Can it really be that time of the year again already?
Yes, friends, it's the end of another busy and rather tumultuous year for gaming, and mankind in general. There's been highs and lows, joys and sorrows, but we've just about made it through once again and, as usual, just a few weeks ago we asked you lovely lot to go ahead and vote for your favourite titles of 2021 in order for us to put together Pure Xbox's Game of the Year 2021 list.
We've now calculated and combined all of those votes using very special machines that reside deep within the bowels of Pure Xbox HQ, to come up with the definitive top ten which you can survey below.
So, are you ready to find out which title you've crowned as your Game of the Year for 2021? Go ahead and fix yourself a glass of something suitably seasonal, grab a comfy seat, get the tinfoil off that mince pie and let's jump in!
Yes, Remedy's Control, originally released all the way back in 2019, makes it into the number ten slot on our list this year thanks to its fancy pants next-gen Ultimate edition, which landed on Series X and S in February of this year.
Control Ultimate Edition takes what was already a thoroughly excellent game and irons out a handful of irritating technical issues that, on last-gen consoles, somewhat marred our time in the Oldest House. With spectacular ray-tracing, silky smooth framerates, enhanced graphics, an improved map, reworked checkpointing and all available DLC bundled in as well, this feels like Control how it was always meant to be experienced, and what an experience it is.
Remedy's game is a masterclass in cinematic atmosphere, in slowly and carefully layering combat complexity and flexibility, and in fully drawing you into its delightfully bizarre, Lynchian mystery world. Our time spent in the Oldest House, discovering Objects of Power, facing off against the Hiss in spectacular action sequences and enjoying all of the fantastic acting performances on offer, was one of our gaming highlights of the past few years and it was a delight to finally experience it all without the constant framerate issues of its original Xbox One version.
A bit of a surprise inclusion, perhaps, but Control Ultimate Edition is absolutely a worthy number ten on our GOTY list.
After the fairly average effort that was Marvel's Avengers, we guess nobody was really expecting all that much from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, although with Eidos Montreal at the helm here we certainly hadn't lost all hope.
As it turned out, we needn't have worried, as what we've ended up with is a rip-roaring adventure that's packed full of hilarious banter between its band of misfit heroes - heroes that, for us, have never been more endearing - some wonderfully colourful and quirky alien worlds, and lots of proper, actual, you're going to make us cry emotion.
Yes, the gameplay is all pretty straightforward stuff that isn't gonna set the world on fire, but it's serviceable, it's fun, and it's bolstered to no end by the writing, world-building and absolutely gorgeous graphics on offer here. This really is one of the very best adventures we were taken on this year.
Three of the most universally adored sci-fi epics ever made brought together in one huge and lovingly remastered package. It was hardly gonna end badly was it?
Mass Effect Legendary Edition was a dream come true for Mass Effect fans this year and a chance for us all to return to this wonderful world full of choice and consequence, dense and fascinating lore and, as the franchise progresses, some absolutely cracking combat sequences.
There are still a few rough edges here, we'll just never enjoy planet scanning or driving that infernal Mako, but overall this is one epic, emotionally charged sci-fi package and a long-awaited return to the Normandy that we hadn't even really realised we were so excited about. It was sure good to see you again, Shepard.
Ah, Hades. What else is there left to say about Supergiant Games' superlative action roguelike?
With a hugely clever story setup that constantly develops and evolves as you take Zagreus deeper and deeper through the game's gloriously gaudy levels, and some of the very best action we've been treated to in this genre, Hades puts nary a foot wrong.
The virtual perfection on display here, the result of an extended and smartly used period of early access, is some of the deepest, most addictive gameplay you're likely to come across. With endless combat modifiers to encourage replayability, a fantastic contemporary reframing of Ancient Greek myths and characters, and the transformation of the roguelike genre's constant death into an addictive means of driving its narrative forward, this is one game we'll never get sick of playing.
As we said in our review:
"Hades knocks it out of the park, offering its stellar experience to Xbox players for the first time. It's every bit as incredible as it was a year ago, with punchy combat, an addictive gameplay loop and a cast of characters that prove to be charming and terrifying in the same breath."
Resident Evil 7's Ethan Winters returned in May for an adventure that saw a huge switch in tone from his blood-curdling gorefest of a debut outing. Resident Evil Village is, in comparison, a far more relaxed, knockabout affair that introduces busty vampire sirens, hordes of daft werewolves and one of the oddest shopkeepers you're ever likely to meet. The fun side of Resident Evil, the action-centric side of the series, is all back on the agenda here.
Yes, this one wears its Resident Evil 4 influences on its shredded sleeve too, with its Eastern European setting and the tone of its action all harking back to Leon Kennedy's superlative 2005 adventure. It's a good time overall, not without its rough edges and a few issues here and there, but we liked it plenty nevertheless, as we said in our review:
"Resident Evil Village may not quite live up to the highs of its terrifying predecessor but it's a still a solid entry in the long-running series that's well worth checking out. Eastern Europe makes for a fantastically atmospheric and surprisingly open setting here, it's chock full of delightfully oddball characters and features a handful of properly entertaining set-pieces to blast through."