It’s the most wonderful time of the year again – and we’re not just talking about Christmas. As 2021 draws to a close, we get to reminisce over our favourite Switch titles that have made the last 12 months so memorable, offering a much-needed escape from the turbulent world we live in.
Of course, picking our best Switch games of the year 2021 wasn’t an easy task. We’ve seen heaps of awesome new titles grace the platform, featuring a huge range of genres and styles. But we’ve managed to whittle it down to our top eight, with two picks from each of the team here at Pocket Tactics. Whether you want to explore the streets of Tokyo, show your true colours, or smooch a couple of swords, we’ve got the games for you.
If you’re looking for more of the best games around, check out our list of the best Switch platformers, the best Switch roguelikes, or the best Switch adventure games. We also have a list of the best Switch party games to keep the festivities going long into the new year.
Switch games of the year 2021
Now, without further ado, let’s get into our top picks for the best Switch games of the year in 2021. Each member of our team has chosen their personal favourites, along with the reason it stood out to them.
Persona 5 Strikers
Ruby: I desperately want a mainline Persona game to make its way onto the Nintendo Switch, and I wasn’t entirely sure I’d get along with Persona 5 Strikers. However, from the moment I stepped back into Tokyo and explored the streets and palaces with the Phantom Thieves, I fell in love with this Musou-style game.
The story takes place six months after the events of Persona 5, and is just as enthralling as the original game. I spent numerous hours hacking my way through hordes of enemies and exploring gorgeous areas around Japan. You can check out more of my thoughts in our Persona 5 Strikers Switch review.
Life is Strange: True Colours
Kayleigh: I love Life is Strange: True Colors for so many reasons, and, of course, one of those is the narrative. It’s a tragic yet beautiful story all about grief, justice, and finding happiness even when at a low point. The gorgeous art style helps to set the tone, with the soundtrack capturing the essence of the story beautifully. More than that, the game is full of interesting characters that you grow to care about, especially when it comes to the protagonist, Alex Cheng.
If you want to check out my thoughts, and discover why I believe it to be “an incredible game that takes you on a journey of loss, recovery, and adventure,” head over to our Life is Strange: True Colors Switch review.
Nathan: You have to be patient to be a Metroid fan, but 2021 finally rewarded that patience with a new, thrilling, and incredibly rewarding entry in the sci-fi adventure series. Seeing so much effort put into a 2D game is a marvel, and Dread justifies its price tag with deeply compelling world design, where every biome is layered with alien fauna and flora to bring the world to life. Samus herself feels incredible to control, and is truly put through her paces with a brutal array of enemies all out to kill her.
Metroid Dread takes no prisoners, and it took me a fair few attempts to get through each boss. But finally understanding all the controls, all the weapons at your disposal, and memorising the bosses wild attack patterns – well, when all that synergises, that’s where the magic happens. A spectacular return to form and a shot in the arm for the franchise and genre, Metroid Dread is an action-adventure masterpiece. I just hope successful sales mean we don’t have to wait another 19 years for more.
Check out our Metroid Dread review to find out more about our love for this awesome game.
Tilly: Boyfriend Dungeon embodies summer for me. Every time I open the game, I can practically smell the ocean and taste those fruity cocktails on my lips. Despite it only coming out a few months ago, returning to the sun-soaked scene of Verona Beach now feels like a warm hug from an old friend. With a cast of diverse and loveable characters, engaging combat, and a soundtrack that is still on my writing playlist to this day, it’s safe to say the Bae Blades stole my heart this year.
If you want to know more, you can check out our Boyfriend Dungeon review. We also have lists of all the Boyfriend Dungeon characters and Boyfriend Dungeon gifts so you, too, can be a true sword smoocher.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy
Ruby: Atelier Ryza 2 has a heart-warming story, an incredibly cute, fluffy companion, and an in-depth crafting system that keeps you occupied for tens of hours. This game was my first ever Atelier title, and has helped me fall in love with this gorgeous series.
The game features fast-paced combat that can be incredibly difficult if you’re not prepared with the best weapons and armour. It also has characters full of personality that make you want to complete every side quest to learn more about them. Our Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy Switch review goes into more detail on my thoughts.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Kayleigh: What a flarkin’ fun ride this was. From start to finish, Guardians of the Galaxy keeps you hooked with its incredible writing – while my other pick could have just as easily won Best Narrative at The Game Awards, this title is equally as deserving. Eidos-Montreal captures the essence of the guardians perfectly. It has banter, comedy, dysfunctional family vibes, and a surprising amount of emotional moments.
Guardians of the Galaxy has it all, and is a must-play for any Marvel fan.
Monster Hunter Rise
If I had to summarise Monster Hunter Rise in a word, I’d say refinement. The latest entry in the long-running series looks at everything that makes each entry tick, throws out some of the more tedious elements, then gives the player more tools than ever to attack those wild wyverns. Rise uses climbing and verticality to separate itself from other entries, and the success of this puts it leagues above its predecessors.
Alongside the greater freedom of movement, the game is a technical marvel, refining Switch development and honing it to a sharp edge – almost as sharp as the host of Monster Hunter Rise weapons at your disposal. The RE engine works flawlessly here, even online with multiple players, and each of the Monster Hunter Rise monsters are brought to life with gorgeous and gross detail. It helps to bring the classic action series to life beautifully, and swiftly.
Hunting Magnamalo (check out our guide on how to beat Magnamalo for some tips there) and other bothersome brutes can take a while, so the reduction of loading times gives a welcome cut back on tedium when loading times are basically gone. I’ve put over 150 hours into Rise, and I can’t wait for Sunbreak, but I might dive back into the hunt over Christmas for one solid reason. It just feels so damn good.
Take a look at our Monster Hunter Rise review for a more in-depth look at the game.
Tilly: I love a good indie, don’t you? Well, I think Eastward is one of the best I’ve played all year. I’m a sucker for good storytelling, and this little gem has it in buckets, along with so much detail, it’s impossible to pick up on all of it in one playthrough.
With stunning visuals, a deep, emotive plot, and massively varied gameplay, it’s so clear how much love and attention went into Eastward. I will always treasure the time I spent with Sam and John traversing their wonderfully weird world. Take a look at our Eastward review to get a deeper look at this gorgeous adventure RPG.
And that’s it for our top Switch games of the year 2021, and what a great year we’ve had. Whether you’re the type to hunt down monsters, battle to save the galaxy, or hang out with adorable, fluffy sidekicks, there’s something fresh out there for you.
While you’re here, be sure to check out our list of the best mobile games in 2021. From everyone at Pocket Tactics, happy holidays – and may 2022 be full of more epic, gaming fun.