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The 25 best games of 2021

The best games of 2021 reflect what a weird and truly unpredictable year it has been. As the world struggled to return to normalcy, exiting lockdown but leaving us no less isolated, the video game industry shifted in response. Many of the blockbusters we had expected to play this year were delayed into the next, and for a time we weren't sure how the first 12 months of PS5 and Xbox Series X would ultimately come together.

As GamesRadar+'s 25 best games of 2021 highlights, it's ultimately been a great year for games. With a leaner release schedule, we've seen more experimental AAA games rise to the fore, the release of incredible independent titles exploring challenging topics, and some truly incredible showcases of new-gen technology. 

Over the last month, GamesRadar+ staff has voted and debated on the best games of 2021 and we believe that our top 25 ranking is a great reflection of the year. It's worth noting that fantastic DLC releases (like Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye and Animal Crossing: New Horizons Update 2.0) and excellent remasters (like Mass Effect: Legendary Edition) didn't meet the eligibility criteria to be included on this list, but are worthy of your time and attention should you have any left to spare.

Whether you're looking for something new to play over the holiday break, want to see if your favorites made the cut, or simply want to argue with us on the ranking – you can find GR on Twitter and Facebook – here is our list of the 25 best games of 2021.  


25. Unpacking

Unpacking

(Image credit: Witch Beam)

Developer: Witch Beam
Format: PC, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it?
A game about moving and unpacking belongings, where you follow a woman's life through the rooms and homes she lives in, one box at a time. 

Why should you play it?
While the act of moving home is, in reality, an incredibly stressful experience, developer Witch Beam has made the art of 'making a space a home' utterly zen in indie-gem Unpacking. The rhythms of play are simple enough throughout – you unpack boxes and find a place for each of your belongings, spending your time figuring out what should go where. You'll do this through various stages of the character's life, with a childhood bedroom acting as your starting space. But it's Unpacking's method of storytelling that is genuinely groundbreaking. There's no dialogue to speak of, just objects that carry over from location to location; how those objects change or come to fit over time, that is where the true story is. The less you know about Unpacking the better, but prepare to feel intensely passionate about a tiny mug. 

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24. The Forgotten City

The Forgotten City

(Image credit: Modern Storyteller)

Developer: Modern Storyteller
Format: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it? 
A time-looping mystery that started out as a Skyrim mod, and became a deep dive into Roman mythology and the nature of humanity. 

Why should you play it?
Test your brain and get lost in a story that, rightfully, won an Australian Writers' Guild award. After an encounter with an actual Karen, you head off to some ruins, find a portal, and find a strange Roman society where the residents live in fear of breaking a Golden Rule. As you try to unpick the mysteries of this legend and the open-world city, you can jump back through the portal at any time, restarting the loop and getting a chance to make the most of any information and items you found on your last visit. Expect deep conversations with NPCs, sinister statues, philosophical pondering, and strangely satisfying time tricks. The Forgotten City is a non-linear narrative puzzle game that shouldn't be missed, with a central mystery that you won't regret trying to untangle. Honestly, you won't have played anything quite like it this year. 

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23. Death's Door

Death's Door

(Image credit: Acid Nerve)

Developer: Acid Nerve
Format: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it? 
An action-adventure game that offers up equal parts The Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, and a Metroidvania about a crow reaping dead souls.

Why should you play it?
Death's Door is very much a vibe. You play a crow who has been assigned soul-reaping work by the agency that oversees the afterlife. Given the chance to leave your desk job behind and get some experience harvesting souls out in the field, you're thrust into a beautiful and bizarre isometric adventure cast across worlds that are chained together, linked only by the death that fills them. With a manageable difficulty curve, precise combat mechanics, varied puzzles, and characters that range from undead nasties that must be slain to an NPC named Pothead, Death's Door manages to strike such an interesting chord that lies halfway between somber evaluation of death and silly jabs about croaking. Death's Door will delight you as much as it challenges, particularly as you begin to brush up against some of its outrageous boss encounters. This is one adventure that absolutely should not be missed from 2021.

