To help reflect on the year that was, GamesHub has asked contributors, Australian game developers, and friends of the site to talk about some of their favourite games or gaming-related highlights of 2021. Developer Simon Boxer is the first to step into the spotlight.
Simon is best known for developing the fantastic dungeon-crawling card game Ring of Pain, and is currently working on The Dungeon Experience with Jacob Janerka (Paradigm). You can read more about his long road to success in our profile on him, and you can also follow him on Twitter: @sboxle
Read: Simon Boxer’s personal Ring of Pain: The long road to games success
Valheim is a great addition to the survival crafting space. Developers Iron Gate have decreased the focus on well-being metrics like staying fed, hydrated, warm etc. in favour of placing the challenge more heavily in exploration. I really enjoyed this lower-stakes survival paired with sometimes janky (yet tense) combat.
As an artist, I was also really inspired by the dynamic, lush impression of the game’s world.
Amidst the Melbourne lockdown, it became a place I liked visiting, and I soon noticed that prowling the meadows was actually relaxing. It felt almost nostalgic, like being on a road trip, getting eaten by giant mozzies.
It Takes Two
Every now and then a game comes along which raises the quality bar in a certain genre and shows other developers what a great game could be at that point in time. It Takes Two didn’t nudge the bar up, it rocketed it up unfairly high.
It’s amazing how many interesting puzzle mechanics developers Hazelight packed into such a rich, funny experience, complete with super satisfying traversal. The cinematic quality blew me away, it felt like playing a Dreamworks movie where you can inspect every inch of it. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here watching ants walk around.
When I first moved to Melbourne, one of my social rituals was going to No Vacancy’s weekly life drawing. I was pretty early in my career, and still had the “I need to be drawing 500 hrs a day” mentality that was rife in the concept art world.
Art was work, but after commercialising my hobby for so many years, the friends I’d met through No Vacancy made drawing playful again.
We’d hang out and do collaborative drawings, make comics, and just have a laugh. In the decade since; life happened. Friends moved, got jobs, drifted. Gartic Phone brought us together again (just online this time) and it’s been great to catch up!
- GRIME is my “hidden gem of 2021” with its awesome, dark, surrealist style.
- Inscryption for being such an immersive, polished experience.
- Loop Hero for its innovative blend of mechanics.
- SNKRX for showing simple, timeboxed games can be viable, and also being so transparent with the process.
For more of GamesHub’s Best of 2021 content, have a look at our picks for Best PlayStation Games of 2021, Best Xbox Games of 2021, Best PC Games of 2021, Best Nintendo Games of 2021, Best Mobile Games of 2021, Best Australian Games of 2021, our overall Best Games of 2021, and our Game of the Year for 2021.
Our spotlight on personal highlights includes Ring of Pain’s Simon Boxer, Unpacking’s Wren Brier, ACMI curator Jini Maxwell, games researcher Brendan Keogh, the 2021 Wordplay mentorship participants, producer and consultant Meredith Hall, GamesHub content lead Leah Williams, critic David Wildgoose, contributor Chris Button, and Nicholas Kennedy, host/content creator Jess McDonell, SUPERJUMP Editor-In-Chief James Burns, and GamesHub Managing Editor Edmond Tran.