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My 2021 InReview (Gaming and Film Edition) | Column from the Editor

Taking after my colleague, Alexis, I decided to divvy up a tier list of video games and movies I played or watched in 2021. The list is fairly extensive, as I usually tend to broaden my horizons as far as this goes.

I’ve already written reviews about quite a bit of what will be on this list, so for anything I’ve already written about, the reasoning behind its placement will be very brief.

The list itself is simple: Bottom tier is anything I’d highly advise against our readers exploring, while Top tier is quite the opposite. Bottom Tier would be something that would probably garnish an F for a grade from me, Low would get a D, Middle a C, High a B, Very High an A and Top an S.
Without further ado, here we go.

Bottom Tier

In The Tall Grass (horror movie): this movie is completely horrible. It’s quite dull, fairly confusing to follow and it lacks any semblance of basic horror that would scare someone beyond a very small child. This is available on Netflix currently, and it’d be a shame if you wasted your subscription and time out of your life to watch this.

Pokémon: Dark Rising (ROM hacked video game): Poorly put together, distasteful “humor” and grindy, tedious gameplay. Very little to like about this one.

Low Tier

Super Smash Bros Ultimate (video game): Anyone who knows me personally would probably be baffled to find this here. Unfortunately, our worldwide pandemic put a complete stop to in-person tournaments. That’s what caused this game to tank very hard. Online is a joke and offline offers very limited replay value. This game desperately needs in-person tournaments to be as strong as it should be.

Hood: Outlaws & Legends (video game): This game would’ve been Very High tier more than likely if it didn’t get mishandled and subsequently abandoned by its inexperienced development company. 

Army of The Dead (horror movie): A fairly boring movie with a ton of gaps that hinder immersive quality. Not a beyond horrible movie, but there just isn’t much to like about it.

Dead Frontier (video game): This game has not aged terribly well. Cheating and hacking is unfortunately fairly commonplace, there’s an enormous paywall you have to get past to become truly good at the game and gameplay is fairly outdated at base. Still, it can be pretty fun every once in awhile.

Pokémon Snakewood (ROM hacked video game): A bizarre experience that must’ve been put together by someone who was under some seriously powerful influence of some kind.

Middle Tier

Watch Dogs Legion (video game): A pretty awful online experience, and the offline story mode is short. But, the offline story mode is quite a bit of fun. Character design is decent, the player has a ton of control over who ultimately joins their group of Ded-Sec rebels, and gameplay is pretty fun. If the online mode was worth playing at all, this would more than likely at least be a Very High tier game.

This is The Police (video game): This game will punch you in the gut numerous times, then leave you wondering if it was ever worth it once you reached the end. The gameplay is pretty fun, though, and the overall immersive quality is decently high.

This is The Police 2 (video game): Better gameplay and story writing than its predecessor, with a significantly worse cast of characters to offset.

The Forest (video game): Clunky, outdated gameplay with questionable immersive value. Plays pretty well otherwise.

Z-Nation (TV series): The first few seasons are quite fun to follow, but it predictably goes downhill after that. Getting cut off funding-wise unexpectedly causes the final season in particular to be pretty rushed and unenjoyable. Acting cast is fun and handles their roles pretty well, though the copious amounts of plot armor main characters get is somewhat tiresome.

Halloween Kills (horror movie): A pretty average movie. Choreography is a plus, but there aren’t any other outstanding qualities that make it particularly worth watching.

Reality Z (Horror TV series): Too many hateable characters and quite a bit of blatantly poor decision making to get characters killed and hinder immersion. Does a good job sprinkling humor in throughout the series, and the most hateable characters gets a fairly satisfying comeuppance at the end.

Dead Set (Horror TV series): Reality Z was essentially a ‘remaster’ of Dead Set, so pros and cons are largely the same.

Hasbro Family Fun Pack (video game): Does exactly what it says on the package: It’s good for a few mindless hours of fun with the family here and there.

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (video game): A fairly similar experience to the first Dark Souls game, with the only drawback being that its exclusive Soul Memory mechanic greatly hinders multiplayer functionality.

Among Us (video game): This game has a tendency to draw in and encourage degenerate play which can be pretty frustrating at times. If that isn’t taking place however, this game is a good deal of fun that a group of friends can enjoy virtually endlessly. In those scenarios, it belongs in High or Very High tier.

Antlers (horror movie): A decently scary movie with a somewhat confusing story and no particularly outstanding qualities. 

Pokémon GO (video game): Instances where rare Pokémon can only be acquired in raids which force multiplayer play, in which other players bring severely suboptimal teams with the hopes of getting carried, can be immensely frustrating. Apart from that, this game has a vibrant competitive meta and instills a series of long term goals into interested players. Actually meeting these goals and participating in the meta, however, takes an extremely long amount of time the average player won’t be willing to invest.

