Our Top Items From 2021!
We at BitPunch just want to give a quick thanks to everyone out there that has read our newsletters, watched our streams, listened to our podcasts, and just overall reached out with any sort of feedback. We have slowed down a bit over the past month but have big plans for 2022 and hope you all stick around. This newsletter is a recap of our year, what we’ve enjoyed from 2021, and what stood out from the rest.
What We Streamed This Month
Our Top Games of 2021
This year for me was unique as a played a lot of games that didn’t come out this year. 2021 is filled with some great games, but I missed out on several because of the lack of a PS5 and the fact that Yakuza swung at me with the might of ten bicycles. Yakuza games, Divinity: Original Sin 2, and the Pixel Remaster series account for more than 250 hours of my gaming life this year. While I have my gripes with the three games I chose this year, the following is what I enjoyed out of 2021 the most.
Number 3: The Forgotten City
The Forgotten City is a video game adaptation of the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim mod of the same game. I was made aware of this when it hit Game Pass a few months back and was instantly sucked into the story. You wash ashore and are given the task of entering a city through a portal to investigate what is turning everyone into gold statues when a sin is committed. This is the first time loop game I stuck with and completed in under eight hours. The way the city opens up navigation had me getting from place to place quicker each time I came back through the loop. Playing through the same little area always felt different as you were able to tackle challenges in uncommon ways, or even convince some people to do stuff for you as you used your knowledge to investigate other tasks. It was an interesting story that I plan on playing again in January to seek out some of the other endings.
Number 2: Inscryption
Depending on the day, my number two and one pick could flip around. They are distinctive enough but both really stood out with how much fun I’ve had playing them. Now you could make the argument that Inscryption doesn’t belong on my list because I technically didn’t buy nor play the game. Rich and I streamed this game together both making decisions on the direction of the story and strategizing how to play the card game. I just think out of the games we’ve played together, this one stands out as one of the best. The way this weird-ass game unfolds the narrative through the environment, the FMV sections that tell an inception level story within a story, and the characters you meet through the exceptionally well-crafted card game have me still thinking about the story of this game still today. I’d suggest going in blind if you have any interest, or if you would rather watch the entire game, we have our full playthrough available.
Number 1: Halo: Infinite
How the heck did this end up here? I have not completed a Halo game since ODST. I couldn’t tell you much of anything about Cortana. All I know is there are aliens that the Chief needs my help shooting. Past Halo games never grabbed me as I felt the level design would become boring and rehashed. What always kept me playing Halo 3 and ODST was just how damn good those games felt. Then fast forward to last year where this Halo game was announced but met with some harsh criticism had me wanting to just write this game off as yet another entry I would never tackle. Especially when they announced multiplayer is pushed to 2022. I’m not much of a shooter gamer anyway as the last shooter I played was when Apex Legends first came out. Before that, it may have been Far Cry 4 or Doom 2016.
But the game came out, and as a member of Game Pass, all it took was for me to just install it. Rich and I streamed the first couple hours of that game, which is classic feeling Halo, which I wasn’t that interested in. Once you get past that though, you are met with a fun open world to run around and explore, collect FOB sections to open up more of the world map, much like in Far Cry, and hunt down boss fights that are sprinkled throughout. This was my favorite part of this game by far. Roaming the world with your grappling hook, grabbing a vehicle, and watching marines hop in and cheer you on always pumped me up. It’s a bummer the game is missing co-op as it would be even better playing with a friend, but the campaign was so much fun I won’t mind playing through it with family and friends. I think the beginning and end were the weakest moments of this game, but everything in the middle was some of my favorite gaming moments of the year.
I played more games this year than any year I can remember since Michael and I quit our gaming website. Getting a new gaming PC just opened up this whole new world for me. I constantly found myself adding games to my “to play” list that I keep in Notion and going back to it every time I beat another game. Streaming was a big part of that, and I can't wait to stream more in 2022!
Nubmer 3: Deathloop
If it weren't for my Covid quarantine during Christmas, I probably wouldn't have played Deathloop in 2021. I have started the last two major Arkane games, Prey and Dishonored 2, both I never finished. I love stealth games, and I love the style that Arkane packs into every nook and cranny of their worlds. For some reason, I just hit a wall and never went back. Then came Deathloop. Deathloop takes my favorite parts of Arkane's games and puts them in much more bite-sized chunks. Deathloop is also a time loop game, where when you die, you restart the loop. To me, this took away some of the stings from previous games as far as punishment for failing and attempting something outside the box. Deathloop actively encourages it. It is meant to be poked and prodded time and again. There are only four levels in the game that change pretty drastically as you move through the four time periods of each day. So really, you are dealing with 16 somewhat unique levels to explore. This was by far my favorite part of the game, finding shortcuts and exploits that I could take advantage of to make my runs more productive and efficient. I also enjoyed the writing and background story through the world-building within the levels.
Number 2: Halo Infinite
343 did it. They finally delivered a Halo game that both moves the series forward and retains what made Halo 2 and 3 some of the best first-person shooters ever made. The multiplayer is by far the best version since Halo 3. Halo multiplayer is, in my opinion, the perfect balance for a multiplayer shooter. They nailed it, and they deserve all the credit. The maps are great, the guns feel right, and the rhythm of the combat and battles is exactly what I and countless others have been waiting on. I will be playing Halo Infinite multiplayer for years to come.
The campaign is maybe even more surprising. My love for the campaign, an open world for the first time, comes down to one thing, the grapple shot. Giving Master Chief essentially a grappling hook and turning him loose in an open world doesn't sound all that great on paper, but man is it FUN. I was using it for traversal and combat, both offensively and defensively. During my playthrough, I had so many moments when I pulled off the craziest kills and stunts that I was immediately smashing the record button on the Nvidia overlay. The story is pretty bad, though. Hopefully, 343 can expand on this with more time and tell better stories in the future. They have everything else right where it needs to be.
