Well, the Holidays are over and 2021 has finally come to a slow and painful end. Before we kick it to the curb, we here at Gaming Access Weekly wanted to look back on the only thing that matters to any of us. It is time to pick Game of the Year! We went around to the staffers here and, of course, wanted to know “What were some of your favorite games this year and what was your Ultimate GotY pick?” Allen S. Editorials and Reviews Manager/ Still Trapped in Apex Legends, Trying to Move to The Shadow Realm If it weren’t for Xbox Games Pass I don’t think I would have been able to play any new releases from this year sans Resident Evil Village. While I didn’t get to play anywhere near as many new releases as I wanted to, what I did get to play were very well-made games. Boyfriend Dungeon was a great mix of dating sim and dungeon crawler. Back 4 Blood was a ton of fun even if it didn’t quite hit the balanced mark. Doom Eternal and Halo Infinite were both great games that were satisfying to roll credits on. It Takes Two was also a fantastic co-op game and I loved the story it told. For me, the best game I played this year was The Medium. RE8 was a close second but The Medium has stuck with me longer than any other game did this year. The split-screen, dual world gameplay was so well done. The story was entertaining, it managed to stay creepy and scary for most of the run time. Troy Baker did really well as the main villain in the other reality. I highly recommend playing it. GotY Pick – The Medium Marc Watson Junior Staff Writer/Guy Who Types ‘GG’ But Doesn’t Actually Mean It I can’t speak for everyone, but 2021 just seemed like 2020 2: Die Harder at times, and everything just kinda blurred together to make it all feel like no time was really passing. So I figured, why not use that? What game made me really live in the moment this year? What game pulled my brain out of the never-ending funk? Resident Evil: Village sure fought for that title, but was over far too quickly. Deathloop was an absolute trip, and I look forward to future installments when some kinks get ironed out, but it stumbled over itself and broke the immersion quite a lot. And of course the beauty of Halo Infinite!… …I have not played Halo Infinite… No, the choice was pretty clear to me because only one game (outside of my ongoing Destiny addiction. Seven years-strong, people!) pulled me into a place of bliss, and it did it at 300mph. Forza Horizon 5 blew me away with its smooth controls, stunning Mexican vistas, and killer soundtrack just like the glory days of racing games, all with a glossy RPG spit and polish. You still feel like a person starting at the bottom of the ladder and the open-world climb to the final race as you tear through the countryside in a customized Koenigsegg feels earned. I’d argue the Horizon series should be up there with the best RPGs in the world, even though it’s an arcade racer, and that’s a fine line Playground Games has walked perfectly for five games now. Changes and tweaks to the format were all welcome and have made the game even more playable, and I can’t wait to keep on tearing up the asphalt. Just be careful, because online there are no friends and I will make you eat rail. Don’t like it? Tell it to my tailpipe. Uh, unless I’m in an EV… GotY Pick – Forza Horizon 5 Amanda Gorecki Sr. Community Developer / Wait, it’s almost 2022?!? I didn’t get to play as much as I would have liked to play this year. (Toddler, deployed husband, school, etc.) Xbox Game Pass helped me try out a bunch of games that were later added to my backlog, but that’s another story. For games that I finished this year, I loved the absolute bananas out of Variable State’s Last Stop (a trippy AF experience), and Luis Antonio’s Twelve Minutes among others. I’ve also been playing the heck out of Halo Infinite but haven’t finished it yet because I’m enjoying “grappleshotting” around the world FAR TOO MUCH. My Game of the Year, though? Not a surprise, but it’s Life is Strange: True Colors and the DLC Wavelengths. (Erika Mori was robbed at The Game Awards this year, y’all. ROBBED.) It was a straight-up masterpiece, in my opinion, made with a lot of love and a lot of heart. The characters were incredible, the music was (as the kids say) lit, and everything about it was gorgeous. Deck Nine officially arrived in the big leagues with this one. I’m even more excited that they’re partnering with the team at the revived Telltale Games to work on The Expanse. GotY Pick – Life is Strange: True Colors Nic S. Senior Staff Writer / No, YOU have too many games in your backlog, shut up I’ve been trying to put this off until the literal last minute so I could weigh in on the beauty that is HALO: Infinite’s campaign. I didn’t finish it, but I did manage to free some FOBs, rescue some squads and do a lot of stuff oh my god there’s so much to do in this game holy crap. Like my colleagues at GAW (let’s be real, in the industry at large), we’ve all played more thanks to Game Pass. In the beginning of the year, I dove headfirst into Outriders (thanks to Game Pass) and simply spent way too much time in a game I liked way more than I expected to. Forza is a mainstay in my gaming library, so no real surprise it also ends up high on