From the moment I saw it, I had a hunch that Scarlet Nexus was going to be a great game. The whole idea of battles using psycho-kinesis within an anime-like world with a cool story to boot sounded like a winner from the start. Scarlet Nexus was one of just two games that I pre-ordered this year, the other being Persona 5 Strikers. Yes, Persona 5 Strikers is not in the title, but it still was a solid title. Yet Scarlet Nexus was just on another level for me. It is a game I was very excited about before release and it exceeded the hype. If I had to pick a Game of the Year right now, Scarlet Nexus would be one of two top contenders. The other is Hitman 3, which I will get to a bit later in the post.
You have the choice from the beginning of Scarlet Nexus to choose between two characters (Yurito or Kasane), which affects the perspective you see the story unfold from. I went with Yurito, who is the son of the chairman of New Hiruka (where the game takes place). Yurito is new within the OSF, a military corps that exists to fight against “The Others,” the mutated enemies that have begun to cause havoc within the city. The soldiers within the OSF have brain powers that they use in battle such as pyrokinesis, telekinesis, etc. Yurito’s power allows him to manipulate the objects around him and toss them at enemies for extra damage.
While the story has its twists and turns, what I absolutely adore about this game is the battle system. Chaining together attacks with the surrounding objects in the environment is a joy that hasn’t gotten old even after 20 hours of gameplay. Once you get a rhythm going with the attacks, it feels spectacular. The graphics are top-notch and it feels like you’re playing through an anime. I like how the cutscenes and conversations have a comic book feel to them. And there is even an element of Persona 5 in the game with how you nurture the relationships with the other key characters in the game. It doesn’t have the depth of Persona 5, but the cutscenes help to peel back the layers of the characters. I’ve had a blast with Scarlet Nexus so far.
What can I say about Hitman 3? Coming into this year, I never dreamt that I would be considering this game as one of my favorites of the year, but here I am. This is coming from a gamer that is partially familiar with the Hitman character, Agent 47. But I have never played any of the Hitman games. While on my quest to have new and unique gaming experiences, I decided to take the plunge and purchase Hitman 3 earlier in the year. A few months later, I purchased the other two games in the trilogy to play them as one continuous campaign.
As I took on the assignments within the training facility, I found myself repeatedly playing the Guided Training mission where I had to take down the target named Kalvin Ritter. I did so not only to become more familiar with the game’s controls, but also because I wanted to complete the mission in different ways. Here’s where the beauty of Hitman 3 comes in. The game already wants you to accomplish the missions in different ways so it provides you with different challenges to complete along the way. This adds tremendous replay value and I had to literally force myself forward to the next mission because I was having so much fun implementing different strategies in the Guided Training mission. The fact that there are about 20 levels to complete throughout the trilogy means there is a lot of meat on the bone.
If you’re thinking that Hitman 3 is all about just finding a target and then assassinating him, you’d be missing out on how vast this game is. You can impersonate people and end up finding yourself cooking, working the stage as a fashion model, posing as a soldier, sabotaging a plane as a mechanic, working as a member of a production team, etc. When I impersonated the fashion model and walked onto the stage, I literally laughed out loud. All these things I shared with you just came from the first few levels of the game so I can only imagine what awaits me as I get further into the game. Not to mention the game is beautiful to look at. Because I have so many other games I’m always playing, I haven’t given this game as much time as I should. But that could also be attributed to the fact that Hitman 3 is a game that you can not rush through. You’re encouraged to take your time. There are times I’ve spent well over an hour on a single mission exploring and learning different things about the specific level. Hitman 3 is an excellent title.
Scarlet Nexus and Hitman 3 are ahead of the pack when it comes to what I feel are the best games of 2021. I would have a hard time making a choice between the two if I was to choose today. Furthermore, I’m waiting to see how the rest of 2021’s releases stack against these two games. I recently put several hours into the newly-released Tales of Arise and it is showing the promise of being an excellent game. The battle system and graphics have been the standouts of the game so far, but the story is taking a bit more time to get warmed up. What I’ve played so far has been great, but I’m also aware that I’m only experiencing the beginning part of the game. There’s a lot more to come.
What have been your favorite games of 2021 so far? Feel free to share your picks in the comments. I will be doing a post near the end of December where I will reveal my winner.