Number 1: Death’s Door
This game came entirely out of nowhere for me. I picked it up as a recommendation from a podcast. Little did I know this would become my favorite game of the year. Death's Door is an isometric souls-lite game inspired by the classic Zelda games. However, instead of playing as the Hero of Time, you play as a young Crow. In this universe, Crows are sent through Doors to the other side to collect souls. The story is explained charmingly and interestingly, with the young Crow just looking to collect souls and punch his time clock. Death's Door has a ton of style and some great moments that hit pretty hard and deep. The art style and light-heartedness can sometimes cause you to be off guard when something pretty pivotal happens with the characters you meet along the way. The exploration and combat make this game my favorite of the year. The action is so tight and balanced. I have not played a game that I felt so rewarded for beating in a long time. It's for sure one of those games that I wish I could go back and experience for the first time all over again. If you have any affinity for classic Zelda action-adventure games, you MUST play Death's Door!
Our Top Movies of 2021
I missed a ton of movies that came out this year. In all honesty, movies are my least consumed pieces of media. My wife and I typically gravitate toward TV shows over movies, but we still sneak in some every now and then. This year I went to the theatres and saw three movies: Shang-Chi, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Out of those three and all the movies I watched at home, which I can count on one hand, Spider-Man stuck out above the rest. Marvel has the formula nailed down weaving emotional storytelling with dazzling action scenes and enough humor to bring it all together. Knowing they plan to continually evolve this arch has me excited for the future of Marvel Studios.
Another movie I want to highlight would be Mitchell vs. The Machines. This was dropped onto Netflix from Sony Pictures Animation, which released the fantastic Into the Spider-Verse film in 2018. The high-level plot is about a family living through a robot apocalypse and growing stronger together. I’m sure there was marketing around the movie, but to me, it dropped out of nowhere and caught me off guard with how much my family and I enjoyed this film.
I enjoyed so many movies and TV shows this year. I don't think I can pick just one above the rest. Hawkeye caught me by total surprise. I almost didn't watch it, but it is by far my favorite of the Marvel TV shows released this year. Shadow and Bone is another excellent series. I think it had my favorite cast of characters of any show I watched this year. Dune is an epic movie that everyone should experience. The cinematography and artistic vision of that film are staggering. The documentary 14 Peaks is a great story about a Nepali mountaineer who attempts to summit all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter peaks in a calendar year. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is a fantastic anime take on the Witcher universe. The Witcher season 2 delivers so many great stories from the books that I am dying to see what they do in season 3. With all of the different streaming services making their own content, I feel like we are in a golden era of TV and Movies.
Our Top Books of 2021
According to my Goodreads, I’ve completed 33 books this year. This is a mix of genres, comics, and items that came out this year and years previous. The three books I read that came out this year were Project: Hail Mary by Andy Weir, Yearbook by Seth Rogan, and A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins. The one that stood out the most was Project: Hail Mary which I read about half before switching to the audiobook version narrated by Ray Porter. I instantly recognized his voice listening to We Are Legion (We Are Bob) the year before. He’s incredible as a narrator and hope he continues to work in this space.
If you want to go in completely blind, skip this paragraph because I’ll discuss some spoilers here. When a book or game starts out with the lead having amnesia, I tend to roll my eyes at the absurdity of this storytelling trope, but I never felt this way with how Hail Mary unfolds. The slow unveiling of Ryland being in another solar system and him not necessarily volunteering to be there was exhilarating. His relationship with Rocky and how the story seems to be wrapping up but shifts in a different direction was amazing. I thought the book overexplained things a bit in spots, but it always turned to 11 and picked right back up. Listening to the back half on a road trip was so much fun and the noises for Rocky added to the immersion of the story. You don’t have to be into science fiction to fall in love with Hail Mary.
After falling in love with The Witcher 3 video game, I knew that someday I would read through the books it is based upon. 2021 was the year, and I read through the first four books in the series this year. The first two books, The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, are a collection of short stories that involve the main protagonist Geralt of Rivia in all manner of adventures. The following two books, Blood of Elves and Time of Contempt, are more traditional novels. The Witcher 3 is my favorite game of all time, and I may like the books even more. It is a great universe with a varied cast of characters with stories to tell. The Father/Daughter relationship between Geralt and Ciri is something that I enjoyed. Especially as a Father to two daughters myself. I am about halfway through the 5th book as I write this and plan to finish the rest of the series in 2022.
Some other books I enjoyed this year are Light of the Jedi, Project Hail Mary, and the Firefly graphic novels.
December Episodes of BitPunch Radio
This week Rich and Michael discuss our playthrough of Inscryption, thoughts on Wheel of Time, and our spoiler discussion of Sandman Vol. 3. We also dive into the Backbone iOS Controller, The Forgotten City, Wildermyth, and more.
Rich and Michael are back this week discussing our thoughts on Halo Infinite, Inscryption, Hawkeye on Disney+, The Game Awards, Control, and more.
Rich and Michael discuss their favorite games they played in 2021. The big list is as follows: Inscryption, Halo: Infinite, Divinity: Original Sin 2, The Forgotten City, Forza Horizon 5, Guardians of the Galaxy, Outriders, Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster Series, Yakuza Series, Mass Effect Legendary Edition, Wildermyth, Resident Evil 7, Control, Death's Door, Deathloop, Satisfactory, Hardspace Shipbreaker, and Valheim.
Thanks for sticking around and supporting us! Happy New Year and see you all in 2022.