Almost in the blink of an eye, 2021 is quickly coming to an end. It has been a crazy year with a lot of great releases. With all of the games that have come out, it’s a bit hard to narrow down my favourites of this year. But after going back and forth several times, I think I can finally narrow down my list to the games listed below.
Dodgeball is one of those sports that I always loved as a kid. We didn’t get to play it often, but when we did, you had better believe that I was bobbing and weaving while taking down my fellow classmates. So you can imagine my disappointment when such a great sport is so underrepresented in video games. At least, until Dodgeball Academia entered the ring.
Being an RPG fan, my interest was immediately piqued after the first announcement. The art style sealed the deal for me and I knew I had to get it on day one. And honestly, I loved every second of this game. It’s so charming, making me feel as though I’m right in the middle of a shonen anime. The gameplay was also intense, to say the least, especially against the bosses. The wackiness was pumped all the way to 11 and I appreciate it.
As a fan of visual novels and detective games along the lines of Ace Attorney, it was obvious that I would end up playing this game. There was the initial worry that Root Film would rely too much on plot twists and fakeouts in order to serve up their mysteries, but I actually found myself enjoying each case as they presented themselves. If anything, I felt that things ended up being a bit too tame towards the end.
I especially loved the art for the game. Going with the obvious anime influence, but leaning a bit into some comic influence with the heavy black lines, each scene was a treat to behold. And when it comes to the gameplay, I really enjoyed the point-n-click aspects, as well as the interrogation sections known as Max Mode. It was really fun going back and forth with suspects, trying to use all of the knowledge that you’ve collected along the way to corner them into confessing the secrets they are trying to hide.
Want to know more about Root Film? Our review is here.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Speaking of Ace Attorney, I just had to include this release here as well. I had already heard great things about this prequel to the series. I had no doubt that it would be a great time, given that Shu Takumi was involved. But I wasn’t prepared just for how much I would actually love these games. While I didn’t mind Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice, there was definitely something that left me not quite satisfied. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles left me speechless and wanting more.
Seeing the progress that Ace Attorney has made, both with its writing and its visuals are almost enough to bring a tear to my eye. When I first got into Ace Attorney, it was on the cusp of their 2D art days with Apollo Justice. Going from that, to 3D models with the 3DS titles, to 3D models that actually walk around during specific moments in court blew my mind. Those on the outside looking in will just think that it’s something simple and not to be impressed by. But for Ace Attorney fans, it was pretty crazy to see.
Fuga: Melodies of Steel
This was a surprise game to play when it was dropped by CyberConnect2 during the summer. As the company’s first game in their new generation of original games, Fuga: Melodies of Steel is a tragic game to play. A group of children looking to save their parents from the Berman forces, it can really show just how destructive war can be. The story definitely tugged at my heartstrings and I found myself wanting to try and save every kid on the team.
The gameplay is pretty tight as well. As a strategy turn-based game, you have to think ahead. And keep on top of your units’ health as well as your resources. Bosses in each level can hit very hard. But can also be gamed if you time your attacks correctly and save your special attacks for those fights. While there have been games that I’ve enjoyed more than Fuga, it left an impression on me that no other game this year did.
Disgaea 6 is a strange one for me to talk about. I am a huge tactics fan and love the Disgaea series so much. So of course, I was excited to play this game the minute I could get my hands on it. And I do find myself flip-flopping on this game. The quality of life features that they’ve added with this title are great: auto-battling, the juice bar to increase stats and levels, all units gaining EXP whether they killed a unit or not, and speed increases during battles have made the mindless grinding of Disgaea a thing of the past.
But the visuals and performance of the game are not great. It can make it hard to recommend this game at times. While commendable that Nippon Ichi wanted to try 3D models, the result ended up falling a bit short. Not to mention, there were quite a few cuts to the game, such as specific classes and monster mechanics. Nonetheless, however, I still like Disgaea 6 and found myself really enjoying the main character a lot. We reviewed Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny Review too!