forever.

2021 didn't just come and go with a promise of greatness, though; the year saw dozens of remarkable games, spread rather evenly across the AAA, AA, and A spaces. Capcom had one of its best years on record — which is saying something — with new entries in the Ace Attorney and Resident Evil series, plus two Monster Hunter games, including fan-favorite Monster Hunter Rise. Microsoft made a big splash, not only with AAA software like Forza Horizon 5 and the hotly-anticipated Halo Infinite, but also a smattering of mid-range games that boosted the value of its subscription service Game Pass. Josef Fares added to his already impressive resume with It Takes Two, an endlessly-creative co-op platformer. Finally, Nintendo breathed new life into the Metroid franchise with Metroid Dread.

   

   

The Shortlist:

   

Forza Horizon 5

  

Halo Infinite

 

  

It Takes Two

  

Metroid Dread

   

Monster Hunter Rise

    

  

    

  

The Runner-Up:

Halo Infinite

The Halo series has experienced its fair share of ups and downs over the last ten years, but with the arrival of Halo Infinite last month it's safe to say the legendary first-person shooter is on the rise once more. Where recent Halo games had struggled either on the multiplayer front or within the single-player campaign — or both, depending on who you ask — Infinite manages to succeed in both areas, delivering a compelling open-world campaign where player choice and improvisation are prioritized, and an addictive, if somewhat limited, suite of multiplayer options with smart map design and plenty of interesting power weapons and gadgets. The future is bright for the Xbox flagship franchise.

   

    

    

The Winner:

Metroid Dread

 

As a series, Metroid doesn't have the cachet or selling power of big Nintendo properties like Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, or Super Mario, but you could make a convincing case that it's one of the company's very best in terms of quality. That case is only strengthened by the inclusion of Metroid Dread, a brilliant action-adventure title that simultaneously honors 35 years of Metroid and pushes the IP forward in a market increasingly crowded with Metroidvania-style games.

Metroid Dread delivers in a number of ways — production design, ambient sound, a thick atmosphere of isolation — but it notches its greatest victories in gameplay. The moment-to-moment action is sublime, thanks to smooth animations, buttery movement mechanics, and bounty hunter Samus Aran's badass moveset. The gameplay loop, heavy on exploration, discovery, problem-solving, and close-quarters combat, is immensely satisfying. Finally, the game's trademark E.M.M.I. stealth sequences are breathless, impromptu affairs that earn the name "Dread".

It took Nintendo almost 20 years to release a wholly original 2D Metroid game, but it was worth the wait. Say hello to our pick for Overall Game of the Year 2021.

  

Previous Winners:

2020 - The Last of Us Part II
2019 - Resident Evil 2
2018 - God of War
2017 - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
2016 - Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
2015 - Rocket League
2014 - Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
2013 - Super Mario 3D World
2012 - Journey
2011 - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2010 - Mass Effect 2
2009 - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
2008 - LittleBigPlanet
2007 - BioShock 


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42 Comments
JWeinCom (on 20 January 2022)

Balan Wonderworld was robbed.

  • +32
Kakadu18 JWeinCom (on 20 January 2022)

Lol

  • +6
MTZehvor (on 20 January 2022)

Probably not the most surprising result after the staff's choice article, but it's great to see nonetheless. Metroid's always been a relatively niche franchise, and seeing an entry get so much attention for awards is awesome. Hopefully it means we don't have to wait another twenty years between 2D entries this time.

  • +12
Kwaidd MTZehvor (on 21 January 2022)

I'd certainly enjoy seeing them put their efforts into 2d Metroid vs 2d NEW Mario.

  • +3
2zosteven (on 20 January 2022)

i enjoyed dread, but game of the year?

  • +8
Doctor_MG 2zosteven (on 20 January 2022)

Absolutely, very well crafted game.

  • +9
Slownenberg 2zosteven (on 20 January 2022)

I mean it was a pretty mind blowing experience. Granted I haven't played any of the other games on the list, but I would think Halo would be the old challenger for Dread, and they happened to give it second place.

  • +2
Azzanation (on 22 January 2022)

Loved Dread but its not GOTY for me unfortunately. Deathloop is mine.

  • +6
Puppyroach (on 21 January 2022)

I am really trying to get into Metroid Dread and I do enjoy it greatly but I am somewhat let down. It seem that the likes of Ori, Hollow knight and Axiom verge has pushed the genre far ahead of the Metroid model and it just kind of feels a bit to... safe?

  • +6
Kakadu18 Puppyroach (on 21 January 2022)

These other games also have RPG elements, which Metroid doesn't have.

  • 0
Kwaidd Puppyroach (on 21 January 2022)

The Ori games are so amazingly good. They make me feel something that I can't really describe. It is an emotional experience.

  • +6
ZenfoldorVGI Puppyroach (on 21 January 2022)

The bosses, particularly towards the end, greatly improve the overall experience. I would suggest completing the game(it's short) and then re-evaluating. I liked Dread much better during the last 25% than the first 75%. While that doesn't necessarily scream "great game" somehow it still is. Particularly, the scrubbing of the map and solving of some of the more difficult movement puzzles is an absolute blast. Beat it, and you might change your mind.

  • -1
ZenfoldorVGI (on 21 January 2022)

Good choice. Incredible bosses in Metroid and the memorability of the game put it over the top for me. It Takes Two was also great.

  • +5
Shadow1980 (on 21 January 2022)

Good choices. Those were my top two games of the year as well.

