Top 100 of 2021: Part 4: 25 to 11 | Special

This eventful year is almost over and that means that is traditionally already looking ahead to next year’s most promising games. In the Top 100 of 2021 we are counting down to number 1, which will be revealed on New Year’s Eve. Today is the time for numbers 25 to 11!

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25. Little Nightmares 2

Developer: Tarsier Studios
Platforms: pc, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X en S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android
Release Date: February 11, 2021

In 2017, Swedish Tarsier Studios gave an interesting twist to the horror genre with Little Nightmares. Rather than managing bullets or firing zombies, players step into the shoes of kids who can do nothing but hide and run from scary adults. Fortunately, Little Nightmares 2 gives players a boost: Six, protagonist from the first part, returns to assist the boy Mono in his flight through dark forests and cities.

To survive, the duo must hide from evil hunters, use surrounding objects to level up, and avoid deadly traps. Make no mistake: Little Nightmares 2 is again far from children’s horror. Dripping bags of limbs, possessed dolls and evil schoolteachers are some of the horrors that befall Mono and Six in the terribly sinister environments. Admittedly, this sequel does not seem to renew much of Tarsier’s unique formula, but perhaps that is a good reason to look forward to the game.

Little Nightmares 2

24. Bravely Default 2

Developer: Claytech Works
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: February 26, 2021

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Bravely Default 2 has an unconventional development process. Producer Tomoya Asano apologized for the shortcomings of Bravely Second: End Layer on the 3DS – the second part of the series – and promises to release a full-fledged sequel. Claytech Works also released a hefty demo in the Nintendo eShop, to then process feedback and release a new version. In any case, it shows that the characteristic Brave / Default system still works like a train. During turn-based battles, defending players build up points to spend later on for extra powerful attacks.

Furthermore, it appears that Bravely Default 2 makes only minor changes from the predecessors in the series. For example, players now control each character on an individual turn and enemies are visible for the first time in the game world, instead of random encounters. The biggest innovation is of course in the new story, in which Seth, Gloria, Elvis and Adelle have to keep four elementary crystals out of the hands of evil. It seems like Bravely Default 2 is once again providing fans with classic jrpgs and not straying too much off the beaten track, which is fine.

23. Season

Developer: Scavengers
Platforms: pc, PlayStation 5
Release Date: 2021

Season combines the bittersweet with the clean. In this new title from Darwin Project developer Scavengers, players are tasked with capturing dying cultures before they are forever forgotten. The gameplay therefore consists more or less of making a time capsule: recording the things that best represent the actions of a population. Think of taking photos or sketches, but also interviewing one of the few survivors.

Season stresses the urgency of this matter to players, but at the same time gives them the opportunity to literally get a breath of fresh air. You travel by bicycle through beautifully designed idyllic landscapes. The game’s style is inspired by natural light photography, the work of poster artists such as Norman Wilkinson and Japanese woodcuts. All these things together make Season one of the potential pearls to look forward to.

22. Stray

Developer: Bluetwelve Studio
Platforms: pc, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
Release Date: 2021

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After years of developing games at Ubisoft, the founders of Bluetwelve Studio were looking for an original idea. Kowloon Walled City, an old Chinese fort in Hong Kong, was to be the basis of the project. However, the concept only clicked when a cat was added, a beast that is just as curious as the player himself. The first images of Stray raise a lot of questions: why is this city populated by only robots? And why do they seem to make the same mistakes as humanity?

As a still unnamed cat, you walk through busy streets and rooftops to find answers to those questions. Bluetwelve reports that Stray can mainly be described as an adventure game, with ‘exploration’, sneak sections, puzzles and even action scenes, whatever that means with a cat in the lead. Hopefully the cute animal will show itself soon, because we can all use such a soft fluff ball.

21. Back 4 Blood

Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Platforms: pc, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X en S, Xbox One
Release Date: 22 June 2021

Turtle Rock Studios introduced one of the leading co-op games ever with Left 4 Dead. In 2021 it will return to the old nest. Back 4 Blood is more or less a sequel to Left 4 Dead, in which four players fight hordes of zombies and have to survive as long as possible. To refresh that concept, Turtle Rock comes with an unexpected deck builder element. Before a game, players assemble a deck of cards with different bonuses, which are randomly distributed in each safe room and after each act.

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It is therefore important to match the cards within a team to each ‘role’, and to that of the zombies. The game also shows a set of cards for each round, with certain enemies and ambushes, which should make each game unique. Think of big bosses that appear immediately or misses so that you do not see zombies coming. It’s an intriguing concept that can turn Back 4 Blood into a very distinctive zombie shooter. Because let’s be honest: nowadays it is essential to stand out within that genre.

20. Senua’s Sacrifice: Hellblade 2

Developer: Ninja Theory
Platforms: pc, Xbox Series X en S
Release Date: 2021

Since the announcement of Hellblade 2 in December 2019, it has been pretty quiet around the game for over a year. This still makes it one of Microsoft’s many promises for the future, and still a game that leaves us with a lot of question marks. Those who watch the first, intense in-engine trailer, for example, wonder whether the sequel introduces more horror elements compared to the first title.

In line with that, it will also be interesting to see how the developer combines that with the serious undertone of the original. That game is known for the empathetic and convincing way in which Senua – and therefore players – experiences psychoses and struggles with her mental state. If Ninja Theory – now part of Microsoft – manages to work out that facet again properly, this could well become a very big title. Hopefully 2021 will be the year in which we get clarity about Microsoft’s intriguing console exclusive.

hellblade 2


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