Oct 25, 2021 - Technology

Behind 2021's wave of excellent games

Video games receiving “essential” or “recommended” status from Eurogamer
Data: Eurogamer and Axios research; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Gaming publication Eurogamer just awarded its top recommendation — "essential" — to an 11th game this year, equaling the tally for 2020. That’s despite reviewing fewer games and with two months remaining in the year.

Driving the news: That achievement was earned by the captivating virtual card game “Inscryption” and continues a season full of stand-out releases. Many are from smaller studios that are benefitting from an unusual year in games.

  • This month, Eurogamer editor-in-chief Oli Welsh observed that there’d been an “unusually great run” of games but noted that wasn’t the full story.

A few things appear to be happening at once:

  • As Welsh notes, the relative lack of big-budget games this year (thanks to COVID-related issues), has given publications more license to cover the increasingly vibrant indie gaming scene.
  • The level of craft in gaming continues to rise each year, driving a sense that games are, generally, getting better. “The stuff that comes across my Twitter thread that has 50,000 likes, from, like, a one-person team is just amazing,” Outerloop co-founder Chandana Ekanayake told Axios.
  • And then there’s coincidence, as several games that were years in development started coming out on top of each other in July and September: “To me, it seemed more like a 'planets aligned' type scenario,” said Lucas Gullbo, who co-developed one of the season’s 11 standouts, “Toem.”

If you’re curious: Eurogamer’s other nine “essential” games for 2021 have been: “Monster Hunter Rise,” “Dorfromantik,” “Wildermyth,” “Mini Motorways,” “Microsoft Flight Simulator” for Xbox, “Death’s Door,” “Deathloop,” “Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye” and “Metroid Dread.”

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