2021 has been a bit of a weird year for games. The pandemic has certainly had a major impact on things, but whilst many video games have suffered and stumbled, there have been others that defied expectations and became big hits. Let’s take a look back at some of the most underrated games of 2021.
Neon Giant’s The Ascent released during the summer and, possibly thanks to its release to Xbox Game Pass, the buzz around it quickly swelled. This top-down action RPG shooter set in a futuristic cyberpunk world captured many people’s attention, and the fact that it was also co-op was another bonus. The action was explosive, it looked slick and stylish, and it had an awesome soundtrack to boot. The Ascent was a refreshing hit during a summer lull.
I’m sure that there were many people already following the development of Valheim who were really excited for it. However, there was no way developers Iron Gate expected it to blow up as much as it did back in early 2021. Within the first few days it hit peaks of almost half a million players. Additionally, everyone and their dog was streaming it on Twitch. This survival crafting multiplayer game set a new bar for sandbox and Viking-themed games alike, earning this a place on our list of underrated games.
It Takes Two
It Takes Two is another that looked good when it was first announced, but I don’t think people were expecting it to pick up the prestigious Game of the Year award at this year’s Game Awards. A crazy co-operative adventure where couple Cody and May are magically transformed into dolls and trapped in a fantastical world, It Takes Two combines an emotional tale full of charm and wonder with great puzzle-solving gameplay. It’s fantastic to see a “smaller” game win such an illustrious award!
The Artful Escape
With an all-star cast, this psychedelic adventure of a teenage musical prodigy went unnoticed by many. But you shouldn’t be skipping out on this one. In an attempt to escape the legacy of his uncle, Francis Vendetti sets out on a journey to inspire the creation of the most elaborate stage persona the world has ever seen. Visually striking, epic guitar riffs and cosmic reality-bending backdrops all make The Artful Escape an epic adventure.
Team Bloober surprised everyone once with Layers of Fear. Then they tried to do it again with The Medium. A game in which worlds collide as you straddle different realities, you’ll use psychic abilities to solve puzzles that span worlds in a bid to uncover the disturbing secrets of The Maw. The Medium was a technically-challenging game with the combining of two game worlds and whilst technically it suffered a little, the ideas were original and it tells a great story.
Set within a dark and secluded valley in the Alps, Mundaun is a hand-penciled horror tale that on first glance looks pretty weird. And it is. The brown colour palette, talking goats, and dark secrets are just the start. You set out on a quest to uncover the truth of your grandfather’s mysterious death, only to find that something diabolical haunts this area. It’s a unique game that has gained a real cult following. It may not be the most popular, but of those who have played it, they hold it in very high regard.