This list is comprised of games I will (hopefully) definitely get my hands on in the next few months.
If you’re like me, your 2021 started off a bit rocky. With some personal struggles of my own, I’ve fumbled to find time to get back into things like recAPP and a set-in-stone schedule for our Week in News podcast. But just because the year started janky, doesn’t mean there won’t be some amazing games to lighten the mood! So I figured I’d take a look today at my Top Five Most Anticipated Games of 2021. Just to be clear, these games all currently have release dates set for this year. There are plenty of games I’d love to play by the end of 2021, but without concrete dates, I’m just left dreaming. So as it is, this list is comprised of games I will (hopefully) definitely get my hands on in the next few months. Let’s check them out!
Balan Wonderworld (March 26)
One of the first big games in my crosshairs is Balan Wonderworld, a brand new game from the brand new studio, Balan Company. There are quite a few features that got me excited for this one from its initial announcement. First of all, it’s the latest product from one of gaming’s most prolific collaborations: Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima, creators of Nights into Dreams and Sonic the freaking Hedgehog. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of their previous work, but I respect it wholeheartedly, and I believe in them to deliver a memorable experience. Furthermore, the game just looks like a beautiful little platformer yanked right from my childhood nostalgia.
Players find themselves in the titular Wonderworld, led around on adventures by the mysterious Balan, a musical maestro with mischief seemingly on his mind. The aim is to collect up to 80 costumes, each with its own unique ability. These costumes provide the player with powers that will help them traverse the Wonderworld, offering a playstyle I’m super intrigued by. I just can’t wait to dive into this colorful landscape and get to exploring. It’s been a while since I played a really good platformer, and frankly, I’m a sucker for these types of games. In fact, the demo is available right now in the 2021 Steam Game Festival, so… I’m on my way!
EDIT: If you’d like to see a video of Balan Wonderworld in action, head over to our YouTube channel now!
It Takes Two (March 26)
Any frequent viewer of my work knows that I am one of Josef Fares’s biggest fans. I’m practically a groupie for this man. He could sell me anything and I would fall in love with it. That being said, I’m not some mindless fanboy. I genuinely love his work because you can sense how much care and effort he puts into each game. Not only that, but the games are so varied in style that he’s always got surprises in store, and I adore that! Enter: It Takes Two, the latest co-op adventure from Hazelight Studios about a couple on the brink of divorce, who are transformed into storybook characters and forced to take on the larger-than-life perils of the world around them as a team.
I’m personally super excited to play this game with my sister, as we’ve experienced all of Josef Fares’s previous work together, and his support of couch co-op has kept our video game bonding sessions strong in the absence of good Lego titles. It Takes Two looks like one of the zaniest video games out there, with the gameplay trailer showing off high-speed chases with wild animals and set pieces that will leave players feeling dwarfed in the comfort of their own home. On top of this, the wise-cracking storybook narrator is an absolute caricature and I cannot wait to see what he adds to the tale at hand. All in all, this seems like it will be Hazelight’s best game yet, and here’s hoping it hits that very close release date!
Deathloop (May 21)
After all the nay-saying and shit I’ve given PlayStation for the last few months, Deathloop is absolutely a system seller for me. I’m not ashamed to say that if Deathloop doesn’t get an Xbox release date announcement by the end of Summer 2021, I will begin my search for a PS5. This game is just too damn incredible to pass up, and with one of my favorite studios, Arkane, attached to this project, I know it certainly won’t miss. Dishonored is one of my favorite games of all time, and Deathloop aims to deliver that same verticality and magical mystery to a frantic first-person shooter experience.
I’m just blown away every time I see more gameplay from Deathloop, and I can’t quite put my finger on what attracts me most. I think it’s just a combination of all these cogs working together to create something so spectacularly unique that has grabbed hold of me and refused to let go. My only wish is that it would come to Xbox quickly, thanks to Microsoft’s newfound ownership of Bethesda, the parent company of Arkane. So many names and financial mumbo-jumbo factor into how easily I’ll get my hands on this game. But until that day comes, I’ll be here drooling over this futuristic story of time-traveling assassins playing a never-ending game of cat and mouse.
Biomutant (May 25)
One of the easiest choices for this list is a game I never would’ve expected on this list. If you’d told me at the start of 2021 that Biomutant would finally have a release date this year, I would’ve laughed so hard. If you’re sitting there wondering what the hell I’m talking about, I really don’t blame you. Biomutant was announced back in 2017, albeit to a rather small crowd. Not many people remember this game’s existence, but to pass on it completely would be a real shame. Trust me, I’ve played the thing. At PAX 2019, Biomutant was on display at the THQ Nordic booth, and the half-hour demo left my dad and me speechless.
The combination of anthropomorphic antics, technically difficult combat mechanics and refreshing dark humor made for such an enjoyable experience that I feel most PAX-goers were not expecting to receive. Biomutant instantly stuck with me, and it’s become one of my most anticipated games on the horizon. Thankfully, just two weeks ago we learned that Biomutant is set for May 25, 2021, and I could not be more excited. This “post-apocalyptic Kung-fu fable” developed by former Just Cause developers is certainly one to watch out for, and it’s sure to make this year a lot more bearable than its predecessor.
Far Cry 6 (May 25)
This one may seem out of left field, and to be honest, I don’t think you’ll find a lot of people super excited for the next installment in Ubisoft’s Far Cry franchise. Save for the inclusion of television’s resident baddie Giancarlo Esposito, this game doesn’t seem to have much greater potential than any other Far Cry before it. I will say, I originally included another Ubisoft title on this list, Riders Republic. However, after hearing that it was pushed past February and delayed indefinitely, I had to, unfortunately, disqualify said title. But Far Cry 6 stood out from much of the rest of 2021, and I think it’s clear to see why I’m so excited.
Recently, I went back and finished Far Cry 5, and after sinking many many more hours into that game in a short amount of time, you might say I’m a bit of a Far Cry fanatic now. The series and I have had a troubled past, with 3 being one of my favorite games of all time, and 2 being one of my earliest rage quits. But Far Cry 6 could easily win my heart just by being more of the same formula on offer in the last game. There’s not much to fix, or add, or polish; the series is definitely riding high as of late. So if that gold medal is any indication of 2021’s Far Cry game on deck, it’s gonna be a good year.
A good year, indeed! I can’t wait to see these games up close and personal, and to experience everything 2021 gives us in the coming months. I’ve noticed the other guys putting 12 Minutes on their lists, and I must admit, that was a missed opportunity here. That game is probably my most anticipated title right now, but alas, it doesn’t have a set release date. Hopefully, it will come soon alongside these others, and when they do, you’ll hear all about them right here at VGU.