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22. Wildermyth

Wildermyth

(Image credit: Worldwalker Games)

Developer: Worldwalker Games
Format: PC

What is it? 
Your very own tabletop experience, where an innovative take on turn-based combat meets astoundingly deep procedural storytelling.

Why should you play it?
Wildermyth captures the feeling of high-fantasy tabletop roleplaying in a way that simply doesn't feel like it should have been possible. A charmingly simple papercraft art style defies both its tactical and narrative depth – combat is elevated by 'Infusion', an inspired approach to spellcasting, but the real strength lies in storytelling that's both epic and beautifully intimate, sparking the imagination quite unlike anything else released this year. While Wildermyth has its fair share of awesome moments, developer Worldwalker Games also understands how important the little things can be. A victory snatched from an almost-doomed boss fight is one thing, but Wildermyth revels in downtime – in moments of personal growth or character bonding. Wildermyth's characters lay claim to their own stories, pulling you in unexpected and delightful directions throughout. It's a game that feels like it shouldn't exist, but I'm very, very glad it does.

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21. Monster Hunter Rise

Monster Hunter Rise

(Image credit: Capcom)

Developer: Capcom
Format: Switch

What is it? 
A third-person action-RPG about fighting giant monsters and using their hides to craft better equipment.

Why should you play it?
It's hard to dislike a game that lets you jump off a giant dog, swing through the air like an anime Spider-Man, vault over a waterfall, and knock a dragon senseless on the way down with a titanic swing of a towering hammer. Monster Hunter Rise pushes Capcom's action-RPG formula over the top with absurd abilities and a vibrant, stylized aesthetic. It folds in many of the quality-of-life features from the more grounded Monster Hunter World, but Rise is unmistakably a product of the wild experiments that brought us Monster Hunter Generations. You can't help but get caught up in its rhythm, and you'll soon find yourself in a rhythm of your own, hunting and crafting as hours pass like minutes. It's beautiful and weird and funny, taking great pride in its silliness. Play it alone or with friends, and be ready to forget everything else in your life for a hundred hours at least. 

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Extended Reading:
Monster Hunter Rise review – "Strikes an impressively delicate balance between gameplay styles"

20. Eastward

Eastward

(Image credit: Pixpil)

Developer: Pixpil
Format: PC, Switch

What is it? 
A Zelda and Earthbound-inspired RPG with an amazing art style and a story that'll always keep you guessing.

Why should you play it?
With Eastward, you're following the story of John and Sam, an adopted father/daughter duo who are forcibly removed from their home and forced to undertake a journey that never goes the way you expect it to. While Eastward takes clear inspiration from classic RPGs like Earthbound and The Legend of Zelda, developer Pixpil isn't afraid to move beyond the boundaries of its influences. You'll see this reflected best in its combat and characters, with John able to throw bombs and wield a frying pan to ward off the monsters that roam the lands, while Sam uses her surprise kinetic abilities to help ensure their survival. Eastward's strengths are in its puzzle solving, gorgeous art style, and the relationship between our two heroes. Surprisingly dark in places, there's plenty more to Eastward than the trailers let on, so settle in for a brilliantly bizarre adventure.

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Extended Reading:
Eastward review – "There's more to this Zelda-like than meets the eye"

19. The Artful Escape

The Artful Escape

(Image credit: Beethoven & Dinosaur)

Developer: Beethoven & Dinosaur
Format: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it? 
A simplistic platformer with a star-studded cast that's light on difficulty but heavy on guitar licks and psychedelic imagery 

