The Big List of Games I Beat in 2021 ENDGAME
January 02, 2022

In 2020, I decided I was going to stop buying new games and declare war on the backlog. Much like the majority of gamers, I own more games than I can ever play in a lifetime but countless games I want to play get shuffled further and further to the back while the endless stream of new stuff gets stacked on top of them. It was a success! Aside from cashing in steam vouchers over Christmas that I had received as a gift, I purchased exactly zero new games, and the backlog was sufficiently injured. Any current year games I played were at the behest of constant backlog enemy Jason Venter, who even now is plotting ways to trick me into playing more visual novels. THE GOAL: Do the same thing in 2021. Block Venter. Profit.

Venter, it turns out, is unblockable, but 2021 has been another successful war waged against the backlog. This yearís big twist has been my slow emergence back into the world of AAA mainstream gaming after spending years in the pretentious indie wilderness. I mean, thereís still a lot of weird, obscure stuff in there and that will never go away, but Iíve gone back and revisited some old favourites this year (Halo Reach and Tomb Raider, specifically) as well as plugged away at stuff like Bayenetta or Heavy Rain. Itís hardly cutting edge stuff, but thatís what happens when you neglect the backlog.

//The Backlog Mortuary//



8Doors: Arum's Afterlife Adventure Last stage kicked the crap out of me, but finally beating it down was hugely satisfying. Excellent Metroidvania game based around Korean purgatory myths. Not usually my genre of choice, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Review // yes.


American Patriots: The Swamp Fox: Thereís no win conditions attached to this game, so the only way to beat it is to stop playing. Itís a barebones horde-mode FPS thatís very limited in options. Iíve played it enough to be underwhelmed; Iím done with it. Joe has a copy of this; maybe one day weíll see what he thinks.
Review// yes


The Beard in the Mirror: Goofy retro point & click openly inspired by Sierraís Quest games. Got maybe halfway through a few years back, then stopped for reasons I no longer remember. Been threatening to go back and finish it for ages and now have.
Review// yes.


Chronicles of Cyberpunk: You know when a gameís been rotting in the library forever when you notice it has since turned free-to-play. Such is the fate of Chronicles, which is best described as bloody weird. Itís a dystopian low-fi walking simulator that obsessively cycles through all the cyberpunk tropes. Niche, but I liked it.
Review // yes


Chronicle of Innsmouth: Mountains of Madness isnít what I expected. I thought it would just be a case of maybe my favourite Lovecraft story being transplanted wholesale into the AGS engine, but itís more of its own tale based around the Cthulhu mythos, which is pretty cool. Pretty short, but engaging enough. It starts strong and loses momentum throughout, so its short runtime is probably a blessing. Well worth playing.
Review // yes.


Cuyo: Simple, easy platformer with puzzle elements attached to a limited jump mechanic. Cute, but not especially challenging.
Review // yes

Dagon is currently free on Steam, will run less than an hour and, I thought, is a very decent interactive telling of one of the first H.P Lovecraft mythos tales.
Review// might not be enough game in there.


Dungeons of Naheulbeuk: Goofy fantasy parody story told alongside genuinely faithful D&D-built turn based strategy battles. Itís surprisingly good stuff. I didnít expect great things from this when Jason randomly dropped it on me some time last year, but I put the hours in, got pretty far, then saw my progress get mercilessly deleted when the game updated to full retail edition, destroying all my review edition save files in the process. Took a break, started anew, and killed so many cave spiders. The little shits.
Review// yes

Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk was the review I (more or less) started 2021 with, so itís kind of fitting that the Splat Jaypak's Arenas expansion would (more or less) be the review I ended 2021 on. Itís a decent time, doing away with dungeon crawling and just throwing you headfirst into a series of tactical battles. I like tactical battles, so I liked this.
Review // yes.


Edge of Eternity was the big one. Iíve been very 2000-ish in my games this year, only partly by choice, because I seem to have gone on a bit of a Japanese game run. Still, this might be the most fun Iíve had with a JRPG since Lost Odyssey. Itís a shame the current PC version is an incomplete game; the main plot is all there, but itís missing a lot of side and post game content right now. It could be something special when itís all been put together. The tagline pun is aimed at that, but might be too much of a thinker.
Review // yes


Forgotten Trace: Thanatos in Nostalgia has no exciting back story. I needed a horror game and itís about something forcing teenages into suicide pacts.So I plucked this from the games sent to me Iíve not redeemed pile and gave it a go. Itís, really, not very horror-y at all. Who knew?
Review // yes.


Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition is a bit of a cheat inclusion; I beat the game some time ago, and only got through a draft of the review, which Iíve been picking at for years since. Iíve gone back and played bits of this game through the scattered save files I still have, so I guess itís not a complete lie. Now that this is a done thing, thereís a slightly bigger chance Iíll finish the reviews on the other Knight games before I quit.
Review // yes.


Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned: Gabriel has been my fallback series for when my PC blows up and Iím stuck with my decade old laptop to game on. Why do I have a decade old laptop floating around? Because games like Knight are arseholes to getting running on modern rigs, and their re-released games often have zero work done on them to change that. I found 3 to be the weakest of the series, but still quite worth the hassle.
Review // maybe if I ever finish the half-penned drafts of the previous Knight games.


Halo: Reach: Iíve beaten Reach before; Iíve beaten Reach several times, in fact, but I finally broke my buy no new games rule to get the Halo collection on a huge discount. What started as a dry run just to make sure Reach ran out OK turned into a full run through the game in Normal mode. Man, I still adore this game. Itís my favourite Halo by some distance. Itís so full of despair while the others are more or less a power trip. Thinking about re-reviewing it. Weíll see.
Review: pre-existing

Heavy Rain is a game Iíve not wanted to play because David Cage has hurt me before. A decade later, and Iím still not over Fahrenheit. But I wanted a horror game starting with H for alpha marathon purposes. So gave both this and Hellblade an equal chance. Hellblade won handily. No one was surprised. How did this one hurt me? The big twist was pretty bloody awful. It acts like you should have been able to make the solve yourself if you were paying attention, but actively hides things you should have been able to see. It means when the reveal comes up, it uses stuff that happens off screen as a big Ďgotcha!í, and itís really dumb and deflating.
Review: Maybe in 2022


Hellblade is something Iíve been meaning to play for a long, long time now; The game is purposefully designed to stress the player out at almost all times. Deconstruct it as a video game, and itís a corridor of uninteresting puzzles and lacklustre combat burdened by enemies who take too long to kill. But as a complete package, itís fascinating. The most anti-fun Iíve had with a game since Spec Ops.
Review // yes


Insanium: Heavily based on a very old game I really dug, so itís an easy bet to say I also dug this. Sometimes it takes the homage too far rather than risk trying to make a real go at a unique spin of an old idea. In space, no one can hear you copy and paste.
Review // yes


A Jugglerís Tale is pretty cool, and actually surprised me by suddenly dipping into an existential crisis, which shouldnít have been a surprise considering the gameís strong INSIDE vibe. Beat it all in a couple of hours, would question existence again.
Review // yes.


Kathy Rain: The Directorís Cut is a rerelease of a game I played back in 2016 that I have no issue playing again today. The vast majority of the changes from the original have been cosmetic, such as introducing a stable aspect ratio, but the Twin Peaks-like small town oddball horror is still a fun tale to take on.
Review // yes.


Loop Hero is an oddity of several genres mixed together with a purposefully dated aesthetic that shouldnít work, but does. Itís a game I thought I was only playing in little bubbles before I noticed Steam had recorded 30+ hours. Itís a weird punishing grindfest thatís also forgiving with clear progression provided at the same time. Itís kind of brilliant.
Review // yes


Lost Words: Beyond the Page is the story about a girl writing a story, and how both of those things are affected by the sudden disruption in her life. Itís packaged as a 2D platformer, but itís more about solving easy puzzles based around using keywords to manipulate your surroundings. As a game, itís decent enough, but itís the writing and the voice acting that are Lost Wordís main strength. Absolutely not for everyone, probably more of an experience than it is a flat out video game.
Review // yes


Mysterious Realms RPG has an awful name, and Iím going to mock it. But itís also a throwback shareware-esque fantasy rogue-like with a weird deck-building battle system that works really well but is super hard to explain. Itís an interesting filler title for people in the mood to stab some giant spiders that can be seen through to completion in a handful of hours.
Review// yes.


Narita Boy: Genuinely enjoyable throwback game that is happy to flirt with our nostalgia of 8/16bit gaming, but still does its own thing. Really enjoyed it, and has a synth OST that'll casually blow your mind.
Review: yes


Outpost 13 is a game Iíve been sitting on for ages. I helped vote it through Steamís Greenlight program, which should date the hell out of it. That must have been 2014? The idea of playing reverse The Thing really drew me in, so I waited for the game to be completed. It was a little heartbreaking when I finally gave up on it, and here we are.
Review // yes


Planet Alpha is a game Iíve been meaning to review for years now. Itís very much something made in the image of Another World, but less about rage-inducing homicides, and more about spectacle. Also, the occasional rage-inducing homicide.
Review // yes


When you absolutely need a last minute Q game and Quest for Glory seems to be considerably longer than you assumed, look for pretentious indie platformers. As an unexpected added bonus, qomp is actually really good.
Review // yes.


