Year in Games 2021

Welcome to Inverse's Year in Games 2021

Video game console. gamepad vector illustration. - Vector

The last year has been a strange one for all of us.

It’s been a particularly strange year for video games. After the fireworks of new-gen console launches at the end of last year, loads of would-be players found themselves left out of the loop for most of 2021, feverishly tracking down restocks of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

With the new hardware in short supply, the last 13 months have felt more like a soft launch than what was supposed to be the next big phase in gaming. Sure, we’re starting to see a smattering of unabashedly new-gen exclusives, like Returnal and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.

But the overwhelming majority of 2021’s most interesting and successful titles — Resident Evil 8, It Takes Two, Forza Horizon 5, and Halo Infinite — are available on last-gen hardware.

Lady Dimitrescu, the villain from Resident Evil Village that sparked a deluge of internet thirst.

And it absolutely makes sense for most major games to be cross-gen. Sure, it’s no small feat that PlayStation 5 has sold more than 15 million units since launch. But that’s an awfully small chunk of the potential audience when you compare it to the total sales of Sony’s previous console, which topped 116 million as of December 2021.

Even those of us who are luck enough to have them are seriously beginning to wonder — does anyone really need a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X? Sure, everything looks a bit better and loads a bit faster, but you’re not missing out on enough to justify paying a wildly inflated price on the secondary market.

In a lot of ways, 2021 felt like more of a gradual progression than a bold leap forward. Yet it was also a busier year than most, with fewer fallow stretches without big releases. 2022 promises to be much the same, with the usual winter doldrums of January and February littered with the likes of Pokémon Legends: Arceus and Elden Ring, likely the most anticipated game of the 2020s so far.

Elden Ring, the long-awaited collaboration between FromSoftware and Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin, debuts in Feburary 2022.

Bandai Namco

With Inverse’s Year in Games 2021, we’re casting a backward glance toward the year that was, with an eye toward the months ahead. Over the next several days, we’ll be reflecting on some of our favorite games of the year – like Psychonauts 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Lost Judgment. We’ll also be looking ahead to some of the most intriguing titles of 2022, like God of War Ragnarok and Sifu.

The week kicks off with a paternal theme, starting with a rollicking history of the Dad game from Ryan Berger and a celebration of the heartfelt drama in one of the year’s biggest surprises. From there, we’re flitting and skittering across an eclectic buffet of themes, from cozy games to accessibility to brick-shithouse brawlers. Strap yourself in!

Year In Games 2021 is an Inverse celebration of the most unforgettable adventures, stories, innovations, and characters in interactive entertainment.

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