Why should you play it?
The Artful Escape isn't a game, it's an experience. From Lena Headey's appearance as a floating celestial head made of up flower and space dust, to the ripping guitar riffs that threaten to melt your face off, The Artful Escape can often feel like it's the result of a rockstar's fever dream. You never know, that actually might be the case here, as Beethoven & Dinosaur founder Johnny Galvatron was indeed a rockstar. Perhaps that's why everything about The Artful Escape feels fresh, new, and unburdened by expectation. It's the hyper-vibrant set pieces, trippy light shows, and aliens voiced by Jason Schwartzman that do it – help make The Artful Escape a must-play for 2021. The Artful Escape is a smartly-structured reminder that music is rad and self-discovery is important, no matter what expectations are heaped on you from both yourself and outside sources. It's also why Annapurna continues to feel like the A24 of video games

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Extended Reading:
The Artful Escape review – "Like conducting a psychedelic alien orchestra set to acid rock"

18. Solar Ash

Solar Ash

(Image credit: Heart Machine)

Developer: Heart Machine
Format: PC, PS4, PS5

What is it? 
A third-person platformer where you skate on clouds, grind on rails, and scale giant bosses

Why should you play it?
It would've been enough for Solar Ash to deliver electrifyingly fun movement and boss battles, but it somehow managed a memorable, melancholic story, too. It's a helter-skelter sprint through what may as well be fatalism embodied: a giant black hole, right on the verge of destroying the planet of our hero Rei. This storm of dark matter gives you a glimpse into countless lives and societies which are now nothing more than memories, and the looming, incomprehensible threat of nothingness is more than enough to light a fire under Rei as she sifts through the remains of untold tragedies in search of hope. Solar Ash is deceptively contemplative, and immediately fun. Ponder its story, marvel at its world, revel in its music, but more than anything, feel for yourself the bone-deep satisfaction of every jump, slide, and boost. Because once you do, you'll never stop feeling it, not for one single second, until the credits roll. 

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Extended Reading:
Solar Ash review – "Ceaseless, distilled fun – the best type of game"

17. Age of Empires 4

Age of Empires 4

(Image credit: Xbox Games Studios)

Developer: Relic Entertainment
Format: PC

What is it? 
Classic real-time medieval strategy, redesigned for a new generation and headed up by a fascinatingly diverse roster.

Why should you play it?
Age of Empires 4 draws from ideas 20 years in the past while paving the way for a bright new future. Right from the start, it's reminiscent of the best of Age of Empires 2, but dig just beneath the surface and there's a layer of strategic depth that offers the opportunity to play however you want, whether you're rushing out on the offensive, striking from the shadows, or wielding your economic prowess. Add to that a small but expertly-crafted roster of civilisations spanning Europe and Asia, and Age of Empires 4 seems like a springboard for something truly special. From the imperial might of the Chinese to the scholarship of the Delhi Sultanate to the warmongering of the Mongols, the diversity of playstyles that Relic has catered to feels like the start of a bright new era for a genre that has struggled to find its feet for years.

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Extended Reading:
Age of Empires 4 review – "History, carnage, and teeny weeny elephants, it has it all"

16. Far Cry 6

Far Cry 6

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Format: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it? 
An open world chaos simulator where you shoot, drive and fly across an island to free the bits you don't destroy.

Why should you play it?
A couple of very minor changes really put a pep back in Far Cry's step this year, particularly after its slightly muddled USA field trip in the last instalment. Giving the player a more prominent character, Dani, to star in cutscenes and appear in third person makes this ragtag team of South American revolutionaries much more enjoyable company, and creates a far more engaging and likable story. But by far the biggest revolution in this Cuba pastiche is the ability to holster your gun. In a series traditionally defined by existing in a constant sprint from one accidental fight to the next, the ability to walk city streets unbothered adds space, and time to take in the world while giving everything more room to breathe. The ability to not fight has, counterintuitively, made a game about endless fighting immeasurably better. Far Cry 6 isn't a revolution, but it's the best the series has been in quite some time. 

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Extended Reading:
Far Cry 6 review – "The series' delight in total chaos is still front and center"

15. Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Developer: Playground Games
Format: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it?
An open-world racing adventure from Playground Games, this time set in the diverse landscapes of Mexico.

