A good story can make or break a game, and quality performances are essential to turning those words on the page into scenes that carry weight and emotion. After all, the best script in the world isn’t worth much if it’s delivered with all the charisma of a rock. That is, unless a rock is what you’re going for – looking at you Drax.
These are the best gaming performances of 2021:
The Best Gaming Performances of 2021
Jason E. Kelley (Colt Vahn – Deathloop)
The amnesiac protagonist is a well-worn trope, but Deathloop puts a wonderful spin on it with Colt Vahn, voiced pitch-perfectly by Jason E. Kelley. Much of Colt’s appeal comes from his bewildered, colourful language as he attempts to find out who he is and what he must do. Kelley adds a brilliantly funny edge to each and every F-bomb that litters so many of Deathloop’s conversations, which makes for a game bursting with attitude-led personality. But beneath all his sweary monologues, Kelley conveys Colt’s hurt. Amnesia is often used to make game characters a blank slate for players to project themselves on, but Deathloop’s dialogue ensures that’s never the case. Colt is a complete person, and Kelley truly brings him to life. – Matt Purslow
Ozioma Akagha (Julianna Blake – Deathloop)
If negging doesn’t work, explain Ozioma Akagha’s Julianna Blake. In Deathloop, each Groundhog’s Day-style time loop begins with Blake buzzing into your walkie-talkie daring you to try and escape the time prison you find yourself in. The back-and-forth between Akagha and Jason E. Kelley’s Colt Vahn drive much of the dialogue in the game, but Akagha’s fiery energy is what motivates players into action. Whether she’s cooly dismissing your feeble attempts at success, or gloating over killing you and ending your loop, Akagha’s performance towers in Deathloop. – Matt Kim
For more, check out IGN’s Deathloop review.
Giancarlo Esposito (Anton Castillo – Far Cry 6)
For a series that has made a name for itself in part thanks to its roster of charismatic villains, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise to see a “big name” celebrity step into the bad guy boots for Far Cry 6. Thankfully, veteran TV actor Giancarlo Esposito took what could have been remembered as merely a shallow marketing ploy and made Anton Castillo one of – if not the – best Far Cry villain yet (though he clearly did have some fun in the marketing department, too). Esposito’s near-patented brand of unsettling quietude – coupled with a strong script and some excellent work from the animation team – make all of his scenes positively captivating, particularly those that take the “less-is-more” approach to dialogue. While the story overall may not be the best the series has to offer, Castillo remains a great foil to your ragtag band of revolutionaries until the bitter end, and Ubisoft’s story team will have a hard time topping Esposito’s delightfully sinister El Presidente. – Jon Ryan
For more, check out IGN’s Far Cry 6 review.
Jason Cavalier (Drax – Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy)
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy’s campaign allows for more depth and characterization than even two MCU movies could manage, and no character gets a better share of the spotlight than Drax – destroyer, killer of Thanos, dad. Spoilers, but the sequence where the rest of the Guardians enter Drax’s psyche and convince him not to live the rest of his life with a hollow facsimile of his lost family, in particular, gives him depth previously unseen outside the comics. Actor Jason Cavalier is key to selling this deeper version of Drax; not only do the now-familiar jokes about Drax being overly literal still hit, but Cavalier brings an earnestness and sweetness that makes the character more fully rounded. His performance elevates Drax from comedic relief to, arguably, the most relatable Guardian. – Colin Stevens
For more, check out IGN’s Guardians of the Galaxy review.
Erika Mori (Alex Chen – Life is Strange: True Colors)
Life is Strange: True Colors features a protagonist, Alex Chen, an empath with the ability to fully absorb the feelings of others. As such, it’s a role that really puts Alex’s actress, Erika Mori, through the gamut of emotions, and yet, Alex always comes across as believable, relatable, and personable all throughout the story. Mori’s Alex is warm, funny, a little bit mischievous, but above all else fiercely loyal to her friends and family, all of which are qualities that she portrays impeccably in both her voice acting and performance capture. – Mitchell Saltzman
For more, check out IGN’s Life is Strange: True Colors review.
All IGN Best Of 2021 Gaming Categories
- Best Game of the Year 2021
- Best Console Exclusive of the Year 2021
- Best Action Game of the Year 2021
- Best Action-Adventure Game of the Year 2021
- Best Puzzle Game of the Year 2021
- Best Racing Game of the Year 2021
- Best RPG of the Year 2021
- Best Shooter of the Year 2021
- Best Strategy Game of the Year
- Most Accessible Game of the Year 2021
- Best Music in a Video Game of the Year 2021
- Best Ongoing Game of the Year
- Best Performance of the Year 2021
- Best Story of the Year 2021
- Best Video Game Art of the Year 2021
IGN’s Best of 2021 Awards were designed by:
Lead Design + Art Direction: Julia Rago
Motion Graphics: Will Batchelor