Road 96 is not going to attune itself to everyoneís sensibilities. Sometimes, it feels like youíre playing an interactive Twitter argument where you either agree with the author or youíre literally Hitler. But the bits in between are a choose-your-own-adventure coming of age road trip. Itís certainly cringey at times, but it's an interesting experiment.
Review// yes


Sarawak: A simple text adventure game that took me about an hour and a half to play through. You progress by solving simple puzzles or by advancing conversations. Itís over before it begins and the ending is a bit of a damp squib, but I enjoyed it. Puzzles were never hard enough to rage quit over, but often not easy enough to be a mere triviality.
Review// yes


San Goku Shi IV: Because, sometimes, you pledge to play all the 32X games and then spend years asking yourself why.
Review // Iím so nearly done!


Saint Kotar is a very Croatian point and click horror. It revolves heavily around religion, and not a single chance to shit on Italy is missed. Itís a stiff game where people loiter about the screen, and much of my game time is spent watching the characters trudge from A to B, but itís certainly got an atmosphere to it.
Review // yes.


Tomb Raider is a game I beat on release on the console (I used to play consoles a lot!) and I restarted it again on a whim. The big plan is to play the other Tomb Raiders in the same way Iím playing the Yakuzas; with gaps in between, but not to the point where I no longer remember the things Iím supposed to be remembering.
Review // pre-existing


Tokyo Xanadu eX+: Finally beat this game. And then I beat the post-boss chapter to unlock the true ending. AND THEN I beat the eX+ after game chapters to finally wrap everything up. Phew! Iíve been picking away at this game since the start of the year, and itís had to take a back seat to games Iíve had to beat there and then, but itís been a blast. JRPGs used to be the main staple of my gaming diet and while having less free time in my life has put an end to that, itís really nice to revisit.
Review // yes.


Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen: Half visual novel, half turn based strat, I fell in love with this weeby nonsense around 2004-ish when I spent many days downloading the original game and fan translation on my trash desktop cobbled together from bits of other peopleís desktops they no longer wanted. Iíve bitterly watched as first Japan and then smug Sony owners mocked me with their ability to play the sequels and then the re-re-release, but my time is finally now!
Review // yes


Voyage: Itís a fun little cinematic adventure that tries to do a few things differently, but fails to really commit to them. It isnít a long game, but it crams a lot of its hand painted world into its somewhat short runtime.
Review // yes


World Series Baseball Starring Deion Sandersí most interesting feature is the startling absence of Deion Sanders. Whoever the bloody hell that isÖ
Review // begrudgingly


Xanadu Next started as a curiosity play. I didnít have a decided next game, and this Ys-like dungeon crawler has the obscure oddity factor I lean towards. It was originally an N-Gage exclusive before Falcom shined it up, made sweeping alterations and put it out on the PC. Itís kind of brilliant; a low-key AJRPG metroidvania that gives you one huge sprawling dungeon then slowly equips you with what you need to pick through previous dead ends.
Review// yes


Yakuza Kiwami 2 is done. Dragged my overpowered arse up to the boss fight endgame, and caved everyoneís skulls in with dragon sticks, which I earnt from a street fight I only entered accidently. Very good game, updated to tie in to Zero more, but built more from Sixís engine. Iíve got more of the series to go through yet, but probably the best antagonist of the series for me thus far.
Review // yes.

ZenoHell is a shooter that I started to cover Z. Iíve beaten it twice with two different ships. BUT THEN that bloody Venter comes up with a review code for a Z game I requested a month ago in what I suspect is shenanigans on his behalf. Sorry, ZenoHell; maybe next year.


Ziggurat 2 is a rogue-ish FPS where you explore randomly generated dungeons and shoot homicidal sentient vegetables in the face with a magic staff. It all gets a bit samey on extended play, but itís a good time when taken on in smaller bursts.
Review // yes.

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Feedback
honestgamer honestgamer - January 02, 2022 (04:27 PM)
Fun topic. You definitely play a variety of games, and some of them even look like they might appeal to me! ;-)
EmP EmP - January 03, 2022 (03:11 AM)
This might have been the most 'normal' year of gaming I've had in a while. Looking at my to do this, I might be even more of a normie in 2022. I don't think I'll ever stop being drawn to some of the weird and wonderful stuff that sits outside the mainstream eye, but I also want to finish that Yakuza stuff and the Tomb Raider stuff, and finally figure out why Zig loved Bayenetta so much.

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