5 best games you didn’t play in 2021

Image showcasing Fights in Tight Spaces, Cyber Shadow and InscryptionGround Shatter/Mechanical Head/Daniel Mullins Games

2021 was full of exciting new releases, but that means there are undoubtedly some that may have slipped through the cracks in your gaming backlog. Here are some of the best games of 2021 that you may have missed.

2021 will likely be remembered for many things in gaming; the Mortal Kombat movie, the return of Samus Aran, Lady Dimitrescu, and the revival of the Halo franchise among them.

Still, between AAA releases, console exclusives, and new entries in decades-old franchises, there’s always room for innovation in gaming’s indie scene. From a card game that keeps changing its rules to a town-builder you send your adventurer marching through as many times as possible, there was plenty to savor in 2021. Here are the best games you may have missed.

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Psst, looking for the Dexerto team’s best games of 2021? You can find that here.

Cyber Shadow

Cyber Shadow screenshot showing the player on a motorcycleMechanical Head Studios
Cyber Shadow is a perfect throwback for 8-bit platformer fans.

Developer: Mechanical Head Studios Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC

Cyber Shadow calls itself “the quintessential Ninja Action game”, and honestly, it’s not hard to see why. Side-scrolling platformers have been back in vogue for a few years now, but this one will hit different to anyone that’s enjoyed the likes of Ninja Gaiden and Shadow of the Ninja in the past.

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With a sumptuous 8-bit style and the kind of pixel-perfect combat and platforming that you’d expect from a game published by Shovel Knight’s Yacht Club Games, Cyber Shadow should be on any platformer fans’ wishlist.

Loop Hero

Loop Hero screenshotFour Quarters
Loop Hero may look intimidating, but it’s actually quite relaxing.

Developer: Four Quarters Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC

We can confidently say that there’s nothing like Loop Hero. In a fractured reality, your hero must rebuild the world, tile-by-tile, by laying pieces of the world from a deck, while they roam a looping path forever. Build settlements to help with recovery, set enemy spawn points to build up strength and earn better equipment, and eventually open up the option to build structures like a blacksmith.

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Battles play out in a turn-based fashion, but players don’t control how the hero fights. This means resource management is key, and knowing when to leave the loop and take your accumulated goods with you is key. While this lack of agency won’t be for everyone, Loop Hero is unforgettable for its unique concept and almost relaxing gameplay, uh, loop.

Boyfriend Dungeon

Boyfriend Dungeon screenshot showing a talking daggerKitfox Games
Yes, that’s a talking weapon.

Developer: Kitfox Games Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC

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Taking cues from dating simulators and isometric dungeon crawlers, Boyfriend Dungeon is a bizarre experience that sees both genres meld through a weird conceit – that there are people in the world who can morph into weapons to be wielded. In Boyfriend Dungeon, going into the depths of abandoned shopping malls and battling monsters is dangerous, but it’s also a social and bonding exercise.

Weapons have their own unique traits, but it’s their personalities that you’ll be most interested in. There are plenty of weapons to wield and woo, and learning more about each is a treat in itself.

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Inscryption screenshot showing a mysterious foeDaniel Mullins Games
Inscryption is as unsettling as it is moreish.

Developer: Daniel Mullins Games Platforms: PC

Inscryption is a deck-building card game, and if that’s already put you off, don’t go back just yet. It’s the creepiest game on this list, and it’s dripping with atmosphere. You’ll essentially be playing to tip a scale of damage by playing your cards against your opponent’s in a shadowy room, and between battles you’ll find yourself earning new cards, buffing your existing cards, and meeting bizarre characters.

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Lose your two lives, and you’ll be sent back to the start in the kind of fashion you’d expect from a game that feels steeped in CreepyPasta. It’s tough to discuss too much of Inscryption without giving too much away, with the game constantly reinventing itself and bending itself into something unrecognizable.

Fights In Tight Spaces

Fights In Tight Spaces screenshot showing combat on board a trainGround Shatter
Fights In Tight Spaces does exactly what it says on the box.

Developer: Ground Shatter Platforms: PC

Fights In Tight Spaces is another deck-builder, but this one will appeal to your inner John Wick. This almost-monochrome strategy title has players assume the role of an agent sent into tight spaces to, well, fight.

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This is done by playing cards and manipulating your position within the area to make the most of environmental hazards. While your available deck starts with a few punches and kicks, it won’t be long before you’re giving The Matrix’s Neo a run for his money with incredible feats of martial arts and acrobatics as you dodge bullets, trade blows, and build up huge combos.

2021 was full of titles, but 2022 could be even better. Check out our list of the biggest new titles arriving this year.

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