SA Gamer Awards 2021: Game Of The Year

And just like that another year is done. Let’s be honest – it’s been another tough one. We’ve all been through so much over the last two years. Many of us have still not been able to visit friends and family and travel as much as we have wanted to. Isolation and loss have become too common. And yet, in the dark around us – video games have continued to provide an outlet of expression and connection. Video Games are so much more than a pastime for many of us. They’re a way of working through our emotions, of keeping in contact with friends and exploring new worlds. And while 2021 had several disappointments – at least there were some special games to bring a smile to our face or a burst of refreshment to our souls. And this year we are happy to award our special Game Of The Year to…

Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread | Nintendo Switch games | Games | Nintendo

It was a close one this year. And although some will say there were not as many clear standout contenders for GOTY in 2021 as there were in previous years we still had several games that we as the SA Gamer staff loved. Forza Horizon 5 is definitely worth a mention. Not only was it our reader-poll pick, but even within the team, we are astounded at what the PlayGround Games team produced. However, other games were definitely part of the GOTY conversation too; Early on in the year, Returnal and Ratchet and Clank also gave us a glimpse at what the new console generation is going to be all about. And later, Deathloop, Monster Hunter Rise, Kena, Psychonauts 2, It Takes Two, Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, Guardians of The Galaxy and even Halo: Infinite really stood out. And all of these (plus a few other games) were right up there for at least one, if not several team members, as their game of the year.

Ultimately though, as several members of the team reflected on the game that will stick with them the most (or at least one game at least a few of us could agree on) Metroid Dread just won out. As the one who reviewed the game, I will be quick to admit that it is not usually my genre. There are even some alien cutscenes that still gross me out. However, I will just as easily confess that Metroid Dread is probably the game with the best level design I have ever played. It’s just that good. Then, you add in how great it feels taking control of Samus with her ridiculously intricate moveset and infinite list of powerups, the way you’re taught to take on the bosses, the clever audio design (especially around the EMMI), the visceral 2D visuals, the engrossing gameplay and a pretty satisfying narrative… and what you realise is that it’s quite simply a phenomenal game that we just loved playing this year. And that’s why it’s a worthy winner of this year’s GOTY title.

Now, before we go….

Now before we sign off, I really wanted to thank our team of writers that contributed this year: Garth, Abigail, Zain, Bianca, Charlie and our newest addition, Kelly. 2021 has been a really difficult year for many of our team and death, illness, job changes and stressful moves were all too common. And of course, like us, we know many of you out there have had some real struggles too. So, we also want to say thank you to you our readers. We really appreciated each time you took the time to drop in for a visit and left a comment under our reviews or other articles. As we sign off for this year, we hope you are able to have a great, restful holiday and urge you to keep safe.

PS. We have some pretty big news about the future of the site coming soon so please keep an eye out for that.

And now, as a final personal touch, here are our team’s personal lists for the games we most enjoyed this year (and we even got some familiar faces to return for their lists too):

The SA Gamer team’s personal 2021 Top 5


  1. Halo Infinite
  2. ME: Legendary Edition
  3. Valheim
  4. NUTS
  5. It Takes Two


  1. Metroid Dread
  2. Forza Horizon 5
  3. Scarlet Nexus
  4. Kena: Bridge Of Spirits
  5. Riding the next ‘Rona wave!


  1. Deathloop
  2. Kena: Bridge Of Spirits
  3. Guardians Of The Galaxy
  4. Life Is Strange: True Colors
  5. Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart


  1. Monster Hunter Rise
  2. Monster Hunter Stories 2
  3. The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
  4. Cristales
  5. Pokémon GO


  1. Metroid Dread
  2. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
  3. Pokémon Shining Pearl
  4. Hot Wheels Unleashed
  5. Inked: A Tale Of Love


  1. Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
  2. Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart
  3. Humankind
  4. Forza Horizon 5
  5. Age Of Empires IV
Nintendo Nerd, sharing my love of Mario with the world one pixel at a time.

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