by John Rogers & various contributors
2021 is upon us. Welcome to a bold new world where we don’t have to listen to Tr*mp’s honking, Australia is no longer on fire, and all we have to worry about is stuff like a crazed conspiracy cult trying to overthrow US democracy.
But even in this new, glorious, not-at-all-terrifying post-2020 era, many of us are somehow still in lockdown. So we dared to tackle the real big question of the day: what video games are coming down the pipes this year to keep us all occupied?
The results turned into the varied and exciting list below, compiled by some of our gamer friends, from streamers to video game collectors, critics and podcasters. Their picks range from a super-creepy driving game to Viking hellscapes, far-future photography, a dystopian insect kingdom, and… lots of games about cats, for some reason.
We hope you discover something to be excited about. If we missed your favourite upcoming game, tweet @radartreview and @gaminginthewild to let us know.
Gaming In The Wild podcast host, RAR games editor | Twitter
It’s the indie games that I’m most excited for in 2021. First up is Solar Ash, the follow-up to the seminal Hyper Light Drifter. Alex Preston’s first game was a Kickstarter project, and his second is a headline title in the (somewhat delayed) PS5 launch lineup – a great story, and a well earned leap into the bigtime. Solar Ash graduates from HLD’s gorgeous pixel art to glossy 3D; the gameplay looks fast and fluid, and the aesthetic is on-point. I can’t wait.
Stray is the cat-with-a-backpack sci-fi game that went viral upon its announcement in 2020. Not much gameplay has been revealed, but it has been described by the developers as a “third-person puzzle-simulation game.” With the fantastic Annapurna Interactive acting as publisher, all the signs are good. Annapurna are also publishing Open Roads, a game from the makers of Gone Home – in continuing quarantine, I’m absolutely here for a cosy virtual road trip.
The console ports of ZA/UM’s Disco Elysium – which entails the player negotiating with conflicting voices in the protagonist’s head – promises a reworked control scheme, new content, and a fully voice acted script. Hopefully it’ll further elevate an already fascinating game. Umurangi Generation is a highly-rated but Windows-only cyberpunk photography game that I’m eager to play when it finally drops on Switch. This next one may be a bit optimistic, but Giant Sparrow – the studio behind The Unfinished Swan and What Became of Edith Finch? – have been advertising for staff for an unannounced project that continues their bird theme, this time with a heron. We may not see in 2021, but I’m excited nonetheless.
On the big-budget side of things, I’m hoping for the AAA sequel Horizon: Forbidden West to be every bit as good as the original. Aloy, the game’s protagonist, is perhaps the most human-seeming video game character I’ve ever encountered, so I’m looking forward to being in her company again. Finally, Fumito Ueda – the singular mind behind Shadow of the Colossus, Ico and The Last Guardian – has been teasing an as-yet unannounced 2021 release. I’ve full faith that his latest will be as original as his mesmerising trilogy of works to date.
Host of Time Played 3hr podcast | Instagram
I played a demo for Driving Horror game Beware last year, and it was some of the most exquisitely designed fear I had experienced in a long time. The demo is a valuable thing on it’s own, but I need more.