Here at PC Invasion, we don’t really go in for that “definitely the best PC games of 2021, instant legendary status, will go down in history as one of the greatest games ever” nonsense. We’ve got a diverse crew with their own thoughts and tastes, and obviously, not everyone has played the same games. Trying to get us to agree on a numerical list of the best games of the year would be like trying to herd very opinionated, very angry cats.
Instead, our writers are offered the chance to write their own lists of games they particularly enjoyed. Not necessarily even the games they thought were the best, but ones that stood out to them personally for whatever reason. And here we hit the first problem: there are a lot of games I haven’t played this year. Psychonauts is one of the few games I’d risk calling a perennial favorite, but I still haven’t played Psychonauts 2. Riders Republic? I managed to put a few hours in. Far Cry 6? Still on the list of things to play. My Friend Peppa Pig? Someday. So my list might look a little… odd.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
Okay, let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Yes, Endwalker is on the list, and not just because it’s devoured my time as though it’s camping out at an all-you-can-eat buffet. As of the time of writing this, I have yet to review Endwalker, but I have finished the story. And it’s good. It’s bloody good. And, for now, I’m going to try to do the fool’s errand thing of distancing Endwalker from Final Fantasy XIV on a whole.
There’s a lot I could talk about, but for now I just want to talk about… well, the fact that it ends. I don’t mean spoiler-y specifics about the ending: I mean that, by the time the credits roll in Endwalker, you feel like — factoring in all past expansions — you have just finished a Final Fantasy game. No lingering plot threads or anything of the sort. If this was a traditional single-player game, Endwalker would be a more than satisfactory wrap-up. Ignoring the fact that an MMO with a story that stands toe to toe with single-player RPGs is so rare it’s pretty much a gaming unicorn, the fact that it has a distinct finale is shocking in itself.
Obviously, Final Fantasy XIV will continue. It’s such a juggernaut that free trials and sales of the base game have been suspended, so it’s not vanishing anytime soon. There will be more expansions, more world-ending threats, more characters and laughs and tears. But for now, I’m enjoying the quiet satisfaction that comes with having experienced and finished a genuine epic that’s been 11 years in the making.
Persona 5 Strikers
Persona 5 Strikers was a joy. Don’t get me wrong: I am largely sick of Persona spin-off games, especially after Persona 4‘s two fighting game follow-ups as well as the dancing game. But Strikers was something a bit new and very interesting.
Despite being developed by Omega Force and looking like a Musou game, it… doesn’t really play like one. It’s a hack-and-slash game, yes, but it’s also got a lot more Persona DNA in it than most other crossovers. Battles are in small areas, type weaknesses and party management are a huge thing, etc. It’s very much not a Musou game, despite the Warriors series clearly being one of its parents.
It’s a victory lap for the Phantom Thieves (which is weird in itself as we still don’t have Persona 5 on PC, and this spoils a bunch of its plot points pretty much by existing), and it’s a joyous one. And that’s only buoyed by the traditional Warriors metal take on Persona‘s jazzy score.
Okay, this is a demo, but hear me out. First, I always try to throw one curveball that’s far from the usual Forza/Halo/Deathloop/Resident Evil stuff. Second, this single-level demo has actually been updated with a new boss, along with a bunch of other bits. Third, I’ve spent six hours with the sodding thing.
If you haven’t played Peggle, then it’s sort of like pachinko: you hurl a ball into a load of pegs, and score points for hitting them. Peglin is basically Peggle (which is already videogame popcorn) with RPG and rogue-lite elements. You are a tiny cute goblin. Your balls are weapons and spells. The pegs you hit on the way down increase the damage your attack does. As you fight your way through encounters you unlock new weapons and items that change the way you interact with each board, and then you probably die and start over. Again: I’ve spent six hours with this demo, and it’s just one field of encounters.
And yes, I know we have Most Anticipated articles and I could’ve put Peglin in there, but I don’t so much anticipate game releases as I fear them. My backlog is mighty.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
My opinions on The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles are about as mixed as they were when I reviewed it. The first game of the pair is… well, a bit weak. No real villain breakdowns, cases that tended to not be spectacularly cunning murders, and the whole thing feels like a setup for the second game (which, thankfully, is also included in this re-release).
The second game, though? The second game makes all that setup worthwhile. It deals with all the loose threads that were dangling from the first while providing some of the most devilishly clever and fiendishly delicious cases in Ace Attorney history. I haven’t played an Ace Attorney game I dislike, but this is definitely one of the strongest of recent years; certainly better than the 3DS offerings. You just have to get through the first game in this dual pack before you get to the really, really good stuff.
Also, Susato is adorable and brilliant and terrifying. More of her, please.
And the rest
Looking at other games released in 2021 that I’ve spent some time with: Forza Horizon 5 is obviously great, the remastered Yakuza games are finally on PC, and Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous seems to be about as good a CRPG as I could hope for. In terms of smaller games, I’ve had a lot of fun with roguelikes and rogue-lites such as The Magister and Golden Krone Hotel, and Overboard was a truly fascinating narrative experience. I also want to give a quick nod to Gas Station Simulator and Powerwash Simulator for somehow making both of those things interesting, relaxing, and entertaining. I have no idea how, but hey.