Some of the developers at Naughty Dog – the game studio behind such series as The Last of Us and Uncharted – have revealed their favorite games of 2021.
Naughty Dog shared their list of favorite games that "inspired, excited, and — above all — entertained us" in a blogpost, and it all began with Bugsnax, where vice president Christian Gyrling said it was "a unique game that my 7-year old daughter and I bonded over."
Deathloop was the favorite of three devs at Naughty Dog, including game director Matthew Gallant, development director Waylon Brinck, and game director Kurt Margenau.
"Setting an immersive sim in a time loop was a brilliant idea," Gallant wrote. "Every space you visit and revisit becomes richer as you gain new tools, new information, and new appreciation of the environmental storytelling. The art direction is also stunning, layering 60’s Bond villain mansions atop abandoned bunkers from Lost, all on a gorgeously rugged and desolate island.
"Most importantly, Deathloop helped me break my bad immersive sim habits. The time loop structure gave me permission to let go of playing flawless zero-kill zero-alert runs, and adopt a more improvisational and chaotic playstyle. This was particularly true when invaded by a skilled Julianna player, instantly recontextualizing the map I had been stealthing through into a thrilling cat & mouse arena."
Fortnite was the favorite of game director Anthony Newman, who admitted he originally thought the game was "a mere toy for tweens, a passing fad that was only popular because of Drake."
"How wrong I was! Fortnite is truly inspiring, not just as a multiplayer game but as a game period," Newman said. "Epic takes incredible creative risks every season, coming up with new ways to totally transform the game, and they seem anything but short of new ideas. I've been especially impressed with the interactive "concert" events they created: a multiplayer, interactive, limited time musical event? Doesn't get much more innovative than that! Now if I could only learn to build… "
QA director Patrick Goss chose Frostpunk as his choice, saying that he loved how it was "taking a Steampunk City Builder and jamming Victorian era humanity's 'last stand' into the arctic."
Character art director Ashley Swidowski picked The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes because it "doesn't shy away from acknowledging its inspirations, but still feels exciting in its approach." She also was very protective of the cast and can't stand the thought of losing even one.
While game director Vinit Agarwal chose Inscryption, he chose not to explain to much because the game is so much better when you know as little as possible going in. He did reveal that he hasn't "been as blown away by the creativity of a game in a very long time, and despite having a toddler I found myself up till 3AM every night playing till I finished it."
It Takes Two, which won the game of the year award at The Game Awards 2021, was picked by senior communications manager Rochelle Snyder and co-president Evan Wells.
"My partner has never been a gamer, and she really got into this," Snyder said. "We've spent hours on the couch laughing, plotting, and occasionally forcefully giving directions at each other (HONEY I NEED YOU STEERING THIS DAMN UNDERWEAR!). What a gift Hazelight Studios delivered — absolutely superb."
Metroid Dread was the winner for director of character technology Wasim Khan, who said, "Metroid Dread leaves you in awe thanks to its satisfying gameplay and moody atmosphere while telling an engaging story."
Lastly, animation director Jeremy Yates and vice president Arne Meyer gave the honor to Returnal, praising its "wonderful concoction of beauty and horror."
"Returnal was a masterclass in design efficiency and created a really compelling game loop that made my heart pound and palms sweat," Yates said. "The art and audio were both spectacular and satisfying. I loved the subtle environmental storytelling and how the backstory slowly revealed itself in unconventional ways."
Naughty Dog may not have been able to choose any of their own games as none were released in 2021, but that doesn't mean the studio isn't hard at work to make another worthy of the honor. In addition to the upcoming Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, we also know it is working on a multiplayer component for The Last of Us alongside a series for HBO.
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