Written by: Priscilla W.
We all know that 2020 was a difficult year for a plethora of reasons. Many people struggled with not only the pandemic itself but the multiple of follow on impacts from it that are still a constant in 2021. One of the constants that allowed both myself and many others to get through the year were the comforting world of video games; a way to immerse yourself in a fictional world and forget about your troubles. Something that we all desperately needed. I myself found this incredibly beneficial to my mental health when the pandemic looked to indefinitely postpone my move to the United States of America to be with my now-husband. Thank you Animal Crossing: New Horizons!
I feel like this is something that I have said for the last five or so years but it really does feel like 2021 is going to be another stellar year for video game releases. The following are some of my personal highlights for the year that have been announced so far.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy
I had purchased every Atelier game that was released up until Atelier Ryza launched. Even though I loved the series, most of them ended up in my backlog. So it only seemed logical to hold off on purchasing Ryza until I had completed some of the series entries. After all, the previous games had dropped in price fast and were easy to find in bargain bins. That was definitely a mistake. Atelier Ryza on Nintendo Switch became incredibly hard to find and very fast. I missed the initial print and I ended up importing a UK copy on a whim when it was available. I ended up selling this one when a retailer online put a few copies up for sale for a good price in the US. Even though I am now in the same situation with Ryza 2 -not even having played the first game- I am not making the same mistake twice and I have had Atelier Ryza 2 preordered for some time! I am very interested to see what the figures for this title will be after the popularity of the first game took not only myself but the majority of the internet by surprise.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
As someone who really got into the series with Super Mario Odyssey; I have been keen to play other entries in the series. Super Mario 3D World looks like a lot of fun and sometimes that is exactly what I need in between more heavier titles. Bowser’s Fury is also really interesting. It went from looking cute and innocent one minute and the next a kaiju Bowser is trying to murder you. It looks like it could be really interesting.
Persona 5 Strikers
I own Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal and am yet to play either. I know that that is terrible. Please do not look at my backlog and see what other highly rated titles are gathering dust! Nevertheless, I plan on playing Persona 5 Royal in the near future and picking up Persona 5 Strikers. I am generally not a huge fan of the genre but the initial trailer was rather captivating and I am interested in seeing how a different genre can continue the highly acclaimed story.
Neptunia Virtual Stars
I have loved the Neptunia series ever since the original Hyperdimension Neptunia launched. I still have such a soft spot for it even though it has been remade time and time again. Remake of a remake of a remake this year, right? So, it is no surprise that Neptunia Virtual Stars is on my list of anticipated titles. I do not generally play games that are drowning in fanservice. Yet I feel as though Neptunia being a series that is a parody of the video game industry makes it work so well. I get such a kick out of discovering all of the references and I am so invested in the characters by now. I still cry when I get to the ending of the anime. It is the one series that I enjoy grinding for the platinum trophy for.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
I am a latecomer to the amazing world of Yakuza. I have finished Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami and I am absolutely in love with them. I wrongly assumed -like many- that the series was Japanese GTA and I could not have been more mistaken. The storylines are so amazing and tug at my heartstrings whilst every side quest is intoxicatingly weird. I still have so much to catch up on and so I decided I would hold off on the PS4 version and wait for the PS5 version. Which is why it appears on my 2021 anticipated list as opposed to 2020.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
I have already preordered the deluxe edition of Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town. I am a huge fan of farming simulators with Story of Seasons being my favourite of them all when it comes to straight up farming. I will always be nostalgic for the first time I played Harvest Moon SNES and I just keep playing them hoping to experience that again. The simplicity is gone but the games get more and more charming with every new entry. Pioneers of Olive Town is no exception. All of the townsfolk are so cute and the animals absolutely adorable. I am glad that I now live in the United States and can preorder the games so I can receive the adorable plush animals. It was hard to collect them when they did not release in Australia and I missed a lot.
I do not really know what to even say about Balan Wonderworld. From the trailers alone, I really have no idea what the game is about or what is going on at any point in time. I feel like it is just the right amount of peculiar that it has caught my attention. I like supporting a new IP that tries something different too and so Balan Wonderworld has my vote – even if I catch myself typing Wonderland every time. It is not just me alright! Even trailers online have mislabeled it as Balan Wonderland. Rather humorous when you think about it.
I was so happy when I saw the announcement email in my inbox that Poison Control was getting localised. I had toyed with importing the Japanese version for a few months prior to the announcement – for study of course! This is one of the 2021 titles I am hoping comes my way to review but either way I am buying my own copy. I am generally a fan of NISA games and Poison Control is no exception to the rule. It may be a little cheesy but the two people working together in one body trope sounds fun! Especially when one wants to actively work against the other. Plus collecting stickers? These people sure know me.
Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
I admit that even though the game was announced quite some time ago now, I still do not know the name off by heart. Will I ever? Maybe if I studied it but how often am I going to need to recite it off by heart? Despite that, this release is one of my most anticipated of 2021. I absolutely adored the original NieR release as it is an incredibly emotionally gripping title which also allows you to fish. Winner, winner! NieR was fundamental in the shift in how I viewed video games and the stories that they told. It goes without saying that NieR Automata is also an exceptional game and it brought a lot of newcomers to the series who will be experiencing this game for the first time. I am incredibly excited for them. I purchased the White Snow edition as I am not missing out this time!
New Pokémon Snap
What are the chances that the day I sit down to talk about my anticipated games is the same day that Nintendo drops a new trailer for New Pokémon Snap. I have grown up with the Pokémon series and I do love it. As I get older though, I feel like I am more excited about the spinoffs in the series as opposed to the mainline games. I am more excited about this than I would be about a new generation. To be honest, one of the best announcements I could hope for would be a new Pokémon Ranger. If you have not watched the recently released trailer for Pokémon Snap you really should! There is something about seeing Pokémon fully animated in their natural environment that just makes me happy. Especially seeing them interact with each other like real animals would. It is a totally different atmosphere and I am here for it.
Rune Factory 5
I mentioned that Story of Seasons is my favourite farming sim that is straight up farming. However, Rune Factory is my overall favourite series as it meshes traditional farming sim elements with dungeon crawling. It is the perfect mix that allows both elements to be explored without becoming boring. I find myself constantly swapping between one and the other and it is so enjoyable. Rune Factory 5 looks stunning and it looks like it will be a blast. I have been waiting for this release for a long time and it is finally the year! Sorry Doraemon: Story of Seasons you will not be finished any time soon.
I feel like I am being optimistic putting Digimon Survive on the 2021 list but a girl can dream, right? It sure could come out this year after the delays that is has had. I will be absolutely heartbroken if the delay turns into a cancelation. I remember the original trailer so well; magic, friendship, fun and DEATH! It just seemed like it came out of nowhere and I did not expect it to be a survival game. It still blows my mind to this day. I love the gritty, dark atmosphere presented in the game. It is such a change from usual games not only in the series but the genre as a whole. So, I am keeping my fingers crossed that this one finds itself releasing this year.
God of War: Ragnarok
I had dabbled in previous God of War entries before and they were not exactly captivating enough for me to see them through to the end. When God of War released I thought that the trailers looked amazing. It felt like it had completely reinvented itself and I loved the father and son relationship. Soon after many people online were talking about how incredible the game was and before I knew it I had started it too. I had no expected to fall so hard for it. The environments were stunning, the gameplay fun and the story was the best element of all. When I got to the revelation at the end; I could not wait to play the next one. God of War: Ragnarok is slated to release in 2021. I would not be surprised if it is delayed to 2020 however. We have not seen anything of the game and even though I know that 2021 has only just begun; I feel like we should have seen something if it would release. Normally I would still be more optimistic but the pandemic has definitely had a significant impact and I expect to see a lot of releases this year pushed back. Which is fine as the health and wellbeing of people is much more important than a release date.
One of the more intriguing games -other than Elden Ring- that Bandai Namco are releasing. Scarlet Nexus looks absolutely insane. It seems that certain humans are unable to release incredible abilities that are necessary to attack the new threat to earth. Can I just say how much I am loving the enemy design in this game? Even if they are so hideous they are somehow magical due to the nature element that they all have – trees, plants sprouting or flowers. It almost looks like a humans versus nature battle and I am ready for that.
Steins;Gate 0 Elite
Steins;Gate is one of the best visual novel and anime of all time. The story is just so intelligent and gripping. Just thinking about it makes me so emotional. I really enjoy all of the characters and it is so heartbreaking seeing them in numerous timelines and what they could have depending on Okabe’s choices. This is the one anime that I tell everyone that they really need to watch. I have already played and watched Steins;Gate 0 but I eagerly welcome an Elite version – even if it is just the same thing with some anime scenes thrown in here and here. I can not get enough of the series.
I backed Temtem what feels like an eternity ago when they had their initial Kickstarter launch. I followed it closely for awhile but lately I have had a more relaxed approach to the game. It will be ready when it is ready. I love monster collecting games and I believe that Pokémon does not own the genre. Due to this, I am always happy to support a new game in the genre. Temtem seems like it has real potential – the mechanics are a lot of fun, the designs are great and it works well as an MMO. Part of me is worried as I do not need a new MMO as as of the time of writing I am currently subscribed to RuneScape and Final Fantasy XIV – oops! It seems that this can be played rather independently though which is more my style and I backed a second copy so that my husband could play alongside me. Hopefully this year!
I know that there are plenty of other amazing games being released in 2021 but I can’t buy and play them all! My backlog is over 500 and is full of amazing games from previous generations that I am itching to play. Can we get some more hours in a day please?
Whatever your list of anticipated 2021 game releases looks like; I have no doubt that this year is going to be one to remember.
Stay safe and happy gaming!