Why should you play it?
Forza Horizon 5 takes everything up a gear, in what is certainly the series' biggest and most beautiful world to drive through yet. The racing adventure's photo-realistic graphics bring a huge catalogue of cars to life in impressive detail, and its responsive, smooth controls make hitting the road a true joy. The addition of EventLabs is a boon to the creative community, with players able to showcase their design skills and invent new races for fellow drivers to speed through like never before. With a wealth of memorable races and varied challenges to engage in, not to mention a truly vibrant and diverse landscape to explore, there's no shortage of reasons to jump back in the driver's seat this year. Developer Playground Games has smartly built on strong foundations to deliver what is undoubtedly the best series entry yet in Forza Horizon 5. 

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Extended Reading:
Forza Horizon 5 review – Playground Games' most exciting and beautifully crafted entry yet

14. Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Developer: MercurySteam
Format: Switch

What is it? 
A return to side-scrolling Metroid adventure that serves as both a conclusion to a three-decade-old story arc and a promising new 2.5D path for Samus to follow in the years ahead.

Why should you play it?
Metroid Dread had two hurdles in front of it, each one tough enough to clear on its own: first, honor the series' legacy with its first all-new sidescroller since Metroid Fusion in 2002 and conclude the storyline that began in the 1986 original; second, prove Metroid can still be relevant in a world well-populated by ascendant children such as Hollow Knight and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It did both. Metroid Dread makes the simple act of movement a thrill, and one that's eternally renewed by every power-up you receive. Progressing through its sprawling map is more linear than it first appears, but that simply serves to reinforce the joyful mastery of playing Samus at her peak. Does it finally eclipse Super Metroid? No, but then it didn't need to. Metroid Dread proves that triangle jumping, shine sparking, and bombing everything can still be a delight in the year 2021, and that's plenty.

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Extended Reading:
Metroid Dread review – "A challenging crawl through a hostile alien world"

13. Returnal

Returnal

(Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

Developer: Housemarque
Format: PS5

What is it? 
Sci-fi spooks in an time-loop roguelike where you try to escape the alien planet you've crash-landed on

Why should you play it?
Returnal, simply, is a showcase. On the eerie, foreboding surface, it's a chance to see what your PS5 is capable of, with impressive particle effects, sumptuous 3D sound, and coffee break eliminating loading times that are as good an argument as any for upgrading to the PS5, with the game's boss battles frequently pulling all these technological feats together as a convincing next-gen exhibition. But, more importantly, it's a showcase for Housemarque's evolving skills as a studio. It has been a master of shoot-em-ups for some time now – real ones know that Super Stardust HD is one of the PS3's finest hours – but Returnal saw its storytelling chops brought to the fore. From the unsettling sections where you explore astronaut Selene's childhood home to the short cinematics that give you just enough information to start piecing together what happened, Returnal marks the first time a Housemarque story is equal to its shooting. 

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Extended Reading:
Returnal review – "Sony's most beguilingly weird blockbuster in a long time"

12. Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Kena Bridge of Spirits

(Image credit: Ember Labs)

Developer: Ember Labs
Format: PC, PS4, PS5

What is it? 
A magical adventure packed with environmental puzzles, cursed enemies that will test your tactics, and some of the cutest NPCs ever created in your portly pals, the Rot.

Why should you play it?
An ambitious animated adventure that draws you in with its artistry, then keeps you playing with strategic combat, anti-gravity bombs, and the urge to collect a chubby little army of monsters. You play as Kena, tasked with getting spirits to the great beyond, but struggling with her past. Luckily, she's got a magic staff that becomes a kind of Swiss Army Knife of exploration and battling as you progress, transforming into a bow, a grappling hook, and has a pulse power that can activate crystals and shield you from the corruption that permeates the land. Prepare to lose yourself in a cycle of helping trapped souls move on, clearing the world of sinister plants, and buying hats for your Rot. Don't be fooled by the whimsy either, beneath the adorable creatures in hats and beautiful landscapes there's a heartfelt story about loss and love. 

