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Best Surprise of 2021

Best Surprise of 2021 - Article

by Lee Mehr , posted on 19 January 2022 / 1,886 Views

Surprises are among my favorite aspects of gaming, regardless of whether I'm reviewing them or not.  Given how much players often see about a game beforehand, via trailers, demos, behind-the-scenes information, and so on, there's a special rush when a title exceeds expectations.  The reasons for how or why they're a surprise may be different, but that elation when playing them feels the same.  Some nominees this year fit the usual story of a new studio attaining worldwide acclaim, while others are stories of veterans exceling to unanticipated new heights.


The Shortlist:


It Takes Two


ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights


Kena: Bridge of Spirits


Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy


Chicory: A Colorful Tale





The Winner:

It Takes Two

Runner-up: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Before talking about our gold medalist, I think it's important to highlight what Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy accomplished.  Speaking as the guy who put himself through reviewing Marvel's Avengers, I'm among those who wrote off any upcoming Square Enix/Marvel stuff.  The amount of praise heaped upon Guardians of the Galaxy has been surprising from community and staff (for example, the user who manages our community's Top 50 Favorite Games events has now placed Guardians as his current all-time favorite title).  So it marks a phenomenal return to form for Eidos Montreal.

On the other hand, first place is a surprise to me because I thought Hazelight succeeded with A Way Out (the developer's first title).  But when you think about it, most didn't expect the heights It Takes Two would reach.  How often does a middle-market game beat out the year's biggest blockbusters at The Game Awards?  Did anyone expect it'd reach such commercial popularity?  It's after you consider those special factors that the reasoning makes more sense.  Hats off to the team for catching so many by surprise.

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mZuzek (on 19 January 2022)

Oh, hi. Wasn't expecting a shoutout here. Umm.
So uhh, I'm probably posting the results sometime between today and tomorrow, so you might wanna update the link then.

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coolbeans mZuzek (on 19 January 2022)

A surprising inclusion, eh? Considering how much community influences VGC's GOTY awards, I'm tempted to expand on thread/comment references for the '22 awards too.

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mZuzek coolbeans (on 19 January 2022)

If the community's votes are anything like mine, I'm not sure we've much to add :P

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Jaicee (on 19 January 2022)

The biggest, most pleasant surprise of my 2021 was that getting to meet someone special and forge a romantic but all too temporary partnership that I'll treasure having gotten to experience forever. It Takes Two was the best video game surprise though. I discovered it thanks to the recommendation of another VGC member shortly after acquiring a PlayStation 5. Playing through that game with my aforementioned girlfriend was not only the most unique, but also among the happiest and most thoroughly enjoyable experiences I had all year. I can honestly say that it brought us closer together and what more than that can you ask a video game to accomplish in your life?

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2zosteven (on 19 January 2022)


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mZuzek 2zosteven (on 19 January 2022)


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mjk45 mZuzek (on 20 January 2022)

Game Of The Generation the question marks denote how many generations he's referring to😉

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UnderwaterFunktown (on 19 January 2022)

No suprises here ;-)

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Loneken (on 19 January 2022)

Well deserved

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kazuyamishima (on 19 January 2022)

Mmm no Returnal again....

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coolbeans kazuyamishima (on 19 January 2022)

I mean... Housemarque is a storied developer with several indie/middle-market hits under their belt. There's a nice narrative about their jump from indie/AA to their first AAA blockbuster succeeding, but that's an uphill battle compared to new faces delivering out of the gate.

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LivncA_Dis3 (on 19 January 2022)

Kena should've won honestly their 1at game and it shines bright.

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SecondWar (on 19 January 2022)

Unpopular personal take - Guardians of the Galaxy and Kena Bridge of Spirits, whilst not bad, are both overrated and nothing special.

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Kakadu18 SecondWar (on 19 January 2022)

Wait until mzuzek sees this.

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SecondWar Kakadu18 (on 19 January 2022)

I’m now curious to see his response.

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mZuzek SecondWar (on 19 January 2022)

I haven't played Kena, so I can't really say anything about it.

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coolbeans SecondWar (on 19 January 2022)


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rapsuperstar31 SecondWar (on 19 January 2022)

To each their own. When I started playing Kena it was beautiful but something felt just a little off in the first hour or two. I kept playing through it, and fell in love with it. It will probably be a decade before we see a Zelda game look that good, but I look forward to that day. Awesome game, tough boss battles, a lot of exploration/collectathon. The game felt part Disney/Pixar part Nintendo/Rare from the N64 days in all the right ways.

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