It’s 2021. A bright new dawn awaits us, or so we hope. And while the world is ablaze with the pandemic and the repercussions that followed. Everyone itching to go out and not stay at home. Gamers were all too happy to take the opportunity to play all the latest releases that came our way in 2020. But amidst all the news of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S launch, Cyberpunk 2077 getting delayed and then launching questionably. There were some games that slid under the radar. So we’re here to showcase some bright spots of light that you may have missed last year. And should definitely check out this year.
Because this 2020 list is so long we’ve divided up our article into two parts for you to read and check out later! Be sure to tab open the next part in the link here.
Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games
Genre: Management Sim, Sandbox
My personal game of the year, Spiritfarer follows the story of Stella and her cat Daffodil, as they and essentially you take on the role of ferrying souls to the afterlife. While this subject matter may seem dark and grim, Spiritfarer is a “cozy management” sim and tackles the topic of death in a unique, matter of fact way that will hit you in all the feels.
A caretaker in her previous life and now in the afterlife you befriend and care for the spirits placed into your keeping until they are finally ready to be released into the afterlife. Parting, death and life come in so many ways and the subtle but highly effective story in Spiritfarer really shines through in all aspects. The game is hand-drawn with stellar writing, and thought-provoking mechanics that frame bittersweet moments of reflection. It’s an unforgettable experience.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux, Google Stadia
If Found… by DREAMFEEL, Annapurna Interactive
Genre: Visual Novel
If Found… is an important queer coming-of-age story that’s both heartfelt and brutally authentic. It’s a game about searching for connection.
It’s December 1993 and Kasio, a young transgender woman, returns to an unsupportive mother and brother in her small Irish hometown; she reconnects with old friends and finds a chosen family, parties in an abandoned mansion, dances at punk shows, kisses a friend and falls into a dark depression. Throughout it all, a black hole inches closer to Earth, promising destruction. Kasio’s life is on the next page, and as the player, it’s your job to make it all disappear.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac
Journey to the Savage Planet by Typhoon Studios, 505 Games
As the newest recruit of Kindred Aerospace – The 4th best interstellar space exploration company! Your job is to determine if the the rather strange and sticky planet ARY-26 planet is fit for humans. You may be short on equipment and experience, but good luck!
Explore an uncharted world, catalogue a variety of alien flora and fauna, and craft items such as jetpacks and grappling hooks to help discover previously inaccessible and hidden areas. Your trusty laser and other items are on hand to fend off any hostile lifeforms, but you’ll need your wits about you to uncover ARY-26’s secrets in this comedic first-person adventure. Play solo or online with a friend.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC
Ooblets by Glumberland
Genre: Life Sim
In 2020 Animal Crossing got all the glory for relaxing simulations, but take a closer look at Ooblets if you’re looking for something less basic. The extraordinarily silly game begins with a familiar premise — arrive in a new town and set off to make friends and grow out your farm — but it does everything with a conscious awareness of the casual violence these games normally include.
Ooblets is a farming, town life, and creature collection game. Manage your farm, grow and train your Ooblets, explore strange lands, and have dance-offs! In Ooblets, turn-based fighting is now dance battling, while fishing is “sea-dangling” for crafting objects. None of the titular creatures are ever put in harm’s way, and beneath the adorable language, the game has built for itself lies a game with a strong point to make about living in harmony with the beauty around you.
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Cake Bash by High Tea Frog
Genre: Party Game
Party games have seen a resurgence not just since the start of the great lockdown of 2020 but since the Nintendo Switch made family games more fun and accessible again. Another one to add to your list might be Cake Bash a frantic four-player party game where adorable cakes beat the crumbs out of each other.
Pick your favourite cake and battle in a variety of lifelike arenas with unique goals – cover yourself in sweeties or hurl fruit into a pie, there’s plenty for everyone! If that’s not for you there’s an assortment of minigame treats – roast perfect marshmallows, pipe the finest frosting, or be the last flan standing in Fork Knife. Guide your cakes through the bakery as they dress to impress the customer in Get Tasty! Buy delicious toppings in a series of games to be the chosen one!
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, Google Stadia