2021 has given us a bumper crop of games but not every game has received its time in the sun as it deserves. Whilst we can’t shine a light on every game out there, we’ve gone back and scoured the year to find the absolute best games that didn’t get the attention they deserved, for one reason or another.
So let’s head back over 2021 and look at five of the hidden gaming gems that you might’ve missed.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun – Aiko’s Choice
The original Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a brilliantly difficult stealth tactics game set in the early Edo period. Now, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun – Aiko’s Choice is here, a standalone expansion for the game, giving fans more of everything that made the original a classic.
Though this is standalone, it does presume knowledge of the game’s systems. That said, playing the original is an utter joy, so if you loved that then get Aiko’s Choice. If you haven’t played either, then there are few better ways to start your 2022 than with this pairing.
Game design has come a long way over the years, making games easier to play and a lot more welcoming. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t things from the past worth re-examining, of course, and Undungeon does that for classic RPGs in an incredibly robust way.
With an incredibly deep combat system wrapped in 90s RPG aesthetic combined with tonnes of dialogue and plot to enjoy and immerse yourself in, Undungeon is a joyous treat for anyone who wants their games meaty but accessible. Undungone is definitely one of the top hidden gaming gems of 2021 and is more than worth your time.
Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View
A child is missing in 1950s England. You play retired detective Robert Conway, searching for the missing Charlotte May. Will you uncover the secrets hidden in Dahlia View to find the truth at the heart of this twisted mystery?
Detective games are a little underrepresented in gaming, at least, true detective games anyway. Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View corrects this with a brilliantly twisty story that sees you investigate, question, and solve puzzles to uncover what happened to that missing girl. This is a game that’ll sit with you a long time after completing it, perfect for those cold winter nights.
Tails of Iron
If brutal combat is your thing then you can’t do better than Tails of Iron. This RPG combines a tough but rewarding combat system with beautiful hand drawn art to make something entirely unique. Simply look at any screenshot of the game and you’ll see what we mean, it’s like a fairytale brought to life. With added fighting.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s tonnes to see and do as you explore the different biomes and areas that make up the expansive world. The story, narrated by Doug Cockle, is compelling and draws you in from the moment you begin playing until the credits roll. Tails of Iron is difficult, yes, but it’s lovingly made and that shines through the whole game.
The Big Con
Crime? Check. 90s? Check. Road trip? Check. The Big Con has it all. You play as Ali, a teenager who ditches band camp to head out on the open road and do some crimes. You’ll swindle people, steal, and con rubes out of their money on your wacky adventure.
The Big Con’s one of those games where you can tell the developers were having fun making it. It’s full of laughter and retro 90s nostalgia, with fun oozing out of every pore. If you like your protagonists cheeky and your games full of comedy, you can’t do better than in The Big Con.
Those are our picks for the hidden gaming gems of 2021 but that doesn’t mean we got them all. What’s your favourite unsung game from this year? Hit us up on the community forum and have your say.