I haven’t been able to play as many games or as often this year than in previous years. First, I had to deal with nausea. And since baby girl arrived, there has been a severe lack of time for gaming. And when I could play, it had to fit certain criteria like being a turn-based game, as I had to take frequent breaks, obviously. I am not complaining, of course! And now that she’s not as tiny anymore, there are slots of free time where I can relax a bit by playing a game. So altogether, I still did play games and thus, can share my list of favourite games this year!
As always, this list isn’t made of games that released in 2021. It is instead a list of games that I bought this year. Only two aren’t Early Access Games. And two games (not ranked to give the newer games a chance here…) need to be mentioned again that were on my list last year, simply because I still can’t get enough of playing them!
6) WorldBox – God Simulator (EA in December 2021)
This is the newest game on my list and it immediately went into my “best” list. To be honest, it was higher up in my list at first. However, as the game advertises, it is free play. No missions and no resources to hold you back. You can do whatever you want. And as much fun as this is, it also means that it can get a bit boring fast. There is no goals to go after unless you set one yourself. But since you can do everything you want, you can reach that goal with no issues at all. So this is the reason I put it at the end of my list. But it still deserves its spot here.
In my first game, I dropped 6 of each, humans, elves, dwarves and orcs. After a while – I did not intervene unless with the orcs – the humans had dominated everything and grabbed every piece of free land there was. There were so many of them! The orcs, meanwhile, had encountered extinction twice because of wild animals roaming their lands. Oh well. On my second game, I again dropped each race on an island. But this time, the dwarves grabbed whatever they could and the humans stayed on their tiny little island. I don’t know yet what determines fast growth. But it is fun to watch them!
5) Dorfromantik (EA in March 2021)
Poor Dorfromantik ending up in the second to last spot of my list. However, I’ve been playing this game so often already that I kind of lost interest. That is to say, I still love this game, but I only start it up every once in a while. This is the kind of game where I play a match or two and that’s enough for another few days or even weeks. It is a great game and I would always recommend it if you like this genre! And maybe even if you don’t, but like to play games to relax… or beat your own highscore! I also think that this is the kind of game that I will still be playing next year (and the year after that and so on…) because it’s just timeless.
4) Mini Motorways (July 2021)
I haven’t been playing Mini Motorways in the past few weeks. And it isn’t as good as Mini Metro, I think. It may even not be better as Dorfromantik – it merely has the advantage of me not having played it that much yet. It is a bit ironic that I place a game lower on my list because I played it too often… but back to Mini Motorways: I really enjoy playing this one and I feel that there are still strategies to get better that I haven’t found yet. Just like Mini Metro, it has such a simplistic look and plays a bit like a puzzle game. But it’s a fun one! And it proves that a good game doesn’t really need detailled graphics. But well, nobody would compare this to Cities: Skylines. You basically just build roads to let cars go from their coloured house to the same coloured destination. That’s it already.
3) Spellcaster University (through Amazon Prime, December 2021)
Spellcaster University is one of the newest additions this year and it immediately jumped to number 3. I had seen this game being played by friends, and while the name was intriguing, somehow I never paid much attention to it. I am not sure how repetitive this gets after a while, but building your university over and over again and seeing all the little students appear… it’s fun to watch! What I’m wondering is: Can I lose in this game? Because so far, no matter what I do, it goes on and on and at some point, we flee from the evil and I start a new university. But I still enjoy playing it after moving on from a university three or four times.
2) Gladiator Guild Manager (EA in October 2021)
Gladiator Guild Manager is one of the games I found thanks to the Steam Festival demos. It changed quite a bit from the demo, but thankfully, I still enjoy the game. The graphics are simple, but fun to look at. You have a lot of choices to make (which gladiator to buy when, where to put your focus, who to send against whom in a fight etc.). It just really feels like you’re managing a gladiator guild. And so far, I found the game to be challenging enough. It hasn’t been too frustrating, but I certainly lost several fights. Either because my gladiators weren’t strong enough or because they were the wrong kind (archers, berserkers, …) or because I had chosen the wrong attack order for my gladiators.
1) Going Medieval (EA in June 2021)
This year, I had no problem choosing my number 1. This is Going Medieval! While the other games are all very close to each other and could probably all be placed randomly in these spots, Going Medieval wins my number 1 spot easily this year with no competition at all. I bought Going Medieval before I got RimWorld (which I also bought this year, but it’s not in my top list because it’s a really nice game, but I would feel too silly to put it on this year’s list seeing how old the game is). So, contrary to probably the rest of the colony simulation game fans, I compare everything in RimWorld to Going Medieval, just because I got to know the latter first. And in direct comparison, for me at least, Going Medieval is better. I’m not saying it’s the better game – it’s still in development, for one – I’m just saying it’s better for me! I love the 3D maps which allow for buildings with several floors. I also prefer the graphics to RimWorld. And I also definitely prefer the setting (although… I bet there’s a RimWorld mod for that one!). In short: Going Medieval is a nice colony sim building game set in medieval time that allows for building on several floors as well as digging into the ground.
Now, let’s look back at last year: I had Old World and Crusader Kings III share the top spot. When comparing them to my list for this year, they would go right next to “Going Medieval”. Since Going Medieval is still in early-ish development, it is hard to say where it will be in the end – below or above the other two? And when it comes to Old World and CK3, I still cannot say which one I like better. I can only say that both are among my favourite games of all times!
Last but not least, one honorable Mention to New World as the shiny new MMO I did not want to buy and ended up buying anyway. I decided not to place it in my top list because MMOs are always such a different kind of game. It just seems weird to compare the game to the others on my list. It wouldn’t be number 1, though.