Best Fighting Games 2021
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles is the latest anime-inspired video game to grace the West, based on the 2019 adaptation of Koyoharu Gotouge’s beloved Demon Slayer manga series. It bears some resemblance to the classic Naruto: Ultimate Ninja STORM titles but introduces fresh concepts of its own. While the backgrounds can feel generic at times and the gameplay loop repetitive due to limited game types, its tight controls and diverse combat strings make it a solid arena fighter. The Boost and Surge mechanics add tactical depth, while support characters offer much-needed variety.
While it may not match the longevity of some top-tier fighting games, the game’s excellent story mode and dazzling visuals can easily captivate players for at least 20 hours. Regular updates and the introduction of new characters may prolong its appeal further.
Guilty Gear -Strive-
Guilty Gear -Strive- earned no surprise when it clinched the Best Fighting Game award at The Game Awards 2021. With the highest-critic rating among 2021 fighting games on Metacritic and an impressive User Score, it wowed players. The game’s stunning visuals leave an immediate impact, elevating the franchise’s aesthetics to new heights. It boasts remarkable balance, allowing all 15 fighters to effortlessly deal with button-mashers and spam artists.
The diverse roster accommodates both novices and veterans, encompassing a wide range of fighting styles. However, the fighters’ depth means mastering them is no easy task. The cliche of “easy to learn, difficult to master” applies splendidly here.
Melty Blood: Type Lumina
After a ten-year wait since the previous installment, Actress Again, the arrival of Melty Blood: Type Lumina in March 2021 excited fans of the niche fighting game franchise. Players praise its lightning-fast pace, vibrant art style, and excellent combat mechanics. Unlike previous games, Type Lumina has managed to attract newcomers as well as loyal fans. Its commercial success and Best Fighting Game nomination at the 2021 Game Awards have put the series in the spotlight.
A highly-polished 2D fighter with a killer soundtrack and an accessible combat system awaits players. Despite its user-friendly nature, there’s a surprising depth that rewards mastery. The only downside lies in its online functionality, which, at least at the time of writing, falls short compared to competitors.
Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown
Virtua Fighter’s legacy in the fighting game genre during the nineties and early two-thousands remains an impactful one, even if its influence waned over the last decade. The announcement of Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown in May 2021 brought a pleasant surprise. Rebuilt using Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s Dragon Engine, it treated PlayStation Plus subscribers with a free offering in June and July. Expect deep combat and visually striking graphics, aligning it with the top 3D fighting games in the market.
While it may not be the anticipated Virtua Fighter 6, Sega’s renewed attention to the franchise after years of dormancy bodes well for fans and the genre alike.
With no new WWE 2K game in 2021, wrestling game enthusiasts sought alternatives beyond the norm. Wrestling Empire and RetroMania Wrestling both answered the call, but Wrestling Empire earns accolades for good old-fashioned fun. It’s available on Switch, mobile devices, and PC, offering versatility for on-the-go brawls.
Its highlights include fantastic multiplayer functionality and a highly enjoyable Booking / General Manager Mode. The British developer, Mat Dickie, known for creating wrestling games for over two decades, showcases his greatest contribution to the video game industry with this title.