2021 was a strange year for games. Nothing really blew up this year in the sense that there was no real game of the year frontrunner the way there is most years. However, that’s what made compiling my list feel more interesting than most years. My aim here is to make a post for each of my ten, over the course of ten days (hopefully, I do tend to lose track of things.)
This being an end of year list, spoiler warnings are in effect. Without further ado. My number ten game of 2021…
“If I had just played the first 10 hours of Deathloop, it would probably have been my game of the year”. This is a statement I have seen come from a lot of people – myself included. Arkane’s latest entry into their ever-growing library of immersive sims comes swinging out of the gate, but starts to unravel as it goes on.
This isn’t to say Deathloop is a bad game; it’s still fantastic. Like I said, the first ten hours or so I spent with the game were so incredible that I thought it would be a shoo-in for my top three. The core mystery and gameplay loop of the game is so interesting… until it isn’t. For those unaware, the aim of Deathloop is to eliminate eight targets over the course of a day, with the problem being you only have four segments of the day to work with. This concept made me think about games like Hitman where the player is left to their own devices to map out a route through the day.
At first, it seems to live up to that Hitman expectation; however, the further in you get you begin to realize the biggest nail in the coffin to the games concept – there’s only one way to end the loop. To be fair to it, this doesn’t ruin the game; however, it does come as a big disappointment after the games strong opening hours. Once you come to terms with this, you can begin to treat Deathloop as a linear first person shooter – something that it still shines at – but some of the magic is definitely lost from there.
One of the things that is undeniable about the game is how great the main characters are written and voiced. Jason E Kelly and Ozioama Akagha’s performances of Colt and Julianna bring so much life to the characters and their banter remains one of the highlights throughout the game – minus some of the early conversations becoming awkward after a certain reveal.
It feels like a cop-out to say, but for as much as I liked Deathloop, I really can’t wait for a sequel. It may be hard to do from a story perspective, but if Arkane could expand on the core loop mechanic of this game, they would have something special on their hands.