High Tier

Rebel Cops (video game): A short, sweet game with no real glaring flaws. Much like This is The Police, the ending is quite polarizing and controversial, but I wouldn’t necessarily even call it a flaw.

Grand Theft Auto IV (video game): This is one of those games that wasn’t ever really a staple for my free time, but was there for when I was bored or burned out of another game and wanted to change things up. It delivered solidly in that regard. A strong online and offline experience makes this game one that will scarcely disappoint.

7 Days to Die (video game): A game best played with friends. Pretty immersive and addicting, though with no real end game goal, it can grow tiring fairly easily especially if played alone.

Conan Exiles (video game): Strong immersive value, good mechanical gameplay and a series of goals the player has to meet that keeps them engaged. Not the best in terms of patching up bugs, however.

Nickelodeon All Star Brawl (video game): Poor, clunky controls but otherwise a an excellently made fighting game. Smash Ultimate hopefully takes notes on how to deliver a good platform fighting online experience from this.

State of Survival (video game): Pretty simple interactive strategy game. A few flaws that hinder accessibility somewhat, but if you can get past these, you should have a pretty good time. 

We Were Here series (video game series): All games were fairly similar, so I figure I’d rope them in as one. Overall, gameplay is engaging but a tad infuriating as puzzles are time based, death from failure is permanent and forces a restart, and puzzles tend to not be fairly intuitive. Replay value is also entirely nonexistent. Still, one’s first play through the game should be pretty fun and even exhilarating if you’ve got a lot of patience.

Bloodborne (video game): Loose gameplay with fun combat and well designed maps. Story is deliberately confusing, which isn’t really a flaw. The only real flaw is that gameplay is fairly easy, which is a bit of a letdown given FROM Software’s reputation for designing challenging video games.

Demon’s Souls (video game): Varied gameplay that is quite challenging. The only real flaw is a noticeable lack of replay value.

Red Dead Redemption 2 (video game): Brilliant offline gameplay and decent online as well. The only flaw with online gameplay is that it can somewhat tend to stagnate in terms of finding unique things to do and long term goals.

Dark Souls Remastered (video game): A fun, challenging game lacking in any serious flaws.

Call of Duty: Warzone (video game): A lot of fun when you get a friend or two to tag along. No two games are ever the same. Enormous maps do make campy, defensive play quite common at the start. It also can lead to moments where the player is simply in the wrong place and dies, to no real fault of their own, which can be frustrating. Best not taken too seriously.

Madden NFL 2021 (video game): A fun football game that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel and, thus, is pretty immersive. No serious flaws in this one.

Very High Tier:

Persona 5 Strikers (video game): Fun, loose gameplay, a brilliantly crafted story with a nice new character and a very replayable game. It’s only particular flaws are a small gap in content in the middle of the game and one of its other new characters. 

Doom Eternal (video game): Online play has some holes, but otherwise this is what you expect from a Doom game: extremely fast gameplay, loose and excellent combat mechanics and brilliant graphical quality.

Dead by Daylight (video game): As far as structural integrity, this game has more holes than Swiss Cheese. But if you can get past that, this is a game that’s very easy to get addicted to, and it boasts a lot of recognizable characters mostly anyone can get attached to.

Life is Strange: True Colors (video game): A well-crafted story with a lot of immersive value and emotional gameplay. Just don’t spend your money on the Wavelengths, or, Steph’s Story expansion.

Baseball 9 (video game): A short, simple gameplay for casual and competitive play alike. No serious flaws here.

Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War (video game): Addicting gameplay which welcomes plenty of different interests and play styles. A welcome bounce back from Treyarch’s blunder that was Black Ops 4.

Hellraiser (horror movie): An all time classic horror film, it’s no wonder Hellraiser representation had been wanted in Dead by Daylight for so long, and that it was so well received when it finally arrived.

Doom (video game): Where it all began; a delightful fast paced game which is a gem for speedrunning. 

Doom II (video game): An overall simple continuation of its predecessor, and quite a joy to speedrun as well. No particular flaws to be found.

Dark Souls III (video game): The pinnacle of FROM Software gaming, this iteration offers the most in terms of player creativity, dungeon crawling and thrilling combat. It has one relatively shaky map that can hinder gameplay, but can be easily circumvented. 

Top Tier

Pokémon Radical Red (ROM hacked video game): Absolutely astounding game that is even better than what we’ve come to expect from Nintendo and Gamefreak themselves. Hits the ball out of the park on all cylinders.

Dying Light (video game): Probably the greatest video game I’ve ever personally played. Everything is pretty much flawless.

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