It’s that time of year again, everyone, where we celebrate the best games of the year. Despite being a heavily disrupted year thanks to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, 2021 produced some incredible games, almost from day one, and as a result, our awards this year has the most variety of games ever – almost 50 different titles got at least one award, and as you’ll see as we announce each category, it really is an endless stream of incredible experiences.
This year we had a special, expanded judging panel, with the entire DDNet team participating, but we also invited some prominent people from independent game publications outside the Website to participate, so we could get a broader range of insights and thoughts into the winners from each category. Our additional judges this year included Pete Davison from Rice Digital, Thomas Knight of Nook Gaming, Robert Allen of Tech-Gaming, Matt Ryan from Shindig, and academic and freelancer, @TsuChanJohnson on Twitter. The total judging pool for the awards was ten people this year around, and there was some heated discussion about the worthiest titles in each category indeed!
As much as we love our indie, arthouse, niche and different games, we also very much enjoy a good blockbuster. The scale and intensity of these games, combined with their high levels of refinement make a blockbuster a good, reliable way to spend a few hours of time. The very best blockbusters will also make us think on some level… or will at least have us thinking about them when we’re not actually able to play them. This year we get to celebrate a staggering range of different blockbuster experiences.
A new Monster Hunter is always an event, and this year’s Monster Hunter Rise is no different. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the game is the way that it explicitly taps into Japanese folklore for the first time. Though Monster Hunter has always been a series that has been explicitly Japanese, Capcom has resisted the temptation to locate it in a Japanese setting, but with the yokai night parade theme, Rise embraces that in all its majesty to give the aesthetics, setting and design of the game a refreshing facelift.