As is always the case, The Player 2 team just can’t come to any sort of consensus regarding end of year awards so it is just easier to let everyone have their say. Join us for the 2021 Player 2 Awards and find out which titles kept the team happy during the hell that was this year.
The 2021 Player 2 Awards - Best Indie
Matt Hewson - Severed Steel
Titanfall crossed with Max Payne by way of Superhot. That is the pitch for Severed Steel and by all that is holy, it delivers.
Wall running, into sliding, into sweet slo-mo dives, all the while taking out baddies like some sort of acrobatic John Wick. It is glorious. The controls are pitch-perfect, the gunplay is exciting and there is such a rush to be had clearing out a room full of dozens of enemies.
Don’t wait on this one folks, if you have even the slightest like for fast paced shooters than this is absolutely for you.
Dylan Burns - Loop Hero
This is one of two ‘loops’ I’ve chosen for our awards. Thankfully, this one is positive. When Loop Hero arrived, I had no idea what it was. I saw people on Twitter posting screenshots and had no understanding of what I was looking at. But it got me curious. Once I played Loop Hero, I was hooked. I really hope there is a Switch version. It would fit perfectly.
I love the risk/reward of this game, choosing to either rest at the beginning of the loop, or risk one more round. Banking cards/tiles is a cool mechanic that allows you to attempt as perfect a balance as possible between difficulty and potential reward.
I also like how you can curate which kinds of cards will be active during your run, so you can sit in a bit of a comfort zone for a while, then push up the difficulty if you feel a bit brave. Permanent upgrades back at camp are slow to unlock, but also not particularly essential and quite achievable simply through playing. Regardless of its development size and publishing independence, this is a bloody good game.
Chris Lawn - Everhood
If you’re even remotely a fan of Undertale, you must play Everhood. The way this game is in conversation with its inspiration, along with the fans of the beloved 2015 Indie RPG, is next level.
Most of this 5-6 hour experience is spent walking around an overworld, occasionally getting into “fights” with other characters. The fights are less battles of destruction, however, and more challenges to overcome. In what I would call a reverse-rhythm game, you must simply dodge out of the way of incoming attacks, beats that come down the screen in rows reminiscent of Guitar Hero. I say “simply”, but some of the battles you need to overcome are wild.
If that wasn’t enough, the story itself goes places. There’s no way I would ever spoil it, but the turn halfway through threw me so much that I was questioning things right up until the very end of the game. “An Ineffable Tale of the Inexpressible Divine”, indeed.
Stephen del Prado - Grow: Song of the Evertree
Coming from Brisbane based developer Prideful Sloth, winners of my Indie Game of 2017 with their equally gorgeous and relaxing title Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles comes Glow: Song of the Evertree to scoop up the award in 2021. In the same vein as Yonder, Grow expands on many of the ideas and philosophies found in that game with crafting, exploration and a distinct shift from combat and other confrontational elements. In some respects I think my love for Grow comes from the way in which it echoes many of the elements of the Dark Cloud series which I’ve been pining for a new entry nigh on twenty years now. Moreso than many other titles I’ve played this year, Grow removes a lot of negative tension when playing through its design choices and aesthetics, resulting in an experience that is both calming and engaging, especially when laying in a hammock, Nintendo Switch in hand and a cool drink at the ready – a perfect summer game.
Paul James - Death's Door
I’ve spoken at great lengths already of how much I love Death’s Door. This is a title that merges brilliant isometric action adventure systems, with gorgeous visuals, great humour, and an engaging plot in ways that few games do. Now that the game has made its way to all platforms put it high on your list of must-play titles, and then tick it off ASAP.
Rob Caporetto - The Forgotten City
I wasn’t expecting to be as engrossed as I was with The Forgotten City when I picked it up for review. The mix of adventuring and role-playing really creates a unique set of mechanics as you take up the quest to find out the secrets of said City.
But that really is only the tip of the surface. The Forgotten City’s most prominent feature is the narrative, bolstered by its cast of incredibly well written and voiced characters. Learning their stories, and helping them to solve their various troubles is a large part of what makes this game work so well, as I highlighted with my review.
On top of that, something I truly appreciated is that it didn’t overstay its welcome. It offered a story, delivered it excellently with a great payout, and in an era where so many games want to become your forever game, it’s more than happy to leave it at that.
Which is something that helped it stay in my head all these months later.
Jess Zammit - Unpacking
I suspect Unpacking is going to be on a lot of personal favourite lists this year. I – like a lot of people – have been excited for this game for years, and it somehow managed to exceed my expectations. Not only does it have an innovative and completely satisfying mechanic at its core, but it manages to tell a deep personal narrative using only environmental cues. I saw so much of myself in the main character of this game (as well as some unexpected relationships!) and honestly just felt incredibly seen by the creators of this beautiful little experience. This is one I’ll be screaming at people to play for years to come, even if they aren’t someone who usually seeks out games to fill their spare time. All I can say is that I wanted more, but I also know that it was the perfect length to not overstay its welcome. It’s just a beautiful game – and Australian to boot.