  • +5
SvenTheTurkey (on 22 January 2022)

I liked Halo infinite, but I didn't even finish it. The main missions for the campaign were fun. I was enjoying the story so far. Getting from one place to another seemed like a chore. So I get why people liked it so much, but I would have preferred a more focused experience.

  • +4
Slownenberg (on 20 January 2022)

A well deserved win. I was expecting a fun game on par with other good metroidvania efforts from indies. Then I got the game and it blew me away! It's in my top five Switch games.

  • +4
CaptainExplosion (on 20 January 2022)

The right choice was made!! ^^

  • +3
Leynos (on 20 January 2022)

Right game won even if not my GOTY

  • +3
Kakadu18 (on 20 January 2022)

I find it weird that in almost every category that Metroid Dread got a high placement the comments almost only show people disagreeing.

  • +2
coolbeans Kakadu18 (on 20 January 2022)

I think part of that stems back to the superlatives not being considered "win-worthy" by some who still respect Dread overall. It's also one of those cases where most were predicting it'd win GOTY anyways, so they were hoping less-popular titles would net gold or silver instead.

  • 0
AllfatherStarr (on 20 January 2022)

As someone who tries to play as many metroidvania as possible, I felt like Ender Lilies was the better game in the genre this year.

  • +2

That’s a totally fair assessment. After I played Ender Lilies, I thought it would be really difficult for Dread to surpass it. Ultimately I believe Dread is the superior game, but that doesn’t take anything away from Ender Lilies. Both are top-tier Metroidvanias in my book.

  • +2
AllfatherStarr Veknoid_Outcast (on 21 January 2022)

I think my biggest gripes with Dread are the samey mini bosses (which i have heard others mention too) and the lack of a decent fast travel system. Oddly enough the latter is bigger factor for me when it comes to Metroidvania, unless the late game traversal mechanics are engaging, which constant gravity jumping isn't.

  • +1
SvenTheTurkey AllfatherStarr (on 22 January 2022)

Metroid isn't a metroidvania though. No Metroid game is. Metroidvania is a subgenre of the Metroid genre.

  • -1
Hynad (on 20 January 2022)

My short list of GOTY contenders includes Ratchet & Clank - Rift Apart, Returnal, and Metroid Dread. So any of those 3 getting the honours is fine in my book. :)

  • +2
Qwark Hynad (on 21 January 2022)

Ratchet and Clank is not well liked here unfortunately. Also Tales of Arise should have been a nominee in my opinion.

  • 0
Hynad Qwark (on 21 January 2022)

Haven’t followed what is “well liked” around here lately. But I never needed the opinion of others to form my own view on the games I play.

  • 0
Kakadu18 (on 20 January 2022)

Hooray for the winner. Well deserved.

  • 0
Barozi (on 20 January 2022)

That's a picture from Forza Motorsport 5... just sayin'

  • 0
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Veknoid_Outcast Barozi (on 20 January 2022)

That is entirely my bad. Fixed!

  • +9
siebensus4 (on 21 January 2022)

A bit unexpected, but well deserved. Congrats!

  • -1
LivncA_Dis3 (on 21 January 2022)

LoL returnal is too hard and ratchet and clank rift apart is too childish or maybe the writer is Xbox ninty fan hahaha

  • -2
shikamaru317 LivncA_Dis3 (on 22 January 2022)

This was 50-50 user vote and VGC writer staff vote.

  • +5
LivncA_Dis3 shikamaru317 (on 22 January 2022)

My apologies for my ignorance, I didn't see any votes for these articles!

  • 0
Kakadu18 LivncA_Dis3 (on 22 January 2022)

There is a thread about this.

  • 0
shikamaru317 LivncA_Dis3 (on 22 January 2022)

Yeah, they ran it a couple of weeks ago via a forum thread. Most of the VGC writer staff voted for Metroid, and presumably, based on Halo being 2nd place, the majority of VGC users voted for Halo.

  • 0
Kakadu18 shikamaru317 (on 22 January 2022)

No, Machina said that Metroid Dread lead the community poll right from the start. It got 32% in the end while Halo
got 11%.

  • 0
shikamaru317 Kakadu18 (on 22 January 2022)

I'm kind of confused how Halo got 2nd then. None of the staff voted for it, the staff article has 3 for Metroid and the others for miscellaneous games, only one of which made the shortlist. Did Halo really manage to get 2nd place with just 11%? The community vote most have been majorly divided if that is the case.

  • 0
MTZehvor shikamaru317 (on 22 January 2022)

To elaborate a bit on that (I was the one who put that article together), the writer's choice article doesn't reflect every staff member's choice, only those who were willing to write a segment on it. There were staff members who voted for Infinite, it's just that no one who did volunteered to write for it. I'm hoping next year I can convince a few more people to submit pieces and we can maybe get a wider variety of opinions.

That said, there is precedent for the community poll predominantly carrying a game to the top spot. TLOU2, last year's winner, got very few votes from the staff, but was overwhelmingly supported by the community (reaching the 25% mark), pushing it past Ori and into the top spot.

  • +6
shikamaru317 MTZehvor (on 22 January 2022)

Thanks!

  • 0
FormerlyTeamSilent13 (on 20 January 2022)

Halo Infinite did nothing to impress me other than have free multiplayer. I think it's better than Halo 4 which is probably the worst AAA disappointment ever, but that's about it. It really is not a game of the year contender. Maybe because it's free it deserves to be here, and if updates are good, but it has a lot of problems.

  • -6