Whatever your console of choice, there’s plenty to look forward to this year in order to satiate your gaming appetite. No matter whether you’ve forked out millions to a scalper to get your hands on a new PS5 or Xbox Series X, fought your way through arduous Tesco queues to secure their £50 Nintendo Switch Black Friday discount, spent your lockdowns building your new supercomputer to assert your true gaming superiority, or opted for the perfect portability of a phone, this list will provide you with the absolutely, unequivocally, one hundred percent objectively, greatest game to get your hands on this year (read: entirely subjective guess based on the author’s questionable and limited gaming knowledge…).
Xbox’s (E)xemplary (E)xample – It Takes Two (expected release March 26th)
Produced by award-winning developers Hazelight, developers of the extremely successful 2013 title ‘Brother’s: A Tale of Two Sons’, “It Takes Two” aims to provide gamers with a completely novel experience, following the studio’s plan to “push the creative boundaries of what’s possible in games”. Available on the Xbox, Playstation, and PC, this game will be one for many users, beating strong competition from Hitman 3 and MXGP 2020 to be my pick of Xbox games this year. A young child creates two dolls to represent her divorce-fated parents, and by unknown means said parents’ minds end up trapped within those very dolls. I can’t wait to unravel the twists and turns of the extraordinary story that awaits within this intriguing game, and hope that this new release can do even half as well as the extremely highly rated releases Hazelight have already brought us. An absolute must-buy for anyone with a love of mystery.
Playstation’s Perfect Purchase – Deathloop (expected release May 21st)
Another cross-platform game (available on both Playstation and PC), Deathloop looks like a fantastic production from developers Arkane Studios, who have given us greats such as the Dishonored series. Perhaps taking inspiration from the iconic film, Groundhog Day, the game centers around two assassins trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of kill, die, repeat. Set on Blackreef, an island devoid of the rule of law, players will be able to immerse themselves in a battle throughout the land, struggling to find a way to break the cycle. Of course, not a game for those who aren’t keen on video-game violence, but provided this is no barrier for you, you can expect a stellar game both in terms of story and gameplay. If you are interested in video game diversity, both of the protagonists are black, a wonderful sign of the improvement in representation within the gaming world, even if they are assassins…
Steam’s Stellar Selection – Humankind (expected release April 22nd)
With the astoundingly long list of PC titles that we can expect this year, any pick I make will doubtless be met with disapproval from fans of many franchises. The Hitman series sees its trilogy concluded, the Yakuza series will have games 3, 4, and 5 released in January, alongside the concluding number 6 in March, and the Halo series brings us yet another installment – Halo Infinite. Rather than elect one of these as my choice (and face the necessary backlash of jilted fans), I’ve instead decided to irritate yet another group of game fanatics, namely those who champion the Civilisation game series. This year brings the long awaited release of Humankind by Amplitude Studios. With big-budget backing from SEGA, this game aims to turn long term world based strategy games on their head. As studio head Romain de Waubert de Genlis puts it, “You can’t win history, that’s not what happens.” Whereas other games focus on world domination and winning, Humankind instead focuses on cultural development and adaptation over time, with six different eras to play through and 21 stars to obtain in each, resulting in a more rounded (and less end-of-game focused) game than Civilisation. An incredible prospect to look out for this year.
iPhone’s Impressive Introduction/Google’s Greatest Game – The Witcher: Monster Slayer (exact release date TBC)
The nature of games developed for the phone is that the biggest hits are often never before seen titles, making a prediction awfully ‘easy’ and ‘fun’ for me to make. Fortunately, I’ve been saved this year with the upcoming debut from the Polish Spokko developers. Similar to the already superbly successful Pokémon Go, The Witcher: Monster Slayer works in much the same manner, utilising the same idea of AR technology and monsters found out in the real world, but instead brings the widely loved books/games/Netflix series to a mobile format such that users can act out the motions of their favourite characters themselves. To be released on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, this is a wonderful concept I’m sure will be a spectacular hit this year, and here’s to hoping it can go some of the way to matching the game changing effect of its Pokémon themed predecessor.
Nintendo’s Newest Necessity – Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury (expected release February 12th)
Whether you fancy a throwback to yesteryear with a remastered and updated Space Aliens Invaders, evidence that pigs really can fly with Hed the Pig, or a realisation of one of my greatest ever dreams in the recently released SuperMoose, the games coming to the Nintendo Switch this year certainly offer a wide variety of choices, but I’ve finally had to succumb and go with a big name. Admittedly the cat suit power-ups might not be for everyone, but the vast range of levels, power-ups, and gameplay styles, combined with a thorough and exciting story, make for an entertaining game for all ages throughout. You’re never too old to revisit franchises of your youth, and I can’t think of any better game this coming year in order to do exactly that.