The best video games of 2021 so far – The Guardian

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PCA gentle, board game style town building sim, which has you matching hexagonal landscape tiles to craft unique locations, laying on further puzzles and pleasures as you go.What we said: This is game-playing at its most thoughtfully relaxing, with that rare chance, in video games, to be the architect of a world, rather than its conqueror. Read the full review.

Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox OnePart jazz age murder mystery, part ontological odyssey to the birth of the universe, Genesis Noir is a point-and-click puzzler that operates more as a philosophical toy than a traditional game but dont be put off by any preconceptions that idea might engender.What we said: The game sizzles with invention, and its hyperactive flits from the cosmic to the prosaic combine to produce an astonishing, memorable and novel piece of work. Read the full review.

Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/XAgent 47 returns for a climactic series of assassination missions, taking in Berlin warehouse raves, Argentinian wineries and vast English mansions. Once again, players can take out targets however they like, sneaking in close for elaborate trap kills, or blasting the place up in a Scarface-style bullet frenzy.What we said: The final part of the modern Hitman trilogy is a minor masterpiece, a treasure trove of unforgettable player-generated moments. Read the full review.

PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/XIn this cleverly designed co-op platformer, the estranged parents of a heartbroken young girl are magically reduced in size and forced to work together to navigate a now hazardous domestic environment to reach their daughter, and repair their relationship.What we said: A truly engaging family adventure that develops into a considerable challenge. The skilful combination of game conventions and fresh ideas is the real marriage at the heart of this unusual adventure. Read the full review.

Android, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/XThe follow-up to the 2017 horror platformer sees original lead character Six accompanying newcomer Mono on a stealthy, terror-streaked trek through an Orwellian landscape of creepy adult stalkers and dark, expressionist buildings.What we said: A fever-dream made playable, with the creepy, disturbing edge of a Brothers Grimm fairytale or Jan vankmajer animation, albeit carefully leavened with rare but powerful uplifting moments. Read the full review.

PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5A romantic story told through the medium of a recursive puzzle game, where you play in an infinite series of worlds within worlds. Rearrange something in a miniature model of the palace youre walking around, and the change will be replicated in the full-size version youre standing in. Sometimes awkwardly abstruse, but also mind-bending and unique.What we said: The creative possibilities of this Russian doll world extend beyond this brief, delightful exploration. Read the full review.

PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox OneRelive one of gamings best sci-fi stories in this technically improved and updated trilogy of role-playing games. Alien romances, excellent performances from the actors behind its well-written characters, heart-rending tragedies and dramatic battles all make Mass Effect a joy to revisit or to play for the first time.

Nintendo SwitchGrab an outlandish weapon, summon your giant dog and helpful cat companions, and head out to beat up fantastical beasts in the latest Monster Hunter game. Though fighting is focused and frenetic, its signature mix of tense violence and cheerful absurdity is oddly comforting.What we said: Ludicrous anime-inspired special attacks will have you leaping around like a particularly flamboyant Power Ranger a fun, easy-going action game. Read the full review.

Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox OneA game that looks like it could be from the 90s in screenshots, but which is absolutely gorgeous in motion, Olija is a beautifully animated and enigmatic seafaring adventure about a displaced lord trying to find a new home for his people.What we said: Olija is impressively atmospheric and its narrative is interesting, but its the fighting that pulled me effortlessly through this short and enticingly personal game. Read the full review.

PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/XThe human race has left a dying Earth for the apparently safe haven of Enoch, a lush tropical planet, unfortunately beset with body-bursting electrical storms and savage alien invasions. As survivors of the carnage, players can work alone or in co-op groups, blasting monsters, looting for goodies and levelling up into cosmic killing machines.What we said: If youre the type of player who reached a flow state in Doom Eternal, or speaks wistfully of Diablo, or perhaps remembers the rhythmic gunnery of Bizarre Creations The Club, Outriders will speak to you. Read the full review.

iPhone/iPad, Nintendo Switch, PCA surprise release from narrative game specialists Inkle in early June, Overboard! is a loving homage to golden age whodunits, except, here, the player is the criminal rather than the detective and the aim is to get away with murder. Set on board a 1930s cruise ship en route to New York, its a sparkling adventure comedy that grips you over multiple playthroughs.

PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/SA sequel to the gruelling swamp horror shocks of Resident Evil 7, Village sees troubled hero Ethan Winters attempting to start a new life in rural eastern Europe. But when his wife is shot and baby daughter kidnapped, hes plunged into a nightmarish quest involving werewolves, gothic castles and really tall vampire women.What we said: A delightfully schlocky survival horror adventure that makes constant references to earlier games and will bring much joy to fans. Read the full review.

PlayStation 5Youve crashed on an alien planet and everything EVERYTHING is trying to kill you. Whenever you die, youre brought back to life to fight for survival all over again. Thankfully, the planet is fascinating, the murderous alien creatures are both beautiful and terrifying, and the action is so edge-of-the-seat exciting and unpredictable that, even after the 50th attempt, Returnal keeps drawing you back.What we said: To enjoy Returnal you have to abandon the idea of accomplishment. Once you do that, you can lose yourself in the near-infinite pleasure of the movement and combat, and the near-infinite mystery and creeping horror of Atropos. Read the full review.

Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/XMarooned on a watery alien planet and determined to discover the truth about your missing sister, this sequel to the survival adventure game Subnautica gives you a rich oceanic environment to explore, as well as the time, space and freedom to do it alone, discovering new items and intriguing quests on the way.What we said: Subnautica: Below Zero is cosy and moreish. Dive in, and you may be surprised how deep you end up going. Read the full review.

Nintendo SwitchA brilliant old Mario game packaged with a brilliant new one. Super Mario 3D World features four-player fun in cat suits (not catsuits), and Bowsers Fury is a fun and experimental open-world Mario game where a giant kaiju-esque Bowser periodically turns up to rain literal fire upon you.What we said: A cascade of playful ideas that appear, shine brightly for a level or two and then vanish again to make way for more Read the full review.

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The best video games of 2021 so far - The Guardian

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