my list, and also got major snubs for GOTY at this year’s Game Awards. Of everything I played this year, the hundred more hours or so I’ve put into Warframe since, there’s a few I think about more often than the rest (at least so far). The Ascent blew me away with its overall oppressive cyberpunk aesthetic (of which I am an absolute sucker for). Combined with a decent enough narrative and over-the-top action and violence gave me an experience I can hardly discount. Death’s Door was an absolute pleasure of a game to play. The combat was solid, the music absolutely STELLAR, and a fun premise that kept me engaged throughout the entirety of its story. Also, if you’ve completed the game, no you haven’t, go back because that wasn’t the true ending. IYKYK. Despite it all, only one game can come out on top for me. And if I’m being critical, I would call it less of a game and more of an experience. The Artful Escape is like nothing I’ve ever seen. A fantastical journey of self-discovery told through the power of folk music and space rock operas. Laser shows, beings that define comprehension, and a prawn that only speaks in jazz make up some of the coolest experience I’ve ever touched. At least I think it was a prawn. Another one of those creative insanities you only dream right before you wake up. Do yourself a favor and take a night to try it out. Turn the lights down low and turn the volume up; this jam is gonna be EPIC. GotY Pick – The Artful Escape Robin G. Senior Editorial Writer / Can one really get through their backlog if they’re playing Final Fantasy XIV? Even though the pandemic brought life to a standstill, the number of incredible titles coming out never really stopped, did it? An incredible year of gaming kicked off with Hitman 3, the last in the assassination trilogy and in my opinion IO Interactives best iteration of the Hitman games. As the year went on, we got some incredible experiences in the form of It Takes Two, Outriders (a game that still surprises me to this day), a brand new Resident Evil game that made the entire world simp for a very tall Vampire lady, Elite Dangerous allowing players to step out of their ship with Odyssey, Forgotten City which matured from a Skyrim mod into a full-fledge must-play, a marvelous return to the classic strategy world of Age of Empires IV, the return of Master Chief in Halo Infinite and so much more. But out of all of these games, there was that towered over the rest: Arkane’s creative masterpiece Deathloop. It’s not every day that Arkane releases a game, so when it does happen it’s a time for joyous celebration as we’re introduced to a brand new world filled with world-class world-building and the most refined immersive mechanics you can find. While the game did have some issues with enemy A.I. (that, for the most part, has been patched), it didn’t get in the way of how well thought out every mechanic, item, and character was). There’s not much else I can say about Deathloop, than what I said in my review: “Arkane is at the top of their game with Deathloop, a devilishly clever, confident immersive sim that pushes players to utilize their creativity and invites them to an interesting world to explore and experiment within.” But there is, another: I know, I know usually the coveted title of “Game of the Year” is reserved for games that, well, came out this year. But it would be unfair that I didn’t mention how badly I fell in love with a little MMORPG called Final Fantasy XIV this year. Not since I stepped into the world of Skyrim have I felt so connected and involved with the world and lore of a game. At the time of writing this, devout fans are enjoying the latest (and insanely highly rated) Endwalker expansion which is the culminating end of an 8-year saga for the series. Now, as I start the first expansion, Heavensward, I’m so thrilled I discovered such an incredible game and community and I strongly urge you to give it a shot too. After all, the entire base game is free..though they’re not offering the trial or selling it right now due to its immense popularity. GotY Pick – Deathloop John D. Chief Operating Officer/Rando Panic-Shooter On Your Squad from Every BR Game You Played This Year You know, all the picks before me were really kind of great. I actually had a difficult time with this. I played a lot of ridiculous games like Biomutant, which I found strangely satisfying. I played AAA games like Far Cry 6, and more recently Halo Infinite which I also enjoyed. I also played a lot of indie games. There isn’t anything I can say about the above games that hasn’t been said already. Yet, none of them are my picks. While all stand out on their own there is only one I can think of that had my attention. Art, music, gameplay, all of it. My Game of the Year is NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… That’s right! A remake! Fight me! Baaaiii! Merry Holidays! GotY Pick – NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… Well, there doesn’t seem to be a clear winner this year. However, that just means everyone liked so many different things this year! We here at Gaming Access Weekly wish everyone a grand Holiday Season! Keep gaming! Tell us in the comment section below what YOUR Game of the Year pick was!