Meck’s Favourite Games Of 2021

2022! Or is it 2020 (2022)? We have reached the new year and that means this is the time to look back at the year that was 2021 in video games. We had video games!

For me personally, 2021 isn’t really a big year for games. And that’s okay. We’re still in a pandemic and so to even see a game released without any more extra delay is already a huge achievement for the game devs that did so. I still haven’t got a next-gen console yet (the PS5 is still a mythical slab that I have yet to see with my very own eyes). And I really didn’t have a lot of anticipated games for the year.

And again, that’s okay! 2021 for me has been full of surprises video game-wise. Here’s a run-through of some of my favourite games of the year.

Hot Wheels Unleashed

A pure arcade racing game in 2021 that’s good? Oh you bet. So good it’s our Best Racing Game of 2021.

Hot Wheels Unleashed is taking on the big boys of the genre with likely a fraction of the budget. But it doesn’t matter. What Milestone did to making sure the diecast toys in the game look as realistic as their real-life counterparts (seeing “Made In Malaysia” visible under each chassis definitely made me smile) is simply lovely.

But what’s more amazing is how feature-rich it is. You have a track creator (it’s Hot Wheels, this should be a no-brainer), and a livery editor (like all the big boys racing games have these days). It’s not perfect in its implementation, but its ambition is the thing I like seeing. Hot Wheels really let the devs unleash the brand to the world, and this developer’s rich history of making racing games have manifested in this little game immensely.

If you collect Hot Wheels cars, you have to give Hot Wheels a shot. If you like good old racing games like it was in the ’90s, this is the game which you desire.

Playtime: 11 hours

Humankind, Old World

4X strategy game fans ate some good food in 2021. We got a true competitor to Civilization in the form of Amplitude’s Humankind, and a new take on historical 4X with a Civ DNA via Mohawk Studio’s Old World.

Games that start you out with nothing, and with each click of the “next turn” button you see the world grow larger, your cities go bigger, will always be comforting to me. And I like that we got two good, high-profile ones that have successfully sucked my time out.

Humankind shows the world how a Civilization alternative can be, and how a new developer can instil new ideas in this space. Old World puts a magnifying glass on a very specific age (the classical age of ancient Greece, Rome, and its many contemporaries) that makes you micro-manage more, including engaging in building a dynasty ala Crusader Kings.

Also, the soundtracks for these two games are sublime. It’s so easy to not see the hours go by. Just one more turn, and by the time I knew it five hours have past.

Playtime: 40 hours (Humankind), 10 hours (Old World)

Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis

You know what’s a good time sink? An MMORPG. And no, I have not played that critically acclaimed MMORPG, I’m backing another horse that actually has local servers here in the form of Phantasy Star Online 2.

I spent the early of the year getting PC’d into PSO2, and was treated to a ridiculous buffet of content of a game already nine years old. And then I experienced New Genesis, the new version of PSO2 that’s… maybe got pushed out too early with not enough content to fill the appetite of its fans.

It’s not the best game of its kind out there. I didn’t bother making a case for it in our GOTY Awards. There are much better MMOs with more depth and content out there.

Still, playing through an MMO transitioning into a different version was fascinating. PSO2 and PSO2 NGS made me feel the fun of just pressing simple buttons for big damage. I shelved Warframe in 2021 to wait for that game’s big update (just starting to get into The New War!), so PSO2 occupied my “press-button-do-big-damage” slot of 2021. Despite the many anime cliches and excessive fanservice that’s part of the experience.

Playtime: 199 hours (100 hours of that is for NGS, horrifying, I know)

Chivalry 2

I don’t play multiplayer-only games often, so Chivalry 2 is something out of my wheelhouse. Yet, as someone who never got into first-person melee slashers, I immediately fell in love with this visceral medieval warfare game.

It’s easy to jump in as a newcomer, it’s easy to see how deep the weapon-swinging mechanics can be, it’s also easy to see why people can have a good time here. It’s not purely all serious bloodshed, there are silly gags and things you can do while everyone is killing each other in gruesome ways. Carry a chicken into a swordfight. Sit on a catapult and be flung into certain death. Headbutt someone to death before you die of blood loss on account of a missing limb, just a flesh wound.

Plus, hearing everyone screaming at the top of their lungs as we all march to the chokepoint of doom will never be not entertaining. Chivalry 2 is the one pure multiplayer game I swear fealty to in 2021.

