GNA's Top Ten Games Of 2021

Our Top Picks and Game Of The Year!

Despite delays, console shortages and, well, a global pandemic, the game industry has remained resilient, releasing a bounty of amazing games throughout the year. From striking narratives and engaging gameplay design to gorgeous visuals and the innovative implementation of next-gen hardware, 2021 stands tall as a fantastic year for video games. The Game News Australia team got together and voted on their favourite games of the year, amalgamating with GNA’s Game Of The Year. So, whether you’re looking to catch up on the year’s best titles, or just got a console for Christmas and need some game recommendations, here are Game News Australia’s top ten games of 2021.

Honourable Mentions
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade, PS5

In 2021, Toni spent more time writing news stories about games than actually playing them. So, during the little free time he had, Toni caught up on older titles that he had missed out on. As a result, Toni selected Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade as his GOTY, despite the base game being a 2020 title. Not only did he have a fantastic time playing the game, but he was also highly impressed with the PS5 enhancements. With its lack of load times, gorgeous visuals and the Episode Intermission DLC, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is worth going back to.

- Toni Pankaluic

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Super Mario 3D World, Bowser's Fury

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury doesn’t reinvent its original 2013 formula, but the return of colourful Mario characters and classic immersive worlds appealed to Jo’s Nintendo fancy. Above all else, what really stood out about this remake was the continuation of the game’s coveted cat theme. You pounce and climb through the whimsical obstacles of Lake Lapcat to stop a rampaging Bowser in perhaps one of the most beautiful and stimulating Mario worlds to date.

Paired with both unexpected partners and innovative gameplay, Bowser’s Fury alone introduces a new-aged Super Mario Sunshine world filled with plenty of feline fun, making this rendition a worthy purchase.

- Johnna Bollesen

World’s End Club
World's End Club, Nintendo Switch

World’s End Club was an anticipated title in 2021 for fans of the Danganronpa and the Zero Escape series, given that it’s a collaboration between the minds behind those games. Tiffany expected another survival adventure but was awed by its creative brilliance. World’s End Club embraces its innovative liberties within the game. Visually captivating creatures and backdrops elevated by stylish animation, an exploration of ‘super powers’ to help navigate throughout Japan, and the happy-go-lucky attitudes amongst the 12-year-old students, presented through songs and comic panels, all make World’s End Club an endlessly charming game. Its narrative left a lasting impression on Tiffany, captivated by a story of perseverance, hope, and love found in friendships.

- Tiffany Leong

Diablo II: Resurrected
Diablo 2, resurrected

There aren’t many games that have had more impact on Qualbert’s taste in video games than Diablo II. Growing up, hundreds of hours were spent frantically looting and chugging potions thanks to this iconic Western RPG, a game that would define all dungeon crawlers that would follow it. Resurrected brings Diablo II back from the dead, with gorgeous, painstakingly recreated visuals and gameplay that is almost identical to its source material. There’s no denying that Diablo II: Resurrected is the remake that fans have eagerly awaited for numerous years, and it does not disappoint.

- Qualbert

Monster Hunter: Rise
Monster Hunter Rise

Nothing quite beats encountering a colossal lizard-like wyvern that spits vats of poison in between lashing a vicious spindly tail and terrifyingly long tongue. With over 30 beasts to boast, Monster Hunter: Rise won over Jo with intense battles and new tricks that changed up the series’ usual mechanics.

Each monster serves as a stand-alone boss, requiring unique strategies and tactical approaches. While having previously lacked diverse combat, Monster Hunter: Rise delivers nearly perfectly timed, satisfying and relentless attack combos. Fans of the series certainly won’t be disappointed by this reinstallment’s freshly stylised combat against monsters both new and old.

- Johnna Bollesen

Top Ten Games of 2021
10. Death’s Door
Death's Door

Few games this year captured Qualbert quite like Death’s Door, an indie action RPG about a soul-reaping crow, which manages to achieve impressive world-building and gripping, polished gameplay in a mere 8 - 10 hours. With its combination of stunning visual presentation, quirky and unique characters, and clever exploration meshed with thrilling combat, Devolver once again proves the sheer quality of their indie arsenal. Having played both the PC and Switch versions, and with the game also available on Xbox and PlayStation, there’s no excuse not to give it a go. Fans of action/adventure RPGs the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, would be foolish to pass by Death’s Door; it’s definitely a game to die for.

- Qualbert

9. Deathloop

As someone who has never found themselves attached to Arkane’s previous titles, James had no real excitement going into Deathloop. So when he got his hands on it, he was absolutely floored. Deathloop is one of the most original first-person shooters released in years and an absolute must-play PS5 game. From its memorable narrative, dark humour, and brilliant voice over performances to its innovative gunplay, wildly creative world, and play-as-you-like design philosophy, Deathloop exceeds all expectations. Polished, addictive and incredibly satisfying, Colt and Julianna’s tale is one worth embarking on, no matter how many loops it takes.

- James Grech

8. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the galaxy game

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is an absolute blast from start to finish. Heartwarming, tragic, hilarious and action-packed, this cosmic thrill ride truly aims to engage on every level and succeeds with flying colours.

