Game Reviews

Best of the Year in Gaming: The Third Annual Revvies | 2021 InReview Awards

InReview is pleased to announce its second annual Revvies Awards: Gaming Edition for 2021. The following awards have been selected by InReview’s editors and writers. To be eligible, all games had to have content published during the calendar year 2021, and a member of staff had to have played it.

Winning games’ analysis by InReview Gaming Editor Andrew Baillargeon.

Best downloadable content

Nominees:

  • Sora joins Smash Smash Bros Ultimate: Winner
  • Resident Evil comes to Dead by Daylight
  • Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 2
  • Ghost of Tsushima: Iki Island
  • Conan Exiles: Isle of Siptah Expansion

Analysis: Smash Bros had a pretty forgettable 2021 as a whole, but filling in the game’s last character slot with such a renowned, admittedly difficult to get character was a great way to go out with a bang. Given how stingy Disney has historically been with their IP, the idea that Sora even got into the game is still now baffling. With the game advertising itself as a “celebration of gaming,” finishing off on its life cycle of DLC with such a notable name was a rousing success.

Best mobile game

Nominees:

  • Pokémon UNITE: Winner
  • PUBG New State
  • Rocket League Sideswipe
  • Marvel Future Revolution

Analysis: Pokémon games over the last decade have fallen into a fairly stagnate loop, where the mainstream games hog the limelight and they’re just about always structured the same way, similarly to how Call of Duty handles many of their games. UNITE is a different experience altogether, a MOBA in which teams of five face off against one another every game. It’s an experience sure to grip the player for the long haul, earning it the spot here on InReview.

Best indie game

Nominees:

  • Valheim: Winner
  • Chicory: A Colorful Tale
  • Cyber Shadow
  • Death’s Door

Analysis: Valheim has the makings of a game which has mastered the survival sub genre. It has an opposing binary which is strong and plentiful, keeping the game tense and the player on edge. It has an ultimate goal for the game that balances alongside basic survival. It does quite a bit beyond what you might expect for the average indie game, giving it the nod here.

Best narrative

Nominees:

  • Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes: Winner
  • Resident Evil Village
  • Hitman 3
  • Persona 5 Strikers

Analysis: Given that the game is mainly narrative-driven, this probably won’t be of any real surprise. House of Ashes was designed by Supermassive Games, masters of the interactive story video game. Player decision making morphs the world around them, as it responds in kind. There is a limitless amount of replayability, as changing major decisions made has a tendency to basically make an average play through into straight up playing an entirely different game. Masterful narrative which was an easy choice for this one.

Best overall gameplay

Nominees:

  • Hitman 3: Winner
  • Persona 5 Strikers
  • Resident Evil Village

Analysis: Hitman 3’s gameplay was phenomenal. The game gives loads of power to the player and gives them a wide variety of tools and a layout to approach a particular mission creatively. This is conducive to speedrunners in the same way casual fans will enjoy this one. Speedrunners have the tools and means to kick down the door, gun down the target and escape with style. Casual fans who may prefer a meticulous approach where they get to really explore and interact with the large map in front of them also may do so. Because these maps can be completed in so many different ways, that also means the game has a lot of replayability for players who might wish to see how a completely different approach might generate a different result, narratively and mechanically. Simply put, this game has top notch gameplay that makes this award somewhat of a shoo-in.

Best soundtrack in a video game

Nominees:

  • Persona 5 Strikers: Winner
  • Nickelodeon All Star Brawl
  • Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Analysis: Persona 5 games in general absolutely shred it with impeccable sound design, and Strikers unsurprisingly followed in its predecessors’ footsteps. From quirky tracks such as “Love Te Wonderland” to “Devil’s Castle”, to the masterful “Counterfeit Phantom” right down to remakes of “Rivers in the Desert” and “Last Surprise,” the soundtrack gave this already solid game wings to make it a memorable experience.

Best graphics in a video game

Nominees:

  • Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes: Winner
  • Metroid Dread
  • Call of Duty: Vanguard
  • Nickelodeon All Star Brawl

Analysis: Unlike other categories, this one was a no brainer. While there were standout jobs done art-wise, Supermassive Games and the Dark Pictures Anthology have consistently featured absolutely pristine graphics that continue to wow their audiences. Here, an underworld temple with vicious beasts and a hidden, unknown civilization wait for the player, and whoever designed the aforementioned parts of the game deserves a pay raise.

Game of the Year

Nominees:

  • Hitman 3: Winner
  • Persona 5 Strikers
  • Resident Evil Village
  • Metroid Dread

Analysis: Hitman 3 might be a surprising pick for this award, but the game has everything the average player could really want in it. It has interactivity and a heavy degree of player choice which shapes the game, an excellent storyline, masterful gameplay and a lot of replayability. If you’re the type to rush in, guns blazing, this game is for you. If you’re the type who takes advantage of stealth and tactical positioning to quietly eliminate a target, this game is for you. If you enjoy playing through a game multiple times with meaningful differences in each play through, this game is for you. Speedrunners, people who enjoy a challenge, and people who don’t so much enjoy a challenge but prefer the story of a game will love this game. 

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