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Extended Reading:
Kena Bridge of Spirits review – "The Rot really are a stroke of genius"

11. Life is Strange: True Colors

Life is Strange: True Colors

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Developer: Deck Nine
Format: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it? 
A story-driven adventure that explores the power of empathy and emotional connections through the choices you make 

Why should you play it?
Alex Chen is easily one of the best protagonists in the Life is Strange series to date, with a fleshed out backstory and a stellar performance from actor Erika Mori. Developer Deck Nine delivers an engaging choice-driven adventure that puts the power of empathy at the centre of the story. Continuing on the legacy of the series with a new supernatural power, Alex is able to see and absorb people's strong emotions, and as the player, you have to grapple with whether your interference is truly justified. The cast of characters who play a part in the journey you go through in the small town of Haven Springs truly bring the adventure to life and make it such a memorable experience. With the use of full body motion capture, Life is Strange: True Colors is the most expressive and visually striking entry that will capture your heart and refuse to let go. 

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Extended Reading:
Life is Strange True Colors review – "Shows what the next-generation of this series can deliver"

10. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Developer: Eidos Montreal
Format: PC, PS4, PS4, Switch Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it? 
Single player blockbuster where you join the Guardians on a quest to pay off their debts and save the universe

Why should you play it?
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy smartly puts the focus on the core team and their incessant bickering, with sharp and hilarious writing that makes you feel like you're discovering a wonderfully weird world for the first time. Drax's inability to grasp any idiom – one moment sees the Destroyer respond to a prompt that there's an enemy at 12 o'clock with: "I don't see how the time will help us here" – is a highlight in particular. On top of the brilliant script, the game's action is also surprisingly heady. Mixing real-time strategy with sci-fi blasting might initially seem a bit convoluted, but ends up feeling like a perfect fit for The Guardians, especially when you get to hurdle up and start blasting '80s mega-hits. You haven't experienced all of this year's gaming pleasures if you haven't battered a Nova Corp guard to the sounds of Hot Chocolate's Everyone's a Winner. 

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Extended Reading:
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy review – "Might be better than the movies"

9. Valheim

Valheim

(Image credit: Iron Gate)

Developer: Iron Gate
Format: PC

What is it? 
A brutal, but beautiful third-person survival game set in a world of Vikings and giant monsters of land and sea trying to kill said Vikings

Why should you play it?
On its surface, Valheim looks a lot like most other survival games, albeit with its own distinct and beautiful visual style. It's disarmingly peaceful at first, with a sparse, whimsical score, approachable combat and building mechanics, and enemies you'll have little trouble bashing down with a crude wooden club. But let your curiosity tempt you further from your base in the Meadows and you'll find you're playing a dangerous, unforgiving, but ultimately thrilling experience. There's no right or wrong way to play in Valheim's massive, procedurally generated sandbox, with developer Iron Gate delivering an experience that always feels primed to react to any action you decide to undertake. Whether you choose to bunker down in your elaborately crafted base camp or venture out into all six of its diverse biomes in search of the game's most powerful threats, Valheim always makes you feel as if your time has been well spent. 

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8. It Takes Two

It Takes Two

(Image credit: EA)

Developer: Hazelight Studios
Format: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it?
Co-op action adventure platformer that will make or break your relationship 

Why should you play it?
You'll play May and Cody in It Takes Two, a couple on the brink of divorce. When their daughter makes a wish to stop them from separating, the two are transformed into tiny dolls, forcing the warring duo to work together and traverse environments that reflect the biggest problems in their relationship. What ensues is playable marriage counseling. Boot up It Takes Two for the promise of tough co-op puzzles, which requires some serious teamwork between you and a friend, family member, or lover, but stay for the absolutely joyous acting, beautiful set pieces, and inventive approach to play. Cody and May's abilities will shift and change over time, with the narrative shaping scenario design, controls, and the way that you play. It's a wholly unique approach to puzzle design and platforming, offering up unique experiences at every turn. If you can get through this, your relationship is rock-solid, we promise. 