The unfolding narrative constantly surprises, stepping up its humour and emotional beats with each passing chapter. With exciting team-based gameplay, excellent writing and a killer soundtrack, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is an adventure that is not only essential for Marvel fans but also for players that enjoy great story-driven experiences.

- Games of DAYNE

7. Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Kena Bridge of spirits

Ben had very high hopes for Kena: Bridge of Sprits from the moment it was announced. As the brainchild of brothers Mike and Josh Grier, both of whom had spent the previous 5 years outsourcing their expertise to various organisations, Kena is one of the finest games of the year. Kena embodies so much of what makes video games an interactive experience that can be loved by people of all ages. Its gorgeous visuals and engaging audio design rival Triple-A game studios with decades of experience. Kena presents beautifully tight and responsive gameplay, showcasing surprisingly deep combat and time-based platforming. For an independent studio’s debut game, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a truly breathtaking experience that cannot be missed.

- Ben Brown

6. Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil Village

Coming off the back of the widely praised Resident Evil Biohazard, Capcom had a challenge ahead of them to keep the steam rolling for the historical Resident Evil franchise. Thankfully, Resident Evil Village is a suburb entry to the survival horror genre. This title is jam-packed with freakish, tense moments, plenty of secrets to uncover, an expansive upgrade system and edge-of-your-seat gunplay. What Ben loved most about RE Village was its ability to immerse the player inside protagonist Ethan Winters’ mind as he attempts to unravel the madness going on around him. While not for the faint of heart, if you can muster the courage to see RE Village through to the end, you’ll be left glad that you did.

- Ben Brown

5. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart
Ratchet and clank rift apart

As a long-time fan of the Ratchet and Clank series, it’s no surprise that Jo was eagerly awaiting a new adventure with the famed Lombax and his loyal robot sidekick. When she first booted up the game and stepped into the alien world, she was instantly blown away.

For all its colourful graphics and stunning visuals, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is perhaps one of the most cinematically beautiful games to launch on the PS5. For Jo, it wasn’t exceedingly challenging, but the remarkably gorgeous world and dynamic levels were more than enough to impress. If you’re ready to embark on a captivating and family-friendly journey, then Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart won’t disappoint.

- Johnna Bollesen

4. It Takes Two
It takes two

Perhaps one of the most surprising games of 2021, It Takes Two, is an endlessly charming co-op adventure centured around a married couple on the verge of divorce just trying to get back to their daughter. Despite the emotional undertones, It Takes Two is a hilarious, beautiful and wildly creative game that will enthrall you and your co-op partner from start to finish.

With its great art direction, dark humour and diverse array of environments to explore, It Takes Two’s most impressive asset comes in its gameplay. Each level is innovatively designed and, thanks to incredibly tight platforming and responsive controls, are a pleasure to play. Throw in some genuinely fun minigames and rotating gameplay systems that never overstay their welcome, and you get a really entertaining video game that is unlike anything else out there.

- James Grech

3. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl
Pokemon beds

Having grown up playing a Pokémon game in every generation, Tiffany was eager to relive her childhood nostalgia in the Pokémon remake of the fourth generation. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl (BDSP) enhances the original gameplay through chibi-like visuals, quirky animations, and catchy soundtracks.

Keeping up with the evolution of Pokémon, BDSP maintains some modern changes from the later generation games for a smoother player experience, including a convenient way to use HMs, experience share across your entire Pokémon party, and an autosave function.

BDSP stays true to its original form yet encompasses a contemporary feel for the next generation of Pokémon fans. It’s a long one, but this rendition is akin to embarking on a familiar but new adventure, particularly with your favourite Pokémon following your avatar’s footsteps.

- Tiffany Leong

2. Metroid Dread
Metroid Dread

Good things come to those who wait, and that could never be more applicable to a game than for the latest instalment in Nintendo’s flagship sci-fi series, Metroid Dread. With rumours of its existence circulating over 15 years ago, Dread has been a game long dreamed of by Nintendo fans worldwide. While its predecessors Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion initially set the bar for explorative platforming gameplay, Dread surpasses both games in almost every aspect. Samus’ controls are more fluid and intuitive than ever, boss fights are tense and challenging, and the addition of the E.M.M.I enemies adds a layer of tension not seen in any other Metroid game. A near-flawless adventure from start to finish, and one you’ll likely return to time and time again.

- Qualbert

GNA's 2021 Game Of The Year
1. Returnal

Returnal is Housemarque’s best venture yet. This third-person action shooter boasts flawless gunplay, detailed environments and a rich sci-fi narrative, all amounting to an innovative, must-play roguelike. No game this year was as satisfying or as stunning as Returnal. It takes time to learn its many systems, but once you do, trekking through Atropos becomes unbelievably gratifying. In a year filled with time loop narratives, Returnal stands tall. Unnerving moments keep you engaged in the unfolding story, intelligently designed systems synergise to reward you as you explore, and its procedurally generated world and a vast amount of weapons, artifacts and unlockables to discover will keep you playing long after the credits roll. Simply put, there is no video game out there quite like Returnal. It’s awe-inspiring, challenging, imaginative, emotional and addictively fun. Not only is Returnal one of the best games on the Playstation 5, it is Game News Australia’s Game Of The Year!

- James Grech


Happy Holidays from the whole team at Game News Australia! Eat well, stay safe and keep on gaming! See you in 2022!