Playtime: 10 hours


The best Dungeons & Dragons game you can play in 2021 is the one without any involvement by the brand. Wildermyth would have been a simple turn-based strategy RPG, but it has one amazing trick: a story generator.

As you start creating your initial party members, you will start with story beats where you can determine how the relationship of these characters go. Will they be rivals or lovers? Or rivals that turn into lovers? And as your adventure grows, you’ll see how their destinies change based on the events that unfold. Some may lose a limb or two. Some may gain blessings that make them grow wings or change colour or slowly turn into… something else.

Seeing your personalised characters grow, including growing older, really makes me attached and invested in their adventures to save the world.

And ending the story won’t end these characters’ story either. You can have them appear again either as a party member, or a mythical hero NPC a new group of adventurers meet in another campaign.

Slowly but surely, the tales of your Wildermyth campaigns will live on and be weaved back into the new stories you start. Despite some jank at other places, this system carried Wildermyth to greatness, and a really nice surprise of 2021.

Playtime: 20 hours

Hitman 3

What a wonderful year it was to be opened with a game like Hitman 3. Sure, it doesn’t make big steps forward unlike the earlier two entries, but this is Hitman in its current incarnation refined and polished to the best as it could be. This is Hitman’s Greatest Hits.

The handful of levels added with Hitman 3 are all amazingly done and you won’t complain that they are relatively smaller than the huge sandboxes of Hitman 2. Several smart twists were pulled. And playing the levels again is still rewarding as there are more ways to assassinate your targets that you won’t see in the first run through.

Hitman wrapped up on a high note, and I’m glad IO Interactive will still be around to make more games. Let’s see what they will do with the new license to kill.

Playtime: 40 hours


Mother. *#$%#$#. Deathloop.

Arkane Studios went bold with this one and it paid off. A time-loop murder puzzle where you are forced to replay the same day over and over to find little puzzle pieces to eventually assemble it all together into an explosive final run of breaking the loop.

Think Hitman, but the knowledge-retention you get from replaying the same level as part of the actual storyline rather than just a meta-progression thing. And Deathloop has a lot in common with Hitman if you think about it.

I love that Deathloop plays it fast and loose with the formula of a typical immersive sim, or a typical Arkane game. But it works. I stopped lamenting the lack of save-scumming and just wing through all the encounters guns blazing if needed be. Don’t worry, no one’s here to judge you for playing the game “wrong”. It’s a liberating feeling to actually be able to use all the tools you have in full, to murder everyone in sight.

Though I do lament that there’s only one way to “correctly” finish the game. If only you get the freedom to execute the loop-breaking run in different ways, rather than having all the clues converging into a specific solution. I do hope that if Arkane is making another Deathloop-like, they remove the training wheels off and properly let players loose even more.

Playtime: 30 hours

Psychonauts 2

I love the original Psychonauts, and playing through that was a chore. So I’m glad to see Double Fine made the long-awaited sequel to be the best as it can be and it shows.

The platforming is much tighter and as solid as you can get in the genre. But it’s the fantastical, whimsy but touching stories that you experience that got me. I was at a low point mentally when I booted up Psychonauts 2, and I’m glad to have done it. Seeing other folks also struggling with what seems to be menial personal issues gave me hope I needed to get through this tough year. I’m not alone, the problems I had are normal, and there is a way to untangle the mess I had up there.

And putting aside the topic of mental health, Psychonauts 2 is still a fun time. The gags, the voice acting, the world-building. If you grew up with Nickelodeon cartoons you should definitely give this charming little platformer, and also Gamer Malaya and Gamer Matters’ Game Of The Year, a go.

Playtime: 20 hours

Forza Horizon 5

C a r s.

There’s something that’s so appealing to me with Forza Horizon 5. And it’s the fantasy of taking a car, any car, and going for a joyride on exotic roads with the soundtrack (be it the music playing on the radio, or the music from those gas-guzzling engines) blaring in the background.

You know, like all those car commercials, TV series, and YouTube videos you would see.

And interestingly enough it’s not really the cars that are the star of the show this time, it’s the open world. This game has likely sold Mexico as a tourist destination. The variety of biomes you drive on, the immaculate little details of its towns and the one city that highlights the local culture, and most importantly, the vibe. The vibe is “party all day, nothing bad will happen, enjoy life in this car paradise”.

And indeed I did enjoy this car paradise. Bugs and technical issues still unfixed aside, Forza Horizon 5 is the one game from 2021 that I will for sure continue booting up throughout 2022. It’s my personal game of the year for 2021.

Playtime: 140 hours and counting

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