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Extended Reading:
It Takes Two review – "A co-op experience unlike any other"

7. Resident Evil Village

Resident Evil Village

(Image credit: Capcom)

Developer: Capcom
Format: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it? 
A monster filled jaunt through an impossibly Gothic Europe to rescue your daughter from sexy vampire ladies and werewolves. For reasons. 

Why should you play it?
While Resident Evil Village's excessive spectacle is arguably a step down from the inventive and claustrophobic series reimagining we were treated to in Resident Evil 7, there's no escaping the way Capcom's latest adventure captured the world's imagination. That's largely thanks to the statuesque vamp, Lady Dimitrescu, who had a large contingent of social media users competing to be thrown in horny jail the fastest. The full game is a slightly muddled mix that works to merge RE7's compelling first-person combat with the spirit of Resident Evil 4 and the melodrama of the Revelations series. However, Resident Evil Village does have some of the series' best moments, from trying to unlock the secrets of Castle Dimitrescu to the unsettling escape from House Beneviento – arguably the scariest thing Resident Evil has ever done, a PT-level experience that's up there with the the best horror moments in recent history.

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Extended Reading:
Resident Evil Village review – "An enjoyable and occasionally silly monster hunt"

6. Chicory: A Colorful Tale

Chicory: A Colorful Tale

(Image credit: Finji)

Developer: Greg Lobanov 
Format: PC, PS5, PS4

What is it? 
A game about a dog who ends up with a magic paintbrush and has to restore color to the world.

Why should you play it?
The world of Picnic needs you. It doesn't know it yet, but it does. It's an empty coloring book of a world, all outlines and monochrome, and the one chosen to keep things bright has failed. So it's down to you – a tiny dog who suddenly gets a promotion from cleaner to the wielder of The Brush – a magical tool that can bring color to a world in desperate need of it. Screen by screen, you'll help, paint, and restore, learning how things really are for Picnic's inhabitants along the way. You might even discover something about yourself, as this heartfelt tale isn't a glorified digital doodle but a note on self-belief. Developer Greg Lobanov impressed with his previous title, Wandersong, but he absolutely outdid himself with this wholesome 2D adventure. Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a sweet, clever, and incredibly fun to play – even without an artistic bone in your body. 

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5. Halo Infinite 

Halo Infinite

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Developer: 343 Industries
Format: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it? 
Halo Infinite is the foundation for a new generation of Master Chief fights and a stunning return to form. 

Why should you play it? 
Halo Infinite may have taken inspiration from the open worlds of Borderlands, Fallout, and Far Cry, but 343 Industries' interpretation of a more sprawling expanse is quite unlike anything else out there. As soon as Master Chief is let loose on Zeta Halo, the action rarely lets up and never fails to inspire a smile. Whether you're shooting at packs of smartly-scripted Banished enemies, mantling and grappling around a beautifully hostile alien world, or driving restlessly from one mission to the next in an effort to halt an extinction event that's threatening humanity, Halo Infinite never fails to find the fun. The fantastic campaign is coupled with an excellent, competitive multiplayer experience – with 343 capturing the feel of Halo 3's infamous online play and modernizing it for a new generation of player. Halo is back and it looks, sounds, and plays better than it has done since we witnessed the Fall of Reach. 

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Extended Reading:
Halo Infinite review – "Halo as you've never seen it before"

4. Hitman 3

Hitman 3

(Image credit: IO Interactive)

Developer: IO Interactive
Format: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it? 
An inventive stealth game where everything and anything can, and should, be used as a weapon. 

