2020 was… an interesting year for video games to say the least. In regards to everything else, it was an absolute dumpster fire that I think we should all try to promptly forget. Part of what kept me focused on the horizon called the New Year was the swathe of games coming out in this unknown year of 2021. As Mint mentions in his Anticipated Games of 2021 list, chances seem high that these will get delayed until 2022 or released half-finished; but until then, we can eagerly wait and see.
Stardew Valley 1.5 Update
It feels like a little bit of a copout to start off with this but just bear with me for a second. Stardew Valley is an amazing game. Building a farm from the ground up with crops and livestock, mining in dungeons and fighting monsters, an extensive crafting system, villagers to romance and marry. I've put an inordinate amount of time into this game, but Eric Barone (the developer) just has absolutely zero chill and keeps adding more. I can’t escape. Since its launch in 2016 on PC, then console following up afterward, Barone has put out some pretty big updates, but 1.5 is the biggest yet. It's out already for PC, but us console players will have to wait for at least another month or two. This one is on my list because I am so uncontrollably excited to play this update, I start vibrating just thinking about it. There's new everything - a new farm layout, an entirely new area to explore, new characters, new quests to complete, new story and lore, new items and crops, new crafting mechanics and systems - the sheer amount of content that Eric is putting into this title free of charge is just blasphemous and exhilarating at the same time. It honestly feels like a whole new game to me, and I cannot wait to sink even more time into it.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood
This obtusely named action role-playing game came out of nowhere but I am absolutely here for it. Based loosely on a tabletop RPG of the same name, you play an Eco-Terrorist Werewolf working to take down a corporation called Pentex due to all the pollution it's causing. I have never been so immediately in love with a plot I think, ever. You get to choose between three different forms: normal human for social interaction, just a straight-up wolf for stealth and exploration, and a bipedal werewolf for some absolute ass-kicking.
As a lover of Arkane Studios’ previous titles, revitalizing the classic Groundhog Day Scenario into their own vision leaves me intrigued, to say the least. The troped story is one we've seen countless times but I don't recall one where someone is actively working to keep things the way they are. While you play as Colt, an assassin working to take out elite targets and break the eternal time loop, your rival assassin Julianna is doing everything in her power to stop you. That additional twist of having a push back against a notion that is normally agreeable to everyone involved (I mean, who wants to be stuck in a time loop?) is unique and leads to more inquiries like WHY Julianna is trying to stop you. The possibilities leave me (tentatively) dying to see it through.
I say tentatively because my excitement for Deathloop comes with a caveat. As Cyberpunk 2077 has shown us in the ungodly year of 2020, expectations can be severely destroyed and thrown out the window. Deathloop is a new IP coming from a relatively known and well-funded studio, so the foundation is there for it to be something great. But seeing the carnage left in the wake of CDPR’s handling of CP2077's launch has left me very concerned for basically any large-budgeted game coming out in the future.
Tetris Effect: Connected
I was never really one for Tetris back in the day but I decided to give Tetris Effect a try when it released because of the musical incorporations it had. To NO one's surprise, I fell in love instantly and it's now the most listened-to game soundtrack I have. Since then they've released Tetris Effect: Connected, an expansion with a whole slew of new and unusual multiplayer capabilities. Currently, it's exclusive to Xbox and Gamepass, but will be releasing for everything else this summer, and I'm so pumped to get my hands on it.
Bear and Breakfast
Look I love a good pun as much as anyone but this just takes the cake. You are a bear, who tries to start and run a Bed & Breakfast....I know right?? Anyways, as I am a big fan of management sims of various types, starting a B&B in an abandoned shack in the woods to scam tourists is right up my alley. Coupled with the fact that there's something strange going on in the woods around the B&B leaves my curiosity piqued for sure. Cute and fun on top but weird and dark underneath is a story infrastructure I don't think I will ever get tired of.
There is very little I need to say about this one because it's a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler where your weapons are very powerful and very cute, and you can date them. That's it. If you need more convincing than that then I can't help you.
Far Cry 6
The Far Cry series is a guilty pleasure of mine (and worth noting I will be buying second hand because Ubisoft doesn’t get any more of my money). These games act as a comfort food among the various other AAA first-person shooters that we see in the industry and I don't think #6 is going to try and be revolutionary by any means, which I am perfectly ok with. Although I mentioned my concern for future large budgeted titles and having to manage my excitement, I am less concerned for this title because Ubisoft has the formula for this series down to the T and I'm actually hoping it will stay that way. Throw in an oddly ridiculous action-packed story and I will be a happy camper when the time comes for its release.
Garden Story is an adorably endearing pixel art adventure game that couples a variety of aspects like puzzle solving, crafting, and quest completing, with an adorable, whimsical story to tie the bundle together. Playing as Concord the grape, you work to restore your island to its former glory and save it from the invasive Rot while rallying your community back together. This title checks a lot of boxes for me, in terms of gameplay AND art style, so it cannot come soon enough to Switch.
I don't like golf. I don't even really like sports? But I do like Golf Story, and that is the predecessor to this title and the reason I am so excited for it. Golf Story draws inspiration from the Camelot-developed GBA Mario Sports games, creating a sports-RPG based around simple golfing. I didn't think I was going to like it but it's still to date one of my favorite initial Switch titles. Even though I'm not a sports person, if Sports Story carries over the same charm and charisma - as well as the same fourth-wall breaking gags - that Golf Story had, I will not be disappointed.
I'm just going to say exactly what I said when I first saw the trailer for this game - KITTY WITH A TINY BACKPACK ON.
And there you have it! As the year progresses, more will be announced but as of right now, these are the titles that have me filled with anticipation. Hope you’re as pumped for some of these as I am! Or maybe there were some that you’re now intrigued by? Regardless, thank you so much Mint for having me at your cafe! If you liked this piece, feel free to check out more over on my blog!