If you’re anything like me, nothing quite beats a grey evening spent whiling away the time with a good video game or two.
As gamers, we’re inundated with choice, with multiple gaming platforms, genres and all manner of bargain deals meaning our collections can quickly swell.
First-world problems perhaps, but all the choice inevitably means most of us end up with a groaning backlog, and though there are plenty of games for us to sink our teeth into, choosing which one to tackle next can be a pain.
It's something that regularly causes me headaches, so I often find myself checking review aggregation sites like MetaCritic for help.
These sites round-up critics’ review scores to present a handy consensus, so you can get a first glance idea of what games you might like to try first based on their critical acclaim.
Of course, it's not a fool-proof method. Video game review scores remain subjective, they don’t account for taste and genres (I might hate a critically acclaimed RPG, but love a ‘mediocre’ platformer), and smaller games are often completely overlooked by reviewers.
But it’s as good a starting point as any.
So, we’ve rounded up the best-scored games according to Metacritic; where games have been reviewed on multiple platforms, we’ve averaged out the scores between them.
Here are the best 10 games of March 2021 – according to the critics:
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut (avg. score: 95)
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Disco Elysium - The Final Cut is the definitive edition of the smash-hit RPG, which adds full voice-acting, controller support, and expanded language options to an already critically adored game.
"Disco Elysium is a unique blend of noir-detective fiction, traditional pen-and-paper RPGs, and a large helping of existentialist theory,” said IGN. “Its twisting plot, cast of memorable characters, and sheer depth of choice combine to create an experience that begs to be savoured.”
Press Start Australia called the game “a melding pot of eccentric characters, thought-provoking social commentary, and a staggering sense of world and place within its setting.”
Blind Drive (89)
Blind Drive is an audio-based, "black comedy arcade action” game. The entire game is experienced through your ears, with the player “blindfolded” and going against traffic.
That certainly sounds like a revelatory experience, and many reviewers were impressed by this stark new take on the medium; "Blind Drive is like no game I've ever played before,” said TheSixthAxis, “which, having played video games for the last thirty years, is certainly saying something.”
Finger Guns called the game "unique, innovative and hopefully the start of something new”, and said that “as a proof of concept, this game demonstrates that it’s possible to create an absorbing, exciting experience based purely on sound.”
It Takes Two (88)
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
From Hazelight – a studio that specialises in two-player only co-operative gaming experiences - comes It Takes Two, another adventure where “uniquely varied gameplay and emotional storytelling intertwine in a fantastical journey.”
There's been a lot of praise heaped on this one: GameSpot called it “the best 3D platformer since Super Mario Odyssey”, and said that “despite the downright wild amount of things to do, It Takes Two manages to handle every mechanic well.”
The game rekindled fond memories of “the era of couch co-op games that I would play with my friends and family,” for Shacknews; “the shared laughs, frustrations, and triumphs are an aspect of co-op games that I had sorely missed.”
Buy it from Game.co.uk
Monster Hunter Rise (88)
Platform: Nintendo Switch
The acclaimed action-RPG series returns to the Nintendo Switch with a platform exclusive entry that takes players to the ninja-inspired land of Kamura Village, where they can explore lush ecosystems and battle fearsome monsters to become the ultimate hunter.
A lot of reviews called Rise “best Monster Hunter game around”, including the write-up from Gfinity, who said the game “is as close to perfect as we’ve had yet, and assuming it gets a lot of post-launch support, we’re in for an incredibly exciting new era of Monster Hunter.”
“Monster Hunter Rise is, without a doubt, the definitive hunting experience in Nintendo Switch,” said Areajugones.
Buy it from Game.co.uk
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (84)
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Already a firm favourite in Japan and on Sony’s PlayStation 4 console, in March, Yakuza 6 made the long-awaited jump to Microsoft and PC.
Once again giving players a sandbox of activities in a beautifully realised vision of urban Japan, alongside another branching narrative filled with edgy Yakuza storytelling as much as it is downright odd moments.
Gaming Age said the team behind the game has “crafted something that is absolutely befitting of the stoic hero who has carried the series for since 2005.”
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
Everhood proudly describes itself as an “UNCONVENTIONAL ADVENTURE RPG” in big, bold capital letters, and if the critics’ comments are anything to go by, it certainly delivers on that promise.
The Games Machine called it ”simply incredible”, and said the game is a “gem that deserves to be played by as many people as possible,” while Hardcore Gamer recommend that nobody give this game a miss “under any circumstances”.
Gaming Trend said Everhood “brings unexpected and refreshing spins to both the RPG and rhythm genre”, and that ”the creative combat system and repeat-friendly soundtrack are definitely strong points but the thought-provoking story elevates the unusual adventure to excellent heights.”
Hatsune Miku Logic Paint S (83)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
A collection of simple puzzles that reward the players with illustrations of the anthropomorphic, anime-style representation of a Japanese Vocal Synthesizer Application probably isn’t the first thing you expected when glossing over the premise of this article. But here we are.
Digitally Downloaded simply labelled the game “a collection of nonograms”, but said “factor in that there are so many of them, that they're presented in an engaging and interesting way, and you're rewarded with something meaningful for every single puzzle completed."
Essentially a Picross game wrapped up in Hatsune Miku imagery, Video Chums said Logic Paint S is the “best classic-style Picross game”, thanks to “cheerful presentation, streamlined gameplay, ridiculous amount of puzzles, and rewarding unlockables.”
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante (82)
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is a narrative-driven RPG set in a gritty world where a person's Lot is determined at birth, while the gods are real and preside over the fates of men.
Essentially a visual novel with RPG elements (so not to everybody’s taste), Hey Poor Player called the game “a remarkable storytelling achievement," and said that “though the game is rendered in an artful monochrome, none of its frequent moral decisions are completely black and white.”
The game “blew away" Keen Gamer, who said “every single choice is meaningful, often having rippling effects that you could not anticipate.”
Loop Hero (82)
One of the standout indie titles of the month of March 2021, Loop Hero fuses deck building elements with RPG mechanics and strategy.
"Behind the appearance of an idle game with a weird palette lies a deeply strategic title,” said The Games Machine, who added that Loop Hero’s “simplicity makes it a game for everyone, while its complexity will make it a real challenge for veteran adventurers and RPG players.”
"There’s a learning curve to tackle, but after a few runs, you’ll be piecing together the world in no time,” say Noisy Pixel, “the entire experience is cathartic in a way as you watch the world evolve from your actions.”
Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods, Part II (81)
Platforms: PC, PS4, Stadia, Xbox One
The final DLC for 2020’s Doom Eternal was “worth the wait”, according to Windows Central, who say the expansion (which can be played standalone without having to own the base game) provides “gorgeous new locations and challenging fights worthy of concluding the Slayer's saga.”
"id Software delivers a memorable conclusion to the Doom Slayer epic," say Jeuxvideo.com. “By erasing the flaws of the previous expansion, Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods, Part II offers the most complete games of the series.”
"Part Two offers a satisfying conclusion to the Doom saga,” say PC Games, “with amazing combat, beautiful levels, a new weapon to play with and one epic set piece towards the end.”