Why should you play it?
Any game that lets you fill the shoes of an expert assassin, that requires you to don umpteen disguises, and that treats fibre wire and toilet pans with equal distinction as murder weapons is surely worth a shout for Game of the Year. IO Interactive's stealth 'em up, of course, offers all of the above, and is hugely entertaining to boot. Having relaunched Agent 47's career back in 2016, IO has steadily grown the bald butcher's escapades in scope and inventiveness over the last several years, and Hitman 3 is the pinnacle of that journey. From the lofty heights of Dubai's Burj Al-Ghazali, to the dimly lit bowels of Berlin's Berghain (or "Club Holle" as it's known here) – Hitman 3's masterfully-crafted settings keep you guessing from start to finish, each of which offers up a myriad of killer tools to exploit in your bid to paint the town walls red. 

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Extended Reading:
Hitman 3 review – "A slick and entertaining conclusion to the trilogy"

3. Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2

(Image credit: Double Fine)

Developer: Double Fine Productions
Format: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

What is it? 
Psychonauts 2 is an action platformer that thrusts acrobat-turned-psychic-spy Razputin Aquato through a head trip of an adventure. 

Why should you play it?
Psychonauts 2 is a trip. Developer Double Fine Productions forced the moneymen of the video game industry to accept that a sequel to its 2005 cult classic was going to happen with or without publisher support, opting to crowdfund the project directly with fans, and subsequently put everything it had behind its development. The result is a poignant platformer that never fails to surprise, in both its play and its message. Vivid visuals complement an eminently reflective story, while razor-sharp writing and finely-tuned level design helps transform Psychonauts 2 into an experience that is simply unforgettable. You'll come for the jokes and stay for the variety, with each world shifting the style of puzzles and platforming you'll be completing. It isn't all fun and games though, with Double Fine tackling difficult topics with a deft touch, smartly weaving a sense of humor through conversations that generate a healthy amount of self-reflection.

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Extended Reading:
Psychonauts 2 review – "Double Fine's psychodyssey defies all expectations"

2. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

(Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

Developer: Insomniac Games
Format: PS5

What is it? 
Ratchet and Clark travel to another dimension to take on Dr Nefarious in an unforgettable action-platformer.

Why should you play it?
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart comes surprisingly close to replicating a Saturday morning cartoon. It's comforting, it's nostalgic, and it's energetic – a wild ride from start to end. Developer Insomniac Games unleashed a true showcase of the PS5 in Rift Apart, a stunning audio and visual achievement that makes wondrous use of the SSD to change the state of play and DualSense controller to improve immersion. Every clump of Ratchet fur and glint of Clank steel is pixel-perfect, and the world pops with color and craftsmanship. Underneath the shiny new-gen skin, the story has a massive heart – think those Marvel movie moments that make you smile and tear up all at once – and the third-person shooter mechanics might just be the best Insomniac has ever delivered . A gun that turns enemies into ornamental shrubbery? That right there is art. 

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Extended Reading:
Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart review – "The best Ratchet and Clank adventure yet"

1. Deathloop

Deathloop

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Developer: Arkane Studios
Format: PC, PS5

What is it? 
A time-looping murder mystery where Colt has just one day to kill eight Visionaries and shut down a party at the end of the world.

Why should you play it? 
Deathloop is a real achievement. Developer Arkane, the studio famous for crafting intricately detailed, and endlessly immersive worlds with Dishonored and Prey, unleashed its most ambitious effort to date in Deathloop. With eight targets to assassinate and one day to do it in, Deathloop is an elaborate murder mystery that makes time itself your most valuable weapon. It's an experience built around gradual progression and observation, where your ability to unpick clues is just as important as your skill at handling any of its punchy firearms. Of course, it helps that the shooting feels pretty great too, a haptic experience that never fails to entertain and impress. In the first year of a new generation, Deathloop is both the standout showcase for the PS5 and a dizzying glimpse into the future of the first-person shooter, a layered and systemic game that takes great delight in keeping you guessing until the very end. Deathloop is GamesRadar+'s best game of 2021 – truth be told, when the votes were tallied, nothing else even came close. 

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For more on Arkane Studios' stunning immersive FPS, read on to find out why Deathloop is the best game of 2021.



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