The 50 best video games of 2021

Collage featuring characters from a number of different video games
Graphic: James Bareham/Polygon

In some ways, this year felt like more of the same.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues and supply chains remain choked. Isolation may not be the norm, but for many, it is still the default. The release schedule felt altogether calm, as an increasing number of blockbuster video games moved out of this year and into the next.

But in trying to find a unifying thread for the games that defined the last 12 months, I’m struck by the fact that this year wasn’t really calm at all. In fact, it was a weird, wonderful, disorienting labyrinth of dazzling titles. With fewer AAA attention magnets, and a renewed collective appreciation for the escapist and social benefits of the medium, it felt like we were all more willing to try something that fell…

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